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I’ve been getting emails from readers who say they are still receiving foreclosures notices, even from banks that have said they would halt foreclosures until the New Year.
“Foreclosure is scary as hell,” writes one reader who lives in Washington State and says he started getting notices in mid-November. “They send strange men to your house after dark on Saturday night to hand-deliver copies of documents from a metal lockbox. Every day brings more certified mail. The mailman has to knock and wait for us to sign things. Three different certified copies of everything, one to “occupant” and one to my wife and I. It’s really bad, and is affecting my physical health and my family’s mental health. Another lady came and surveyed our house and then knocked on the door to hand us a slip of paper from the bank. She warned us that foreclosure was impending. We’re definitely not having a happy holidays. I didn’t know it but foreclosure seems to involve scaring people and embarrassing them publicly.”
Here’s an email from another reader, who says her loan is also from JP Morgan Chase, which vowed on Halloween to halt foreclosures for 90 days. “They have not stopped the foreclosure process on my home. I have to pay $4,800 on December 25, 2008, Christmas. What a country we live. Sad, so sad.”
Tom Kelly, a spokesman for Chase, says that in some cases loans are owned by another lender and Chase is just collecting payments. In those situations, Chase has to proceed down the foreclosure route. The Washington State reader, for example, had a loan with Washington Mutual, which was bought by Chase in September. But the loan is owned now by Freddie Mac, Kelly says.
Brad German, a spokesman for Freddie Mac, says that while foreclosure filings may be proceeding the company hopes to have final plans in place by Dec. 15 that will allow Freddie Mac to quickly modify loans to more affordable rates to keep borrowers in their homes.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.