The housing crisis presents a host of challenges to homeowners, buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Foreclosures are mounting in unprecedented numbers. Nevada, Arizona, and Florida posted top state foreclosure rates in July, according to RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. Â Nevada and Florida Realtors respond to the crisis with a series of ambitious, consumer-facing outreach programs; Arizonaâ€™s Realtor community faces the crisis behind closed doors, with nary a HUD counselor or distressed homeowner in sight.
Last year the National Assn. of Realtors launched a massive Foreclosure and Response Grant Program, allotting more than $2.5 million to state associations, with amounts tied to membership total. Minimum grant allocation for small member states is $40,000.
Realtor associations planned and executed extensive training for their members relative to buyer care and sellers facing short sales, both commission generating consumer groups.Â
States reaching out to distressed homeowners in their outreach plans outnumber their we-just-want-to-focus-on-income-generating-consumers counterparts by a 3:1 margin. Â Most of these Realtor groups work in close partnership with nonprofits and government agencies.
(Foreclosure statistical data is taken from RealtyTrac. Realtor grant data is derived from information provided by the National Assn. of Realtors.)
Top 10 States with a Heart for Distressed Homeowners
- California is rocked with unprecedented foreclosures. This state alone accounted for 21 percent of the national total in July, with 66,910 properties receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, according to RealtyTrac. The 169,945-member California Assn. of Realtors leadership stands firm, issuing an uncompromising commitment to helping distressed homeowners. Â The state spent all its $150,000-plus NAR foreclosure grant resources in a multi-faceted program including regional foreclosure prevention seminar, zip form resource library, media campaign promoting California mortgage protection program, media kit for local associations, and funding of continuing education courses for foreclosure prevention. Orange County Assn. of Realtors is an active member of the Orange County Homeownership Preservation Collaborative, consisting of numerous civic, government, advocacy and industry organizations. OCAR scheduled a foreclosure prevention workshop in cooperation with the Collaborative. Pacific SW Assn. of Realtors put its money to a partnership program with the San Diego Housing Opportunity Collaborative, â€œSustaining Homeownership â€“ Loss Mitigation and Making Home Affordable Workshop.â€
- Florida saw 51,557 properties receive a foreclosure filing during July. The Sunshine State is fighting for its life. Its Realtors and homeowners are gasping for air and they face mounting foreclosures as RealtyTracâ€™s number 3 troubled state. The Florida Assn. of Realtors and local Realtor groups are sending a message loud and clear to 119,721 Realtors and residents in the state: â€œWe are going to do everything in our power to help you!â€ And they are putting their money where their mouth is - $97,000 is dedicated to a massive outreach program including a statewide â€œMaking Homes Affordable Weekâ€ in every district in the state to education Floridians on federal, state, and local foreclosure, loan modification, and refinance assistance. State leaders developed a tool kit to serve as a template for local associations to help host local education events. Local associations commit financial support and energy aligned with state Realtor leadership initiatives.
- Nevada. The state leading the country in foreclosures saw one in every 82 housing units receive a foreclosure filing in July. The Nevada Assn. of Realtors devotes its entire grant proceeds to a comprehensive program â€œdesigned to educate Realtors, work with homeowners to avoid foreclosure, and partner with communities to minimize the impact of foreclosures.â€ Community outreach efforts include PSAs on radio and television, and new media (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.) NVAR is reaching out to faith based organizations and civic clubs to education the general public and locate distressed homeowners. The association announced plans to work with a small number of foreclosure prevention counselors to develop a pilot program to help expand their outreach, share best practices learned from other agencies, and perform more efficient assistance through mediation workshops and counseling. NVAR and local associations pledged to contribute financial resources to this project in addition to the $48,579 grant from the National Assn. of Realtors.
- Connecticut. This New England state is number 20 on the RealtyTrac list, but Realtor associations at the state and local levels and their 12,780 members have embraced distressed homeowners with the vigor of a community fighting for life. Connecticut Assn. of Realtors announced a $30,000 investment in a comprehensive, stand-alone consumer website, Own It, with a focus on homeownership and how to avoid foreclosure. The associationâ€™s grant application listed 17,000 as the number of Realtors assisted with this project. CAR obviously believes its members have an interest in a healthy economy and financially stable and secure homeowners. Great Hartford Realtors affiliated with The Partnership for Strong Communities to host three â€œâ€Housing Helpâ€ public awareness forums in 2010. Greater Waterbury Realtors and Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury coordinated an outreach program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and NHS provides face-to-face counseling for distressed homeowners.
- Maryland. A quick look at the Realtor landscape in RealtyTracâ€™s number 10 most distressed state finds local associations competing for creative, industrious, and magnanimous consumer outreach. The Coastal Assn. of Realtors helped fund a program administered by the Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Program and a HUD-certified counseling agency. A revolving loan fund assists qualified homeowners with household expenses so they do not fall behind or default on their mortgages. Foreclosure prevention, consumer counseling (private and group workshops), and Realtor education are weaved into a holistic financial program statewide.
- Colorado. The Rocky Mountain State is number 13 on the RealtyTrac list and Realtors associations are doing their best to provide balanced training to some 21,000 members. The state association applied a lionâ€™s share of its NAR grant monies to an education program developed in partnership with local governments, mortgage brokers, bankers, and title companies, â€œHelping People Stay in Their Homes Today and in the Future.â€ Â Colorado Assn. of Realtors is working with counselors from the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline and launched a statewide media campaign encouraging homeowners to examine their options. Grand Junction Area Realtor Assn. planned large scale borrower outreach events as co-sponsors with the Grand Junction Housing Authority and other partners. Additional grant monies were applied to Realtor education relative to buyer education and short sales, understanding debt, loan modification/principal reduction, and tax credits.
- Ohio has a number 11 RealtyTrac rating for distressed states and state with 13,511 foreclosure filings in July. State and local Realtor leadership rise to the occasion in grand style. Columbus Realtors planned two workshops at a venue seating 400 - 500 attendees, working in concert with Columbus Housing Partnership and Huntington National Bank. Other Realtor groups in the state craft their approach similarly, with strong consumer facing initiatives.
- Indiana, number 17 on RealtyTracâ€™s list, sees a partnership between the Indiana Assn. of Realtors and the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention network to do public service announcements throughout the state. â€œWe want to reach out to Hoosiers with questions on options for avoiding foreclosure,â€ said Sherry Tilley, senior vice president, IAR. Certified foreclosure prevention counselors will be available at each location.
- Illinois foreclosure activity increased 33 percent from the previous month â€” the biggest monthly increase among states with top 10 foreclosure rates (Illinois ranks 8th). A total of 19,602 Illinois properties received a foreclosure filing in July, the third highest state total and accounting for 6 percent of the national total. Illinois Assn. of Realtors is producing a multi-faced program including courses on short sales and financial programming; they are developing public services announcements and podcasts. Website enhancements include a foreclosure content page.Â
- Virginia ranks 22 on the RealtyTrac list and Realtors there seem inclined to keep the foreclosure numbers down. The Virginia Assn. of Realtors and local associations designed four distinct programs for delivery throughout the Commonwealth. The â€œBuying TIMEâ€ program provides information to the general public, and options available to homeowners who fall behind on mortgages. Richmond Realtors announced a partnership with the City of Richmond, Housing Opportunities Made Equal and the Partnership for Housing Affordability.
Realtor Associations Looking for a Heart
Thirteen states restricted their NAR grant monies to Realtor buyer education and short sales certifications. They report no affiliations or partnerships with consumer housing counselors, nonprofits, or government agencies. NAR reports three states â€“ Arkansas
, and Wyoming
, and the District of Columbia
, show no grant approvals, even though each of those jurisdictions has a minimum $40,000 allotted by the trade group to its foreclosure and response program.Â
foreclosure activity decreased on a year-over-year basis for the sixth straight month, but the state still posted the nationâ€™s second highest state foreclosure rate. One in every 167 Arizona housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month â€” more than twice the national average. This state is devastated by the housing crisis and rates second on the RealtyTrac list of most severely affected states. There is a huge chasm between sales-centric Realtor outreach and the home retention efforts of nonprofits and government agencies. There is no Realtor presence on the Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Task Force
, Don't Borrow Trouble Coalition
, or consumer friendly resource lists. Realtor associations in the northern part of the state spent more than $50,000 in NAR grant monies to educate 12,660 buyer agents and short sale agents. NAR grant proceeds did not reach the southern area of the state, including Tucson and Yuma.Â
Foreclosures are no small potatoes in Idaho
, RealtyTracâ€™s number 5 state for distressed homeowners. Idaho Realtors respond to the housing crisis with a series of continuing education classes for 668 of its 2,891 members. Focus of the education is what buyersâ€™ representatives need to know about short sales and foreclosures. There is no mention of distressed homeowners in their outreach plan.Â
Overall, 13 states restricted their foreclosure outreach to education courses, primarily â€œWhat Buyersâ€™ Representatives Need to Know,â€ â€œForeclosure: Prevention and Opportunities for Buyer-Clients,â€ and the NAR â€œShort Sales and Foreclosure Certificationâ€ program.