Monday, June 28, 2010

Look Before You Leap

On Tuesday, June 29th, The Minnesota Home Ownership Center will be launching “Look Before You Leap”, a statewide public education campaign seeking to raise public awareness about the booming foreclosure rescue scam industry and its dangerous implications for struggling and unsuspecting home owners, and to connect struggling home owners with the Center’s network of foreclosure counselors.

While the Center will lead the effort, we are working in partnership with NeighborWorks America and other national organizations (FDIC, Federal Trade Commission, AARP and others) and we currently have the support of over 55 Minnesota-based agencies, organizations and municipalities as well!

To readers of the Center's blog, we're asking that you help spread the word about the campaign:

a. If you're on Facebook, LIKE us ('Fan Page'):
  • Here you can share ideas about promoting the campaign and
  • Share the stories YOU'RE hearing about rescue scams
b. Visit the campaign website: and please consider subscribing to the campaign's newsletters to keep on top of our efforts to stop foreclosure rescue scams in Minnesota.

c. Consider having your organization PARTNER with us. Partnership in the campaign is simple:

We’ll recognize your as an advocate of home owners on and in our print materials, and we’ll keep you up to date with the latest campaign efforts and events.

In return, we ask that you include newsletter articles or other tools we provide in your internal communications whenever possible, and that you work with us to let your members (and their clients) know about mortgage rescue scams in Minnesota.

We’d also love to have you join us at the campaign launch event on Tuesday, June 29th @ 10:00 here at the Center (outside lot, just north of our building), followed by a brief reception in our office.

For a Google Map to our office, click here.

If you have additional questions about the campaign... or would like to learn more about becoming a partner, please contact Ed Nelson at the MN Home Ownership Center: ed[at]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Senator Al Franken at the Center

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center was pleased to have been able to host a roundtable discussion on Saturday, June 26, 2010 with Senator Al Franken and representatives from a number of housing and lending organizations from around the State. A number of topics were discussed including information about the current foreclosure situation in Minnesota, the need for additional housing counseling dollars, the impact of the SAFE Act on housing counseling, what is working (and what’s not) with the HAMP program.

In addition, the Senator reiterated his support for a strong consumer watchdog agency to make sure that consumers are protected in their dealings with financial institutions, including credit card companies and mortgage lenders.

Representatives from several organizations attended the roundtable, including the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, Minnesota Housing, the City of Minneapolis, the City of St. Paul, Neighborhood Development Alliance, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Community Pride Bank and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.

There are a number of photos of the day’s events at the Center’s online photo gallery on FlickR.

Here are just a few:

Senator Al Franken with Executive Director Julie Gugin:

(Click to Enlarge)

Roundtable participants speak with Senator Franken after the event:

(Click to Enlarge)

The full photo gallery is here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished - Foreclosure Workshop

Yesterday (June 23rd) the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, in partnership with US Bank, Freddie Mac and the City of Minneapolis, hosted the first day of a two-day Foreclosure Prevention Workshop at South High School in Minneapolis.

Dozens of homeowners received counseling and were able to meet face-to-face with their lender/servicer to discuss options to preventing their foreclosure. 

Here are some of the comments we heard from homeowners as they were leaving the event:
Mission accomplished!  I came tonight just to get [my bank] to listen to my situation.  Not only did they listen... they said they'd lower my payment and my new paperwork will be at my house by the end of the week.  Thank you!

I got more accomplished in 15 minutes here today than I've been able to accomplish in 3 months of trying to work with [my bank] on the phone.  I'm so glad I came here tonight.

I just saw you on Fox-9... and decided to come over.  I'm so glad I did.  I finally got them to listen to my situation.  Thanks!

Homeowners are welcome to come today (June 24) as well!  Lenders, non-profit housing counselors and legal services representatives will be back at South High starting at 2:00 today.  Do you have questions about your mortgage?  Not sure where to turn?  Feel free to drop by today and learn about the steps you can take to avoid foreclosure.  Homeowners from any/all lenders and from anywhere in Minnesota are welcome to drop by.

The workshop was also highlighted by Jessica Mador on Minnesota Public Radio.  The article is here.

A flyer for the workshop is available for download here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Foreclosure Counseling in Minnesota 2009

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center has released its Foreclosure Counseling report for 2009. 

This report provides a summary of findings from an evaluation of the foreclosure prevention counseling program supported by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center. The program delivers local foreclosure counseling services to consumers through 25 agencies throughout Minnesota. The report summarizes household and loan characteristics, service usage, and outcomes for homeowners receiving foreclosure counseling during 2009.

The complete report is available online at the Center's website, here.

Here are a few highlights from the report:
  • In 2009, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center’s network of foreclosure counseling agencies served a record number of homeowners, providing services to 15,868 homeowners. This represents an increase of 34% from the previous year.
  • 7,771 of the homeowners receiving counseling services were able to avoid foreclosure. \
  • Foreclosures cost homeowners, lenders, local governments and neighboring home values. The foreclosures prevented by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center’s counseling network translates to an estimated savings of up to $600 million for Minnesota homeowners, lenders, neighborhoods and local governments in 2009 alone.
  • The pattern of service use suggests that the foreclosure problem is moving out from the urban areas and into suburban and rural counties. The counties with the highest rate of households served form a ring surrounding Hennepin and Anoka counties.

The report was highlighted in an article in the Pioneer Press on June 19th.  The article is here.

Housing Notes - Bits and Pieces

There's so much going on, rather than try and write in-depth posts about all these stories... I'd just throw all the links out there for you:

There were two news stories in the press over the weekend that expose another side to the foreclosure crisis: squatters.
  1. The police are currently investigating the death of an unidentified man whose body was found in the attic of a garage at a vacant south Minneapolis home.  The real estate agent, quoted in the article, believes that the man was a squatter that was living in the 'attic' of the garage.
  2. In another article from Seattle, reporter Danny Westneat has hit on an intriguing story about a new scam that promises to help find cheap homes for investors/homebuyers by squatting in a foreclosed house in order to force the bank to prove ownership.  If the bank can't produce proof, the scammers place liens and try and take legal posession of the property.  These vultures are also selling this scam, and charging $5,000 or more in the process, as a way to 'eliminate your mortgage'.

The Center for Responsible Lending released a new study on June 18th that analyzes the demographics of the foreclosure crisis, and finds that foreclosure has disproportionately impacted black and Latino homeowners.  The full report is here.


The FBI has released its mortgage fraud report for 2009... and the report indicates that mortgage fraud activity continued to increase in 2009. FBI mortgage fraud pending investigations increased 71 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2008 to FY 2009.  The full report is here.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Deficiency Collections - Washington Post

Early in February, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center highlighted (in this post) the Foreclosure Counselors in the state had begun to see an uptick in the number of homeowners who were seeking help AFTER a foreclosure because their bank was seeking to collect on the deficiency.

Now... the practice apparently is going mainstream... and the Washington Post highlighted the issue in an article posted on June 16th.  (Lenders go after money lost in foreclosure).

Here's one of the highlights of the article:

Over the past year, lenders have become much more aggressive in trying to recoup money lost in foreclosures and other distressed sales, creating more grief for people who thought their real estate headaches were far behind.

The MN Home Ownership Center has a helpful fact sheet on its website about deficiency judgments (with MANY thanks to the Housing Preservation Project for their work!). You can download the fact sheet here.

Deficiency Judgments are just ONE of the MANY considerations struggling homeowners need to think about when facing a possible foreclosure. If you, or someone you know is struggling with mortgage payments... don't wait until it's too late. To find your local non-profit, FREE Foreclosure Counselor, click here. For additional information about preventing foreclosure in Minnesota, click here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MN Foreclosure Infographic

As many of you know, Minnesota state law determines the steps that lenders and servicers must take in order to foreclose on a residential property in Minnesota.  Back in 2008, the Center created a visual timeline of this process and it quickly became one of the most frequently downloaded documents from the Center's website.

We’re pleased to announce the Center has created a new and improved Minnesota foreclosure timeline graphic!

This consumer-friendly chart is an Infographic with pictorial representations of the different stages of foreclosure, in addition to text that helps explain each step.

Here's an sample of the new graphic:

A high-quality PDF version is available on the Center's website (along with over a dozen other helpful fact sheets), here.

If you, or someone you know is facing foreclosure or struggling with mortgage payments - THERE IS HELP.  The Center's network of Foreclosure Prevention Specialists are available to help... and all services are FREE. Click here for more information.

Friday, June 4, 2010

LSS Financial Counseling Awards

One of the hardest hit areas of the state in the current housing (foreclosure) crisis is the area surrounding Isanti county (Mille Lacs, Sherburne, Chisago & Pine counties).  This area has some of the highest foreclosure rates in the state, and the number of pre-foreclosure notices continues unabated.

However, it's not all doom and gloom!  For several years, the MN Home Ownership Center has been working with LSS Financial Counseling and a roundtable group of engaged civic and business leaders in a multi-county area surrounding Isanti County. This working group of financial institutions, politicians, social workers, teachers, clergy, hospitals and other professionals have been working together to reach out to their community as it struggles with financial issues.

This working group was the brain-child of the president of Community Pride Bank in Isanti, Greg Owens.  He constantly updates the group on the foreclosure issue, convenes meetings and discussions on ways to stem the tide of foreclosures and is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to let homeowners in the area know about the availability of FREE Foreclosure Prevention Counseling services through LSS Financial Counseling.

On June 16th, LSS Financial Counseling will be hosting an event to recognize and celebrate just a few of the "financial advocates" who have made a difference in their communities over the last year and honor some of the people that have made a positive difference in the financial lives of Minnesota's residents.

Greg Owens is one of the recipients of this year's Financial Advocacy Awards!  Congratulations Greg!!

The other recipients are Mayor Don Ness, City of Duluth and AccountAbility Minnesota.

The awards ceremony will be hosted at the LSS Center for LSS Center for Changing Lives in Minneapolis, and Attorney General Lori Swanson will be the keynote speaker.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Marie Garmoe via email or by calling 218-529-2296 by Friday, June 11th.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Foreclosure Prevention Opportunity for Wells Fargo Customers

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is pleased to be working with representatives from Wells Fargo Bank to help Wells Fargo customers (and others) learn about options that may help homeowners overcome payment challenges & understand how to avoid foreclosure.

In addition to a PERSONAL meeting with Wells Fargo representatives to discuss possible workout options (loan modification), homeowners will get information about the foreclosure process in Minnesota and the different resources that are available to avoid foreclosure.

This workshop is FREE and open to the public! (Customers from other lenders can visit with Counselors)

Event Info:
June 5th & 6th
10:00am - 7:00pm
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis, 55403

For More info: Click Here
For Map/Driving Directions, Click Here

Registration Recommended: