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Mortgage Crisis Drives Foreclosures Down and Home Values Up in Orange County

April 21, 2009

Home values in Orange County rose in March for the second month in a row, the Orange County Business Journal reported April 15. The median price of a home in our county is now $390,000, a 4% increase over February's numbers. The number is still down 23% from March of last year, the newspaper said, but sales rose -- up 45% from last year and 28% from February. A big part of the change was sales of homes that went into foreclosure, which made up 55% of all sales in Southern California.

On the same day, the Orange County Register's Mortgage Insider blog reported that foreclosures are down in OC and all of California. According to, Orange County foreclosures in March were down by 40% from March of last year and 50% from February. However, notices of default -- the first step in the lengthy foreclosure process -- actually rose 58% from February to March, suggesting that more foreclosures are on their way. Blogger Mathew Padilla wrote about several laws and proposed laws that may be driving the drop in foreclosures and sharp rise in notices of default.

Our Westminster loan modification lawyers see the same sad cause behind both developments: the ongoing mortgage crisis. Home sales and home prices are up -- but more than half of those sales were foreclosure sales. Meanwhile, foreclosures are down. That sounds like a good thing, but part of that drop is probably attributable to the glut of foreclosed homes already on the market, which makes foreclosing on more homes even less attractive to lenders. As we have written here many times, foreclosure is expensive for banks, which lose money on their investments and must pay legal and maintenance fees. With home prices down and lots of foreclosed properties competing for buyers, it's getting even less attractive. It wouldn't be surprising to find that banks are more interested in finding a loan workout than ever.

As Anaheim loan modification attorneys, we hope so. A large part of our work is helping clients who are at risk of default -- or foreclosure -- negotiate with their lenders for loan modifications. Since the mortgage crisis began, it has become clear that some lenders are very reluctant to consider changing a loan, even when it could save them money in the long run. In addition to concerns about short-term profit, many of these banks have policies in place that forbid them from negotiating until the homeowner is in default. Others may have bundled mortgages and sold them as securities, which means the loan now has many owners who could sue the bank for reducing the value of their investment. The result is more foreclosures, less profit for the bank and shattered credit and dreams for the homeowners.

If you're one of the thousands of Southern Californians with this problem, Howard Law may be able to help. Our Placentia loan modification lawyers aggressively negotiate with lenders to get real changes to our clients' loans. We have successfully lowered interest rates; changed repayment periods and made other major structural changes to our clients' mortgage loans. Our goal is always to make your monthly mortgage payment affordable, so you can keep your home and stay out of serious financial trouble. To set up a free, confidential consultation with Howard Law today, please call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or contact us online.