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2008-02-18 14:19:00

NAR Pushes for Homeownership Protection for Older Americans

The National Assn. of REALTORS® testified recently that foreclosure rescue scams have caused major problems for many Americans and that older Americans and other vulnerable borrowers are frequently targets. NAR called for increased funding for programs that provide financial assistance, counseling and consumer education to borrowers to help them avoid foreclosures and foreclosure rescue scams.

John W. Anderson, past NAR chair of the Federal Housing Policy Committee and Regulatory Issues Forum, spoke at a hearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “I know firsthand that foreclosure rescue scams rarely turn out with a happy ending,” said Anderson, a REALTOR® broker-owner from Minneapolis. “REALTORS® are not only in the business of helping people into homes, but also making sure they keep their homes. Abusive lending and foreclosure rescue scams erode confidence in the nation’s housing system and destroy families and communities. Many older Americans rely on their home as the foundation of their net worth and for security in their old age. For them, a foreclosure is emotionally and financially crippling.”

NAR research shows that the foundation of many older Americans’ net worth is in their home equity. NAR’s study found that half of older baby boomers are concerned about their financial security, given rising medical costs, increased monthly household bills and other age-related expenses.

“Abusive lenders and foreclosure scammers are on the lookout for older boomers who encounter unexpected expenses; these lenders then swoop in to ‘save the day.’ We must all work together to make sure all consumers know they have some place to go for information and counsel, and that they can take steps to prevent foreclosures,” Anderson said.

NAR supports the HOPE NOW alliance, which brings homeowners together with homeownership counselors, lenders, investors and others. NAR also promotes FHASecure, a Federal Housing Administration program that offers foreclosure mitigation options.

Working with the Center for Responsible Lending, FHA, and NeighborWorks, NAR has produced a series of educational brochures designed to educate consumers about different types of loans and provide information on various financing and refinancing options available to them. “REALTORS® help families achieve the dream of homeownership, and we believe that consumer protections should be in place to ensure that the dream does not turn into a family’s worst nightmare. We stand ready to work with Congress on the important issue of foreclosure rescue scams and on eliminating other predatory lending practices,” said Anderson.

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