103 lose homes in 2010

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Many halted by ‘robo-signer’ issue expected back this year

By Ben Carlson

The foreclosure epidemic in Anderson County barely slowed in 2010, topping out at 103 for the year, according to information obtained from the Anderson County Master Commissioner’s office, which is responsible for administering foreclosures.
Last year’s total was down from 2009, when a record 124 families lost their homes, but marks the second consecutive year over 100. By contrast, there were 87 foreclosures in 2008.
Although last year’s total was down, Master Commissioner Bill Patrick, a Lawrenceburg attorney, said the number would almost certainly have been higher were it not for federal action that halted foreclosures due to what is known as robo-signers.
Overwhelmed with the record number of foreclosures nationally, some lenders apparently signed off on thousands of foreclosures without actually reviewing them on an individual basis.
Patrick said that practice put the brakes on a number of foreclosures in Anderson County, which through the first nine months of the year, was on pace to equal 2009’s total.
He said he fully expects many of the foreclosures halted due to the robo-signer scandal will eventually take place anyway.
“We saw a lot of sales immediately canceled,” he said. “We will probably see those come back in 2011. It just pulled down the numbers temporarily.”
Patrick said his office also did not process any foreclosures in December.
“That seemed like the thing to do,” he said.
Although several local banks have fallen under close FDIC scrutiny during the past couple of years, failed home loans locally aren’t the primary reason.
Patrick said the vast majority of failed home loans here originated outside of Anderson County.
“They are secondary market loans in nearly every case,” he said.
Patrick said the return of the robo-signer foreclosures is one of two ominous factors likely to keep the number high in 2011.
The other is the number of people who have temporarily staved off foreclosure by using a loan modification system that isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“What we are seeing is that a lot of loans have been in default for while,” he said. “A lot of people have been trying to get mortgage modifications, but are finding they don’t work nearly as well as they were touted.
“The Obama administration talked about them being a miracle cure, but that hasn’t been the case.”

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