Over the past two years, some homes in Northeast Charlotte, known as the “University Area,” have shown a significant decline in value-at a rate that some are considering notably higher when compared to other parts of the city. This decline in property value has primarily been the result of increased foreclosures in the area.
The University Area has experienced a lot of growth in the last 10 years, with new homes across the board. Mike Moulton, Real Estate Broker with Bee Home Solutions Inc. offers this opinion: “a lot of the builders five years ago had less stringent loan programs that they offered with their new homes for sale. First-time homebuyers were able to get sub-prime loans with very little money down and [the University Area] was a popular area to purchase these types of deals.”
Job losses in the area have also had a major effect on the ability of people to pay their mortgages. For example, big banks Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) and Bank of America have both had major layoffs in the past two years.
Tammy, who lists herself as a homebuyer on the real estate website, Trulia.com, thinks “the depreciation that Charlotte and surrounding areas in North Carolina are experiencing has to do with greed. People were living way beyond their financial means, and it is catching up with them.”
No matter what the “reason” may be, homes continue to be foreclosed by lenders at an alarming rate. In Charlotte, properties up for foreclosure are listed in the Mecklenburg Financial Times every Friday. In past weeks, there have been over six pages of foreclosed properties in one issue of the publication. Most long-term residents of stable communities in the University Area, though, have been very happy with their homes and neighborhood, and therefore, want the foreclosures to stop altogether to maintain the value and standard of living they currently have.
What can homeowners do to help combat foreclosure?
Some community advocates encourage standing up for yourself, your neighbors, and your neighborhood in order to prevent foreclosure. Instead of thinking, “What about me and my property value?” think, “How can we help our neighbors pull through and as a neighborhood, keep our property values from declining?”
When neighbors come together for a cause, amazing things can happen. For example, when a dozen neighbors carpool to the bank to re-negotiate the terms of a fellow homeowner’s mortgage, the bank is much more inclined to work with that homeowner (that is, search for solutions other than foreclosure)-especially if some of the neighbors have their own mortgages with that bank. In other words, there is strength in numbers. Working together can be for everyone’s benefit and at the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that the bank says, “Sorry…we can’t help.”