By Jessie Burchette
firstname.lastname@example.orgForeclosures in Rowan County have dropped sharply in the first three months of this year.
The January filings of 18 new foreclosures was the lowest monthly total in almost a decade.
According to records kept by the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the last time the monthly foreclosure filings dipped into the teens was in October 1999. That month, 16 foreclosures were filed with the Rowan Clerk of Court.
"It's been a while since we had anything that low," Jeff Barger, Clerk of Court, said Thursday. "They are starting to climb back up."
After dropping to 18 in January, the number of foreclosures grew to 41 in February and continued upward to 63 in March.
Statewide foreclosure filings went up in March after a four-month lull. The Associated Press reported statewide filings rose almost 11 percent in March.
Barger and Lou Adkins with the Salisbury Community Development Corp. credit any slowdown in the foreclosure numbers to moratoriums and a new state law that delayed proceedings.
But rising unemployment is pushing the numbers upward.
"We're working as hard as we can to keep up. We've been swamped," Adkins said.
Salisbury Community Development Corp. has helped hundreds stay in their homes. A community development coordinator/housing counselor, Adkins said no one that she's seen has lost a house.
That included one person who waited until three days before the planned sale.
"The word is kind of out that there is help available," Adkins said.
Barger is among those sending homeowners facing foreclosure to Adkins, who has high praise for banks, especially local ones. "Most of the banks are much easier to deal with (than mortgage companies)," Adkins said. "We're thrilled to deal with the banks."
Many of the local banks have been sending people to the agency for assistance. "They don't want to foreclose."
She cited a new program by the N.C. Banking Commission, which sends a letter to the homeowner advising them of a phone number to call for assistance if banks notify the commission of a pending foreclosure.
Adkins is said as many as 300 Rowan homeowners who were notified by the Banking Commission never responded.
So far, the Community Development Corp. has seen 120 people who got the Banking Commission letter.
Dealing with mortgage companies is a tougher road, primarily because they are scattered all over the country.
But Adkins said the mortgage companies are willing to do modifications.
Homeowners whose financing is through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have a new program offering help.
"It's a really good deal. Homeowners can get their interest lowered," Adkins said.
Salisbury Community Development Corp. offers a wide array of assistance, including a one-time payment from United Way funds.
Adkins said the agency has been dealing with the foreclosure issue since 2003 when the Pillowtex shutdown left thousands without jobs. Figures from the state show foreclosures in Rowan and neighboring counties increased substantially in 2003. The 814 foreclosures in Rowan in 2003 is the highest of any year in the past decade.
Salisbury Community Development Corp. is located at 1400 W. Bank St. Contact numbers are 704-638-2154 or 704-638-5383.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.