Foreclosure Rates Up 275% In MD, But Realtors Still Positive - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Foreclosure Rates Up 275% In MD, But Realtors Still Positive

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MARYLAND - Every homeowner fears the word foreclosure. While nationwide statistics show many housing markets across the country are recovering from the foreclosure crisis, states like Maryland are just beginning theirs.

"We do have a higher number than normal," says Laurie Crawford, a realtor with ERA Martin and Associates in Salisbury, Maryland.

In just one year, Maryland's foreclosure filings have sky-rocketed 275%. For overall foreclosure activity, which includes default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions, Maryland is number two in the country next to Florida. Analysts say state legislation and court rulings kept a lid on foreclosure activity during the worst of the housing crisis, and now they're boiling over.

"Some of those homeowners were in the process or getting ready to be filed and they just stopped," says Michael Nolen, president of Delmarva Home Relief.

In addition, Maryland is a judicial state, which means all foreclosures must be approved by the courts, which can also slow the process.

"Some states have a much smaller time period," says Crawford. "Ours takes a bit longer."

Yet while the numbers are high, not all hope is lost. Crawford says that 20% more homes are selling now compared to this time last year, and this includes foreclosed homes.

"We have foreclosures, they are a part of our inventory, but they are also a part of our contracts. We're seeing a lot of them sell."

Crawford also says that while many people associate poor conditions with foreclosed homes, this is not necessarily the case.

"A lot of banks that own them realize they are in competition with those who own homes, so we see a lot of them refreshed with new carpet and fresh paint. They used to have a bad reputation but now they're getting a lot better."

While both Crawford and Nolen feel that foreclosures rates will still be high for at least a year, they say that currently, house prices are interest rates are lower than ever, and it's a great time to buy. However, Crawford warns that interest rates are starting to go up.

"The sooner you can start looking the better. If you're interested in it, it's definitely a good time do it."

She recommends for future buyers to start looking in a price range that is affordable, and make sure the monthly payment is something that is very comfortable. Crawford says that for those who currently own homes and are worried about their future financial situation, to not hesitate to ask for help. Delmarva Home Relief is one of many foreclosure-consulting agencies. Nolen also suggests contacting the Homeowners HOPE Hotline.

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