What Is a Foreclosure?

06/04/2009 12:18 PM

07/10/2009 4:45 PM

When a homeowner falls behind on mortgage payments, the lender can ask a court to seize the home and sell it to cover the debt.Lenders asked courts in North Carolina to foreclose a record 45,500 homes last year, more than double the number in 2000.

Roughly half these filings end with an actual foreclosure. The remaining owners repay the loan by selling or refinancing, filing for bankruptcy, or striking a deal with the lender.

What It Means to You

Foreclosed owners lose their home, their neighborhood, their investment. Borrowing money becomes very hard and very expensive.

Some homes sit empty. Others become rentals. Communities are destabilized. Neighboring homes lose value. Crime sometimes rises.

Local governments lose property tax revenues. They also pay to process the foreclosure and for public safety issues associated with vacant buildings. Their average cost runs into thousands of dollars, according to a 2005 study by Harvard University researchers.

Contact Us

Lost your home? Struggling to hold on? Live in a neighborhood plagued by foreclosures? We'd like to hear your story. E-mail bappelbaum@charlotteobserver.com or call 704-358-5170.

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