If the national foreclosure crisis had an epicenter, it would have to be Las Vegas, since Nevada is more often than not at the top of any state-level list that involves foreclosure statistics.
Now, "The Face of Foreclosure: An Analysis of the Nevada Foreclosure Crisis," a new report from the Nevada Association of Realtors, has presented some startling findings:
- Twenty-three percent of the homeowners surveyed for the report admitted they had strategically defaulted or walked away from their mortgage, even though they had the financial ability to make their payments.
- Sixty-one percent of the homeowners said they hadn't heard of the federal government's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative program. Only 3 percent said they'd received help from the state's foreclosure mediation program, and fewer than 50 percent said they knew about the federal government's MakingHomeAffordable.gov website.
- Nearly half the homeowners placed the most blame for the foreclosure crisis on banks and lenders. Homeowners also expressed great frustration at their inability to talk to anyone who was authorized to take real action on their loan.
- No solid evidence supported the argument that most foreclosed homeowners were simply victims. "By their own admission in both research and conversations, many homeowners were in untenable financial situations. Many of those surveyed were spending an incredibly unhealthy amount of their monthly income on housing," the report stated.
- Still, many homeowners were affected by circumstances largely out of their control. Those who experienced two or more such "trigger events" at the same time were more likely to lose their home.
The most frequently cited events, in order, were loss of a job, unexpected medical bills, other bills, a new household member and the death of a family member. Also mentioned were tax increases, the death of a mortgage payer, theft or robbery, and being arrested.
The report was based on statistical data, two focus groups and more than 1,000 telephone interviews with homeowners who personally experienced or narrowly avoided foreclosure or lived in a high-foreclosure neighborhood.
Banks, apparently not consulted, might have had different opinions.