Some Homeowners Stuck In Foreclosure Process For Years

By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A recent report shows the foreclosure crisis is not improving in Minnesota.

The report by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center says, 2010 actually had an increase in the number of foreclosures compared to 2009.

While many people can wrap up their foreclosure in months, more and more homeowners may be stuck in the process for years.

“I’m stuck. I’m completely stuck,” said Shawn Smith.

Smith has owned a home for the last four years, but for the last two, he’s been trying to get rid of it.

“At this point, I kinda feel like I’m being held hostage,” he said.

Since January 2009, Smith has been working through foreclosure. A divorce and money issues caused him to fall behind on payments.

The original sheriff sale date was scheduled for July 2009, but the date came and went. Smith said the banks rescheduled his auction at least seven times.

“Basically, it’s the exact same letter saying it’s been postponed. No reason for it,” said Smith.

Yet the house is still in his name.

“I can’t even buy a rubber band right now. My credit history is absolutely shot. I have two years of non-payment,” he said.

In 2010, more than 25,000 homeowners went through the foreclosure process, the second highest year on record in part to unemployment and underemployment.

Some homeowners had their sheriff’s auction within six months, but others have a story similar to Smith’s.

“For most homeowners the process can take anywhere from 8 months to, in some cases, two years,” said Ed Nelson from the Minnesota Home Ownership Center.

Nelson says in most cases, the auction postponements are actually a good sign.

“When a bank  is willing to postpone two, three, four, five times, it shows that they’re willing to work with homeowners,” he said.

Nelson advises that homeowners going through foreclosure should be in constant communication with their banks and ask for help.

“I feel like I’ve exhausted everything at that point,” said Smith, who said he would rather cut his losses and move on.

Now, he’s just hoping the bank will let him.

“If I would have known that this was going to take forever … I would have taken more steps to try and get rid of it,” said Smith.

Bank of America says moratoriums and foreclosure reviews, meant to help homeowners over the last few years, have led to the postponements at Smith’s home. The new foreclosure sale date is set for May 5.

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