foreclosures

Associated Press

The Seattle City Council could move one step closer to using its power of eminent domain as a way to curb foreclosures. 

The council is looking to create a committee to explore eminent domain and two other principal reduction programs, namely lease swapping and setting up a municipal land bank, as tools for struggling homeowners.

RealtyTrac

The number of foreclosures in Washington state has jumped so far this year compared with last year, counter to the national trend. 

Bank repossessions climbed 78 percent in the first half of this year, according to the foreclosure-data firm RealtyTrac. New foreclosure filings have risen as well even though, nationally, they’re dropping.

Timothy Ellis

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Even as home prices have been rising in the Seattle metro area, more people are losing their homes to foreclosure.

The number of people in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area who lost their homes to foreclosure in March jumped 67 percent from a year ago. Statewide, the number was even higher – 88 percent. That's according to new numbers from RealtyTrac, the foreclosure-data company.

City of Auburn

Are abandoned, dilapidated houses a problem in your neighborhood? They are in Auburn, and that city’s mayor isn’t putting up with it.

Mayor Pete Lewis has been taking photos of abandoned houses owned by far-flung banks and publishing them with the bank’s information on a “Wall of Shame” website. And that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the city's efforts.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Home prices have dropped almost 30 percent from their peak in Seattle, but there are still a lot of people who can’t afford to buy a home in the city. Now, a new program is tackling that problem by converting foreclosed homes into affordable housing.

Under the program, you could buy a house for $85,000 less than what it’s worth - if you make below a certain income threshold.

A report from a consumer group released today says that vulnerable owners are losing their homes for owing as little as $400 in back taxes.

The AP reports:

"Outdated state laws allow big banks and other investors to reap windfall profits by buying the houses for a pittance and reselling them, the National Consumer Law Center said in a report being released Tuesday.

It's a drawn out, frustrating process, but if you're willing to put in the time,  buying a home from a bank can save you a lot of money. Seattle-area real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard that while it is mostly investors who seek out these properties, average home buyers can score great deals, too

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Starting tomorrow, struggling homeowners in Washington have new rights. 

The Foreclosure Fairness Act signed into law in April is designed to prevent unnecessary foreclosures primarily by requiring banks to take part in mediation if borrowers ask for it and doubling the number of housing counselors.

File photo

Despite the massive fraud that has emerged as the U.S. tries to dig itself out of the foreclosure mess at the heart of the great recession, there are still huge numbers of honest folks working in the real estate business. 

That's according to professional appraisers in Washington state, dozens of whom have signed an on-line petition. 

Emergency measures in a new law go into effect immediately, creating the infrastructure needed to get more housing counselors working with banks and preventing people from losing their homes.

David Zalubowski / AP

In the past month, the Seattle area's foreclosure rate has soared to new heights - it's now higher than the national average. One out of every 476 homes has a foreclosure filing, compared with one in every 497 nationally, according to a new report by RealtyTrac, a foreclosure information firm.

AP

Update Feb. 10, 2011 - The correct percentage of area mortgage holders "underwater" - as reported by Zillow.com - is 34.3%, not of all homeowners. This post has been updated to clarify that point.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth? You’re not alone. One-third of homeowners in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are “underwater” on their homes. "Negative equity" rose faster in this region than anywhere else in the country.

Tom Banse / N3

Idaho’s Tamarack Resort is once again alive with skiers and snowboarders. But the happy scene didn’t come easy.

Tamarack is one of the most glaring casualties in the region from the bursting of the real estate bubble. Homeowners at the bankrupt resort are bootstrapping the once heralded ski area back into business.

AP photo.

There'll be a lot of buzz today about the latest poll on the Senate race between Dino Rossi and incumbent Patty Murray.  The KCTS 9 - KPLU - Washington Poll shows a narrowing lead for Murray, from 8% two weeks ago to 4.3% this week. Still, among likely voters, Murray is up 6%. It all points to a race that might not be decided election night, and perhaps for weeks to come.