Alaska Optimistic Despite Rise in Foreclosure Properties
Despite the 36-percent rise in number of foreclosure properties in Alaska to 1,131 in 2008 from the previous year, state officials are optimistic that the state is able to avert further foreclosures and control their effects.
Compared to other U.S. states battered by hundreds of thousands of foreclosure properties, Alaska’s foreclosure problem is negligible. It had only 1,131 foreclosure properties in 2008, which represented a 36-percent rise from the previous year.
This means Alaska had only about 830 foreclosure properties in the entire period of 2007. Compare that figure to the more than 476,000 housing units which received foreclosure filings in 2007 in California, one of the three states ranking high on charts of foreclosures by state.
Mark Romick, head of planning at Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, said the state economy is stable and the number of foreclosure properties is not significant enough to hurt the economy.
There have been no mass job layoffs in the state, according to Tracy Reno, manager for home ownership at nonprofit Neighborworks Anchorage. Reno said there are some concerns about foreclosure properties in the central areas of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, but across the state, foreclosure is not triggering a crisis.
Caroline Schultz, an economist working for the state government of Alaska, has the same optimistic view. Schultz is still concerned about the situations of families suffering because of foreclosures, but she is glad state officials are undertaking measures to prevent the state from suffering the level of foreclosures happening in other states.
Reno of Neighborworks asserted the key for homeowners to prevent foreclosure is to be proactive. She said homeowners should contact their lenders or housing nonprofits as soon as they miss the first payment. Reno said she and her staff have seen that most foreclosure properties were the results of people losing their jobs, getting seriously ill or having a death in the family, which are things out of their control.
Romick of Alaska Housing has several pieces of advice for homeowners threatened by foreclosures. Once homeowners miss one monthly payment, they should call their lenders and explain their financial circumstances. The lenders could lay out for them several options. Having several options to choose from before a foreclosure action is filed makes it easier for the lender and for the homeowner to work out an agreement that could benefit both sides.
In addition, state officials are advising troubled homeowners to contact immediately counselors certified by the HUD. Certified counselors are trained and are more experienced in saving homes from becoming foreclosure properties.
By Cassiano Travareli