WAYS AROUND FORECLOSURE
The article (cover story, "Homewreckers," Nov. 23) is very disturbing and only somewhat exposes the deplorable level of greed and general lack of integrity that abounds from the real estate agent to the mortgage broker. It is truly amazing that housing problems are so widespread, especially here in Georgia, which happens to lead the nation in real estate fraud.
No professionals should allow any client to move forward in the buying process without an understanding of the process, so that the client becomes an educated consumer and not a victim. There may be several alternatives for some people facing the horrible fact of foreclosure:
REFINANCE and let your collateral work for you! Your property is your collateral... use it.
Bankruptcy is not the only alternative! If the person is bankrupt already, he or she may be able to do a bailout -- which will essentially refinance not only the mortgage but pay off the other debts that were included in the bankruptcy action. The client may not get 100 percent of the appraised value of his or her home, but it's another alternative to getting out from under a foreclosure and paying off other debts included in the bankruptcy.
For the 76-year-old woman, she should/could have done a reverse mortgage: a program in which senior citizens may be able to refinance their homes. If there is equity in the home (determined by an appraisal), the senior would be able to not only avoid any future payments, but may also be able to obtain cash!
For most homeowners, a refinance should be the first alternative, but depending on their mortgage history and credit scores, homeowners should be able to restructure their mortgage loan to guard against a foreclosure. This should be done prior to, if possible, any Notice of Default actions. Refinances are generally very quick and easy because the client already has homeowner's insurance, and getting a title is quick -- the only thing that would need to be done would be the appraisal.
People can refinance for many reasons, not just to consolidate debts. Consumers must learn to USE CREDIT WISELY. Be knowledgeable of what credit is and how it works -- clean up your credit report!
-- Diane P. Woolridge, Atlanta
It's the people, not the party
I do not agree that Georgia Democrats are to blame for the fact that they have lost control of state government (Metropolis, "Whipped, beaten and without a clue," Nov. 23). The Democratic Party has not abandoned Georgia voters, but Georgia voters -- like most (white) Southerners -- have abandoned the Democratic Party. That is old news. The only consistently Democratic voters left in this state are the 85 percent of African-Americans who did not vote for Sonny Perdue, the 100,000 or so white intellectuals who live in intown Atlanta and the few thousand trial lawyers who represent average citizens rather than business interests. As long as Republican politicians continue to pander to prejudices that the majority of Georgians have toward those minority constituencies, Republicans will continue to dominate state politics. When enough blue-collar voters who think that they are Republicans have lost a job, their health insurance, an arm or leg, or loved one without adequate compensation -- then they will be able to make the connection between what they have lost and the irresponsible policies of the Republicans whom they put in office.
-- Craig T. Jones, Atlanta
Great article on the least influential folks (cover story, "Atlanta's 11 least influential," Nov. 9). While I especially sympathize with the folks from the 800 block of Mercer Street, the fact that they got code enforcement to even pick up their phone calls surprises me. I would suggest that any citizen of Atlanta wanting local government to do its job could qualify as "least influential."
In my neighborhood of Washington Park, code enforcement won't show up, or claims it can't find the owners of dilapidated property. Water meters run in front of houses, and even when they are reported, the Watershed Department won't come fix them. Fulton County Animal Control drives right by the pack of chow-chows and pit bulls that live in our park. A set of historic buildings along Martin Luther King was recently demolished by Russell without so much as a demolition permit on file with the city. Garbage piles in front of rental houses where evictions have occurred are passed by garbage trucks -- you have to call the garbage department to schedule their pick-up (meaning the neighbors have to, not the absentee landlords). I even had to hand-make a street sign for the corner of Ollie Street and MLK because people would get lost on their way to my house for months while it was down.
We have so little influence in part because there aren't many of us left here -- many houses are empty (see www.westsideatlanta.blogspot.com) and I guess empty houses don't vote.
-- JP Chandonia, Atlanta
Department of Clarifications
The metro Atlanta population figures used in last week's Add It Up were drawn from the 10 counties under the jurisdiction of the Atlanta Regional Commission. The U.S. Census Bureau currently includes 28 counties in Atlanta's "metropolitan statistical area" and estimates metro Atlanta's 2005 population at 4.9 million. The Census Bureau listed the metro area's 1980 population as 2.2 million.
A blanket caption for photos accompanying our Nov. 16 cover story on the Republican election victory in Georgia ("The party's over") didn't fully describe where the photos were taken. Some were shot at Sonny Perdue's victory party; others at Casey Cagle's party. The celebrations were next door to each other at the Westin Buckhead.
In the Nov. 2 cover story ("Freedom detained"), a photograph taken in Yemen was credited incorrectly. It should have been credited: "courtesy of Kristin Wilhelm."
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