SPARKS, NV - People have to jump through hoops before becoming a homeowner in Nevada. Although the housing market is looking good for the rest of the country, Nevada is still the slowest to recover. Now, a free program could help them keep a home and to get through all the obstacles.
Washoe County is still one of the top areas in Nevada for people suffering from foreclosures. Neighborhoods in Sparks are getting hit hard. Talking about losing a home or overdue mortgages can be embarrassing and disheartening, but there is still hope. The Nevada Attorney General is teaming up with the state's top housing counselors to help you keep your home.
"I have so many friends who got hurt in all this mortgage foreclosure and their home's under water and they tried with the banks themselves and they didn't have much help with that," said Eddie Scott, a long-time Reno resident.
Thousands of Nevadans are facing those problems, some owing more money on their mortgage than their house is worth.
"They put so much money in their home and their home went under water," he said.
Now, they're working toward home ownership. The cry for relief is high, but the actual help has been low. The Nevada Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, is hoping to turn things around.
"The counselors are in person; you can actually sit down and talk to somebody, bring all your documentations in, go through your files and talk to them about various federal and state programs that may be available to assist them," she said.
Home Again is a one-stop-shop homeowner relief program designed for every homeowner looking for help. In it's first year, Home Again has generated about 12,000 calls, that's about 1,000 per month, and counselors are staying cautiously optimistic about the future.
"The low point over 70% of Nevadans had negative equity and they were upside down on their home and the latest reports are between 45% and 50% are upside down, so there is improvement," Michelle Johnson, President and CEO of Financial Guidance Center, said.
The program protects homeowners from becoming victims. One of the biggest problems Nevadans face is mortgage fraud due to the foreclosure crisis.
"People have been prayed upon because they have been trying to save their homes and you have some disreputable person or company coming along saying, 'I can help you, but in order for you to do that you have to pay me some money," Cortez Masto said.
Home Again is completely free. It's being funded through a multi-state settlement from last year. To get help, call 1-855-457-4638.