Foreclosed Bank and HUD Houses Owned by African American Seniors Rise

by on Foreclosures

More and more African American senior homeowners in Las Vegas are seeing their properties end up as foreclosed bank and HUD houses. According to housing market experts, these homeowners are also the most vulnerable to the machinations of fake foreclosure rescue firms that have emerged in great numbers in the city.

North Las Vegas foreclosed homes continue to rise, but the southern part of the city is where hundreds of fraudulent rescue firms can be found. These companies reportedly offer to fix the mortgage problems of troubled homeowners, sometimes even asking for a fee of more than $3,000 only to leave the homeowners hanging after they have taken their money.

Bank foreclosures in Nevada are the highest in the whole country, with the city of Las Vegas ranked number one in terms of homeownership risks. Among the estimated 460,000 homes in Las Vegas, around 80% are said to be underwater or attached to a mortgage that costs more than the value of the property.

Among these high number of bank foreclosures and foreclosed HUD homes, a large percentage is owned by ethnic homeowners, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. According to local housing market analysts, they are the main target of fraudulent foreclosure rescue firms. They reported that some of these companies have made their base in Las Vegas for the sole purpose of exploiting this particular group of borrowers.

Local authorities have stated that these companies pretending to help homeowners prevent foreclosure sales take advantage of most ethnic borrowers who are in desperate situations. New immigrants who have limited English speaking skills are also main targets for such companies. In some cases, these fake rescue operators are referred by religious groups and ethnic associations for which African American and Hispanic homeowners belong.

The state's Attorney General Office is reportedly investigating around 200 potential fake rescue companies. They advise homeowners, particularly the elderly and the immigrants, not to pay upfront fees. They also suggest dealing instead with government-certified agencies where foreclosure counseling is offered for free.

The problem though, authorities have revealed, is that these agencies are mostly understaffed. The city of Las Vegas and the whole state have such a huge number of bank foreclosures and foreclosed HUD houses that, for the most part, federal-supported agencies are unable to address homeowners' needs quickly.

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