By Stacey Moncrieff, Editor in Chief, REALTOR® Magazine
Tucson, Ariz., practitioner Frances Flynn Thorsen is fighting mad — and she’s not sparing any punches. She wants the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and state REALTOR® organizations to do more to help homeowners with underwater mortgages keep their homes.
“All the education programs and certifications that exist today are sales centric,” she says, “not a single word about loan modifications.”
Frances has taken her crusade to the airwaves with “Truth in Housing Matters,” a weekly show on Access Tucson. She’s also written an education program on home retention and has applied for CE credit through the state of Arizona.
Actually, if she had walked the halls of NAR’s Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington this week and attended NAR’s Real Estate Summit on Tuesday, she would have heard a whole lot of people talking about loan modifications and a whole lot of questions about what the government can do to make its Making Home Affordable program — now voluntary for lenders — more effective.
I commend Frances for her ongoing work on this topic. I just have two issues with what she’s saying:
- Getting involved in loan modifications can be dangerous territory for real estate practitioners. REALTORS® at the Midyear meetings were warned about overstepping the bounds of their license and trying to help homeowners with loan mods.
- Most NAR members are in the sales business. They don’t make money unless a home sells, so it’s hard to fault them for trying to keep their business moving.
That said, it’s hard to disagree with her point that keeping people in their homes is better for homeowners, communities, and the real estate industry. If you want to help homeowners in your area, Frances suggests doing some digging to find what assistance is available through local attorneys or HUD-certified counselors. You might start with Making Home Affordable or Freddie Mac’s Don’t Borrow Trouble. Also check out the resources available through NAR’s Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program.
What more do you think NAR should be doing to help homeowners keep their homes?