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Piece by Piece Update

September 11, 2012





Please take note of the following news and calendar items. 

Piece by Piece 2012 Annual Meeting at Carter Center; HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones Gives Keynote Address



Piece by Piece hosted its third annual meeting at the Carter Center on August 28.  Approximately 200 guests were in attendance.  HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones provided the keynote address.  As the second most senior official at HUD, Jones manages the Department's day-to-day operations, the annual operating budget, and the agency's 8,900 employees.  Jones alerted the audience to the recent extension of the Independent Foreclosure Review process to December 31, 2012.  Consumers with a  primary residence that was involved in a foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 may qualify for a free Independent Foreclosure Review.  The Independent Foreclosure Review will determine whether individual homeowners suffered financial injury and should receive compensation or other remedy because of errors or other problems during their home foreclosure process.  For more information, visit www.independentforeclosurereview.com.


The meeting agenda also featured the following: 

    • an update on the HomeSafe Georgia program (US Treasury Hardest Hit Funds) provided by DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty;
    • overview of The Home Depot Foundation's focus on Veterans housing issues shared by Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation;
    • panel session moderated by Odetta MacLeish White (Enterprise Community Partners) on private sector investment in high-foreclosure neighborhoods including Robert Lee from Sylvan Road Capital and David Zanaty from Waypoint Homes; and
    • local government response panel moderated by ARC's Dan Reuter and including County Chairmen Eldrin Bell (Clayton), Burrell Ellis (DeKalb), Charlotte Nash (Gwinnett) and Richard Oden (Rockdale).


The Piece by Piece event was covered by the Saporta Report's David Pendered.  MORE


AJC reporter Chris Quinn attended the PBP event and featured the trend in private sector investment in high-foreclosure neighborhoods in a follow-up article on September 10. 


AJC: Companies Go Home Shopping Around the Metro Area


(AJC -0 9/10/12; Christopher Quinn)

"Metro Atlanta's depressed home prices are drawing the interest of a new type of buyer - companies that buy houses in volume.  Such companies have snapped up foreclosures and short sales in the last few months from Gwinnett to Clayton counties, as well homes listed conventionally by realtors. And they say they plan to spend hundreds of millions on homes in the next two years.  Most are renting the homes - sometimes to the former owners. Others are buying and waiting for prices to increase before re-selling the houses.  It's a new twist on house-flipping, which usually involves a single entrepreneur. The company purchases have helped push up metro Atlanta's battered home prices, sopped up foreclosures that depress prices and sales, and created jobs at companies that buy, renovate, maintain and manage the houses.  The downsides are an uptick in prices and competition for home buyers, along with concern that large-scale absentee owners will not take good care of homes.  "Some are acquiring houses from foreclosure and leaving them vacant for a purely speculative investment," said John O'Callahan, the president of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership."  MORE

Metro Foreclosure Notices Down 12% Over Last Year


(AJC - 9/11/12; Christopher Quinn) Another drop in home foreclosure notices is boosting hopes that metro Atlanta's foreclosure crisis may have peaked.  Numbers of notices have been trending down for the year, and they fell again in September to 7,274, from 7,634 a year earlier.  Although that was up slightly from August, foreclosure notices for the year-to-date are down 12 percent, to 72,441. The downward trend could benefit all homeowners, because the avalanche of foreclosures on the market has depressed values in many areas. MORE


FHFA Announces First Winning Bidder in REO Pilot Initiative


(Courtesy of the Federal Housing Finance Agency): The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced that Pacifica Companies, LLC has purchased 699 Fannie Mae properties in Florida as part of a real estate owned (REO) pilot initiative. FHFA will announce the winning investors for properties in other areas upon closing of the transactions in the coming weeks.  Properties in Atlanta (541) were not awarded.  Those properties will be evaluated for disposition through Fannie Mae's retail sales operation or through future structured transactions.  All properties were sold near or above market value.  MORE


Georgia's Affordable Housing Picture; Low Income Households Face Deficit in Rental Units


 According to a recently updated report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, many renters in Georgia are extremely low income and face a housing cost burden. Across the state, there is a deficit of rental units both affordable and available to extremely low income (ELI) renter households, i.e. those with incomes at 30% or less of the area median income (AMI). The National Low Income Housing Coalition uses data from a variety of sources to provide an overview of affordable housing needs at the state level. Advocates can use these one-page profiles to educate both the general public and lawmakers about the great need for affordable housing.  MORE


The Role of Investors in Distressed Neighborhoods; Focus on Fulton County


Georgia Tech's Dr. Dan Immergluck recently released the initial portion of a larger study examining what happens to foreclosed properties - especially those purchased by investors - in lower-income neighborhoods in Fulton County.  The larger study, in turn, will be a component of a multi-city research project, which is being conducted through the What Works Collaborative.  Immergluck's initial analysis examines REO and post-REO activity in the 2008 to 2011 timeframe during the peak of the national and local foreclosure crisis.  MORE 


Mortgage Settlement Monitor Release First Progress Report


The Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement - Joseph A. Smith - recently released the first progress report that outlines details about the settlement, steps his office has taken to implement it and progress made by the five banks that are parties to the settlement to date. Smith's report discloses that the banks have granted $10.56 billion in consumer relief to borrowers between March 1 and June 30, 2012. "Additionally, first lien principal reduction trials were offered and begun for about 28,000 homeowners, totaling approximately $3 billion of potential relief," said Smith. "This information is self-reported and has not been confirmed by the professional firms working with me. Further, it represents gross dollar amounts and cannot be used to evaluate progress toward the banks' $20 billion obligation."   PRESS RELEASE   FULL REPORT


New Study Indicates Residents Feel Safer When Vacant Lots Are Greened


(Courtesy of the Center for Community Progress):  A recent study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that residents feel safer when vacant lots have been greened.  According to an excerpt from the article:  "Vacant lot greening changes the physical environment of a neighborhood from one that may promote crime and fear to one that may reduce crime and make people feel safer," said lead author Eugenia C. Garvin, MD, a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. "Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion."  MORE




Susan Adams

Piece by Piece Coordinator  



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