WKYT Investigates: Home foreclosures in Lexington on the rise

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)- A house is often the single largest investment in a lifetime. While most of the time the investment is viewed to be a secure one, many are faced with it slipping through their fingers.

"You feel hopeless; You may lose the only home you've got," explained a homeowner who is facing foreclosure. She and her husband have spoken with their bank and mortgage company, but says that they haven't offered any help. "You don't have anywhere to go, Just don't know what else to do."

This couple, too embarrassed by their financial difficulties to identify themselves, are two months behind on their mortgage. Like many living in Central Kentucky, they could be foreclosed upon.

"You have to decide what to pay; if you pay your house payment or if you get groceries. If you pay your house payment or pay your medical bills. It's always been a struggle, but the last two years have been the worst."

With economists widely agreeing the recession began in 2008, most say now, recovery is well on the way. But Fayette County saw a dramatic increase in home foreclosures in 2012 compared to previous years.

The numbers on Fayette County home foreclosures according to numbers provided by the Fayette PVA are as follows:

Year Count

2005 298

2006 335

2007 369

2008 527

2009 609

2010 599

2011 495

2012 863

"This is kind of an artificial number that we're seeing on paper," Fayette Property Valuation Administrator David O'Neill said.

O'Neill says the Lexington real estate market has remained strong through the recession and says property values have at least maintained. Following a federal moratorium on foreclosures, O'Neill says the increase in foreclosures last year is because many foreclosures that should have happened in 2011 actually went through.

"When they started declining in 2011, some people remember there was an auto-signing scandal going on where lenders were filing foreclosures rapidly and not giving people enough time to get their paperwork in order."

Foreclosures are happening across the community and O'Neill says no neighborhood or price range is immune. But he says homeowners shouldn't worry about property value if their neighbors are foreclosed upon.

"As a rule, we do not use them in assessing the value of the neighborhood."

But local realtors often do.

"We'd look at it for sure," commented Amanda V. Stepp, who's with Prudential. She says she's represented buyers of all kinds, including those who've dealt with foreclosures.

She says when agents negotiating prices, a foreclosure or distressed sale in your neighborhood can drive your selling price down.

"When it sells, it (a foreclosure) often sells below market value. And whether an appraiser or if you refinance or sell---whether they take that into consideration, that's changing."

The last thing the couple facing foreclosure wants to do is hurt the property values of their neighbors---and most importantly, they just want to stay.

"This is a close-knit neighborhood. We wouldn't want to move."

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