Homeowners hope plan will help stave off foreclosure

February 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) Home prices across the nation have fallen by 25 percent. A study in Chicago found that a foreclosed home reduces the price of neighboring houses by as much as 9 percent. While many foreclosure cases are a result of people buying more home than they could afford, it doesn't make the experience any less painful.

"It's just been a struggle. A struggle to stay in my home," said Rose Mary Chishom.

In Richton Park, one more face of foreclosure. Rose Mary Chishom signed on to an adjustable mortgage three years ago. Her payments started at $1,100 a month, but just as her home value began to fall, the rate went up. The bank now wants $1,800 a month. That's more than half of her take home pay.

"There's no way I can pay that and the light bill, gas bill and take care of the children and these things," said Chishom.

Chishom is among those hopeful that President Barack Obama's plan will help. Among other things, it pledges government money to close the gap, so mortgage payments won't account for more than 38 percent of a person's income.

The president's plan is also meant to restore confidence in the real estate market. Lenders like Claude L'Heureux at the Community Bank in Oak Park stand ready to lend, but only to those with a good credit history and willing to put as much as 20-to-30 percent down.

"One could argue this is the best time to buy a new home. You have this wonderful combination of low housing prices and low interest rates. When have we ever seen that before?" said L'Heureux.

"I always say it's kind of like the stock market, when it's the bottom, we're actually going to know 6sixmonths after it's the bottom. But things are point to, if we're not at the bottom now, we're probably pretty close," said Rick Sobin, Prudential Preffered realtor.

As for Rose Chishom, with the help of a group called Action Now, she was able to get a temporary reprieve from the bank. One she hopes will become permanent if they can come to terms on a payment plan.

"I believe if they're helping big people on Wall Street, I know they're going to help us," said Chishom.

A spokesperson for Chase -- which owns Chisholm's mortgage -- says they're currently in talks to rework her payment plan. The bank CEO called President Obama's program a "good and strong" plan. He says he hopes it will be successful in modifying mortgages to satisfy homeowners.

For more information on the plan, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/02/18/Help-for-homeowners.

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