North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue signed a bill Wednesday granting consumers new protections from foreclosures and debt collection practices. Senate Bill 974, or the Consumer Economic Protection Act of 2009, gives court clerks presiding over a foreclosure hearing the ability to postpone foreclosure for up to 60 days, allowing homeowners and lenders more time to negotiate. “When a home is foreclosed — it’s bad for our families, it’s bad for our communities, it’s bad for our businesses and it’s bad for North Carolina,” said Gov. Perdue in a statement. “This bill makes it easier for homeowners to work out a deal with their lenders and avoid foreclosure.” The Act also gives homeowners more opportunity to appeal foreclosure orders by standardizing the amount of bond requirement at 1% of the balance due on the loan. Before the Act was signed, some homeowners were asked to put up a bond worth the entire value of the loan balance before appeal. The Act also protects North Carolina consumers from debt buyers that file lawsuits for collection. According to the statement, some of those debts had already been settled or paid, but now debt buyers must prove they have the right to enforce the debt and must verify the owed amount. The legislation comes after North Carolina saw one in every 956 housing units receive a foreclosure filing — either default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — in August, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac. Nearly 40,000 North Carolina homes foreclosed in 2009, according to court records. The Center for Responsible Lending reported more than 2.2m homes in the state saw their property values drop. Write to Jon Prior.
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