By Kenneth Trepeta
RISMEDIA, May 2009-According to recent media reports, foreclosures are expected to increase in the coming months. These reports cite the lifting of foreclosure moratoria put in place by major lenders and servicers as a major reason for a forecasted increase in foreclosures.
As stated over the last several months, reviving America’s economy begins with stabilizing our housing markets. REALTORS® are uniquely qualified to assist in this challenge as they work with homeowners through each step of the buying process and are recognized experts at energizing the market, improving communities and advancing the dream of homeownership. Realtors are oftentimes the first call when a homeowner is having financial problems with their home loan and as such are optimistic, resourceful and sensitive to homeowners facing financial hardship and the pain of foreclosure. For these reasons, Realtors continue to need both the tools to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and the expertise to deal with troublesome transactions such as short sales.
To aid Realtors, their clients and the nation’s communities in this endeavor the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) launched a $3 million initiative on March 1st titled “NAR’s Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program.” While designed for state and local Realto Associations, it is important that Realtors are aware of this program as they can serve as an invaluable tool and resource.
About NAR’s Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program
The goals of the Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program (FPR) program are to help the state and local Realtor Associations address three priorities: educate Realtors with customized training targeted to their individual markets and state laws; work with homeowners to avoid foreclosures; and engage in their communities to minimize the adverse impact of foreclosures. To achieve this, the FPR program will provide grants and services to help state and local Realtor Associations develop and implement strategies to address these goals and the needs of their members when it comes to the foreclosure crisis.
Through the program, any Realtor Association is encouraged to customize a market-driven FPR program based on their own strategic and business needs and submit that plan for review and approval to NAR for funding. Funds will be provided based on the state membership level and will be available during 2009 and 2010. These grants may be used to fund virtually any new activity chosen to address the foreclosure crisis including, but not limited to:
• Providing Realtors with short sales and foreclosure training opportunities;
• Enlisting the help of professionals in designing action plans to address the challenges of foreclosures;
• Engaging grant writing support to apply for government or private funding; or,
• Obtain the services of communications strategists.
In fact, NAR has just awarded the first four grants under the FPR program for a statewide foreclosure hotline, short sales training seminars, and a statewide website and comprehensive partnership among Realtors and state and local officials and community groups.
NAR’s Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program Toolkit
In addition to providing grants to state and local Realtor Associations, NAR has also created an online toolkit to serve as a clearinghouse of information for Realtors and Associations, and provide some guidance on activities that can be implemented using FPR grants. In this toolkit, Realtors and Associations will find information about: educational opportunities and resources, government and private grant programs, community outreach programs, and best practices related to foreclosure prevention and response such as counseling for troubled borrowers, procedures for accomplishing short sales and strategies for selling foreclosed, vacant and abandoned properties. NAR’s clearinghouse will highlight actions already being taken by state and local Realtor Associations in the hopes that Realtors will take the best of these activities and encourage their associations to replicate or improve upon them.
In order to get started, Realtors and Association Executives are encouraged to visit www.realtor.org/foreclosure to access the “NAR Foreclosure Prevention and Response” Web site and the Foreclosure Prevention and Response Guide where you can learn more about this program. The guide will provide an initial compendium of information on foreclosure resources and an application form for local and state Associations.
While only Realtor Association executives can apply for the grants, we know that many real estate firms have already implemented activities to help their agents address the foreclosure crisis. As such, we encourage you to reach out to your state and local Realtor Association and offer your thoughts, ideas and assistance as they draft these plans. By everyone in the real estate community working together, the current foreclosure crisis can be better managed and we will be on track to restoring a healthy housing market.
Kenneth Trepeta is the Director of NAR Real Estate Services For more information on the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Services program, please visit www.realtor.org/res.
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