A new survey commissioned by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) has found that many Pennsylvanians who encountered foreclosure in the last 12 months were unaware of state and federal assistance programs. The survey, performed by Florida-based polling firm Strategic Guidance Systems (SGS) between June 22 and June 27, also found borrowers to be unsatisfied with their servicers' loss mitigation efforts.
Nearly half (48%) of the 500 borrowers surveyed said their lenders or servicers were ‘not at all’ willing to work with them on foreclosure avoidance.
"The study represents a significant number of Pennsylvanians who have personally experienced foreclosure in some way,’ says SGS pollster Joel Searby. ‘They're people from all walks of life, various socioeconomic backgrounds and all parts of the commonwealth.’
According to the survey, 67% of respondents had ‘never heard of’ the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, 57% had never heard of Making Home Affordable and 61% were unfamiliar with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency's Homeowner Equity Recovery Operation program.
Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said they attempted to contact their lender about a solution to their pending foreclosure. The 30% who worked with their lenders said it made no difference, while 19% said it "made things worse."
Most of the survey respondents were between the ages of 40 and 59, SGS says. Almost three quarters of those surveyed had lived in their home for more than five years at the time of foreclosure. Forty-one percent of the sample personally experienced foreclosure; 57% narrowly avoided or are currently in foreclosure.
The survey also found that job loss and unexpected medical bills are among the top factors contributing to foreclosures in the state. Fifty-seven percent of the sample said their household had experienced a wage-earner's job loss in the 12 months prior to their foreclosure, while 47% said they had been hit by unexpected medical bills. Thirty-six percent indicated they had other "unexpected bills."
PAR says it commissioned the study to understand the impact foreclosures have on individual Pennsylvanians. The study was funded by a grant from the National Association of Realtors.