Bankruptcy experts expect the problem to worsen - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bankruptcy experts expect the problem to worsen

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April 29, 2008

Albany --  Georgia has the sixth highest rate of foreclosures in the nation, and the number of homes heading toward foreclosure is twice as high as this time last year.

In Dougherty County there are 34 homes pending foreclosure, while in Lee County there are 12. They will be sold on the courthouse steps May 6th to the top bidder. Bankruptcy Attorney Walter Kelley says foreclosures are as bad as he's seen. "I think it's going to get worse."

That's because skyrocketing prices of gas and food have stretched family budgets, while their wages have not kept up. With adjusted rate mortgages, rising insurance and tax costs, many families can't make their house payments, and can't sell them either.

Kelley says people must negotiate with their creditors, and be smart which bills to pay. "They are paying their credit cards, and letting their house payment get behind. I think you need to make your house payment one way or another."

Albany real estate leaders say home values here have not dropped like in many cities, which is good news. But rising costs are forcing more Americans into foreclosure.

  "I think it's just going to be very hard for a lot of people to hang onto the standard of living they were hoping to achieve," Kelley said.

And costing many people their homes.

The President of the Albany Board of Realtors, Bill Butler, said home sales here actually increased slightly last month, despite tight credit from lenders.

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