Real estate experts discuss refinancing, short sales and more | AspenTimes.com

Real estate experts discuss refinancing, short sales and more

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Aspen, CO, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Nearly half of the mortgages in Garfield County are classified as “underwater,” according to some analysts.

But local real estate experts say there are several options for homeowners who find themselves unable to keep up with their house payments but owe more than the house could now sell for.

From refinancing a home loan to modifying loan terms, area real estate agents, mortgage brokers and banks say they are open to helping people stay in their homes.

“There’s some awesome refinancing capabilities out there,” said Lisa Caskey, of Mac 5 Mortgages in Rifle.

An online real estate marketplace, Zillow.com, reports that 49 percent of Garfield County’s mortgages are underwater, meaning the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the house is worth.

John Wendt, of the Mason and Morse real estate firm, said he believes that number to be somewhat exaggerated.

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But he conceded that regional housing data indicate that perhaps 40-to-50 percent of the county’s homeowners are struggling to, or simply unable to, keep up.

He said the first step for a homeowner with an underwater mortgage is to call the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline at 877-601-HOPE to talk with a foreclosure counselor.

The Western Slope affiliate of the hot line, Grand Junction Housing Authority, can be reached at 970-683-1057.

An equally important step, Wendt said, is to call the lender or a mortgage broker and try to work something out to drop the interest rate, eliminate some of the principal or make use of other debt-management measures.

“Even if they’re underwater a little bit, there are some banks willing to look at some kind of restructuring program,” he said.