The current mortgage and housing meltdown has been particularly brutal to property owners here in Southern Nevada, home to communities like Henderson, Silverstone Ranch, Anthem, Summerlin, Southern Highlands and Mountains Edge. Nevada has held the lead in most foreclosures by any state for months and that statistic is heavily influenced by Las Vegas valley, the most populous area in the state. Many of those who are still in their homes are often in some stage of the foreclosures process, trying to do a loan modification or have started a short sale campaign. Scores of others are hanging in there, but are trapped because being underwater - the home's value is less than the underlying mortgage - prevents them from selling or even doing a refinance. No one could have imagined that things in the Vegas real estate market could get this severely tangled.
Washington has tried many remedies to help the national housing market, with less than stellar results. It just announced another effort in that regard, this time a more focused one. The new foreclosure-prevention program just announced by President Obama is giving money to the most-affected states - Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan - to help them deal with the still roiling housing tsunami. The money, $1.5 billion, comes from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that is being phased out. The basic guidelines are to help homeowners who are either unemployed, are underwater or have second liens that prevent them from doing anything useful. Other than that, each recipient can shape up its own program, so it appears there aren't too many strings attached.
At this point it's unknown how much of the largesse Nevada is going to get. Obviously the initiative isn't going to reach everyone who could use it, but it can make a rather substantial impact on the foreclosure front in the Las Vegas valley. Those mortgage borrowers who have already lost their homes are unhappy that they weren't offered anything like this. The ones that are now doing a short sale, a home loan modification or are in a pending foreclosure situation might qualify for this, although the specific guidelines have yet to be announced by the housing agency handling this program in Nevada. Still, it can help firm up the base for the state's real estate market and prepare it for a tentative recovery.