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Former Mayor Bartlett Says Banks Reducing Foreclosures

Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott greet Donald Trump at the bottom of the stairs of a plane at Dallas Love Field Airport.
Alex Brandon/AP
(l-r) Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott greet President Trump at Dallas Love Field Airport in June.

By Jacqueline Fellows, KERA News

Dallas, TX – If you're facing foreclosure you're more likely to get help from a bank than a federal loan program. That's according to former Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett who now heads a private bankers group working to keep homes out of foreclosure. KERA's Jacqueline Fellows reports.

Steve Bartlett returned to Dallas Wednesday as CEO of Financial Services Roundtable, a group that, along with local credit counseling agencies works together through a program called HOPE NOW. It's a service, Bartlett says, that has kept five million homes out of foreclosure.

Bartlett: "Of the five million, 800,000 were the government mortgages and the 4.2 million were the private sector mortgages."

Bartlett says in the last four years, the overwhelming majority of homeowners who avoided foreclosure were helped through private banks not government mortgage lenders.

The federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP, did fall short of expectations. The Obama administration recently announced a new set of more lenient loan requirements that will help some homeowners who are underwater refinance at lower interest rates.

Bartlett says it's a good step but he says to get the housing market moving again, banks should be allowed to sell their foreclosed properties in blocks at a reduced rate.

Bartlett: "With a million vacant houses that are either owned by Fannie or Freddie, or the banks, or a real estate investor somewhere, you can't touch a million by selling them one at a time. So our recommendation was they sell them in block. And not at a hundred at a time, but a thousand at a time."

Bartlett says investors will get the homes live-in ready quicker than banks. He admits the idea will be a hard sell but he's optimistic.