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Foreclosure help doesn't apply to many locals

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WILMINGTON -- The federal government has been trying to mitigate the mortgage crisis, but it may not be able to offset the damage already done in parts of the Cape Fear region. Six major lenders have agreed to delay foreclosure for some homeowners, but for many in our area, the help offered doesn't apply. In Carolina Beach you can hardly go one block without running into a for sale sign. Alice Soles with Castle Realty said, "It seems that there's more now than there's ever been." That's because no one is buying. Soles has been a realtor in Carolina Beach for 30 years. She says investors drove up property values in the area before the mortgage crisis. Now they can't get re-sell, even after lowering prices as much as 50 percent. Financial advisor Ross Marino said, "The areas that really get hurt the most are the areas where the investors are bidding up the prices. Those are the foreclosures I would see on the horizon right now." The federal government has tried to help avoid foreclosures by implementing project lifeline, allowing qualified home owners an extra 30 days to make their mortgage payments. But Marino says this doesn't help places like Carolina Beach. "This isn't for the people who have the investment properties or a condo on the beach, it's for your primary residence, where you live and where you're having trouble with the mortgage right now," Marino said. Since August there have been 21 foreclosures in Carolina Beach and 432 in New Hanover County. There are currently almost twice as many pre-foreclosures in the county, which means we may be seeing a lot more in the near future. Soles said, "I'm worried. I think we're all worried. The whole nation is worried." Marino says it's in everyone's best interest to avoid foreclosure and that banks are trying to work out deals with investors so they can both stay in business. Marino says this means banks will probably take the loss and hope it never happens again. A North Carolina bank is being asked by community groups in California for a delay on mortgage foreclosures. The 91 groups have sent a letter to Charlotte-based Bank of America, asking them to develop a plan to help avoid foreclosures. California is in the middle of a mortgage foreclosure crisis because 500,000 homeowners are on the verge of losing their homes.

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