WILMINGTON -- More and more local homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments. And that's led to a surge in the number of property foreclosures. It's no secret the real estate market has softened. But this is the first time in years that there's been an increase in the number of foreclosures in our area. There is a surplus of homes on the market and they're proving tougher to sell. At the same time interest rates have climbed. That means homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages are paying more in interest, causing them to fall behind on payments. It's important to know that if you're facing foreclosure, you have options. You should first contact your lender, explain your circumstances and ask for what's known as dispensation. Mortgage specialist Jim Felds said, "They'll give you a break. They'll defer some of your interest. They'll lower some of your payments, try to make it easier for you to stay in your house so you don't go into foreclosure." The Fed lowered interest rates a half a point Tuesday, which could lead to a lower prime rate. But, real estate experts say the foreclosure situation could get worse before it gets better. It's not just that people are having trouble making their mortgage payments. It's also that home values are not appreciating like people thought they would.
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