By Amy Lester, NEWS 9
Oklahoma residents have started feeling the effect of the struggling economy. Realty Trac reported 50 percent more foreclosures last year compared to 2007.
A list of foreclosures was released for Oklahoma County, but there are ways for homeowners to prevent losing their homes, even if they cannot make a payment.
"We knew that it would hit Oklahoma eventually," said Jennifer Wallis of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. "It definitely has arrived."
Foreclosures are up, and calls for help to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service are skyrocketing.
"We are seeing a lot of people who are calling us because they lost their jobs or sometimes it's just harder to make ends meet and the cost of living is going up also," Wallis said.
The organization offers counseling so people can avoid foreclosure by talking to lenders to possibly create a payment plan.
"We can work with every mortgage company to come up with a solution and to help resolve that delinquency," Wallis said.
The lender may lower homeowners' interest rate, allow them to skip payments, or extend the length of the loan.
"The bottom line, the mortgage company doesn't want your house, they only take it because they have to," Wallis said.
Glenn Reynolds from local lender, Arvest Bank agreed, saying they're willing to work with customers.
"We're part of the community," Reynolds said. "We want to help people keep their homes."
Reynolds pointed out, there's no way for a bank to assist, if borrowers don't let them know they are in trouble.
"First thing you want to do is call your lender," Reynolds said. "All of the lenders are pulling together throughout the country."
The key is to contact the lender if a payment cannot be made, or if a payment is missed.
"Definitely be sure that you contact them or contact us," Wallis said. "Let us help you contact them because there are a lot of other options besides losing your home."
Experts recommend paying by priority, by making house payments first then car payments, before other payments like credit card.
Homeowners who use Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma for help avoid foreclosure 96 percent of the time.