Nevada bill to crack down on willful foreclosure damage « HousingWire

Monday, March 21st, 2011, 5:54 pm

A bill introduced to the Nevada State Assembly would give authorities the ability to charge borrowers with a felony for willfully damaging a home during the foreclosure process.

Nevada Assemblyman Peter Goicoechea, a Republican, introduced the proposed legislation Monday, and it was referred to the state judiciary committee.

According to the bill, anyone who occupies a home, including the borrower or even a tenant, can be charged with a felony if they damage the property while in the foreclosure process. Authorities would have to prove the vandal had personal knowledge of the pending foreclosure or any judicial proceeding.

Nevada has held the highest foreclosure rate of any state for more than four years. There, one in every 119 homes received a filing in February, according to RealtyTrac.

Damaged property is a major concern for banks holding these properties, the real estate agents charged with reselling them and neighbors forced to live next to them.

Oana Sterlacci, an REO broker and owner of Sellstate Realty Solutions in Las Vegas, described in a previous interview a city littered with gutted properties. Storage units throughout the city, she said, were filled with stolen appliances.

In June 2010, Fannie Mae said it was sifting through loan data to hold strategic defaulters accountable. It would then charge borrowers with the deficiency of the REO sale, which includes any repairs to damaged homes.

Goicoechea's office did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Write to Jon Prior.

Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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