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Economic recovery is the focus of Realtors' regional real estate forum

BEDFORD — A panel discussion left Realtors feeling hopeful Friday about the New Hampshire real estate market and its recovery from the recession.

While the latest figures are encouraging and show improvement, members of the panel warned the group that it’s early in a process still redeveloping with new regulations and much more scrutiny from lenders before approving mortgages.

The message repeated most often during the Regional Real Estate Report was that buyers need to be thoroughly informed and educated on home ownership — what it means, takes to achieve and how to recover from past credit problems.

Dean Christon, executive director of the New Hampshire Housing and Finance Authority, said public resources like housing counselors have increased as part of the collective recovery effort.

“It may be tough love. It may be simply telling them really there isn’t much of a solution or it may be a path to a fix that will actually help them stay in their homes,” said Christon, whose agency specializes in programs designed to assist low- and moderate-income families.

“The important thing is that early on, it’s important for people to access this kind of independent information.”

The Greater Manchester/Nashua Board of Realtors presented the event, which included six speakers covering different aspects of the market and recovery.

GMNBR president Gail Athas, who introduced each of the speakers, said after the meeting that the recovery is going to mean an increase in cooperation throughout the various parts of the industry.

She said Realtors can also be an asset with straight information from within the community that is much more reliable than online advice.

“They get on these websites that they feel can provide all the information,” Athas said. “Buyers and sellers get on there and you know what? The information is not accurate. It’s just simply the buzzwords that they know are going to make people pay attention.”

Robert Adams, an assistant state attorney general, explained parts of the national mortgage settlement, which is already tremendously complicated and still developing, and its effect on New Hampshire residents who were victims when the mortgage system collapsed.

He said everybody involved in the long process of home ownership needs to help the industry by being alert for signs of any of the problems that led up to the crash.

“At the end of the day, self-regulation is the best answer to this,” Adams said.

Gladys White, president of the Mortgage Bankers and Brokers Association of New Hampshire, said buyers also need to be realistic in how much they can afford and what they qualify for, depending on factors, including past credit and employment history.

Lenders are checking histories very thoroughly, and some red flags are not difficult to find, she said.

“You would not believe the amount of people that don’t pay their taxes,” she said.

White said those people are shocked to learn that will prevent them from getting a mortgage.

She said a credit history can mean much better interest rates for people who have paid their bills on time. It is much easier to build a good credit than rebuild it, she said.

“Now we’re in a market we’ve never been in before, which is the foreclosures and the short sales,” White said.

White said some are victims of circumstance, but many cases came from borrowing more than they could afford.

“They still feel they want to come out now and buy housing, and that’s an issue for all of us,” she said.

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