North Las Vegas to consider the use of eminent domain to save homes

North Las Vegas homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages could get help from a new program.

The North Las Vegas City Council Wednesday will consider an agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners to assist the homeowners with private label securitized mortgages, or PLS, to refinance regardless of their current status.

“The focus of the presenting is informational,” said Timothy Hacker, city manager of North Las Vegas. “Our mayor and city council are curious to see if this is an appropriate mechanism.”

The program would leverage the city’s ability to use eminent domain on these mortgages, but not the properties themselves, and refinance them at current values instead of the loan amount.

“The idea is to benefit the community by stabilizing the housing stock and housing prices,” Byron Georgiou, a director and investor in Mortgage Resolution Partners in Las Vegas, told the Review-Journal editorial board Tuesday.

Georgiou said the program is only a “piece of the puzzle, not all of it.”

There are 5,052 PLS loans in North Las Vegas, he said. Of those, 3,113 are current, while 4,763 are underwater, with the property worth less than the loan. Countywide, 63,000 homeowners could be assisted if other cities and Clark County join the program.

These PLS loans are difficult to refinance because they are held by trusts or hedge funds and sold to thousands of investors, who each might have to approve the refinancing terms.

“No one is addressing this problem,” Georgiou said. “We act as advisors at no cost to the city. We attempt to acquire the mortgages out of the trust.”

The company proposes that it would collect a $4,500 fee per mortgage acquired by the city.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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