Sunday, February 24, 2008

Housing crisis hits immigrants



By Liz Mineo/Daily News staff
GHS
Sun Feb 24, 2008, 12:40 AM EST
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Photo by Ed Hopfmann/Daily News staff
Ramon Gallo stands in front of his home at 93 Nourse St. in Westborough.

When Ramon Gallo bought a $300,000 home in Westborough in late 2006, he thought he had achieved his dream. Sixteen months later, Gallo, who signed for an adjustable-rate mortgage, has fallen behind on his payments and fears he may soon live a foreclosure nightmare.
Gallo, 38, who came from Mexico five years ago, is part of a wave of immigrant homeowners who have been hit hard by the national foreclosure epidemic. Reports say new immigrants, along with minorities and low-income Americans, were the targets of sub-prime loans, which played a key role in the foreclosure epidemic.



Many immigrants bought homes during the boom market five years ago, taking advantage of adjustable-rate mortgages, which made it easy at first glance to buy properties.
Of 10 houses sold to immigrants in Massachusetts, three were purchased by Brazilians, according to a report published last year by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Advocates said immigrants were easy prey for unscrupulous brokers and real estate agents who wanted to profit during the housing frenzy when everybody was busy buying and selling. Immigrants not only lacked information about the home-buying process because of language barriers and their unfamiliarity with the American real state market, many were misled or misinformed.



Gallo, who until recently worked as a bartender at a Mexican restaurant in Framingham, said he was surprised when the bank told him he was going to pay much more than he expected.
"Nobody told me I had to pay for insurance, property taxes," said Gallo, who saw his bill go from $2,100 to $2,900. "I feel trapped. I know the bank can take my house." Full Story

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