Financial advice from banking professionals aimed at reducing foreclosure rate
A personal financial advisory program sponsored by two Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly members got under way Tuesday night at the Bodden Town Progressives party’s MLA office.
A second seminar for Bodden Town residents will be held Saturday at 7 p.m., also at the Bodden Town Progressives’ MLA office.
The program is run separately from government-sponsored efforts.
Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton and Minister of Finance Marco Archer have enlisted the volunteer assistance of a number of retired Caymanian banking professionals to provide personal financial advice to homeowners who are struggling with day-to-day living costs.
“[We want to] assist people before they get into trouble,” Mr. Archer said.
The series of meetings, which will continue at the Progressives’ George Town MLA office on Crewe Road on Aug. 25 and Aug. 29, encourage residents to get free financial advice from local banking professionals about balancing their checkbooks, making monthly mortgage payments and generally “living within their means,” Mr. Archer said.
Meetings will also be held in West Bay on Sept. 1 and Sept. 5 at the John Gray Memorial Church hall. All of the George Town and West Bay meetings will begin at 7 p.m.
The personal finance meetings are being held against a background of increasing home and business foreclosures in the Cayman Islands this year.
According to Mr. Panton, 17 properties were foreclosed on in the Cayman Islands during the first three months of 2015, leading to concern among lawmakers that the territory is headed for another bad year in the home mortgage market.
In 2013, there were a record number of 65 homes, businesses or properties for which foreclosure had been completed, Commerce Minister Wayne Panton announced Friday during a press conference about responsible household finance management.
The completed foreclosure figure decreased significantly in 2014, with 23 reported for the entire year. The number reported from January to March this year came close to the 2014 figure.
While overall completed foreclosures for Cayman are the lowest in the Caribbean region, Mr. Panton said that will be small comfort to families who are losing everything.
Finance Minister Archer said the number one reason given by families who have lost their homes in foreclosure is the breakup of the family unit, particularly in cases involving divorce where alimony or child support is not received. The second most common cause is loss of employment.
“Given the relatively small number of foreclosures, the social impacts are greater than the economic ones,” Mr. Archer said.
According to figures presented Friday, Cayman has recorded 192 completed foreclosures since 2008. Completed foreclosures include only the cases where banks have managed to sell the property. Mr. Panton said another 180 “historical” foreclosure cases, where the properties had not been sold, were identified.
The increased number of completed foreclosures early this year is a major community concern and has sparked the formation of a group known as Caymanians Against Economic Injustice, which held public meetings last week on the subject of home foreclosures. The group alleges, among other things, that banks are “rushing through” the foreclosure process – giving homeowners just three months prior to declaring them to be delinquent on their mortgages and then seizing the properties.
At least one local law firm and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller have advocated for a change in local legislation that would effectively give homeowners who are in arrears on their mortgages more time to pay. The Progressives-led government has not made its position known on any such proposed legislation.