A million facing foreclosure in the US – even celebrities

A million properties in the US could be lost to foreclosure if the current trend continues to the end of the year, it is claimed.

Almost half a million homeowners have already lost their properties in the first half of 2008, nearly double the same amount a year ago. And already pre-foreclosure filings have surpassed the one million mark, according to research by ForeclosureS.com.

It predicts that the foreclosure crisis is not going away and can only get worse. 'With almost a half-million Americans losing their homes in the first six months of the year it means that six of every 1,000 households nationwide have been repossessed by the bank so far in 2008,' it says.

'If the trend continues, we could see one million properties lost to foreclosure across the country by year-end,' said Alexis McGee, president of ForeclosureS.com.

Even celebrities are suffering. Several have dealt with foreclosure issues and many more have had to drop their asking prices. Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's former Tonight Show sidekick owes more than $644,000 in mortgage payments on his Mediterranean estate in Beverly Hills, a house he and his wife have been trying to sell for the past two years. The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home is now on the market for $6.5 million, down from an original price of $7.6 million.

The 85-year-old television personality, who has been unable to work since breaking his neck in a fall 18 months ago, described his economic problems as 'a perfect storm'.

Former National Basketball Association player Vin Baker saw his home in Durham, Connecticut, go up for auction recently. The seven-bedroom, six bath mansion, on about 11 acres with a basketball court and a bowling alley, had been on the market for $2.95 million.

Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosures, says that people of any income level can get in trouble by buying overvalued homes at the peak of the market that they ultimately can't afford.

There is some good news, however for those facing foreclosure in the US. The rush to rescue mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is likely to be tied in with a guarantee of a payoff for lenders who took substantial losses on distressed loans. It could help an estimated 400,000 people in danger of foreclosure get new, cheaper loans.