By Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
A wood plaque with their family name is tacked to a house filling with cardboard boxes.
Lena Brisby, who has lived at the east Carson City home since it was built 20 years ago, has to be out by the end of the month.
Her husband, who died a few years ago, had the house built after he moved to the city with his company. Lena shares the house with her daughter, Kathy Brisby, and Kathy's two grandchildren now.
They never thought the house would be foreclosed, Lena said, but there's nothing they can do.
"When your house payment is more than you're bringing in," Kathy said, "you might as well say good-bye."
But the Brisbys, who refinanced their home loan and couldn't pay the unexpectedly high payments on their fixed income, are one of a growing number of people in the city losing their houses to foreclosure this year.
While Northern Nevada has had a lower foreclosure rate than Southern Nevada - which is the reason the state leads the U.S. in foreclosure rates - Carson City this year could have more foreclosures than it has seen in eight years.
The number has risen quickly over the past few years. At the height of the housing boom in 2005, the city had three foreclosures. It went up to 12 the next year, then to 52 in 2007.
The number this year could be almost double that if the current rate holds, according the Carson City assessor's office.
Some people who are in trouble now simply made bad decisions, said Cathie Jackson, a city mortgage lender, but others also got into situations they couldn't control.
This is a bad year to try to get an extra loan to deal with problems, she said, in part because banks have tightened their lending standards in response to the large number of people who couldn't repay loans they received under less-restrictive terms.
Many banks, said John Vettel of Realty Executives Nevada's Choice in Carson City, did almost nothing to check on someone's ability to repay the loan.
"To get a loan," he said, "you only had to fog a mirror."
Falling home prices and slow home sales have made it hard for people to sell homes they can't afford, he said, so it's hard for some people to avoid foreclosure, unless they get a special deal with a bank.
There are some signs that the situation could get better, but most companies that handle foreclosures in Carson City are sending out more notices this year than anytime recently, said Lanette Inman of Northern Nevada Title Co.
"When's it going to quit?" she said. "I don't think anyone knows."
The reality of the problem, however, hit Lena Brisby when she realized an agent had refinanced her loan in a way that forced her to have to make monthly house payments bigger than her Social Security check.
Her family is helping her move into a smaller house this month, but she doesn't think it will be the same.
Foreclosures in Carson City
2001 - 40
2002 - 52
2003 - 31
2004 - 11
2005 - 3
2006 - 12
2007 - 52
2008 - 33 (through April 13)
Source: Carson City assessor's office