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Mayor: Foreclosure has been stopped
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Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas' home in the Belle Meade subdivision. - photo by Andrea Washington / Coastal Courier
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas continued to call a foreclosure attempt on his home a personal issue Wednesday, but said the matter has been resolved and his house will not be part of a public auction next week.
The mayor's Belle Meade home was to be included in an auction in front of the Liberty County Courthouse on March 4, after he and his wife, Claudia, allegedly failed to make mortgage payments owed to the U.S. Bank National Association.
According to public notices published in the Coastal Courier this month, the couple defaulted on a $159,300 mortgage with the company, which took control of the loan from Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
Thomas declined to give specifics about how the matter was resolved this week, maintaining the subject is a personal issue.
"This is a private matter that has been taken care of," the mayor said. "The house will not be sold at auction on the fourth of March."
He said he recognizes the situation has caused citizens to be concerned about his ability to manage city finances, but said residents "should have no worries about my governing abilities."
Thomas has not commented on how long he had known he was in danger of losing his home.
Georgia Association of Realtors Chief Executive Officer Bob Hamilton said most homeowners are given months to catch up on mortgage payments before a foreclosure attempt takes place.
"Somewhere around the fourth or fifth month that a homeowner's delinquent is when the lender will initiate the foreclosure process," he said. "By the time the lender hires an attorney and runs the (public notice) for four is typically six to nine months before somebody actually gets foreclosed on at the courthouse steps."
Based on that timeline, Thomas may have known throughout most of his 2007 mayoral run -- when he and his wife contributed a total of $1,858 to his campaign -- that he had fallen behind on his mortgage payments.
A check into Thomas' property tax history showed he has not defaulted on any property tax payments since owning the home.
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