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Are The Midwest Floods A Warning For Us All?

With every house I financed in Florida, came the requirement from the lender that I purchase flood insurance. I really had little idea what flood insurance was or why I needed it when I bought my first home back in the mid 1980’s. If you have been following the news in recent weeks, you no doubt are aware of the flooding in the midwest. Mortgage lenders regularly rely on government statistics and 100 year flood zone maps in making the decision on whether to require a borrower to maintain this insurance. The frequency and magnitude of the flooding in the... Read more →

How To Buy A Home After Foreclosure

Thousands of individuals are returning to the real estate market as home buyers after having lost a home to foreclosure in recent years. They are called 'boomerang buyers' and are one of the largest factors responsible for the recovery we are starting to see in home prices. In fact, we have started to receive so many questions on the topic of buying a home after foreclosure, I decided an article dedicated to the topic was in order. How long do I have to wait after foreclosure to get a mortgage again? Many are surprised to learn that in just two... Read more →

Why Renting Can Be A Better Decision Than Buying A Home

There are many financial "traditions" that we all simply accept as true. One of the things I have done as a financial writer is to question many of these traditions to see how valid they really are today. This article will attempt to address the dozens of emails that I receive every month on the question of whether or not it is better to rent or buy a home. Right now, with the millions of empty homes on the market, rent is cheap. I would not venture out and even consider buying a home unless you have a minimum of... Read more →

Foreclosures, Short Sales, And Loan Modifications To Trigger Millions In New Taxes

There is a very dark cloud on the horizon that will be devastating to those facing foreclosure or even a short sale or loan modification. In 2007 Congress passed into law 'The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act' which provided forgiveness for the taxes that would normally be owed when a home is foreclosed, short saled, or a loan is modified. This protections of this law disappear on January 1, 2013 leaving millions of homeowners in a very precarious situation. From the IRS website - "If you owe a debt to someone and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled... Read more →

Homeowners Fight Back With Mortgage Audits

I was listening to a talk radio show a couple of weeks ago and heard an ad for a company offering consumers the service of auditing their mortgage. I was not aware of such a practice so I became curious. A Google search for "mortgage audit" brings up nearly 100,000 results. Mortgage auditing firms will put your mortgage under a microscope to look for deficiencies such as incomplete documentation and/or legal disclosure, failure to accurately account for your payments and interest charges, and if the mortgage was recorded properly and if sold transferred correctly. Why Get A Mortgage Audit? These... Read more →

How To Get The Best Deal On A Rental Home

One of the silver linings in this tough economy has been that the cost of rental housing has been very affordable nationwide. The bad news is that this seems to be fading quickly. Recent statistics are showing double digit increases in rentals nationwide. Of course, prices seem to be going up on everything right now so this is no surprise. Whether it is the cost of food, gas, clothing, inflation is taking hold. The Federal Reserve has been artificially propping up the economy for at least three years by increasing the money supply. This is really starting to show up... Read more →

Bank Of America is rolling out a new program that will allow homeowners in foreclosure to be able to stay in their homes. There is a small catch - you will stay in the home as a renter. The new program will be tested in Arizona, New York, and Nevada. If it is a success, it is widely expected to be rolled out nationwide and then likely implemented by other major banks. It is being called a mortgage to lease program. You agree to voluntary sign over the deed to your home. In exchange, you can lease the property for... Read more →

Troubled Economy Means More Extended Families Sharing Homes

Her name is Rose and she has recently become widowed. On a fixed income, she has opened up 3 rooms in her home that she is renting to her adult grandchildren. Rose is not unfamiliar with sharing her home with family. She and her husband shared their home for nearly five years with an adult son, his spouse, and five grandchildren. She recounts that at one time there were nine people and five dogs all sharing her modest size four bedroom suburban home. These kinds of arrangements are not always easy. One issue Rose contends with is the cost of... Read more →

The concept seems like a good one. Instead of renting a hotel room on vacation, buy one week of time at a plush resort. You own your week and in most cases even get a deed. You can even leave your week of ownership in your Will to your children. If it appreciates enough in value, you may even decide to sell it. It is called timeshare, and I know the sales pitch very well since I live in Central Florida (considered the heart of the timeshare industry worldwide). Today, most people know that timeshare properties do not increase in... Read more →

Why Are Banks Randomly Forgiving Six Figure Mortgage Debt?

I read an article this week that really got my attention. The story revealed that select banks are randomly contacting mortgage customers and offering them loan modifications. The modifications in some cases include forgiveness of a substantial portion of the outstanding mortgage balance. One of the individuals featured in the story had a principal reduction of $150,000 on her mortgage. What is really surprising about all of this is that these individuals have not asked for a loan modification and were not behind on their payments! At Christian we are inundated with e mails from individuals who have not... Read more →

The Comeback Of The Lease Purchase

In today’s difficult real estate market, a once ubiquitous tool has made a return; the lease purchase. Consider it a hybrid alternative to either buying or renting. There is no doubt that in many parts of the country renting is not only more popular, but may truly be a wiser option than buying today. Each time the experts tell us that home prices can not go any lower, they do just that. What if you want to be a renter for now, but keep the door open to owning at some point in the near future? If this describes your... Read more →

What 18 Million Vacant Homes Mean To You

If you are a homeowner, you may see no downside to 3 or 4 empty houses on your street. Your neighbor lost their home to foreclosure, the bank now owns it, it will clear itself up over time. What difference does that make to you, right? Well, empty houses represent far more than simply neighborhood blight and can translate into real financial losses. I read a news story this week that was rather startling. 13 percent of the homes in America are currently vacant. Think about that for a moment. That means about 1 of every 7 homes is empty.... Read more →

Churches In Foreclosure - The Latest Casualty Of The Recession

The Crystal Cathedral, one of America's most well known churches, filed for bankruptcy with more than $40 million in debt. An example of some of the extravagant spending; one creditor that provided live animals for the churches annual Christmas presentation is owed $57,000. While most churches don't have expenditures like the Crystal Cathedral, the number of churches in foreclosure has tripled in the last three years. Churches, like many Americans, used the real estate boom to borrow and expand. Now, with donations down 15 to 25 percent nationwide, there is a growing number of churches in financial crisis. How Individual... Read more →