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Many Borrowers with Mortgage Modifications Expected to Default

June 17th, 2010

About 65% to 75% of mortgage loans modified through the government’s loan modification program but not backed by the federal government are expected to go into default, according to a report from credit-rating agency Fitch Ratings.

Too Much Debt

The report said that the main reason many home loans modified through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) are expected to go bad is because borrowers don’t receive help with other debt problems.

“Many of these borrowers still have very heavy levels of other debt, auto loans, credit cards and other expenses” Diane Pendley, a Fitch managing director, told CNNMoney. “We’re talking borrowers who don’t have cash reserves. If they did, they wouldn’t be in this position in the first place. It doesn’t take much for them to get in the same situation again.”

Mortgage Lenders Foreclose

A homeowner who defaults on a home loan that has been modified is likely to face foreclosure.  Mortgage lenders are probably not going to give homeowners a second modification deal.

Asking for a Short Sale

Homeowners who find themselves in the position of defaulting on a mortgage loan that was previously modified, may be able to negotiate a short sale. A short sale occurs when a mortgage lender agrees to let you sell a home for less than what is owed on it. Mortgage lenders sometimes agree to short sales rather than deal with foreclosing on a property mortgage loan.

If you are about to default on a home loan that has been modified consider the following things that could help you arrange a short sale:

  • Mortgage lenders are more likely to approve a short sale if you already have a buyer lined up
  • It may take several attempts to contact your mortgage lender before getting approval for a short sale
  • You must provide all documentation requested as soon as possible if a short sale has been approved

Arrange a Deed-in-Lieu Deal

In some cases you may be able to get your mortgage lender to agree to a deed-in-lieu deal. That occurs when you give back your property to the lender because you can’t afford to make monthly payments on a home mortgage. The mortgage lender is then free to sell the property to try and pay off the balance of your home loan.

There is  no guarantee that your mortgage lender is going to agree to a short sale or deed-in-lieu. But if you truly believe that you are going to default on a home loan that has already been modified, contact your mortgage lender to discuss your options.

FBI Plans Crackdown on Mortgage Fraud

June 12th, 2010

Hundreds of people are expected to be arrested next week in a nationwide crackdown on mortgage fraud. The Financial Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plans to make the arrests next week.

Lying on Mortgage Loan Applications

Among those expected to be arrested are people who encourage borrowers to lie about income on home loan applications, mislead homeowners about mortgage rescue programs, and inflate home appraisals. A spokesperson for the FBI would not comment to the Financial Times about the expected arrests.

Rampant mortgage fraud helped contribute to the housing crisis. The FBI has opened 23 mortgage fraud tasks forces around the U.S. since 2008.

Signs of Mortgage Fraud 

So what are some of the signs that you might be a target of mortgage fraud?

  • Do not trust mortgage brokers who use high-pressure sales tactics. You should never be forced to sign papers for a home loan. A reputable mortgage broker should encourage you to take  time to fully understand different offers from mortgage lenders.
  • If you are asked to lie on a mortgage loan application, find a different broker. You should never exaggerate income or assets to qualify for a home loan. If you know that you cannot afford a particular mortgage but your broker manipulates the numbers to make it look like you can, it’s probably a scam.
  • Do not trust strangers who promise to save your home from foreclosure. Among the red flags is being asked to sign over the deed to you home. Never believe promises that sound too good to be true, especially if you don’t know the individual making them.
  • Some scam artists try to inflate home appraisals to get approved for a refinance or new home mortgage. You can get a comparative analysis of homes from a reputable real estate agent to get an idea of what properties are worth in your area. If an appraisal comes in significantly higher than that, there may be a scam brewing.

Choose Reputable People 

Mortgage fraud is often perpetrated by people who work in the housing industry. That’s why it is important to thoroughly check out any professionals you are considering working with. Ask people you trust to recommend real estate agents, mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, home appraisers, inspectors, and attorneys.

Mortgage Interest, Real-Estate Taxes Are Deductible

June 5th, 2010

First-time homeowners sometimes make the mistake of not adding up all the costs of getting mortgage loans. Of course shopping for competitive mortgage rates is important, but keep in mind that your monthly payment includes real-estate taxes and homeowners insurance. Anytime you use a monthly payment calculator to figure out the cost of getting a home loan, it’s important  to include your best estimates for insurance and taxes.

Property Taxes

You can’t deduct your homeowners insurance premiums, but you can deduct real-estate taxes. Deductions can be taken for any state, local, or foreign taxes on real property. If your state or county imposes local benefit taxes related to property improvements such as sidewalks or streets, they cannot be deducted.

After you’ve owned a home for a while, you can file an appeal to try and get your property taxes lowered if you think you are paying too much. You must contact the local government to find out what the procedure is for appealing property taxes. Generally, you only have a certain window of time to appeal after receiving your annual assessment.

Mortage Interest

The interest paid on a home mortgage is also deductible. Interest on mortage loans can be deducted for your principal residence and for a vacation home. If you have a second home that is also rented out for part of the year, you must use the house for more than 14 days or more than 10% of the number of days during the year that the home is rented at fair value. If you have more than one property that you rent out, the mortgage interest deduction can only be taken on one of them.

Deductible interest must be paid on a mortgage for your first home, second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit (HELOC). If you pay mortgage interest for someone else but are not legally liable for the loan, you cannot take a deduction for that amount.

Filing Your Taxes

When filing your income taxes on Form 1040 you have to decide whether you are going to take the standard deduction or itemize deductions on a Schedule A. The best rule of thumb is to itemize deductions if they add up to more than the standard deduction. But unless you choose to itemize you won’t be able to deduct interest from your home loan or real-estate taxes.