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Mortgage Modification: Another Hurdle for Some

January 2nd, 2009

If you took out a ‘piggyback’ second mortgage (aka a ‘junior-lien loan’) to cover, say, your down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI), then you may have problems if you need a loan modification. Read the rest of this entry »

Mortgage Modification: Avoiding the Traps

December 31st, 2008

The Washington Post recently ran a piece that warned of some of the pitfalls that await borrowers who wish to modify their mortgages. In particular, there are many unscrupulous operators who are willing to take substantial sums in upfront fees, but who then fail to deliver the most appropriate modification.

In fact, the worst for-profit modifiers often do not deliver anything at all. They just take hard-pressed borrowers’ money and run.

If you’re thinking of modifying your mortgage, you may find that a nonprofit advisor can help you for nothing. But–unsurprisingly in this climate–many nonprofits are overwhelmed by demand, and simply cannot respond quickly enough to urgent cases.

That’s when for-profit advisors may be the only alternative. By all means use one. But be very careful who you choose, watch them like hawks, and try to make sure that the bulk of their fees are paid only when a good deal is actually in place.

Refinancing a Mortgage? Don’t Forget “Consolidation and Assignment”

December 29th, 2008

This blog isn’t really supposed to be about tips, and hints. But, a couple of days ago, the New York Times gave such a good piece mortgage advice that I just have to pass it on. Read the rest of this entry »

Mortgage refinancing: an essential step toward real estate recovery

December 24th, 2008

On Monday, I wrote about last week’s figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association. It looked, I said, as if current record rates were boosting loan applications, which were 37.3 percent up on the same week last year.

However, I went on to say that more than three-quarters of all applications had come from those seeking to refinance existing mortgages, and that that might not be such good news.

I haven’t changed my mind. In an ideal world—or even just in a healthy market—there would be a whole lot more people wanting new mortgages, and many fewer wanting to re-engineer their existing ones.

But we already know that the market is not healthy. In fact, it is just the opposite. And, like any invalid, it has to take baby steps before it starts thinking of running anywhere.

Refinancing is just such a baby step. People have to rediscover their confidence before they start trading up or entering the real estate market. And that means an extended period of stability along with much lower repossession, and hardship rates.

We’re getting there. But it’s going to take a while.

In the meantime, I hope you have a very happy holiday.

Mortgages: Yet More Good News for Borrowers

December 22nd, 2008

Freddie Mac unveiled yet more good mortgage news for borrowers on Friday in its weekly survey of average rates. The figure for a 30-year loan was 5.19 percent, which the Wall Street Journal says is the lowest since records began in 1971, 37 years ago. New 15-year mortgages were averaging 4.92 percent.

The Journal also pointed out that mortgages generally closely track long-term government notes, and that these are also continuing to decline. This means that there’s every reason to expect mortgage rates to continue their downward trend.

All of this positivity is translating into a much larger volume of mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that these are up 37.3 percent up on the same week last year. However, refinancing represents 76.9 percent of all activity, which may not be quite such good news.

More on that soon.

Home Valuation Conduct Codes: Good, Bad, and Ugly

May 5th, 2008

Home valuation conduct codes are rules that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to put into effect in 2009. They will bring marked changes in real estate lending. Here’s what these changes may mean to a home buyer or home owner.

The Good:

No one who stands to gain financially from a real estate transaction — including loan officers, mortgage brokers, or Realtors — will be allowed to order an appraisal to get property financed or refinanced. Only the actual lender can order it, and those involved in the loan production area will be precluded from ordering an appraisal or communicating with the appraiser in any way. This effectively eliminates the chance of anyone having influence over an appraiser. No one involved gets to have any choice in who is hired to appraise the property. No one gets to communicate a desired valuation to the appraiser.

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