Archive for April, 2011

The Consequences of Walking Away

Have you had a conversation with someone in the last 30 days about the consequences of walking away from your mortgage?

If the answer is yes, you are not alone.

With an estimated 11 million people underwater on their mortgage, (owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth), even the most credit-worthy consumers are considering walking away from their mortgage.

“Walking away from a mortgage,” or what’s known as a strategic default, usually results in either a short sale or foreclosure and many people in this position are asking one simple question:

What are the consequences of walking away from a mortgage?

Walking Away from a Mortgage: The Consequences

Generally speaking, if you are considering walking away from a mortgage the major consequences will include:

  • Impaired credit
  • Deficiency risks
  • Tax consequences
  • Moving costs
  • Professional implications

Impaired Credit

Most people are aware that walking away from a mortgage will mean their credit score will take a hit. What most people may not be aware of is between short selling and foreclosure, there is very little difference in how much your credit score is impacted.  The main difference between a short sale and foreclosure is how soon you can qualify to buy a home again after the event, not how many points your credit score went down.

In addition to your credit score taking damage points, it is also common for credit card companies to cancel credit cards or lower your credit limit as a result of missing mortgage payments.  It is also common that it will become more difficult to obtain financing for larger ticket items such as autos or furniture — or any other type of revolving account after walking away from a mortgage.

Deficiency Risks

Depending on which state you live in, there are varying deficiency risks associated with walking away from your mortgage. (See anti-deficiency laws by state)

Translation: Your lender may sue you for the difference between what you owe and what your short sale or foreclosure proceeds were.

Anti-deficiency protection is limited to a minority of states and for most states in the U.S., there is no protection for homeowners from a lender pursuing the difference between what they owe and what the home sells for in foreclosure.

Further, even if your state has anti-deficiency laws in place, don’t think you are free from deficiency risk.  Whether you have deficiency risk or not, depends on factors such as: whether you have a second mortgage; did you refinance and take cash out; is your mortgage the one you got when you originally bought the house, and more.

Which is why when it comes to managing your deficiency risk, keep this saying in mind:

Nothing is more expensive than cheap legal advice.

If you are concerned that you may have deficiency risk, you should speak with a real estate lawyer who can provide legal advice for your particular situation.  Only a real estate attorney can accurately provide you the specific advice for your situation. Don’t rely on your neighbor’s advice or your brother-in-law who just short-sold his house and recommends that you should be okay by just walking away.

Tax Consequences

If you are considering walking away from a mortgage on your primary residence, there is a chance that you may have some tax liability.  If you are considering walking away from a mortgage on a second home or investment property, there can be a significant tax liability and you should consult your tax accountant.

Moving Costs

One of the commonly under-estimated consequences of walking away from a mortgage is the expense and process of moving.  Some of the common concerns related to moving include:

  • Moving into a rental — perhaps after decades of being a homeowner.
  • Possibly explaining to the landlord any credit report concerns as a result of missed mortgage payments.
  • Paying for moving expenses. Utilities, deposits, moving trucks and other expenses can add up fast.
  • Moving family members school, work or community activities they have gotten used to.

Many of the people I have talked with who have went through the process of walking away from a mortgage cited “moving” as the one consequence they hadn’t fully considered before actually doing it.

Professional Implications

Depending on what you do for a living, you may have professional consequences as a result from walking away from a mortgage.  The number of professions where your credit profile matters has grown over the last decade and if you are in a situation where your credit profile matters, you should know what the professional implications are before you walk. After all, you don’t want to lose your house and your job at the same time.

Walking Away from a Mortgage: The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make

When making the decision to walk away from a mortgage, the consequences are certainly something to consider as part of the decision process.  And in my our experience of handling many short sales for our Clients we discovered that  there is one big mistake that you can make in the process:

Not being fully informed of what the consequences are of walking away from a mortgage.

Once you have educated yourself about the consequences and researched all of the possible options…

… the choice is still yours.

Source: Justin McHood of Academy Mortgage.

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Could the Mortgage Deduction Get Chopped?

As the U.S. government looks under every rock for more spending cuts, here’s an intriguing thought: What happens if Washington takes this opportunity to take down the tax break on mortgage interest?

 “We believe there is a growing risk that the mortgage interest deduction could fall victim to the deficit reduction mantra,” MF Global said in a research note.

We know fiscal asceticism is the new black, but Congress doesn’t have the guts to take on the popular mortgage tax break, which defenders say makes the cost of homes within reach for Americans. The real-estate and mortgage industries also would fight tooth or nail if the deduction moves to the chopping block.

“At this point, we view this more as a headline risk than a real threat,” MF Global said in its note. “Yet curtailing the mortgage interest deduction has been part of President Obama’s budget proposal and it was one of the bi-partisan deficit reduction commission’s recommendations. So we cannot rule out these threats.”

True, everyone from the International Monetary Fund to the Tax Policy Center to the White House fiscal commission have called for the U.S. to cap, redesign or simply get rid of the deduction. The IMF called the mortgage tax break  “expensive and regressive.” But this comes up every few years or so, before everyone realizes it’s impossible to hack away at a cherished part of the tax code.

Critics of the mortgage tax break says the country simply can’t afford to turn down billions of dollars a year for federal and state coffers. The mortgage deduction also may push people to take on risky mortgage they can’t afford, say critics, and isn’t equitable because the deduction applies to taxpayers who itemize their deductions – and benefits higher-income households more.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has shown increasing alarm over the possibility of eliminating the deduction over the past months. Last year, the NAR declared eliminating the deduction would decrease home values by as much as 15 percent. The NAR also asked its 1.1 million members to contact their senators and congressmen and voice their concerns over the potential of eliminating or altering the deduction.

As a Homeowner and a Member of the NAR I sent the following letter to my congressmen asking for his support to urge Congress to preserve, protect and defend the mortgage interest deduction before they whittle it down at the expense of other more expedient budget cuts.

Consider the consequences if homeowners and buyers lose the time-honored and cherished mortgage interest deduction. This tax deduction built the dream of homeownership in America. The bottom line is you may well lose personally, and for certain so will your business if it is eliminated or significantly reduced in any way.

We must speak loudly and clearly with one voice to ensure the further recovery of our economy and the housing market and educate every legislator about how much the mortgage interest deduction matters to us.  Therefore, I urge everyone to take action to Preserve, Protect and Defend the mortgage interest deduction.  No economic recovery is possible without a vibrant housing market.

Please Take Action Today!

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Fed Cracks Down On Mortgage Servicers, Banks

Immediate changes coming to the foreclosure industry. Lenders being held accountable for improper foreclosure process. ALL foreclosures starting in 2009 to be examined for infractions and owners given compensation….and/ or their homes are to be GIVEN BACK TO THEM.

NOTE: the AG Robo-Signers settlement will be in addition to this…so, more changes coming to the foreclosure process.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Thrift Supervision released enforcement action against 14 major bank/servicers in the form of consent orders.

Bank of America , JP Morgan Chase , Ally Financial, Wells Fargo, SunTrust, Citibank, HSBC, MetLife, PNC, U.S. Bank, Aurora Bank,   EverBank, OneWest Bank and Sovereign Bank will all be hit with no fewer than 16 new requirements for mortgage servicing and loss mitigation.

These 16 new requirements are more or less what the requirements were always thought to be…. forcing the servicers to improve on foreclosure documentation, oversight, and chain of ownership. Additionally, lenders are required independent reviews and a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure. The action prohibits dual tracking, when one arm of the bank pursues foreclosure while another pursues modification.

Another detail, servicers (banks) will also be held accountable of their third-party vendors, including lawyers, who provide foreclosure services. No more…”that was an outside company we hired…we had no idea they were doing X”. Banks must comply within 120 days of the order. Most of the big banks have already implemented many of these ‘new’ requirements. The second we get an official copy of these 16 new requirements we will publish them.

And now the really interesting news….

Penalties are coming… “The Federal Reserve believes monetary sanctions in these cases are appropriate and plans to announce monetary penalties.”

And…. The OCC also says the enforcement actions, “do not preclude determinations regarding assessment of civil money penalties.”

In other words, we are talking about potentially huge penalties and judgments from the civil claims.

As part of this new enforcement the banks will be required to engage an independent firm to review foreclosure actions from January 1, 2009 through December, 2010 to assess whether foreclosures complied with federal and state laws and whether there were in fact grounds to foreclose.

You read that correctly, all foreclosures that happened between 01/01/09 and 12/01/10 will be reviewed by (hopefully) independent firms looking for infractions.

And what happens if (when) infractions are found….?

If borrowers were harmed by the foreclosure process the banks will have to remediate the borrowers in some way. Remediation could include monetary damages and even the borrower getting the home back.

Imagine all the folks who lost their homes to foreclosure that will be filing claims. Lenders will be required to create a system where by anyone who feels they suffered financially can submit a claim.

Click on this link to watch the video from CNBC News: CNBC Video on Fed Cracks Down On Mortgage Servicers, Bank

Source:  Real Estate Insiders News By: Tim and Julie of Harris Real Estate University.

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Short Sale Today..Buy A Home Tomorrow | How-To Get A Loan After A Short Sale Or Foreclosure

What are the absolute bare-minimum guidelines to obtain a mortgage?

….and perhaps more interesting…how to obtain a mortgage immediately after a Short Sale..read on…


By far the easiest mortgage to obtain is a FHA loan:

1) 3.5 percent down payment, based on the purchase price of the home (e.g., $7,000 on a $200,000 home), or a gift of that same amount;

2) 3 percent to 6 percent of the purchase price, on top of the down payment, for closing costs, or a credit from the seller of the same amount; and

3) 640 FICO credit score — the middle score of those generated by the three credit bureaus (some banks will lend to borrowers with middle scores lower than 640, but will require more than the minimum down payment).

Lenders will want you to document income, asset and job history documentation, current paycheck stubs, two months’ bank statements and two years of W-2 forms or tax returns, and:

  • a minimum of two years have passed since the discharge of a bankruptcy;
  • a minimum of three years have passed since a foreclosure;
  • anywhere from zero to three years have passed since a short sale, depending on the circumstances surrounding the short sale.

Source: Real Estate Insiders News By: Tim and Julie of Harris Real Estate University.

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$100 Million Home Purchase is Most Expensive in U.S.

If $1 million seems like a lot for a home, try $100 million — the final price paid by Russian investor Yuri Milner for a French chateau-style mansion in Silicon Valley.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the purchase is “highest known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S.” and is a sharp contrast to the median home price in the U.S. which hits at $177,200 (at this writing), and even above Los Altos Hills home values that are presently a whopping $2,064,000. The sale was first reported to be $70 million by TechCrunch, which is still a remarkable price.

Milner’s new 25,500-sq ft home in Los Altos has views of San Francisco and is within driving distance of many Silicon Valley tech companies, including one of Milner’s investments, Facebook. But despite his new purchase, the 49-year-old founder of Digital Sky Technologies (DST) doesn’t plan on moving to California anytime soon. His primary residence is a home in Russia that he shares with his wife and two children.

The limestone 5-bed, and 9-bath house, pictured above, sits on 11 acres and includes indoor and outdoor pools, a full wine cellar, and outdoor tennis court. Previously owned by Fred Chan, founder of ESS Technology, and Chan’s wife Annie, this enormous piece of Los Altos Hills real estate was designed in 2001 and completed around 2009. The home was never publicly listed for sale, and Chan reportedly accepted a $50 million note on the house. The Chans currently reside in Hawaii.

While the purchase won’t create a jump in normal home sales, it may be an indicator of a rebound in the luxury home market. This should give hope to Candy Spelling, who listed the Spelling Manor for a whopping $150 million in March 2009. Although only 4.7 acres, the Spelling Manor lists 56,500 square feet of “elegant living” including a billiard room, two-lane bowling alley, and arcade room as well as indoor and outdoor pools.

Source: Business Insider