Tag Archives: borrowing

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Time and time again, home-buyer wannabes state that the reason they are still fence-sitting is that they don’t want to end up in the same trouble the last generation of homeowners did.

Well, there’s a very slim chance of that happening, given the changes in the market climate: Homes are at rock-bottom prices (not sky-high), and mortgage guidelines are so conservative it is nearly impossible to even find one of the zero-down, quick-to-adjust, stated-income mortgages of yesteryear.

With that said, though, there is a handful of rules today’s home buyers and homeowners can follow to dramatically minimize the chances they will ever face losing their homes:

1. Never a borrower or a lender be. OK, so maybe NEVER is strong, but you’d be surprised at how many foreclosed homeowners actually bought their homes with conservative loans and at low prices many years ago, but got into trouble taking new mortgages and pulling cash out at the top of the market (then not being able to refinance or make the adjusted payment at the bottom).

Today’s home buyers can avoid this fate by starting out their homeowning careers with some ground rules in place around borrowing against their homes.

A good (albeit conservative) place to start is this rule: Decide not to borrow against your home equity for anything but well-planned home improvements.

Here’s another one: Whatever you do, don’t borrow against your home to lend money to someone else. I’ve seen dozens of homeowners over the years borrow to make an “investment” in a friend’s business or to lend money to a child or a parent. Borrowing against your home’s equity to make an investment in a business you know nothing about is a complete gamble with your home. Don’t do it.

2. Stop financial codependency. Related to the rule of thumb about borrowing to lend is this change of the bad habit of financial codependency.

This comes up most often when homeowners borrow money against their home or tap into their emergency cash cushion (leaving themselves unable to make their mortgage payments if they lose their job, etc.) to help an adult child make their own mortgage payments or bail them out of another crisis situation.

It also comes up where one spouse supports another spouse’s habit of overspending, debting, underearning, gambling, or even substance abuse, and ends up going into a financial hole as a result. Over time, these cases can create the temptation or even desperation to further leverage your home, and can run through a savings account, leaving the homeowner exposed and vulnerable in the face of a temporary disability, job loss or recession.

There are a number of powerful books on the market about how to cease being codependent, but many people struggle to recognize they even have this issue until it’s too late. Here’s a hint: If you regularly use money to protect a loved one from the natural consequences of their behavior, you are engaging in codependent behavior.

3. Stay conscious. Going on money autopilot, without occasional check-ins, is the root of many financial woes. Many money experts recommend automating your monthly payments so that your recurring bills are paid on time, every time. And almost any homeowner will vouch that there are few bills that seem to come up as frequently as your mortgage!

The problem is that once you automate your payments, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of simply ignoring your actual statements — and they may contain information that flags issues before they snowball into serious problems.

One homeowner recently realized that through no fault of her own, and despite never having missed an auto-payment, her home was facing foreclosure — all because the bank had somehow erroneously started crediting her payments to someone else’s mortgage account!

Also, financial autopilot mode can support habits like overspending and overdebting; the minimum payments may always get made without much attention from you, but the overall balances will rear their ugly heads and possibly pose a threat to your ability to pay your mortgage, in the event you ever face a job loss, medical bills or other financial crisis.

4. Do your own math before you buy. Only you can know the full extent of your non-housing-related financial obligations and values. Things like catch-up retirement savings, tithing and charitable giving, private school tuition, medical costs and the like can take big chunks out of your monthly budget that your mortgage pro is not accounting for when he or she tells you how much of a mortgage you’re qualified to borrow.

So, before you ever speak with a mortgage broker, it’s up to you as a responsible buyer and adult to get a very clear understanding of your own personal income and expenses, assets and priorities, and to use that knowledge to decide how much you can afford to put down and to spend monthly for a home.

Fortunately, an increasing number of are buyers doing this, and actually choosing to buy a home that costs much less than they are technically qualified for.

5. Don’t buy a house to fix a family or psychological problem. Beware of “pulling a geographic” — moving to a new neighborhood or town to try to run from your problems and bad habits.

Experts caution against expecting the move to solve the problem on the grounds that, in the words of mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, “wherever you go, there you are.” If you have bad habits in Chicago, moving to L.A. doesn’t purge the bad habits — only working on the actual dysfunction itself will do that.

There’s a real estate-specific version of pulling a geographic, which we’ll call “pulling a residential.” This is where people buy a home or buy a new home in an effort to cure a deeper family or psychological issue; sort of like that old (and equally bad) idea of having a baby to try to save your marriage.

If your children are fighting because they lack personal space, that’s one thing. But if there are deeper issues going on with your children, your family or your relationship (even your relationship with yourself), do not fantasize that owning a home or moving up is going to automatically solve them.

In fact, the opposite is often true: The larger the financial and maintenance obligations that come with a home, the more a mortgage and property taxes can add strain to already troubled relationships.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com.

ING Attempting to Steal Money From United States Military Personnel in a Short Sale

The following is an excerpt of recent negotiations ongoing with ING bank for a short sale transaction. Here is an example of what certain banks are still doing to literally steal money from innocent people, let alone in this case, an active duty military stationed locally and getting ready to retire, who does not have large income.  The new short sale law SB 458 has a controversial statement that was covered in a prior blog post (viewable here: “Short Sale Memoirs & New Laws“) regarding a contribution by a seller towards closing costs as being allowed.  This fact has been confirmed by attorneys as being interpreted as a direct violation of the law due to the fact any contribution for closing costs, taxes or otherwise is directly increasing the balance of the net sale for the lender and lowering the loss for their loan, thus breaking the law.

In addition, this lender as you can see wants to also steal money from the agents, leading me to believe that the negotiating person will get a cut of whatever he brings in. This needs to completely stop as these lenders are making it hard for most agents to earn a living themselves for their families.

While this one is not over, it shows you what is partly going on in a short sale transaction, not including negotiation with buyers and other lien holders, that make the work even more cumbersome only to have your income reduced due to the greedy tendencies of lenders that are still out there.

I anticipate a successful result as long as this lender comes to their senses.

I welcome comments…..

ING logo

 ING’s letter to me:

John,

I received the 2nd lien approval, and ran the numbers. Rather than going back and forth on negotiations, here is what I need to get this deal approved:

  • $3,700 cash at closing from the seller to cover the property taxes and closing costs

o Yes, we are allowed to ask for this money, as it is not going to the mortgage or missed payments

  • 4.5% commissions to help with part of the 2nd lien.

o As I said before, your listing agreement is not with ING DIRECT, and our max commissions are 5%. This is only a .5% reduction to help the deal get approved.

I will pay the 5% commissions if the $1,300 is added to the purchase price. I have been doing this job for a while, and knows what my credit review committee needs to get a deal approved. This terms are it. Assuming all parties agree, I can finish the file and have a decision for you in a few business days.

 

And my reply:

Dear ING

The seller will not be bringing any contribution to the table. I have already stated that. Any difference in costs, including commission contribution that ING refuses to pay or absorb will have to be covered by the buyer and if the buyer refuses, then I will have to find another buyer to pay that or the property will go to foreclosure.

Any contribution by the seller can be interpreted as a contribution to the loan and this has been confirmed by numerous attorneys. You are directly taking advantage of military personnel that has sacrificed his life for 20 years for our country, besides if the property goes to foreclosure, there is no recourse on this loan by ING, only more losses. No other lien holder in a short sale has ever done this to a United States military personnel borrower. You and ING are now crossing the forbidden line of respect for our military. I hope you cause ING to reverse their stance in this case. You have a borrower trying to do a good thing by selling the property early to avoid further losses to the bank only to get penalized for it.