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Showing posts from February, 2009

Rescue Offers: Helpful Plans or Foreclosure Scams?

Homeowners in need should call lender or non-profit counselor

By Marcie Geffner, Cyberhomes Contributor

Homeowners who are facing foreclosure tend to be stressed out, short of cash and anxious about their future. Unfortunately, those characteristics can make them attractive targets for financial predators. That’s why these homeowners must be especially alert to avoid foreclosure scams and rely only on reputable organizations to help them.

One common foreclosure rescue scam is “phantom help,” in which a “rescuer” charges the homeowner outrageous fees to make telephone calls and complete paperwork the homeowner could have completed himself or promises “more robust representation that never materializes,” according to “Dreams Foreclosed: The Rampant Theft of Americans homes Through Equity-Stripping Foreclosure Rescue Scams,” a report by the National Consumer Law Center in Boston.

This type of scam “gives homeowners a false sense of hope, delays them from seeking qualified help and exposes th…

6 Ways To Cut Your Housing Costs

By Marcie Geffner - LendingTree.com

Housing costs make up a large chunk of most people's household budget. That's one reason why housing costs can be a prime target if you're looking for some good ways to save money this year.

Here are six ways you can cut the amount of money you spend each month on your home:

1. Refinance. A new mortgage at a lower interest rate may be the best way to save the most money on your housing costs. And that may be true even if you have to spend some money upfront to lock in a lower interest rate. Refinancing can pay off month after month, and the longer you continue to own your home, the more you'll save.

2. Downsize. If your home is too large for your current needs, now may be a good time to consider moving to a less costly residence to save money on your monthly housing costs. Now that home prices and mortgage interest rates have declined, you may be able to find a home that suits your needs at an affordable price. A smaller home also could …

What Interest Rate Will You Pay on Your Loan?

Marcie Geffner - LendingTree.com

If you've decided to buy a home or refinance your mortgage, you may be puzzled by the different interest rates you've seen advertised for home loans. You're not alone: Many home buyers and homeowners are confused when they discover they don’t qualify for these rock-bottom interest rates.

The reality is that the interest rate you’ll pay on a loan is determined largely by your own personal situation. Even if you don’t meet the requirements for the best-of-the-best rates that you've seen advertised, that doesn't mean you won't be able to qualify for a loan or won't be offered an attractive interest rate that you'll be able to afford.

The interest rate you'll be offered will depend on:

● Credit score. Your credit history and credit score will have the greatest effect on the interest rate you'll be offered. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate likely will be. A credit score is a numerical representation of …

What to know before you refinance

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

The most fundamental consideration in whether a homeowner should refinance an existing mortgage is the break-even point that represents how soon the cost of the refinance will be recaptured through lower monthly payments. But while the break-even point is easy enough to calculate, other factors may also influence your decision and, if it's a go, the type of loan you'll select.

While there is no rule of thumb for the maximum payback period, or break-even point, that makes sense for most borrowers, three years or fewer typically is considered reasonable if you intend to keep your mortgage at least that long.

To calculate a break-even point, divide the anticipated total cost of your refinance by the monthly savings on your loan payment. The result is the number of months that would be required to recoup the cost.

Read on: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/mtg/20090205-what-to-know-refinance-a1.asp?prodtype=mtg.

Lenders face flood of loan applications

Homeowners who want to refinance should be prepared to be persistent.

By Marcie Geffner - LendingTree.com January 16, 2009

If you've decided to refinance your mortgage to take advantage of today's low interest rates, be prepared to be patient and persistent. Many lenders have received a flood of new loan applications due to the lowest interest rates on record. And as a result, most lenders now face enormous backlogs of refinance requests that need to be processed.

A survey conducted every week by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows just how swamped lenders really are. For the week that ended Jan. 9, 2009, the volume of loan applications nearly doubled compared with the previous week. Volume was up more than 50 percent compared with the same week a year earlier as well, according to the MBA's survey. (These figures are on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.) Applications to refinance hit their highest volume since June 2003, the last time there was a boom in refinancing.

Feds to retry former Homestore CEO

Feb. 12 hearing scheduled to set new trial date

BY MARCIE GEFFNER, TUESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2009.

Inman News

LOS ANGELES -- Stuart Wolff isn't yet out of the woods. U.S. prosecutors intend to retry Wolff, the former Homestore CEO whose conviction and 15-year prison sentence related to an accounting scandal was tossed out last year by a three-judge panel.

"There will be a new trial. Where we are is essentially as if the original trial had never happened," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Wilner told Inman News.

Wolff has been newly accused of conspiracy, filing false statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission, lying to accountants, fraudulent insider trading, and falsification of corporate books and records in connection with an alleged accounting scandal nine years ago at the online property listings company now known as Move Inc.

Read on: http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/marciegeffner/feds-retry-former-homestore-ceo.

Return on Investors

Who’s buying foreclosures and how to attract their business

By Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate

Real estate investment is back in style. And that means REALTORS® need look no further for new business than these profit-minded buyers, who’ve returned in droves to some of California’s weakest housing markets.

“Investors are coming back into the market, and they are changing the dynamics of the market,” says Lori Mode, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in Elk Grove, south of Sacramento.

Read on: http://www.car.org/newsstand/crem/past-issues/october2008/235694/.

Cash crunch? 6 ways to get liquid

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

If your budget is like that of so many other households, it may seem like you never have quite enough cash on hand to pay all your bills at the end of every month and still set aside a few extra bucks for a rainy day. And these days, your cash crunch may be worse than ever if your expenses are rising, your income is falling and your credit limits are being shredded.

Though there aren't really any new ideas in cash management, financial planners suggest six tried-and-true techniques that can help you improve your liquidity and boost your cash flow without resorting to such drastic measures as selling your home, bailing out of your long-term investments or even raiding your jewelry box.

Read the rest of this story: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/pf/20090203-cash-crunch-liquidity-a1.asp?prodtype=pfin.

Solving refinance challenges

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

Homeowners who have financial problems and want to refinance their mortgage may be pleased to know there are some strategies that can help them overcome such challenges as inadequate income, excessive debt, negative equity or poor credit.

The challenges aren't imaginary. Lenders have indeed tightened their standards, and there are few good solutions to common problems, according to Robert Satrick, president of Prime Financial Services in Van Nuys, Calif., and chairman of the California Mortgage Bankers Association in Sacramento.

"That sounds harsh. I know that," he says. "But that's the reality of the way it is."

Read the rest of this story: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/mtg/20090122-solving-refinance-challenges-a1.asp?prodtype=mtg.

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