Tax break for struggling homeowners set to expire

“People trying to do short sales are freaked out about it,” said Elizabeth Weintraub, a real estate agent in Sacramento, Calif. “They’re telling me they’ll do whatever it takes to close by the end of the year.”

….. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction.   more

Why Home Prices Won’t Bottom

In theory, it should be a good time to buy a home. In the worst-hit areas, properties have lost more than half their value.

Yet as the average 30-year mortgage rate has slipped below 4 percent, the combination of employment insecurity and unusually tight standards for lending are discouraging buyers en masse. Lenders are asking for extensive income verification and tax returns. One lender I contacted for refinancing even wanted me to get an accountant to certify that I wasn’t lying to the IRS…….

How Long is Credit Information Retained on Your File

A Credit Reporting Agency may report negative information for seven years.

exceptions:

  • Crminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation.
  • Bankruptcy – up to 10 yrs.
  • Response to application for a job with a salary > $75,000 – no time limit.
  • Information reported re: an application for > $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance –  no time limit.
  • Lawsuit or an unpaid judgment – the longer of 7 yrs or until the statute of limitations expires.

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FICO score is as follows:

  • 35 percent payment histories
  • 30 percent amount of debt (e.g. don’t use over 50% of a credit line).
  • 15 percent length of time credit line has been open (a longer history is better if there have always been timely payments).
  • 10 percent very recent history including new applications for credit.
  • 10 percent type/mix of credit, includes installment loans (like car loans), leases, mortgages, credit cards, and so on.

FHA APPRAISAL REQUIREMENTS

Effective April 1, 2009, FHA appraisers must now provide the following:

  • The Market Conditions Addendum (Fannie Form 1004MC/Freddie Form 71)
  • At least two comparable sales that occurred within 90 days of appraisal date
  • A minimum of two active listings or pending sales in addition to the three closed comparables
  • Bracketed listings using both dwelling size and sales price when possible
  • Adjusted active listings to reflect the list-to-sales price ratio
  • Adjusted pending sales to reflect contract sales price when possible
  • The original list price and any revised list prices
  • Reconciliation of adjusted values of active or pending sales with adjusted values of closed comparable sales
  • Absorption rate analysis
  • Known or reported sales concessions on active and pending sales

This update includes this warning: “Direct Endorsement Lenders are reminded that if the appraiser they selected provides a poor or fraudulent appraisal that leads FHA to insure a mortgage at an inflated amount, the lender is held responsible equally with the appraiser for the integrity, accuracy and thoroughness of an appraisal submitted to FHA.”

Exclusion from Taxation of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

The Mortgage Forgiveness Deb Relief Act lets homeowners pay no taxes for mortgage debt forgiveness.

Previously, if a lender forgave all or part of a mortgage, the borrower was considered to have received taxable income

Currently, a taxpayer may exclude up to $2 million of income from the debt on a principal residence that is forgiven during the years 2007 through 2012. This includes a mortgage refinance as well as a foreclosure.

(CAUTION: DON’T confuse this with future liability for the debt itself vs taxation….you may still find the bank hooking up to the family car in the middle of the night 5 or 10 years out, yes it does happen regularly !)

The rule applies only to acquisition indebtedness, which would be funds for the purchase or improvement of the home. Home equity loans not used for improvements do not receive the benefit.

The lender who forgives a mortgage must send the taxpayer a Form 1099C or 1099A that should show the fair market value of the home and the amount of the loan. The difference would normally be the income received. If audited, the taxpayer will have to document that funds were spent for the purchase or improvement of the home.

More:

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation):

http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html

30-Year Mortgage May Fade Away

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How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product, housing experts on both sides of the political aisle say.

Interest rates would rise for most borrowers, ……

Life without Fannie and Freddie is the rare goal shared by the Obama administration and House Republicans,………..The reasons by now are well understood. Fannie and Freddie, created to increase the availability of mortgage loans, misused the government’s support to enrich shareholders and executives by backing millions of shoddy loans. Taxpayers so far have spent more than $135 billion on the cleanup.

Bring your preapproval letter and lets shop for some BARGAINS !

Make sure your credit is as clean as possible, according to FICO, a person’s score is as follows:

  • 35 percent is determined by payment histories on credit accounts, with recent history weighted a bit more heavily than the distant past.
  • 30 percent is based on the amount of debt outstanding with all creditors.
  • 15 percent is produced on the basis of how long the borrower has been a credit user (a longer history is better if there have always been timely payments).
  • 10 percent is comprised of very recent history and whether the borrower has been actively seeking (and getting) loans or credit lines in the past months.
  • 10 percent is calculated from the mix of credit held, including installment loans (like car loans), leases, mortgages, credit cards, and so on.

US homes lost to foreclosure up 25 pct on year

US home repossessions spike in August to highest level since start of mortgage crisis

  • fewer than one-third of homes repossessed by lenders are on the market
  • More than 2.3 million homes have been repossessed by lenders since the recession began in December 2007, according to RealtyTrac. The firm estimates more than 1 million American households are likely to lose their homes to foreclosure this year.
  • Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate last month, with one in every 84 households receiving a foreclosure notice. That’s 4.5 times the national average. Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rate in August were: Florida, Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois and Hawaii.
  • “It just becomes too exhausting,” Book said about the modification process. “That’s why some people walk away.

Mortgages: Back to Basics…

What Do I Need to Get a Loan? <full story

Lending standards remain tight, and lenders have been picky even with the best-qualified borrowers. If you’re buying or refinancing the mortgage on your primary home, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% for a conforming loan or 10% to 15% for a conforming jumbo loan. With 20% or more down, you avoid private mortgage insurance, which typically costs 0.5% to 1.5% of your loan amount per year. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which set the standards for mortgages they buy from lenders, require a minimum credit score of 620; you’ll get the best rate if your score exceeds 720. The Federal Housing Administration requires a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify with a down payment of 3.5%, but FHA lenders often impose a higher minimum score of 670. (If you apply with a spouse, lenders will probably base your rate on the lower of your scores.)

BofA to start reducing mortgage principal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bank of America is taking a major step to help some of its most troubled mortgage borrowers. The bank says it will forgive up to 30 percent of some customers’ loan principal.

The bank has said Wednesday it will start forgiving principal for homeowners who owe more than 120 percent of their home’s value.