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State foreclosure bus returns to Lindenhurst

by David Winzelberg
Published: May 30, 2012
Tags: , , , , , ,

Lindenhurst will be the next stop for a state-run mobile command center staffed with foreclosure counselors.

The command center is rolling into Lindenhurst on June 1 with its 36-foot-long van equipped with computers and communications systems normally used to respond to natural disasters. It also made a stop in Lindenhurst last week.

The program is run by the Department of Financial Services and features the foreclosure prevention unit dispatched to areas with high rates of foreclosure.

Counselors will assess where homeowners are in the pre-foreclosure or foreclosure process and provide information about loan modifications available under federal law.

They will also take complaints from homeowners who believe they were subjected to lender or mortgage servicer abuses so these cases can be investigated by the department.

“Gov. Cuomo believes that it’s essential that we provide as much help as possible to financially-troubled homeowners,” Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said in a statement. “Our objective is to provide direct help to homeowners and get the word out to others that it’s important to ask for help as quickly as possible. The longer a homeowner waits, the harder it may be to save a home.”

The command center will be set up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, 1 Lee Ave. in Lindenhurst.

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Article source: http://libn.com/2012/05/30/state-foreclosure-bus-returns-to-lindenhurst/

Idaho tax protester Hart files for bankruptcy

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BOISE – Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart, who lost his bid for a fifth term in the GOP primary two weeks ago, has filed for bankruptcy.

In Hart’s petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he lists just three creditors: the IRS, the Idaho State Tax Commission and Anderson Krieger, a construction-defect law firm in Sacramento, Calif.

Hart, a structural engineer, also is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department seeking to foreclose on his Athol home for more than $500,000 in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest, and a state order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest.

Michael McFarland, Hart’s Coeur d’Alene attorney in the bankruptcy proceeding, said he is “not in a position to discuss details,” including whether the foreclosure and bankruptcy are related.

Hart’s filing doesn’t list total debt, but that must be detailed in subsequent filings the court has ordered him to make within 14 days.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a wage-earner’s plan, is intended to help workers keep their property by developing a three- to five-year plan to pay at least a portion of their debt, according to a summary provided by the U.S. court system. It is one of the two forms of bankruptcy filings that, if approved, can lead to the discharge of tax debt, and can halt foreclosure proceedings.

A trial is currently set to start in the foreclosure case on Nov. 6.

“It’ll temporarily stop it, because as soon as the bankruptcy is filed, a bankruptcy stay is put into effect,” said Boise bankruptcy attorney Frances Stern. “What he’s probably going to try to do is put a plan together that addresses the IRS debt in the plan, so he can keep the house.”

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy, Stern said; it allows a person to reorganize their debts by setting up a plan to pay a certain percentage of them back over 46 to 60 months. “IRS debt is generally a priority debt, which will get paid before any other unsecured debt,” Stern said. “The IRS can be aggressive in these things.”

The other form of bankruptcy is a Chapter 7 liquidation. “It’s what people generally think of when they think about a bankruptcy,” Stern said. “Whatever you can’t exempt would be liquidated.”

In Hart’s filing, he checked a box characterizing his debt as “primarily consumer debts, defined as … incurred by an individual primarily for a personal, family or household purpose.”

The Athol home that Hart is trying to save was built in part with logs he illegally harvested from state school endowment land in 1996. Hart maintained he had the right as a citizen to take the logs for free, but he lost repeated court appeals and never fully satisfied a court judgment in the case.

Hart maintains that both state and federal income taxes are unconstitutional. He stopped filing tax returns for three years in the 1990s while he unsuccessfully pressed a lawsuit arguing the federal income tax was unconstitutional. Since then, he’s started paying again and maintains he’s paid up, but both federal and state authorities dispute that.

Hart faced multiple ethics complaints in the House last year over the timber case and his tax fights. He’s repeatedly claimed legislative privilege to win delays in his state and federal tax cases, and he offered legislative privilege as a defense in the IRS foreclosure case, but a federal judge rejected that.

He lost his seat on the House tax committee and gave up his transportation committee vice-chairmanship to avoid ethics sanctions, and he apologized to the House last year. Two weeks ago, he lost the GOP primary in a four-way contest to Hayden businessman Ed Morse, who will face Democrat Dan English for Hart’s House seat in the November election.

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Article source: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/may/31/idaho-tax-protester-hart-files-for-bankruptcy/

If you lost home to foreclosure ask for a review

If you lost your house to foreclosure, the last thing you may want to do is relive the pain.

But if you suspect that something was wrong during the foreclosure process, you need to take advantage of an independent review mandated by federal banking regulators.

Last year, 14 large residential mortgage servicers were required by the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision to retain independent consultants to conduct a review of their foreclosure actions. This was the result of widespread complaints by consumer advocates and borrowers about deceitful and improper foreclosure practices by mortgage servicers.

If consultants find fault during the review, then borrowers who suffered financial injury because of errors, misrepresentations or other problems in the foreclosure process may get money or some other remedy.

At the end of 2011, a consulting firm acting on behalf of federal bank regulators sent 4.3 million letters to individuals who might be eligible to have their foreclosure actions reviewed. Through May 17, more than 194,000 people responded asking for such a review. Another 142,000 people have been specifically selected for review because either their foreclosure related to a bankruptcy or the foreclosure might have violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides certain rights to military members.

“If people believe they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010, they should request a review,” said Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”

To also qualify, the foreclosure had to be on your primary residence and the mortgage servicer had to come from one of the 14 participating companies.

If you received a letter, you may have thought: Why bother? You might be skeptical that anything will come of it. But don’t lose out on the chance to get some redemption if it turns out your mortgage servicer did something wrong.

“The review can take several months and they are very detailed,” Hubbard said.

There’s another bonus to finding out if you qualify for a review. Requests from eligible borrowers where a foreclosure sale is imminent will receive priority attention, the OCC has said. However don’t expect too much. You still need to work with your mortgage servicer to determine if the foreclosure can be avoided. Although asking for a review won’t automatically postpone or stop a foreclosure process, the extra attention might help.

The review isn’t just for folks whose home sold through foreclosure. Consultants will be looking at cases where homes were slated for foreclosure but the process stopped because payments were brought up to date, the borrower entered a payment plan or modification program, or the home was sold in a short sale or given back to the lender. But you have to act soon. The deadline for requests to get a review by an independent consultant is July 31.

Additional letters will be sent out in early June, Hubbard said. And to increase awareness of eligibility, the Federal Reserve has put together a short video that can be found on YouTube by searching for “Independent Foreclosure Review PSA.”

Here are some additional things that might have gone wrong in your foreclosure action that consultants will examine:

•The mortgage balance was listed incorrectly.

The foreclosure occurred while someone was waiting for a modification even though the person submitted all of the paperwork on time.

A borrower believes the mortgage payment and/or the fees that the servicer charged were inaccurate.

The review is free, so don’t let anyone persuade you that you have to pay for it. There is just one review process. Go to www.IndependentForeclosureReview.com for a list of the 14 mortgage servicers and for more information about the review and claim process. You can mail your request form or submit it online. To get the form online, you have to click on the link for your servicer. The company you sent your monthly mortgage payments to is your mortgage servicer. If you need help completing the form or if you have questions you can call 888-952-9105.

Put your request in. You really have nothing to lose and possibly something to gain.

Michelle Singletary: singletarym@washpost.com.

Washington Post Writers Group

Article source: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20120531/BIZ/705319923/1005

Chase Boosting Foreclosure Prevention Efforts In Tacoma

Struggling homeowners have a chance to meet with loan advisors from Chase and the Tacoma Urban League to find the best solution for their needs.

The effort to prevent forclosures will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Urban League, 2550 S. Yakima St. in Tacoma.

Since 2009, Chase has offered 1.2 million modifications to struggling
homeowners nationwide and have helped more than 700,000 people avoid foreclosure nationwide. Among their tactics have been modifications, forbearance and short sales.

Homeowners with Chase, WaMu and EMC mortgages are eligible to  receive the following services at the event: Homeownership preservation; foreclosure prevention; mortgage counseling; and loan modifications.

Customers should be prepared to share the following documents: Photo ID; all mortgage documents including Social Security card, closing documents and statements; W-2′s and tax returns for the last two years; pay stubs from the last two months; layoff notices from employers; medical letters from doctors and two most recent bank statements.

Article source: http://lakewood.patch.com/articles/chase-boosting-foreclosure-prevention-efforts-in-tacoma

First quarter pre-foreclosure sales at 3-year high: report


NEW YORK |
Thu May 31, 2012 12:27am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sales of homes in default jumped in the first quarter to the highest level in three years as steeper price discounts were offered, a report from RealtyTrac said on Thursday.

Known as pre-foreclosure or short sales, the first three months of the year saw such sales jump 16 percent to 109,521 homes compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.

That was an increase of 25 percent compared to the year before and the highest level since the first quarter of 2009.

Pre-foreclosure sales are typically done to allow the troubled homeowner to avoid going into foreclosure.

Sales of homes that were in foreclosure or bank owned also rose 8.3 percent to 233,299, though it was off 0.2 percent from a year ago.

Foreclosure sales accounted for 26.5 percent of all residential sales, up from 22 percent, while pre-foreclosure made up 12 percent of all sales during the quarter, up from 10 percent in the previous quarter.

“Lenders are approving more aggressively priced short sales, which in turn is resulting in more successful short sale transactions,” Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

The average sales price of a pre-foreclosure home fell 4 percent to $175,461, the lowest level recorded since the report began tracking data in 2005.

Homes in foreclosure on average went for $161,214, down 1 percent from the fourth quarter and a discount of 27 percent compared to the average price of a non-distressed home.

Hard-hit Nevada took the top spot for foreclosure sales at 56 percent of all home sales, while California came in second at 47 percent.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/31/us-usa-housing-realtytrac-idUSBRE84U05F20120531

Real estate Q&A: Foreclosure deal could trickle down

QUESTION: I know some of the major lenders signed a $25 billion mortgage settlement earlier this year. What happens to the rest of the homeowners whose lenders aren’t part of the agreement? Are we left out? /pp -Motti/pp ANSWER: Yes and no. The agreement that you’re hearing about was signed in February by Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and GMAC’s Ally Financial to settle claims of improper foreclosures during the housing crisis. If your loan is not with one of those banks, you will not be eligible for specific terms of the settlement, which include cash and mortgage balance forgiveness./pp Take heart, though. The news is not all bad for borrowers of other banks. I have seen some of those lenders offering borrowers deals that are similar to those contained in the agreement. For instance, even though your lender isn’t part of the settlement, you may find that it is more willing now to offer you some type of a loan modification – maybe even a mortgage principal reduction. Essentially, the settlement has prompted many other banks to improve their dealings with struggling homeowners./pp I have long said that you have to be persistent and stay in the game to get the results you want. I’m really seeing this advice pay off. Some clients have told me how glad they are that they didn’t give up because they got great deals. If you have not yet received the relief you want, now is definitely the time to try again./pp /pp Q: My home has gone into foreclosure. How will I know if the lender wants to get money from me after it sells it? How can I protect myself?/pp -Henry/pp A: If the value of your home at the foreclosure auction is not enough to pay off your mortgage loan, you will have a deficiency liability. Your lender can have another hearing with the court to determine the exact amount of this liability and have the court issue a judgment that it can use to try to collect this money from you. One of the best ways to avoid this scenario is to try to negotiate with your lender during the foreclosure process to waive the deficiency – through a short sale, a deed in lieu of foreclosure or a consent judgment. Also, certain types of assets are exempt from collection, like most retirement accounts, head of household wages and your homestead property./pp /pp /pp Q: My wife and I have been married for 16 years. Our house has been in her name for more than 20 years. Her health is poor, and I’m wondering if there may be any legal issues I might face if things take a turn for the worse. /pp -Sam/pp A: If your wife passes with the homestead property in just her name, Florida law will determine what happens to the property. If there is a will and no minor children, your wife can leave the house to you in the will. If there is a minor child and a will, or if there is no will and she has a child of any age, you will get the house as long as you live (that’s known as a life estate) and then the property will go to the kids. /pp Whatever the situation, you can avoid all of this and any expenses by having her deed the property to both of you, as husband and wife. This type of ownership is known as tenants by the entireties. Upon her death, the property will instantly transfer to you. The only downside to this type of transfer is that it will be subject to transfer taxes, unless the property is owned outright without a mortgage./pp ABOUT THE WRITER:/pp Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw./pp The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Article source: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/31/3634845/real-estate-qa-foreclosure-deal.html

Foreclosures Level Off In Early 2012 – CoreLogic

The inventory of homes in foreclosure has leveled off in the first four months of the year, according to a report from data firm CoreLogic Inc. released on Wednesday.

The number of homes …

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120530-710201.html

"Flip This": foreclosed homes attract investors


LOS ANGELES |
Thu May 31, 2012 1:01am EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – At the height of the housing bubble, the practice of “flipping” homes – buying them for cheap, fixing them up and reselling them for a quick profit – was popular enough to inspire its own TV show.

The housing crash that began about five years ago put the brakes on it, but it is now re-emerging in another form, with some investors selecting foreclosed homes in cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix for flipping.

A dilapidated house at 509 North Avenue 54 in Los Angeles – a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, one-story home built in 1909 – shows how this business model works. The property was purchased this month for $305,000 by a new California-based group called Community Rebuild Partners (CRP) that invests in foreclosed real estate.

Within hours of finalizing the purchase, a crew of local contractors was on site to demolish walls, shore up the foundation, and start in on a major remodeling effort.

After investing about $80,000 in renovations, the group hopes to sell the house this summer for $460,000, with about $70,000 in profit, CRP founder and managing director Greg Hebner said.

Some 700,000 foreclosed homes currently sit vacant across the United States, according to the tracking firm RealtyTrac. With such a glut of bank-owned homes, President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke have encouraged the idea of investors buying pools of foreclosed properties to rent.

But there has been less focus on the idea of investors buying foreclosed, often blighted, homes to sell. Some economists scoff at the idea that such efforts could make a dent in the glut of foreclosed homes, but others are more optimistic.

Ross DeVol, an economist at the Milken Institute think tank in Los Angeles, said savvy investors could benefit from pent-up demand for quality family homes as the U.S. housing market slowly improves.

“There is very little supply of decent, affordable homes on the market, because there has been so little construction in the last four to five years,” DeVol said.

The key to CRP’s business model is what properties to buy, and in what neighborhoods. Hebner said that for every 40 vacant, foreclosed properties he and his team inspect, only one is purchased.

CRP does not buy batches of foreclosed properties in areas riddled by blight, Hebner said. Instead, it acquires two or three fixer-uppers at a time in working-class neighborhoods close to schools and transportation hubs, usually for $150,000 to $300,000, he added. Typical buyers are teachers, firefighters or electricians, Hebner said.

“We are aiming for the widest pool of potential buyers and the most financeable properties,” Hebner said.

Hebner said his group, with the help of investors, has purchased about 100 properties throughout California in the past 16 months, and invested a total of about $20 million in the purchases and accompanying renovations.

“We are hitting singles, not home runs,” said Hebner, using a baseball analogy. “That’s the plan.”

Hebner said not all the projects have made money. There have been losses and cost overruns due to unforeseen extra work or permit problems with local planning offices.

“We’ve made lots of mistakes. We’ve hired bad contractors, we’ve hired bad realtors,” Hebner said.

Many Americans are familiar with the practice of “home flipping,” which was featured in the U.S. cable TV series “Flip This House.” Hebner said he hates the term “flipper” and calls himself an “investor” helping to take blighted, foreclosed properties off the market and improve neighborhoods.

‘WE PICK AND CHOOSE’

In Phoenix, Arizona, Marty Boardman spent much of the housing boom years making big profits from flipping houses through his firm, Rising Sun Capital Group.

Today, like Hebner, he is sinking investors’ money into the foreclosure market, carefully selecting his purchases, renovating them and seeing a steady annualized return that he pegs at about 12 percent.

Boardman said he typically buys homes for between $150,000 and $400,000, usually with three to four bedrooms.

“We pick and choose,” Boardman said. “We look for middle-class suburban family homes.”

Boardman said his average time from purchase to sale is 68 days. He said he has three “high net-worth” individuals who pay into an equity fund that usually holds about $500,000 at any one time. He said he has bought and re-sold 12 homes this year.

“In 2005, at the peak of the boom, we wouldn’t even consider doing a deal if we weren’t going to make a quick $40,000 profit,” Boardman said. “Nowadays we are happy with $15,000. The profit margin is slow and steady.”

Crocker Liu, a real estate expert at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, expressed misgivings about the return of the practice of “flipping.”

“As the market is starting to improve, these flippers are coming in. It’s happening everywhere. It’s happening here in Ithaca. They’re not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, otherwise they’d be called Habitat for Humanity,” Liu said, referring to the well-known housing charity.

Liu added that the cherry-picking approach will never solve the foreclosure crisis because the number of bank-owned properties is so great.

“In the bad neighborhoods, you will never sell them no matter how beautiful you make them,” Liu said.

Hebner’s investors, though, seem pleased so far. Ahmed El Alfi, a veteran investor who runs Sawari Ventures, an international venture capital firm with a focus on the technology sector in the Middle East, is an investor in CRP and said he has known Hebner for years.

“Everybody is trying to figure how to make a buck out of distressed real estate,” he said in a telephone interview from Egypt. “Greg is taking distressed property off the market, renovating it, and putting it back on the market – while at the same time making money. It’s a good business model and one I was happy to be a catalyst for.”

(Editing by Jonathan Weber and Will Dunham)

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/31/us-usa-housing-foreclosures-flip-idUSBRE84U06220120531

RealtyTrac: Foreclosures Account For 26% Of 1Q US Home Sales

Sales of U.S. homes owned by banks or in some stage of foreclosure accounted for a slightly larger share of total home sales in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, according to market researcher RealtyTrac.

Residential properties linked to foreclosure–either in default, scheduled for auction or bank-owned–represented 26% of all home sales in the latest quarter, up from 25% a year earlier and 22% in the fourth quarter. Bank-owned homes are …

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120531-700027.html

VA Home Loan Centers Launches Homeowners Action Services (HASsm)

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HASsm program offers foreclosure options to vets

As the name implies, HAS is all about action in helping veterans refinance and avoid foreclosure

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) May 30, 2012

VA Home Loan Centers (VA-HLC) has launched a new service to assist eligible homeowners with VA home loans who are facing financial loss when selling their primary-residence homes, as well as those facing foreclosure as a result of the drop in home values. VA Home Loan Centers new Homeowners Action Services sm (HAS) program can also help homeowners refinance and lower their payments.

HASsm helps veterans, active duty military and their families stay in their homes by offering several mortgage payment-reduction plans, or help them sell their property – even if they do not have equity in their homes.

“As the name implies, HASsm is all about action in helping veterans refinance and avoid foreclosure,” said Phil Georgiades, managing director of VA-HLC. “The much-publicized debt-relief programs being talked about right now, like principal reduction and other modifications, are confusing and not always easy to qualify for. We’ve launched HASsm as a one-stop resource to help veterans fully understand the options available to them, guiding them through the process and achieving the best result.”

HASsm offers several refinance options for homeowners with owner-occupied VA home loans, including interest rate reduction and refinance programs for veterans, active-duty military and their families even if they do not currently have a VA loan.

Georgiades added, “One of the many benefits of using HASsm through VAHLC is that you have the option of skipping two mortgage payments as part of your refinance package.”

Veterans who no longer live in the home they own can qualify for several non-foreclosure options. These include grants, subsidies or short sales.

The grants are available to certain veterans who owe more than what their property is worth and have been relocated by the military. The grants pay off any lender loss, real estate commissions, closing costs and related seller expenses.

Those who do not qualify for a grant may receive a subsidy to pay any mortgage debt, closing costs and delinquent mortgage payments.

“VAHLC provides free processing and counseling for all these options,” adds Georgiades. “HASsm is about action; and we’re here to help our veterans, active-duty military and their families. They deserve nothing less.”

For more information about how VA-HLC can help with a VA loan, refinancing or foreclosure avoidance contact VA Home Loan Centers.

About VA-HLC / VA Home Loan Centers (http://www.vahlc.org/)

VA-HLC is a one-stop resource to help veterans, active-duty military and their families fully understand the options available to them, guiding them through the process and achieving the best result.

VA Home Loan Centers is a qualified lender of mortgage loans to United States Veterans. The VA loan program helps veterans, active and former duty military, and certain spouses of wounded, M.I.A. or K.I.A. United States service personnel achieve the ultimate American dream: home ownership. Services provided by VA Home Loan Centers include real estate representation such as VA loan short sale processing, purchase assistance and VA loan application processing. VA Home Loan Centers offers beneficial loans to all eligible veterans and their families. It is easier to qualify for a loan through VA Home Loan Centers than other loan programs because they offer higher front-end and debt ratios as well as the no down payment, no closing costs option (VA no/no).

To apply for a VA loan, call 888-573-4496 or visit the VA Home Loan Centers web site here.

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Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9555761.htm