Ten years ago, a potential home buyer could walk into a Countrywide office and get pre-approved for a half-million dollar home loan based on a bank statement written in crayon on a restaurant place mat and a pinky swear that the loan could be paid back. We all know too well the results of those lax standards, which is why regulators and banks ramped up restrictions on lending to the point where applying for a home loan is like auditioning for American Idol, without the washed-up celebrity appearances. But a new survey says that lenders are easing up… a bit. [More]
A woman says she lost her home to Bank of America by following its advice to her that she skip mortgage payments. The woman had lived in the house for 25 years and began struggling with payments when she began battling breast cancer. When she asked the bank to help adjust her mortgage in 2009, she said the bank told her it couldn’t help her because she was current with her payments. Once she allowed herself to miss three payments, as she said the bank advised her to do, BofA did lower her mortgage payments, only to later foreclose on her. [More]
The folks at ProPublica recently looked into the all-too-common problem of homeowners who thought they had successfully run through the loan modification gauntlet only to later find out that their bank had no record of the reduction and their house was suddenly in foreclosure. [More]
Olly, olly, oxen, free. A class action lawsuit against Bank of America claiming they were less than above board with their loan modification practices has been certified for national participation. [More]
If you’re one of 250 Maryland homeowners with a foreclosure order signed by Ally Bank’s Jeffrey Stephan, you’ve just been granted a reprieve. The bank is withdrawing all Maryland foreclosures authorized by Stephan, who admitted that he casually signed off on thousands of foreclosures each month. But homeowners aren’t completely off the hook. Ally plans to restart the foreclosure process with new filings. [More]
Thanks to federal regulations, when you dispute an account on your credit report and the dispute is resolved in your favor, the credit reporting agency is required to remove or correct the account. Credit reporting agencies often don’t do this, though, and the Washington Post notes that it can come back and interfere with your next home loan application.
Kiplinger lists four ways you can still get some cash back from the government, although you’d better get a move on if you want to qualify. Included are a first-time home buyer’s credit that goes away November 30th, a new car tax credit, a COBRA premium subsidy for people laid off, and a slight unemployment payment benefit.
Over 400 people have been charged in the government’s national mortgage fraud probe, called “Operation Malicious Mortage,” which dealt with individual rather than corporate fraud. [Reuters]
The FBI has opened an investigation into Countrywide for suspected securities fraud, reports the New York Times. The Justice Department and FBI “are looking at whether officials at Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, misrepresented its financial condition and the soundness of its loans in security filings.” So far everything is unofficial because nobody has been authorized to discuss the case, and a Countrywide spokeswoman says, “”We are not aware of any such investigation.”
“If you fail to follow some little-known rules for calculating your home mortgage deduction, you may be writing off too much interest. Instead of saving on taxes, you could wind up owing them,” says Business Week in next week’s “Personal Finance” column.