“Homeowners should be walking away in droves. But they aren’t. And it’s not because the financial costs of foreclosure outweigh the benefits. One can have a good credit rating again–meaning above 660–within two years after a foreclosure.” That’s the conclusion reached by a law professor who’s written a paper about strategic default, which is when you elect to walk away from an underwater mortgage because you stand to lose more money trying to keep it than if you cut your losses immediately. The problem is, lots of people think it’s the wrong thing to do, because individuals are supposed to play by different rules than the companies they do business with.
KTLA says that five people have been charged with torture, robbery and false imprisonment after luring two loan modification agents to a location and then holding them for hours, beating and robbing them before one escaped.
Wachovia just lost $8.9 billion dollars, and will cut 6,350 workers as the credit crisis keeps on truckin’, says the Associated Press. This is um, a lot more than Wall Street had been expecting. Earlier this month, Wachovia had projected a $2.6 billion loss.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the “government sponsored” enterprises that are supposed to bail us out of the current mortgage crisis, may be in danger of collapsing, according to William Poole, the former president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, who told Bloomberg the companies are already “insolvent.”
Meet Tracy Warren. NPR says she’s not surprised by the mortgage meltdown because she was supposed to be in charge of preventing it. Tracy worked for a quality control contractor that reviewed subprime loans for investment banks before they were sold on Wall Street, and her company’s biggest client was none other than Bear Stearns. Tracy says she found plenty of loans to reject. The trouble is, according to Tracy, after she rejected them… her bosses unrejected them.
Marketwatch says that Bank of America is in “advanced” talks to acquire Countrywide. No word on if said talks took place on Vader’s Star Destoyer or on Captain Hook’s pirate ship. Bank of America already bailed out Countrywide last year, chucking $2 billion into the troubled mortgage lender in exchange for preferred securities that could be converted into stock at $18. Countrywide is currently trading at around $7.75.
Goldman Sachs has downgraded Citigroup, the nation’s largest bank, estimating that it will have to take a $15 billion hit due to its exposure to the subprime meltdown. Two weeks ago, Citigroup estimated that its mortgage related write-downs would total from $8-$11 billion as its CEO, Charles Prince “resigned.”
Don’t open any new lines of credit or go crazy with the credit card purchases between your home loan’s approval and the actual closing date, warns Ilyce R. Glink (doesn’t it look like we just tapped a bunch of keys at random to spell that name?) at Inman Real Estate News. Your lender will pull a second credit report before closing to make sure that you’re still capable of paying your loan—so if you’ve done anything in the interim that could impact your ability to pay, rest assured it will show up.
Here’s a cute but meaningless graphic from ABC News that illustrates a very important statistic: New home sales are down. Way down. 8.3% down. It’s the worst month for new home sales in 6 years.
“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.