Monthly Archives: April 2013

Robo-Signer and OCC Settlements

Fast Fact: Two of the most highly publicized bank investigations recently culminated in the BIGGEST settlements. But there’s no such thing as easy solutions…even the settlements are fraught with challenges.

WHY IT MATTERS

Millions were allegedly wronged by banks. For some, settlements set things right or at least acknowledge the wrongs. But most homeowners never asked for a modification or short sale approval, were never in foreclosure. If you’re one of these folks, there are other reasons the settlements matter. They translate to fewer distressed sales, good news for our home values. Payments to State and Federal governments inevitably trickle down to communities and tax payers. And the new standards banks and servicers are required to implement insure all customers better service.

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Your Insurance Costs and Coverage

Fast Fact: Natural disasters are occurring in more places and causing more damage than ever before. As a result insurance costs have risen almost 40% and companies are finding ways to limit your coverage.

We are constantly reminded that disasters can strike any community. Tornadoes that have hit Midwestern states in recent years have been some of the most destructive the United States has ever seen. Giant sinkholes and earthquakes are occurring more frequently. Six of the 10 worst years for wildfires have occurred during the past decade.

Insurance companies continue revisiting their business and pricing models, raising premiums, enhancing higher first-loss deductibles and similar loss-mitigation features; and withdrawing altogether from some markets previously considered lower risk and now known to be otherwise.

Unlike a mortgage, which can eventually be paid off, your insurance costs never go away. At a time when government can ill-afford more expenses, billions of tax dollars are spent replacing damaged public infrastructure along with private business and home repair and recovery. In some areas, rising insurance costs are stunting real estate values and contributing to commercial and residential real estate loan defaults and foreclosures.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to know what your policy does and does not cover before you need it, and what you can do to keep your own insurance costs from skyrocketing.

Tell Us What You Think

How is the rising cost of homeowner and renter insurances affecting you and your family? What’s your experience been with coverage and claims? Share your experience to help others.

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Is the Government Doing Enough on Housing?

Almost 70% of voters surveyed recently believe the home mortgage interest tax deduction shouldn’t be repealed as a way to cut the massive federal deficit, according to a national voter survey sponsored by the American Institute of Architects.

Infographic: Support Among Voters

The survey also found that a solid majority of voters — 71% — favor extending the tax incentive for making houses and commercial buildings more energy efficient. Majorities of Democrats (88%), Independents (69%), and Republicans (57%) favor the extension.

“These findings affirm strong support by Americans for the mortgage interest deduction — one of the most popular paths to owning a home,” said AIA President Jeff Potter.

“The poll also underscores heavy bipartisan support of continued tax incentives for energy efficiency. Both of these issues are expected to figure prominently in post-election Congressional tax battles.”

Infographic: Support by Political Party

Other findings include:

  • 64% of voters think the government should now spend additional money making public buildings more energy efficient, provided the upfront cost could be paid for in lower utility bills over the next decade.
  • 70% of voters surveyed think federal income tax laws should be changed to allow home owners to deduct losses when they sell a home for less than they paid for it. Support for this proposal is strong across the board.
  • Few voters are positive about the way the federal government is handling issues such as protecting home values (only 18% say excellent or good) or assisting homebuyers secure mortgages (only 24% say excellent or good).

As the debates continue, stay informed on home ownership issues.