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Dating, Marriage and Credit Scores: A New Twist in the Road To A Happy Life

He was tall, religious, well employed in finance and had great teeth.  Even better, he came from a nice family background, and was brought up similarly to her.   She was attractive, peppy and fully employed as a flight attendant.

But Chicago’s Jessica LaShawn was dumped after a first date when somewhere between salad and dessert Jessica truthfully answered a question about her credit score.  Jessica’s FICO score was subprime (below 660), as she had paid late on some bills and had some lingering unresolved debts.  A couple of days later, Jessica received an apologetic text message from her potential prince charming – no second date –  it wasn’t Jessica, it was Jessica’s credit score which caused him to decline a second date with her.  Good bye prince charming.  Good bye, white picket fence…

Credit Scores are newly becoming a relationship metric, as many people are deciding who to consider and who not to consider for marriage based in part upon credit scores.  Dating site executives report that they are receiving more inquiries and interest about when and how to bring up the issue of credit scores when deciding whether to date or pursue a relationship with a potential suitor.

Similarly, many marriage counselors relate that improving credit scores is a frequent topic of discussion with marital and relationship counseling clients.  Dissimilar levels of concerns about maintaining an acceptable credit score can lead to significant friction in a long term relationship.
So how does bankruptcy fit into the universe of dating, marriage and credit scores?
Credit scores affect us all.  Credit scores are kept on about 200 million Americans by FICO.  More than 34% of these Americans (68.6 million) tracked by FICO have subprime credit scores of less than 660.  FICO is short for Fair Isaac Corporation.
About 18.5% of Americans (37 million) enjoy the highest credit score range of 850-900, another 19.0% (38 million) enjoy very good credit scores of 750-800.  About 16.0% of Americans (32 million) enjoy “good” credit scores of 700 – 750 and 12.2% of Americans (24.4 million) have borderline FICO credit scores of 650-700.

If unpaid bills, high credit card balances, lingering tax debts, old foreclosures and unresolved vehicle repossession deficiency obligations are keeping you in the “below 700” catagory with respect to FICO scores, what can you do?

How about a bankruptcy?  What? Doesn’t bankruptcy ruin your credit, you ask?

Well, sometimes you have to go down before you can go up.

Many experts recite that a bankruptcy will temporarily dump your credit score down to 550, but then in many circumatances you will automatically start a very steady and sure climb back to a level of 700 (good), 750 (very good) or maybe even higher.

The New York Time (April 12, 2012) reports that the car loan or credit card for which you were unable to qualify right before bankruptcy can very likely immediately be yours right after a bankruptcy filing.  This might suprise you, but after bankruptcy, many creditors will actively and very aggressively again solicit your business.  This sounds very counterintuitive and maybe even a bit crazy, but strangely it is true.
After almost 19 years, I keep thinking that some day I will have seen it all when it comes to Creditors.  However, the Creditors keep suprising me with new ideas and schemes, and these are often to your benefit, so check out this new shocking twist:  I have had a few Chapter 7 clients show up at Court bearing letters that recite in essece the following:
“Dear Newly Bankrupt Potentially Valued Client: We have reviewed that you have a vehicle financed with another lender.  We want you talk to your lawyer at court about giving up that old financed car in a voluntary repossession, thus giving the car back to your lender.  If you do this, then on your way home from bankruptcy court just stop by our car lot and secure quick financing for a newer and better car.”

How does that grab you?  Stop by the car lot on the way home from bankruptcy court and pick up a new car?  Strange, but often true.
If your marriage relationship is suffering the stress of not meeting financial and mateiral goals due to chronically low credit scores, then consider a bankruptcy filing to charge up the material needs which, face it, are an important part of living with some contentedness in a long term relationship.
We all like to say that love is enough, but we all know that every marriage has material needs and material aspirations.  Even if such material goals are modest, such as replacing that aging car, starting to save for retirement or college, moving up to a more suitably sized home, getting on a cell phone data plan instead of being stuck with an expensive “prepaid phone”  or maybe even renting a little nicer place to live – we all have needs and aspirations.  Chronically low credit scores can take away some of the material comforts that we look forward to enjoying with our mate in a long term relationship, and these disappointments can take a little of the joy out of your daily walk of relationship and marriage.
And in Jessica’s LaShawn’s date with Mr. Right, he had her at hello…but it was quickly goodbye due to Jessica’s chronically low credit score.  If Jessica had filed for bankruptcy well before her dream date appeared and had thus already started the amazingly quick post-bankruptcy credit score recovery process, she would probably have received that offer of a second date.  But she was not proactive and did not file for bankruptcy.  Jessica just ignored her declining credit situation because it was too uncomfortable to face.  The result?  Sadly, for Jessica the story is “white picket fence postponed”.
Get on with your life and start living now: Consider bankruptcy as a strategic tool for your long term dating, relationship and marital hapiness. You will be shocked at how quickly your creditworthiness is restored post-bankruptcy.
And while you are at it, spread the good news that there is hope for the future through bankruptcy- people need to know, and if you won’t tell them, they will never learn.
[Special thanks to Jessica Silver-Greenberg, for writing “Perfect 10? Never Mind That.  Ask Her for Her Credit Score.” NY Times, Page A1, Wednesday, December 26, 2012.]
Considering the need for a bankruptcy filing to get your credit back on track?  Contact us at 253-383-1001 for an appointment in Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia, Chehalis, Renton or Bremerton.

Retirement But Not Totally Overview

The economy has had a great impact upon those people facing retirement.  Many have lost jobs, or been forced to take jobs paying much less then pre-recession employment.  In addition, many people have lost homes due to foreclosure, feeling compelled to walk away because of mortgages balances which greatly exceed their home’s value.  Bankruptcy filings in the pre-retirement demographic are skyrocketing, and have been high for many years.

With rising medical costs, rising food costs and expensive gasoline, many people are worried whether social security and perhaps a small pension will provide a comfortable retirement.

One way to improve the quality of life in retirement is to continue to work, and some places in the country offer better working opportunities for retirement age people than do other locations.

Is retirement on the horizon for you?  Are you worried whether your retirement income will stretch to provide a quality lifestyle?  If these are concerns for you, consider relocating to one of these 25 havens for retirees who might wish to continue to work past retirement age.

Forbes magazine compiled a list of places to where a retiree or a person facing retirement might want to consider relocating if there is a need or desire to work past retirement age.  Below is the “James Magee short list” of the top three places for a quality retirement.

  •  1.  Iowa City, Iowa: With Iowa Medical School in its midst, Iowa City’s doctor count is six times above the national average.  Also unemployment is at 3.8% and job opportunities are growing.
  • 2.  Corvallis, Oregon: Corvallis is a college town which helps the strong economy, this city has a 5.8% unemployment rate and room for even more economic growth.  There’s no state sales tax, and has plenty of doctors and a low violent crime rate.
  • 3.  Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: Unemployment is at 6.6%.  Although the winters here are extremely cold, the cost of living is 6% below the national average and homes are going for $121,000. Also the doctors per capita ranks at one of the nations highest.

Retirement is a lot different then it was many years ago.  In this country’s current economy, it is much harder to retire and retirement occurs at an older age.  A wonderful alternative is to pursue a working retirement, keeping a job but still enjoying the retired life.  Any of the 25 cities on Forbes.com’s list are wonderful alternative cities to relocate to.  If you are so far in debt but you have bankruptcy as an option, it may be your best option.  Your debt can be taken care of by filing for bankruptcy and once debt free you can easily relocate and start a fresh retirement in one of these cities with low unemployment rates, nice climates and so many other perks.

The Forbes.com article can be found here:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjd45idmk/retirement-but-not-totally/

Retirement But Not Totally Part Three

This is t he third installation of Retirement But Not Totally, finishing off the Forbes.com list of top 25 places to retire, here are numbers 8-1.

  • 8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Oklahoma has a top-rated tax climate and an unemployment rate of 5.5%.  Housing prices are an average of $143,000 and cost of living is cheap.
  • 7. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: Unemployment is 6.6%.  Although the winters here are extremely cold, the cost of living is 6% below the national average and homes are going for $121,000. Also doctors per capita ranks at one of the nations highest.
  • 6.  Provo, Utah:  Cost of living is average with homes going for $210,000 on average.  This town is Brigham Young University’s hometown and has a 5.5% unemployment rate and a favorable tax climate.
  • 5.  Rapid City, South Dakota: So close to Mount Rushmore, Rapid city has an excellent job growth track record and housing prices average $152,000.  Unemployment is down to 4.1%.
  • 4.  Salt Lake City, Utah:  This is Utah’s largest city and enjoys a 5.6% unemployment rate.  Ranking number six on Milkens Institute job and economic growth index, Salt Lake City’s cost of living is 5% below the national average.
  • 3.  San Angelo, Texas: Cost of living is far below the national average as is San Angelo’s unemployment rate.  Home prices average at barely $100,000 and this town’s diverse job base and colorful city make for a satisfying place to reside.
  • 2.  Shreveport, Louisiana:  With a 6% unemployment rate, Shreveport has a high job growth prospect.  Cost of living is below 4% the national average and this city sits close by a medical school ensuring plenty of doctors per capita.
  • 1.State College, Pennsylvania: 4.9% unemployment rate, $210,00 average housing prices and a high prospect for job growth, make this beautiful college town an ideal choice for living and enjoying the excitement and  economic advantages that Penn State provides.

Retirement should not be all about staying at home or going out and going on expensive trips.  With the right move and planning, everyday could be exciting and active.  But with debt holding you back from enjoying your retirement, bankruptcy may be your best option for a fun and fulfilling retirement.

With rising cost on just about everything, it is hard to go out and enjoy life, especially when burdened with debt.  But with bankruptcy, you are able to go back out and enjoy the things you may want to do.

 

The article can be found at:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjd45idmk/retirement-but-not-totally/

Retirement But Not Totally Part Two

The second installation to Retirement But Not Totally cities numbered 17-9, is packed with nine more favorable options for a working retirement.   

  • 17. Fort Collins, Colorado: Cost of living and homes are at a national average in Fort Collins, and with Colorado State close by the economy is flourishing.  The cold winters here are easily bearable with the 6.2% unemployment rate.
  • 16. Great Falls, Montana: With an above average tax climate this small town enjoys many doctors and a small crime rate.  The job and economic growth are outstanding and the unemployment rate is at a below average 5.6%
  • 15.  Harrisonburg, Virginia: Near two colleges, Harrisonburg rank high on the Milken Institute job and economy rating. With and unemployment rate of 5.3% this quaint town has one of the lowest crime rate on the list.
  • 14.  Huntsville, Alabama: Alabama has a very favorable tax climate with an average economy, housing prices and unemployment rate and below average cost of living.
  • 13.  Iowa City, Iowa: With Iowa medical school in its midst, the doctor count is six times above the national average.  Also unemployment is at 3.8% and job opportunities are growing.
  • 12.  Jonesboro, Arkansas: An average home in Jonesboro sells for below $100,00 and the unemployment rate is at 6.4%.  Also cost of living is dirt-cheap and 13% below the national average.
  • 11.  Knoxville, Tennessee:  Knoxville has plenty of doctors, an unemployment rate of 6.6%, wonderful economic growth. And best of all the Smoky Mountains provide a pretty scenic aspect to this town.  One downside to Knoxville is that it has the highest crime rate on the list.
  • 10.  La Cruces, New Mexico:  Just $116,000 on average housing prices, La Cruces is another college town with wonderful economic growth.  40 miles from Mexico, La Cruces has an excellent tax climate, but the doctors per capita are sparse.
  • 9.  Lexington, Kentucky: Cost of living is 11% below the national average, and housing prices are at an average of $144,000.  Kentucky has a favorable tax climate, and a lot of doctors.

Is retirement on the horizon for you?  Are you worried whether your retirement income will stretch to provide a quality lifestyle? If these are some concerns that have popped into your head, you may want to consider relocating to one of these 25 havens for retirees who might wish to continue to work past retirement age.

Look out for the next post, which will continue with the next 1-8 cities.  Whether you are looking for a place to relocate with a warm climate, plenty of doctors, or a cheap housing, this list has many options to choose from.

The article can be found here:
http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjd45idmk/retirement-but-not-totally/

Retirement But Not Totally

The economy has had a great impact on those facing retirement. Many have lost jobs or have been forced to take jobs that pay much less than pre-recession employment.  In addition, many people have lost homes due to foreclosure and high mortgages that greatly exceed their home’s value. Bankruptcy fillings in the pre-retirement demographic are skyrocketing, and have been high for many years.

With the growing costs of necessities such as food, gas, and medical care, many people worry whether or not social security can provide a comfortable retirement.

One way to help ensure quality of life in retirement is to keep working.  And there are many places in the country that can provide better working opportunities than others.

A recent Forbes.com article, highlights the 25 top cities for a working requirement.  What ever your preferences may be location, culture and climate wise, this article may help you choose a top location to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Cities 18-25

  • 25. Athens, Georgia: This beautiful college town sits at a high-ranking on the Milken Institute’s Job and Economic Growth Index with a 6.9% unemployment rate which is a refreshingly low percent compared to the country’s average of 8.5%.  Not to mention that this town enjoys very favorable climate and weather, house pricing is an average of just $130,000.
  • 24.  Austin, Texas:  Perks to living in this city include low crime rate,  a cost of living 7% below the country’s average, and no state income tax.  House pricing is a little above the national average at $950,000, but still reasonable.
  • 23.  Bismarck, North Dakota: Doctors per capita are at an amazing 50%, which is above the country’s norm.  Winters here may be cold, but unemployment rates are at only 2.8%.
  • 22. Bloomington, Illinois: This city is the head of State Farm, which results in a steady economy.  Cost of living sits on the national average and unemployment is at 6.8%.
  • 21. Cheyenne, Wyoming: Crime rates are low and physicians are plenty.  It’s one of the least populated cities on this list and has a 6.5% unemployment rate. Winters here are cold, however.
  • 20.  College Station, Texas: This is a college town, and is leading in job and economic growth.  5.8% unemployment, plenty of doctors and a warm and sunny climate also make up this town.
  • 19. Columbia, Missouri: The physician per capita rate in this city is more than three times higher than the national average. The unemployment rate is 5.0% and this city is known for having great job and economic growth.
  • 18. Corvallis, Oregon: Yet another college town, Corvallis has 5.8% unemployment rate and room for strong economic growth.  There’s no state sales tax, plenty of doctors and low violent crime rate.

These are the top 18-25 finishers for cities offering a working retirement, so if you are looking for an economy that is more impressive than just “so-so” maybe one of these cities should be considered for your comfortable working retirement.  Stay tuned for a follow-up post detailing the next 9-17 cities .

Relocation may be a great retirement planning tool. Discharging or reorganizing your debt, as seen as possible through a bankruptcy proceeding, may also be a prudent step towards retirement planning.

After bankruptcy, you may well have funds to fortify your saving accounts and 401k/IRA account. This can help ease the financial crunch which often accompanies retirement.  Call us if you or a friend might like to invest in a bankruptcy filing.

 

Follow the link below to read the article in whole:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjd45idmk/retirement-but-not-totally/

Bankruptcy or home price rebound: What will save the day?

Morgan Brennan of Forbes.com runs a fantastic commentary and blog upon economic issues.  I have read a recent post she made and I refer to it because I think it is so important.

Many people are “holding on” to houses that are way under-water e.g., much more is owed against the home than it is worth.  These hopefull folks want the good old days of the early 2000s – they hope that housing prices will rebound and that they can perhaps sell their home or borrow against new-found equity in order to pay off medical bills, credit card debts and other obligations.

But Ms. Brennan thinks otherwise – she doubts that there is really any true national “recovery” in housing set to take off anytime soon.  She provides lots of good explanations and reasons why.  She also discusses with clarity something I have long sought to express – that houses are not necessarily “investments”, but rather a localy based asset that has utility for household needs – like a washing machine, fridge or station wagon.

Here is what Ms. Brennan has to say:

_______________________

“The Foreclosure Crisis Isn’t Over Just Yet”, December 1, 2012, by Ms. Morgan Brennan of Forbes.com

 

‘As we move into the last month of 2012, real estate pundits have been eagerly pouncing on the notion of a recovery in housing.

Looking at the national numbers, they are somewhat right to do so. Pending home sales hit a five year high in October, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the brisk pace of existing home sales is 11% higher than a year ago.  Just this week the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported that September home prices were up for the sixth consecutive month. Even in terms of economic growth, housing has provided a so-called bright spot, contributing 0.3% to gross domestic product in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department.

Looking at these relatively rosy statistics, it’s easy to see why the word “recovery” is getting tossed around and why many housing-sector stocks have been teetering in over-bought territory. Now, the positive numbers even have media outlets like Bloomberg.com asserting that the

It’s a gutsy assertion — and one that I’m prone to disagree with.

A major reason the housing crisis was not staved off when the first warning signs manifested in the mid-2000s was the fact that Wall Street, Washington and even Main Street America had stopped assessing housing as what it truly is: a locally-based asset class, not a national one.  Housing is local and as we have been relearning since the downturn, market health — including foreclosures — breaks down by state, city, neighborhood and in some places, even street. The wave of foreclosures has been manifesting at these more local levels — even while national-level data reflects a recovery.

Since 2007, the foreclosure crisis, which has claimed nearly four million homes, has played out very differently across the U.S. After the robo-signing scandal of late 2010, lenders, flush with defaulted mortgage notes, delayed their processing of foreclosures, most notably in judicial states, where filings circulate through a  court system. That delay created an artificial decrease in the rate: 830,000 homes were foreclosed upon in 2011, a 24% decrease from the year before, according to CoreLogic, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based data firm. With the advent of the $25 billion mortgage relief plan in February, real estate experts projected a notable pick-up in activity since lenders sitting on delayed filings would hopefully process them more quickly.

This expected uptick has been referred to as a so-called second wave of foreclosures. It’s this second wave — which is technically distressed inventory overhang from the bursting of the housing bubble — that Bloomberg is asserting has been averted.

Nationally the number of foreclosure filings in October was down 19% from a year earlier, according to Irvine, Calif.-based data firm RealtyTrac. And lenders are finally instituting better foreclosure-prevention policies like loan modifications and short sales that keep homes from hitting their books as REOs. But it comes back location. Dig into the more local data and the wave is evident. You’ll find it playing out in the states where the foreclosure process has been taking the longest and backlogs have built up.

“There’s been a pronounced shift in foreclosures from the Sand States to the East Coast, in particular the judicial foreclosure law states with the longest time lines like Florida, New York and New Jersey,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. According to CoreLogic, Florida, as of October, now leads the country in terms of foreclosures with an 11% rate. New Jersey is second with an 8% rate and New York has a 5% rate. (In general, 1% is considered a healthy rate in a healthy market.)

The average time for a mortgaged home to transition from default to bank reposession in each of these three states has been over two years. Now those backlogged filings are pushing through the system at robust rates — in a wave of activity, if you will. New Jersey experienced 140% increase in filings in October year-over-year and New York nearly a 123% increase, according to RealtyTrac. Florida’s rate has been high for years, and while other hard-hit Sun Belt states like California and Arizona have seen activity decrease dramatically by about 35%, Florida’s rate has not.

“There are a set of states that are not improving year-over-year like the others,” adds Tim Martin, group vice predisent of U.S. housing at TransUnion, which tracks mortgage delinquencies of 60 days or more. That set includes New Jersey, Arkansas, Washington, New York, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland and Washington, D.C.  Martin says most of these locales still have incredibly high rates of mortgage delinquencies. In New Jersey for example, 8.3% of mortgage borrowers have missed two or more payments. Once those borrowers miss third payments, their homes officially fall into default and foreclosure filings eventually follow.

 

Here is a link to Ms. Brennan’s excellent article:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2012/12/01/the-foreclosure-crisis-isnt-over-just-yet/

A look at FHFA home price data for the third quarter indirectly reflects the renewed wave of foreclosures in these states also. The states posting the largest home price drops this year are many of the same states where the foreclosure rate has increased this year, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Maryland. Foreclosures add downward pressure to overall home prices.

Still, there’s good news on the horizon even in these markets. New borrowers aren’t significantly adding to the default pile and TransUnion projects that the fourth quarter will register a decrease in delinquencies. CoreLogic and others believe the worst of the foreclosure crisis has passed. But in the states where foreclosures are finally pushing through the system, it won’t necessarily feel that way for some time. Thanks to the ‘wave’.

“The housing market is like a large ocean vessel that when heading one direction, takes a while to turn around” explains Fleming. “So it will take time in terms of clearing out all of these foreclosures.”’

 

Again, this is a great article.  Here is a link to it: http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2012/12/01/the-foreclosure-crisis-isnt-over-just-yet/

 

-What to do with your underwater home?

– What to do with a first and second mortgage?

-What to do about a pile of medical bills, credit cards and car loans?

Come in to consult with James H. MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney in order to gain some fresh perspective as you organize your game plan.  We have offices in Bremerton, Chehalis, Olympia, Puyallup, Renton and Tacoma where you can meet for a private and confidential consult with Mr. MaGee  Just give us a call 253-383-1001!

Irish Bankruptcy Reform Takes Cues from America’s Chapter 13

A good friend of mine is from Ireland. He immigrated to the US in the early 1990s, looking for better opportunities in the USA.

Over the years, he has shared comparisons between our bankruptcy laws and those in Ireland with me, and has told me that in his opinion, Irish bankruptcy law is stuck in the 1800s. A few years back, only a dozen people a year or so would file for bankruptcy in all of Ireland, a country of several million people.

The reason for this is that the Irish bankruptcy laws require a minimum 12 year repayment plan, and Irish creditors could “vote” to hold Irish debtors in bankruptcy even longer if they felt that you had not paid enough back.

Fast forward to the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2012. The Irish housing market had skyrocketed (even more than here in the US), and many people were under water on houses.

Something had to be done to reform the Irish personal bankruptcy laws.

The result is interesting:

  1. There is a three-year partial repayment for people who owe less than $20,000 Euros (about $26,000 US dollars), after which there is a discharge to the extent that the funds are not fully repaid when there is no secured debt.
  2. For individuals who owe more unsecured debt, there is a five-year payment plan. After 5 years, the debts not repaid are eligible for discharge.
  3. If an individual owes secured debt up to $3,000,000 euros (about $4,000,000 us dollars), then the Irish debtor will have a six-year repayment plan and can also settle (discharge) unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills.

In the US, we have a chapter 13 plan that is similar, but is based more on income. US citizens can discharge/payback up to about $365,000 in unsecured debt. US citizens are allowed to have well over $1,000,000 in secured debt and still be eligible for a Chapter 13 plan. The amount that US bankruptcy filers have to pay and the amount that can be discharged is a tricky calculation that is based upon income. The result of the calculation also depends upon the type of debt.

In the US, there is a three-year partial payment plan for lower-income debtors and a five-year partial repayment plan for higher income debtors.

I think the Irish copied us here in the United States. What do you think?

HAMP modifications part 1 of 7: NPV, the “secret formula” that determines your eligibility

There is a “secret formula” which is determining whether you are eligible for HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) loan modification. It is called the NPV-the “net present value”.
What is this formula? I found two descriptions:
Description #1: This first is a brief description from the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of a government document:
“Apply a Net Present Value (NPV) test to determine whether the value of the loan to the investor will be greater if the loan is modified (factoring in the government’s incentive payments) [versus if the loan is foreclosed and the foreclosed house sold by the foreclosing lender]. If the modified is not of greater value [greater NPV] the investor and servicer may still modify the loan. However, modification in such cases is not required. Please note: Your servicer may re-run the NPV test before the modification becomes official if they receive new information that could affect your NPV score. If the modified loan is of greater [NPV], the servicer must offer you a modification under HAMP, and, if you accept the offer, will put you on a trial modification (typically three months) at the new payment level. [ ] Misrepresenting any information required for the Home Affordable Modification is a violation of Federal law and has serious legal consequences.” Revised June 8, 2010, a copy is available at: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/about-mha/faqs/Pages/default.aspx
Note that a list of servicers that have agreed to participate in HAMP modifications is available at a government website. Also included is a list of those HAMP programs (there is more than one HAMP program-adding to the confusion) in which the respective servicers have agreed to participate at: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/contact-mortgage/Pages/default.aspx
Description #2 of NPV test-This description comes from an on-line post by an “in the trenches” individual who has claimed to have participated in and successfully completed 100 modifications:
January 2010: “The “NPV Test” (NPV is “Net Present Value”) is a formula used to determine your eligibility for a loan modification under the HAMP Program. The purpose running an NPV calculation test is to decide if the investor of your mortgage is in a better profit position by approving you for a modification (basically which choice gets more money to their bottom line) or if they would have a higher profit margin by allowing the property to foreclose. This formula takes many different factors such as current value, foreclosure costs, resale time and compares this with payments on the reduced rates, how much principal they would have to defer interest free to make you qualify under 31% of your gross (pretax) income, after the other “waterfall process” steps the HAMP underwriting guideline require in order to lower your payment were first calculated, along with the risk in possible repeat default, and many other figures that are called values. In other words, it is the comparison of two formulas with multiple factors that are then compared to see which is greater in profit to the investor of your loan. The investor is usually not the same as your servicer.
If the borrower is not approved for a HAMP modification because the transaction failed the NPV calculations, then the servicer must, explain what the NPV means tell you the factors used to make the NPV decision and advise you that you may request the values used in making the calculations along with the date the process was completed within 30 days of the notice of denial. The reason they have to provide this information to you is to give you the opportunity to make any necessary corrections to the values they used as they make or break your ability to be considered eligible for the Home Affordable Modification Program.
You, or your authorized representative, can request the specific NPV values verbally or by writing to the servicer within 30 calendar days from the notice date and they must answer your request within 10 days.
If you request the NPV values and you have a foreclosure sale pending the servicer must not complete the foreclosure sale until 30 days after they deliver those values to you to give you time to correct the inaccurate values, if there are any.
Once the evidence that the NPV values used were inaccurate, the servicer has the burden to make the necessary verifications to see if the corrections are material to the outcome of the NPV.
Some values don’t affect the outcome and do not warrant a change from the original NPV. If you find inaccurate values in the NPV calculations and you follow the protocol for advising the lender then your servicer must reconcile the inaccuracies prior to proceeding with any foreclosure sale.
As always the best way to win at the loan modification game is to learn everything you can about the process so you can be empowered and successful with your loan modification and saving your home.”

Consumer Debt Rises $21.4 Billion in March, 2012

Are credit cards and consumer loan debt making more bankruptcies inevitable?

Continuing our break from discussing the tax effects of foreclosures, I would like to share a significant story that was reported on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 on page A9 of the Tacoma News Tribune. According to the story, Americans are back at it again—increasing their use of consumer debt. This is the biggest one month increase in a decade, since 2001.

According to the article, consumer debt rose by $21.4 billion in March from February, the seventh straight monthly increase and the largest since November 2001. Auto and student loans also increased by $16.2 billion, according to the article. A gauge of credit card debt rose $5.2 billion after declining in January and February 2012. One ray of sunshine in the report is that total “only” borrowing rose to a seasonally adjusted $2.54 trillion, which is below the all-time high of $2.58 trillion reached in July 2008.

What does this mean? Overall consumer borrowing declined by only $40,000,000,000 over 10 years. There is still an awful lot of debt still out there. I think that bankruptcies are almost certain to increase again, particularly as most markets have plenty of people discouraged about sagging or deflating housing prices.

My advice to you is that if you cannot see yourself being “debt free” of all consumer debt (car payments, credit cards, student loans, and tax debts) within 36 months, then you should consult with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer to see if a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing might be the best option to get your financial life back on track.

Rent vs. Buy Analysis for Home Owners

A Story in the Wall Street Journal illustrates the recent decline of home ownership

I came across an interesting story about a major demographic shift among home owners and home builders in the USA recently. The article was written by Yahoo Economics Editor Daniel Gross, The story appeared in the May 5-6, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Gross notes that single family new home starts have dropped from over 1.1 million in 2007 to just a bit over 400,000 in 2011. He also reports that home ownership has dropped from 69% in 2006 to 65.4% today. Mr. Gross points out that, according to Moody’s, in 72% of metropolitan areas, it was cheaper to rent than to own, up from 54% a decade ago. In 2011, single-family housing starts fell 9% from the year before, starts of structures with five or more units were up 60%. In the first quarter of 2012, starts of multifamily housing structures were up another 27%, while single family starts were up only 16.7%.

Mr. Gross also points out that builders increasingly intend to rent out what they build. In 2007, only 62% of the housing units in buildings with two or more units were built for rental. In 2009, 84%of the units in such buildings were built for rental. In 2011, 91% of the units in such structures were aimed at the rental market.

Many of you with whom I have met have heard me recently speak of a shift towards renting. Mr. Gross echoes some of my thoughts on this point in his story.

We all know that life is about change. For example, your job may disappear, you may need to relocate if your company pulls out of the area and offers you a relocation, you may need to travel to another part of the country to help a child raise a sick or needy grandchild, you may need to relocate to take care of the affairs of an aging relative, some parts of the country may recover economically faster than where you are currently living, potentially offering you greater opportunities somewhere else.

If you feel the need for some flexibility in your living, employment, and relocation opportunities, then you may consider renting for a while. In most areas, housing prices are not increasing. Taking a break from home ownership to rent and to put your financial house in order might not be economically harmful. Renting might be a prudent choice in some cases.

If you need to get out of your underwater house, your underwater mortgage, or you want to discuss your rent vs. buy analysis and how the decision may be affected by your bankruptcy filing, please, give us a call at 253-383-1001. We are here to help.