Tuesday, May 19, 2020 / by Nicole Merwin
During the mortgage meltdown that caused the Great Recession a decade ago, some homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure or constructed a short sale to get out from under the debt. In most of the cases, the lenders forgave all or part of the debt owed them.
Similarly, in the early 90's after the failure of the Savings & Loans in the U.S., thousands of homeowners lost their homes in the same way but back then, the policy of the IRS was to consider the forgiven debt as income. Today, it is still considered income which means that a homeowner could lose their home because they could not afford to pay for it and to make matters worse, they would owe income tax on the debt relieved.
The good news is that in 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Act and it has continued to be extended with its current expiration of 12/31/20.
The amount forgiven for income tax purposes may not be the same amount owed to the lender. Mortgage forgiv ...
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 / by Nicole Merwin
The deadline for challenging your property tax assessment this year may be later than normal due to the stay at home orders but when you are notified, you'll want to be ready to decide whether you can save some money on property taxes this year.
There are two elements that determine the amount of property taxes you'll pay for the year: the assessment of value and the property tax rate. Both determinations occur long before the property tax statement is sent.
Property owners are notified in writing what their assessed value is for the year. It is estimated that most owners don't challenge that value even though it could lower their tax bill. Not all appeals are successful, but many homeowners believe that it is worth the effort to try. Procedures for challenging the assessment are generally included with the letter and a deadline for filing the challenge.
An initial step is to determine the accuracy of the information on your property's ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 / by Nicole Merwin
Everyone knows someone it has happened to or has heard a tragic story. It could have been a fire, a flood, a burglary or some other disaster but to file a claim on their insurance, they need the receipts or a list for what is being claimed.
Since you're at home anyway and may even have kids at home who need something to do, now is a great time to get a current home inventory done. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this seemingly, daunting task is to put together a collection of pictures of every room in your home.
The more valuable, the more important it is to take a close-up picture. It will be necessary to open the drawers and closets and, in some cases, to pull things out in order to show everything in the picture. That's why having someone to help you makes it faster and easier.
Not to get distracted from the job at hand, you may discover things that you had forgotten you had which is why you should do an in ...
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 / by Nicole Merwin
The American bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks and his answer was "because that is where the money is." During his 40-year career, he stole about $2 million but Internet scammers are stealing many times that amount in phishing schemes preying on unsuspecting home buyers.
These crooks know where the money is because buyers have the down payment and closing costs and are expecting to transfer it to the close the sale of their home. The FBI, in their 2018 Internet Crime Report, stated victims lost over $149 million and the CFPB estimates the losses at over $1 billion as a result of fraud in real estate transactions. The scammers want to take advantage of the situation while it is still in the buyer's account.
Commonly, during the closing process, scammers will send spoofed emails to homebuyers from someone they expect to hear from regarding the transaction like the real estate agent or the settlement agent.&nbs ...
Thursday, April 2, 2020 / by Nicole Merwin
While you're isolating at home, there are things you can do to help buy a home now or in the near future. Instead of spending time surfing the Internet looking at homes, do the groundwork necessary to be able to purchase the home that you find.
There is a lot of documentation necessary to qualify for a mortgage and to be approved. This part of the homebuying process can be done in advance, long before you even start looking at homes much less finding the one that you want.
Assemble all documents to make a pre-approval
Two months current pay stubs
Last two years' W2s
Complete copies of checking and savings statements for last three months
Copies of statements for IRAs, 401k, savings, CDs, money market funds, etc.
Employment history for last two years with addresses and contacts
Proof of commissioned or bonus income
Residency h ...