Boston Real Estate Law News - Find a MA Real Estate Attorney

November 2010 Archives

FTC Creates New Rules To Control Loan Modification Scams

Many phony mortgage firms in Boston appear like a federal foreclosure-intervention program, claiming they can save you from your mortgage dilemma. According to the Boston Herald, imposter mortgage firms say they can cut your interest rate, get your loan reduced, or perform "forensic audits" on your mortgage to sway the court to cancel your loan.

Mock firms will always charge you thousands of dollars and pay up front, and then do very little or nothing to help you. To put an end to loan modification frauds, the Federal Trade Commission plans to prohibit all upfront payments and enforce mandatory disclosure regulations. The FTC will also institute new federal limits on Boston real estate attorneys and other lawyers who are involved in mortgage modification conspiracies.

Rates For Jumbo Mortgages Drop In Boston

Boston homeowners may be able to save hundreds of dollars a month through refinancing since interests rates for large mortgage loans have recently fallen to record lows, according to the Boston Globe. The average interest rate for "jumbo loans" in Boston, or loans for $523,750 or more, has dropped from 6 percent to nearly 5 percent for 30-year, fixed rate mortgages. This means homeowners are saving around $375 each month on a $600,000 loan.

This may provide some relief for jumbo-mortgage borrowers as jumbo loans become relatively cheaper. Boston real estate agents said the interest rate drop has motivated more people to consider moving into more expensive homes. The Bay State housing market may see significant boosts in sales as these owners begin selling their homes in greater numbers.

Boston Homeowners Face Foreclosure Frauds and Robo-signing Problems

Even in the midst of the country’s struggling economy and the housing crisis, many Boston homeowners are facing the current crisis of foreclosure frauds and robo-signing. FindLaw’s KnowledgeBase sheds light on these problems, which may involve:

  • Banks failing to provide appropriate paperwork that clearly shows ownership of a property;
  • Claims that documents were notarized but were actually not signed in the presence of a notary; and
  • Robo-signing, which refers to the mortgage lender habit of quickly stamping foreclosure paperwork without checking whether the process was legally and fairly completed.

MA Home Sales Drop For The Fourth Straight Month

Massachusetts home sales have continue to plummet for the fourth straight month in October, according to The Boston Herald. Century 21 agent Bruce Klemer thinks home sales will not get any better until the economy improves, and “the economy depends on an improved real estate market.”

Many MA real estate attorneys may be coming across numerous Boston homeowners who have been unsuccessful at selling their homes. MLS Property Information Network reported single-family home sales dropped 29.5 percent last month, with only 2,564 homes sold in October in comparison to the 3,640 sold during the same period in 2009. Condominium sales also fell, plunging 36.8 percent and totaling 933 condo sales down from the 1,476 sold the year before.

Boston Homeowners Deal with Re-Foreclosures

Thousands of Massachusetts homeowners are now dealing with back-to-back foreclosures as lenders begin to make note of property title problems that occurred the first time around. Because these lenders were not able to acquire title insurance, many have decided to start “re-foreclosure” which is essentially a do-over of the whole foreclosure process again from scratch.

The re-foreclosures are confusing and frustrating many Boston homeowners, but others are pleased to have an opportunity to recover their homes. 59-year-old Zepheniah Taylor, for instance, lost his three-story Dorchester home twice within 17 months due to foreclosure. He fought a lender’s second attempt to seize his home and was able to win the right to reacquire his home by buying it back for the current market value.

Basic Steps For Selling a Home in Boston

Selling a home can be a daunting task, especially for first-time sellers. Determining when to sell a home and how much to sell the house for are just a couple of the things Boston sellers have to consider. Fortunately, FindLaw offers some basic steps to consider when it comes to selling a home.

Understanding the Boston market is the first step to selling a home and can help you figure out the right times to sell. It’s generally ideal to sell when interest rates are low for people to borrow money and during a season when people are more likely to move, such as before the school year starts. To get a better idea of how much you should sell your home for, compare your house with similar houses in your area.

Loan Modifications May Have Led Homeowners To Foreclosure

Even though some homeowners have been able to make all their payments through trial mortgage modification programs, many have complained that banks and other loan providers are unjustly foreclosing their homes. The Boston Herald reported homeowners, like those in the Boston-area, have compared this treatment to that of banks who said they would assist borrowers once they joined in the $700 billion Wall Street rescue by the government.

Generally, you can contact your loan provider and work out different options for loan modification that will help you avoid being behind on your mortgage payments. These modifications may include a reduced interest rate, an extension on the loan term, or adding missed payments to the balance of the loan.

The Federal Reserve's New Rules May Affect Boston Real Estate Appraisals

In October, the Federal Reserve proposed new rules that may largely affect Boston home real estate appraisals and owner's equity holdings. The Boston Herald reported the rules ban outside interference in appraisers' estimations and call for lenders to report any evidence of appraiser misconduct to regulatory officials. The rules are set to take effect in December and finalized in the spring of next year.

The new rules seek to replace the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, which investors Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae enforced on mortgage and real estate industries last year. Yet many people wonder if buyers, sellers, and refinance applicants will really be protected against appraisers' inaccurate valuations under the Fed's new proposal. Experienced appraisers believe the proposal's present form may not bring in a lot of change.

Pending Home Sales Drop In September

The foreclosure suspensions are continuing to upset the activity within the Bay State housing market. According to the Boston Herald, the foreclosure freeze may have affected the drop of pending home sales in Boston during this past September. The number of individuals who signed contracts to purchase homes fell after two previous months of gains.

The index of sales from the National Association of Realtors reveals sale agreements for formerly occupied homes have dropped 1.8 percent in September. The West is the only region in America where contract signings have not yet dropped. Analysts believe the decrease in pending home sales reflects the moratoriums brought by banks regarding mortgage foreclosures.

The Number of Homeownerships Still At A Low

Homeownership is still at a low and remains at its lowest level in the past ten years. The rise in foreclosures and the low demand for housing has kept the percentage of households owning homes unchanged at 66.9 percent during the July-September quarter, according to the Boston Herald. The percentage was the same during the April-June quarter as well.

The last time rate was any lower was when it reached 66.7 percent in 1999. For past several years, 64 percent of Americans owned the homes they lived in. Government officials like Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank has been urging mortgage buyers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy more loans targeting low-income individuals.

Condo Sales Drop In Boston Instead Of Prices

Condo sales have fallen in Boston to their lowest level in the last ten years, according to the Boston Herald. 677 downtown condos were sold during the third quarter in comparison to the 897 that were sold during the same period the previous year. The Listing Information Network (LINK) revealed condominium sales have reached a 24.5 percent decline.

LINK president Debra Taylor Blair said "given the recession and the economy, people are less likely to buy right now. They're worried about keeping their jobs and they're a lot more cautious." An experienced Boston real estate attorney may be able to offer some legal assistance in evaluating a homebuyer's potential condo purchase to see if a reasonable and affordable purchase price can be reached.