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January 2011 Archives

Why Do Boston Property Taxes Go Up Even When Property Values Drop?

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue reported that property values for single-family homes across the state fell to an average of 8.1 percent each year between 2007 and the summer of 2010. Although most Boston homeowners would assume that lower property values would mean lower tax bills, The Boston Globe writes that property taxes might actually increase instead.

Revenue Department spokesperson Bob Bliss said “it’s always been this way,” explaining that, “even if values go down, taxes go up… It’s like saying that it’s extraordinary that the sun rises every day.”

Fewest New Homes Sales In 2010 Compared To Last 47 Years

The Associated Press reported homebuyers nationwide have purchased the fewest number of new homes in 2010 compared to the last 47 years. According to the Commerce Department, home sales last year plummeted 14.4 percent and showed only 321,000 homes were sold while 375,000 were bought in 2009. Last year marks the fifth consecutive year that home sales have dropped since the housing boom five years ago.

However, buyers bought new homes at an annual rate of 329,000 units this past December, which is 17.5 percent more than November’s sales. According to the AP, economists remain concerned that it may take years until the nation reaches a steady rate of 600,000 units every year, as homebuilders struggle to compete in a housing market that is flooded with foreclosures.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Relocates To Boston's Seaport District

As part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's effort to change Boston's harbor into an Innovation District lined with technology businesses and medical firms, drug manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals has decided to move two new buildings in the city's Seaport District. Government officials said the firm's relocation is expected to increase Boston's revenue by $60 million through 2018.

According to The Boston Globe, ten various buildings currently house the company's offices around Cambridge. Vertex recently signed a letter of intent to relocate its headquarters in 2013 from Cambridge to the Fan Pier complex, which is owned by developer Joseph F. Fallon. U.S. regulators will also evaluate and decide on Vertex's application by June.

Faulty Paperwork May Help Slow Down Foreclosure Process

After the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against two banks in a foreclosure case, NPR reports that legal experts say the country's leading banks might be facing the disastrous problem of having millions of outstanding mortgages with inaccurate paperwork.

For those in Boston who are unfamiliar with how mortgages work, Boston real estate attorney Kevin Costello compares mortgages with owning and selling a car. The title for a car has a place for owners to sign known as "assignment of certificate of title by owner." Costello explains that a mortgage with faulty paperwork is like a car that has been sold appropriately once but "then gets sold 10 more times, except that piece of paper never gets signed again."

JPMorgan Chase Overcharged Military Families On Mortgages

It looks like JPMorgan Chase has made some major mistakes when it comes to foreclosures and it looks like it is going to cost them. Like many Boston residents who may be concerned about improper foreclosures due to sloppy paperwork or record-keeping on the part of lenders, some military families in a report by NPR were foreclosed on even when protected by a special law.

NPR reports that Julia Rowles and her husband, Marine Capt. Jonathan Rowles from South Carolina had dispute with Chase over their mortgage since Capt. Rowels was commissioned back in 2006. According to Julia Rowles, they were harassed by collection agents and required to pay "9 and 10 percent [interest], and we were paying upwards to $2,000 when we should have only been paying $1,400." They say they were harassed for money they did not even owe.

Foreclosures in Massachusetts Increase By 32 Percent in 2010

The latest report from market tracker The Warren Group revealed that the number of foreclosures in the Bay State has risen close to 32 percent in 2010, but it did not exceed the 12,430 homes foreclosed in 2008. The Boston Herald reported completed foreclosures in Massachusetts reached 12,233 last year compared to the 9,269 were seized in 2009.

The Warren Group’s CEO Timothy Warren Jr. commented that “it’s a big concern that more homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in 2010 than in the prior year.”

Over 1 Million Nationwide Home Foreclosures in 2010

Banks foreclosed over one million homes in the United States for the first time last year, according to Reuters. Real estate data from RealtyTrac revealed banks seized 69,847 homes just last month, even with the delays from government officials reevaluating the foreclosure process during the last few months.

The total number of nationwide foreclosures in 2010 reached a whopping 1.05 million compared to the 918,000 properties seized in 2009. The number of foreclosure filings last year also hit a record of 2.9 million, which takes into account the 257,747 filings from December and the default notices, repossessions, and auctions that occurred throughout the rest of the year.

MA Court Ruling Keeps Banks From Foreclosing Two Homes

Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court prohibited Wells Fargo and Co. and U.S. Bancorp from seizing two homes, saying that the two companies failed to show that they were the holders of both properties' mortgages at the time they were foreclosed. The case is among the few that has fully addressed the issue of the validity of foreclosures that have been completed without proper paperwork.

Antonio Ibanez and married couple Mark and Tammy LaRace lost their homes in 2007 due to foreclosure. Reuters reported Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp claimed they controlled the respective mortgages of both sets of parties through different trusts, seeking court orders to verify that they had the titles.

Potential Disadvantages To Owning A House In Full

Most Boston homeowners think of paying their mortgage loans as a means of ultimately fulfilling the dream of owning a home in full. Any real estate advisor or lawyer can tell you that buying a house often entails taking on a significant amount of mortgage debt and paying off loads of interest payments.

While many homeowners hear that owning your home outright is a smarter financial approach, The Little House in the Valley writes that there may be some disadvantages to owning 100 percent of your home equity, which some people may have not considered. Saving money on interest payments and having less debt is great, but a little home debt may also provide Boston homeowners with a couple of benefits.

Proposal For Tax Credit May Replace Current Mortgage Deduction

Many Boston homeowners may be worrying about losing their home mortgage interest deduction, which is a tax break that has been valuable for both homebuyers and the housing industry. President Barack Obama's deficit-reduction commission recently suggested establishing a tax credit in place of the current mortgage interest deduction, according to the Boston Herald.

All homeowners would receive a credit of 15 percent from the interest they pay every year under the new proposed plan. They may get credit for up to $500,000 from the mortgage of a primary residence, which is a significant change from today's system.

Mass. Home Sales Up

November saw an increase in single-family homes in Mass., reports the Boston Globe. In fact, this was the fifth straight month of growth in the area. In total, there were 3.253 single-family homes and 1,245 condos sold last month. The median price of single-family homes was $271,000.

These are important statistics for anyone buying a home in Mass. these days.

However, it is not all the information one needs to buy a home in Mass. The researchers at FindLaw have put together some additional important information about the subject of home-purchases.