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April 2011 Archives

Boston Real Estate Lawyers: Now A Key Role In Home Closings

Boston real estate lawyers will now be required to play a major role in residential home closings, according to a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. While local attorneys in MA may get more business as a result of the court's decision, home buyers will also benefit from stronger legal guidance when buying a home.

The Boston Globe reported that the ruling addresses the legal dispute between local real estate lawyers and Pittsburg based-company National Real Estate Information Services Inc., which offers services to mortgage lenders across the country, such as coordinating with local lawyers who attend closings on behalf of a lender.

JPMorgan Pays $56 Million To Settle Military Mortgage Lawsuits

In the military mortgage lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co., some Boston locals may have heard the company agreed to pay $56 million to settle claims alleging it overcharged military service members on their mortgages.

Bloomberg reported the settlement terms were filed in Beaufort, South Carolina. Under those terms, JPMorgan will reduce the interest rates on the home loans of soldiers, pay about 6,000 active-duty military staff who were overcharged on their mortgages $27 million in cash, and give mistakenly foreclosed homes back to the rightful homeowners.

Boston Home Appraisals: Where Does All Your Money Go?

Most Boston locals may assume that most, if not all, of the money spent for a home appraisal for a refinancing or home purchase would go to the appraiser who carried out the valuation. But according to the Boston Herald, most appraisers said they are still getting paid about $200 to $250 for work that consumers are billed for on settlement sheets charging them $450 or more.

Some appraisers may even be paid as low as $134, even though the new Federal Reserve regulations, which became effective on April 1, require lenders to pay them fairly. Under the financial reform law, appraisers are expected to receive “customary and reasonable” fees within their local market areas, but many have said that is not happening.

Boston Homeowners With Mortgage Debt Could Face Taxes

Boston residents who have lost their homes to foreclosure this year may likely be subject to taxes by the IRS, according to CNN Money. Those who had some of their mortgage debt forgiven after selling their house for less than the mortgage balance could also face the same tax fate, since the IRS considers forgiven debt you are personally responsible for as income.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act in 2007 ended the liability on mortgage debt for most homeowners, meaning the IRS will not typically count the difference from short sales or foreclosure as income until 2012, when the act will expire. However, CNN reports there are four main exceptions to the act:

Could Increased Rent Prices In Boston Prompt Home Purchases?

Earlier on in this blog we have mentioned that more Boston locals have opted to rent than buy a home as of last year. However, many current renters, and even those considering the option in Beantown, might be soon realizing that they may be caught in the middle of what could be the city's new real estate dilemma.

Boston Real Estate Now reports that apartment rent prices are expected to jump while home prices are beginning to fall in various towns and cities statewide. According to AXIOMetrics, rents in the Greater Boston area will likely increase 6.2 percent on top of last year's 7 percent hike, making the area's average rent $1,638 a month.

Home Safety Tips: Preparing For A Natural Disaster

Russell Bissell of the American Red Cross says three-quarters of families are not prepared for a natural disaster. With the flood warnings in the Midwest and dangerous, snowy weather conditions experienced until just recently all over New England, Boston residents may want to consider taking a few precautionary steps to protect their families and homes in the event of a natural disaster.

According to CNN Money, families can start preparing for a natural disaster by storing away some nonperishable food and water in a place that is easy accessible. Boston locals may also want to consider the following home safety tips to help protect their home from potential flooding and power outages:

Richard Blake Gets To Keep His Dog In Housing Discrimination Suit

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has recently ruled in favor of a Boston tenant with HIV/AIDS in his housing discrimination lawsuit against the landlords of the Brighton Gardens apartment building on Tremont Street. According to The Boston Globe, the panel allowed Richard M. Blake the right to keep his dog in his apartment after Brighton forced him to get rid of it.

Blake argued that his landlords had failed to accommodate his disability when they required him give up his dog. He brought his complaint against Brighton Gardens LP, the owner of the Brighton Garden apartments, and also included Lombardi Corp., Brighton's general partner; Lombardi Corp. President Michael Lombardi; and Lombardi Corp. Vice President Louis Lombardi.

Are Homeowners Paying More With Interests On FHA Loans?

Critics like Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland believe that the federal government’s current FHA loan mortgage program might be forcing homeowners in Boston and across the country to spend millions of dollars on additional interest charges when they refinance their mortgage loans or sell their homes.

Major sources for home loans, like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, or the Veterans Affairs Department, do not require borrowers to pay for interest past the date they paid off their loans. But if a person with an FHA loan sells his or her home and closes the deal early on in the month, the person will still get charged with interest through the rest of that month.

More Careful Lenders Lead To Less Foreclosures In MA

The number of foreclosures in Massachusetts has dropped 44 percent within the last year, from 917 in February 2010 to 515 last month, according to the Boston Herald. The Warren Group reported many lenders significantly lowered the number of foreclosures in the state last month after they were told to review all related paperwork before seizing a home.

Foreclosure petitions, which are the first steps taken during the foreclosure process, have also dramatically decreased 67 percent to 694 filed this month, compared to the 2,122 filed during the same month last year. Year-to-date foreclosure petitions have also fallen from 3,996 in January and February of 2010 to 1,487 this year, revealing a 63 percent drop.