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January 2012 Archives

Does Renter's Insurance Cover Flood Damage?

Renter’s insurance can protect against the myriad types of damages-events that can strike an apartment, including fire, smoke, vandalism, or theft, reportsThe New York Times. However, as to whether a renter’s insurance covers flood damage, the answer is probably no.

For flood coverage, the National Flood Insurance Program tells The Times, you need a separate policy.

Boston Rents Historic High: One-Month Rent Limit Security Deposit

Things are expensive in Boston.

To make matters worse, apartments are at historically high prices in Boston, reports the Boston Globe. In fact, the only cities to exceed Boston nationally were New York, San Francisco, New York's Westchester County (huh?), and Fairfield County (ok, then).

The most expensive neighborhood in Boston was Kendall Square, followed by Seaport and East Cambridge. The Financial District and Waterfront rounded out the top five.

It is important to note that not everyone in an expensive neighborhood happens to be wealthy. Many people are middle-class renters who are in the middle-zone. They can't afford a down-payment for a house, but they can't live too far from their jobs, so end up living in the city.

Are Ventless Gas Fireplace Hazardous?

Most people associate a fireplace with firewood and a big chimney useful for ventilation and for Santa. But technology and advances in fuel delivery have now allowed our homes to be outfitted with ventless gas fireplaces. No chimney necessary, and they can even be purchased online.

Why don't ventless fireplaces need a chimney? Well, Unlike wood burning fireplaces, a ventless fireplace uses natural gas or gel to produce heat. These types of fuels are deemed to have a lower emissions rate than wood.

Despite that, The Boston Globe considered the question of ventless fireplace safety and generally came out with the view they could be hazardous.

State Attorneys General Deal on Mortgages Likely

A state attorneys general’s deal on mortgages is likely and it could cut one million homeowners’ mortgage burden by about $20,000 each, reports the New York Times.

The deal, between the attorneys general, federal officials, and the nation’s biggest mortgage servicers has been on the table for a while, and just needs a little more of a push.

Even as housing secretary, Shaun Donovan, is going forward with crafting a deal, some critics think it might be too lenient.

Prevent Foreclosures: Consider Foreclosure Mediation

Alternative forms of resolution, such as mediation and arbitration, have their place within the legal world. Everyone from big companies, to professional athletes, to families going through divorce utilize them. And that has raised the question of whether mediation and arbitration have a place in the real estate industry, too.

One of the parties driving the foreclosure mediation debate is the United States Department of Justice. In writing about their Access to Justice program, the DOJ describes what it means when it refers to foreclosure mediation:

Mortgage Deferment for Unemployed Homeowners

There are millions of jobless in America who are having a hard time affording their monthly mortgage payments.

Perhaps in response to this, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (those dreaded Mac siblings), are announcing an extension of a program that allows unemployed homeowners to defer part or all of their monthly payments for up to 12 months while they are out of work.

The mortgage deferment for unemployed homeowners is a form of forbearance.

Papelbon Beacon Street Penthouse For Sale

Former Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon and his wife, Ashley, are selling their Beacon Street penthouse, reports the Boston Globe. The condo is nice, even if the nursery is pretty pink.

Papelbon's Beacon Street penthouse is four bed-room, three-bathroom, with hardwood floors, high ceilings, custom cabinets, a fireplace, and awesome appliances. There is also an outdoor deck and an elevator. In total, it comes out to 2,500 square feet.

Foreclosed? Federal Reserve Foreclosure Survey Coming Your Way

Are you a homeowner and want to complain to the federal government about the foreclosure crisis? The Federal Reserve's foreclosure survey could be coming your way, reports the San Francisco Business Times.

The Federal Reserve is not alone in the foreclosure review. The body is joined by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The foreclosure survey will go out to people that faced foreclosures in 2009 or 2010, reports the OCC website. The OCC is calling it the Independent Foreclosure Review.

Is it Time for Massive Nationwide Mortgage Refinancing?

Homeowners with mortgages should be paying attention to a debate currently taking place at the highest levels of politics.

Turns out that some politicians have been advocating using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to set off a nationwide mortgage refinancing and it seems to be getting bipartisan support, reports the Washington Post.

The impetus for the idea comes from the fact that more than 75% of homeowners have been paying interest rates higher than 5 percent, whereas the current interest rate is closer to 4 percent. That could mean hundreds of dollars of difference just in a month.

Lead Poisoning Threshold: Prevent Lead Poisoning in Boston

An advisory committee within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that the threshold for diagnosing lead poisoning in children be lowered, reports the New York Times.

Lead exposure, which can lead to lead poisoning and can cause both learning and organic problems, affects approximately 250,000 children in the United States.

Preventing lead paint problems have been important to Bostonians, as evidenced by the wealth of resources that Lead Safe Boston offers.

Mortgage Loans Lawsuit: Bank of America Loses Ruling

Bank of America's Countrywide Financial unit, which made all sorts of wild home loans in the past, is haunting the bank (rightfully so), most recently in a lawsuit by a bond insurer.

Bank of America (BAC) was sued by MBIA, a bond insurer, for losses that MBIA suffered as a result of Countrywide's loans, and the court recently ruled in MBIA's favor, reports Bloomberg News.