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If you had a foreclosure initiated, pending or completed against you in 2009 or 2010, you may find this of interest. The Federal Reserve Board has been looking into the actions of many of the largest lenders about how they handled the foreclosure process. They want to review the process to determine if any borrowers suffered financial harm because of the lender’s mistakes or misstatements. If errors are found, the lenders are required to compensate the borrowers if financial harm can be proven.
If you had a loan that meets the below requirements, you can request an independent review of the foreclosure process and possibly receive some compensation. The property must have been your primary residence, the mortgage either had foreclosure started, pending or completed anytime between 1/1/2009 and 12/31/2010 and the mortgage was serviced by America’s Servicing Company, Countrywide, National City, Aurora Loan Services, EMC, PNC, Bank of America, Everbank/Everhome, Sovereign Bank, Beneficial, GMAC Mortgage, SunTrust Mortgage, Chase, HFC, U.S. Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Wachovia, CitiFinancial, IndyMac Mortgage Services, Washington Mutual, CitiMortgage, Metlife Bank, Wells Fargo, or Wilshire Credit Corporation.
You may have already received something in the mail about this. If you didn’t get a letter, or you threw it out, you can call 888-952-9105, Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Or to go: www.IndependentForeclosureReview.com.
There is no cost for this review, so be wary of anyone that wants to charge you money for this. The deadline to request a review is 4/30/12. If you have any success with this program, please let me know.


When you are looking for a new mortgage, you want to get the “best deal.” So you call up your friendly local lender representative and ask what their rates are. Then you go online and do a little surfing and find a better rate. So what gives? Is your local lender ripping you off, or is the other lender putting “too good to be true” rates on the Internet just to get your attention, and then they’ll jack the rates up on you later?

Well, I’m not going to be able to answer THAT question, because there are too many variables out there, sorry… But what I can tell you is to be very careful of Internet lenders whose rates appear to be much better than someone else’s. There have been reports of people applying for mortgages online and falling prey to identity theft. Think about it, what information do you normally give to someone when you apply for a mortgage? Date of birth, social security number, balances of your checking/savings accounts (maybe even the account numbers), copies of your tax returns, paystubs, etc.

The best protection is to use a local flesh and blood lender that you trust. But if you really want to use an online lender, be careful, and to make sure you are actually dealing with a real company, and not a scammer. One tip is to really look at the domain name. For example, let’s say you see an ad or receive an email for great loan rates from Chase. Before you click, hover your mouse over the link and if the link goes to www.Chase.com, that’s a good sign. If it goes to www.ChaseLoanAp.net, that’s a warning sign. That’s a domain name that sounds like Chase, but almost anyone could have registered that domain name.

If you aren’t familiar with the company, try to check them out. You can try the Mortgage Bankers Association of America at MBAA.org, or the Natl Assoc of Mortg Brokers at NAMB.org or Mortgage.NationwideLicensingsystem.org.


This is a follow-up to an article I wrote several years ago. I had heard that the major credit reporting agencies were looking into adding your rental payment history to your credit report. Looks like they finally got around to doing it!

Last year, Experian, one of the big 3 credit reporting companies, added positive rental payment history to millions of credit files. This year they will also include any negative information they have as far as late payments, evictions, etc. Some of the other credit reporting companies have announced that they are close to doing the same.

This is good news for those people that lost their home recently and are now renting. Many of them have really taken a different approach to their finances the last few years by paying cash, not having credit cards, etc. While those are admirable financial decisions, they don’t help re-build your credit score.

The bad news is that the credit reporting companies only have access to payment history for only the largest, most tech-savvy property management firms and apartment complexes. This means if you are renting a single-family home owned by an investor that may have 1, 2 or 3 properties, this news most likely won’t apply to you. But be sure to ask your landlord or property management company if they will be reporting to the credit reporting companies.

If not, you can still record your rent payment history yourself, or ask your landlord to run a printout of your on-time payment to include with any future application for credit, or to rent another home. And maybe someday the credit reporting companies will figure out a way to register rent paid to smaller landlords and property management companies.


Below is a chart that I watch very carefully. It is from Lender Processing Services, Inc. and it tracks the % of loans that are delinquent (red line) vs. foreclosures (green line) across the U.S.

Historically, delinquency leads foreclosure. When delinquencies go up, foreclosures rise a few months later and vice versa. You can see that both lines stayed within certain ranges all the way up until about mid-2007, at which point they both started rising rapidly. This was the beginning of the crash where values dropped so suddenly. Then in 2009, the foreclosure moratoriums kicked in, so delinquencies continued to rise, but foreclosures fell. Since then delinquencies have dropped, and foreclosures have flattened out.

I think delinquencies have dropped due to two main reasons. The first is that eventually many delinquent loans become either a foreclosure or a short sale. Once either of those happen, the loan is no longer reported as delinquent. The second reason would be that loan mods have gotten much better the last few years, and once the mod goes through, the loan is reported as current. The bottom line is that delinquency has dropped, but both delinquency and foreclosures are still at very high levels compared to the past.


With the introduction of the Internet, getting information on homes for sale has been readily available for quite a while. Information on sold homes took longer, but that information is now also very easy to find. There are even websites that will adjust sold information to arrive at an estimated value for you home at the push of a button (heavy emphasis on “estimate”).

Rental information has been tougher to find, but that appears to be changing. I stumbled across a website that is pretty interesting called www.rentometer.com. You can plug in some basic information about a home or apartment and it will analyze what market rent should be. It comes back with a range, but at least it’s something for you to consider.

If you are looking for a rental as a tenant, or you are a landlord wanting to know if your rents are fair, or you are an investor looking to buy a rental and want to know what market rent would be, this site may be helpful to you. Again, it’s just a range, and remember that this website hasn’t viewed the property, and can’t adjust for amenities or condition of the property itself.

As I played with it, I found that it does look at rental comps close by, so it is location-specific, which is nice. And it really focuses on number of bedrooms as the key driver of value.

As a disclaimer, I don’t know exactly how they come up with their values. They also have other services for tenants and landlords, and I can’t vouch for them, good or bad, so buyer beware!

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