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  Housing Problem Solvers Company


1201 West Peachtree Street, Ste. 2300,

 Atlanta, GA,30309

Housing Problem Solvers


List of Improving Housing Markets Hits Record High

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (116)
List of Improving Housing Markets Hits Record HighDAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013The number of housing markets listed as "improving" on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index reached a record high this month of 291. The index, which started two years ago, gained 44 markets from August to September. The measure of improving housing markets had been declining for several months, but a change in the method to compile the index's data may partially explain this month's rise.  "The dramatic increase in markets qualifying for the [improving market index] in September was partly due to a recent improvement in the way that Freddie Mac measures home prices, which resulted in stronger gains than previously reported," says NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "Even so, the broadened list of metros on the [index] continues to demonstrate the slow but steady gains that individual housing markets are making to bolster the national outlook."NAHB Chairman Rick Judson says slightly more than 80 percent of the 361 metros tracked by the index have shown consistent growth in three key measures for at least six consecutive months: housing permits, employment, and home prices."While there is still plenty of room for growth, this is an excellent indication of how the housing recovery has begun to take hold across more geographic areas,” Judson says.Among some of the metros added to the list in September were Macon, Ga.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Brownsville, Texas; Spokane, Wash.; and Milwaukee. All 50 states have at least one metro on the list.

Treasury Department Allow States To Divert Foreclosure Fraud Fund to Demolition

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 8:38 PM Comments comments (132)
In the wake of last year’s multiple foreclosure fraud and abuse settlements and ongoing dispersion of housing assistance funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), many former homeowners thought that they would be receiving some form of compensation for wrongful foreclosures and poorly-conducted foreclosures, loan modification attempts, and short sales. Many others hoped that the money would be used, as directed by the settlements and TARP itself, to help them work out a way to keep their homes. Few have received such compensation or assistance, however, and even fewer should continue to look for it thanks to a recent decision from the U.S. Treasury Department that will allow states to use monies from these massive settlements and programs to demolish homes instead of helping people stay in their distressed homes[1].Michigan and Ohio have already altered their contracts with the Treasury so that they can use foreclosure prevention funds for demolition. Mary Townley, director of homeownership at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, said that the diversion of funds will actually help more homeowners remain in their homes since “many of these communities had so many blighted properties that homeowners would throw their arms up and say… ‘Why am I doing this?’” Michigan has diverted $100 million (20 percent of its Hardest Hit Fund money) to demolishing 7,000 houses.Over protests from housing advocates who insist the money should have gone to help homeowners who did care about staying in their homes, the demolition process has already begun in Detroit, Michigan, where areas that still have potential for growth are being targeted for demolition funds. “You’ve got to remove blight in order to bring in new growth,” said state senator Carl Levin, adding that in his view, “supporting homeowners means you’ve got to remove the blight in their neighborhood.” Levin admitted that demolition is a “creative use” of the Hardest Hit funds, but said that in his mind, it is a necessary and “very positive use”[2]. Homeowners living in the areas targeted for demolition hope that removing blighted homes will encourage builders to erect new structures in the area and new homeowners to buy.

HUD Charges FiFth Third Bank & Mortgage Companies with Disability Discrimmination

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM Comments comments (359)
When Fifth Third Bank, Fifth Third Mortgage Company, and Cranbrook Mortgage Corporation required a couple on disability to prove, via physician’s letter, that they could be expected to continue to receive the disability payments that enabled them to pay their mortgage, the lenders say they were simply doing due diligence on a refinancing application. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says that they may actually have been engaged in discrimination against persons with disabilities and in violation of the Fair Housing Act, however, because they required the couple to provide more and different evidence of their ability to pay than they would have had to had they not been disabled. The couple ultimately did not provide a physician’s letter and were denied the refi[1]. HUD believes that the lenders were unjustified in denying the refinancing application because at the time of the couple’s loan application Fifth Third’s underwriting policy “explicitly specified a physician’s statement as appropriate evidence for establishing continuance of disability income.” This, HUD argues, goes beyond the requirements placed on other applicants for verifying an applicant’s income amount and source.Fifth Third declined to comment on the charges. HUD’s acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, Bryan Greene, said regarding the lawsuit that “persons with disabilities should not have to meet higher mortgage qualification standards because they rely on disability insurance payments as a source of income”[2]. Do you think Fifth Third should be facing a lawsuit? How should disability income be verified fairly?

Fannie Mae Short Sales Reported as Foreclosures

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM Comments comments (41)
If you went through a short sale on your Fannie-Mae-insured loan only to find that your credit report showed a foreclosure in your recent history, the GSE says that now the issue should be resolved. According to a report from the government-controlled Fannie, “the standardized computer software the credit industry was relying on lacked a specific code for short sales.” As a result, when Fannie Mae reported short sales to credit firms, those short sales were recorded as foreclosures. The GSE requires a seven-year waiting period before borrowing again in the wake of a foreclosure and only a two-year waiting period on a short sale, so many homeowners who opted for short sales have been surprised when their loan applications on new home purchases were denied based on past foreclosures[1].According to the GSE, a new policy for lending will allow lenders to “disregard the erroneous [foreclosure] codes when processing new mortgages.” This, the GSE believes, will enable buyers with past short sales to circumvent the computer glitch and proceed with their new loan origination[2]. Of course, complains short sale advocate Pam Marron, the change will not necessarily resolve lenders’ bias against short sellers, since, Marron says, often banks assume that homeowners conduct a short sale just to get out of paying their mortgages. She adds that this bias is unfair and inaccurate, saying, “there was all this press about strategic defaulters, and I could not find any strategic defaulters.”

Fannie Could Curb Low-Down Payment Loan Purchase

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM Comments comments (94)
Fannie Mae is in discussions to curb its purchases of mortgages that require a minimum down-payment of 3%, according to people familiar with the discussions.Fannie never stopped accepting purchases of loans with 3% down payments, even after lending standards were ratcheted up following the housing bust. But many lenders stopped offering them, in part because they weren’t able to obtain mortgage insurance for those loans, which Fannie requires.In recent months, however, a series of changes in the mortgage market have led to an uptick in low-down-payment loans available for sale to Fannie. That prompted a review of the company’s lending policies, and officials are said to be working on a plan to limit the company’s purchases of these loans. The changes aren’t being made because of immediate problems with loan performance, according to people familiar with the discussions.Freddie MacFMCC -3.94% stopped backing such mortgages several years ago and requires a minimum 5% down payment. Any loans without a 20% down payment at both companies must have mortgage insurance or some other type of so-called “credit enhancement.”One proposal would be to continue purchasing only those sold by housing-finance agencies, which typically require home buyers to complete financial counseling. “We regularly review our standards and guidelines,” said Andrew Wilson, a Fannie Mae spokesman. “Any changes to our guidelines will be communicated to the market at the appropriate time.”Even though Fannie hasn’t bought many of these loans, low down-payment loans have remained widely available throughout the housing downturn largely due to federal agencies, including the Federal Housing Administration, which insures mortgages with down payments of 3.5%. Veterans and rural homeowners can still obtain loans without any down payment through separate federal agencies, though they face some restrictions.But Fannie is seeing more low-down-lending headed its way in part because the FHA has recently increased rather sharply the insurance premiums charged to borrowers. Private mortgage insurance companies, meanwhile, have begun to remove certain restrictions, or so-called “overlays,” that had limited the loans to a smaller group of borrowers. Better terms and growing availability of private mortgage insurance has made it possible for more lenders to offer low-down-payment mortgages that can be sold to Fannie.Fannie doesn’t disclose how many home-purchase loans it purchases or guarantees with 3% down payments, but private mortgage insurers have reported an uptick in their insurance volumes of those loans. MGIC Investment Corp. said its 3%-down loans accounted for around 5% of its business during the second quarter, or around $480 million. That was up from 2.8% in the year-ago period, or around $165 million.Some mortgage bankers say the change being considered by Fannie wouldn’t be that disruptive to the market because the FHA will continue to accept loans with 3.5% down payments, even though those loans are more expensive. “An awful lot of people who have only got 3% down would be advised to save another 2%. That’s an old hard-headed answer, but it’s true,” said Lou Barnes, a mortgage banker in Boulder, Colo.The higher insurance premiums that borrowers have to pay on a mortgage with a 3% down payment, versus one with a 5% down payment, is often enough to warrant “waiting six months or a year to save up the extra down payment,” he says.Loans with little or no down payment helped fuel the housing bubble, though many of those loans failed because of other features, such as resetting interest rates that sent payments higher or because borrowers weren’t required to document their incomes. Today, low-down-payment loans remain limited to a handful of products, such as 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, and they require careful underwriting of a borrower’s income and assets.

Second Chance for Foreclosed Homeowners

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (120)
Potential homeowners who fell on hard times during the recession are being offered a lifeline back into the housing market, via the Federal Housing Administration.According to a letter sent to mortgage lenders, the FHA said it would offer mortgage insurance to borrowers who, during the recession, filed for bankruptcy or lost their homes through a foreclosure or short-sale proceeding.The insurance is now available to those who can prove they are no longer financially compromised — and met all other FHA requirements."FHA recognizes the hardships faced by these borrowers, and realizes that their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage," the letter says.Besides the burden of proof on the borrower to demonstrate a recovery from the "economic event," the potential homeowner must also complete housing counseling. This event would need to result in a minimum loss of 20% of the household income.The FHA is requiring lenders to verify at least a year has passed since the foreclosure and the economic event is responsible for the loss of the home or bankruptcy.

Don't Fall for These 7 Credit Repair Myths

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (148)
Thanks to the recession and its aftermath, millions of people suffered foreclosures, bankruptcies and job losses that tanked their credit. Given how much bad credit can cost -- in higher interest rates, more expensive insurance premiums and bigger deposits for utilities -- many want to rehabilitate their credit as quickly as possible.But real credit repair doesn't happen overnight, and it can take even longer if you fall for any of these myths:

No. 1: Credit bureaus have to investigate disputes within 30 days.Federal law typically requires credit bureaus to investigate consumer complaints of errors on their credit reports and report the results of that investigation to the consumer within 30 days.
Check your credit report
But there's a pretty big exception. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, bureaus don't have to investigate disputes they consider "frivolous or irrelevant.""The bureaus can look at it (the dispute) and refuse to investigate. They can even do it based on the format of the dispute letter," said Barry Paperno, community director at and a former operations manager at Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus.Credit firms often reject the techniques used by many credit repair firms, such as using cookie-cutter forms, disputing the same information over and over again or disputing a bunch of items. You can reduce the chances of your dispute being discarded out of hand, Paperno said, by using your own words when writing disputes and including copies of relevant documents that support your position.Liz Weston

No. 2: Disputing information will remove it from my credit reports.If the credit bureaus do investigate your disputes, they won't remove the negative information in question while they do so. The bureaus wait to hear back from the company that supplied the information about whether it's accurate.Sometimes these companies don't respond to disputes in time. In that case, the credit bureau may delete the disputed information.Credit repair firms often claim victory when these deletions happen, but if the creditor doesn't remove this data from its own records, it could pop back up on your reports, said Gerri Detweiler, another blogger and author of "Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress: Real Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis."Understand your credit scoresFEATUREDTOP PICKS
  1 of 3  "They last long enough for (the credit repair firm) to cash your check," she said.Temporary deletions are a problem even when you get a legitimate error removed, Paperno said. That's why it's important to check your credit reports frequently and keep paperwork that proves you're in the right.

No. 3: Credit repair firms know secret ways to fix things.FTC's page on credit

The reality is that people can and do get errors removed. A recent FTC study found that four out of five consumers who filed disputes "experienced some modification to their credit report."
Even if you don't get caught, you often wind up with a completely blank credit history. Depending on the state of your current credit, you may find it harder to get credit with no credit history than with a troubled one.

No. 4: Paying off an old debt will help my credit scores.Some people think that paying off a debt somehow removes it from their credit reports. That's not true. But even people who understand that may assume that reducing the balance of a past-due debt to zero will help their credit scores.That's often not the case, said Paperno, who also worked for FICO, the leading credit score creator, for 12 years. If the debt shows up as a collection account, the balance owed is usually irrelevant for FICO credit scoring purposes, so paying it off won't help unless you convince the collection agency to stop reporting the debt -- something that's typically hard to do, Detweiler said.Balances matter more when the debt is still held by the original creditor. Even then, though, the credit scoring formula starts to ignore the balance information after a certain length of time. FICO doesn't disclose how long that time might be."Paying off an old charge-off isn't going to help you like (paying off) a new one," Paperno said.If you're trying to improve your credit scores, consider paying off your most recent defaults first and see how much that moves your numbers. (If your accounts are all current, pay down your credit card debts to improve your scores.)

No. 5: It's impossible to get errors removed from my credit reports.
As I have reported, the credit reporting system is highly automated and favors the "data furnishers" the creditors and other companies reporting information about you. Some people with legitimate beefs get ignored or trapped in a seemingly endless loop of information being deleted and then reappearing.

It's no wonder so many people are discouraged about the possibilities of fixing problems in their credit reports.
The reality is that people can and do get errors removed. A recent FTC study found that four out of five consumers who filed disputes "experienced some modification to their credit report."
"The dispute process is not fun," Paperno said, "But you can get erroneous information removed."
Understand your credit scores
  1 of 3  
If the error recurs, you can take the dispute directly to the creditor. If that doesn't work, you can sue the credit bureau in small claims court or take your case to a higher court, perhaps with the help of a credit-savvy attorney (you can get referrals from the National Association of Consumer Advocates).

No. 6: A new credit identity will help me get approved.
If a credit repair firm is offering you a fresh start via a new credit identity, you know for sure you're dealing with scam artists.
Sometimes these outfits are selling stolen Social Security numbers, often swiped from children who haven't started using credit yet. Other times they encourage you to apply for a federal employer identification number or EIN and use it in place of your Social Security number in credit applications. Either way, you're committing fraud, according to the FTC. When you use someone else's Social Security number, you're committing identity theft as well.
Even if you don't get caught, you often wind up with a completely blank credit history. Depending on the state of your current credit, you may find it harder to get credit with no credit history than with a troubled one.
No. 7: Credit repair is always a scam.
Given all the nasty things you've just read about credit repair outfits, you might conclude all of them are rip-off artists. But that's not actually true.
"They're not all bad 100% of the time," is how Paperno put it in a less-than-ringing endorsement.
Detweiler typically doesn't recommend hiring someone, but understands why people do.
"Reading a credit report can feel like reading something in a foreign language you're not fluent in," she said. "You get the gist of what they are saying, but you feel like you're not quite sure you understand it completely, and you may be missing out on important subtleties."
You may be able to educate yourself using the following resources:
  • For $30, Experian Credit Educator offers a 20 minute, one-on-one phone call with an agent who offers "a detailed walk through your credit repair components" and "insight for future decisions in credit management."
  • Credit counseling agencies sometimes offer credit report reviews. You can find an agency near you via theNational Foundation for Credit Counseling.
  • Buy your FICO score at for $20 and you'll get a report explaining the reasons behind the number as well as suggestions for improvement.
If you still want to hire a credit repair company, get referrals from mortgage professionals or real estate agents and check the companies out with your local Better Business Bureau. Don't sign up with any company that wants to charge you in advance or fails to provide you with a written contract.
The federal Credit Repair Organization Act makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you or to charge you before they've performed their services. They must detail in writing what they plan to do and explain your legal rights, offer you three days to cancel without charge, tell you how long it will take to get results and detail the total cost you'll pay.
There's clearly a lot of fraud in the credit repair field. There are plenty of companies that will charge you a lot to do very little, or nothing at all. But some can provide a legitimate service, Paperno said, by helping people through a process that they could do themselves, but may not want to.
"I can change my oil," Paperno said. "That doesn't mean I wouldn't want to hire someone to do it for me."

Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.


Posted on August 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM Comments comments (69)
Borrowers who received help through the government's main foreclosure prevention program are re-defaulting on their mortgages at alarming rates, a federal watchdog said in a report released Wednesday.Nearly 1.2 million mortgage modifications have been completed since the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was first launched four years ago. Yet more than 306,000 borrowers have re-defaulted on their loans and more than 88,000 are at risk of following suit, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) found in its quarterly report to Congress.In addition, the watchdog found that the longer a homeowner stays in the HAMP modification program, the more likely they are to default. Those who have been in the program since 2009, are re-defaulting at a rate of 46%, the inspector general found.Related: Did you refinance through the Home Affordable Modification Program?HAMP, which was launched by the Treasury Department at the height of the foreclosure crisis, aimed to help as many as 4 million borrowers avoid foreclosure by making their payments more affordable through reduced interest rates, extended loan terms or, in some cases, reduced mortgage principals.Not only has the program fallen far short of that goal but with each year of the program, a growing number of homeowners have re-defaulted, the inspector general found."Treasury needs to research why so many borrowers are dropping out of the program," said Christy Romero, the head of SIGTARP.Quiz: How smart are you about mortgages?The inspector general said it found some "clear patterns" in its own research. Homeowners who were most likely to re-default were the ones who received the smallest reduction in their loan payments or overall debt, were still underwater on their mortgage or had subprime credit scores and high overall debt at the time the modification took place.The Treasury is currently researching the performance of modifications under the HAMP program and working on ways to improve the re-default rates, a Treasury official said at a press conference on Tuesday.Treasury also noted that most of the re-defaults were high risk to begin with and were inked during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression.Related: Foreclosures fall to pre-housing bust levelAs of April 30, taxpayers have lost some $815 million on the permanent mortgage modifications that have re-defaulted, the inspector general reported. As part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Treasury allocated $19.1 billion to the HAMP program. So far, it has spent $4.4 billion, the inspector general said.Nevertheless, the government has extended the program for another two years, until the end of 2015.To improve HAMP's performance going forward, the inspector general also suggested that Treasury work with mortgage servicers to create an early warning system that will enable it to reach out to at-risk homeowners before they default."Treasury pulled out all the stops for the banks, they should do the same for homeowners," said Romero. 

Housing Discrimination Complaint

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (301)
Filing Your Housing Discrimination Complaint OnlineFederal law prohibits housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your civil rights have been violated, you can file your fair housing complaint online by clicking the Housing Discrimination Complaint  button below.  Your housing discrimination complaint will be reviewed by a fair housing specialist to determine if it alleges acts that might violate the Fair Housing Act. The specialist will contact you for any additional information needed to complete this review. If your complaint involves a possible violation of the Fair Housing Act, the specialist will assist you in filing an official housing discrimination complaint.The Multifamily Housing Complaint Line is a service provided by HUD's Multifamily Housing Clearinghouse (MFHC) that enables residents of HUD-insured and -assisted properties and other community members to report complaints with a property's management concerning matters such as poor maintenance, dangers to health and safety, mismanagement, and fraud. It can be accessed by dialing 1-800-MULTI-70 (1-800-685-8470).If you have a Housing Choice Voucher complaint, please contact the PIH Customer Service Center through our toll-free number at (800) 955-2232 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST) daily Monday through Friday, except for Federal holidays.  You may also send an email directly to the Public Housing’s Customer Service email address:  [email protected].If you are alleging a violation of HUD program regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status, please

Identity Thieves Filing False Tax Returns in Victims Name

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (169)
Identify Theft has taken a new twist. Identity Thieves are now filing false tax returns in their victims name. The Internal Revenue Service(IRS) doesn't know how the Identity Thieves know their victims filing status. The false tax returns are being filed and the identity thieves are collecting the money. 

The Identity Thieves setup a false bank account in the victims name. They then file a false tax return electronically to the IRS in the victim's name. The tax return is filed with a refund owed by the IRS. The tax return is processed by the unsuspecting IRS. The IRS processes the refund and wires the money to the false bank account. The Identity Thieves are filing current years tax returns.

The unsuspecting taxpayer sometimes have no clue that false tax returns have been in their names. The IRS Identity Theft unit is working on the problems. Please check your tax filing status with the IRS if you are a late filers. You can visit the IRS website at If you are a victim of identity theft go to Type in "Identity Theft".