News: US property woe: Tips for survival

Thu, 24 Jan 08

With the US credit disaster biting, homeowners need to be extra vigilant...

Americas Watchdog and its Homeowners Consumer Center accurately predicted the US real estate disaster that was coming, back in 2004. This was a year before any other major consumer group sounded alarm bells about the US real estate markets/US mortgages. The nation now finds itself in the worst real estate downturn since the great depression. In 2008, and in 2009, it is likely US real estate markets will actually get worse. With this reality in mind, the Homeowners Consumer Center has developed tips, that should protect most US homeowners, along with information and advice designed to save homeowners money. As follow:

  • Many to most US real estate markets have declined in value since 2005. Homeowners should check to see what their current county or city property tax assessment is (what the county says a home is worth), versus what a home is actually worth, in today's real estate market. In many states such as California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Maryland, homeowners may literally be paying 20% to 40% more in property taxes than they should be (based on the current home value). According to the group, "millions of US homeowners are paying a higher property tax bill than they should be". The group is strongly encouraging all US homeowners wishing to learn more about reducing their property taxes to check with their county, to learn more about the property tax appeal process.

  • For homeowners wishing to learn more about the mortgage process and or mortgage industry tricks designed at cheating or over charging US homeowners, the Homeowners Consumer Center has developed a (Free) 20-page mortgage guide for all US Homeowners. The free mortgage guide can be found on the resource page of the Homeowners Consumer Center and it is loaded with helpful information. The Homeowners Consumer Center's web site is located at Http://HomeownersConsumerCenter.Com

  • The group is strongly suggesting homeowners and or real estate investors to avoid real estate auctions selling foreclosures until sometime in late 2008 or 2009. According to the group; "why go to an auction in 2008 and buy a property that will be worth 10 percent less in 2009".

  • Homeowners should avoid slick TV or radio ads that say "let 25,000 bankers machine gun each other, in order to have a chance at refinancing your mortgage, Internet pop ups that say rates at historic lows or phone solicitations". Homeowners wishing to obtain the name of an honest mortgage lender providing conventional, FHA or VA mortgages should visit the National Mortgage Complaint Center's resource page for a listing of ethical mortgage lenders.

  • Do not finance or refinance a home before first getting a mortgage document inspection from the National Mortgage Complaint Center. The National Mortgage Complaint Center is the premier mortgage document inspection service in the US, and typically their mortgage inspection services will save US consumers hundreds to thousands of dollars. The group estimates that 9 out of 10 current US homeowners were cheated or overcharged when financing or refinancing their home. Their web site is at Http://NationalMortgageComplaintCenter.Com.

  • All US homeowners need to check their homeowners insurance policy in order to make sure it is up to date. Updating a homeowners insurance policy includes, updating replacement values, adding loss of use, should a homeowner lose the ability to live in the home during repairs, and flood or earthquake coverage in areas where earthquakes or hurricanes may occur. The 2008 hurricane season may be the worst ever, with the current La Nina weather affect in the North Pacific. Areas susceptible to hurricanes include the US Gulf Coast and almost the entire US East coast.

  • If a US homeowner purchased a home in 2004-2006 and paid top market prices, and they got an exotic mortgage product such as a pay option adjustable rate mortgage or 100% financing, they may now literally owe more on the house than it is worth. If a home's mortgage amount is more than 20% of what the house is now worth, the group is suggesting that the only way out for the homeowner, may be walking away. According to the group; "we warned banks, home builders and mortgage lenders not to make these suicidal mortgage loans to homeowners and real estate flippers back in early 2005, and no one listened". Now there is a big question if even many of the biggest US banks, or US home builders will survive the disaster they helped create. Americas Watchdog is also very concerned about US Pension Funds that purchased junk mortgage portfolios.

  • The Homeowners Consumer Center is encouraging voters to write their US Congress person or US Senator and demand that banks, and mortgage bankers be required to disclose a kick back called a "yield spread premium" just like mortgage brokers have to disclose this fee. The Center estimates," most US homeowners pay a higher monthly mortgage payment than they should have to pay because banks and mortgage bankers are not required to disclose this kickback, even though they get them too". According to Americas Watchdog, "the biggest two issues associated with our nation's mortgage/real estate crisis are appraisal fraud, and banks not having to disclose yield spread premium kick backs they received for inflating the homeowners interest rate/monthly mortgage payment. Its time for 100% transparency in the mortgage process".

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