Recently, JP Morgan Chase finally settled a lawsuit alleging that they had sold bonds backed by “toxic” residential mortgages between 2005 and 2008, and misled investors in the process. The settlement amount, $13 billion, includes a $2 billion fine paid to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”). Additionally, a portion of the funds will be used for homeowner relief. Specifically, $500 million are earmarked for loan modifications, and $1.5 billion are meant to be used for principle reductions. $2 billion are set aside to forgive the principal balances on homes that are vacant but are not foreclosed yet, to demolish deserted homes, and to assist low and medium-income borrowers who are trying to finance a purchase. $100 million is coming to Illinois, and other states will divvy up close to $1 billion. The bank has until 2017 to complete the delivery of relief to homeowners and borrowers. Much of the rest… read more →
Every quarter, the National Association of Home Builders, in conjunction with Wells Fargo, calculates the “home affordability index”. The index calculates the median income of families in a given area, and compares it with the median home price in that same area. For example, for the third quarter of 2013, the home affordability increase for the Chicago area calculated a $73,400 median income and a $210,000 median home price. Based on these figures, only approximately 64% of homes sold in the Chicago area were affordable to families earning the median income. Interestingly enough, in the second quarter of 2013, nearly 71% of Chicago area homes were affordable to the median-income buyer. The latest figures represent quite a drop just over the last three months. What’s causing this drop? Well, most probably it’s rising home prices and increased interest rates. Home prices are increasing faster than wages do. Although the winter… read more →
If you have made any energy-efficient home improvements since 2006 and have not claimed a tax credit of $500 or more for them already, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $500 for improvements made before the end of 2013. The types of items that qualify are listed below: 1) Up to $300 in materials and labor for some energy-efficient electric water heaters and heat pumps, central a/c units, and biomass stoves. 2) Up to $150 for certain energy-efficient propane, natural gas, or oil furnaces and boilers. 3) Up to 10% of the cost, excluding installation, of some energy-efficient insulation, doors and skylights, and certain metal and asphalt roofs. 4) Up to 10% of the cost up to $200 only, excluding installation, of certain energy-efficient windows. You will need your receipts and also manufacturer documentation, so keep the paperwork for when you file your taxes!
In a case decided just last week on appeal in Illinois, In re Application of the County Treasurer, 2013 IL App (1st) 130103 (November 8, 2013) Cook Co., 5th Division, the potential purchaser of a tax deed lost the property because of a two-day discrepancy in the notice he provided. In August of 2008, the appellant bought delinquent real estate taxes from 2006 for real estate located in Cook County. In December of that same year, the appellant filed a copy of it’s Section 22-5 notice, stating that the property owner had until February 12, 2011 to redeem the taxes. February 12, 2011 happened to be a Saturday. No one attempted to redeem the taxes, and in August of 2011, the appellant petitioned for a tax deed. Even though all parties were served, no one appeared in court. Regardless, in July of 2012, the appellant’s tax deed petition was denied because the final… read more →
Until just recently, if you filed a bankruptcy or lost a home to foreclosure or completed a short sale, the FHA had a fairly lengthy waiting period for you to be eligible for FHA financing for the purchase of another home. If you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would have had to wait for two years after it was discharged. If you did a short sale or were foreclosed, you would have to wait three whole years before you could get another FHA loan. Now, however, those rules have changed. Under the new Back to Work – Extenuating Circumstances Program, you only have to wait one year if you qualify. Do you qualify? Here are some of the criteria: 1. You must have had significant (20% or more) reduction in household income for at least six month, resulting from loss of employment or some circumstance beyond your control. This qualifies as an “Economic Event”.… read more →
No one ever thinks their real estate tax bill is fair when it comes out. But to determine whether or not you might successfully appeal your taxes in Cook County, look at these things: 1) Check the description of your property. If the county thinks your house is bigger than it is, you have a good shot at appeal. Make sure you can provide blueprints or a survey or an appraisal that shows the size of your home. Of course, if the county thinks your home is smaller than it is, it’s probably assessed less than it should be anyway. 2) If your home has been damaged — water, fire, any kind of significant damage — that was not accounted for when it was assessed, you can appeal based on that. 3) If your home is in an exceptionally undesirable location (and no, not being able to stand your neighbors… read more →
If you were thrown out of your house pending a foreclosure case, this might interest you: The Illinois Attorney General recently filed a suit against Safeguard Properties, a large national company that maintains foreclosed properties for lenders. According to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, more than 200 homeowners have complained that Safeguard Properties wrongfully removed their personal property from their homes, even though the homes had not yet been foreclosed, and even had their utilities shut off. Moreover, Safeguard Properties supposedly told homeowners they could not continue to live in their homes pending foreclosure. Under state law, homeowners are allowed to stay in their homes until the foreclosure process is complete. The suit also alleges that Safeguard told tenants of properties in foreclosure that they must also vacate. Again, this is a violation of state law, which allows tenants to remain in possession until their lease ends, even if the lease ends after… read more →
After numerous complaints by homeowner’s struggling to be compensated or have their loans modified pursuant to the $25 million national mortgage foreclosure settlement, the settlement’s monitoring committee finally announced some changes last week. It turns out there are a whopping 304 standards that the banks are supposed to be following, but compliance has been slim Pursuant to the changes announced last week, all five banks affected by the settlement (Bank of American, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally/GMAC), will give homeowners 60 days to submit additional loan modification documents before the home goes into foreclosure. Generally, the banks have also stated they will provide better oversight of their employees.Additionally, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have agreed to the following additional policies: 1) They will have to provide specific information about missing documentation to homeowners. For example, instead of saying they never received “X document”, or “X document”… read more →
If you were planning on applying to the state’s Hardest Hit Program for mortgage assistance, you’d better hurry up. The deadline is today. When the program started in 2011, eligible homeowners could qualify for up to $25,000 in assistance, although that number was increased to $35,000 earlier this year. Nearly 15,000 people have applied, and almost 60% of those who applied received some assistance. Nearly $122 million were paid out. The good news is that most homeowners who qualified and received assistance continued to own their homes 6 months later. Based on the information we have now, it appears the program was successful. For more information and to see if you might qualify, click here. If you do apply, act quick. The deadline is today, September 30, 2013.
Recently, the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance was modified to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants using Section 8 or any other housing choice voucher income to pay their rent. Effective August 8, 2013, a landlord can no longer turn down a prospective tenant solely on the basis that the rent will be paid through Section 8 income. The new rule applies to all landlords — whether they are leasing a house, a condo, a townhouse, a duplex or an apartment building. The only landlords exempt from the provisions are those who are renting one or more rooms in a home that they themselves occupy. The ordinance applies everywhere in Cook County except where a local municipality has its own ordinance, in which case the local ordinance prevails. If you are not sure what the rule is in your town, contact your local village hall or city hall for more… read more →