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IRS cracks down on tax credit cheaters

By: Kenneth R. Harney Tax Planning Views: 2939 | Comments: 1 | Votes: 1

Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON — The IRS has an urgent message for would-be home purchasers: Make the most of the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit before it disappears Dec. 1 — if you qualify. But if you don’t truly qualify, don’t try to play games with the credit. The IRS already has 24 criminal investigations of suspected fraud under way around the country. The answer from the IRS: We are. 5. More

New rules to protect borrowers take effect on July 30

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 1986 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON – If you're applying for a loan to purchase a primary or secondary home, or planning to refinance, you should be aware of a little-publicized new set of federal consumer-protection rules that take effect July 30. If you don't get them, you can pull the plug. You'll now have up to a week to think about the transaction, and decide whether it's right for you. More

New idea to free up equity has drawbacks

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 2446 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

When an investor offers you $50,000 or $100,000 in exchange for 30 percent to 50 percent of your home's future appreciation, is it a good deal? That's what a new breed of investment firms is promoting as an alternative to traditional home equity loans, lines of credit and reverse mortgages. Two of the investment companies – REX & Co. Absolutely. That may suit you just fine. More

Know when housing bill tax credit is due to expire

By: Kenneth R. Harney Tax Planning Views: 3605 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON – Anybody who's been sitting on the sidelines hesitant to jump into real estate until conditions settle down should know these dates: April 9, 2008, through June 30, 2009. They mark the eligibility time span to qualify for the home purchase tax credit created by the massive housing bill approved by Congress. Eligibility rules: Do you own a home now? You are eligible. More

Beware of paying for a credit fix: It's a scam

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 29434 | Comments: 1 | Votes: 1

Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON – Picture this: You're eager to take advantage of today's troubled real estate market and buy a foreclosed house at a fire-sale price. The problem is you don't have much money for a down payment. And your credit files are scuffed up with late payments. But can they really do what they claim? According to a complaint by the FTC filed in U.S. William I. Kenneth R. More

Help comes with a catch for subprime borrowers

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 3868 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON – It may be the only test you flunk if you score too high: It's called the FICO test and it is a key element of the sometimes arcane new guidelines governing which homeowners qualify for “fast track” interest rate freezes on their subprime mortgages, and those who don't. The rate freeze and loan modification program, announced Dec. Tops on the list is the FICO test. More

Data show mortage mess not so grave

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 3283 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

Just how bad is the foreclosure situation? In some states, the mortgage crisis is particularly severe. In Ohio, 5.2 percent of all home loans are now either three months past due or somewhere in the process of foreclosure. Michigan and Indiana are not far behind. In Michigan alone, one of every 100 houses saw foreclosure actions initiated in the three-month period covered by the survey. More

Refinancing To Get Cash, Not Save It

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 3088 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

Remember when you refinanced your home mortgage to get a lower interest rate and pay less every month?How quaint. And how utterly out of date. The 88 percent cash-out refinancing rate was close to the all-time record and could surpass it later this year.Meanwhile, the typical refinancer hasn't been scouring the market for an interest rate lower than that on his existing first mortgage. More

Credit bureaus increase price of reports

By: Kenneth R. Harney Home Loans Views: 2491 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

Home buyers and refinancers face higher fees for credit reports this year – a price boost that has mortgage, credit industry and consumer group leaders fuming. Some believe that the higher fees will have an inordinately heavy impact on moderate-income and minority first-time mortgage applicants who have nontraditional credit patterns, marginal credit scores or “thin” credit files. More

IRS Kicks Homeowners While They Are Down

By: Kenneth R. Harney Tax Planning Views: 3874 | Comments: 0 | Votes: 0

Kenneth R. Harney

For homeowners who are seriously delinquent on their mortgages and hoping for relief, the Internal Revenue Service has bad news: If your lender agrees to modify your loan and forgive any of your debt, you could owe federal income tax on the amount forgiven.Think of it as the tax code's "kick 'em while they're down" rule. The Mortgage Cancellation Tax Relief Act of 2007 (H.R. Robert E. More