• Will Cook County’s Copycat Ordinance Earn It Copycat Lawsuit?

    Despite the city of Chicago now facing federal lawsuit over the vacant building ordinance passed by the City Council in November, the Cook County Board decided to pass its own measure that “largely mirrors” the one adopted by the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 14, 2011. The county ordinance would require a property’s mortgagee to pay $250 to list buildings as vacant on a countywide registry, whereas the Chicago ordinance involves a $500 property registration fee.

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, filed a lawsuit in federal court on December 12 against the city of Chicago, “charging that the city’s rules encroach on its role as the sole regulator and supervisor of Fannie and Freddie,” according to the Tribune. Despite that lawsuit, the Cook County measure passed without opposition.

    According to the Tribune, 10th District Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer told fellow commissioners, “When 75 percent of the mortgages in Cook County are owned by FHFA, allowing them to ignore their responsibilities to their own assets or our communities is impossible and a long-term disaster.”

    The Tribune also noted that Fannie and Freddie own about 258,000 mortgages within the city of Chicago. While these ordinances represent an honorable attempt to help the neighborhoods affected by vacancies, they will probably do little to help those needing foreclosure help and facing eviction.

    A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help many of these troubled homeowners stay in their houses, but what do you think of Cook County passing an ordinance similar to Chicago’s even after it ended up being challenged in court? Do you expect the FHFA to sue the county as well?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney

  • Feds Suing Chicago Over Controversial Ordinance

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is suing the city of Chicago over its ordinance making mortgage creditors liable for the upkeep of vacant properties, the Wall Street Journal reported on December 13, 2011. The city had revised the ordinance in November by dropping a provision that had defined creditors as property owners after lenders threatened to sue, but the changes were not enough to satisfy the FHFA.

    According to the journal, the agency said “the ordinance was unfair because it imposed all of the costs of ownership without any of the benefits, such as the right to sell or lease the property.” The lawsuit also says the ordinance oversteps federal law by subjecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to regulation that is the jurisdiction of the FHFA. The FHFA said that the $500 fee the ordinance requires mortgage owners to pay to register vacant properties and conduct monthly inspections of properties to determine if they are vacant “represents a tax” on Fannie and Freddie, according to the Journal.

    Nearly 1,900 vacant properties in Chicago are stuck in the foreclosure process at a cost of $36 million in upkeep costs borne by the city, according to an estimate from researchers at the nonprofit Woodstock Institute. Tom Feltner, vice president of the Woodstock Institute, told the Journal, “By in many cases ignoring these properties you’re doing a disservice to the community and a disservice to the investor.”

    What do you think of the Chicago ordinance? Do you think it will help either the people needing foreclosure help or the neighborhoods where the foreclosures are happening?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyer

  • Will Changes To HARP Change The Number Helped?

    As the Obama administration’s revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) goes into effect this month, the latest version will offer some key changes that should make it more attractive to the lenders that are not required to offer these loans to their borrowers. Some of the differences include the removal of the 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ceiling, reduced risk-based fees or loan-level pricing adjustments, representation and warranty relief for the lenders committing loans to the program, and an extension through the end of 2013 for the program.

    However, as syndicated real estate and personal finance columnist Ilyce Glink noted in a column published on December 2, 2011, HARP “does not have a great track record up to this point” with fewer than 100,000 underwater borrowers able to refinance their properties. Saying that it is “hard to imagine these numbers will grow substantially,” Glink added that “the need is huge.”

    Glink wrote about a woman she spoke to on her radio show who has a 6.5 percent interest rate on her loan and originally put down 20 percent on the property, but now has a house that is worth only about $110,000 instead of the $175,000 she paid eight years ago. Now far underwater, the caller’s husband lost his job and the couple is struggling with their monthly debt obligations because his new job pays so much less.

    Glink said the biggest problem is that neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac owns the couple’s mortgage, a conventional 30-year loan. Furthermore, the loan servicer refuses to disclose who owns the loan, only confirming that the company is not participating in “HARP 2.0.”

    “This is another family that might well end up in foreclosure, and not for lack of trying,” Glink said.

    Does this sound familiar? Have you tried to take advantage of HARP for foreclosure help only to find dead ends? Did you know filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could not only stop foreclosure and help keep you in your home, but could also reduce, reorganize or eliminate your debt and end creditor harassment?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney

  • Your Housing Market Concerns Are Justified

    Are you worried about the housing market? Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, told the Chicago Tribune on October 10, 2011, that you have a right to be. “You have to think of recession scenarios,” Duncan said while in Chicago for the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention. “It’s a coin toss whether or not we have a recession. It’s hard to find a lot to be optimistic about.”

    On the same day of the Tribune story, a monthly consumer sentiment survey from Fannie Mae showed for the fourth consecutive month that a majority of consumers expect home prices to continue declining over the next year. The survey of 1,000 people found that the average annual anticipated price decline of 1.1 percent is the highest expected decline since at least September 2010, according to the Tribune. However, Duncan predicted that home prices of non-distressed properties will fall another 3 percent nationally through mid- 2012, and the anticipated decline would grow to 7 percent if foreclosures and short sales are factored into the equation.

    Have you been seeking foreclosure help ? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers want you to know that a Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to eliminate, consolidate or reorganize your debt to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , our firm can answer all of your questions about the bankruptcy process and help you get deserved relief today.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Home Sales Increase While Prices Decrease

    The federal regulator for the country’s two largest mortgage finance providers said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to gradually increase the fees they charge lenders in the next year, Reuters reported on September 19, 2011. Although the two firms do not directly make loans, they provide financing to banks and lenders by purchasing mortgages and either keeping them on their books or packaging them for sale to investors which pay Fannie and Freddie a “guarantee fee” when they buy mortgages. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, told Reuters those “guarantee fees” would be increased in order to lessen the companies’ long-term exposure to risk.

    The White House has supported increasing the guarantee fees to help reduce “the government’s footprint in the U.S. housing finance system and attract more private capital to the mortgage market,” according to Reuters. President Barack Obama’s budget plan estimated that an increase in guarantee fees at Fannie and Freddie would produce projected savings of $28 billion over 10 years. DeMarco said the changes in guarantee fees may include increased costs for riskier loans and for mortgages in states with more stringent foreclosure laws.

    You can imagine whom those new fees will eventually get passed on to, which is why if you are currently facing foreclosure, now is the time to seriously consider filing for bankruptcy . Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can assist you with a bankruptcy means test and answer all of your questions regarding Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 processes. The only way you can worsen your situation is to do nothing about it, so you have nothing to lose by contacting our firm today for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Fannie Mae Moves to Foreclose on Apartment Building in Chicago Ridge

    Fannie Mae has filed a $6.1 million foreclosure suit against an 84-unit apartment building located in Chicago Ridge.

    The owners of Ridgeland Court failed to keep up with their end of the bargain. The complaint filed by Fannie Mae lists failure to make a monthly payment in May, didn’t purchase the required insurance for the building, and did not pay outstanding bills on the property within a specified 30-day period.

    Rental growth has risen in suburban buildings such as the 65,400 square foot Ridgeland, according to a recent report by Appraisal Research Counselors. The apartment market in the suburbs is strong due to the weak job market causing young people to rent instead of purchase a home.

    Ridgeland Court Apartments are fully leased according to real estate data provider CoStar Group Inc.

    The owner of the apartment building is a trust managed by SKS Properties Southwest Region Inc., according to the lawsuit.

    SKS is also in default because it transferred ownership interest in the property to another entity, SKS Properties SE LLC. This transfer violated the mortgage agreement according to Fannie Mae’s complaint.

    Fannie Mae seeks to collect the original amount of the 2007 loan. The original amount is $5.4 million, and does not include accrued interest, fees, and other costs.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago foreclosure attorney

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