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Foreclosure Rescue Scams

by Mark Rieger, Mark Rieger Realty

 

 

The number of foreclosure rescue scams in the U.S. is growing rapidly. In these scams, homeowners who are facing foreclosure are promised help to save their homes. Those involved in foreclosure rescue fraud end up stealing the homes from those they promised to help. Many collect large fees for services they don’t end up providing and take off with the money leaving the homeowner still owing the money for the loan.

Foreclosure rescue scams generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Bailout. In these scams, the scammer bails the homeowner out by telling them to Sell the home to the scammer. The scammer tells the homeowner to rent the house from the scammer. Often with a bailout scam, the scammer will then fix the rent so high that the homeowner can’t pay and is forcefully evicted. The scammer will then find another buyer and the homeowner ends up losing the home anyway.
  • Phantom help. Sometimes scammer contact homeowners by offering to help them out of foreclosure. The scammer will charge high fees for phone counseling and paperwork that the homeowner could do themselves. Ultimately, the home still goes through the foreclosure process and the scammer disappears with the money.
  • Bait and switch. The bait and switch foreclosure scam involves the scammer telling the homeowner that they are signing documents for a new loan that will solve their foreclosure problems. The homeowner signs the documents unaware that they are signing the title/deed to the home to the scammer. Generally in this case, the homeowner will still owe on the mortgage loan but won’t have the asset anymore.

Scammers will often offer help but recommend that you cut off all contact with the lender and any other counselors you may be working with. However, if you are involved in a foreclosure, you should never cut off contact with the lender, so you can try to work out a solution to fix the problem. Scammers lie, exaggerate and misinform to try and gain the homeowner’s trust. Don’t ever make any payments to anyone but your lender. If you are questioning any information or counseling you are receiving, contact your lender. There are many reputable counseling agencies that are certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and can legitimately assist you with the foreclosure issue. Certified counselors should not make you pay for housing counseling. An attorney can also be a good resource.

If you believe you have been the victim of a foreclosure rescue scam, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-382-4357.

 

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

by Mark Rieger, Mark Rieger Realty

 

The sun is peeking out and the plants are starting to blossom, so it must be about time for spring chores again. Here's my annual spring checklist of important issues to tend to around the house.

1. Roofing repairs: If you suspect winter storms may have damaged your roof, it needs to be inspected. (If you're not comfortable with the height or steepness of your roof, hire a licensed roofing contractor for the inspection.) Look for missing or loose shingles, including ridge-cap shingles.

Examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof and walls intersect. Look for overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.

If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if older shingles makes patching impractical, consider having the entire roof redone. Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from falling tree limbs, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.

2. Check gutters and downspouts: Look for areas where the fasteners may have pulled loose, and for any sags in the gutter run. Also, check for water stains that may indicate joints that have worked loose and are leaking. Clean leaves and debris to be ready for spring and summer rains.

3. Fences and gates: Fence posts are especially susceptible to groundwater saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are.

If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them. Replace any posts that have rotted.

4. Clear yard debris: Inspect landscaping for damage, especially trees. If you see any cracked, leaning or otherwise dangerous conditions with any of your trees, have a licensed, insured tree company inspect and trim or remove them as needed.

Clean up leaves, needles, small limbs and other material that has accumulated. Do any spring pruning that's necessary. Remove and dispose of all dead plant material so it won't become a fire hazard as it dries.

5. Fans and air conditioners: Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air conditioners and whole-house fans. Shut the power to the fan, remove the cover and wash with mild soapy water, then clean out dust from inside the fan with a shop vacuum -- do not operate the fan with the cover removed.

Check outdoor central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup, and clean or replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well sealed. Check dampers for smooth operation.

6. Check and adjust sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn't be getting wet.

7. Check vent blocks and faucet covers: As soon as you're comfortable that the danger of winter freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow air circulation in the crawl space.

While removing the vent covers, check the grade level around the foundation vents. Winter weather can move soil and create buildups or grade problems that will allow groundwater to drain through the vents into the crawl space, so regrade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it's been shut off.

8. Prepare yard tools: Replace broken or damaged handles, and clean and condition metal parts. Tighten fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and service engines and belts in lawn mowers and other power equipment.

9. Change furnace filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you have central air conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system's fan to circulate air during the summer.

10. Check smoke detectors: Daylight Savings Time snuck up early again this year, and that's usually the semi-annual reminder to check your smoke alarms. So if you haven't already done it, now's the time. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector's operation before it's too late.

If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, add a carbon monoxide detector as well (or check the operation of your existing one). CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.

As always, if you or anyone you know is looking to Buy or Sell real estate in central Oregon, please give me a call. Have a great Spring!

Is It Better To Rent Or To Buy?

by Mark Rieger, Mark Rieger Realty

 

Now more than ever may be a better time to Buy instead of rent. According to the online real estate company Trulia, buying a home is more affordable than renting in 98 of the top 100 housing markets.

Home prices are falling, and mortgage interest rates are at all-times lows. Also, rent is on the rise.

The best buyer’s markets, according to Trulia, are Detroit, Oklahoma City, Dayton, Ohia, Warren, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio.

Of course, it’s not as easy to get a home today as it was a few years ago, which causes many to not be in a position to Buy right now. However, if you are in a position to buy a home, now may be a better time than ever.

Ken H. Johnson, a professor of real estate at Florida International believes home prices across the U.S. have bottomed. He said, “Markets should slowly start to recover. Housing will return to its traditional role of a safety investment.”

If you are looking to Buy a home, contact me to discuss your mortgage loan options today.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3

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