WE’RE HEARING from New York State about its Homeownership Protection Program or HOPP. No, it is not some kind of home warranty that you overpay for and does not really cover anything that goes wrong.
Rather it is a program now in its second year, funded with money from the national mortgage settlement to help people avoid foreclosure. Total funding is $60 million spread out over a three-year period.
The funds are used to fund counseling services and legal services statewide to help homeowners with loan mods. To date more than 20,000 homeowners have received HOPP help. Services to the homeowner are free. In some respects the success of the program is a little sad because it points out that to actually get a mod to go through you may need an attorney.
Complaints to the HOPP hotline about mortgage servicers are mostly related to failures to conduct loss mitigation in a timely manner and incorrect denials of loan mods. This year there will be an increase of allocated funds to the areas of Long Island (Nassau, Suffolk), Queens, Staten Island and the Hudson Valley. These areas have seen an uptick in foreclosures. So if you are a New York broker getting aggravated with a mod do not be afraid to get an attorney involved.
Meanwhile the NAR’s 2013 “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers” is out. A theme is that first-time homebuyers and single homebuyers are a smaller portion of the market due to tighter lending restrictions. The complete profile is available from NAR for a fee. The data were compiled from a survey sent to over 148,000 home buyers and sellers over the past year. Remember data are good for marketing and the bottom line of your business.
Other data out there come from Prudential Real Estate’s third-quarter consumer outlook survey that highlights the differences between men and women in the home buying process. The survey states that men may play a greater role when it comes to the financing end of the transaction. Contrast that statistic with a recent federal case out of Maryland where a wife sued B of A alleging a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Poor B of A, everyone is suing them for something. This is a case they actually won but they won on a technicality. In Ballard v. Bank of America the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the law relating to the ECOA. The ECOA was designed to stop credit discrimination of married women by preventing lenders from requiring a husband to co-sign a loan unless an exception applies. In this case the wife had to guarantee the husband’s business loan of over four million dollars.
The wife alleged that B of A violated the ECOA by not evaluating the husband’s creditworthiness. Rather they just required the wife provide an unlimited guaranty of the debt as a condition of the loan. Needless to say the loan went south in a year and had to be worked out several times. The court did not have to rule on whether B of A violated the ECOA because the wife also signed a document waiving all claims against B of A. That is our fine print joke of the week.
Lastly we close in Michigan. Last week I spoke of a labor shortage in western Michigan as reported by a homebuilders association. This week it has been reported that there is a new construction “boom” in three counties. I guess everyone has their own idea of what” boom” means but the good news to report is that through the third quarter of this year over 1,500 total new housing starts occurred in three western Michigan counties. If you are a broker or LO in that area you might want to network with a builder or two.
Based in Chelsea, Mich., John McDermott is a real estate and elder care attorney who represents both consumers and businesses. He can be emailed at email@example.com.