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Veteran Appraiser Shares Expertise

In times of crisis lenders, servicers and the mortgage industry engine at large appear to be engaged in providing assistance for current and prospective homeowners on many levels.

Judith Haney, a 26-year veteran real estate appraiser from Birmingham, Ala., is using the Internet to spread the word about the benefits of buying a foreclosed home now, along with how to inspect a property on your own and stem fraudsters.

"Buy quality foreclosed homes from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration," she advises, "and buy your next house while the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low to stimulate the prolonged slowdown in America's economy." In her 2010 New Years Day Real Estate Value Forecast, Ms. Haney states that lower-cost foreclosures and fixer-uppers are still the best value for consumers while citing currently available lender incentives such as low downpayments, no closing costs and free appraisals by some of the country's largest banks.

While warning homebuyers and sellers alike to pay attention to future losses or missed opportunities if inflation takes off in 2010, she also gives practical advice on not buying indiscriminately.

"Avoid buying a lemon by hiring independent licensed appraisers and home inspectors before offering to purchase a home," she says.

Before offering to purchase REO, buyers must inspect the property with all utilities turned to test the plumbing, electrical and heating systems. Her analogy: "Who buys a car without turning on the engine?"

Watch out for foreclosure rescue fraudsters and scam artists who thrive by advertising mortgage modifications and mortgage refinancing services through the media, she says, advising borrowers work directly with their mortgage company in negotiating the terms and conditions of their mortgage.

She also gives the green light to contacting Neighborhood Works America, not paying a fee in exchange for counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan because assistance from a HUD-approved counselor is free, Making Homes Affordable program options and contacting the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline to speak with a HUD-approved housing counselor free in English, Spanish and other languages.

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if fraud occurs and "do not sign or transfer over the deed to your house to any individual or organization without discussing it with your mortgage company first," she says.

And maybe, her voice rings loud and clear, to those homeowners who are still skeptical of their mortgage service providers.