(CNNMoney) - A tax break that has saved struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS is just days away from expiring.
If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction.
New York (CNNMoney) – The housing market is gaining strength thanks in part to government programs aimed at helping struggling homeowners, the latest Obama Administration Housing Scorecard released Thursday found.
"The Obama Administration's efforts to speed housing recovery are showing clear signs of traction," said Erika Poethig, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which releases the report in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury.
New York (CNNMoney) – In the days ahead, the Obama administration is expected to announce yet another initiative to help rescue the housing market.
Just what the new plan will entail is unknown, but the New York Times and CNBC have speculated that it might unveil a program that would open up refinancing to borrowers who owe more on their loans than their homes are worth, allowing them to take advantage of current low mortgage rates. Such a move would enable many borrowers to keep their homes by making their monthly payments more affordable.
New YorK (CNNMoney.com) - Mortgage borrowers hurt by the Gulf oil spill may qualify for temporary relief from paying their mortgages, without fear of losing their homes.
Citigroup's CitiMortgage unit announced Wednesday that it would suspend all foreclosure sales and filings for 90 days, through Sept. 17, on its Gulf properties. The policy applies only to first mortgages on homes that are within 25 miles of the coast.
Fannie Mae, the government-supported mortgage company, also touted its own relief policy Wednesday, saying that servicers of Fannie-backed loans may immediately suspend or lower payments on mortgages for borrowers whose income or property were affected by the spill.
"This was a reiteration of special relief policies that Fannie Mae has had for a while," said Janis Smith, a spokeswoman for Fannie.
"Borrowers who hope to obtain relief under this policy should call their servicers right away," Smith said. "They should not sit around waiting for a call."
Under the Fannie Mae program, servicers can offer to postpone or lower payments for up to 90 days, during which the servicer is expected to verify the borrower's income loss or the damage the oil spill may have done to their property.
Freddie Mac, the other government-supported mortgage giant, will grant up to six months forbearance to victims of the oil spill.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Bipolar is what comes to mind when diagnosing the post-homebuyer tax credit market. There are two separate forces pulling it in opposite directions, and experts aren't yet sure which path the market will take.
On one hand, sales and prices are rising, indicating recovery. On the other hand, so are interest rates and repossessions, which most certainly do not. And then there are the millions of foreclosures that need to be sold but haven't yet been listed - so-called shadow inventory - that could derail a real recovery if they hit the market in floods.
The prognosis? Negative short term but turning positive by the end of 2010.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Americans, it seems, still have a love affair with the West.
Texas and Wyoming were the big winners in the Census Bureau's annual population estimates, which were released on Wednesday.
In the year ended July 1, Texas added more people than any other state, and Wyoming had the highest growth rate in the nation.
The population of the United States has grown more than 9% to 307,006,550 since the 2000 census. The population grew 0.86% since last year's estimates.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama will unveil his foreclosure prevention plans in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday. It's an appropriate place to talk about the U.S. mortgage-default problem: More than half the homes for sale in this sprawling suburban town are distressed properties.
In choosing Arizona, the president ventures to a state suffering from high foreclosure numbers: It had the third-highest rate of foreclosure filings in the nation during 2008, according RealtyTrac, which compiles foreclosure statistics.
Mesa itself, as Mayor Scott Smith often remarks, is the biggest city in the country that nobody knows. It's a young, sprawling bedroom community of Phoenix that has grown explosively since the end of World War II. With 452,933 residents as of July 1 2007, it's now the 38th largest city in the nation: bigger than Cleveland, St. Louis or Oakland.
"Mesa is the largest suburban city in the country," said Scott Butler, the city's director of government relations, "and it's symbolic of how the suburbs have been impacted by foreclosures."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Under a mortgage rescue plan announced at the debate Tuesday night by Senator John McCain, much of the burden of paying to keep troubled borrowers in their homes will shift to taxpayers.
McCain's original plan called for lenders to write down the value of these mortgages, and take those losses. McCain unveiled the new $300 billion plan in response to the first question of the debate.
He said, "I would order the Secretary of Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes, at the diminished values of those homes, and let people make those – be able to make those payments and stay in their homes."