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Trouble with 2 Homes

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Posted On: 08/31/2011

QUESTION:

We have two houses, both in foreclosure. We moved from our first home to build a smaller retirement property near our children, but cannot sell the first property to pay down the debt on the retirement house. The first house is now rented, but we have been unable to make our payments and face foreclosure on both properties. Can we get a loan modification?

ANSWER:

The first home will likely be regarded as an investment property, and both the government and most lenders offer no assistance to investors. What may be possible is a loan modification on the retirement property. Go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov and click on the "Find out if you're eligible" link. In addition, speak with a local attorney to see if there are grounds to stop the foreclosure. Given lender paperwork problems you may be able to delay foreclosures on both properties and perhaps work out a modification for the retirement property and a short sale for the first home. Also, speak with a tax professional regarding possible tax liabilities from a short sale with the first property.

QUESTION:

Home prices have tanked where I live, but my taxes keep going up. Do you think since the value on my house has dropped it would be worthwhile to ask to have my house reassessed? I would like to but don't know if it would be a good idea?

ANSWER:

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You absolutely should appeal your assessment. In the worst case you'll be stuck with your current valuation, in the better case your valuation will be reduced, and so will your tax bills. Home values around the country have been going down since their peak in April 2007. If it's fair for property taxes to rise as home values increase, then it's equally fair for taxes to be reduced as home values decline.

For specifics, contact your local assessment office. Most explain the appeals process online and have forms that can be downloaded.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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