The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 45 - July 30, 2008

REAL ESTATE


These boots are made for walking

If you’re one of the 9 percent of property owners in the country or 11.6 percent of property owners in the state of Florida who are either past due on their mortgages or in some stage of foreclosure, the words "walking away" probably sounds really sweet. But before you put on your boots and walk all over your bank, remember nothing is as easy as it seems.

As is true of any disaster, there is always someone who benefits from another’s misery. The newest cottage industry that has popped up as a result of the ongoing mortgage foreclosure saga are companies offering to help guide you through the process or offer advice on just walking away from your home and financial responsibility.

For a fee you can hire a company that will promise to free you from the agony of mortgages you can’t afford and from houses that are now worth less than their value. One company I found on the Internet charges $695 and claims it will provide you with the following services, if "you qualify for our foreclosure program." Some of the points it emphasizes are: stop lender phone calls, no more harassment; help you stay in your home for up to eight months with no mortgage payments; arrange a consultation with its real estate attorney; work with your lender to get you up to $2,500 in relocation expenses; help locate your new home and help in repair your credit. Some companies even offer a walk-away plan and kit which outlines the laws regulating foreclosures and bankruptcy.

What isn’t shared, however, is how walking away from a property and being foreclosed on shatters your credit rating and your ability to obtain future long term financing for at least seven years. In addition, forgiven debt, either in the form of a foreclosure or an arrangement with the lender, can be subject to income tax for the portion forgiven. Also, repairing your credit essentially means removing errors on your credit report, and since harassing phone calls are against the law, both of these issues can be handled by almost anyone.

As far as cash payments to move out of your home and help you relocate, that’s pretty standard in the industry and has been since I worked on bank-owned properties in the early 90s. Basically, all of the information offered for sale is in the public domain and can be found on line or obtained directly from your lender or through pro bono legal services.

Here in Florida, the Florida Attorneys Saving Homes or FLASH has made available a hot line to help homeowners who are already in trouble making their mortgage payments or anticipate a problem. These volunteer attorneys will assist homeowners negotiate with their mortgage lenders in an effort to work out payment schedules in order to save their homes, suggest cash for keys, thereby avoiding a foreclosure judgment or other ways to have a somewhat softer landing. The hotline number is 866-607-2187, and additional information on the FLASH program can be found on www.floridaprobono.org.

Unfortunately, the same people who got in over their heads initially are also the ones who are now falling for an easy way out and walking away. Before you consider spending good money after bad, try working with your lender or with an attorney volunteer who can help you wade through the legal mombo jumbo.

Losing your home is an emotional nightmare, don’t further compromise your values by putting on your boots and walking out on your obligations.

Real Estate Transactions
Closed sales between April 21 and May 17, 2008

Anna Maria

717 North Shore Drive       Single Family       $3,725,000
214 Fir Ave.       Duplex        1,300,000
522 Loquat Drive       Single Family       1,050,000
513 Bayview Place       Single Family        800,000
744 North Shore Drive        Single Family        700,000
103 Los Cedros Drive        Single Family        698,000
209 Coconut Ave.       Single Family        550,000
217 Willow Ave.       Single Family        465,000
153 Crescent Drive        Single Family        375,000
522 Pine Ave. #3C       Condo        250,000

Bradenton Beach

108 13th St. S.        Single Family        $1,160,000
200 Gulf Drive S. #6        Condo        750,000
2516 Ave. A       Condo        680,000
249 17th St. N.        Condo        400,000
103 Seventh St. S.        House & Duplex        380,000
232 17th St. N.       Condo        368,800
106 23rd St. N.       Single Family        355,000
2310 Gulf Drive N. #204       Condo        280,000
1201 Gulf Drive N. #200       Condo        280,000

Cortez

No recorded sales

Holmes Beach

107 75th St.       Duplex       $3,500,000
625 Ivanhoe Lane       Single Family        2,050,000
521 Key Royale Drive        Single Family        1,500,000
688 Key Royale Drive        Single Family        750,000
523 75th St.       Single Family        730,000
617 Gladstone Lane        Single Family        660,000
404 & 406 80th St.        Duplex        595,000
510 75th St.       Single Family        550,000
304 64th St.       Duplex        500,000
311 64th St.        Condo        470,000
503 67th St.       Single Family        455,000
207 76th St. #A        Duplex        390,000
3311 Gulf Drive #1        Condo        357,900
2703 Gulf Drive        Single Family        300,000

Source: Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office


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