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Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Extended

Tax Relief For Struggling HomeonersOn December 16, 2014, President Obama signed a bill that extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act to cover any mortgage debt cancelled through year-end 2014. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act prevents homeowners who went through a short sale, foreclosure sale (Sheriff’s Sale) or principal reduction from being taxed on the amount of mortgage debt forgiven. For homeowners to qualify for this tax exemption in 2014, their sale or loss mitigation (workout) must close by December 31, 2014.

The Act has only been extended through 2014. Congress is expected to debate further extension of the Act as part of a larger tax package in 2015. In the meantime, mortgage debt forgiven by a lender in 2015 might count as taxable income.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center has updated our Fact Sheet on Mortgage Debt Forgiveness to reflect these new changes for 2014. You can access the fact sheet, here.

If you have questions about your foreclosure, short sale or Sheriff’s sale, our network of Homeownership Advisors that specialize in Foreclosure Prevention would love to assist. You can connect with a Homeownership Advisor, here.

Posted on: Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program

HOLD ONIn a ‘good news/bad news’ story from the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo and Sarah Horner highlight how the good news of increased property values after years of declining prices have also led to a bad news situation where many east-metro residents may see their property taxes increase substantially next year due to increased assessed values of homes.

Almost all of the consumers interviewed for the article were Seniors who were living on fixed incomes.  Interestingly, the article did not mention Minnesota’s tax deferral program available to seniors on fixed incomes, so we decided we would highlight the program here.

About the Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program:

The Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program in Minnesota allows property taxpayers who are 65 years or older to defer payment of a portion of their homestead property taxes until a future date.  Under this program, homeowners only pay a maximum of three percent of the preceding year’s household income as property tax, and the rest of the property tax is deferred.

Taxpayers are still allowed to file for property tax refund and any other property refunds the state may offer, however the amount of any refunds will be applied to the deferred property tax amount.

In order to qualify for Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The property must be owned and occupied as a homestead by a person 65 years or older. If married, BOTH must be at least 65 years old.
  • Total household income must be $60,000 or less during the calendar year preceding the year of the initial application.  That means that if someone applies for the program in 2015, their household income in 2014 cannot exceed $60,000.
  • The home must have been owned and occupied by at least one of the homeowners 15 consecutive years before the initial application.
  • There can be no state or federal tax liens or judgement liens on the property.
  • The total unpaid balances of debts secured by mortgages and other liens on the property, including deferred tax and interest amounts under the program, unpaid and delinquent special assessments and property taxes, penalties and interest – cannot exceed 75% of the assessor’s estimated market value of the property for the current year.

The Senior Citizens Property Tax Deferral Program only DEFERS payment.  It is not a grant.  A lien will be placed on the property that may affect refinance options as well as estate planning issues.  In addition, the deferred property taxes, any special assessments that may have been deferred, penalties, plus any recording or filing fees will become due and payable to the state of Minnesota when the deferral ends. If the property is sold or the homeowner dies, payment is due within 90 days of termination.

Homeowners who think they may qualify or have questions about property taxes for a friend or family member are encouraged to contact a Homeownership Advisor as soon as possible.  If you are struggling with property tax or mortgage payments, time is of the essence.  Don’t wait, speak to a Homeownership Advisor today.

 

Posted on: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

No News is Good News For Pre-Foreclosure Notices

ScreenCap_InfoGraphicSimply put, there’s nothing newsworthy about the number of pre-foreclosure notices issued in the first quarter of 2014 to Minnesota homeowners… and that’s a very good thing!  The number of pre-foreclosure notices came in well within expectations and continued in line with the downward trend we have seen since Q3, 2010.

In the first quarter of 2014, Minnesota homeowners received only 5,528 notices, a healthy 41% drop from the number of notices issued in the same quarter of 2013: 5,528 vs. 9,291.  The Twin Cities Metro received 56% of the notices issued (3,070) and Greater Minnesota received 44% (2,458).

As always, we use the word ‘only’ cautiously when discussing foreclosures, as it still means that more than 5,500 households are not only struggling with their mortgage, but have fallen far enough behind for their lender or lien holder to begin the foreclosure process.

The Center has put together another infographic to help visualize the data surrounding pre-foreclosure notices:

PreforeclosureNotice_Graphic_Q1_2014

(Click to Enlarge)

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with to keep up with their mortgage payments, or is worried about a FUTURE payment… don’t delay, contact a Homeownership Advisor that specializes in foreclosure today!  To learn more, or to contact your local organization, click here.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Foreclosure Sales Decline 34% in 2013

Third Year of Continued Improvement

Minnesota Homeownership Center has released the most recent ‘Foreclosures in Minnesota’ Report which shows that there were 11,834 foreclosures in Minnesota in 2013, a 34% decline from the 17,895 foreclosures in 2012 and less than half the number of homes lost yearly to foreclosure in 2008 and 2010, the twin peak years of Minnesota’s foreclosure crisis. This most recent number is the fewest Sheriff’s sales held since 2006.

ForeclosureChart_ForPressRelease

The report analyzes completed Sheriff’s sales, the only means of accurately identifying foreclosures, from each of Minnesota’s 87 counties and is available free for download here.

“If the housing market in Minnesota continues to heal at the rate we saw in 2013, we anticipate a return to more traditional foreclosure numbers within the next 12 to 18 months” stated Julie Gugin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Homeownership Center. “However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that while this most recent report is encouraging, it still means that more than 11,000 Minnesota families lost their homes and thousands more struggled with payments.”

Struggling homeowners are encouraged to seek the help of a certified foreclosure prevention specialist who is a member of the Homeownership Advisors Network as soon as possible. Waiting limits a homeowner’s options. To find a free local foreclosure specialist, visit our search page, here, or call us at 866-462-6466.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Housing and Family Housing Fund published the report, with research provided by HousingLink.

To view a copy of the full report, go here.

Posted on: Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Preforeclosure Infographic

On Wednesday January 29th, the Minnesota Homeownership Center released its 2013 year-end data on the aggregate number of Pre-Foreclosure Notices received by foreclosure prevention specialists in the Homeownership Advisors Network.  The number of pre-foreclosure notices issued continue to show improvement in Minnesota’s housing market.

The Center has produced an infographic to help visualize the data on pre-foreclosure notices:

 

PreforeclosureNotice_InfoGraphic_YE2013

 

For a PDF version of this graphic, click here.

Posted on: Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Center Gains HUD-Approved Intermediary Designation

HUD_logo_1The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the Minnesota Homeownership Center’s designation as a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary.

HUD has been working to strengthen its partnerships with strong networks of multiple counseling agencies in order to leverage resources and improve consumer access to housing counseling services at the local community level. Recognized by HUD for its 20+ years of promoting and advancing successful homeownership through its network housing counseling agencies, the Center will now oversee a network of 20 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies offering housing services in pre-purchase education, one-on-one homeownership counseling, rental information, Fair Housing guidance, rehabilitation programs, Reverse Mortgage Counseling, homeless prevention support, and foreclosure prevention options.

As more first-time buyer loan programs, down-payment assistance and foreclosure avoidance programs require access to HUD-Approved counseling, the Center is pleased to be able to be a resource for consumers and counseling agencies throughout the state. With this new designation we also hope to be able to secure additional HUD funding for housing counseling services in Minnesota.

“We know that homeownership counseling and personalized assistance that help families achieve financial wellness are the best tools to prevent another housing crisis like the one we’ve recently experienced,” stated Ed Nelson of the Minnesota Homeownership Center. “Looking forward, The Center’s Network will continue providing education, guidance and resources to Minnesota families.”

Currently, the Center will continue all activities as usual, overseeing the Homeownership Advisors Network*. A complete list of agencies that are participating in our HUD intermediary network will be posted here on our website in the coming months. In addition, the Center will continue to embrace emerging technologies and tools that will prepare thousands of families for successful, sustainable homeownership and will continue to expand programming for partner agencies that will ensure that the Homeownership Advisors Network is on the cutting edge of housing and financial stability trends.

 
*Not all current members of the Homeownership Advisors Network will be participating with us in this HUD endeavor. Additional details will be posted soon.

Posted on: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Minnesota Foreclosure Activity Continues to Plummet

Sheriff’s Sales drop to less than 7,000 in the first half of 2013

Click to Enlarge

From the Minnesota Homeownership Center’s most recent press release:  — During the first half of 2013 the number of completed Sheriff’s Sales, the final step of the foreclosure process in Minnesota, has fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of the housing crisis.  Statewide, there were 6,795 foreclosures in the first two quarters of 2013. This number is 29 percent less than the same period of 2012, with a greater decline seen in the Twin Cities metro area (down 33 percent) than in Greater MN (down 23 percent).

The “2013 Semi-Annual Foreclosures in Minnesota” report was released Thursday by the Minnesota Homeownership Center using research provided by HousingLink and adds to other recent evidence showing that fewer Minnesota homeowners are struggling with mortgage payments than at any time since 2006. 

While more than 1,100 homes each month were lost to foreclosure in the first half of the year, this number pales in comparison to 2010, when Minnesota was experiencing the worst of the housing collapse.  During the first half of 2010, lenders were auctioning off more than 2,100 homes each month.

“Modest improvements in Minnesota’s economy and increasing home prices, combined with improvements in how banks and lenders deal with struggling homeowners are positively impacting the number of homes lost to foreclosure,” stated Ed Nelson, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Minnesota Homeownership Center. “However, while the most recent data is encouraging, we can’t lose sight of the fact homes are still being lost to foreclosure at rates that exceed twice those of historic levels.”

Homeowners that are struggling to make mortgage payments are encouraged to seek help from a certified foreclosure prevention specialist that is a member of the Homeownership Advisors Network as soon as possible.  Waiting limits a homeowner’s option.   To find a free local foreclosure specialist, click here, or call the Minnesota Homeownership Center at 866-462-6466.   

Posted on: Thursday, August 15th, 2013