UK mortgage approvals fall as people endure three-hour interviews with their bank

Henry Pryor, high end estate agent, said: “High house prices require big
mortgages so whilst the amount being lent remains eye-watering, the number
of mortgages being offered is falling. Some of this decline can be blamed on
MMR the ‘hammer to crack a nut’ reaction from the powers that be to what
they felt were failings in the mortgage market but part of this is simply
house buyers calling time on ever-increasing asking prices.”

Buyers, lenders and surveyors alike have been spooked by fierce rhetoric from
Mark Carney who has fingered the hot housing market as the biggest threat to
the UK’s economic recovery – which has had a dampening effect on the number
of people applying for mortgages as they await further news of interest rate

While the lengthy mortgage approval process has disrupted agreed sales, estate
agents have also seen cautious surveyors downgrade house prices after the
point at which offers have been accepted.

“We are increasingly seeing a gap between agreed sales and sales that
complete,” said Mr Wilson.

This is driving a higher proportion of aborted sales as vendors then break the
deal and relist the property, chasing the higher price, he explained.

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15-Year Mortgage Rates Sink; Homeowners Save 64%

15-year mortgage rates vs 30-year mortgage rates

Mortgage rates begin the week at their lowest point for 2014 and the best levels since June of last year.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year rate is now 4.10 percent. However, it’s homeowners using 15-year loans who stand to save the most.

With the average 15-year mortgage rate at 3.25% — 85 basis points (0.85%) below comparable 30-year rates — homeowners using 15-year loans are reducing their total mortgage interest paid by 64 percent.

It’s an excellent time to consider a 15-year mortgage.

Click to compare today’s mortgage rates.

15-Year Mortgage Is A Saver’s Dream

15-year mortgages save money over the long-term as compared to 20-year and 30-year loans. There are two reasons why. The first reason is that 15-year mortgages are available at lower interest rates and APRs than longer-term loans.

Lower mortgage interest rates mean less mortgage interest paid to bank.

The second reason why 15-year mortgages save money is that, after 15 years, they’re finished; there are no additional payments due to the bank.

At today’s mortgage rates, assuming a loan size at the national average of $268,500, homeowners using a 15-year mortgage will save more than $127,000 in mortgage interest paid. That’s money which can be used for college tuition, retirement, or anything else.

With a 15-year loan, at today’s mortgage rates, you’ll save 64%.

Click to see today’s live rates.

Homeowners Increasingly Choose 15-Year Loans

According to Freddie Mac, homeowners are choosing 15-year loans over 30-year loans at an increasing rate.

During this year’s second quarter, for example, 34% of homeowners who refinanced their 30-year fixed rate mortgage decided to refinance into a 15-year loan — the highest percentage in last twelve years and nearly double the rate from 2012.

And, thankfully, regardless of your loan type, 15-year mortgages are available.

Conventional 15-year mortgage rates average 3.25 percent nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.6 discount points at closing. 0.6 discount points carries a cost of 0.6 percent of your loan size.

A homeowner in Orange County, California, therefore, borrowing at the local conforming loan limit of $625,500 could expect to pay discount points in the amount of $3,753.

Mortgage applicants opting for a zero-closing cost conventional mortgage pay no points.

For borrowers using FHA loans and VA loans, 15-year mortgage rates can be even lower than with conventional financing. Some banks now quote 15-year rates in the 2s; and discount points are rarely required.

Furthermore, FHA borrowers have additional incentive to select 15-year financing — FHA MIP is relaxed for borrowers with loan terms of 15 years or fewer.

Click to compare today’s 15-year rates

Considerations For The 15-Year Loan

The 15-year mortgage offers huge savings to U.S. homeowners, but the program won’t be for everyone — especially because monthly payments are much higher than for a comparable 30-year loan.

At today’s mortgage rates, the monthly payment for a 15-year loan is forty-five percent higher than a 30-year loan. This means that, at the average mortgage loan size of $286,500, a homeowner would pay $589 more per month on the 15-year amortization schedule.

This can be a budget-breaker for some households; and, it’s harder to meet debt-to-income requirements with a larger monthly mortgage payment. Therefore, before considering the 15-year mortgage, make sure the monthly obligation is a manageable one.

If you think the payments of a 15-year loan are too much to manage, though, but want the benefits of paying less interest, consider taking a 30-year loan and paying it as a 15.

It’s always your option to send extra principal each month along with your payment. Your mortgage lender can tell you how much extra to send each month so that your 30-year loan is shortened to 15 years.

You can also use the mortgage calculator to check the math yourself.

Get Today’s Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels in more than a year. It’s an excellent time to consider a 15-year mortgage — either for a purchase or home refinance.

Get today’s live mortgage rates now. Rates are available online for free with no social security number required to get started and no obligation to proceed.

Click to get a rate quote.

Try the Mortgage Payment Calculator

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

Article source:

Russian bank offers cats with mortgages

Worst 3 bank promotions 

Would you like a cat with that mortgage?

Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank (SBRCY), is offering to deliver cats to the doorsteps of new mortgage clients as part of a quirky promotional campaign.

In Russia, it’s considered good fortune if a cat enters a new home ahead of the owners.

A few customers have already signed up, though cat lovers may be disappointed to hear that the kitties will be on loan for just two hours and then whisked away.

Clients can choose from 10 felines with names like Caesar and Caramel. But they’ll have to hurry to secure one — the bank is limiting the cat campaign to 30 new mortgages only.

Sberbank’s promotion may be part of an effort to present a warm, fuzzy image since getting slapped with European sanctions one month ago.

The bank, which serves more than half the Russian population, has been banned from raising medium and long-term financing in Europe. Its shares have plunged by 28% since the start of the year.

Western sanctions against Russia are part of an effort to punish President Vladimir Putin for supporting separatist fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Related: Lion-ripped jeans sell for $1,500

The cat campaign has generated a lot of buzz on social media, but it hasn’t all been positive.

One Twitter user — @Tsimchik — told Sberbank: “Reduce your interest rates and people will have enough money to run a cat farm!”

A Facebook user from Iceland was keen on the concept, but not the cats. “I would take out a second mortgage if the bank gave me a monkey,” he said.

Related: The top 15 sanction targets

The Russian mortgage market has been expanding by more than 30% per year since 2009, according to statistics from the Russian central bank.

Mortgage lending in rubles has grown by 41% in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

–CNN’s Olga Pavlova in Moscow contributed to this report.

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Money Talk: Lying to Mortgage Lender Not a Good Option

Question: My mother passed away unexpectedly in late 2008. She had a mortgage, and the house was under her name only. She didn’t leave a will. My family is still paying the loan, and the company does not know my mother passed away. We don’t have a lot of money and we need advice on how to get the house under my sister’s name (she has good credit). We need to get the loan modified since the monthly payment is almost $1,000 and only about $70 goes toward the principal.

Answer: Your mother may not have created a will, but your state has laws that determine what was supposed to happen after her death. Lying to the mortgage lender is not one of the legal options.

Federal law allows mortgages to be transferred to heirs. (Without a will, those heirs usually would include a surviving spouse and the dead person’s children.) Transfers because of death typically are exempt from the due-on-sale or acceleration clauses that otherwise would allow the lender to demand full payment.

To get the mortgage transferred, however, you usually need to have started the probate process.

At this point, you should consult a mortgage broker about the likelihood of getting a refinance or a loan modification. If the home is deeply underwater, it may not be possible or worth the effort. If foreclosure is likely, it would be better not to transfer the mortgage as the heirs’ credit would suffer significant damage.

If your plan is feasible, however, then you’ll need to consult a probate attorney. You may not have a lot of money, but you need to pool what you have to hire someone who can dig you out of this mess.

Question: After reading your column about the best ways to pay while traveling in Europe, I want to share my experience. I was unhappy with the foreign transaction fee charged on my Citibank credit card, so on my next trip to Europe I primarily used my Capital One card. Imagine my disappointment to find that Capital One’s currency conversion formula was much less favorable to me than Citibank’s.

Answer: Credit card expert Odysseas Papadimitriou suspects you were comparing purchases made on different days, or even on different trips. Although one of your cards charges a foreign transaction fee and the other doesn’t, both cards get the most favorable rate from their card network’s exchange rate. Visa cards would get the Visa card network exchange rate, while MasterCard would get the MasterCard network exchange rate. If both your cards were Visas, for example, they would get the same exchange rate, but the one that charged the foreign transaction fee would increase your cost by that amount (typically 1 percent to 3 percent).

There may be “tiny” differences between those Visa and MasterCard exchange rates on a given day, but one wouldn’t be “much less favorable” than the other, Papadimitriou said.

And the exchange rates are certainly better than what you’d get by exchanging dollars for euros at a bank in advance of your trip, or by using currency exchange services once you got there.

So the fact remains that the cheapest way to convert currency is to do so automatically by making purchases with a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Here’s another suggestion for reducing fees abroad:

Question: One option for folks traveling to Europe to save money on ATM withdrawals is to check with their bank and find out if there is a checking or savings account that carries the benefit of the bank canceling foreign ATM fees as well as their own fees. Before I traveled to Scotland to visit my daughter, I switched accounts at my bank to one where there are no fees for using other banks’ ATMs. Worked brilliantly!

Answer: If your own bank doesn’t offer this option, it may be worth setting up a checking account with a bank that does. Charles Schwab’s high-yield checking account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide with no foreign transaction fees, and Capital One 360, the online bank, waives ATM fees and absorbs MasterCard’s 1 percent foreign transaction fee. USAA Bank charges a 1 percent foreign transaction fee but doesn’t charge a fee for the first 10 ATM withdrawals.

Liz Weston is the author of The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy . Questions for possible inclusion in her column may be sent to 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, Calif. 91604, or by email at Distributed by No More Red Inc.

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Average U.S. 30-year mortgage rate stays at 4.1 percent

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Some singles see value in mortgage payment – Pittsburgh Post

Steven Ganley was lucky enough to earn his master’s degree in accounting from Duquesne University last year without piling up any debt. In the year after he graduated, the 25-year-old landed a full-time job as a staff accountant at a Downtown firm, lived with his parents in Bethel Park, and banked money each month as though he were paying rent.

Despite his clean balance sheet and careful money management, several credit card companies turned him down. Yet he recently qualified for a 30-year mortgage at 3.99 percent through the Federal Housing Authority.

“I believe I have the world record for not establishing any credit and still being able to get a home loan,” said Mr. Ganley, who closed on a $150,000 three-bedroom home in Bethel Park last month, which he purchased with a 5 percent down payment.

Married couples with children continue to be the leading demographic for the single-family, home-buying market here and across the nation. But some singles — especially young singles — recognize that a mortgage payment on a house can often be the same or less than what they would spend on rent.

The barriers to homeownership that many in their 20s and 30s face — higher unemployment, lower wages and student debt — have made it less likely for people in that age group to be owners than in previous generations. Tighter lending standards also have been a factor in a slight decline in single men and single women homebuyers, according to the Washington. D.C.-based National Association of Realtors.

For as long as the Realtors group has been tracking data on married couples and single buyers — since 1981 — the percentage of single homebuyers has historically hovered around 20 percent to 25 percent. It fell nationally from 28 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2013, according to NAR.

“One of the things we have seen is that single men homebuyers are about half the share of single female homebuyers,” said Jessica Lautz, director of member and consumer research for the National Association of Realtors. “Single females make up the largest share of single buyers. Single female homebuyers are second only to married couples.”

Many singles enter the real estate market following major family changes, such as death and divorce.

“Lenders look more favorably toward dual incomes, and perhaps they have more buying power as well,” Ms. Lautz said. “So, unfortunately, we have seen both the share of single female and single male homebuyers drop off.”

Single homebuyers come to the market from all walks of life, and for different reasons that often extend beyond the financial ones. Some want an investment that will pay off down the road, while others are looking for a place to live that suits their lifestyle.

After renting for years, Christa Vattimo, 31, managed to overcome the down payment hurdle by borrowing money from her company retirement savings account at PNC Bank, where she works as a loan analyst. She also obtained a mortgage through PNC for a $97,000, three-bedroom brick home in West View.

“I didn’t want to keep throwing money down the drain renting,” said Ms. Vattimo, a single mother of a 10-year-old son and a 1 1/2 year-old daughter. “It was important to me to be a homeowner. I want to have equity in something.

“I was nervous that I’d get denied for a home loan being a single parent with money coming out of my salary for day care and child expenses. I could not be more proud of myself being a single parent and a homeowner. Being able to do that is extremely gratifying.”

For younger buyers like Mr. Ganley, it can be a challenge to get any type of credit approval, let alone a mortgage.

He said although he had no debt and thousands of dollars in a savings account, Discover and MasterCard rejected him. Dick’s Sporting Goods also denied him a credit card, and he suffered more embarrassment when Macy’s department store rejected his credit application while a line of people stood waiting behind him at the checkout counter.

Though he had accumulated $8,000 in a savings account at PNC Bank, the bank would not approve him for one of its credit cards with a $300 limit.

“That had a lot to do with me applying for my mortgage at Dollar Bank instead of PNC Bank,” Mr. Ganley said.

“In the long run, owning is so much better than renting,” he said. “I can build equity and do projects that transform the place before my eyes. When I see something I’ve done, it’s kind of rewarding.”

Howard “Hoddy” Hanna III, chairman and CEO of O’Hara-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said single homebuyers have consistently made up about 25 percent of the Pittsburgh region’s residential real estate market.

“A lot of those singles buying houses are not first-time buyers,” Mr. Hanna said. “They are people going through a marital change such as a divorce or maybe even the death of a spouse.

“Years ago, when people got divorced, they rented apartments and didn’t go right back into buying. Now when two people get divorced, after they sell a house for $400,000, the husband will go back out and buy a house for $250,000 and the wife buys a condo for $100,000.”

Mr. Hanna said single buyers are behind the explosion in Pittsburgh’s Downtown residential real estate market.

“Single buyers want to live, work and play in areas that are close together,” Mr. Hanna said. “We are selling more urban houses to singles in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The density of single buyers is in urban areas where they can walk to restaurants.

“You are less likely to find single buyers in the suburbs. Suburbs still attract couples and families.”

Nicole McMahon’s main consideration was finding a house she liked that was near her job at Westinghouse Electric where she works as a business analyst.

Ms. McMahon, 24, had lived with her parents in Murrysville after graduating from Penn State in December 2013 with a degree in information science technology. She recently used an inheritance from her grandparents to buy a $169,900 three-bedroom, three-bathroom brick home in Rochester, Beaver County, about 20 minutes from Cranberry.

“It’s a little more nerve-racking without having someone else to rely on,” she said of the home-buying experience. “It was a little scary to go it alone. But I managed to survive it.”

“A lot of my friends are married or engaged,” Ms. McMahon said. ”I don’t have anyone now, and I wanted freedom from my parents. It’s nice to get away from my parents, and I didn’t want to wait for Prince Charming because I don’t know when that will be.”

Article source:

Report: Wounded vet and his family receive keys to their mortgage-free …

Army Sgt. Christopher Hemwall and his family received the keys to their new, mortgage-free home in Ypsilanti Township Friday, according to a report in the Ypsilanti Courier.

Hemwall, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2010, was selected to receive the home through the Built To Honor program through Pulte Group, which provides homes to disabled veterans.

Hemwall, his wife of three years Valerie, their son and their dog got the keys to the home Friday.

“As my career in the United States Army comes to a close, I look forward to sharing a bright future with my wife and kids by my side,” Hemwell told the Courier. “I couldn’t think of a better place to start the first day of the rest of our lives than right here in this community.”

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for The Ann Arbor News. He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter. Find all Washtenaw County crime stories here.

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Mortgage tax revenue sliding in Warren County – Glens Falls Post

Mortgage tax receipts are down more than 30 percent in Warren County so far this year, and county officials are wondering why.

Those who take out mortgages on real estate in Warren County pay a 1 percent tax on the amount of the mortgage, a tax that amounted to $1.05 million in revenue for the county last year.

The figure had been rising in recent years as the real estate market recovered from the financial collapse in 2008-09, with receipts growing more than 20 percent between 2011 and 2013.

But the revenue has dropped substantially this year, a trend that is being noted around the state, Warren County Clerk Pam Vogel told county supervisors Thursday. The figure was on pace through the end of July to barely top $700,000, Vogel said.

She said the long winter and late arrival of spring played a part in a slow start to the year around New York.

Others said there were indications the housing market was suffering locally.

“That would indicate to me we are not getting many house sales in Warren County,” Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty said.

Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow said the real estate representatives he had spoken with said the local market was “kind of slow.”

Vogel said many of the sales of more expensive waterfront properties do not involve mortgages, so no mortgage tax is collected on those purchases.

Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood said there may not be a big drop in mortgages, but the mortgages being taken out are not as sizeable, so less tax is collected.

“You could have many mortgages of small value,” she said.

The mortgage tax should get a boost in the coming months when the sale and $193 million mortgage of a hydropower plant that straddles the Hudson River in Warren and Saratoga counties goes forward, Vogel said.

David Strainer, an agent with Realty USA in Queensbury, said new listings have dropped this year by about 10 percent. He said his agency has had a good year, but many waterfront sales are being made for cash without mortgages, and banks are taking longer to approve loans so it takes longer to close a sale than it had.

“The banks are looking for more information than they had been, and it’s taking longer,” he said.

Home sales last year in Warren County were up 11 percent, and statewide sales hit a six-year high.

In a series of Post-Star articles this spring, local real estate agents reported good activity in the housing market. Glens Falls 2nd Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt, a real estate agent, said he thinks the property market is “improving slowly.”

Warren County enacted the mortgage tax in 2008, and is one of 23 counties in New York that imposes it. Vogel said other counties have similar taxes that they don’t call a mortgage tax.

The Board of Supervisors County Clerk Committee voted Thursday to extend the mortgage tax for another two years.

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A year after 2013 flood, families waiting, hoping for mortgage relief

One Year Stronger: 2013 flood anniversary

September marks one year since the historic 2013 flood ravaged homes, displaced thousands of residents and killed 10 people across the state, including four from Boulder County and two from Larimer County.

This special section is a collaboration of the Daily Camera, Longmont Times-Call and Loveland Reporter-Herald.

Flood anniversary: Full coverage

Faces of the flood: Boulder area

Faces of the flood: Longmont area

Faces of the flood: Loveland area

In memory: Stories of the victims

Interactive map: Untold stories submitted by readers

Photo gallery: The year of recovery

LYONS — The walls of the sprawling ranch-style house are stripped to the studs. The floors are springy underfoot.

The once-carefully tended gardens are a stark debris field littered with massive boulders and uprooted trees.

The “lodge” — where Terry Mayes’ parents spent their days when they visited and where her father hung his game trophies — has 4 feet of sand and rock inside.

Terry and Bart Mayes lived 19 years on the St. Vrain River below Steamboat Mountain, just outside of Lyons, with only one small flood scare — a brief evacuation into town and water a foot over the bank.

And then early in the morning of Sept. 12, 2013, the river went right through the house.

Terry Mayes was in Littleton, where her mother was in the hospital, but Bart Mayes drove out at 3 a.m. with water over the floorboards of his truck.

“We probably will never live there again, and probably no one ever should,” Terry Mayes said.

Including Terry and Bart Mayes, 68 property owners in Boulder County are waiting to find out if their homes will be bought through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hazard mitigation grant program.

The program provides up to 15 percent of the amount FEMA spent on the immediate aftermath of a flood in the form of grants to state and local governments to buy properties in the flood plain that were substantially damaged — meaning it would cost 50 percent or more of the pre-flood value to rehabilitate them — as well as properties that are in the flood plain and require repairs up to $276,000.

The purchase price is based on an appraisal of the pre-flood value. The land must remain in public hands and be managed as open space for flood mitigation.

Local jurisdictions sent their applications to the state this week. And now they wait.

Waiting game

Scott Baldwin, a mitigation specialist for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said he expects to hear back from FEMA some time in November, but it could be many months after that before final decisions are made.

Phyllis Casey, her husband, John, and daughter, Marissa, walk Saturday over the site of their old Lyons-area home, which was destroyed by the flood nearly

No one knows how long it will take for FEMA to determine how much money it will give Colorado and for the state to decide how to divide that money among the various jurisdictions.

Everyone agrees there won’t be enough to buy all the eligible properties.

Boulder County has applied for relief through the FEMA program for 27 homes and is asking for a little more than $17 million. That amount covers the appraised value of the homes, the cost of the appraisals, closing costs and estimated demolition costs.

Lyons has submitted an application for $9.9 million for 28 properties, as well as for $760,000 to cover the cost of elevating another six homes. Jamestown has asked for $3 million for 13 homes.

The Boulder County homes are prioritized based on a matrix that gives more points to those that are in the floodway, the area where rushing water can be expected, as well as to those that sustained more damage and to those that are clustered together and would be easier to manage as public property.

“They’re not guaranteed at all,” said Abby Shannon, long-range planning manager for Boulder County Land Use, who is coordinating the county’s grant application efforts. “It’s kind of heartbreaking.”

Another 30 to 35 homes, with a pre-flood assessed value of roughly $13 million, are on the list for a separate buyout program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant — Disaster Recovery program, and homes that aren’t funded by FEMA will go into that pool, Shannon said.

Lyons has 16 homes in its CDBG-DR request.

That program has broader criteria. It only requires that the home be impacted by the flood, meaning homes outside the flood plain that were damaged by mud slides qualify.

‘What is going to happen with this house?’

Sean and Meg McCroskey, whose home in Salina was torn down this spring, have settled in a new home in Longmont, but come October, they will be on the hook for a year’s worth of mortgage payments on the flood-ravaged mountain home. The bank placed a moratorium on the mortgage, McCroskey said, but only for one year.

They don’t qualify for the FEMA program because they weren’t in a mapped flood plain, but they are in the CDBG-DR pool.

Meg McCroskey sits in front of her destroyed home Sept. 19, 2013, on Gold Run Road in Salina. The McCroskeys have settled in a new home in Longmont, but

Getting a buyout would be a huge relief, Meg McCroskey said.

“It would make a huge difference to get out from under that,” she said. “It’s a constant in our lives. What is going to happen with this house? What is going to happen with this mortgage? Nothing can happen until the last effort is expended.”

But there is essentially no chance that the McCroskeys will have any money from the federal government in time to meet their obligation. Meg McCroskey said she has “no plan,” but she has to believe it will work out somehow.

Of the FEMA buyout applications, most are for homes in the mountains, though a few are in the plains, Shannon said. The Lyons homes are concentrated in the confluence area of the North and South St. Vrain rivers, said Rosi Dennett, Lyons housing coordinator.

Some of the applicants had no flood insurance because they weren’t in a mapped flood plain. Many of the smaller tributaries in the mountains are not mapped.

Others were in a flood plain and had insurance but are now in the floodway, where new building is not allowed.

Many people with substantial damage received insurance settlements that treated the home as if it could be repaired, but insurance doesn’t cover septic systems, which can cost $30,000, or land restoration. Often the insurance payment went to the bank, but it still didn’t cover what the property owner owed on the home.

“The homes are substantially damaged,” Shannon said. “They saw a lot of water come through. A lot of the homes, the property owners received other damage that their insurance won’t pay for and is really difficult work to do. Restoring land that has been severely damaged is really difficult to do, and for a lot of people, it’s too emotional. They’re just not capable of dealing with that.”

Terry Mayes said she knows she is more fortunate than a lot of people. She had flood insurance and didn’t have a mortgage. She and her husband took the payment and bought a home in Berthoud, one Mayes’ elderly mother will be able to share with them when she can’t live on her own anymore.

But Mayes, 59, said her retirement is on hold indefinitely, unless the government can buy her property.

“I’ve been working since I was 14,” she said. “I would like to have a few years to enjoy some things besides getting up and going into the office.”

‘We can’t pay the mortgage’

Mayes’ former neighbors, John and Phyllis Casey, are in a tougher position.

John Casey was also out of town when the flood hit, but Phyllis Casey was home with their teenage daughter and a friend of hers who was spending the night.

When she got the evacuation call, she began to gather things, but when she opened the door to the garage, the cars were floating.

She and the two girls pushed through waist-deep rushing water and climbed to safety. They didn’t even lose their cats.

But now the Caseys are making mortgage payments on a house that was carted away this spring as a debris hazard while paying rent on a temporary home in Lyons.

“We are really hoping for a buyout because our life savings is in it, and we can’t pay the mortgage and our rent and rebuild,” John Casey said.

John Casey said the home was an investment for their retirement and their daughter’s college education.

The Caseys also invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in clearing the property and improving the home. Phyllis Casey has spent hundreds more hours sorting through the ruins of their former life, but just driving past the lot is painful for her.

In the rock-strewn remains late last month, they saw that a golden Buddha statue that had survived the flood high on the bluff was gone. It had been a symbol of resilience to the Caseys. Looters have been a constant problem, and now it appeared they had come for the Buddha.

“I’m so tired of this,” Phyllis Casey said, shaking her head and looking away.

Even after everything, she said that if there were a way to rebuild safely on her old house site, she would. But there isn’t.

“I still love the water, but we’re looking for places that have an escape route,” she said.

Public benefit

The FEMA buyout program isn’t only about providing relief to homeowners facing overwhelming expenses, Shannon said.

“There is a broader public benefit,” she said. “FEMA prioritizes structures that are in the flood plain. Are these homes going to be hit again and again and again? Will these houses become debris downstream? Will residents and first responders be endangered?”

The program also reduces repetitive losses to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The city of Longmont and Weld County are not participating in the program, according to officials there.

Larimer County has 14 properties, including one commercial building, on its FEMA hazard mitigation list, though Community Development Director Terry Gilbert said the county doesn’t have an estimate of those properties’ value.

Because the FEMA program requires that land bought with federal money remain in public hands, Gilbert said the county looked closely at the future ecological and open space uses of the properties.

Larimer County has another 80 properties under consideration for purchase with CDBG-DR funds. That land can be resold, though much of it has limited redevelopment potential.

Gilbert said that in some cases neighbors have bought flood-damaged property just to have as additional open space around their homes, and selling on the private market can be a better option for some homeowners.

‘There would be financial devastation’

In Jamestown, there are 13 homes on the FEMA list.

Mayor Tara Schoedinger said that’s 10 percent of the town’s housing stock.

“We need to determine what that means for our community, what that means to lose that many homes, if we — and how we — go about replacing those properties and what that means if we don’t,” she said. “We’re going to look at that in terms of our long-term recovery process.”

Dennett, the Lyons housing coordinator, said that town is starting a planning process this fall to try to build as many housing units as were lost in the flood, including the housing lost in the Riverbend Mobile Home Park.

Some of the families who applied are still making mortgage payments on uninhabitable homes.

“There would be financial devastation if it weren’t for this program,” Schoedinger said.

Some families have not been happy with their appraisals. Property owners can get a third appraisal on their own dime, and that number is averaged with the other two appraisals. But there is no negotiating on the price.

“Financially, with the uncertainty, it’s really difficult,” Schoedinger said. “There are also volunteers (such as Mennonite Disaster Service) who have access to funding now for repairs and new construction. People will have waited all this time when they could have done something else.”

Ron LoSasso, of Louisville, bought a cabin in Jamestown with his son and then converted it to a rental when his son joined the Navy.

He had flood insurance, but it all went to the bank. LoSasso said Wells Fargo worked with him on the mortgage, in part because his son, who held the mortgage, is an active military member, but he’s still suffered significant financial losses. He is still paying off a loan backed by his own house that he took out for the down payment on the Jamestown house.

To rebuild in compliance with floodway regulations, he would have to elevate the house 11 feet.

“I’m not going to build a house on pylons in Boulder County, like they do in Galveston,” he said.

The waiting is hard, LoSasso said, but he has no other options.

“I took it because we were on the creek, but now the property is on the floodway,” he said. “Boulder County won’t issue a permit in a floodway. The buyout is a real blessing because otherwise that land is worth nothing.”

LoSasso said he has it easier than other Jamestown residents in an important way.

“I really feel for people who had 30 Thanksgivings in their house,” he said. “We didn’t have the emotional attachment.”

‘I used to live here’

At the Mayes’ home outside Lyons, most of the plants are gone, but the Austrian pine that was their first Christmas tree still stands on the now-relocated banks of the St. Vrain. In fact, it’s doing great.

“Must be all that water,” Terry Mayes said dryly.

And there are still maple and spruce trees that she planted.

Terry Mayes said she hopes the property can eventually be some sort of park, perhaps a place to have picnics and put kayaks in the river.

Her voice was clear and her tone unsentimental through most of her conversation, but at this idea, her voice cracked a little.

“I would love nothing more than to go sit down on that property several years from now and have a picnic lunch under the maple tree that I planted and say, ‘I used to live here,’” she said. “I loved it, and now a lot of other people can enjoy it, too.”

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or

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Mother and son from Mississippi convicted of defrauding Mobile mortgage lender – Press-Register

MOBILE, Alabama – A mother and son from central Mississippi have been convicted of mortgage fraud, according to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office.

In May 2010, Charlette Michelle Henderson and her son, Lanikein Ventrae Henderson, attempted to buy a house in Pearl, Miss., and forged a $7,500 cashier’s check in order to do so, court records said. According to a news release from the state AG’s office, Lanikein Henderson gave west Mobile lender company AFC Mortgage Corp. the forged check and a fraudulent bank statement to prove he had the funds to obtain a home loan.

Henderson told the officers at AFC that the check was a gift from his mother, Charlette Henderson. According to the release, the check was in fact for $4,500 and was actually made out to a dealer finance company for her benefit of Charlette Henderson, and it had previously been cashed.

The two pleaded guilty on Thursday in Mobile County Circuit Court to one count each of residential mortgage fraud, a class-C felony. Charlette Henderson was sentenced to 48 months, which was suspended, in lieu of five years of probation. Lanikein Henderson was sentenced to 24 months, also suspended, with a three-year probation period.

Each was ordered to pay $2,093.37 to AFC Mortgage, along with court and other costs.

“It is important for the protection of all consumers that mortgage companies receive honest and accurate information so that decisions can be based on fair and sound business practices,” Attorney General Strange said in the statement. “Those who commit residential mortgage fraud make the system less safe for all of us, and they will be prosecuted for their crimes.”

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