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The most-asked personal finance question of 2010


No surprise: Four of the top five questions asked at Bills.com this year had to do with mortgages. In 2009, the San Mateo, Calif.-based web site says its most-asked questions were more diversified. They were about credit cards and 401(k)s and car payments.

But houses and mortgage debt certainly have been the topics of the year. So with a drum roll, here's the most-asked of the almost 3,400 questions posed:

Can my second mortgage lender foreclose if I stay current on my first mortgage but default on my second?

And here's an answer, from me: The second mortgage lender -- for most of us, that's going to be in the form of a home equity line of credit or HELOC - usually has the right to foreclose but may decide not to do it.

Real estate attorney Shari Olefson of Fowler White Boggs in Fort Lauderdale explains, "The reason they don’t often foreclose is because they would take title subject to the first mortgage. One problem is a default on his or her HELOC would probably be considered a default under the terms of the first mortgage – the first could then foreclose if they want to."


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Saturday, December 18, 2010
Arizona, Nevada Sue Bank of America Over Mortgage Fraud While Treasury Sits on Its Hands

The Administration’s po-faced insincerity on the mortgage crisis front is wearing thin now that other authorities are taking action against the worst abuses.

Yesterday, we had the sorry spectacle of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, under questioning by Congressional Oversight Panel commissioner Damon Silvers, maintain that the Treasury really had very little power to require banks to engage in certain types of behavior under the Treasury mortgage modification program, HAMP (see the testimony starting at 101). Silvers made it quite clear that he did not buy Geithner’s claim. If you think I am reading more into Geithner’s response than is warranted, he had a longer form discussion with a small group of bloggers last August and made a similar argument when asked why Treasury had done nothing when servicers were clearly gaming HAMP. I pointed out that there was a big difference between narrow authority and broad authority, and pointed out that Treasury had lots of leverage over banks, starting with REMIC violations. He pointedly ignored the REMIC issue.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/12/arizona-nevada-sue-bank-of-america-over-mortgage-fraud-while-treasury-sits-on-its-hands.html



Obama's latest quid-pro-quo with the republican party over a doubling down on fiscal stimulus in the form of mutual back scratching, funding by yet another trillion in debt, may have well be the start of his toxic spiral to the the bottom of political insignificance. According to Politico, "The tax deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is just the first part of a multistage drama that is likely to further divide and weaken Democrats." Next up on the path of what many see as the terminal alienation of the president from his liberal constituency, will occur during the next State of the Union Address, when the teleprompter in chief is expected to announce cuts in Social Security, according to Politico which quotes "well-placed sources." Why will the president pretend to espouse even an ounce of fiscal prudence? Because, around that time the discussion over the US debt ceiling will be in full heat: we expect total US debt to be about $14.1 trillion by the end of January: just a $200 billion buffer from the debt ceiling breach. Therefore, as Robert Kuttner of politico speculates: "The idea is to pre-empt an even more draconian set of budget cuts likely to be proposed by the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as a condition of extending the debt ceiling. This is expected to hit in April." And as Kuttner once again phrases it best: "How to put this politely? For a Democratic president, this approach is bad economics and worse politics."


http://www.zerohedge.com/article/next-stop-obamas-political-suicide-tour-announcing-social-security-cuts-during-state-union-a


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About the author
You've got the job of managing your money. No one in school taught you how. But you and I, we can teach each other, how to handle it, how to save for retirement, how to make money last, how to educate the kids, how to make a budget work. The conversations I have with my readers are fun. Money's important, but discussing it does not have to be boring.

Harriet Johnson Brackey Harriet Johnson Brackey, the personal finance columnist for the Sun Sentinel, is an award-winning business reporter. Her columns for 2008 were named "The Best in the Business," a national award chosen by her colleagues at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Brackey has worked at Business Week magazine and at USA TODAY, where she was a founder and part of the original staff of the Money section at the country's first national newspaper. After nearly 11 years there - spent covering the 1980s bull market, the insider trading scandals, the 1987 crash - Brackey left Washington, D.C., and came to The Miami Herald. She spent the next decade writing a column about personal finance that chronicled the stock market's Internet boom and bust, as well as the popular Money Makeover features.

Brackey also has done commentaries for Marketplace Money, which airs on National Public Radio and The Nightly Business Report which is broadcast on more than 250 PBS television stations nationwide. She also has been a radio guest on WLRN’s Miami Herald News.
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