October 11, 2011

Weigh in on a reader's housing dilemma

Pete writes in with a too-common housing dilemma:

Our household income has been hammered by 50% during the recession due to job loss/changes. We no longer can afford our mortgage and have our house up for sale. Obviously it has been sitting but is priced right according to our agent (reduced twice). If we sell at current listing we will be lucky to walk away with 10 – 20K proceeds. This represents a loss of $170k in down-payment and equity. HUGE loss!

Our 401k is now the means by which we are able to keep our mortgage current while waiting to sell. Our fear is we will burn up all savings trying to maintain credit. Should we stop using 401K money to make payment and let our credit go – but preserve what little savings we have left or chew up savings to maintain credit rating? There is a real possibility of using up all savings and still having credit ruined by going late/or default on mortgage in 2012.

What would you do?

If you've been in a similar situation, what did you do -- and did you regret it?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Help wanted

November 13, 2010

Options for an underwater homeowner

An Annapolis homeowner writes in with a question that some of you are probably pondering yourselves:

We bought a house in March 2007 - towards the end of the boom. Anyway, the value of our home has decreased by about 23% on a good day and as low as 45% according to our bank (not the mortgage holder).

Right now, we do not need to sell our home however my husband's career moves us around quite a bit. Where can we go for information to know what our options are in the event we need to sell before the value goes back up? We were thinking of a real estate attorney but are a little nervous with all the people trying to take advantage of others in a bad situation.

We want to be ahead of the game as much as we can so we are starting now instead of "too late"!

Suggestions? Personal experiences?

I pointed her toward the network of "low bono" attorneys with the nonprofit Civil Justice in Baltimore as one possible starting point, but I thought you all might have good ideas about how underwater borrowers might plan for the future.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Help wanted, Underwater

January 25, 2010

Relocating resident asks for "it" place to live

Wonk reader Anthony C. would like you to tell him where to go. In a residential sense, that is.

"I am close to accepting a lucrative employment offer in Baltimore," he writes in a comment. "I currently live in West Palm Beach, Florida. My wife and I are an under 40 professional couple. We want to know where the hottest and best spot to live is. Where are all the high end restaurants, shopping, movie theaters, etc. What is the can't miss area to live in up there? Thanks!"

Where would you live if money were no (or little) object?

Addendum: Just so this post doesn't devolve into advertisements, stick to recommending neighborhoods/areas rather than specific properties. (So far, so good. Thanks.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 5:10 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Help wanted
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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