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Monday February 19th 2018

Housing Crisis Leads to Loan Modification And Tax-Exemption Surge

Although a large amount of national attention has lately been focused on the issue of foreclosures and defaults, another huge problem that is much less well publicized is the issue of property taxes.

When the nation’s housing crisis has risked the homes of millions of Americans, it also created a huge pile of unpaid bills- further risking homes to tax seizures, causing a multi-million dollar shortfalls for many local governments who were already struggling to make ends meet because they rely on property taxes to pay for lots of public programs.

Treasurers and tax collectors in hundreds of communities across the nation are reporting that they have observed a sharp increase in the amount of delinquent businesses and homeowners coinciding with the country’s increasing unemployment rate. They are bracing themselves for a higher level of delinquenecies and defaults than in years past.

For example, in Lee County Florida, officials are reluctantly reporting that more than 44,000 taxpayers didn’t fully pay their bills in the last fiscal year, up from just half of that two years ago. But the most important thing to remember when contemplating the fear of having to foreclose on your home or having your house repossessed is the face that tax and bank officials would prefer NOT to do these things. Neither banks nor cities (or towns, for that matter) want to end up in charge of a lot of real estate. It’s more expensive and more of a hassle than dimply being paid off, and they will go to long extents to make sure that you can pay off your loans and make your tax payments, even if that means agreeing to a loan mod or extending deadlines, or adjusting rates.

Authorities will do their best to set up repayment plans in the year or two after you have fallen behind or stopped paying. Usually within the first month or two, lenders will step in to protect their investment by agreeing to a loan modification or ordering a temporary freeze on payments. But in the end, if they don’t get paid, the lenders or tax collectors will seize homes.

Many homeowners, however, will be eligible for legitimate property-tax reductions, and almost ten times the usual number of people are applying for them. The process doesn’t necessarily require professional handling, many homeowners can do it themselves, if they feel well-prepared enough to appear before an appeals board. Those who do not feel comfortable enough should hire a property-tax consultant or an attorney, and a loan modification expert or real estate appraiser. Many of these services are available online.

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