Archive for September, 2009

Final part: Answers to your housing questions

Today is the final installment of answers to your housing questions. We”d like to thank the readers who submitted them and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta for providing the answers.

Q: I financed 100 percent of the price of my home in 2007 with a conventional 30 year fixed-rate mortgage. Because I financed at 100 percent, I also pay private mortgage insurance. I enrolled in a payment plan that takes half the mortgage payment biweekly and consequently I make a 13th principal-only payment each year.

My husband and I are thankfully both still employed, but our household income will be cut by 6 percent beginning this month. Previously I called the mortgage company to see if my payment could be lowered. I asked to have the PMI removed and I was told no because I have not paid the mortgage down to 80 percent. Essentially, they didn’t offer me any relief because I was not behind on the mortgage. Are there any things in particular that a homeowner can request to …

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Power Breakfast: Banking, health care, GM, water, jobs

Two interesting bank stories appear today — one of poor regulation and the other of some marketing ingenuity.

AJC reporter Paul Donsky writes that federal regulators knew a small McDonough bank, FirstBank Financial Services, was growing too fast and taking on too much housing risk years before it failed.

But regulators took no action until the bank was in a free fall and it was too late.

In another outgrowth of the recession, Donsky writes that an increasing number of banks are looking to cut their advertising and marketing budgets in a self-reliant way.

Atlanta ad man Neal Reynolds has created a Web-based platform that offers an inexpensive way for banks to create their own ads and other marketing material. Business on the 5-year-old site,, has doubled over the past six months, he says.

About 80 lenders, most of them small, community-based banks, are now signed up to use the service. Customers pay monthly fees based on their size, starting at about …

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Part 3: Experts answer housing questions

In today’s installment, experts from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta answer the housing questions they get most often. Please return to this blog Friday for more answers to your individual questions.

Q: Is the Making Home Affordable program helping people avoid foreclosure?

A: The program has helped more than 360,000 borrowers secure trial modifications since it began last spring, according to a report by the U.S. Treasury. CCCS housing counselors are often able to help delinquent homeowners through this program, especially if the cause of their struggles is that the interest rate is sharply higher than when the loan was originated. To qualify, a borrower’s target maximum amount for their mortgage payment should be 31 percent of gross monthly income.

A real life example of how this program can work: A couple came to CCCS earlier this year after contacting a company that promised to get them a loan modification on their $175,000 mortgage. But the company …

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Power Breakfast: New lending rule, Delta, Obama

Sorry that Power Breakfast is late. I’ve had technical difficulties this morning. Here are some interesting stories.

In the AJC:

In other media:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: New lending rule, Delta, Obama »

Does your business have a 9/09/09 marketing plan?

It’s 9/09/09. Is your business or company engaged in a unique marketing effort today?

Chip Mahaney of E.W. Scripps reports that some companies are trying to take advantage of this day — the only time in this century when the date will be all 9s.

For example, a new set of remastered Beatles’ recordings will be put on sale and a new movie called “9″ comes out today.

Also, several hotels are offering special deals for 9/9/9 and beyond, Mahaney writes.

And rumors are flying around that Apple will be making a big product announcement. Some are speculating, Mahaney writes, that the Apple Corps music catalog (The Beatles label) will finally come to Apple (computer) iTunes. Others are hoping that Apple will release a new tablet computer, which functions like an iPhone, but is closer to the size of a sheet of paper.

What’s your company doing?

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Part 2: Experts answer housing questions

Last week, readers of this blog asked questions about foreclosure prevention. This week, experts at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta provide answers. This is the second installment, with another one coming tomorrow.

Q: Members of my family have been notified of a foreclosure on the family’s house by the lender. They are two months behind on their mortgage payment and now a new month (September) is due.

The monthly mortgage is $1,200, but rather than a 3 month amount (3 X $1,200= $3,600), the lender is demanding $8,400.

What can we do to save the house for the family (3 small children)? What are the options available?

A: The homeowners should call the lender and determine the reason for the discrepancy in the amount they believe they owe and the amount the lender is telling them they owe.

Very likely, the difference is either that the homeowners are further behind than they believe and/or their file has been turned over to an attorney, and substantial fees …

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Power Breakfast: Taxpayers to lose on auto bailout, Delta, AirTran, Grady, health care

Taxpayers face billions of dollars in losses on the auto bailout.

The Associated Press is reporting that a significant portion of the $81 billion in government aid provided to the auto industry will not be repaid, an oversight panel said in a report to be released Wednesday.

The Congressional Oversight Panel did not provide an estimate of the projected loss in its latest monthly report on the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. But it said most of the $23 billion initially provided to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC late last year is unlikely to be repaid.

The prospect of recovering the government’s assistance to GM and Chrysler is heavily dependent on shares of the two companies rising to unprecedented levels, the report said, according to AP. The government owns 10 percent of Chrysler and 61 percent of GM. The two companies are currently private but are expected to issue stock, in GM’s …

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Time to buy gold? Too late?

Many financial experts and investors shy away from gold, believing it to be the haven for insomniacs watching late night TV promotions. 

But with the precious metal soaring over $1,000 an ounce, is it time to revisit gold as an investment? Or is the window of opportunity already closed?

Gold prices rose above $1,000 per ounce on Tuesday to its highest point since March 2008 — suggesting investors are wary of the U.S. dollar’s weakness and expect international interest rates to remain low for some time, the Associated Press reports.

Are you tempted? Why or why not?

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Experts answer your housing questions

Today, experts at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta start to answer your housing questions. There will be another installment tomorrow.

Q: I feel for all those losing their homes to foreclosure. However, I’ve been paying rent on a house that will be foreclosed on next month and then where will I be? It’s a bad situation all over.

A: During the foreclosure crisis, many renters have faced this very difficult situation. However, renters have much better protection from eviction resulting from foreclosure than they did just a few months ago.

In May, the federal government instituted new rules which require mortgage holders of properties to honor existing leases and not evict tenants. An exception is if the purchaser of the foreclosed house intends to live in it, in which case the renter must be given at least 90 days notice.

Q: We’ve been in our home for the last three years. Due to family circumstances (an unexpected baby and very ill in-laws) our two-bedroom, …

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Getting out in front of health reform

A year before Barack Obama was elected president, John Rice and other top execs at GE started to tackle the mess we call health care.

The ground already was shifting beneath them as the federal government froze increases on payments for diagnostic imaging equipment and other key products that GE sells to hospitals.

“‘This too will pass’ was our first reaction,” Rice, one of four vice chairmen of GE, recalled during a recent interview. “Then we realized things aren’t going to get back to normal.”

As CEO of the company’s Atlanta-based Technology Infrastructure unit, which includes medical equipment and services, Rice is responsible for an operation totaling $46 billion in revenue. That’s larger than all Georgia-based companies, except for Home Depot and UPS.

While his 117,000-employee unit stretches among other industries, including aviation and transportation, GE’s health care business alone totals 50,000 workers and $17 billion in sales.

To try to get ahead of the political …

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