Author: Mary Balash

Book Review: The Hidden Power of Your Customers

Focusing on customer retention, The Hidden Power of Your Customers outlines author Becky Carroll’s methods used to create business growth through cultivating existing customers. As founder of Petra Consulting Group, Community Manager of Verizon and panelist at numerous industry conferences, Carroll comes from an esteemed business pedigree grounded in practical experience. Carroll also has a hand in academics, teaching social media at UC San Diego with an emphasis on customer experience and marketing. Her clients consist of multiple Fortune 100 companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Ford, as well as smaller businesses and nonprofits. Sectioned into four main parts, The Hidden...

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No general duty owed to holder of option to purchase

Facts: A seller held eight parcels of land, two of which were sold to a buyer. The buyer also had the option to purchase the remaining six parcels of land within two years. During these two years, the seller defaulted on a loan secured by the parcels subject to the buyer’s option to purchase. Under the loan workout agreement with the seller’s lender, the lender was granted an option to purchase the parcels if the buyer did not timely exercise his options. Claim: The buyer sought money damages from the seller’s real estate agent, claiming he breached his general...

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Correct interest tax deduction determined by homeowner’s filing status

Facts: A married homeowner obtained a $1 million mortgage to finance the purchase of his principal residence. The homeowner paid for the mortgage individually. The homeowner filed his tax returns with his filing status listed as “married filing separately” and deducted the interest paid on the entire $1 million mortgage. Claim: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claimed the homeowner was limited to a standard deduction for the interest paid on $550,000 of the mortgage debt, since the homeowner filed his taxes as married filing separately. Counter claim: The homeowner claimed he was eligible for a deduction of the interest paid on the full amount of the mortgage since he paid for the entire mortgage with his own funds. Holding: A California court of appeals held the homeowner was not eligible for a deduction on the interest of the full amount of his mortgage, since the tax code only allows a deduction for interest paid on $550,000 of the mortgage when filing taxes as a married couple filing separately. [Faina Bronstein v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (May17, 2012) 138 T.C. 21] Editor’s note— The homeowner was also held liable for an accuracy-related penalty due to his negligence when...

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Will foreclosure review provide relief for borrowers?

Updated July, 2012 Borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure may be eligible for money or other remedy if the foreclosure was made out of error or misrepresentation by mortgage servicers. In response to complaints made by borrowers and consumer advocates regarding deceitful and erroneous foreclosure practices, federal banking regulators have been conducting an independent review to investigate any errors that may have been made by mortgage servicers during foreclosure processes. Borrowers qualify for foreclosure review if they meet all of the following criteria: the borrower’s primary residence was the property securing the loan; the mortgage was in the process of foreclosure (initiated, pending or completed) at any time between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010; and the mortgage loan was serviced by one of the participating mortgage servicers. For a complete list of applicable mortgage servicers, click here. Requests for reviews made by eligible borrowers currently going through the foreclosure process will receive priority attention, and may prevent foreclosure. Also eligible for relief are borrowers who entered a payment plan or modification program, borrowers who sold their home in a short sale and borrowers whose homes were slated for foreclosure but were able to become current on payments and avoid foreclosure. Reviews will consider various errors potentially made during the foreclosure process, including whether the mortgage balance was listed incorrectly on mortgage statements and whether the mortgage...

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Negative equity plague prolongs recovery

Large numbers of underwater homeowners in California are hampering a widespread economic recovery, per Zillow. Now, in 10% of Southern California cities, one out of five homeowners with a mortgage owes double the value of their home. This ratio varies by location, as nearly one in three homeowners with a mortgage in Los Angeles County and greater than one in two borrowers in the Inland Empire owe more on a home loan than their property is worth. Data indicates that cities furthest from major job centers are the most underwater, with over 60% of underwater loans being from areas in the high desert, such as Palmdale and Lancaster, as well as Inland Empire locations, including Hemet and San Bernardino. Such high ratios of underwater homes originally led experts to predict that large numbers of homeowners would walk away from their homes in order to prevent paying more than properties are worth. This prediction has not yet been realized, however, as data shows that those borrowers with higher initial down payments on homes were less likely to abandon properties, even if they could not afford to sell their homes to pay off their mortgages. Still, Zillow predicts strong signs of an emerging recovery in sales growth for 2012, while noting that an economic recovery will continue to be complex. An increased confidence in economic improvement would be beneficial to real...

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Zestimates are great conversation starters with sellers and buyers. Zillow has done more for our bottom line than NAR ever has or will. Don’t fight the current of the river, learn to run with it. Disruption is inevitable in any industry that is fragmented or inefficient. Granted, it does feel like armchair experts and platforms are plentiful in real estate these days, but when the tide rolls out we will see the value proposition of the truest professionals in this industry shine once again.

Justin Bonney, on Zillow’s impact on the real estate industry

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