Monthly Archives: April 2009

Cook Co. predatory lending database protects FHA buyers

It’s turning out that first-time buyers, who obtain FHA loans, have a friend in the much-criticized Cook County Anti-Predatory Lending database. This database is an attempt to protect buyers from predatory lenders. A mortgage cannot be recorded in Cook County unless the buyer gets counseling on obtaining a mortgage or if an exception applies (thereby making the mortgage exempt from the database and making counseling not required).

So far, I have not had one Buyer go to counseling and the exceptions have always applied.

The borrower’s friend is this provision: If a mortgage has “points and fees that exceed five percent” (of the loan amount) then the mortgage must be reported in the database and the buyer must obtain counseling. Trust me, no one wants the buyer to go to counseling (including the buyer), so great efforts are now taken to keep the point and fees under five percent.

With FHA loans, there is an upfront MIP insurance premium charged on all loans that is almost 2% of the loan amount. Title companies have been including this in the “closing costs and points” so it is very easy to get to five percent in closing costs.

I have been at several closings during which the mortgage broker had to reduce the fees at closing so that the fees for FHA loans stayed under 5% of the loan amount. So in the end, the predatory database is protecting FHA buyers from excess closing costs.

Illinois 09 inheritance tax trap may be no more

The Illinois House passed, and the Senate is reviewing, a bill that would prevent estate tax from being owed on the first to die of a husband and wife with a large estate. It looks like it will pass the Senate easily.

Technically, the bill does this:

“Amends the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax. Provides that the State tax credit for the estates of persons dying after December 31, 2005 and on or before December 31, 2009 includes a reduction for qualified terminal interest property. Effective immediately.”

That’s a mouthful, but it means that there would be no estate tax due on the first death of a married couple. The history of the bill is here. I previously wrote about this problem and advised couples with large estates to amend their trusts to include a state marital trust.

I’m glad to see that they are patching up this mess before tax is paid by too many widows/widowers.

Renting a wireless card for a week







Out of town for a week in Puerto Rico with no internet access, I decided to rent a wireless card before I left. I googled “rent wireless card” a company called Rovair popped up in the paid ads.

(The overarching philosophical question is why could I not go on vacation with “just” my Iphone and why does one really need internet access 365 days per year, but being self-employed I thought it wise to be connected. And of course the kids have to check FB daily at least.)

It was easy to sign up on the site. The card was about $9 per day and it arrived by federal express well before I needed it.  It was a USB card from Verizon. Installation was easy and took about 5 minutes. I would say that the signal strength out of town was about 60% that of a dsl line. Usable, but slow.

When I was done, I fed-x’ed the card back to Rovair and that was it.The company was easy to deal with and everything worked perfectly. This is a good solution when you need short term internet access.