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Robo-signing and buying a house
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Despite the woes of the housing market, Steve DiMarco—president of Baird & Warner Financial Services and a member of the firm's executive committee—said that the it's actually a good time to purchase a home.

"There's a recovery underfoot," he told Windy City Times.

He then talked about what he called the "robo-signing deal." ( Earlier this year, the Obama Administration and 49 state attorneys general reached a comprehensive settlement with five large mortgage servicers over claims related to their "robo-signing" foreclosure practices. Said settlement provides $25 billion to state governments and homeowners as principal reductions and cash payments, according to Forbes. )

"What's lost on the consumer population—and what's certainly lost on the government—is that the people who were victims of this robo-signing thing couldn't afford to be in their homes, stopped paying their mortgages and should've been foreclosed upon," DiMarco said. "So the government went out and sued, saying, 'You didn't dot all the i's and cross all the t's.' So the government put kind of a tax on private enterprise.

"So if you were foreclosed upon during this time of robo-signing, you're going to get $1,500. A lot of the funds will go to the state level.

"The reason I'm telling you is this: You've heard me say that prices and interest rates are low for homes. Your mortgage expert is telling you that interest rates are going up, regardless, because of this tax.

"But if you look at what's going on across the country, there's a lot of positive indication. Anecdotally, I see lots of offers for listings at Baird & Warner."

DiMarco then added some reasons why it's a prime time to buy: "Because of this huge wreck and because of foreclosures and because banks are willing to entertain short-sale offers, they're going to sell properties. Ultimately, a 10-percent decrease in home purchase price is erased by a 1-percent increase in the interest rate. So, even if the cost of borrowing money doesn't increase, the entity that's creating liquidity for the mortage marketplace is going to use taxes to their benefit.

"My point is: If someone wants the esoteric things home ownership brings—security, a place to call home, consistency—and they believe what I say about interest rates [ increasing ] , then it's the right time to buy a house."

There is a second component at work, DiMarco added: "A couple years ago, the government came up with an initiative—HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program. [ This program is for those not behind on mortgage payments but who have been unable to get traditional refinancing because the values of their homes have declined. ] The government said, 'Let's give [ these homeowners ] the chance to lower the interest rates. If we don't, they're going to hand in the keys and perpetuate the problem we already have.'"

DiMarco said that people should not be affected by negative headlines. "I would tell my son—if he were of age— [ to buy ] . ... The pace of home sales and volume at brokerages are up. I really want the readers to [ heed this ] call to action."

Steve can be reached at .

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