Recently, the New York Times has reported that the residential housing market is showing signs of life, with prices and sale activity in certain aress going up. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/business/economy/new-indications-housing-recovery-is-under-way.html. Another article reports that increasing numbers of homeowners in financial trouble have been able to get help through a refinancing program called HARP. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/realestate/mortgages-increased-interest-in-expanded-harp.html. (HAMP is the other program people have heard about. HARP is for people who are current on their mortgages)
This is good news for many, but we caution not to look at the problem piecemeal. Too many of our clients did just that, thinking that refinancing their home or taking money out of pensions or IRA’s would solve all their problems when in fact the underlying problem of too little income and too much expense or debt remained. When we help people with a mortgage modification or restructuring, we always counsel that this is only part of the solution. A close look at spending vs income, with planning for future needs (the car will need tires! I need that root canal!) is essential.
Most important is a long term change in lifestyle and priorities. Just as a crash diet fails without long term changes in eating habits, any credit fix will fail if overspending continues. We always explore all the choices our clients have with a broader long term view in mind.
We hope that all our clients will find their way to long term financial stability, and will learn to enjoy not having to worry about how to pay the next unexpected bill.