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The Dallas real estate community was out in force to greet Sir Richard ... Branson sold Virgin America to Air Alaska last April. Still, we were told that to remain competitive in our city’s increasingly room-rich hotel marketplace, travelers who fly ...


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Published: Sept 25, 2009 8:01 a.mET Share .st0{fill:#FFFFFF;} .st1{fill:#E12828;} .st2{fill:#FAEAEA;enable-background:new ;} .st3{fill:#FAD4D4;enable-background:new ;} Here's what should happen when you pay off your mortgage window.videoDomain = 'https://video-api.wsj.com'; By LewSichelman WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Question: Can you write an article on what takes place when a mortgage loan is paid off? A lot of baby boomers may be interestedI had a $5,000 balance when my loan was transferred and it was paid off in JuneAll I received from the mortgage company was a letter saying that the loan was paid off and that the letter served as proof of that factShouldn't a deed or title be exchanged and should it have to be recorded with the county in which you reside? Answer: Here's what should happen, and I stress the word "should" because who knows what has been lost in the transfer of the mortgage from one lender to another -- and perhaps even another lender you don't know about: When a loan is paid in full, the lender should return your original mortgage and note, along with a document known as a "Satisfaction of Mortgage," or as the lawyers like to call it, the "satisfaction piece." This document is much like the notice auto dealers stamp on car titles when your car loan is paid off, except that whereas the lender's rubber-stamp statement is proof enough for the DMV that the lien has been satisfied, a mortgage satisfaction is a legal document that should be filed at the county courthouse Otherwise, title companies will be unable to verify that you own your place free-and-clearAnd if they can't do that, they won't issue a clear title when you try to sell the jointThat may seem like the buyer's problem, but it's yours tooIn many cases, subsequent lenders won't close if there is a quirk in the titleConsequently, your sale can be held up for as long as it takes to clear the air, and that can take quite a whileIn some cases, according to title attorneys, sellers have actually had to sue their lenders to prove that they've paid in fullAnd every once in a while the original lender is no longer in business so the verification is doubly complicatedThe next step is to make sure the satisfaction has been filed with the recorder's officeSome lenders file the notice on behalf of their borrowers, but others leave that up to youIf yours is in the do-it-yourself category, hand-carry the satisfaction notice to the recorder's office -- in some jurisdictions, that's the registrar of deeds -- so it can be recorded for posterityAnd whether the lender presents the satisfaction or you do, make sure to get back the original document with the filing date and time stamped and noted on itI don't know what happened along the way in your case, but the bottom line is to be absolutely sure the recorder's office in your town has it on file that there is no longer a mortgage lien against your property Q: I am wondering if the $8,000 tax credit applies for the purchase of a two-to-four unit dwelling, where a buyer (who meets all of the qualifying criteria) moves in one of the units as his primary residence and rents the others A: Yes, you may qualify for the credit for the dwelling unit that you use as your principal residenceBut determining the exact amount is a little tricky because you must allocate the purchase price between all the unitsYou cannot use the entire purchase price of the building to determine the amount of the creditSince the credit is 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000, the 10% applies to the prorated share of your residenceFor example, if a first-time buyer lives in one unit in a four-unit building which cost $400,000, then the cost of the owner's unit for purposes of the tax credit is $100,000Ten percent of that is $10,000, which is above the maximum, so the claim is only an $8,000 credit If the building cost just $200,000, though, the cost of one unit would be considered to be $50,000, and the credit would be only $5,000Feedback John Zolidis of the Buckingham Research Group in New York City thinks I created confusion regarding the first-time home buyer tax credit -- as opposed to clearing it up -- because I failed to mention that there is an income limit on claiming the write-offPerhaps so, but I cannot repeat the same information over and over and over againStill, since the limit is important, here's a brief explanation: Home buyers who file as single or head-of-household taxpayers can claim the full $8,000 credit if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $75,000For married couples filing a joint return, the income limit doubles to $150,000Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $75,000 and $95,000 are eligible to receive a partial first-time home buyer tax creditMarried couples who earn between $150,000 and $170,000 are eligible to receive a partial first-time home buyer tax creditThe credit is not available for single taxpayers whose MAGI is greater than $95,000 and married couples with a MAGI that exceeds $170,000For a more detailed discussion, I suggest readers go to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com and scroll through the frequently asked questions sectionNationally syndicated columnist Lew Sichelman has been covering the housing market for more than 35 yearsBecause of the volume of mail he receives, he cannot answer individual questions, nor can all questions be answered in this spaceEmail lsichelman@aol.com More from MarketWatch More Coverage What America’s gun fanatics won’t tell you Damn the torpedoes — what could take the S&P 500 to 3,000 2 sexy ways to get paid to save var SA = SA || []; 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Mortgage Rates Powered by This advertisement is provided by Bankrate, which compiles rate data from more than 4,800 financial institutionsBankrate is paid by financial institutions whenever users click on display advertisements or on rate table listings enhanced with features like logos, navigation links, and toll free numbersDow Jones receives a share of these revenues when users click on a paid placement. Other NewsFrom Our Partners (!) Found: Financial Advisors in Your Neighborhood SmartAsset.com Don't Settle for 0.01% on Your Savings Interest - Earn up to 1.50% SmartAsset.com This Site Finds the Top 3 Financial Advisors Near You SmartAsset.com This Free Mortgage Calculator Makes Home Buying a Breeze SmartAsset.com These Banks Offer Over 140x what the Big Banks Offer on Your Savings SmartAsset.com Data Provided By Today's Interest Rates Mortgage Equity Savings Auto Credit Cards 30 yr fixed Jumbo 4.52% 30 yr fixed 4.33% 15 yr fixed 3.77% 10 yr fixed 3.66% 30 yr fixed refi 4.3% 15 yr fixed refi 3.74% 5/1 ARM 4.18% 5/1 ARM refi 4.12% National averages from Bankrate.com $30K HELOC 3.46% $50K HELOC 3.57% $75K HELOC 3.46% $100K HELOC 3.57% $30K Home Equity Loan 5.14% $50K Home Equity Loan 4.84% $75K Home Equity Loan 4.84% $100K Home Equity Loan 4.72% National averages from Bankrate.com 5 yr CD 1.68% 2 yr CD 1.06% 1 yr CD 0.93% MMA $10K+ 0.3% MMA $50K+ 0.46% MMA Savings 0.36% MMA Savings Jumbo 0.53% National averages from Bankrate.com 60 Mo Used Car 4.23% 48 Mo Used Car 4.29% 36 Mo Used Car 4.28% 72 Mo New Car 3.78% 60 Mo New Car 3.99% 48 Mo New Car 3.87% 60 Mo Auto Refi 2.98% 36 Mo Auto Refi 2.58% National averages from Bankrate.com AvgAPR Last Week 6 Months Low Interest 13.48% 13.42% 12.89% Business 14.32% 14.30% 13.68% Balance Transfer 15.87% 15.84% 15.38% Student 16.14% 16.14% 15.70% Airline 16.59% 16.59% 16.07% Reward 16.75% 16.72% 16.24% Cash Back 16.90% 16.90% 16.40% Instant Approval 18.97% 18.97% 18.60% Bad Credit 23.74% 23.74% 23.46% Source: CreditCards.com $(function () { if (typeof dianomiUnitCallback !== 'undefined') { var dianomiCallback = new dianomiUnitCallback('articlerightrail', 2583, 'dianomiRightRail', ', '); dianomiCallback.initialize('dianomiRightRail'); } }); $(function() { if (window.MutationObserver) { // arrive breaks if MutationObserver not supported by browser $("#dianomiRightRail").arrive(".dianomiContent", function () { $("#dianomiRightRail").unbindArrive(); $("#dianomiRightRail").trigger("rendered"); }); } else { // TODO ~ remove; listening to this event causes performance problems $("#dianomiRightRail").on('DOMNodeInserted', function () { $("#dianomiRightRail").off('DOMNodeInserted'); $("#dianomiRightRail").trigger('rendered'); }); } }); We Want to Hear from You Join the conversation Comment (function () { var isSSL = 'https:' == document.location.protocol; window.nativeAdsContext = { appId: "CFEAB5E0AC88686BA597A26FB4B54555349E3478", apikey: "ARAPgnyc0MRHNRr40%2b9oSrfSwlZG5%2bAfMeBkG2%2fh9AatBHngxiuMRHpQ%2bFJ%2fxfgc2iE%3d", publisherId: "204461", publisherName: "MarketWatch", tracingtag: "mw-tracingtag", msNativeAdsScriptLoc: "//h6.msn.com/nativeads/ms-nativeads.min.js", pageCategory: "money", pageType: "articles", bingTrafficPercent: "100" }; window.bingNACallBackToLoadOtherScript = function() { window.medianet_width = "600"; window.medianet_height = "250"; window.medianet_crid = "305312222"; window.medianet_versionId = "111299"; var mnSrc = (isSSL ? 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