HGTV Home Town – A Mississippi Review

On Sunday, January 24 on HGTV, a pilot for a new series was debuted. The name of the show is Home Town. I am excited about Home Town because it takes place in Laurel, Mississippi, which is 2 ½ hours from where I live.

The show aired at 11:00 am on Sunday, which meant that the majority of the population in Mississippi was in church. I set my DVR and started watching the minute I was home from attending the University Baptist Church in Starkville, Mississippi.

In this article, I share general information about Home Town, what I liked about the show and what I questioned about the show. (Note that I am not saying I didn’t like certain aspects of the show. Rather, I’m questioning why something was done a certain way.)

About the Show (from HGTV website)

Erin and Ben Napier love their small hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, especially the old historical houses. Using found materials and old textiles; they’re keeping the character of these classic homes, but giving them modern and affordable updates. From Erin’s imaginative hand sketches to Ben’s custom handiwork, this couple is bringing Laurel’s homes back to life and making sure their small town’s future is as bright as its past.

HGTV Home Town: A Mississippi Review

7 things I liked most about the show Home Town.

The Napiers are a friendly couple who are doing good in small town Mississippi. Erin grew up in Laurel and met Ben at college. Erin and ­­Ben have a great on-camera presence and clearly care about their town. They are cute together and work well in front of the cameras.

1- Hand Drawings

During real estate day, Erin showed hand drawings of potential renovations for the house. I really liked this because the buying couple didn’t have to envision the renovations, they could actually see it! The audience could see her drawings on the screen too with pastel coloring. Very cool.

2- Murals on the Side of Buildings

The murals that Erin designed for the city of Laurel were outstanding. It was fun seeing a time lapse of the mural painted on the building that is next to the Amtrak train tracks. Erin is very talented, and the designs truly enhanced the buildings.

3- Memorable Quotes

Welcome to Laurel, y’all,” said Erin when referencing her murals.

Safety 1st America,” said, Ben, when he was removing the brick from the front porch.

Good taste doesn’t have to cost a lot of money” when talking about the pine flooring on the 2nd floor.

4- Blue Chevy Truck

Instead of the typical SUV that is seen on several home shows, the Napiers drove an old blue Chevy truck. It was charming and wouldn’t be a far stretch to see on the road in small town Mississippi. My only concern is that most people don’t drive trucks without air conditioning!

5- Keeping it Local

During the show, the Napiers talked about helping the community one house and one couple at a time. Plus, they also used local workers for the home renovations and even shopped locally for the interior decorating.


“I want to build something that tells a story,” said Ben as he was building the table. The wood is from the buyers great grandfather’s (I think) home and made a table and kitchen island from the wood. Ben’s goal was for the buyer to cry because of what the table meant- and he succeeded! It was so sweet.

7- Sidewalks

Absolutely LOVED that the Napiers walked on the sidewalks in the historic part of town. The visual of small-town Mississippi with the magnolia trees was perfect. Instead of the hustle and bustle of a large metropolis, I am glad that Home Town is about a different side of Americana – the small town.

Things I Question

I LOVED the show and wanted more!The 3 things that I question are not derogatory or negative. Rather, I’m questioning why something happened. Here goes –

1- Sewing on the Porch

It’s hot in Mississippi, especially in May and June. The humidity alone would keep you indoors when sewing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone sew on a porch. If a large space were needed, we would bring out the pads for the large formal dining table and sew there. My grandmother who lived in a 3 room house would clear­ out 1 room and hang a quilting frame in that 1 room to quilt. The quilting frame took up the entire room. That was 35 years ago, and I think she had a window air condition unit at the time.

2- Entertaining on the Porch

Full disclosure – I don’t understand outdoor summer weddings in Mississippi. Therefore, the idea of having a party outside on a porch is not a personally appealing option to me. Do people really entertain on the front porch? Maybe if I had a historic house, I might do that. But, I’ve never been to a gathering on the porch, except 35- 40 years ago. At my grandmother’s (35 – 40 years ago), we did sit on the porch and under the tree because her 3 room house was too small to fit the entire family. Today, we would probably gather in one of our larger homes.

3- Diversity

Because I live in Mississippi, I feel comfortable speaking about this issue. The only African-American that I remember seeing in the show was the Mayor. Anyone who has grown up in Mississippi will have friends of other races, will employ people of other races and will see other races when shopping locally. I would have thought that the producers would have at least had a few African American friends on the porch at the end of the renovation.

Overall, I thought Home Town was a hit! Congratulations to Erin and Ben Napier in Laurel, Mississippi for an excellent pilot show. I hope that HGTV picks up the show, and we will see lots more of Erin and Ben.

Source by Kathleen C Olivieri

Top 10 Must Have Home Decor

Home decoration concept is revolutionizing! The beauty of home may be accentuated with pretty add-ons. Your preferences plays vital role in choosing home decorator collection for your house, the practical approach is always to look out for the living space available and how you would like to make use of it. Space in your home should need to be taken into account while selecting décor. Use the available space wisely and creatively…With a modest amount of creative imagination and novelty it is possible to completely change the look and feel of your house. Just a little deviation from common colorings and textured walls bring amazing changes to interiors. This could also allow you to show off your spirits geared up to any special occasion.

As soon as you’ve selected a design and style, home decorating stores, traditional outlets or local flea markets will be a fantastic starting point for home decoration items. Home decoration stores are flooded with variety of high end house hold goods. With the ease of internet, everything you need to do is to browse through a number of products offered and pick one which suits your needs. In the following paragraphs we will discover the top ten home decor:

1. Photoframes – Everyone wants to keep their most memorable moment’s picture clicked and adorned in a beautiful picture frame. Hunt for exclusive photo frames with beveled glass, unconventional patterns, or clay fruity one for kid’s room.

2. Flower vase – This can be very important part of your drawing room or living room or even terracotta vase for the garden.

3. Wall clocks – Wall clocks do more than telling time to your décor. Pendulum clock and Cuckoo watches gives antique feel to the room.

4. Wall hangings – Wide range of wall hangings, made of natural fiber- jute; rugs or wall carpets to quilts to tapestry wall hangings and wooden quotation planks.

5. Metal figurines – Brass or white metal idols of gods, statue of Venus too are nice decorative items.

6. Religious symbols – Spiritual symbols owe due reverence. Om and Swastik are the common hangings.

7. Decorative mirrors – Jumbo mughal painting mirror gives traditional Indian touch to your dressing room.

8. Lighting fixtures – Lights are vital in decoration. It may hide flaws or highlight them if not used aesthetically.

9. Carpet and Rugs – Colorful silk wall carpets or a neutral color rug increase the beauty of wall.

10. Furnishings – Furniture need not necessarily be of wood…Against this trend now get a wrought iron, pipe, cane furniture to save space.

Many home decorating stores or home décor boutiques have mushroomed across the country and qualified interior decorator there readily assist you in turning your abode into a godly place. They understand mechanics of designing, thus are of great help.

Many retail stores have gone online; their round the customer helpline will be available any time of the day. Online shopping lets you browse the every detail of the product and then compare prices on other websites too before buying. Look out for bargains and save some bucks…on home decor stores online.

Source by Shivani Mathur

How to Convince Homeowners to Renovate Their Basement

If you have a basement, would you go there alone at night during a full moon on a Halloween night that falls on a Friday the 13? If you do, then you must be a very brave person because most people wouldn’t.

That is because most of the time, basements are used to store junk furniture, old clothes and other items, which already belong to the trash heap. Also, basements are often dark and damp and a favorite breeding ground of rats and cockroaches.

However, if you imagine your basement without the cockroaches and rats and the rotting junks you put in there, you would only see a premium space that you can use as a game room, a media room, a home office, or a new bedroom for one of your kids instead of being wasted. That is why, with just a little prodding, you can convince them to convert their basement into a useful space.

Here is how you do it:

1. Show them the magic.

Most people will find it hard to believe that their basements can become beautiful, livable places. But if you know 3D rendering, you can get a picture of a creepy basement and use 3D rendering to turn it into a digital 5-star room. Then you can show people the before and after photo. This will be like magic in their eyes and they will easily be convinced to make you give their basements a makeover.

2. Show them the savings.

People love savings. Tell them how they can save lots of money and they will be all ears to your suggestions. Converting a basement can indeed save family a lot of money. For example, if they turn their basements into a movie or media room, they will not have to pay a lot to enjoy a movie. A gaming room will keep kids from wasting money on arcade places. If they convert their basements into a drinking lounge, then they save money that they would have to use to pay for transportation.

3. Show them the health benefits.

Rats and cockroaches all love to propagate in the dark, damp atmosphere of basements. There is another thing they love-making people sick. Rats and roaches breed in the basement and grow up to wreak havoc in people’s homes. They enter the house and walk over food, furniture, clothes and other items that children use, leaving behind bacterial and germs. Many people become sick because of roach and rat infestation. By converting the basement, the breeding grounds of these scary animals are gone.

Designing a basement renovation is easy, but convincing homeowners to convert their basement into useful space may need some strategy. Use the tips above to persuade the homeowner to convert the basement into a useful space.

Source by Michelle Lamoste

Never Show Your Weakness – Keeping Eye Contact

LOOKING EYE TO EYE                 

There is a lot of emphasis on eye contact during interactions with people. But the advice given is often mechanical with an instruction booklet.

The importance of eye contact is evident when you are with somebody who is wearing sunglasses. It feels awkward and uncomfortable when you cannot see their eyes.

The eyes are an instinctive focal point. And we can usually define a person’s character by their eyes. For example when you look at a killers photograph (Mira Hindley and Ian Brady- prime examples) you get the feeling of “evilness” just by their eyes.

Not only is eye contact important, but also NOT giving eye contact. Somebody can not give you eye contact because of negative emotions like sadness, boredom or depression. It can also be a sign of shame or guilt. So either way you slice it- the eyes convey a lot, whether you give it or whether you don’t.  

And women go on eyes and eye contact for attractiveness in a man. I’ve never asked a girl how they judge a guy by his eyes, but apparently they do. Maybe it could be a result of the eye contact a guy gives? Like when he looks into her eyes, he’s making her feel weak and vulnerable, depending on his hidden intentions anyway.

In any case, we know eyes are important and we need to be able to look at them. In the same respect, people need to see OUR eyes so they feel they can trust you and see you in your entirety.

Try this…

Walk out along the street and hold eye contact with people as you go about your day. People will be walking past and have their heads down, but try it.

Uncomfortable? Feel a pressure to look away?

Now try it wearing sunglasses.

How much easier is trying to get eye contact when you are behind sunglasses? Does it feel a bit more comfortable?

The sunglasses are like a mask. It’s a hell of a lot easier to try looking people in the eye because you know they cannot do the same to you. If you want a spiritually sexual innuendo, they cannot penetrate your soul.

It’s amazing how just the simple act of covering your eyes can allow you to feel a bit more powerful and confident.

So what does this tell you?

Eye contact is easy when we feel we are hidden from view. But why would we hide? Or why would we divert our eyes from sustained eye contact?

Simple- because we feel vulnerable and unconfident. We feel people can know everything about us. On the other hand they are a means to avoid being challenging. When somebody gets into a rage and they want to attack, they often give no eye contact before they lash out. They don’t want to give away any signals.

So ask yourself what you are communicating when you avoid contact.

1) You are vulnerable and low in status.

2) You feel inferior to the other person so you don’t want to appear challenging or draw attention.

3) Both of the above suggest little or no confidence.


Another point is the fear initiating something. A beautiful girl has just walked into the room. Now you can look at her for hours if you wanted to. That is- until she stops in conversation and looks your way.

“Busted! ABORT!”

You know that if you held eye contact you would have to go and do something. You would have to initiate. And on top of that, you feel vulnerable that you have put your interest out there. She knows you find her stunning to admire, but the thought of actually having a conversation with this fear gets you nervous. Once again, it comes down to feeling inferior and not wanting to initiate anything.

I try to avoid any eye contact, cuz if I do that then it opens the door for conversation like I want that – Eminem


Okay, so it is not a mechanical process. It is done automatically, in the same way that diverting your eyes is automatic. It all stems from how you feel about yourself, because that is what you unconsciously communicate.

If you did not feel inferior with the gorgeous girl across from you, you would gladly welcome her eyes coming in your direction. You would see that as a green light to initiate.

When you feel firm about a decision and you feel strongly about it, then you would not care about giving looking somebody in the eye if they disagree with you. You wouldn’t see it as a challenge to shy away from.

So the first obvious step for being comfortable with looking somebody in their eyes is to desensitise yourself to it. By that I mean do the walking down the street thing, and give eye contact to as many people as you can.

However, this is where your fear of ‘what could happen next’ might trigger off. You might think to yourself, “Shit. This could actually lead to a conversation. What do I do then?!”, and because of that you divert your eyes to avoid leading into it.

You’ve got to ask yourself where your discomfort comes from. Are you feeling vulnerable and unconfident about yourself? Or are you fearing the consequences- like conversation, initiating something, a guy squaring up to you etc?

There would be no point in going out and giving eye contact unless you feel confident and secure about what could happen next.

Remember, you use your eyes to communicate non-verbally. It is an act of subliminally initiating something with somebody else. And only the people who feel confident and powerful within themselves can naturally give it.

Source by Sean Adams

What Is This Blue Lumber?

Sunday night I was sitting around watching the Simpsons, my favorite TV show when I get a call from my dad. He was watching that show Extreme Home Makeover and he notice that they where building the house out of blue lumber. He asked me “Why is this lumber blue?” Confused, I was like “blue lumber?” I asked him did it look blue or was it blue, and he told me it was BLUE, the whole house. Not knowing what he was talking about I did some research, on this blue wood he was talking about, and came across some interesting facts on it.

For Starters the wood is actually called Bluwood. Bluwood is a two part, preconstruction wood protection system. The lumber has a film on it that helps prevent moister from seaping into the wood and also protects against fungus and wood eating insects.

Any lumber can be treated. The film can be applied to any type of lumber from a 2×4 to OSB (Oriented strand board). That means sub floor, trusses and even beams can have this film put on it. It comes to the job site pre treated and can be sawed, nailed, and painted. Since the wood is pretreated it also protects the lumber while it sites outside in the elements while the house is being built unprotected (up to 6 months).

Termites. This lumber uses an Insecticidal and a fungicidal that prevents termites and fungus from attacking the wood and destroying is structural properties. The film attaches to the fibers that the termites like to eat, thus preventing them from eating it.

The system. The first part of the two part system is the vapor barrier. The wood is engulfed in a film that creates a vapor barrier on the wood. This vapor barrier controls the absorption properties of the wood not allowing the it to absorb moisture, but I also allows the wood to breath, letting the moister within it escape. Kind of like a Tyvek Home Wrap. The second part of the system is a proven DOT insecticide and fungicide.

How it works. The two part system is applied to all six sides of the lumber which they call the infusion process. Once the infusion process is over this prevents any moister from absorbing into the wood but allowing moister to escape from the wood. Then over time the “infusion ingredients” continue to migrate below the surface of the wood so in theory the inside of the wood is treated. I never used the wood so I don’t really know. I guess that when you cut the wood it is still protected. Through this process the ingredients bind to the wood at a cellular level

Less cupping splitting and curling. Since the wood has this vapor barrier on it, the film controls the rate at which the moister in the wood escapes. Preventing the wood from cupping, splitting, and/or curling, which we find more often today then before because of the quick milling process. So no more going to a large home improvement store and shifting through a stack of 2×4s to find the 2 that you need that are straight.

Source by David Shifflett

Property Tax – Pros and Cons

Property tax can be the fairest and at the same time the not so fair tax collected by municipalities.

Two of the determining factors of how it can affect what an individual will pay for this type of tax are where you live and a person’s economic condition.

Even though we all can appreciate the good points of owning a home vs. renting, when it comes to property tax, renting is by far the better option. States will collect property tax on the following:

Any additions to the property such as improvements to the land

Land itself

Any structures that are not permanent to the property

The assessment is commonly made by an exclusive county tax collector in each state. An individual’s property and land will be appraised of its value and subsequently mailed as a tax payment notice. This usually is paid through a homeowner’s escrow amount stated on their mortgage.

Many times this can negatively affect a property or land owner as the taxes in a specific state can sometimes double or triple in amount and leave the homeowner unable to afford to pay their taxes, forcing them to sell their property or land.

People on a fixed income such as Senior citizens who have retired, can be greatly affected by the increase of property tax. The value of their homes increase, but at the same time they find themselves unable to pay their taxes because of their reduced income. Unfortunately, property tax doesn’t allow much wiggle room in the event of acts of nature or personal tragedy.

Although 2.3 seems to be the average percentage for property tax, it varies greatly from state to state, making it seem highly unfair for certain states such as New Hampshire, as it is a high 4.9 percent.

It also seem unfair when states like Alabama pay 1.3 percent and yet just a little distance away in neighboring Georgia would be required to pay 2.6 percent, then even more in Florida at a rate of 3.1 percent.

So who determines how the money generated from this income is spent or in some cases wasted? The state legislatures will determine this along with the decision to increase or decrease property tax and how frequent it is collected.

Even though property tax can absolutely help states with income,the amount of property tax to be paid can be a determining factor in one’s decision where to reside to achieve the American Dream of land or home ownership.

Source by Blayne Penton

Management and Leadership Value Realization – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Picture two fires ablaze in your beloved community. Different individuals represent each building with equally good plans on how to stop the fire. One steps forward reminding the people that his historic site has a valuable legacy to all, while the other structure is merely an empty warehouse. He calls out with hands held high for everyone to grab their buckets and form a line, chanting cheers to their accomplishments. The other person gets out their blow horn barking out orders to get going, demanding results or else, “I’ll hit you with my cane.”

Where would you focus your efforts? To whom would you give your highest level of efforts? People who are inspired to do their best for a larger purpose bring substantially more than lemmings “going through the motions” in fear of disciplinary action.

This story simply illustrates the value of both leadership and management and why they must co-exist to have truly great accomplishments. You need to simultaneously have a larger perspective and be able to clearly define the steps to get where you need to go. A higher vantage point benefits one greatly with vision and knowledge, but at the same time, one cannot do what one cannot define.

Last week, we held a Luminary Board meeting with some of the top C-Level minds in our area. The discussion was around how to make good managers better, of course, and the constant betterment of the approach to make that a reality. A resonating point was brought to light when a brilliant mind surmised, “An ‘A’ player to me is not just a manager but a leader.” What a difference.

To gain further perspective, here is a quick checklist to help define those differences between managers and leaders:


Manage other’s activities……Motivate others to achieve

Make plans……Promote vision

Formal authority dictated……Given authority through influence

Task focused……Achievement focused

Risk averse……Risk seeking


Have subordinates……Have followers


Focus on things……Focus on people

Create systems……Create an environment

Short-term approach……Long-term approach


Administers and tracks change…….Maintains continual improvement

Acquired rewards……Intrinsic rewards

All about control……All about trust

The fact is, the most effective leaders have both characteristics. But managers without leadership traits simply will not become true leaders. What they can do is focus their efforts around ongoing improvements that increase their performance to help close the gap.

It has been said…Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things. Utopia exists when we are doing the right things right.

Source by Shiloh Kelly

Cost to Build – Surprise! Hidden Costs to Improve Land Prior to Building Your Home

It’s easy to overlook things when preparing to build a home. The cost of land improvements (utilities) is a good example of that. Land owners are often shocked to find out how much money is needed just to ready their lot for building. Land purchasers should take stock.


Buying a parcel of land to build on requires a bit of homework to avoid unnecessary or unwanted fees. Sometimes it can still be a shot in the dark.


2000 and Counting …


Some two years ago I had people in my office who had a dilemma. They had spent $85,000 for their parcel of land to build on and it didn’t have any access to utilities. Okay, not the end of the world in most cases but, imagine this: they had already drilled a 2000 foot well and still no water!


They knew the area was hit and miss as far as well depths but they figured they would chance it. How would that affect you? Probably not your best strategy unless you’re willing to pay the extra money to gain other advantages that you may greatly value.


Water, Power & Sewer


Livability and resale values are dependent on the three main services of water, power, and sewer. They can be provided by the local government or they can be independently accessed.


It’s easy to figure the cost when provided by the local government agencies and rather nebulous when you go looking for them yourself! And, as far as an overall homebuilding budget goes, you can’t afford to estimate this cost too low. You can easily spend upwards of 5-10% (or more!) of your building budget on self-provided utilities.


Let’s break it down:

  • Water: What would you do in the above scenario? Drill deeper? Drill another well? Sell the lot? Who would buy it now? Certainly a situation you would want to avoid.
  • Power: Another example came with clients who ended up having to spend $80,000 just to bring in power and power poles to their land. This was way more than they imagined when they purchased the land years before.
  • Sewer: If your land is not on the city sewage system you will need to install a septic system. Normally this is not too big of a problem but in certain areas, the system needs to be specifically engineered due to soil percolation problems. This can increase the usual cost by five times or more!

Fore-warned is Fore-armed


No one likes to be the barer of bad news but it is critical that you do your homework before you purchase your building lot. If you own already, thoroughly assess your situation before you get too far in your planning.


Sometimes it’s better to purchase your second choice in land or sell the land you have if it turns out that you can’t build the home you want. Do your homework … make some calls. You’ll be glad you did. And you might even thank me later! 

Source by Mel Inglima

Which Chinking Should I Use?

Perma-chink, Sashco and Weatherall are the leading chinking manufacturers for log homes. Sashco makes Log Jam and Chinker’s Edge. Weatherall produces 1010 and Triple Stretch while Perma-Chink makes Perma-Chink cabin sealant. Selecting the right chinking material depends on what color you like and which manufacturer you or your application contractor prefers. Our job at Mountain Home Building Products is to help provide you the right answers to your difficult log home related questions. Below you will find a brief history for each of the chinking related manufacturers.

Perma-Chink started producing log home finishing products in 1981 with the introduction of a latex chinking. The product was designed to look like old time mortar but had much greater capabilities of stretching and flexing in order to provide a tight seal for new and existing cabins. Permachink soon began to manufacture a complete line of stains, finishes, preservatives and cleaners that were geared specifically for the log cabin market.

Weatherall Company first introduced Weatherall 1010 Chinking to the log industry in 1982. Shortly thereafter they developed a new log finish that was compatible with their chinking. Next they introduced a new type of backer rod which helped them launch the first total log care system.

Finally, Sashco is located in Brighton, CO and has been manufacturing log home chinking, caulking and stain products for the past 30 years. The company was founded by Donald J. Burch in 1936 and originally produced windows but soon evolved into a manufacturer of glaze which eventually led to them producing log home sealants. Sashco is widely recognize for products like Log Jam, Log Builder, Capture and Transformation.

In conclusion, chinking is available in a number of different colors, sizes, textures and price ranges. Special colors are usually available upon request but may take additional manufacturing time. Plan ahead and take advantage of free chinking color charts provided by most log finishing product suppliers.

Source by Michael Carey

Loan Sharks – What You Need to Know

Loan sharking is the practice of lending money to desperate people at extremely high and illegal rates of interest. Loan sharks, or shylocks, make a big profit from people who can’t get loans from legitimate sources, such as banks or other lending institutions. For as long as people have needed money they don’t have, there have been loan sharks there to provide their services for a fee. They introduce themselves as a solution to a problem; they are businessmen who want to help a borrower get out of a bind. Prey to these sharks can be compulsive gamblers, single parents, the elderly, illegal immigrants, white-collar executives, or anybody else who desperately needs more money than they have access to.

Most people associate loan sharks with gangsters and organized crime. Loan sharking is a very lucrative business for criminals, and it’s a major source of income for the crime families. They receive a very good rate of return on their investment, and in a short amount of time, often a matter of weeks. They may charge interest at rates of up to 20% per week, and possibly even higher. In one New York investigation, it was found that a loan shark syndicate was netting 3000% annual interest! Dallas mobsters were more competitively priced, they charged only 585% annual interest. These were rates in the ghetto. Shylocks would be more competitively priced for corporate white-collar businessmen; rates might be more in the 5% weekly range.

In the mafia world, shylocking is also known as six-for-five; you borrow five and pay back six at the end of the week. You can see how this can turn very expensive. If someone borrowed five hundred and did not have the full payment, the loan shark would accept the interest payment of one hundred and extend the loan for another week, with interest. If they can’t pay when they’re supposed to, they would be forced to take out another loan, interest is added on top of interest and the debt can quickly become impossible to get out of.

The funds for shylocking would usually come from the top, the family boss. The boss would loan money to his capos (lieutenants), knowing he could trust them to pay him back with interest. The capos then loan money with interest to the lower ranking members of the mob. These are the loan sharks that made loans to the common citizen, and enforced payment.

Loan sharks ensured payment with threats of violence. They require no collateral other than the borrower and his family’s well being. “Leg-breakers” were often employed by loan sharks to be sure they receive payment. It’s not true that people were always killed if they didn’t pay. Dead people can’t pay back their debts, so it would not be good business practice to eliminate resources. They would occasionally “make an example” of some who owed very little to be sure other borrowers took them seriously. The borrower, worrying about life and limb of himself and his family, would have no option but to pay the shylock even if it meant he had to lie, cheat, or steal.

Modern Day Predatory Lending

There is no legal definition for predatory lending, but it generally includes the use of unethical practices by lenders who use tactics that skirt around the law. They might give unfair loan terms, use confusing language, charge hidden fees, and use high-pressure sales methods. They make money as long as they can keep borrowers in debt to them. They commonly target the elderly, low-income, minorities, or people with poor credit, but anyone can be a victim of these unscrupulous lenders. Predatory lenders thrive on consumers who need or want more than they can afford to have, and trick borrowers into believing the loans are necessary and affordable.

Many commonly accepted loan services are available to consumers that work on the same principles as a mob shylock. There are laws regulating the amount of interest that can be charged for a loan, but lenders can charge “service fees.” Check cashing places offer “payday loans”, you can write them a post-dated check for the amount of the loan, plus a hefty fee for use of that money for a week or two. The fees can amount to 400% APR, these places are happy to loan as much as possible based on the borrower’s expected paycheck. Then what happens when he gets his paycheck and realizes that it’s already spent? He’ll go back to take out another payday loan so he can pay his bills and buy groceries. This cycle of borrowing more to pay back a loan can trap a person into being perpetually in debt and never getting ahead. These places are usually found on the same block as a liquor store in low-income neighborhoods. These lenders prey on people with limited means and encourage them to live paycheck to paycheck.

Title loans are another way people are getting ripped off. People who own their car free and clear can bring in their title and an extra set of keys, and drive away with up to half the value of their car. They agree to a loan at an extremely high rate, or with a large balloon payment without realistically being able to pay. The title loan companies don’t care what kind of credit the borrower has, because they win either way. They receive an excellent profit on the interest charges or they repossess the car and sell it for twice the loan amount. Sounds like a “can’t lose” situation for them, so it must be a “can’t win” situation for the borrower.

I’ve heard predatory commercials on the radio from car dealerships. The announcer might say something ridiculous like, “We’ll give you $5000 for your trade on anything you can push, pull, or tow in here, and we don’t care how ugly it is!” We’d all be rich if we could sell junk cars for $5000, but who would buy one? These predatory lenders just add that $5000 that they “gave” you to the price of your new car being financed. You’ll drive away in a shiny new car and you’ll get stuck with a loan for $5000 more than the car is worth.

What if you owe more on your trade-in than it’s value? It’s known as a negative equity loan or an upside down loan. This is quite common, considering car dealers want to sell expensive cars more than cheaper ones, and consumers want to drive the best car they can get a loan for. Cars depreciate faster than the loan can be paid down, and when you spread the payments over five or six years instead of three, this can amount to thousands of dollars. Eager to sell you another new car, dealerships work with lenders and add the difference to your loan amount, ensuring that vicious debt cycle.

It is appalling that greedy predatory lenders would go so far as to trick people out of their homes, but it happens. Abundant offers for second mortgages or use credit card balance transfers to pay off credit card debt come daily in the mail. It’s shocking that lenders would encourage you to take equity from your home to buy a two-week vacation, a hot tub, a motorcycle, or other big “toys”. Would a sensible person really want to pay 15-30 years with interest for some unnecessary material items that make life just a little more fun? These predatory lenders like to remind you of all the improvements you could make in your life if you just had access to the equity in your home. They encourage you to dream of everything you’re missing out on because your assets are tied up in your house. They sell you on the idea that you’ll “save” money by consolidating your high interest debt. You might have smaller monthly payments… but the debt is stretched out over many years, increasing your total interest costs. Many borrowers just rack up new debt after getting that second mortgage to pay off bills because their formerly maxed out credit cards are now freed up again. When the borrower can’t afford his mortgage, second mortgage, and new credit card debt, the home goes into foreclosure and the borrower loses everything he’s worked for.

Home-improvement scams have also hit America hard, particularly the elderly. Someone who has been making regular mortgage payments for many years has most likely built up lots of equity in their home, which makes them a prime target for these ruthless predators. Contractors offer to make repairs or improvements to the home, and can even be so “helpful” as to set up financing for the unsuspecting homeowner. An elderly widow, who can’t do the work herself, is grateful for the nice young man who can help her get her home back in shape. When it comes to the confusing legal jargon in the contract, she trusts him and his simple explanation of what it is she’s signing. She unknowingly agrees to take out a high-interest second mortgage that requires a balloon payment at the end. She later finds out that all her payments have gone to pay mostly interest, barely making a dent in the principle owed. She can’t pay the huge balloon payment when due, and loses her house in foreclosure. It is unfortunate that these predators are willing to put someone’s grandmother out of her home to make their fortune.

My neighborhood is several years old and a part of it is still in construction. This addition draws many first-time homebuyers. When I shopped for mortgages, I thought it was odd that my builder’s mortgage lender approved my loan for an amount about 30% more than a regular mortgage broker could get for me. Don’t we all want the best house we can afford? It’s tempting to take a mortgage that’s barely affordable, to get that bigger house with more options. It’s interesting to note that there are quite a few foreclosures in this neighborhood, usually the houses that are about two years old. On brand new homes, you would only pay taxes on the value of the empty lot, that is, until it is reassessed with the value of the house on it. This happens where I live about a year and a half after the home is built and closed on. The mortgage lender does warn you that your payments will go up in a couple of years after the taxes are reassessed, but still approves your mortgage based on your current income and the tax on the empty lot. You might not think much of it then because you believe you’ll figure something out by the time your payments go up. About 18 months later, your PITI payment increases by a couple of hundred dollars a month, but your income hasn’t. Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure because they weren’t prepared for this dramatic increase in payment.

Predatory lending has many more faces; I gave just a few examples. You’ve heard of scams people have reported in the newspapers. You can read about victims in internet blogs. The nightly news is always showing a new story about a new way predators are trying to take our money. You’ve seen the ads that the lenders themselves have run. These unscrupulous businesses may be fraudulent, or just plain tricky. They thrive on the “Gotta have it now” attitude that many consumers live by. The only way to protect yourself is to educate yourself. I’ve referred to the borrowers several times as “victims”, but truly they are victims of their own lack of awareness.

Protect Yourself From Predatory Lenders

  • Use your financial common sense; if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t buy it.
  • Plan a realistic budget and stick to it.
  • Have a savings plan so that you’ll be prepared in case of a true emergency.
  • Keep your credit rating high so that you won’t be forced to go with “sub-prime” lenders, where predatory lending is common.
  • Be skeptical about quick fixes and easy money.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Bad credit, no credit, no problem! This is one of predatory lenders favorite lines.
  • Buy here, pay here! Rent to own. No money down! You must act now! Some of their other favorite lines.
  • Any loan, including your first mortgage, which uses the equity in your house as collateral should be looked at very carefully.
  • Know what it is you’re signing, and never sign documents that don’t have all the terms filled in.
  • If you don’t understand the contract in question, consult an attorney. Lawyer fees can be a bargain compared to the potential loss.
  • Shop around for loans of any kind; never say yes to the first offer.
  • Visit The Center For Responsible Lending for information about laws to protect you, or how you can get involved in the fight against predatory lending.
  • Don’t let salesmen pressure you into something you aren’t sure about.
  • Refuse to take out more loans to pay off already unmanageable debts.
  • Beware of the temptingly low interest rates that skyrocket after you’ve had enough time to shop more than you should.
  • Take responsibility for your financial well-being.
  • Predatory lenders are out there taking money, but don’t let them take yours.

Source by Michael Yanda