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Nationwide Foreclosure Investigation; High Paying Jobs; Saving Priority; Increasing Prenups

Aired October 16, 2010 - 09:30   ET


STEPHANIE ELAM, HOST: Finding a job that fits you and your salary needs isn't easy -- the best high paying jobs and how to snag one. Why the recession has made divorce more difficult. How to protect your finances for better or worse. And do you think it's too soon to start budgeting for holiday spending? Well, think again. We have a program just for you. The show that saves you money starts right now.

Let's get started with housing, today. Mortgage lenders, they're on thin ice, right now with news that several mortgage companies are freezing foreclosures across the country due to some faulty paperwork. States attorney general and other officials are on the case following a nationwide investigation into foreclosure practices. That's not good news for lenders. But, with one in every 139 homes receiving a foreclosure filing in the third quarter this could be welcome relief for many struggling homeowners.

Allan Chernoff is here with one woman's challenge to understand her mortgage and save her home.

Hi, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF: Stephanie, this is a real challenge and here's a major reason why: The biggest mortgage lenders jointly own a company that lets them manufacture document the banks need to foreclose on homeowners. If the paperwork were entirely accurate, that might be OK, but in fact some of the documents are filled with made up details allowing banks to expedite foreclosure. Let's have a look.


(voice-over): Replique (ph) D'Amelio brought her dream home in Wappinger's Falls, New York four years ago. Hard times hit and she fell into default on her mortgage. This summer, D'Amelio declared bankruptcy hoping to head of foreclosure.

(on camera): How important is it for you to hold onto this home?

REPLIQUE D'AMELIO, HOMEOWNER IN FORECLOSURE: Outside of my children and my family, there's nothing more important.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): The threat of a foreclosure looms from CitiMortgage, a division of CitiGroup even though the company doesn't even own D'Amelio's mortgage. Fannie Mae owns it along with millions of other home loans. Yet, Fannie Mae's name is nowhere to be found on the assignment of mortgage document CitiMortgage produced in the D'Amelio bankruptcy case. Instead, the document states the mortgage was assigned to CitiMortgage. D'Amelio's lawyer says the bankers are not following proper legal procedure.

LINDA TIRELLI, ATTY FOR D'AMELIO: This is an improper assignment of mortgage that's meant to shortcut the system. It's less about the truth and more about how fast can we get this property foreclosed on.

D'AMELIO: What did you get wrong?

CHERNOFF: CitiMortgage, which collected the monthly payments as the servicer of the loan, says there's no foul play here, it's normal procedure. Fannie Mae agrees pointing out this is how it operates all of the time.

(on camera): In fact, CitiMortgage owned the D'Amelio loan very briefly for only a couple of months back in 2006. The original lender, Home Loan Center, sold the mortgage to CitiMortgage on November 3, 2006, the very day ??? D'Amelio borrowed the money. Less than two months later, CitiMortgage turned around and sold that loan as an investment to Fannie Mae on January 1, 2007.

(voice-over): Yet the assignment of mortgage documents stating CitiMortgage still owns the loan is dated June 24, 2010. That information on the document comes from a Virginia company owned by CitiMortgage, Fannie Mae and other big mortgage players, MERS, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. When banks sell mortgages, they use MERS as an electronic repository to keep track of the real owners. MERS has 64 million loans in its data base.

If a bank wants to foreclose, it simply turns to MERS for the necessary documentation. Much faster and cheaper than retrieving local title records, but the MERS papers like those for Replique D'Amelio's home, sometimes don't reflect the true status of the mortgage.

PROF PAULA A FRANZESE, SETON HALL LAW: We're seeing forgeries. We're seeing backdatings. We're seeing post-datings, largely because lenders are scrambling to come up with a chain of titles that MERS was ill-equipped from its inception to provide to provide.


CHERNOFF: MERS says it provides clarity, transparency and efficiency to the housing finance system. CitiMortgage tells CNN it relies on MERS data to pursue clients who are delinquent on their mortgage payments. But lawyers for homeowner, like Replique D'Amelio, s are increasingly challenging the way MERS operates -- Stephanie.

ELAM: Allan, thanks so much for that.

Well, whether it's a foreclosure, mounting debt or a lack of savings, the financial crisis of the past two years has impacted all of us. CNN's Soledad O'Brien has been busy putting the final touches on a brand new "In America" special, "Almighty Debt."

And Soledad, this one is really near and dear for a lot of people because they've been struggling with debt, but when you look at how the church factors into it, it's a little bit more textured, isn't it?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It was very interesting to take a look at what is one of the most important and influential institutions in the black community, the black church, at a time when the black community is really in crisis because of the economic crisis and devastation that has followed that. So, we wanted to see what the black church is doing in sort of this new front in civil rights, which is how are helping, not just their parishioners, but people in their communities, recover from a devastating financial situation.

ELAM: And lot of people lean on the church when they are going through that, right? So, when you talk about this, what did you find was the most surprising of these people encountered?

O'BRIEN: You know, we know that black wealth is a function of history when it is slavery, through Jim Crow, black people were not garnering wealth and money, obviously at the same time that their white counterparts were. So, there's certainly that. But at the same time, it's also a function of debt is, you know, a big part of that. And African-Americans have high debt. And when you have a crisis like the one we're seeing now it literally is pushing African-Americans out of the middle class, people who are middle income and by then supposedly middle class are barely middle class because once you lose your job, once you lose that income.

So, you look at a guy like Karl Fields (ph), for example, who we profile in this documentary out of work for about 20 months. A man who is in his late 50s, fired right before his 58th birthday.

ELAM: Awful situation.

O'BRIEN: Vice president and he is really struggling and working hard to get a job and he's, for the first time now, relying on his church connections to try to figure out how to re-enter the job market. He is a good example of someone who cannot pay his bills, very faithful, very devout guy, trying to figure out how to keep his family from moving out of the middle class into poverty, frankly.

ELAM: And the crazy part about it is his story is not uncommon, really.

O'BRIEN: Not at all.

ELAM: And that's what makes it so sad. You have all of these stories. Is there one story that perhaps sort of just stuck out for you?

O'BRIEN: You know, I love this kid Fred Philp (ph), who we profiled. He is a high school senior when we first met him and an aspiring actor. He wants to be an actor so desperately. And he's very talented.

ELAM: He is talented.

O'BRIEN: And he's poor. And he has a parent who cannot possibly afford to send him off to college. And to go with Fred who, he's in this catch-22. Right? The only way to really move out of poverty for him is to get an education and to improve his circumstances by going to school and being able to sort of move up the ladder. At the same time, how does he pay for the school that he eventually is able to get into because it's going cost him -- you know, he's got to take out almost $20,000 in loans. And it puts him already, this massive burden on a kid who's 17 years old and has no savings.

ELAM: And hasn't really worked for that kind of money, right?

O'BRIEN: Exactly, which is a ton of money. And that's only for his first freshman year. So, we take a look again at the black church stepping in to try to figure out how to help, not just Fred, specifically, but as you point out, the Freds of the world to make sure that you're going to be able to push people up the ladder economically in the long haul by helping them in the short-term achieve things like college.

ELAM: Right, and you know we were at a screening together in Houston. I looked at a lot of it, I've been doing packages leading up to it. You'll see them all next week and, of course, you can always watch BLACK IN America, "Almighty Debt" will be on Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, this week.

And Soledad, thank you so much for coming here with us, today.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

ELAM: All right. Next, high paying jobs that you might be qualified for. Plus, it's the most wonderful time of the year: How to rein in your holiday budget. Stay with us.


ELAM: If you are one of the 15 million people currently out of work, finding a job that fits you and your salary needs isn't easy. Well, we're here to give you hope this Saturday morning. There are high paying jobs out there that could be just right for you. Amanda Gengler is with "Money" magazine and joins us now.

You know, when you talk about these jobs, Amanda, how do you choose which jobs to look at and that would actually work for a lot of people?

AMANDA GENGLER, "MONEY": Sure. So, in this recovery some industries are going bounce back much faster than others. So, this year's list draws from only the six fastest growing industries. So, these are the fastest growing jobs in the fastest growing industries and then there are also high paying jobs, professional jobs. We had 40,000 workers rate the jobs by quality of life factors, things like stress, work flexibility.

ELAM: And also probably salary, too.

GENGLER: Of course.

ELAM: Well, they like that part. Let's talk first about software architects. That sounds basic on what they do. But, what makes this a good job for people?

GENGLER: Well, this job is in demand today obviously because companies increasingly need these services. And unlike a lot of programming jobs, which are going overseas, a software architect has a lot of face to face interaction with the clients. They are product managers, so the local demand is very high. And software architects love the job because they say it's creative, it's challenging and for engineers who have good people skills and like interacting with other people, they can get out from behind the computer screen.

ELAM: And that's a good thing if you have those two talents. All right, what about consulting? There are some pros and cons of being a consultant.

GENGLER: Cons, grueling schedule. You're traveling a lot. But the pros are there's a lot of satisfaction of going into a place and tackling a challenge. A company might say to you I want to increase my revenues by 20 percent and you hopefully will come up to a solution to that. And consultants say that's a very satisfying job.

ELAM: And then sales director, they can make some good money too, right?

GENGLER: Their salaries can fluctuate severely, but yes it's one of the highest paying jobs. The top earners will earn $222,000 a year.

ELAM: All right, and then let's talk a little bit about data entry, because you're saying this one actually has some longs legs, they could go places with this one.

GENGLER: Of course. I mean, I.T. is going to be the second fastest growing industry in the next decade.

ELAM: OK. So, yeah, that's definitely something that people can think about for data entry. And of course you got biomedical engineer on here, but who's the person who could actually apply for that job and probably get it?

GENGLER: Well, you would need sort of a combination of skills. You have to have an interest in biology, but then also have an engineering background. But, it's that mix that makes biomedical engineers love their jobs, because some days they're working only in biology, some days only in engineering.

ELAM: So, for some people out there, hopefully looking at the best high paying jobs that "Money" magazine has. Amanada Gengler, thank you so much for breaking it down.

All right, well we've all heard the term "generation debt," but is it really that bad? Well, Kimberly Palmer the author of "Generation Earn" and she say we may doing way better than we're giving ourselves credit for.

Kimberly, thanks so much for being here today.

KIMBERLY PALMER, AUTHOR, "GENERATION EARN": Thank you, Stephanie. ELAM: All right, so when you talk about this and young professionals, so many times they're just so happy to get out of school, to get a job they're not even thinking about saving. They're like, I just finally have money to spend. But you're saying, saving should be a priority.

PALMER: Yes. It's so important to save one-third of your income, which sounds impossible and at some points it is like right after you graduate, but on average in your 20s and 30s saving that much is really the only way to start saving for retirement and also to have emergency funds and also to save for your long-term goals.

ELAM: All right, so you're talking about 401(k) savings, for example, and also taking advantage of just having a savings account at your bank, right?

PALMER: That's right, across the board savings. You should be trying to save about one in three of every dollar you earn.

ELAM: OK, let's talk a little bit about this, because, you talk a bit about extra money which quite honestly I'm not sure what extra money is. I don't know what it is. Like just laying around that you don't need. I'm sure most people feel a need for all of their money. But that's not a reason to wait for the chance to invest, right? When you have extra money?

PALMER: That's right, I mean, that's one of the biggest mistakes young people make is to wait to start investing until they feel like they have that extra money. And like you said, we never feel like we have extra money. There's all of these need for it. So, that's why you should start investing early and the best way to do this, a lot of young people I interviewed, actually started slowly. So, if you can start by saving just two percent a year, slowly increase that to four percent, eventually six percent, then you can start saving at a healthy rate and investing, as well.

ELAM: And hopefully as you get pay increases you won't even notice it as much. Now, one of the things that you could do, if you have extra money is put it towards your student loan debt. How should young professionals go about attacking that?

PALMER: This is such a big myth that student loan debt is good debt that you should hold on to it for 30 years, but it is expensive and especially considering how low the interest rates are, how little we can get back on savings and our investments. It's important to start saving -- your student to start paying off your student loan debt early. So, if you have student loan debt that's at five or six or even or higher percentage points, you want to start putting money towards paying that debt down early.

ELAM: All right and then the other thing to it take into account is you want to invest in your career. Don't cut corners there, right?

PALMER: Right, we're trying to be so frugal in so many parts of our lives, but when it comes to our careers, you want to spend. You don't want to scrimp, there. It can mean taking things like a leadership development course if you want to become a better leader at work. It can mean going back to school or taking -- hiring a career coach to help you. So, it can mean a variety of things, but you really want to invest in your career, at this point.

ELAM: Yeah, and one point that you made that I think of people could hear, no matter where you are in your work life: be true to what you really want to do, because then you'll probably do better at it, right?

PALMER: You're right. I mean, one of the biggest obstacles we face is not even really concretely saying to ourselves what those big long- term goals are. It might be something like buying a house in the next few years or starting your own business or retiring when you are 50. So, if we express those goals, it really helps us start to move towards them.

ELAM: Kimberly Palmer, thank you so much. This is good information no matter where you are, if you're in the job be cycle. Author of "Generation Earn," thanks for join us, today.

PALMER: Thank you, Stephanie.

ELAM: All right. Well no doubt, divorce can take a physical and psychological toll on many people. Next we'll help you get a handle on a financial burden of a split.


ELAM: The recession changed the way Americans think about marriage. The census shows the number of young adults choosing not to marry has surpassed the number of married 24 to 35-year-olds. And of the couples who are marrying, many are protecting their assets. Nearly 3/4 of divorce attorneys polled, have seen a rise in the number of prenups, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. CNN's Christine Romans brings us the story of a woman who put her emotions on the back burner for her family's financial well-being.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We first introduced you to Sallie Gibson 18 months ago and found out breaking up really is hard to do. Sally and her husband of 15 years were getting a divorce but still living under one roof.

SALLIE GIBSON, DIVORCEE: My husband lives in the guest room and he comes home on Wednesday nights early to have dinner with the kids and the other nights, he comes home late to give me my space. So it's not perfect. It's been difficult.

ROMANS: As legal bills for two divorce attorneys piled up, the couple switched to a less expensive mediator, but the situation with the house wasn't as simple.

GIBSON: There are 20 houses on the market in town that are in our price range and there are no buyers. So my broker has pretty much prepared me that the house is going to sit for quite a while. ROMANS: For Sallie, remaining financial sound meant remaining under the same roof with her ex-husband. But for some, getting a divorce isn't even an option. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, says 57 percent of attorneys polled reported fewer divorces during the recession. The couple stayed in the home for a full year before deciding emotion trumped finances.

GIBSON: It was a very difficult time, very emotional time and we made the decision to sell the house and it could have easily sat on the market for a year and I didn't want to put my kids through that because it was tough enough. So, I priced it to sell. And we sold the house right away and I'm not going to lie, lost a lot of money, and that hurt.

ROMANS: Sallie started over, changing back to her maiden name, she downsized and started a small business as an interior designer out of her new home.

GIBSON: I've discovered a niche where I'm working with all of my clients, right now, are divorced or separated and it's kind of nice to work with people that are in similar circumstances.

ROMANS: And if there's a silver lining for Sallie and her boys, in their smaller home...

GIBSON: We spend a lot more time together as a family because there are fewer places for them to scurry away to.

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


ELAM: Well, that may sound tough but a lot of people are finding when it comes to divorce, another thing that goes along with it is money. So, here to help us break down and understand the best practices for handling the financial and emotional stress of a split is clinical psychologist, Jeff Gardere.

Now Jeff, when you hear that that they're living in the same home, already if you've decided to split, it's emotional hard. But to live in the same house from month to month to month is also going to be hard. What's the best way people can go about doing this if that's just what they have to do?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, if this is something that they need to do, they have to set ground rules and they have to follow them as far as boundaries, being able to give each other space, what they didn't talk about in this report is probably both of the spouses or ex-spouses are dating, seeing other people. So, you have to work around those issues. And as part of that, not confuse the children who are in the house. They see mom and dad together under the same roof, but yet they know mom and dad may be seeing other people or have other lives or separate lives outside of the home.

ELAM: So, the main thing there is that you just have rules to allow people to do that. GARDERE: And speak to the kids as to what's going on. You have to be honest with them as much as you can.

ELAM: They'll figure it out anyway. Now, when you talk about divorce, we did hear in Christine's piece the divorce rate has actually gone down. Is that a good sign or is it just because of the recession people can't afford to get divorced?

GARDERE: I think it's a combination of both. And more than anything, people can't afford to be divorced. And, I think, because of that, people are working harder to keep their marriages instead of having the disposable marriages we had in the past where you just said, that's it, I divorce you, I'm out of here. Now people are thinking, well, what are the incentives to stay together? It may be that we can't sell that house for the profit that we want. It may be that financially we will be underwater, so let's find a way to stay together, not just for money or the sake of the kids, but also to fall in love again. I really don't espouse that people stay in relationships for finances just to be there. They should really be in love.

ELAM: You're the optimist, there.

GARDERE: Always.

ELAM: So now, when you're looking at a divorce settlement, you need to think about the long-term. What's the best way to take that into account?

GARDERE: When looking at the divorce settlement as one of the stories, it did talk about, look at a divorce mediator as far as being part of that divorce. I love attorneys, but I just don't think we should give all of our money to the attorneys. And I know you may have some on pretty soon. But if you can work out a lot of those issues together with a divorce mediator, with a therapist, then you could set again those ground rules where you can hold on to your money and even better, work out a lot of your emotional issues which will save you money later on down the line.

ELAM: And that may also help the stress then, too, right?

GARDERE: Absolutely.

ELAM: All right, Jeff Gardere, thanks for helping up with that. Because for people in the situation, I'm sure it is just a difficult one to be in.


ELAM: All right, believe it or not, the holidays are almost here. Don't shoot me. I mean, it's true, though. They are. It's not too late to come up with a reasonable holiday budget. Grab a pen and paper. Important tips you don't want to miss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ELAM: I know what you're going to say. You're going to say I'm bringing this up too soon. But it's really not the case. There are only five paychecks left until Christmas. Just five. So, it's a smart idea to begin budgeting for your holiday shopping right now, if you haven't already done it.

Now, here are a few tips to help you out: Start by evaluating your current financial situation to determine how much you can spend without going into debt. You got to set that spending limit and then stick to it.

Now, after that, get started right away. Shopping's fun, there's nothing wrong with that, right? Not only will you have more time to search for sales and bargains, but you'll find that some retailers have already reduced their prices. Web retailers often have better bargains than traditional brick and mortar stores because they have as much overhead. And another bonus there, you'll beat all those crowds and those long, long checkout lines. So that's a good one. And finally, and this one may be little bit rough to do, but consider restricting your gift-buying to just your immediate family. When you add in the niece, the nephews, the aunts, the uncles, it really can add up. And they're probably looking to cut back, as well. So, maybe talk to the family and get a plan on that one.

All right, well thanks for being with us this morning. YOUR MONEY picks it up at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, today. They're going to take a look at the mid-term elections and whether change in Washington would equal a positive move for the economy. But do not touch that remote, why go anywhere right now when T.J. Holmes and Kate Bolduan have a check of your top stories. CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues right now. Have a great day.