Photo: Jeff Turner

To all the talented journalists and Dallas Morning News employees that were handed pink slips recently: I know how overwhelming this feels. When I was suddenly laid off from the same publication in 2009, I felt unmoored and somewhat lost. You will find a way to move on, though, so hang in there.

The advice offered by human resources that morning was very basic: I was instructed to file for unemployment as soon as possible and given information on COBRA benefits. While the information I received was far from comprehensive, one thing that was missing was information on how this sudden loss of income would affect my repayment of student loans, credit accounts, and most important of all, my mortgage. 

What do you do if you’re a federal employee that has been furloughed due to the government shutdown, or you’re a worker who was just laid off, and you have a mortgage? 

“If you see that you’re not going to be able to make your payments, call your lender and see what options are available to you,” said Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. “The bottom line is this: don’t put it off.”

Not every lender is the same, nor is every mortgage or change in employment, so it’s crucial to contact your lender immediately if you think your employment situation might cause you to get behind on your mortgage. Sometimes a lender may be able to offer a loan modification or a forbearance to ensure that you pay as much as you can on your loan until you get back on your feet. 

Important note: When your lender reaches out after a missed mortgage payment, you cannot stop the process of foreclosure by ignoring the mail notices. 


Alleged bomber Sayoc (right) making America great again. (Source: Facebook)

Turns out Cesar Sayoc, the person now (so far) charged with five federal crimes for allegedly sending 13 pipe bombs to various Democrats apparently had a bigger bone to pick with Republicans. While no specific motive has been ascribed yet, here’s one …


Huge kudos to Teresa Gubbins over at CultureMap, who spied a real anomaly in our Texas market: a foreclosure. Even when there are supposed to be fewer foreclosures in Dallas! And not just any foreclosure, but a foreclosure in the honeypot of Preston Hollow, on the same street where T. Boone Pickens recently sold his flawless $5 million estate after his last marriage ended.

The home at foreclosure auction is 9410 Alva Court

at the corner of Deloache Ave., in one of Dallas’ most celebrity-studded neighborhoods. Once owned by restaurant mogul Norm Brinker, it was purchased by colorful oncologist Dennis Birenbaum in 2002, who deserves props for recommending that people avoid eating junk food. In February, the property went into foreclosure, and is owned by Bank of America.

The home was actually built by a Dallas physician, anesthesiologist Dr. Terry James. His daughter is Jamie O’Banion, the skincare guru. And yes, Nancy Brinker slept here — a lot. The Brinkers bought the home from the James because one of the downstairs bathrooms was outfitted to easily accommodate the handicapped.  This is where Nancy Brinker lived when she was in Dallas and married to Norman. The home was then purchased by oncologist/hemotologist Dr. Dennis Birenbaum in 2002, as Teresa reported. It went into foreclosure, and the bank took it back in late February of this year. As you can see from the photos, this house needs some love…


Apocryphally, Black Friday is the day when retailers finally turn a profit on the year (not the color of your mother’s bruises getting you a Cabbage Patch doll).  Yes, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the only profitable month and it’s so profitable it makes up for the losses of the remainder of the year.

Real estate is waiting for its own turn at profitability from the depth of the Recession.  You may be cowed into thinking that all of that is behind us. Nope.  You may think that Dallas has recovered.  Nope.


After an adverse sale, whether a short sale or a foreclosure, the idea of owning a home again feels far off and challenging. But if you’re ready to wade back into the waters of homeownership after bankruptcy or another life event, Bob Johnson (AKA BobMortgage) has some sage advice for you.

And there’s no better expert in mortgages than Bob Johnson, senior mortgage advisor for the nation’s oldest private mortgage lender, Wallick & Volk. With more than 20 years of industry experience helping thousands of people in all types of buyer situations, he’s seen it all and has the knowledge to help guide you through buying a home after foreclosure, bankruptcy, or a short sale. Click through for more:


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One of Catherine & Nicole’s recent short sales

Let’s face it: mortgage note holders don’t have a lot of patience. If you’re behind on your mortgage payments for more than three months, most mortgage companies are not going to sing Kumbaya.

That’s why, if you know that your income will not be sufficient to make the house payments going forward, it may be time to consider a short sale on your home lickety split. A short sale can help you avoid foreclosure and salvage your credit rating while still letting you liberate yourself from your home loan.

Trouble is, homeowners often wait until they receive a notice of foreclosure from the lender before starting the short sale process. In some cases, it’s already too late. I grabbed our short sale experts, Nicole Espinosa and Catherine Aliaga DFW Short Sale Experts, whom we have chatted with previously. We asked Nicole and Catherine for their very best advice to clients:

NE:  If you face financial hardship and know you will default on your loan, start thinking about a short sale right away. You can always stop the process if your financial situation turns around for the better, but if you wait too long to start, you could miss the window of opportunity. (more…)

Photo: Google Maps

1401 Elm as it looks today. Even though developers started some work on the skyscraper, redevelopment efforts ground to a halt last week and lenders are forcing a foreclosure auction. Photo: Google Maps

Last week, we told you about the mess happening at 1401 Elm, a landmark $240 million redevelopment deal in downtown Dallas facing forced foreclosure after a developer pulled out.

The city of Dallas had committed $50 million in economic incentives to further progress. But with of the departure of New York-based Olympic Property Partners from the project, early lenders, who shelled out $53.5 million in loans to start redevelopment efforts, are forcing a foreclosure sale Dec. 1.

Rendering courtesy of Olympic Property

City leaders say they’re still committed to the redevelopment of 1401 Elm. Rendering courtesy of Olympic Property

But city officials say they feel compelled to try and help the skyscraper. The deal is considered to be a major milestone in downtown Dallas’ forward progress, and they reiterated their support for the planned mixed-use redevelopment project, which was supposed to create a combination of commercial space and apartments.

“We are absolutely committed to the redevelopment of the 1401 building, but will need to see how the ownership situation shakes out before making a specific recommendation to the city council,” Karl Zavitkovsky, directory of the Office of Economic Development, told Steve Brown of the Dallas Morning News. “The good news from the city’s perspective is that almost all the environmental mitigation and interior demolition is completed. Redevelopment of 1401 Elm remains a high priority for the city.”


Photo: Google Maps

Photo: Google Maps

Downtown Dallas’ 1401 Elm was once touted as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, with 52 stories and 1.5 million square feet of office space.

This Central Business District skyscraper, formerly the First National Bank, has stood depressingly vacant since 2010. Plywood boards and “keep out” signs mar the once-impressive edifice.

Rendering courtesy of Olympic Property

Here’s what the redevelopment of 1401 Elm was supposed to look like. Will a foreclosure sale make these plans go down the drain? Rendering courtesy of Olympic Property Partners

Plans were underway for an encompassing $240-million redevelopment until this week, when the New York-based developer leading the deal announced it was pulling out. Because of that, 1401 Elm is now slated for a foreclosure auction to meet the demands of lenders, who shelled out $53.5 million in loans to start redevelopment efforts.

To add a layer of drama for the landmark deal, another real estate investor based in Chicago is suing the current owners of 1401 Elm, claiming it was kept from buying the property through fraud.