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. 

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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 …

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Dallas home values are up 3.5 percent year over year.

It’s something that Candy is working hard to ingrain upon me, but I’m sure you all know this by heart: Real estate is a local story.

So when I read the newest Housing Price Index report from CoreLogic yesterday, I’ll be honest, I kind of yawned.

Sure, it shows that Dallas home values are up 3.5 percent year over year. If you don’t count distressed sales, like short sales or *gasp* foreclosures, then home values are up 5.4 percent. That’s good news for Dallas, and really good news for Dallas residents with homes either poised or on the market.

But CoreLogic is kind of preaching to the choir, isn’t it? Houses are moving and inventory short, so of course, prices are going to inch upward. We’ve heard it first-hand from agents every time we report a story like this.

What I think is ridiculous, though, is the national summary. CoreLogic’s report shows that U.S. home values are up 1.1 percent over the past 12 months, which includes booming markets such as the Phoenix area, which is seeing amazing appreciation at 11.3 percent, and severely depressed markets, such as Chicago, which could be bottoming out with home values dropping 7.3 percent since April 2011.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as a national housing market?

Free house, anyone? Or how to save on real estate big time. You’ve got to read this story by my colleague Sheree Curry and chime in — hope I get it straight: a couple in Iowa made one payment on their $278,000 home and then went to see a bankruptcy attorney about letting the house go after just one payment. The guy lost his business and could no longer afford it. Matt and Jamie Rae Danielson were in a pickle, a big pickle. First of all, they had just lost a larger home and property, and I am not clear on how they managed to get this second, smaller home financed after that you-know-what show, but they did. And Jamie even worked for a mortgage broker, First Horizon. Well, that bankruptcy attorney they went to see ended up being their best friend ever. He found a loophole in the Iowa homestead laws. Seems their mortgage with CitiMortgage was invalid or void without the signature of both spouses, not merely void-able by the spouse who did not sign. In other words, both spouses must sign a mortgage in order for it to be valid. But Jamie never signed it. Matt met the mortgage broker at a Food Court and signed without her because he could not reach her. I guess no one caught it and — now they own a home.

I sent Sheree an email with some questions, but here’s my BIG question: could this happen here in Texas with our Homestead laws?

Let’s find out!