Can’t Use Home Equity?

WSVN — If you have lived in your house or condo for a while, you may have equity. Some people use that money to pay off credit cards or buy a car. One woman wanted to use her equity to help pay for her son’s college education and was told she cannot do that, which is why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser. 

When Tasha Daniels bought her house seven years ago, she had a goal in mind.

Tasha Daniels: "I wanted to have this home for me and my son. I wanted to have something that would be ours."

Tasha was able to afford the home as a first-time buyer thanks to a program sponsored by Broward County and the City of Lauderhill.

Tasha Daniels: "It’s a program in which you go through credit assistance and counseling, and you receive grant funds from the municipalities where you live via county, city."

Tasha got a $113,000 bank loan on the home. The city and county put up $61,000 for the land and the deposit, which Tasha does not have to pay back. If… 

Tasha Daniels: "I was only told I needed to live in the home for 30 years, which I had planned to, and that was it. My opinion is there has been a bait and switch."

Tasha says she now has a lot of equity in her home, and with her son headed off to college, she wanted to tap into that equity to help with his expenses.

Tasha Daniels: "He has a slew of college acceptance letters, but they are all out of state. Out-of-state fees impact me financially, tremendously."

But when Tasha asked to use the equity to send her son to college, she got rejected.

Tasha Daniels: "Broward County said I was not able to cash out. There was no cash out, and that was news to me."

Tasha read her paperwork again to find the clause that blocks her opening a home equity line to pay for her son’s college expenses.

Tasha Daniels: "It does not say in the paperwork."

Patrick Fraser: "Does not say it?"

Tasha Daniels: "Does not say it in the paperwork."

Patrick Fraser: "So who is saying you can’t have it?"

Tasha Daniels: "Broward County Housing Finance Authority."

Tasha’s argument: She has made her mortgage payments for the past seven years, she has some equity, and she needs it for a good reason.

Tasha Daniels: "At least let me help my son go to college. Don’t tell me I can’t access the equity in my home to assist my son in going to college."

Well, Howard, you have read the paperwork. Can a government agency, which financially helped the homeowner get in the house, block them taking equity out of their own house for college?

Howard Finkelstein: "The restrictive documents you sign to get the house have a clause that says you cannot further encumber the property, meaning taking out a loan with the house as collateral. However, and this is a big however, the county commission can vote to allow a homeowner to open an equity line to help send their kid to college."

Tasha Daniels: "You have informed me that I cannot withdraw equity from my home for educational purposes."

Tasha and some of her neighbors with similar problems went before the Broward County Commission to try to get them to override the decision of the Housing Authority director.

Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness: "So you can only cash out for illness, major home repair or to lower your percent, not for education as they indicate?"

That’s wrong, Tasha told the commission.

Tasha Daniels: "I’m respectfully requesting that the committee consider reviewing the restrictions on our homes and allowing us to have some of the benefits as homeowners, outside of those paying a mortgage and property taxes."

The Broward Commission is now going to look into the issue to determine if someone like Tasha can use her home equity to help her son afford to go to college.

Tasha Daniels: "We feel we are in the right path. Hopefully, there will be some resolution. If not, we will continue to fight the fight."

The commission hopes to have the information they need to make a decision for people like Tasha by the end of September. We will keep an eye on it and let you know what they decide, and even if the commission allows homeowners to open an equity line, that doesn’t mean a bank will approve the equity line, but first thing’s first.

Getting an education dealing with a problem? Wanna borrow some help? Contact us. I would tell you we use sweat equity, but Howard reads his law books in a nice air conditioned office, so…

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7