Sub-prime lenders give credit where credit is overdueThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 01, 1999

Sub-prime lenders give credit where credit is overdue

The Sun's article "Curran to widen housing inquiry" (Oct. 22) reported the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now's (ACORN) "accusation" that sub-prime lenders lend more in minority and low-income communities than prime lenders.

That's not a charge my industry disputes -- in fact, we're proud of it.

Sub-prime lenders have brought reasonably priced credit to millions -- people of all races, nationalities and economic backgrounds who in the past have been locked out of mainstream credit markets.

We've made a real difference in people's lives. We have no intention of apologizing for that.

Borrowers should exercise the same care with a home equity loan as with any other big purchase. Terms vary from lender to lender and, as in any industry, there have been some reports of abuses.

We urge every borrower to borrow within their income and budget; to beware of door-to-door sales and research the lender thoroughly; to know what you're siging and take the time to review all loan terms and ask questions.

Remember also that even after you sign the loan agreement, you have up to three days to change your mind.

The sub-prime lending industry wants every customer satisfied and protected.

I'm sure that ACORN's intentions are good. But if they spent more time talking with us, instead of at us, they might discover a lot of common ground.

Jeffrey L. Zeltzer, Washington

The writer is executive director of the National Home Equity Mortgage Association.

Preservation shouldn't be burden to property owners

I cannot believe that the Baltimore County Council and the Baltimore County Historical Trust are condemning the demolition of a privately owned property ("House razing spawns probe," Oct. 23).

The Kraft family saw their residential neighborhood deteriorate as county officials, seeking a higher tax base, approved a car dealership, light-rail line and a masonry company adjacent to a so-called historic landmark.

Then, when the family wished to relocate and demolish the house to allow the expansion of a nearby company, "big brother" (Baltimore County) decides to inflict serious fines.

After years of fattening the county's coffers through property taxes, the Kraft family learned they could not demolish their house at will, because the County Historic Trust had placed their house on a special inventory list 20 years ago -- 16 years after they purchased the property.

When is this nonsense toward honest, taxpaying citizens going to end?

At the November 2000 election, I hope.

Ron Praydis, Cockeysville

It would be a shame if the owners of the Thomas Fortune House were parties to its nighttime demolition, but it's easy to sympathize with their situation ("Bulldozers after dark," editorial, Oct. 27).

Living in an unmarketable house, in an area filled with recent commercial development, doesn't yield a great quality of life. Yet the armchair preservationists who gripe about the loss of the house would have the owners alone make sacrifices to preserve it.

Preservationists should put their money where their mouth is -- instead of expecting owners to surrender their property rights in the name of preservation.

I wonder how loudly preservationists would howl if Baltimore County raised their property taxes to buy out owners of other threatened historic structures?

Brian Hendrix, Ellicott City

Inheritance tax relief should be a `no-brainer'

Tax relief in Maryland would not only be welcome, it would be a shock. Elimination of the inheritance tax would be a giant step forward.

The state's surplus does not belong to the governor or the General Assembly: it's the people's money and excess funds should be returned to them.

If corporations are given hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks, a lesser amount in inheritance tax relief should be regarded as a no-brainer.

James C. Simpson, LaPlata

All forms of inheritance taxes, federal or state, are immoral. An estate, whatever its size, represents a lifetime's accumulation of worth and is a reflection of an individual's business skills, ingenuity and diligence. It belongs to its legal heirs, including charities.

To assert otherwise would undermine the basic economic incentive for all individuals to succeed financially.

The Maryland and federal estate taxes should both be eliminated for good.

Frank O'Keefe, Baltimore

Theater's magic also can be found locally

Bravo to Kathy Lally for her fascinating look at the state of Russian theater ("Somehow, Russian theater manages a happy ending," Oct. 21).

In relating the travails of gifted, yet grossly underpaid actors in dilapidated theaters, Ms. Lally evoked the exuberant spirit of the theater that is universal.

But you don't have to go to Russia to find "a satisfying emotional experience" at the theater, and not all Americans are soulless glitz-seekers who "flock to big-time Broadway musicals."

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