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Home isn't necessarily where the yard is

Just about now, with the lawn erupting into seed pods two days after mowing, this might seem like a nice idea for many a home owner: Give up the house for full-time life in a recreational vehicle.

The neighbors are noisy _ move. A busy highway going in a block away _ move. Tired of the scenery _ move. And, of course, there's no lawn to mow.

A growing number of younger families and baby boomers are trading in their land-bound homes for full-time living and traveling in recreational vehicles, the Boston Globe recently reported. RV sales soared to a record $8.4-billion last year.

Technology has made it easier for these rootless adventurers to keep in touch with loved ones.

You can even finance an RV like a house, with a 15-year mortgage with deductible interest rates of 8.5 percent to 9.5 percent. But to qualify for the tax deduction, the RV must have a kitchen, bathroom and bed and be financed like a mortgage, either through a bank or the RV dealer.

Bad borrowers may be targets of lender abuse

Borrowers of less-than-perfect credit have been abused by lenders selling home-equity loans, Federal Trade Commission chairman Robert Pitofsky told American Banker.

"This market demonstrates some of the most abusive anti-consumer overreaching that I've ever seen," he said.

The worst lenders use aggressive sales tactics, even going door-to-door. And they often don't tell borrowers that missing payments will result in foreclosure.

Sometimes the loans include illegal hidden balloon payments, prepayment penalties and interest rate hikes that are incurred in the event of default or refinancing.

But the FTC is working to curb abuses. In a recent settlement, seven home equity lenders charged with violating the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act, the Truth-in-Lending Act and FTC rules that regulate deceptive practices agreed to refund payments to borrowers who were treated unfairly.

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