Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feds push mortgage companies to modify more loans

The Obama administration, scrambling to get its main housing initiative on track, extracted a pledge from 25 mortgage company executives to improve their efforts to assist borrowers in danger of foreclosure.

The Treasury Department reached a verbal agreement with the executives for a new goal of about 500,000 loan modifications by Nov. 1 and stressed the program’s urgency.
The sessions came amid concerns that the Obama administration will fall far short of its original goal of helping up to 3 million to 4 million troubled borrowers with modified loans.
As of the end of July only about 200,000 borrowers were enrolled in three-month trial loan modifications, out of about 370,000 who were offered modifications by mortgage companies.

For months, borrowers, housing counselors and activist groups alike have complained that the process is a confusing, bureaucratic nightmare. Housing counselors say borrowers are being charged upfront fees and given inaccurate or confusing information about the program. The delays are long and, in some cases, lenders continue the foreclosure process while loans are being reviewed for a modification.

Recently, an activist group in Minnesota filed a lawsuit seeking to stop home foreclosures in that state. Mark Ireland, an attorney with the Minnesota-based Foreclosure Law Relief Project, said the government has failed to establish the procedures needed to ensure the fair and uniform administration of the program. Loan servicers are not required to tell a homeowner why they were denied a loan modification.

One reason progress has been sluggish is that loan servicers have had to hire and train thousands of employees. The loans have been bundled and sold to hundreds of investors as securities, which often have differing rules about loan modifications. Plus, mortgage companies have been swamped with thousands of calls from borrowers who want to take advantage of the program, and must sort out who is facing a legitimate financial hardship.
Many servicers didn’t get set up to deal with the surge in problem loans and modifications until this year, said Thomas Lawler, a housing economist in Northern Virginia.

Under the program, servicers can pocket up to $4,500 for each loan they modify. But they won’t start to be paid until homeowners have made on-time payments for three months.
If the program doesn’t kick in high-gear soon, the recent optimism about a real estate and economic recovery could fade as mo

“Foreclosures are still rapidly escalating,” said Andrew Jakabovics of the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration. “If we don’t get a handle on that ... the economy is going to have a difficult time recovering.”
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press, Alan Zibel and Danie Wagner, AP business writers. Associated Press Writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report from Minneapolis.

Please visit our website for some helpful links for sellers looking for solutions.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seller Solutions for Troubled Loans

Here are some possible temporary solutions for short-term problems, such as being one or two months behind in your mortgage due to illness. Other more permanent solutions address long-term financial difficulties, such as job lay-offs or long-term unemployment. If you have an FHA-approved loan, special loan modification programs may be available to you--ask your lender about them. Unfortunately, in some cases, keeping your home may not be possible--options for handling that situation are available as well.

Temporary solutions for short-term financial problems:
  • Reinstatement: Lenders are often willing to “reinstate” your loan if you make up the back payments in a lump sum by a specific date. A forbearance plan may accompany this option.
  • Forbearance: Your lender may be able to provide a temporary reduction or suspension of your mortgage payments for a short period, such as 3 or 4 months. After this time, your lender will work with you to create a repayment plan for the loan. You may qualify for forbearance if you have experienced a reduction in income (for example, if you have become unemployed) or an increase in living expenses (for example, higher medical bills). You must provide information to your lender to show that you will be able to stick with the new payment plan.
  • Repayment plan: Your lender may agree to a plan that includes your regular monthly payments plus a portion of the past due payments each month until your payments are caught up.
Long-term solutions or adjustments to your loan:
  • Loan modifications: Your lender may be willing to rewrite the terms of your original mortgage loan to address your financial situation. A loan modification is designed to make your monthly payments affordable. Changes to your loan may include extending the number of years to repay and changing the interest rate, including changing an adjustable rate to a fixed rate. You may have to pay a processing fee to obtain a loan modification.
  • Partial claim: If your mortgage is insured by a private mortgage insurance firm, your lender might help you file a claim. Some insurers provide a one-time, interest-free loan to bring your account up to date. The interest-free loan is due when you refinance, pay off your mortgage, or when you sell the property.
If keeping your home is not an option, you may want to consider these alternatives:
  • Sale: Your lender will usually give you a specific amount of time to find a buyer and pay off the amount you owe on your mortgage. Your lender may require you to use a real estate professional to help you sell the property.
  • Pre-foreclosure sale or short sale: If you can’t sell the property for the full amount of the loan, your lender may accept the amount you get for the selling price, even if it is less than the amount you owe. You may owe income taxes on the difference between the amount you owe and the amount you are able to pay back. Check with the Internal Revenue Service for tax information.
  • Assumption: A qualified buyer may be allowed to assume (take over) your mortgage. Ask your lender whether this option is available to you.
  • Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure: You may be able to “give back” your property to the lender, who then forgives the balance of your loan. Again, there may be income tax consequences, so check with the IRS. This option will not save your home, but it is less damaging to your credit rating. Some lenders impose certain restrictions on taking back property. For example, they may require that you try to sell your home at a fair market value for at least 90 days.

Courtesy of

For more information you may also visit our website and click on Help for Sellers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An overview of Pre-Foreclosure/Foreclosure

In 2007 Florida had 11,000 foreclosure filings, 26,000 in 2008 and 2009 they are estimating 40,000 foreclosure filings.

Pre-Foreclosure: The lender has not filed a lawsuit yet but you may have received some letters from the mortgage company asking you to bring your mortgage up to date. You may be 3-4 months behind at this point. CALL your lender NOW! Do not wait. Discuss options relating to the Making Home Affordable Program and/or Loan Modification. Please be patient when you call.  There are a lot of homeowners in the same situation. If you do not get the answer you are looking for, call back and insist on speaking with someone else or even a supervisor.
You can also contact a HUD Counselor at 1-888-995-4673 or visit

Foreclosure:  You have received a summons/complaint from the Lenders Attorney. IMPORTANT: You MUST respond in WRITING to the Clerk of the Court along with the Attorney within 20 days after receiving the summons. In this letter you need to tell them WHY you should not be foreclosed on: Loss of job, reduction of income,  serious illness, death in the family, etc., keep it short and simple (1 to 2 pages).  NOTE: If you are in Orange County, Florida when preparing your letter be sure to ask for the MEDIATION PROGRAM (if requested the banks representative must sit down with you to discuss your loan. The bank is not required to come to an agreement but you have the opportunity to speak to them before the final judgment is signed).
The next step will be a motion and hearing. It is recommended you attend the hearing (or if you have an attorney he/she would attend). The hearing will last about 5 minutes. This will give you an opportunity to stand in front of the judge and explain why you do not want the foreclosure to occur or need a delay (waiting for a short sale to be approved, or working on a loan modification, etc). Remember if you are in Orange County, FL remind the judge you requested the Mediation Program.

Once the foreclosure is completed and the bank successfully sells the property,  the bank may issue a deficiency judgment. Which would be the the difference between your original loan balance and what they sell it for.

We have some helpful links on our website as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation Homes at the Shire – West Haven/Davenport FL

The Shire has just reduced their prices but have still kept some of the great features in the home including: 
Granite in Kitchen & Master Bath, Appliances, 18 x 18 Floor Tiles, Heated Pool with Spa & much more.

The revised prices are:

THE COLUMBUS 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1677 sq. ft. $279,990, 2 car garage
THE HAMILTON 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,032 sq. ft. $299,990, 2 car garage
THE MAYFLOWER 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,529 sq. ft. $334,990, bonus room and 2 car garage
THE PATRIOT 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,765 sq. ft. $359,990, bonus room and 2 car garage
2807 Ashford 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2807 sq. ft. $374,990, balcony, 2 story, and 2 car garage
Nottingham Holiday 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 3212 sq. ft. $480,990, 2 story, 2 car garage

If you would like additional details or a tour of these wonderful homes, please contact us for an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Countrywide/BOA’s new short sale process?

I called BOA yesterday to get an update on one of my sellers files that was submitted about 10 days prior. They kept informing the seller, “the paperwork is not showing in the system.” For those of us that have worked with BOA in the past know this is a phrase we hear often. So in my call I also wanted to confirm the short sale fax number, because we know this changes on a weekly basis.  The supervisor then shared with me that BOA has initiated a new policy effective end of July.

The seller/borrower will have to call 1-800-669-0102 and explain to the Home Retention Team that they are working with a Realtor and would like to list the property for a short sale.  BOA will then gather basic financial information, input into their system and pre-qualify them to continue with the short sale. Now I have not seen this in action yet, I have a few of my sellers calling this week and can report back.  If you have had any experience with this new system, I would love to hear from you.

According to the supervisor the new process is supposed to help cut down on the time frame for approving the short sales. Some BOA files that have taken 6-8 months so if this policy can cut the time in half I would be very happy!

Contact us if you have any questions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

5 Tips for Protecting your home from Foreclosure

1. Don’t ignore your mortgage problem.

If you are unable to pay--or haven’t paid--your mortgage, contact your lender or the company that collects your mortgage payment as soon as possible. Mortgage lenders want to work with you to resolve the problem, and you may have more options if you contact them early. Call the phone number on your monthly mortgage statement or payment coupon book. Explain your financial situation and offer to work with your lender to find the right payment solution for you. If your lender won’t talk with you, contact a housing counseling agency. You can find a list of counseling resources at NeighborWorks and on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) website.

2. Do your homework before you talk to your lender or housing counselor.

Find your original mortgage loan documents and review them. Review your income and budget. Gather information on your expenses, including food, utilities, car payment, insurance, cable, phone, and other bills. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your lender, contact a housing or credit counseling agency. Counselors can help you examine your budget and determine the options available to you. They may also advise you about ways to work with your lender or offer to negotiate with your lender on your behalf.

3. Know your options

Some options provide short-term solutions/help, while others provide long-term or permanent solutions. You may be able to work out a temporary plan for making up missed payments, or you may be able to modify the loan terms. Sometimes, the best option may be to sell the house. For information on different options, visit HUD’s website or Foreclosure Resources for Consumers for links to local resources.

4. Stick to your plan.

Protect your credit score by making timely payments. Prioritize bills and pay those that are most necessary, such as your new mortgage payment. Consider cutting optional expenses such as eating out and premium cable TV services. If your situation changes and you can no longer meet your new payment schedule, call your lender or housing counselor immediately.

5. Beware of foreclosure rescue scams.

Con artists take advantage of people who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and who face foreclosure. These con artists may even call themselves “counselors.” Your mortgage lender or a legitimate housing counselor can best help you decide which option is best for you. For tips on spotting scam artists, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website, Foreclosure Rescue Scams. Report suspicious schemes to your state and local consumer protection agencies, which you can find on the Consumer Action Website.
Courtesy of
For more information you may also visit our website and click on Help for Sellers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rent vs. Own – a snapshot

Buying a home will be one of the largest financial investments you will make. It is important that you decide what is best for you. As a real estate professional I like to provide the tools to buyers so they understand why it may be a good time from being a renter to a home owner.

Here is a rent vs. own comparison that should illustrate the advantages of owning a home:

Purchase Price                                          $250,000
Mortgage – 5% for 30 years                 $241,250

Monthly Payment (Principal and Interest)     $1,295.08
Taxes and Home Insurance                                        450.00
Total Monthly Payment                                   $1,745.08
Less monthly tax savings                                            332.95
Less monthly appreciation                                         625.00
Less monthly principal reduction                            296.61
NET Cost of Owning                                               $490.52

Monthly rent for comparison                             $1,600.00
Less net cost of owning                                                  490.52
Monthly cost of renting vs. owning        $1,109.48
Annual cost of renting vs. owning                          $13,313.75           

Above analysis courtesy of Florida Realtors Magazine ®

If you would like more information about the home buying process or how to get started, please click on our buyer link for more information.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Windermere Stats as of August 1, 2009

Windermere is located in Southwest Orlando and nestled between numerous large lakes that form the Butler Chain of Lakes. Windermere was established in 1889 and works hard to maintain that small town feel. For instance, many local streets are still dirt roads. Windermere has expanded to include newer subdivisions such as Lakes of Windermere, Keene’s Pointe, Summerport, and Glenmuir. Below is a snapshot of the current state of the market in Windermere.

As of August 1, 2009 there are currently 591 properties listed in the MLS ranging in price from a two bedroom/two bathroom condominium in The Lakes of Windermere at $89,000 (Short Sale) to $12.5 Million estate home in Islesworth that is 9 bedrooms/8 bathrooms over 10,000 square feet. Here is the breakdown:

ACTIVE = 591:  118 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned (making up 20% of the inventory).
530 TOTAL: 82 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

61 TOTAL: 36 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

PENDING = 190: 131 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned, making up 69% of the pending inventory.
153 TOTAL: 108 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

37 TOTAL: 23 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

SOLD (July 2nd to August 1st)= 46: 26 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned, making up 56% of the pending inventory.
44 TOTAL: 25 pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

2 TOTAL: 1 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

If you would like a Market Analysis for your home, please contact us directly.

We look forward to serving you.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Celebration stats as of August 1, 2009

Celebration offers a combination of condominiums, townhomes and single family homes.  Here is a brief snapshot of the current state of the market here in Celebration.

As of August 1, 2009 there are currently 350 properties listed in our MLS system ranging in price from a two bedroom/one bathroom condominium in Siena at $74,900 (Bank Owned) to $3.9 Million for an estate home in Aquila Reserve that is over 8100 square feet.
ACTIVE = 350:  68 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned (making up 19% of the inventory).
172 TOTAL: 32 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

178 TOTAL: 36 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

PENDING = 102: 61 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned, making up 60% of the pending inventory.
44 TOTAL: 25 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

58 TOTAL: 36 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

SOLD (July 2nd to August 1st)= 21: 7 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned, making up 33% of the pending inventory.
8 TOTAL: 2 pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned  

13 TOTAL: 5 are pre-foreclosure/short sales/bank-owned

If you would like a specific Market Analysis for your home, please contact us directly.

We look forward to serving you.