Category Archives: Mortgages

How Will the New Flood Insurance Bill Impact You?

Flood Insurance is at Risk

 

How Will the New Flood Insurance Bill Impact You?

 

The National Flood Insurance Program, which was created in the late 1960’s to help facilitate more private insurance options, is going to expire on September 30th, 2017. Congress has recently introduced the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” that will allow flood insurance policies to go uninterrupted through the middle of Florida’s 2017 hurricane season.

 

The catch? The bill has to be passed and signed by the president before September 30th.

 

What This Means For The Homeowner

 

According to Florida Realtors, Florida represents 40% of NFIP nationally. If you are a homeowner in a flood zone in the Tampa Bay area this could be troublesome as congress has merely only introduced the bill needed to keep flood insurance afloat and hurricane season will not end until November.

 

Further, if you are looking to buy or sell your home, closing will be tough. Florida realtors states “Mortgage lenders require proof of property insurance before they will lend money at closing, and they require proof of flood insurance if a property is located within a FEMA-designated flood zone. If home buyers can’t secure proof of flood coverage, their closing could be cancelled or delayed.”

 

What You Can Do

 

Call or email your congress representative and ask them to push a long the bill, or pass an extension so flood insurance is not disrupted. You can easily find contact information for your representative here.

 

 

 

Dos and Don’ts of Getting a Mortgage

Dos and Don’ts of Getting a Mortgage

 

You want to buy a home. Now what? Here are some simple dos and don’ts of getting a mortgage that can help you throughout the home buying process. For more home buying tips you can check out our guide here. And when you’re ready to splash into the wonderful world of home ownership, use our custom home search to help you find it easily. Want more information on mortgages? Contact Adam Karol or John Fenech at Sunbelt Lending.

 

Dos and Don'ts of Getting a Mortgage

3% downpayment loans are back! 620 credit scores or above

A new program from Wells Fargo & Co. promises to make it easier for prospective borrowers to apply and qualify for a low downpayment residential loan.

Borrowers who use the yourFirst Mortgage program can purchase a home with a downpayment as low as 3 percent, an announcement Thursday indicated.

The San Francisco-based company said the program is intended to help first-time homebuyers and low- to moderate-income consumers become homeowners.

Fannie Mae is acting as a partner in the program.

According to Wells Fargo, the program features fixed interest rates. Prospective borrowers with less than 10 percent down can earn an interest rate reduction of 12.5 basis points by completing a homebuyer education course.

Expanded credit criteria include nontraditional sources like tuition, rent and utility bill payments.

The loan is fully documented and underwritten, and income from others who will reside in the subject property – such as family members or renters – can be considered for debt-to-income ratio calculations.

Downpayments and closing costs can come from gifts and downpayment assistance programs.

“yourFirst Mortgage is a conventional loan that avoids the complexities associated with loan applications for previous affordable lending programs,” the news release stated.

“There are a lot of conventional loan products with low downpayment options, but the criteria are so complex that it creates barriers for many qualified borrowers,” Wells Fargo Home Lending Executive Vice President Brad Blackwell said in the statement. “With yourFirst Mortgage, we wanted to provide access to credit and simplify the experience while maintaining responsible lending practices.”

Copyright © 2016 Mortgage Daily, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Signs Florida Real Estate is on the Mend

Florida Real Estate From the early- to mid-2000’s Florida was known not only for its hot weather, but also as a hot spot for real estate. Banks were fast and loose with mortgage approval and interest rates were rock bottom. Meanwhile, home ownership was on the rise nationwide and it was entirely centered on America’s southeast peninsula.

 
Banks were approving mortgages left and right. Some applications were even referred to as ‘no-paper approvals,’ meaning there was no requirement for proof of income. So banks were approving $250,000 loans for some borrowers who didn’t even have to prove they had the means to pay for it. Mortgage approvals were being rolled out quicker than ever and it gave the illusion there was positive consumer confidence and skyrocketing buying power.

 
From coast to coast everything was coming up roses, until the loans caught up with the lenders. Accounting for Murphy’s Law, mortgage holders began defaulting on their loans; some right after they were approved and some after a couple months. Regardless, all the bad loans began catching up with the banks in 2008. Throughout the year, subprime lenders would buy the bad loans and the papers would be shuffled. But in the end, it all came out in the wash.

 
By the fall of 2008, bending lenders began breaking. The most prolific of which was Lehman Brothers, a global financial services firm forced to declare chapter 11 bankruptcy and liquidate its assets in the fall. Being the first domino to fall, the rest of the lending institutions soon followed. In order to avoid complete financial ruin, however, the government was forced to use tax payer dollars to ‘bail out’ most lending institutions.

 
But all the bail-outs in the world couldn’t change the fact subprime borrowers were holding these mortgages. And a good chunk of the inventory these borrowers were holding mortgages on were housing in Florida. Subsequently, statewide, there was a glut of inventory on the market to drive down demand and prices. The only thing driven up was the number of vacant houses and negative equity.

 
It’s been a long, bumpy road since the financial collapse of 2008. From the collapse has come much more affordable real estate, making the Florida market extremely active. As of January, 2015, housing inventory has stayed below the typical norm of six month supply and homes are selling quickly. Prices have stabilized but are still affordable, and with the increase in demand, steady demand for real estate in Florida, price increases should be expected as long as there is not a huge spike in inventory.

MI Tax Deductibility is Back!

It’s official! The recent “fiscal cliff” legislation means MI premiums are tax deductible for premiums paid on home mortgages through December 31, 2013, retroactive for 2012 (deductibility was previously allowed to expire on December 31, 2011).

This means there’s no interruption in MI tax deductibility through December 31, 2013. With tax deductibility renewed for MI, there’s never been a better time to take a closer look at mortgage insurance. MI tax deductibility is one more reason to choose traditional options for housing finance. Not only is MI tax deductible, it can also be cancelled when it meets investor conditions.

Buying tips

Buying Tip: when I show property to clients one of the 1st things I look at when we arrive is the roof! In today’s market where insurance in Florida is so hard to obtain and expensive. A newer roof can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

If you buy a home with a new or newer (2002 on) it should have been in stalled with new nails and maybe special clips and a secondary waterproof barrier.

The second reason I look at the roof is quite often homes build in the 60’s and 70’s had tile roofs. Looking at the homes in the area if you see 50% of them have shingle roofs it could be a strong indication that the roof is at the end of its life. If that’s the case you maybe unable to get insurance. Insurance companies want to see at leased 3 years of life remaining.

Updated mortgage-aid program aims to pick up slack

PHILADELPHIA – April 5, 2012 – After months in the works, HARP 2.0 is available to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers who want to refinance but owe more on their mortgages than their houses now are worth.

HARP 2.0 – HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program – is being billed as an improvement over the three-year-old version that just about everyone acknowledges didn’t help anyone.

The reason for that failure: The original program had limits on loan-to-value ratio, the amount of a mortgage as a percentage of the appraised value of a property. If the balance of a mortgage exceeded the appraised value – say, $300,000 versus $150,000 – the borrower wasn’t allowed to refinance.

Recognizing that none of the borrowers the program was intended to help would be able to qualify, the limits were dropped when the new version of HARP was heralded in October.

Does that mean all lenders have agreed to no limits?

“I have lenders that have limited the loan-to-values. Some have even differentiated between attached and detached homes,” said Philadelphia mortgage broker Fred Glick, who has launched a blog, http://harp2.com, to update consumers. “They still are limiting what they will do” with loan-to-value ratios of 150 percent and no more.

“All in all, it is a great way to get people’s rates down in spite of low values,” Glick said. “This will decrease the supply of homes for sale and increase values over the long run.”

As with all these programs, the months since HARP 2.0 was announced have been spent trying to get lenders on board – no easy task since Fannie and Freddie loans are pooled as mortgage-backed securities that are owned by many investors. All the investors need to agree before borrowers can apply to reduce monthly payments to today’s low fixed interest rates, which remained under 4 percent for many months but now are beginning to increase as bond yields rise in an apparently improving economy.

As of March 17, HARP 2.0 has been in place to help keep homeowners above water. About four million Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers nationwide owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The government has a website, http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, (link) that has details about HARP 2.0 and other information.

Underwater loans might also be eligible to refinance under provisions of the recent National Mortgage Settlement. That applies to loans neither owned by Freddie or Fannie nor insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which has its own streamlined refinancing under a program announced in January. Details of that settlement are being worked out, and eligible borrowers will be notified by the five participating lenders – Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial, and Citibank – at some point.

To be eligible for HARP, homeowners must be current on their mortgage. That means paid in full up to date, with no late payments in the past six months and only one in the past 12. They also need to show that they can afford the new payments gained through refinancing without any trouble.

Borrowers must have closed on their current mortgage on or before May 31, 2009, and cannot have refinanced through HARP before. In addition, mortgages must fall under current “conforming-loan limits,” which vary by region.

One thing both Fannie and Freddie want to see is whether borrowers refinance to loans with terms shorter than 30 years. They call this “movement to a more stable product.”

Borrowers with an interest-only loan will be urged to refinance to a mortgage product that provides amortization of principal and accumulation of equity in the property.

Those who have an adjustable-rate mortgage will be encouraged to refinance to a fixed-rate loan that eliminates the potential for payment shock, or to an adjustable with an initial fixed period of five years or more and equal to or greater than the existing mortgage.

Homeowners with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be advised to refinance to a 15-, 20- or 25-year fixed that offers, in Fannie Mae’s words, accelerated amortization of principal and equity building. But borrowers won’t be allowed to cash out equity under this refinancing “except for closing costs and certain allowances to cover items such as association fees, property tax bills, insurance costs and rounding adjustments.”

Plus, borrowers may not satisfy subordinate financing in the form of a home-equity line of credit or a closed-end second mortgage with the proceeds of the refinance mortgage.

Balloon mortgages and convertible adjustable-rate mortgages are eligible for HARP 2.0 if the conditional right to refinance the balloon or convert the ARM was exercised by the borrower and “redelivered” to Fannie Mae before June 1, 2009.

Resources

• To determine whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, check at http://fanniemae.com/loanlookup and http://freddiemac.com/mymortgage.

• To access Fannie Mae’s frequently asked questions file, go to http://goo.gl/pN54x.

• Many of the rules and regulations outlined in the latest information from Fannie and Freddie are far beyond the understanding of the typical homeowner, and, as the government warns, scam artists are already hovering above borrowers, waiting to pounce. For information about mortgage-assistance-relief scams, visit http://FTC.gov.

• Some underwater homeowners will qualify for assistance under the Mortgage Settlement. The Center for Responsible Lending has a downloadable consumer’s guide for that program at http://goo.gl/2FZKM.

Copyright © 2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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New rules aim to simplify refinancing for troubled homeowners

If you are a troubled homeowner hoping to refinance, pay attention next Tuesday as details come out on a new federal program that could make it easier starting in late December or early in 2012.

In the meantime, be sure you keep up with your mortgage payments so that you can qualify for the new deal.

Even if you missed payments in the past, it can help to be current going forward, said Kathy Conley, housing specialist for GreenPath Debt Solutions in Farmington Hills.

The revised Home Affordability Refinance Program (HARP) could apply to a broader base of people.

If, for instance, you owe $100,000 on a house that would appraise at just $50,000 – too deep underwater for a conventional refinancing – you might be able to refinance under the new HARP. That was not true under the old HARP, launched in 2009, which had a 125 percent maximum on loan-to-value ratio.

The new plan is expected be a big help for many homeowners in states that have been hard hit by drastic drops in home values, such as Michigan, Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada, according to Greg McBride, senior analyst for Bankrate.com.

Seeing mortgage rates hover near record lows – around 4.23 percent for a 30-year fixed and 3.48 percent for a 15-year – has many folks wondering whether it’s time to refinance.

In this tough housing market, what do you need to know? How can you save money by refinancing and make those low rates work for you?

Even with interest rates low and a revised federal program coming, refinancing is not for everybody who wants – or needs – a better deal on their home and some extra cash.

Some homeowners could face surprising hurdles, even if they’re not underwater and are current on payments.

“Everybody who is really hurting – and everybody who needs the help – can’t take advantage of the rates,” said Kip Kirkpatrick, CEO of Shore Mortgage Services in Birmingham, Mich.

What’s your credit score? How solid is your income? Got a lot of debt?

To refinance, the borrower needs a predictable level of recurring income – so such things as pension income would count, as would Social Security, your regular paychecks, alimony if expected to last three years or more, and interest on investments.

“You will need to provide a full accounting of your income,” said Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans in Detroit.

Lenders are going to look at how much money you owe on the mortgage and other loans relative to what you’re making.

“A reduction in income can lead to a higher ratio of debt payments to monthly income,” said Greg McBride, senior analyst for Bankrate.com. “A high debt-to-income ratio makes lenders nervous. The borrower is just one unplanned expense away from problems.”

As a general rule, it becomes more difficult – but not impossible – to qualify for a mortgage or refinance when a person’s total debt – to income ratio exceeds 40 percent to 45 percent, Walters said.

Your credit score counts. Lenders generally want a FICO of 680 or higher to qualify for the best rates in a conventional mortgage. A FICO of 620 tends to be the cutoff that often defines who can, and who can’t, get a mortgage.

Walters noted that there are exceptions to the 620 cutoff, especially when utilizing Federal Housing Administration programs with some lenders.

Credit scores also could have more wiggle room under the new federal Home Affordable Refinance Program. Gerri Detweiler, personal finance expert for Credit.com, said consumers who are in the process of a refinancing don’t want to go out and borrow money to get new furniture, buy a car or even get holiday gifts. Lenders are likely to look at your credit even the day before or the day of closing on that new mortgage, Detweiler said.

“If you’ve done something stupid with your credit, you could lose the loan,” she said.

So what if the house you bought for $280,000 and mortgaged for $260,000 is now worth $150,000?

Right now, you can’t do a thing with it.

For a conventional refinancing, the lender wants at most an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio. So if your home is worth $100,000 and you owe $70,000, you could qualify.

The new HARP 2.0 plan is going to address the underwater mortgage issue further.

“Anybody who thinks they’re underwater, I would say just hold off until the new program comes out,” said Brian Seibert, president of Watson Group Financial, a mortgage banker in Waterford, Mich.

The old HARP program had a maximum 125 percent loan-to-value ratio. But that cap is removed under the new plan.

“It’s easier to refinance through HARP than a conventional refinance,” Conley said.

But remember to stay current with mortgage payments.

Under HARP 2.0, the borrower would have to be current with the mortgage payment for the past six months and have no more than one late payment in the past 12. But Conley and others recommend that even if you were late in the past, you can try to be current now if you want to try to qualify for HARP 2.0.

“Definitely don’t skip the mortgage payment so you can go Christmas shopping,” Detweiler said.

Though the old HARP promised far more than it delivered – fewer than 900,000 refinancings and just 72,000 of them underwater – experts say consumers should avoid being discouraged. The revised program, which will run through 2013, could be an improvement.

The program would lower payments but would not reduce principal, so borrowers would still hold mortgages for more than their homes are worth. But they could avoid foreclosure.

Consumers who want to refinance should prepare paperwork, keep up payments, consider the new option and avoid the desire to give up.

“You feel the frustration that people have,” McBride said, “but sitting back and doing nothing is not going to solve the problem.”

A guide to administration’s new mortgage-refi plan

WASHINGTON – Oct. 25, 2011 – Two big questions loom over the Obama administration’s latest bid to help troubled homeowners: Will it work? And who would benefit?

By easing eligibility rules, the administration hopes 1 million more homeowners will qualify for its refinancing program and lower their mortgage payments – twice the number who have already. The program has helped only a fraction of the number the administration had envisioned.

In part, that’s because many homeowners who would like to refinance can’t, because they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. But it’s also because banks are under no obligation to refinance a mortgage they hold – a limitation that won’t change under the new plan.

Here are some of the major questions and answers about the administration’s initiative:

Q: What is the program?

A. The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, was started in 2009. It lets homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower rates. Borrowers can bypass the usual requirement of having at least 20 percent equity in their home. But few people have signed up. Many “underwater” borrowers – those who owe more than their homes are worth – couldn’t qualify under the program. Roughly 22.5 percent of U.S. homeowners, about 11 million, are underwater, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. As of Aug. 31, fewer than 900,000 homeowners, and just 72,000 underwater homeowners, have refinanced through the administration’s program. The administration had estimated that the program would help 4 million to 5 million homeowners.

Q. Why did so few benefit?

A. Mainly because those who’d lost the most in their homes weren’t eligible. Participation was limited to those whose home values were no more than 25 percent below what they owed their lender. That excluded roughly 10 percent of borrowers, CoreLogic says. In some hard-hit areas, borrowers have lost nearly 50 percent of their home’s value. Another problem: Homeowners must pay thousands in closing costs and appraisal fees to refinance. Typically, that adds up to 1 percent of the loan’s value – $2,000 in fees on a $200,000 loan. Sinking home prices also left many fearful that prices had yet to bottom. They didn’t want to throw good money after a depreciating asset. Or their credit scores were too low. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan acknowledged that the program has “not reached the scale we had hoped.”

Q: What changes is the administration making?

A. Homeowners’ eligibility won’t be affected by how far their home’s value has fallen. And some fees for closing, title insurance and lien processing will be eliminated. So refinancing will be cheaper. The number of homeowners who need an appraisal will be reduced, saving more money. Some fees for those who refinance into a shorter-term mortgage will also be waived. Banks won’t have to buy back the mortgages from Fannie or Freddie, as they previously had to when dealing with some risky loans. That change will free many lenders to offer refinance loans. The program will also be extended 18 months, through 2013.

Q: Who’s eligible?

A. Those whose loans are owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which the government took control of three years ago. Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages – nearly 31 million loans. They buy loans from lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors. To qualify for refinancing, a loan must have been sold to Fannie and Freddie before June 2009. Homeowners can determine whether Fannie or Freddie owns their mortgage by going online: Freddie’s loan tool is at freddiemac.com/mymortgage; Fannie’s is at fanniemae.com/loanlookup. Mortgages that were refinanced over the past 2 1/2 years aren’t eligible. Homeowners must also be current on their mortgage. One late payment within six months, or more than one in the past year, would mean disqualification. Perhaps the biggest limitation on the program: It’s voluntary for lenders. A bank remains free to reject a refinancing even if a homeowner meets all requirements.

Q: Will it work?

A. For those who can qualify, the savings could be significant. If, for example, a homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage at 6 percent can refinance down to 4.5 percent, the savings would be $3,000 a year. But the benefit to the economy will likely be limited. Even homeowners who are eligible and who choose to refinance through the government program could opt to sock away their savings or pay down debt rather than spend it.

Q: How many homeowners will be eligible or will choose to participate?

A: Not entirely clear. The government estimates that up to 1 million more people could qualify. Moody’s Analytics says the figure could be as high as 1.6 million. Both figures are a fraction of the 11 million or more homeowners who are underwater, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data research firm.

Q: Who will benefit most?

A: Underwater homeowners in the hard-hit states of Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada could be greatly helped. Many are stuck with high mortgage rates after they were approved for mortgages with little or no money as a downpayment and few requirements. The average annual savings for a U.S. household would be $2,500, officials say.

Q: When will it start?

A: Fannie and Freddie will issue the full details of the plan lenders and servicers on Nov. 15, officials say. The revamped program could be in place for some lenders as early as Dec. 1.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press, Derek Kravitz, AP real estate writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

White House weighs mass refinancing plan

The White House is considering a housing proposal that would allow millions of homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance into lower interest rates, The New York Times reports.

“A wave of refinancing could be a strong stimulus to the economy, because it would lower consumers’ mortgage bills right away and allow them to spend elsewhere,” an article in The New York Times notes.

Many homeowners have been unable to take advantage of today’s low interest rates — which are averaging around 4 percent — because they don’t qualify for refinancing at the best rates since they owe more on their home than it is currently worth or because of poor credit. The refinancing plan is still under discussion of how it would work, The New York Times said.

“This is the best stimulus out there because it doesn’t increase the deficit, it accomplishes monetary policy, and it reduces defaults in housing,” Christopher J. Mayer, an economist at the Columbia Business School, told The New York Times.

The White House is also considering other options to try to stimulate the housing market or save homeowners from foreclosure. Such options include more changes to its refinancing programs so more homeowners can participate or a home rental program to that would rent out foreclosures instead of putting them for sale so foreclosures would stop weighing down overall home prices.

“This is just want this economy needs! I was just saying I would love to refinance my home but after talking to Wells Fargo I was told they couldn’t refinance my home because my loan to value wasn’t within tolerance. I was looking to refinance to a 15 year mortgage to take advantage of the low rates. I do hope this gets through the White House. I could see this as a huge plus for most Americans, putting $150-$200 a month or more in their pockets.”

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FHA loan limits are changing this year 2011

Congress has extended FHA loan limits in 2009, 2010 and 2011 on an annual basis, but on October 1, 2011, the loan limits for the FHA will decline due to changes set in law. FHA loan limits are set slightly differently than those for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By law, the lowest limit for any county for one-unit homes is $271,050. The ceiling for FHA currently cannot exceed $729,750, but that ceiling is set to decline on October 1, 2011 to $625,500.
For counties that lie between these limits, the mortgage loan limit is equal to the area median house price multiplied by 125% (currently) or 115% (as of October 1, 2011).
According to the limits published by the Federal Housing Administration, 620 of 3143 counties in the United States, or 20% of the total, will see a decrease in the applicable FHA loan limit. Many, but not all, of the affected areas are concentrated along the coasts and other high cost areas such as California. It is also worth noting that every county that will realize a decrease in its applicable GSE loan limits is also among the 620 counties that will face a decline in the FHA loan limit.
We use the American Community Survey (ACS) to demonstrate that these counties include significant concentrations of population and housing, more than the share of the counties affected (one in five) would suggest. In fact, the affected counties contain 44.3 million owner-occupied housing units of the 75.3 million nationwide or 59% of all owner-occupied housing in the U.S.
For counties facing a decline, the average decline in the FHA loan limit is $58,060 or 14% from current levels. For Pinellas and Hillsboro counties there is a $21,450 decline, $157,300 for Manatee and Sarasota counties.
To estimate the range of homes that will be affected by the change, we assume an average 3.5% down payment (the minimum required under present law by the FHA). Using home value data from the American Community Survey (ACS), we interpolate prices by county. With this approach, we estimate the following impacts concerning affected homes:
• Under present law, 8.32 million owner-occupied homes are priced above the existing FHA loan limits
• Under the changes set to take place on October 1, 2011, an additional 3.87 million owner-occupied homes will be put above the limit, bringing the total number of homes that are not eligible for FHA-insured mortgages to 12.2 million.

Bankrupt homeowners shed second mortgages

Stung by the crash of the housing market, some struggling homeowners are using a little known but increasingly popular provision of the bankruptcy code to eliminate second mortgages and avoid foreclosure.

Statistics are hard to come by, but bankruptcy lawyers say the provision has been used effectively on hundreds, if not thousands, of cases in the San Francisco Bay Area during the past two years.

“It’s a big thing in our valley,” said James “Ike” Shulman, a San Jose bankruptcy lawyer. “But it’s not widely known.”

Shulman, co-founder of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said he has helped a number of clients who have filed for personal bankruptcy use the law to hold on to their houses – including three last week.

Cathy Moran, a Mountain View, Calif., bankruptcy lawyer, said one of her clients had a $132,000 second mortgage voided by the court.

“This is a really big-ticket issue that allows people to keep a home and conform the mortgage to something closer to real value,” Moran said.

Bankruptcy laws prevent homeowners from eliminating the debt of a first mortgage if they plan to stay in their home. But second mortgages are treated differently. They can be declared unsecured debt when there is no equity to cover them, as is the case for millions of houses that are now worth far less than a few years ago.

When that happens in a personal bankruptcy proceeding, the second mortgage is put on hold and no payments are required while the homeowner completes a repayment plan for other debts, which typically takes three to five years. At that point, the second mortgage is eliminated.

Many of these second mortgages were granted during the housing bubble, when home prices were going in one direction only – up, up and up.

“A lot of these are loans that shouldn’t have been made at all,” said Henry Sommer, editor of Collier on Bankruptcy, a publication on bankruptcy law.

One of Shulman’s clients, Veronica – who asked that her full name not be used – was struggling to keep the San Jose house she bought in 2005 for $612,000.

Her home’s value has dropped to about $367,000 – less than her first mortgage of $489,000 – which allowed her to petition the bankruptcy court to set aside her $122,000 second mortgage. The court granted her motion.

She successfully completed her payment plan for other debts two months ago, and her second mortgage is now eliminated.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “After almost six years, I am finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m so, so grateful.”

Mortgage bankers don’t like the practice.

It’s “a troublesome phenomenon. It’s one of those things that’s just now developing and bubbling up,” said Dustin Hobbs, spokesman for the California Mortgage Bankers Association. But there is little the mortgage industry can do, aside from seeking to change the law. That could be difficult given the current partisan lineup in Washington.

And there are no complaints from investors in first mortgages, like the pension and retirement funds represented by the Association of Mortgage Investors. “We think with the right controls, something like this to allow a responsible, distressed homeowner to reorganize their assets, liabilities and cash flows is a very pro-business proposition,” said Chris Katopis, the association’s executive director. “We disagree with what the mortgage bankers associations are saying on this.”

The law has been like this for years, bankruptcy lawyers say. It’s just never been used as much because in the past there was usually enough equity in a home to cover the second mortgage.

“We’re having great results” using the rule, said Brette Evans, a San Jose bankruptcy lawyer. In one recent case, a small-business owner was able to hang on to her home by setting aside a $240,000 second mortgage, she said.

That put the borrower in “a safe zone” where she could work out a modification of her first mortgage, Evans said.

FHA launches short refi opportunity for underwater homeowners

WASHINGTON – Aug. 9, 2010 – In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided new details about a refinance program it announced earlier this year that helps responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property.

Starting Sept. 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain “underwater” non-FHA borrowers a new FHA-insured mortgage. To qualify, an owner must be current on his existing mortgage, and his lender must agree to write off at least 10 percent of the unpaid principal on the first mortgage.

“We’re throwing a lifeline out to those families … experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined,” says FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”

Other details: A homeowner’s existing loan cannot be FHA insured, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio no more than 97.75 percent. The owner must qualify for a new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal of 500 or higher. The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence, and the new debt must bring the borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115 percent.

Interested homeowners should contact their lenders to find out if they’re eligible, and to determine whether the lender will write down a portion of the unpaid principal. If a homeowner qualifies, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before Oct. 3, 2010.

The FHA provided complete details in a six-page mortgagee letter that can be downloaded in PDF format. To read the letter, go to: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/10-23ml.pdf

Updated Lending Info

John Fenech’s
Lending Reminders:

FHA Financing
• FHA maximum loan in Tampa Bay $292,500
• FHA down payment needed from borrower 3.5%. All of this can come from a family gift.
• FHA seller concessions currently at 6% of purchase price
• FHA processing time for SLS is approximately 30 days.
• Owner occupied only

VA Financing
• Maximum loan amount in Tampa Bay $417,000
• 00000 money down required
• Closing costs and prepaids can be paid by seller to 4%
• Limit borrowers escrow money because normally no money allowed back.
• Owner occupied only

Conventional
• Maximum loan amount is $417,000.
• Minimum down payment is 95% loan to value
• Borrower MUST have their own 5% into the transaction prior to gifts being used unless the gift is 20% of the purchase price or more.
• Rate adjustments for loan to value and credit scores
• Owner occupied, second homes, investor loans.

For more info on lending requirements call John at 727-827-1818

Home buyers: Don’t ignore the mortgage market

While many home-buying hopefuls are racing to the bank to close their deals before the $8,000 tax credit disappears, not every potential home-buyer thinks the best deals are out there yet.

But the money one might save by looking for a better home price could pale in comparison to the huge cost of waiting if the mortgage market doesn’t hold steady, and most mortgage brokers & banks expect a rise in rates later this year.

“Rates are almost at an all-time low,” said John Fenech at Sunbelt Lending with Coldwell Banker in St. Petersburg. “We’re still at about 5% for a 30-year-fixed loan (for someone with good credit and a good job).”

John says even a 0.5% change in interest rates means a $56/mo. difference for someone looking at a $180,000 30-year fixed-rate home loan. That translates to $672 a year. And $20,160 over the course of a 30-year loan.

With inventory shrinking and supply at the 6 month mark a place we haven’t see in Pinellas County in 4 years buyer are starting to feel pressure they haven’t experienced in years. This translates to good news for sellers, and after the losses they have seen in the past 3 years it’s the light at the end of the tunnel for many.

If you were looking for a sign that right now maybe the best time to buy, “it is”. Here is your sign! Don’t put off buying the home a home.

Fannie Mae Approved Condo List Florida

Here is the updated list from Fannie Mae on PERS approved condos as of March 1st. There are a few additions to the list since December. If you remember, Fannie Mae has a task force dedicated to examining projects across the State to get them appoved. Once approved it allows us to do 80% financing on a conventional basis, for not only owner occupied buyers but 2nd home and investor buyers as well.

Click on this link “Fannie Mae Condo Approval 3-01-10”

Let me know if you have any questions.

John Fenech
Sunbelt Lending Services
Regional Loan Manager
Ph: 800-858-5674 or 727-827-1818
Fax: 856-917-2610

A Golden Opportunity: 203k Program Helps First-Time Buyers Turn Dreams into Reality

FHA 203k streamline loan helps buyers of single family homes renovate and wrap up the renovation costs in to the loan. This is a great program for people buying distressed homes or dated property.

I recently completed my first 203k FHA loan with a young couple purchasing a home in Historic Kenwood, the deal wasn’t as simple as the story below. Our deal was a “short sale” and the buyers didn’t know about this program until after the home inspection revealed several problems that would have prevented our purchase with a normal FHA loan. This home needed electrical updates and plumbing issues as well as pealing paint on the out side of the home.

FHA sends out an inspector, if the home isn’t in good shape they will not fund the loan. In our case the seller wasn’t able to make the repairs so the 203k was our best option.

It did take several months to close due because we needed to renegotiate with the sellers lender on the sales price because of the updates and repairs needed. The FHA 203k loan was the only way they would have been able to buy this home so in the end it all worked out. (Just a FYI the 203k loan does take 90 days + & the cost of the loan is higher.)

If you’re finding all the homes in your price range need of updates (no structural work) the FHA 203k loan maybe a great option.

RisMedia story on a 203K loan

Economy and our industry

From John Fenech Sunbelt Lending

Some of you have asked me about the potential for rising rates. Here is something I read this week that reinforced my thoughts on the government’s continued help in this area:

Ask The Expert

Last year was a very challenging year. Many of my prospects, including previous customers who are homeowners, could not qualify for a new loan. Now I am hearing that rates will be going up after the Fed stops purchasing loans. I am actually scared that I will not make it. I need some advice but also encouragement. John from California

John, here is the good news. The industry, though rapidly changing, will be around for a long time. If anything this deep recession taught us is how important the real estate industry is to this country. At the beginning of the “sub-prime” crisis we had our government telling us that the economy was strong enough to withstand the issue. They were wrong. Real estate led us into this recession and it must lead us out. I expect the government to do whatever it can, from tax credit to foreclosure help, to right the ship. However, that does not mean that there will not be pain. There has been a lot of pain and there will be a lot more. We are on our way to recovery though.

John Fenech
Sunbelt Lending Services
Regional Loan Manager
Ph: 800-858-5674 or 727-827-1818
Fax: 856-917-2610

A year later, reality sets in on housing loan mods

About 116,000 homeowners have had their loans modified to reduce their monthly payments, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. Only about $15 million in incentive money has been paid to more than 100 participating mortgage companies. That’s 0.02 percent of the $75 billion available.

Unemployment soared to 10 percent, and home prices continued to fall, especially in some states. 16 million homeowners nationwide now owe more to the bank than their properties are worth, according to Moody’s Economy.com.

Low interest rates and tax incentives have boosted home sales, but are ending soon. The $1.25 trillion program created by the Federal Reserve that has helped keep rates low is scheduled to end next month. The tax credits run out on April 30.

Obama’s plan had two main strategies: The government would channel $75 billion to banks to prod them into modifying the terms of mortgages for up to 4 million borrowers by the end of 2012. It would also relax rules to let up to 5 million homeowners refinance at lower interest rates.

Under the modification plan, borrowers can get their mortgage rates reduced to as low as 2 percent for five years and have the term of their loan extended to as long as 40 years. Borrowers must make three payments on time before the modification becomes permanent. Monthly payments for borrowers in the program have fallen to a median of about $835, down by about $520 a month.

Since the program started in March:

• 1 million people have entered the modification program, and almost 12 percent, or 116,000, have completed the process.

• A third of homeowners who made the three monthly trial payments on time have now fallen behind.

• More than 61,000 homeowners have dropped out, and hundreds of thousands more are expected to do so in the coming months.

• About 220,000 homeowners whose homes have plummeted in value have refinanced.

The process has been time-consuming, bureaucratic and fraught with communication mistakes. Borrowers often feel lost in a maze. When denied by their bank, they often don’t get a clear explanation of why.

To qualify, borrowers need to provide two pay stubs and a letter describing the reason for their hardship. They must give the Internal Revenue Service permission to give out their tax returns to their mortgage company.

Faced with poor results last summer, the Obama administration pressured mortgage companies. Treasury officials summoned key executives from lenders, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, to Washington. The industry was given strict orders: Sign up at least 500,000 borrowers by Nov. 1.

To meet that goal, most companies allowed homeowners to enroll in the program without proof of income. That was the same low standard that lenders used when they made some of the riskiest loans that fueled the housing frenzy.

Getting the documents in advance would have been a better idea, Heid said. That’s because lenders have struggled to get homeowners to complete all the required documentation. Many don’t comply, despite repeated phone calls, mailings and even in-person visits by notaries.

It’s a problem that has perplexed and frustrated industry executives. “Borrowers didn’t understand that if they didn’t send the documents in, they would fail to qualify,” said Sanjiv Das, Citigroup’s top mortgage executive.

Last month, the Obama administration made key changes. It reduced the paperwork requirements and announcing that homeowners will be required to provide proof of their incomes upfront starting June 1.

Are you living the American Nightmare! Why others Profit?

The Problem:
►Wall street got too greedy.
►ARM, Alt-A ARM, Option ARM, Prime ARM, Sub-prime ARM, these adjustable rate
mortgages will continue reset to higher monthly payments which many homeowners will
not be unable to afford.
►Millions of mortgage brokers originated these types of loans across the nation.
►Now the banks are literally overwhelmed and don’t have enough people to clean up
the mess.

The Numbers:
►More than $250 billion in 2008 another 350 billions in 2009 and another $700 billion
will reset in 2010 and beyond, this is according to a First American study.
►Now here is the recipe for disaster.
►It’s estimated that 60% of all arms borrowers pay only the minimum payment and can
not afford a higher payment.
►According to Freddie Mac 62% of all loan modifications become delinquent within 60
days after a modification takes place.
►Loan modification is a disaster; it’s PROVEN it doesn’t work without principal
reduction.
►Right now according to credit Suisse banks have approximately 900 thousands
properties in their books. Not listed for sale with an agent.
►As per Credit Suisse banks and GSE’s must avoid foreclosure in 4.2 million loans
until the end of 2010 in order to have a recovery.
►Highest unemployment rate in over 30 years.

The FDIC is selling off failed Bank and making crazy deals with the new owners, like this deal with failed IndyMac Bank to OneWest Click to Watch This Video Why would these banks want to help the average homeowners who is fighting to keep their homes when they can make more money doing short sales. Does this seem right to you?

Let me know your thoughts.

FHA Financing Requirements – The Changes to FHA Financing Requirements For 2010

OK, there are some interesting changes which will take pace later this year to FHA financed loans. The government has been facing higher defaults with FHA insured loans over the past couple of year’s, in order to build up reserves they are making some changes.

If you are looking to buy a home using FHA financing the window to closing and avoid higher fees is closing quick.

Also, I hear the government is going to adjust the key interest rate at which they loan money to banks this will adjust the interest rate you will be able to get when buying a home. Just a 1% jump in interest rates, is like seeing a 10% increase in the price of a home. My advice would be don’t delay, if you find a home you love and plan on living there for 3+ years you should buy now.

Future changes with FHA:

FHA financing requirements, change from time to time to match the market and the risk of loss. Since the collapse of the financial markets in 07,08 FHA financing has been the primary source for home buyers to obtain a real estate loan with a low down payment. This is the reason for the changes you are about to see.

Imagine the market slips by another 5-10% and the unemployment numbers go about 10%, many borrowers who used FHA financing in the past 3-4 years could find them selves in foreclosure or needing to do a short sale to get out of their home because they have little to no equity in their home. FHA being the #1 source for finding for these low down payment loans could find them selves in a very bad situation. The tax payers could also be facing another bailout. So in order to protect government backed loans and us the tax payers these are the latest rounds of changes.

Initial up-front MIP increase will be raised by.50 to 2.25% will be released in a Mortgagee Letter tomorrow Jan 21 and will go into effect in the spring (example $200,000 loan will now costs the borrower $1,000 more, this is to help cover the losses already seen by FHA)

Borrower will be required to have a min credit score of 580 to qualify for 3.5% down, if score less than 580 must have 10% down this will go into effect in early summer

Seller concessions will be reduced from 6% to 3%, will be posted in February will go into effect in the early summer.

Lender performances, Neighborhood watch will be available on HUD website on February 1

Enhanced monitoring of lender performance, implement credit watch termination through lender underwriting ID in addition to origination ID will be released in Mortgagee Letter tomorrow Jan 21 and is effective immediately

Pursuing authority to increase enforcement on lenders to assume liability for all the loans they originate and underwrite

Legislative authority permitting HUD flexibility to establish areas of review and termination to withdraw originating and underwriting approval for lender nationwide on the basis of the performance of its regional branches.

FHA financing is still the only program that allows a borrower to purchase a home with 3.5% down payment. These changes could effect your ability to qualify for a loan so check with your lender to make sure you will meet the minimum requirements before you make an offer.

FHA to provide early relief to struggling homeowners

WASHINGTON – Jan. 25, 2010 – At-risk homeowners with FHA-insured mortgage loans are now eligible for loss mitigation assistance before they fall behind on their mortgage payments. Previously, homeowners weren’t eligible until they missed payments.

The Helping Families Save Their Home Act of 2009 expanded FHA’s authority to use its loss mitigation tools to assist FHA borrowers avoid foreclosure, including those facing “imminent default” as defined by the Secretary.

“Loss mitigation assistance is beneficial to both borrowers and FHA because it helps borrowers retain their homes while protecting the FHA insurance fund from unnecessary losses,” says FHA Commissioner David Stevens. “Now servicers will have additional options for those borrowers who seek help before they go delinquent.”

The change is effective immediately under FHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP) (http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/nsc/rep/hampfact.pdf) with the following rules:

• FHA defines “FHA borrower facing imminent default” to be current or less than 30 days past due on the mortgage obligation and experiencing a significant reduction in income or some other hardship that will prevent him or her from making the next required payment on the mortgage.

• A forbearance agreement allows the loan servicer to postpone, reduce or suspend payments due on a loan for a limited and specific time period.

• FHA-HAMP allows qualified FHA-insured borrowers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment to an affordable level by permanently reducing the payment through the use of a partial claim combined with a loan modification. The partial claim defers the repayment of a portion of the mortgage principal through an interest-free subordinate mortgage that is not due until the first mortgage is paid off. The remaining balance is then modified through re-amortization and, in some cases, an interest rate reduction.

The borrower must be able to document the cause of an imminent default, which may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following types of hardship:

1. A reduction in or loss of income that was supporting the mortgage loan, e.g., unemployment, reduced job hours, reduced pay, or a decline in self-employed business earnings. A scheduled temporary shutdown of the employer, (such as for a scheduled vacation), would not in and of itself be adequate to support an imminent default.

2. A change in household financial circumstances, e.g., death in family, serious or chronic illness, permanent or short-term disability.

Loan servicers must document the basis for its determination that a payment default is imminent and retain all documentation used to reach its conclusion. The servicer’s documentation must also include information on the borrower’s financial condition.

Additional information and guidance can be found on HUD’s website. (www.hud.gov).

Future changes with FHA:

Initial up-front MIP increase will be raised by .50 to 2.25% will be released in a Mortgagee Letter tomorrow Jan 21 and will go into effect in the spring

Borrower will be required to have a min credit score of 580 to qualify for 3.5% down, if score less than 580 must have 10% down this will go into effect in early summer

Seller concessions will be reduced from 6% to 3%, will be posted in February will go into effect in the early summer

Lender performances, Neighborhood watch will be available on HUD website on February 1

Enhanced monitoring of lender performance, implement credit watch termination through lender underwriting ID in addition to origination ID will be released in Mortgagee Letter tomorrow Jan 21 and is effective immediately

Pursuing authority to increase enforcement on lenders to assume liability for all the loans they originate and underwrite

Legislative authority permitting HUD flexibility to establish areas of review and termination to withdraw originating and underwriting approval for lender nationwide on the basis of the performance of its regional branches

FHA boss: FHA is not the new subprime

SAN DIEGO – Nov. 16, 2009 – Federal Housing Administration Commissioner David Stevens said Saturday that concerns the agency is headed for the same financial trouble that snared Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the subprime sector are unwarranted.

Stevens made the remarks during a speech at the National Association of Realtors®’ annual conference and expo in San Diego.

His comments come days after the agency revealed its financial reserves have fallen to a dangerously low level due to more homeowners defaulting on their loans. The FHA does not make loans, but rather offers insurance against default.

That’s led to mounting concerns that it will eventually need an infusion of cash like government-controlled mortgage finance companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

But Stevens sought to dampen those concerns, noting that despite the most severe housing recession in decades, the agency has $31 billion in capital – $3.5 billion more than it had a year ago.

FHA is “the only participant in home financing services in the U.S. economy that hasn’t needed a bailout, hasn’t needed (funds from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program), hasn’t needed special assistance and is still completely self-sustaining,” Stevens said.

“Without FHA there would be no (housing) market, and this economy’s recovery would be significantly slower,” he said.

The FHA has insured nearly a quarter of all new loans made this year, and about 80 percent of that business is from first-time homebuyers.

The agency’s dominant role in first-time home purchases has raised questions about whether it taking on too much risk. Some have drawn comparisons between FHA and the subprime market, which collapsed due to homebuyer defaults on risky loans.

Stevens rejected such comparisons, stressing that the agency has far more stringent guidelines for the loans it insures.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

FHA’s losses have increased with the unemployment rate as more homeowners default on their loans. About 17 percent of FHA borrowers are at least one payment behind or in foreclosure, compared with 13 percent for all loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

An independent audit shows FHA’s reserves have fallen to $3.6 billion, compared with $685 billion in outstanding insured loans for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. That’s a ratio of 0.53 percent and far below the 2 percent threshold required by Congress.

Stevens credited the requirement with keeping FHA on good financial footing.

“That is why we’re still standing while many of others did not survive this tumultuous time,” he said.

Entertainment Education Revolutionized free ebook

Rates on 30-year loans fall below 5 percent

WASHINGTON – Nov. 6, 2009 – Rates for 30-year home loans dipped below 5 percent this week after rising for three straight weeks.

The average rate fell to 4.98 percent from 5.03 percent a week earlier, mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday.

Rates had hovered below 5 percent for nearly a month until inching upward two weeks ago. They hit a record low of 4.78 percent in the spring, but are still attractive for people looking to buy a home or refinance.

The Federal Reserve has pumped $1.25 trillion into mortgage-backed securities in an effort to lower rates on mortgages and loosen credit. Rates on 30-year mortgages traditionally track yields on long-term government debt.

That, plus a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers, has helped boost the ailing housing market.

The number of signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes rose for the eighth month in a row in September, while residential construction spending jumped by 3.9 percent, the largest gain in more than six years, data this week showed.

Still, lenders are cautious and standards remain tight, so the best rates are available only to borrowers with solid credit and a 20 percent downpayment.

Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day, frequently in line with long-term Treasury bonds.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.40 percent from 4.46 percent recorded last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.35 percent, down from last week’s 4.42 percent. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages decreased to 4.47 percent from 4.57 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 points for 30-year loans. The fee averaged 0.6 points for 15-year, five-year and one-year loans.

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Builders Urge Congress to Renew Home Buyer Tax Credit to Create Jobs, Boost Economy

October 26, 2009—In order to create hundreds of thousands of badly needed jobs and move the economy to higher ground, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called on Congress to extend and expand the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit set to expire at the end of next month.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe warned that builders are reporting that business generated by entry-level buyers is already declining because it is now too late to complete a new home sale in time to take advantage of the tax credit.

“Not only will builders soon be losing one of their most effective selling tools when the $8,000 federal housing tax credit expires on Nov. 30, they are also facing significant challenges that threaten to derail the fragile housing recovery before it even has time to take root,” said Crowe. “Strict mortgage underwriting and low appraisals are making it difficult for a willing buyer to complete the sale and terms and credit availability for builder acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans are extremely tight. The bottom line is that housing and the economy are at a critical crossroads.”

To spur job growth, help reduce foreclosures and excess housing inventories and stabilize home values, NAHB is calling on Congress to extend the home buyer tax credit for an additional year through Nov. 30, 2010 and make it available to all purchasers of a principal residence. “We estimate this would increase home purchases by 383,000 and create nearly 350,000 jobs in the coming year,” said Crowe, adding that it would also generate $16.1 billion in wages and salaries; $12.1 billion in business income and tax income of $11.6 billion for federal, state and local governments.

Congress can also help put the housing market back to work by encouraging regulators and the banking industry to restore lending for viable home building projects and to take meaningful steps to avoid unnecessary foreclosures on outstanding AD&C loans by accommodating loan modifications and workouts.

“This would provide relief for a major sector of the economy that has suffered because of regulatory excess and the inability of banks to provide the necessary funding and flexibility that would otherwise keep loans performing as scheduled,” said Crowe.

To further contribute to a housing and economic recovery, Crowe urged Congress to call on the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to adopt new regulatory guidelines for conducting appraisals under distressed market conditions.

Citing a recent survey by NAHB that found that 25% of builders are losing sales because their appraisals are coming in below the contract price, Crowe said: “You just cannot compare a well-constructed new home with a foreclosed home that has been vacant for months and was probably neglected for a long time before it was vacated. They simply are not comparable and the standards need to be adjusted to reflect that reality.”

For more information, visit

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Fraud

The General Accountability Office has reportedly frozen more than 110,000 first-time home buyer tax credit refunds pending civil or criminal examinations due to allegations of fraud. The main concerns are whether or not a home purchase actually took place and if the home buyer claiming the credit is technically a first-time home buyer as defined by the IRS.

In another article about the possible first-time home buyer tax credit fraud, reporter Dawn Kopecki reports that children as young as four years old have improperly received the first-time home buyer tax credit. And, according to the Treasury’s J. Russel George, who testified before Congress recently: “They [IRS] also found that 580 taxpayers under 18 years old and therefore ineligible to buy a home claimed almost $4 million in tax credits.”

The first-time home buyer tax credit ends Nov. 30, 2009. If you do not have a property under contract by the end of October 2009 it will almost be impossible to complete the sale unless you are paying cash!

Banks express hope for fed short-sale effort

WASHINGTON – Aug. 7, 2009 – The federal government is launching a program to simplify and speed up the short-sale process (about time) by providing standardized documentation, cash incentives to lenders, and a $1,500 moving allowance to borrowers. Holders of second liens will get up to $1,000 to relinquish their claims.

Banks say the short-sale process has been taking so long because both their employees and real estate practitioners are learning as they go. (you would think that after 2 full years of learning the banks would know what they are doing!!! I’ve have been working short sales for 2 years, it only took me 1 deal to know what needed to be done)

David Sunlin, vice president in charge of short sales at Bank of America, says he hopes the new government plan will help. “About half of short sales never close. We see it as a big lost opportunity, and we need to improve the rate we close them,” he says. (This is great, I wonder when BofA is going to put more staff on the job to improve this process, I was on hold at BofA for 40 minutes today and had to listen to “Press 5 to leave a message for a return call in 5 business days” In the end I gave up and sent a fax, who knows if I’ll hear back from them)

Wells Fargo says it has cut its short sale average turnaround time from 90 days to 30 days by preparing a guide from real estate practitioners and putting in place procedures to handle short-sale requests.

The federal government first announced its short sales initiative in May at the annual Washington meetings of the National Association of Realtors®.

There is a pilot program that has been running in Orlando for the past 3 months, they have been able to shorten the short sale process to 7 days! I don’t know why this program can’t be implemented by all banks. My only guess is waiting until it gets so bad that the Fed have to step in and pay the banks to fix the issue. Boy wouldn’t you like to own a bank…

I know with the 20+ short sale deals I’ve done in the past 2 years I could have generated more cash for the bank if they would have been able to approve the sale within 30-45 days. But because of the 3-5 months of waiting the buyers walked and we had to lower the price to find another buyer…

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New Federal Housing Administration loan assistance

WASHINGTON – July 30, 2009 – Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be eligible for payment reductions similar to the Obama administration’s loan modification program, the government will announce Thursday.

Effective Aug. 15, financially troubled homeowners who have an FHA-insured loan can apply for a modification under a program parallel to “Making Home Affordable” to help lower their payments and avoid foreclosure.

The program, launched in March, is designed to lower monthly payments for 3 million to 4 million borrowers, although only about 200,000 have been helped so far. Lenders agreed this week to adjust 500,000 loans by Nov. 1.

The FHA, which backs about 5 million loans, is a government-run mortgage insurance program. It became the main source of home loans to borrowers with poor credit and low down payments after the collapse of the subprime lending market.

The agency lets borrowers take out home loans with down payments as low as 3.5 percent, compared with 20 percent for a typical loan that doesn’t require mortgage insurance.

By law, FHA cannot offer borrowers interest rates as low as 2 percent, which are available under the Obama plan. Instead, FHA will allow lenders to set aside up to 30 percent of the total principal balance until the house is sold or the property is refinanced. No interest will be charged on that amount.

Government officials did not have an estimate of how many borrowers would qualify.

“We’re bringing another important tool to the table to help struggling families who are desperate to keep their homes,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

Lenders who participate in the FHA program will receive an incentive fee of up to $1,250 and can be reimbursed for $250 in costs.