Category Archives: Short Sales

short sale sellers qualify for new mortgage

For home short-sellers, finally comes some good news
Saturday, September 7, 2013 — Anonymous (not verified)
Real Estate.Sunday, September 8, 2013


Kenneth R. Harney

WASHINGTON — Policy changes by two of the biggest mortgage market players could open doors to home buys this fall by thousands hard-hit by the housing bust and who thought they’d have to wait for years before owning again.

Fannie Mae, the federally controlled mortgage investor, has come up with a “fix” designed to help the many consumers whose short sales were misidentified as foreclosures by credit bureaus. Under previous rules, short-sellers would have to wait for up to seven years before becoming eligible for a new mortgage. Under the revised plan, they may be able to qualify for a mortgage in as little as two years. 
Homeowners who are foreclosed upon often must still wait for up to seven years before becoming eligible again to finance a house through Fannie. Industry estimates suggest that more than 2 million short-sellers might be affected by inaccurate descriptions of their transactions.

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced a new program allowing borrowers whose previous mortgage troubles were caused by “extenuating circumstances” beyond their control to obtain new mortgages in as little as a year after losing their homes instead of the current three years. They will need to show that their delinquency problem was caused by a 
20 percent or greater drop in income that continued for at least six months, and that they are now back to work, paying bills on time and earning enough to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage.

Fannie’s policy change came after months of prodding by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla), the National Consumer Reporting Association, the National Association of Realtors and Pam Marron, an outspoken Florida consumer advocate. They all sought fairer treatment of borrowers who had participated in short sales in recent years.

In a short sale, the lender approves the sale of a house to a new buyer but typically receives less than the balance owed. In a foreclosure, the bank takes title to the property and seeks to recover whatever it can through a resale. Though the two types of transactions are distinct and involve significantly different losses for banks, with foreclosures usually far more costly, credit bureaus have no special reporting code to ID short sales. As a result, say critics, millions of people who have undertaken short sales in recent years may have their transactions coded as foreclosures on their credit bureau reports.

That matters — a lot — because Fannie Mae and other major financing sources have mandated different waiting periods for new loans to borrowers who have completed short sales compared with borrowers who were foreclosed upon — in this case, two years versus seven. Under the new policy in effect Nov. 16, short-sellers who find that their transactions were miscoded on credit reports and are able to put 
20 percent down, should alert their loan officers and provide transaction documentation. The loan officer should advise Fannie about the coding error. Fannie will then run the loan application through its revised automated underwriting system.

Freddie Mac, the other government-administered mortgage investor, continues to require a four-year waiting period for short-sellers who cannot demonstrate “extenuating circumstances” as having caused their problems. If they can do so — documenting income reductions beyond their control that wrecked their credit — they may be able to qualify for a new Freddie Mac loan in two years.

FHA’s policy change may prove to be an even more generous deal for some previous homeowners. Like Freddie Mac, FHA wants to see hard evidence of what economic events beyond the borrowers’ control — loss of a job, serious illness or death of a wage earner, for example — led to the delinquency or loss of the house. Applicants must be able to show 12 months of solid credit behavior, participate in a housing counseling program and get through the agency’s underwriting hoops. But unlike either Fannie or Freddie, if you qualify under FHA’s revised rules, which are now in effect, and your lender approves, you might be able to buy a house with a new, low-down-payment mortgage in as little as a year.

It’s worth checking out.


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Fannie Mae increases options for surrendering deed, called mortgage release

If a homeowner wants to walk away from a home by mailing in the deed and seeking forgiveness, it’s no longer a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, according to Fannie Mae. From now on, it’s a mortgage release.

Under the changes, Fannie Mae gives owners three options:

• an immediate move
• a three-month transition with no rent payment
• a twelve-month lease with market rent payment

Other rule changes focus on the mortgage servicers. They don’t, for example, have to get written approval to postpone a foreclosure sale on a home more than 12 months delinquent.

However if you have a 2nd mortgage or an equity line of credit you would need to get approval from that bank to take advantage of this program.

To find out if your loan is a Fannie Mae mortgage click here

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,, 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,, (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.


• To determine whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, check at and

• To access Fannie Mae’s frequently asked questions file, go to

• 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

• 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

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


Bank of America: $20,000 short sale incentive to struggling homeowners

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Oct. 7, 2011 – Bank of America, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, is offering Florida homeowners up to $20,000 to short sale their homes rather than letting them linger in foreclosure.

The limited time offer has received little promotion from the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, which sent emails to select Florida Realtors earlier this week outlining basic details of the plan.

Only homeowners whose short sales are submitted for approval to Bank of America before Nov. 30 will qualify. The homes must have no offers on them already and the closing must occur before Aug. 31, 2012.

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept a lower sales price on a home than what the borrower owes on the loan.

Realtors said the Bank of America plan, which has a minimum payout amount of $5,000, is a genuine incentive to struggling homeowners who may otherwise fall into Florida’s foreclosure abyss.

The current timeline to foreclosure in Florida is an average of 676 days – nearly two years – according to real estate analysis company RealtyTrac. The national average foreclosure timeline is 318 days.

“I think this is a positive sign that the bank is being creative to try and help homeowners and get things moving,” said Paul Baltrun, who works with real estate and mortgages at the Law Office of Paul A. Krasker in West Palm Beach. “With real estate attorneys handling these cases, you’re talking two, three, four years before there’s going to be a resolution in a foreclosure.”

Guy Cecala, chief executive officer and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, called the short sale payout a “bribe.”

“You can call it a relocation fee, but it’s basically a bribe to make sure the borrower leaves the house in good condition and in an orderly fashion,” Cecala said. “It makes good business sense considering you may have to put $20,000 into a foreclosed home to fix it up.”

Homeowners, especially ones who feel cheated by the bank, have been known to steal appliances and other fixtures, or damage the home.

“This might be the banks finally waking up that they can have someone in there with an incentive not to damage the property,” said Realtor Shannon Brink, with Re/Max Prestige Realty in West Palm Beach. “Isn’t it better to have someone taking care of the pool and keeping the air conditioner on?”

A spokesman for Bank of America said the program is being tested in Florida, and if successful, could be expanded to other states.

Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase have similar short sale programs, sometimes called “cash for keys.”

Wells Fargo spokesman Jason Menke said his company offers up to $20,000 on eligible short sales that are left in “broom swept” condition. Although the program is not advertised, deals are mostly made on homes in states with lengthy foreclosure timelines, he said.

And caveats exist. The Wells Fargo short sale incentive is only good on first lien loans that it owns, which is about 20 percent of its total portfolio.

Bank of America’s plan excludes Ginnie Mae, Federal Housing Administration and VA loans.

Similar to the federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, or HAFA, which offers $3,000 in relocation assistance, the Bank of America program may also waive a homeowner’s deficiency judgment at closing.

A deficiency judgment in a short sale is basically the difference between what the house sells for and what is still owed on the loan.

HAFA, which began in April 2010, has seen limited success with just 15,531 short sales completed nationwide through August.

But Realtors said cash for keys programs can work.

Joe Kendall, a broker associate at Sandals Realty in Fort Myers, said he recently closed on a short sale where the seller got $25,000 from Chase.

“They realize people are struggling and this is another way to get the homes off the books,” he said.

© 2011 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Kimberly Miller. Distributed by MCT Information Services

Pace of foreclosures slowed further in April

Fewer Americans had their homes repossessed by banks or were put on notice for being behind on their mortgage payments in April compared to a year ago.

That would ordinarily suggest improving fortunes for U.S. homeowners, but the decline had less to do with any turnaround in the housing market than with foreclosure processing delays that appear to be getting worse. That is threatening to drag out a housing recovery, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

It’s taking longer for lenders to move against homeowners who have stopped paying their mortgage and to take back homes already in some stage of the foreclosure process. In states like New York, for example, it now takes an average of more than two years for a home to go from the initial stage of foreclosure to being repossessed by a bank, the firm said.

Those delays, partly due to banks working through foreclosure documentation problems that came to light last fall, means it could take many more years for lenders to deal with a backlog of seriously delinquent properties, which numbers up to 3.7 million, by some estimates.

“It’s going to take between three to four years just to get those loans into foreclosure at our current pace,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “And that doesn’t spell good news for the housing market.”

Banks repossessed 69,532 homes last month, down 5 percent from March and down 25 percent compared with April of last year, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks warnings sent to homeowners throughout the foreclosure process.

The number of properties receiving an initial notice of default fell to 63,422, down 14 percent from March and down 39 percent from April 2010.

Homes scheduled for auction for the first time also declined in April, falling to 86,304. That’s down 7 percent from March and 37 percent below April of last year.

A weak housing market, sliding home prices and pressure on lenders to give troubled homeowners more time to work out new payment arrangements or loan terms have all contributed to the longer time frame for foreclosures.

Many banks also have taken steps to revisit thousands of foreclosure cases since last fall, delaying the processing of new foreclosures. The logjam has been compounded by court delays in states like Florida, New York and New Jersey, where a judge must approve foreclosures.

In the first three months of this year, it took an average of 400 days for a U.S. home to go from receiving an initial notice of default to being foreclosed on, RealtyTrac said.

That’s up from an average of 340 days in the same period last year and more than double the 151-day average in the first quarter of 2007.

The delays are even lengthier at the state level. In New York and New Jersey, the foreclosure process took more than 900 days, on average, to run its course in the first quarter – more than three times the average length of time in the first quarter of 2007 for both states.

In Florida, one of the states hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, the process took an average of 619 days in the first quarter, up from 470 days a year earlier. In the first quarter of 2007, it took an average of 169 days for the process to play out, RealtyTrac said.

Barring a pickup in the pace of foreclosures, it is likely fewer homes will be repossessed this year than in 2010, when lenders took back more than a million, Sharga said.

Despite the drop in foreclosure activity last month, several states continue to have outsized foreclosure rates.

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one in every 97 households receiving a foreclosure notice in April. It also bucked the overall national trend, as bank repossessions jumped 23 percent from March and climbed 12 percent from April of last year, RealtyTrac said.

Lenders may have elected to pick up the pace of foreclosures in Nevada to take advantage of brisk foreclosure sales in Las Vegas. In March, sales of previously occupied homes in Las Vegas hit a five-year high, with distressed properties accounting for 69 percent of sales, according to DataQuick.

Some homeowners, who can afford the mortgage, still default

She has a sales job with a six-figure salary. He owns a successful tech company. And they are in foreclosure.

But unlike countless other Americans faced with losing their homes, this couple could make the $5,200 monthly mortgage on the waterfront property in Pompano Beach that they bought for $585,000 in 2004. Foreclosure was their decision – not the bank’s.

They crunched the numbers: $525,000 outstanding on their first mortgage and a $245,000 second mortgage on a home now worth about $319,000. His business was way down, her company was laying off workers and other investments had tanked. It made no sense to hang on to their underwater home. So they stopped paying their mortgage and waited for the foreclosure notice. It came in October.

It is called strategic default – borrowers who have enough money to make their mortgage payments but do not. They owe so much on a home that is now worth so little, that they decide to walk away.

It is not an easy decision. But it is not the inevitable blow to their credit score that troubles some strategic defaulters. It is the ethical dilemma of refusing to repay a loan when they are able to and worrying about what the neighbors will think.

“It felt like such an awful thing to do,” the woman said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I got a car loan at 14 and paid $35 a week until I paid it off when I was 16. “

How prevalent are strategic defaults?

Although the exact number is unknown, half the homeowners in a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Board walked away when they owed twice what their home was worth. A Palm Beach Post analysis of foreclosed homes purchased since 2006 found 72 percent – about 4,124 homes – are worth less than half of the original loan.

In the business world, strategic default is a common tactic – considered a savvy move for financially troubled companies. However, “consumers have been browbeaten and trained to believe that it’s not honorable to not pay your debts,” said Margery Golant, a Boca Raton attorney who represents the Pompano Beach couple in default. “Why should it be any different for consumers?”

Last year, Morgan Stanley walked away from a $1.5 billion mortgage on five buildings in San Francisco despite record-breaking profits in 2009. Real estate giant Tishman Speyer Properties strategically defaulted on $4.4 billion in loans on two housing developments in New York after the properties lost $2.2 billion in value. The company had billions of dollars in assets, including Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, which it could have leveraged to meet its loan obligations.

Even the Mortgage Bankers Association, whose president chastised homeowners who strategically default for the “message” it would send to their “family, kids and friends,” dumped its Washington headquarters in a short sale. After working out a deal with its lender, the MBA sold the building for $41.3 million last year. In 2007, the group purchased it for $79 million.

Ethicist OK with decision

“No, it’s not wrong,” said Randy Cohen, author of the weekly Ethicist column in The New York Times. Although homeowners are emotionally attached to their property, a house is still an investment.

“I don’t understand why you would be asked to make a decision on this investment any differently than you would on any other,” Cohen said. “Why should homeowners be held to a higher ethical standard?”

In many strategic default cases, the moral imperative is self-imposed. Among the arguments: Walking away from a mortgage will depreciate your neighbors’ property values. If all underwater homeowners walked away, the housing market would crash.

“Most people considering strategic default come to me and want my permission,” said Ronald Kaniuk, a Boca Raton foreclosure defense lawyer. “People who cannot pay their mortgage are apologetic. For people who can afford their mortgage or can just barely afford their mortgage and see it as a losing investment, they want absolution.”

They should not get it, according to Luigi Zingales, an economist and professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, who became embroiled last year in a debate over the morality of strategic default.

“When you borrow money you make a commitment to pay it back,” Zingales said. “If you walk away because it’s in your interest to do so, you are violating the letter and the spirit of the law.”

Zingales wanted to know why it had become so easy for upside down homeowners to walk away. The answer was simple.

“The stigma is very much a function of how many people do it,” Zingales said. “Once you think it’s socially acceptable, it becomes easier to do.”

Expect more defaults

But there are consequences, including the long-term health of the housing market, Zingales said. Zingales predicts we will reach a tipping point where getting rid of a bad investment outweighs the damage to neighbors’ property values and the borrower’s reputation. In other words, expect more defaults.

“We’re not there yet,” Zingales said. “Clearly this creates a tension in society.”

On one side are homeowners who did not lose their jobs or live beyond their means and are now struggling to make their mortgage payment. Next door are neighbors who have stopped paying their mortgages and are living largely free until they are booted from their homes. “It’s a legitimate resentment,” Zingales said.

“We never bought cars or jewelry,” the Pompano Beach woman said. The second mortgage they took out on their home went toward purchasing and renovating a condominium as an investment rental property. When her husband’s business lost its best client and her company began layoffs, they decided to get out from under all their debt.

There will be consequences. They will lose the $65,000 in loan payments. The lender could get a “deficiency judgment” to go after the couple for repayment of the defaulted loan.

Their credit score will take a hit, but at least with a strategic default they won’t be homeless.

After liquidating some assets and scraping together what they could, the couple bought a new house – down the street and nearly identical to the old house – for $353,000. They walked away from $770,000 in debt.

“It felt like such an awful thing to do,” she said. “When this is all over I’ll feel like I made a good choice.”

As more homeowners walk away, experts fear for nation’s morals

Americans have taken a sharp slap in the face from the housing crisis, financial crisis and jobs crisis. Now, some wonder if the residue of those harsh realities is an ethical crisis.

For the first time in the nation’s history, bankers say, people are walking away from mortgages they can otherwise afford to pay. The phenomenon known as strategic default was once unthinkable. It represents a calculated decision to hand over the keys to a home without making good on a loan, reasoning that it makes no sense to keep paying the monthly mortgage when the home is worth thousands of dollars less than the obligation.

Jeff Horton, a 33-year-old Orlando, Fla., technology manager, is among those who recently decided to take the step. He told his lender that he’s done making payments on the condo he bought in 2005 and the home he bought in 2007, because he wants to move from Florida and can’t sell or rent the properties at a price nearly high enough to cover his payments.

“Life is too short,” said Horton, who has mortgages totaling about $400,000 with Bank of America – about twice as much as he thinks he would get if he could sell the property. He says he has little choice because the bank has refused to refinance the mortgages or adjust original terms.

Strategic default is a symptom of a housing market that suddenly turned from “American Dream” to financial trap. With the Norman Rockwell-like images of homeownership decimated by a 30 percent plunge in prices, some fear America is also losing its grip on another idyllic notion: that people will live by the slogan, “My word is my bond.”

Morgan Stanley recently estimated that about 18 percent of defaults will be strategic. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 36 percent of Americans said that walking away without paying a mortgage is acceptable, at least under certain circumstances. Fifty-nine percent said the practice is unacceptable.

The saying “My word is my bond” was first posted in the London Stock Exchange in the late 1920s to convey living up to promises. Now, after the worst financial disaster since that period, people such as Horton say they have no such image of Wall Street or large banks as trustworthy institutions, and that has allayed guilt about walking away from mortgages.

“I felt guilty at first,” said Horton. “It all stopped when I saw them take $90 million in executive bonuses. They take bailout money and do nothing for the little guy. They wouldn’t do anything for me.”

Most people walking away from homes see little choice, says John Maddux, chief executive of UWalkAway, a Web site that provides advice on the strategic-default process. “They bought the house thinking of it as an investment in their future,” he said. “For some, it was to be their retirement; for others, it was seen as forced savings, and now it’s bleeding them dry.”

Overburdened with mortgages, people conclude they won’t be able to send their children to college, save anything for retirement or move to a place where they can find a job. But as they go through the soul-searching and guilt connected with walking away, Maddux noted they often point to a sense of betrayal.

He said he frequently hears: “I don’t feel bad for the banks. They let this happen. Banks made the mistake of giving a loan to anyone if they had a pulse. Their loose lending standard led to a bubble, and the regulators should have controlled this.”

Banking expert E. Philip Davis sympathizes with that point of view, but he also points out the implication of homeowners walking away from a commitment.

“It makes them as bad as the bankers,” said Davis, a Baptist minister in the United Kingdom who teaches courses on fostering stability in the financial system.

The erosion of the ethic of keeping promises “will be a cancer for society,” said Davis, who was with the Bank of England and is now a fellow at the U.K.’s National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

On the surface, one consequence is evident: If bankers don’t trust that people will pay off their loans, banks will demand higher interest and other assurances before lending in the future.

In fact, there’s research behind the concern, says Tom Donaldson, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton business ethics professor. And it shows that both bankers and borrowers are at risk if trust erodes.

“We’ve known for decades that trust is critical to successful business,” said Donaldson. “Studies have shown that if one party cheats on one end, the other party feels more entitled to cheat. It’s not the most noble way, but it is human nature, and it becomes a race to the bottom.”

Research into strategic default by University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Luigi Zingales shows what he calls “the contagion effect.” “The stigma goes down once you see someone else do it,” he said.

JPMorgan halts 50K foreclosures for possible flaws

JPMorgan Chase has temporarily stopped foreclosing on more than 50,000 homes so it can review documents that might contain errors.

JPMorgan’s move Wednesday makes it the second major company to take such action this month, underscoring a growing legal problem. The issue could stall an already overloaded foreclosure process.

Still, analysts don’t expect the delays to reduce the number of foreclosures over the long run.

“It will probably slow things down for a couple months while these documents are reviewed,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac Inc. “It won’t stop things.”

But if the problems turn up at more of the largest mortgage companies, a foreclosure crisis that’s already likely to drag on for several more years could persist even longer.
GMAC Mortgage LLC last week halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes in 23 states to review those cases. The company said it found procedural errors in some foreclosure affidavits.

After GMAC’s announcement, attorneys general in California and Connecticut told the company to stop foreclosures in their states until it proves it’s complying with state law. The Ohio attorney general this week asked judges to review GMAC foreclosure cases.

And in Florida, the state attorney general is investigating four law firms, two with ties to GMAC, for allegedly providing fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases.

The issue is also gaining attention on Capitol Hill. Last week, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. and two other lawmakers wrote to Fannie Mae, urging the government-controlled mortgage giant to stop working with so-called “foreclosure mill” law firms under investigation for document fraud.

“Why is Fannie Mae using lawyers that are accused of regularly engaging in fraud to kick people out of their homes?” the lawmakers wrote.

A Fannie Mae spokesman said the company is reviewing the issue.

JPMorgan acknowledged Wednesday that its employees signed some affidavits about loan documents without personally verifying the files. These affidavits verify the accuracy of the loan information, including who owns the mortgage.

JPMorgan spokesman Kelly said the bank believes the information in the affidavits is accurate, and that the affidavits were prepared by “appropriate personnel.”

The bank asked judges not to enter judgments against homeowners facing foreclosure until it completes its review of the problem. JPMorgan expects the process to take a few weeks.

The way mortgages are packaged and sold to many investors as securities can make it hard to determine who has the right to foreclose on a homeowner.

In some states, lenders can foreclose quickly on delinquent mortgage borrowers. But 20 states use a lengthy court process for foreclosures. They require documents to verify information on the mortgage, including who owns it. Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois are the biggest states with this process.

Christopher Immel, a Florida lawyer who represents homeowners, said people who already have lost homes could sue their lender, alleging errors in documents.

In August, a judge in Duval County, Fla., ruled that JPMorgan could not foreclose on two homeowners. The reasoning was that Fannie Mae carried the mortgage on its books and JPMorgan Chase only collected payments on the loan. JPMorgan Chase had identified itself as the owner of the loan.

More lawsuits could come soon.

In May, JPMorgan employee Beth Ann Cottrell said in a deposition that she and her staff of eight signed about 18,000 legal documents a month without reviewing every file. In a similar testimony, GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said he signed 10,000 documents a month without personally verifying the mortgage information.

“It’s very realistic to believe that this is a standard practice in how they go about foreclosures in certain states,” said Immel, whose law firm took Cottrell’s and Stephan’s depositions.

Where is the shadow inventory?

For the last year, the real estate industry has been talking about shadow inventory and the coming flood of distressed properties. Where are they?

Here’s what’s happening, according to a recent paper by Alan Mallach, a senior fellow the Brookings Institution:

• Some delinquencies have been resolved through loan modifications or people working out the problems on their own.

• Banks are getting better at managing short sales.

• Investors are aggressively buying up properties, sometimes in bulk, directly from the banks or at courthouse auctions so they don’t hit the market.

The likeliest outcome, Mallach predicts, is a steady flow of foreclosures over a long timeframe that will prevent another crash in home prices – but it will probably lead to low or no appreciation in home prices for a while.

Foreclosure vs. short sale: pros and cons

PALM BEACH, Fla. – July 28, 2010 – With today’s reduced property values and increased unemployment, it’s tempting for some homeowners to just throw their hands up in defeat, allow the bank to take their home in foreclosure and rid themselves of the monthly mortgage burden.

Even suffering through the paperwork and stress of a short sale may seem too much for an overwhelmed borrower to handle.

But Florida homeowners should be aware of unique rules in the state that make the benefits of a short sale typically outweigh the ease of walking away in a foreclosure.

“I want to be very clear on this, short sales are a better solution than a foreclosure, even when all the options in a situation where you lose your house are not great,” said Mark Greene, owner and president of Short Sale Operations LLC in North Palm Beach.

The biggest difference between Florida and many other states when it comes to losing a home is the deficiency judgment.

While some states ban lenders from collecting the remainder owed on a loan after a foreclosure or short sale is completed, Florida law allows banks to go after borrowers for up to 20 years. That can lead to a garnishment of wages long after the home is gone.

In a short sale, where the bank agrees to take a lesser amount for the home than what is owed on a loan, lenders sometimes are willing to write off the deficiency on the front end.

Greene said in 90 percent of the cases he handles, the bank has waived its right to seek a deficiency.

That was the case with Jupiter resident Kathryn Lorello, who in 2008 found herself in a home she couldn’t afford.

Following a divorce, and with three children, Lorello bought a $408,000 home that she lived in comfortably for a year. But then she lost her job as a manager of a real estate company.

She remembers the day the bank served the notice of foreclosure.

“I cried my eyes out,” Lorello said. “That’s when I panicked because I really didn’t want it to happen.”

Lorello got advice from Greene on doing a short sale.

Her bank, Wells Fargo, waived its right to seek a deficiency even though it ended up taking $200,000 less than what was owed on the loan.

Also, if a bank refuses to waive the deficiency in a short sale, it still would have to go back to court to seek a judgment.

In a foreclosure, at the end of the proceeding, a deficiency judgment is automatically awarded by the courts and the bank is free to seek a claim.

“In the past, people just wanted to move from the property and get on with their lives and didn’t understand what the lenders’ rights were in terms of pursuing a deficiency claim,” said Paul Baltrun, director of loss mitigation at the LaBovick & La-Bovick law firm.

“I think people are more aware now about what can happen after the fact and that their nightmare can continue.”

Another consideration is the effect of a foreclosure or short sale on credit.

According to the Fair Isaac Corp., which developed the widely used measurement of credit risk called a FICO score, the negative effect of a foreclosure is only marginally worse than a short sale.

But in Florida, a deficiency judgment from a foreclosure is likely to have a much larger impact that will prohibit your ability to buy another home for many years.

Daniel Poulos, a mortgage broker with Elite Lending in North Palm Beach who has studied the effect of foreclosures and short sales on credit, said unless a borrower pays off the deficiency, it may be 20 years before someone is eligible for another mortgage.

“That’s the kind of information that’s not getting out in Florida,” Poulos said.

There are a few situations where some experts believe it is better for someone to go to foreclosure rather than do a short sale.

To do a short sale, a borrower must give all of his or her financial information to the bank before it will decide whether to allow the short sale. The idea is that if a person can afford to pay the mortgage, the short sale may be denied.

“Now the lender knows everything about your finances and they can better decide whether they will go after you or not,” said Jon Maddux, CEO of, a company that advises people on strategic defaults.

If a lender doesn’t know your finances, Maddux argues, it reduces the chances it will go after you following a foreclosure.

“You might fly under the radar,” he said. “With the millions of people going through this, they are probably going to go after the low-hanging fruit.”

Lenders go after money lost in foreclosures

By Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

After the bank foreclosed on Fernando Palacios’s Gainesville home in March, he thought he was done with what he described as the most stressful financial situation of his life.

The bank sold the home for far less than Palacios owed on it, as often happens with foreclosures. What Palacios did not see coming was the letter from his lender demanding that he pay the shortfall: $148,064.02. “I really thought I was through with this house,” said Palacios, who fell behind on payments when the economy soured and his cleaning business stumbled.

Over the past year, lenders have become much more aggressive in trying to recoup money lost in foreclosures and other distressed sales, creating more grief for people who thought their real estate headaches were far behind.

In many localities — including Virginia, Maryland and the District — lenders have the right to pursue borrowers whose homes have sold at a loss to collect the difference between what the property sold for and what the borrower owed on it, also called a deficiency.

Before the housing bust, when the volume of foreclosures was relatively low, lenders seldom bothered to chase after deficiencies because borrowers had few remaining assets to claim and doing so involved hassles and costs. But with foreclosures soaring, lenders are more determined to get their money back, especially if they suspect borrowers are skipping out on loan they could afford, an increasingly common practice in areas where home values have tanked.

Palacios said he was committed to staying in his house, which he bought in 2005. He sunk $20,000 into improving it and hoped to raise his children there. But his lender refused to modify his loan, he said. To avoid personal liability for the deficiency, Palacios is filing for bankruptcy protection, as many people do who are in similar situations, said Nancy Ryan, his bankruptcy attorney.

“I am definitely seeing more people come through my door who walked away from houses a year or two ago and thought they were as free as the dead,” Ryan said. “They’re stunned when they realize they’re not.”
Several lenders contacted for this story declined to say how often they pursue deficiencies. But many said they try to collect the debt if they conclude the borrower can repay all or part of it.

“Lenders are not going after people who face a hardship,” said John Mechem, a spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association. “If they can’t pay their mortgage because they have a loss of income, there is no point in going after them.”

Those who had a second mortgage, such as a home-equity line of credit, in addition to their primary mortgage may find themselves particularly vulnerable, especially if they tapped into the equity line for cash.

Second lenders are last in line to get paid when a distressed property is sold. There’s usually little or no money left over for them, making it more likely that they will pursue large deficiencies, several attorneys said.

Gretchen Somers said she and her husband understood the risks last year when they completed a “short sale,” a transaction that allowed them to sell their Manassas home for about $150,000 less than they owed on it. But they felt they had no other options.

Somers said her family hung onto the house as long as possible. They tried but failed to sell it when her husband was transferred to Arizona for his job in early 2006, just as home prices were softening. They moved back into the house then tried to sell it again in 2008, after their adjustable-rate mortgage reset and their monthly mortgage payment nearly doubled. But home prices had plunged further by then, making it even tougher to sell.

Last year, their first lender and their home-equity line lender granted permission for the short sale. But the second lender reserved the right to come after the couple. Six months later, a collection agency called demanding $85,000 for related losses.

In hindsight, Somers said she and her husband should have just walked away from the house. “We took care of the house because we wanted it to sell,” Somers said. “If they were going to come after us anyway, we shouldn’t have done them the favor of making sure it looked good and cutting the grass even after we moved out, We should have mailed them the key and said: ‘Here you go.’ ”

Carlos Cortez and his wife managed to escape that fate after their second lender came after them for $70,000 when their short sale was completed on his Manassas Park townhouse in 2008.

Cortez knew that was a possibility, but he went through with the sale because his real estate agent said the lender was engaging in scare tactics.

James Scruggs, an attorney at Legal Services of Northern Virginia, said the lender appears to have backed off after Cortez argued that that the loan officer falsely qualified him and his wife for a home-equity line by fabricating key details about their finances.

A handful of states do not allow lenders to pursue deficiencies, nor does a federal program that took effect April 10. Lenders participating in that initiative are paid for approving short sales and as a condition, they cannot go after outstanding debt.

In many states, lenders can go after deficiencies, though laws vary widely, said John Rao, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. Some states limit how long the banks have to file a claim or collect the debt. Others may calculate deficiencies based on the fair-market value of the house, Rao said. For instance, if a home sells for $200,000 yet its fair market value is $250,000, “the borrower who owes $240,000 on the mortgage would not have a deficiency,” he said.

Borrowers should get a waiver in writing from their lenders to protect themselves, said Diane Cipollone, an attorney at the nonprofit Civil Justice. “Nobody should assume the deficiency is forgiven,” she said.

Help for Fannie and Freddie loans, New programs like HAFA & HAMP

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just announced the introduction of their own HAFA programs. They’re both scheduled to be implemented by August 1, 2010, and the programs are very similar to HAFA in that they simplify and streamline the use of short sales and deed-in-lieu (DIL) options and use similar forms and timelines. In addition, like HAFA, the program expires December 31, 2012. However, some of the major differences offered by the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac HAFA programs include, but are not limited to:

– Both institutions will pay the servicer a $2,200 incentive fee for successful short sales
– Both institutions will pay the servicer a $1,500 incentive fee for all successful DILs
– The Deed for Lease (D4L) is available for borrowers who request and are approved to remain in the property following a successful DIL

Specific details on these programs can be found by visiting the following links: and Freddie Mac Bulletin or view PDFs below.
.pdf Freddie Bulletin
.pdf Fannie Hafa Overview

A shorter wait to buy after deliquency

To encourage distressed borrowers to agree to deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, Fannie Mae is reducing the waiting period — from four years to two years — for them to become eligible for a new mortgage.

The new policy, which will apply to loan applications submitted after June 30, requires a minimum downpayment of 20 percent from borrowers who have agreed to a deed-in-lieu within the past two years. Borrowers with a deed-in-lieu in the past two to four years will be required to put 10 percent down to be considered for a Fannie Mae-backed loan.

Borrowers who lost their homes due to “extenuating circumstances” beyond their control — such as the loss of a job, illness or divorce — can put as little as 10 percent down after two years.

Those loan-to-value ratios will also apply to borrowers who have been involved in short sales and who were already subject to a two-year waiting period.

Bankruptcies and foreclosures are expected to damage millions of borrowers’ credit scores, leaving many unable to obtain a mortgage for years to come (see Inman News series: “Rebuilding homeownership”).

Fannie Mae generally requires five years for borrowers to re-establish credit after a foreclosure, but they may qualify in as soon as three years if they can document extenuating circumstances. The minimum wait for borrowers who have filed for bankruptcy is two to four years, depending on the type of relief sought.

Fannie Mae said the waiting periods for borrowers who have declared bankruptcy or been foreclosed on will remain in effect, and issued new guidance on requirements for re-establishing credit after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

After the waiting period has passed, only borrowers with traditional credit will be approved for loans, the policy said — nontraditional credit or “thin files” will not be accepted.

Borrowers who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation must generally wait for four years after closure of the bankruptcy proceeding before Fannie Mae will consider them for a loan. The waiting period can be as short as if extenuating circumstances can be shown.

Those who have paid off all or part of their debts through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may be eligible within two years of having their cases discharged. If they fail to complete their Chapter 13 plan, they are required to wait four years after their case is dismissed.

Home Affordable Modification Program – Is Help On Its Way?

If you are like many American’s who purchase or refinanced their home during the heat of the real estate boom this could be the program that was designed to help YOU! Over the past 2 years I’ve been working to help many clients who have found themselves upside down and need financial help to correct their housing situation. It’s been a long and hard road for many of these good people whose lives have changed in one way or another.

Finally it looks like our government has taken a step in the right direction to streamline the process of helping these good hardworking people.

There are two program: The first is called HAMP, and this is how it works:
The Home Affordable Modification Program is designed to help as many as 3 to 4 million financially struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying loans to a level that is affordable for borrowers now and sustainable over the long term. The program provides clear and consistent loan modification guidelines that the entire mortgage industry can use.

Borrower eligibility is based on meeting specific criteria including:
1) borrower is delinquent on their mortgage or faces imminent risk of default
2) property is occupied as borrower’s primary residence
3) mortgage was originated on or before Jan. 1, 2009 and unpaid principal balance must be no greater than $729,750 for one-unit properties.

After determining a borrower’s eligibility, a servicer will take a series of steps to adjust the monthly mortgage payment to 31% of a borrower’s total pretax monthly income:

•First, reduce the interest rate to as low as 2%,
•Next, if necessary, extend the loan term to 40 years,
•Finally, if necessary, forbear (defer) a portion of the principal until the loan is paid off and waive interest on the deferred amount.
Note: Servicers may elect to forgive principal under HAMP on a stand alone basis or before any modification step in order to achieve the target monthly mortgage payment.
The Home Affordable Modification Program includes incentives for borrowers, servicers and investors.

If you can’t complete the HAMP program for one or a number of reasons than you maybe (should be able to) go in to the second program call HAFA.

Here is the info on HAFA: How HAFA Can Help

The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Program was designed to complement the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) by helping current homeowners with mortgage debt who are eligible for HAMP but still cannot keep their home.

When a borrower applies for help from HAMP, not everyone succeeds with the program. Sometimes their lender is unable to approve a loan modification. Other times the borrower declines the terms of the loan modification. Some borrowers are approved and accept the terms of the modification, but fail to complete the program for various reasons. Before HAFA, these borrowers were usually headed for foreclosure.

HAFA gives those borrowers a viable alternative to foreclosure. If they have or want to find a buyer for their home, they may request approval for a short sale with pre-approval short sale terms and minimum acceptable net proceeds. If not, they may request approval for a deed-in-lieu . When a borrower applies for help with one of the HAFA solutions, the program already has their financial and hardship information from their HAMP application.

HAFA also imposes limits on the lender to help the borrower. Under the terms of this program, a lender must release the borrower from all future liability for the first mortgage debt. The lender may not ask the borrower for cash or a promissory note, and the lender may not ask a court for a deficiency judgment. The program also prohibits the lender from asking the listing real estate agent to discount their commission at the closing of a short sale.

All documents have been standardized and procedures, time frames, and deadlines have been streamlined under HAFA to make the process easier for both borrowers and lenders.

HAFA also provides financial incentives for both borrowers and lenders to participate in the program. Borrowers are entitled to receive $1,500 in relocation assistance , to be paid at closing. Lenders or loan servicers may receive up to $1,000 to help with administrative costs. There are also financial incentives for the lender or investor on the first mortgage to allow some of the proceeds from the sale of the property to be paid to subordinate lienholders.

Finally, participation in the HAFA program puts the foreclosure process on hold for the borrower. The lender may initiate the foreclosure process, but if the borrower is in the middle of the application process, or if any approved short sale or deed-in-lieu agreement has not been completed or reached its deadline, the lender may not complete the foreclosure process.


There are a lot of people who need this information so please forward to a friend or RT on twitter

Default can spur revenge desire

There was an article in the Tampa Tribune today called “Default can spur revenge desire”

This is a great article of what we as Realtors are seeing out there today. People destroying they homes as an act of revenge on the banks and financial institutions who loaned money to borrowers to achieve the American dream of home ownership.

I’ve lost count of the number of homes I’ve shown that A/C systems, appliances, doors, locksets etc. have been removed. It’s a disgrace that this type of stuff is going on and it seems that people are getting away with it.

There are some options that the government has just put in place to help homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments or they are going to end up behind on payments in the near future. The 1st program call HAMP is designed to help people reduce their mortgage payments to a maximum of 31% of their income, here is a link to the program HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program)

If this program isn’t enough to get you on the right path, after completing the HAMP program you can ask to be enrolled into the HAFA program read about it here (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives)
If you found this information useful please forward to a friend or RT on twitter.

SFR certified (Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource agent)

I’m a pleased to announce that in addition to successfully negotiating and closing over 40 short sales in the past 24 months, I’ve also completed the “Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource course” The only course approved by the Board of Realtors. I’m now SFR certified, yes…

Over the past 2 years I have developed a system to help my clients through this changing market, often I’m referred clients from other real estate agents both at Coldwell Banker and other offices because of my proven track record and success in negotiating short sales. There are still many agents who don’t know what they are doing or don’t want to deal with short sales. I didn’t want to pass off my clients to someone else, and I love a challange and wanted to do all I can to help people in need.

So don’t loose your home to foreclosure and suffer the huge credit hit and the inability to purchase a home for 5 years or more, with our holp we can help you keep your credit and put you in a position to purchase a home in just 24 months taking advantage of the low home pricing I feel will still be around.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a confidential consultation today.

Housing bargains abound, but try closing the deal quickly! Short Sales and pre-foreclosures are painful

If you are like many home buyers who are trying to break into the real estate market in Tampa Bay, you know there are some amazing deals out there. Homes that sold in 2005 for over $200,000 are now selling for $100,000 or less in some areas! This makes buying a home a lot of fun today, you would think!

Many buyers are frustrated, 70% of the homes sales in recent months in the Tampa Bay area are distressed properties, short sales and pre-foreclosures. Getting these homes closed it just too much for some buyers. Often by the time it takes to get a short sale or pre-foreclosures approved by the seller’s lender, 50% of the buyers have walked before getting lender approval.

Most short sale deals take at least four months or more to get approval from the seller’s bank and if they have a PMI or MI insurance, a second mortgage or HELOC you could be looking six to twelve months or not getting approved at all! After the seller gets the lenders approval, the seller than has to agree to the lenders terms of the short sale. Which could include them signing a note for the balance or bring cash to the closing table. If the seller isn’t willing or able to accept these terms the deal could be dead! The buyer is then out 4-6 months of waiting.

Adding to this, homes under $100,000 are now starting to see bidding wars. Buyers used have been able to think about a home overnight but these days you need to move quickly to snatch up a good deal!

Home sales in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater areas rose 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, and the median sales price hit $138,800. That’s down 42 percent since prices peaked at $239,600 in June 2006.

Time is also running on federal tax credit for 1st time and move up home buyers, putting a short sale under contract at this point and getting it closed in time to meet the dead lines may not be possible. Buyer’s must be under contract by 4-30-10 and close no later than 6-30-10 to get the tax credit.

I’m telling my buyers at this point they need to make a decision, if the tax credit is the big reason they want to buy a home this year they many need to focus on REO (bank owned properties) or look for homes where the seller has equity so they can close in time.

If you don’t care about the tax credit, and you are focused on just getting the right home for you and your family as the market is returning from the bottom then short sales and pre-foreclosures should be on your list.

If you are looking for a newer community, taking the trip across the Skyway Bridge could get you more than you could dream of. I’ve been showing property in Manatee County over the past few weeks, where newer homes that were selling in the $500,000 range that can be purchased at a 50% discount. I’ve shown property built in 2005 with 4 beds 2.5 baths 2 car garage and 2,500 sqft selling for only $180k. Pulte Homes will build you a new 3,000 sqft home for just $212,000 WOW!

Let me know if I can help you with your home search!

Short Sale VS Foreclosure VS Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure; which of these is the best choice for a homeowner in distress

The foreclosure process can be very stressful for homeowners; some home homeowners get so depressed, that they do nothing, some 57% of homes get foreclosed on and the owner never called their lender to work out a loan mod or ask for help!. While others who are proactive sometimes end up being given the wrong advice or make decisions that are not well informed. If you are a homeowner dealing with this situation, you will have to make a decision on whether to get your property sold as a Short Sale usually at the discount approved by your lender, or give the property back to them as a Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure or just let them complete the Foreclosure. You need to decide which of these three options is the best for you both in the short and long term? Deciding which option to take might be tough especially if you do not know how each will affect your credit and ability to buy a home in the future.

Short Sale VS Foreclosure VS Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure
A short sale transaction occurs when a lender agrees to a discounted payoff on the loan balance, due to the financial hardship experienced by the homeowner and/or a decrease in the resale value of the property. A short sale is the best option if you are facing foreclosure because it is a lesser financial loss. You get to avoid foreclosure, reduce the adverse effects on your credit and increase your chances of getting a loan to buy a home within a shorter period of time.

Foreclosure occurs when a lender sells or gets back a parcel of real property, after the owner failed to conform to their mortgage or deed of trust agreements. The estate becomes the absolute property of the lender. The foreclosure process generally starts with a formal demand for payment in the form of a letter called Notice of Default (NOD) issued from the lender. It varies from state to state but in most cases the lender usually issues this notice when the homeowner has been 3 months irregular on their mortgage payments. The notice is typically a warning that they will sell your property if you do not make your payments current.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is the alternative to a foreclosure. This is a settlement, which is voluntarily made, and in good faith in which the borrower surrenders their house to the lender and moves on with nothing owed. The main advantage for the borrower is that it immediately releases them from the debt associated with the defaulted loan. The borrower also avoids a painful and time consuming foreclosure. The main advantage for the lender is a reduction in the time and cost of repossessing the property. In most cases a lender will only accept a deed in lieu if there are no other liens attached to the property or these liens can be significantly reduced. The reason is because they do not want to be responsible for the other liens that are attached to the property; this is why most lenders will push for a foreclosure instead because it removes all junior liens.

How does each of the three options affect your credit and the length of time it will take to buy another home?

Short Sale: This the best option for a homeowner facing foreclosure due to its reduced adverse effects on their credit and their ability to get a loan to buy another home in a shorter period of time.
Short sale credit reporting options are:
• Paid Settlement – In which, credit score will drop 50-150 points or more depending on the number of missed payments.
• Paid, As Agreed – in which, won’t hurt the score at all as long as the borrower is paying regularly.
• Unrated – In which, may drop a few points.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac guidelines states that the waiting period before you can buy a new home is 2 years from the date the proceeding is completed. And there is no exception for extenuating circumstances.

Foreclosure: This is the least advantageous of all of the three options; it will remain in the credit report for 7 years from completion date and the credit score will drop from 50-250 points. Another disadvantage is that when Deficiency Judgment or Tax Lien is filed the credit score may drop an additional 100 points.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac current guidelines state that the waiting period is 5 years from the date of foreclosure completion proceedings.
Below are requirements in addition to the 5 years up to 7 years after completion date:
• Purchase of a primary or principal residence is permitted, 10% minimum down payment and the minimum credit score is 680.
• Purchase of a second home or property investment is not permitted.
• No cash-out refinance is permitted.

Extenuating circumstances are acceptable such as loss of employment and severe medical crisis and if approved the waiting period is 3 years from the date of foreclosure completion proceeding. The same additional requirements are applied as above except the minimum credit score of 680 is not required.
FHA Guidelines state that the waiting period for a foreclosure is 3 years from the foreclosure completion proceedings. However if foreclosure is a result of extenuating circumstances such as serious illness or death the lender may grant an exception.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure: Credit scores will carry the same serious effects as Foreclosure because most lenders report a deed in lieu of foreclosure as foreclosure. However the reality is that what is reported can actually be negotiate with the lender. It will remain on the credit report for 7 years from settlement completion.
Deed in Lieu credit reporting options:
• Paid Settlement – In which credit scores can drop up to 150 points
• Paid as Agreed- Credit scores show a dropped over 100 points due to default in payment but with this option borrower could purchase a home in a short period of time.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac guideline state that the waiting period for a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is 4 years from the date of completion proceedings.
Additional requirements after 4 years up to 7 years from completion date:
• Greater than 10% minimum down payment required for the transaction or purchase of investment property, principal residence or a second home by a borrower.
• There is a limited-cash-out and cash-out refinance are permitted if eligible and meet the requirements.
• Extenuating circumstances, physical condition such as medical crisis or other factors such as loss of employment that caused a borrower to choose the option Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure, the waiting period is 2 years from the completion proceedings.

In summary, the guidelines stated above clearly show the advantages for you to choose to short sale your property compared to allowing it to go into foreclosure or deed in lieu because the adverse effects to your credit is reduced and also, you will just have to wait 2 years to get a loan to buy another home instead of 4 years with the deed in lieu option or 5 years with the foreclosure.

If you have additional questions please feel free to email or call me.

Banks are forcing values down by using Short Sales What are the banks thinking today? Banks are more conservative than ever and are forcing property values down in stable neighborhoods.

I understand banks trying keep their equity position high and prevent further losses, but allowing appraiser to use “Short Sales” as comps in a an arms length transaction is crazy.

Buyer’s who buy short sale homes are looking for a deal and they often get one, discounts as much as 10-30% or more in some cases, I’ve seen banks sell homes to investors who then flip the home and make a profit so I know what is going on. Freddie Mac has a policy that they will accept an offer on a short sale if it’s within 77% of the BPO or appraisal value, which is great for the buyer who has waited 4-9 months to get an answer from the seller’s bank.

Where this breaks down is the poor homeowner next door, who has been paying his mortgage on time for years, and now, his property value just got flushed because appraisers are told to uses these short sales and not make adjustments.

Banks are missing the big picture, right now homeowners who maybe upside down with their property values, but are making payments are thinking and being advised to stop making payments, take a hit on their credit and get out why so many others are doing the something!

Appraisers need to not use short sale or make an adjustment anywhere from 10-30% so they don’t bring down values of non short sale homes anymore!

What you should know about home foreclosure

The Story below is something that isn’t just an isolated case, I’ve heard of people’s financial advisors advising clients it makes more sense to walk away and take the hit on their credit than wait 10-15 years to get their home value back to their mortgage amount. Something needs to be done to help more underwater homeowners from feeling this is the only way out.. But before you walk away you need to have all the answers. See below.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Feb. 24, 2010 – After more than six months of wrangling with her bank to get a reduced mortgage payment through a federal loan modification program, Debra Jacobs has had enough.

The West Palm Beach resident is walking away from her home of 14 years.

“I’m just going to wait here until they put a padlock on the door,” said Jacobs, 58. “I’m so over it, I have to let it go. It’s too painful.”

As homeowners grow increasingly frustrated by the nation’s struggling foreclosure prevention programs, more may consider walking away as a viable alternative.

But there’s more to it than just stopping your mortgage payments and handing over the keys.

Boca Raton real estate attorney Marlyn Wiener says there’s no “right way” to walk away from a home.

Knowing the consequences, however, will at least help the borrower make an informed decision, she said.

“There is an analysis that each homeowner should do to find the best way for them to proceed,” Wiener said. “There isn’t a speed lane.”

The biggest gamble in walking away is whether a lender will try to seize a borrower’s assets to pay for its losses, Wiener said. Lenders have up to 20 years in Florida to collect a deficiency judgment.

But banks are more likely to go after borrowers who strategically default – a term meaning the homeowner can afford the mortgage but decides to stop paying because the home is no longer a good investment.

Moral dilemmas aside, Wiener said it can make financial sense in some situations to “pull the plug and regroup” if the mortgage is underwater.

Scott Haft, who oversees the mortgage modification and foreclosure defense division at the law firm LaBovick & LaBovick, said some lenders are willing to forgive a mortgage debt if a borrower voluntarily turns over the home without going through a lengthy court foreclosure.

“We say, ‘We’ll give you the keys on Monday, but you have to waive your right to pursue my client in the future for deficiencies,’ “ said Haft, whose company has offices in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. “Many times, the lender is only interested in regaining the property.”

Another concern is whether the homeowner will have to claim forgiveness of debt on tax returns for the amount of money owed the lender.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 temporarily exempts people who lose their primary residence from having to claim the canceled debt, but the act is scheduled to sunset Dec. 31, 2012, and can’t be applied to investment properties.

“Everybody’s relationship with their properties and their loans is different,” Wiener said. “People need to take a look at where they are in life before they decide to walk away.”

One thing Wiener asks clients is whether they will need good credit in the near future to secure a car or student loan. A foreclosure can knock up to 300 points off a credit score – damage that can take years to repair and will stay on your report for seven years.

Lenders have recently stepped up efforts to ease the foreclosure process and avoid the complications when a homeowner walks away.

Citigroup launched a program this month that allows some borrowers to stay in their homes for six months without paying. In return, the homeowner turns in the keys at the end of the time period and keeps the home in good shape.

The federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program, announced in November, gives lenders incentives for offering deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and for approving short sales.

But for Jacobs, the alternatives are “too little too late.”

“Not only do I not know the options, I don’t care anymore,” she said. “It’s really sad it’s come to this.”

Lifeline needed for underwater homeowners!

I’m meeting more and more homeowners who just don’t want to wait for the market value of their homes to catch-up to the price they paid or the mortgage they have. If your home has a lost a lot of equity and your underwater, maybe you are struggling to make the payments, their is hope, really! check out making homes affordable to see if you can get help.

If you don’t qualify for this government program try contacting your lender to see if they can assist with a loan modification if you don’t get help from the lender DON’T walk away! Lenders are pushing for more people to short sell their home because you are helping them solve a problem and saving the bank money. Yes, you are helping the lender solve a problem, both you and the lender have a problem. You can’t afford the house and they are not getting paid. Some lenders are also giving borrowers (the seller) cash at closing to help move. Wells Fargo offered one of my clients $2,500!

Check out a video I did on short sales to see why it’s better for to short sell your home than walking away! Video Link

NEW YORK – Feb. 4, 2010 – An estimated 4.5 million homeowners owe more than their homes are worth. That number is likely to peak at 5.1 million in June, affecting 10 percent of homeowners and making them increasingly likely to just walk away.

“We’re now at the point of maximum vulnerability,” says Sam Khater, a senior economist with First American CoreLogic, the firm that conducted the recent research. “People’s emotional attachment to their property is melting into the air.”

Consultants at Oliver Wyman calculated that 17 percent of owners defaulting in 2008 –about 588,000 – chose to default even though they could pay.

First American estimates that it would cost around $745 billion – about the same as the original 2008 bank bailout – to restore all underwater borrowers to the break-even point.

Doing so would be seen as highly unfair by many taxpayers, says Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, but doing nothing would be another blow to a fragile economy.

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (02/022010)

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
►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.

Lifeline needed for underwater homeowners – Is Walking away the only option?

Link To Lifeline Needed For Underwater Homeowners

I’m meeting more and more homeowners who just don’t want to wait for the market value of their homes to catch-up to the price they paid or the mortgage they have. If you’re home has a lot of equity and you’re underwater, maybe you are struggling to make the payments. There is hope, really! Check out making homes affordable to see if you can get help.

If you don’t qualify for this government program try contacting your lender and see if they can assist with a loan modification (CLICK HERE FOR ANSWERS) if don’t get assistance from the lender, DON’T walk away from your home the problems don’t disappear! Infact it will get a lot worse.

Lenders are willing and advising borrowers to short sell their homes because you are helping them save them money. It cost the bank on average $50,000-$80,000 to foreclose on a home. By Short Selling you’re home you are helping the lender solve a problem they have. Both you and the lender have a problem, you can’t afford the house and they are not getting interest paid on the loan. Some lenders are also giving borrowers (the seller) cash at closing to help move. Wells Fargo offered one of my clients $2,500!

Check out a video I did on short sales and why it’s better for you than walking away and facing a foreclosure!
I’m here to help so feel free to call me anytime or shoot me an email.

Indian Rock Beach Fl, waterfront townhome

Moor your sail boat at your door! Gorgeous town home, builder’s own unit with ALL the extras. Wood floors, crown molding, built-ins, granite-WOW factor! Deep water slip allows for yachts or sailboats. Loads of storage + a 2 car side by side garage! French doors open to private balconies overlooking a gorgeous landscaped yard. Perfect for BBQ’s! Enjoy boating in the pristine Gulf waters. Walk 1 block to white sandy beaches, restaurants & shops or relax on your private roof top terrace with endless views of Gulf and Intracoastal. Located on the best beach-Indian Rocks. This is a home worthy of all this fabulous community offers! “Sale is subject to seller’s lender’s approval”.

Fannie to offer closing cost aid on foreclosures

WASHINGTON – Feb. 1, 2010 – Fannie Mae, the largest provider of residential home funding in the United States, announced on Friday that it would start to pay closing costs for buyers of foreclosed homes in its inventory. Buyers of qualified properties will get up to 3.5 percent in closing costs or an equivalent amount for the purchase of new appliances.

Fannie wants to clear out the nearly 50,000 properties it has in inventory – listed on, the Web site created by Fannie Mae last year to sell the growing number of foreclosed homes. The offer is available to any owner-occupant who closes on the purchase of a property listed on before May 1, 2010. Applicable properties can be found on, along with property descriptions, photographs, community and school information, and more.

In addition, some Fannie Mae-owned properties are eligible for special HomePath Mortgage and HomePath Renovation Mortgage financing, which offers qualified homebuyers the ability to purchase with as little as 3 percent down.

“Attracting qualified buyers to the market and reducing inventory of vacant homes is critical to stabilizing neighborhoods and helping the market recover,” Terry Edwards, executive vice president for credit portfolio management, said in a statement.

I think this is a great opportunity for any buyer. Check out the homepath website and see what homes are available in your area!

Short Sale investors flipping homes – Good or Bad?

Over the past couple of years since “Short Sales” have been the hot topic in the real estate market I’ve been contacted by several mortgage brokers and investors/firms looking to get access to my clients who need to sell properties and who are upside down in their homes value.

These people offered to help my clients by making an offer on their home. (Banks are only willing to talk about a short sale if we have an offer) They will negotiate the short sale on behalf of the client and purchase the home (if they can get a good deal).

I was quite interested when I heard this the first time, because I know how hard it can be to find a buyer who is willing to wait 3-9 months before they can close on a home (these mortgage brokers who weren’t making money by financing homes now wanted to make a living from people’s hardship) It was pitched to me that I would make the commission on the listing side and on the buying side. After the bank approved the sale I would then market the home below fair market value to find a buyer quickly. (Banks typically give us 30-60 days to close the transaction once they have given us their approval) I would then get the commission on the listing side and maybe the buying side for the investor. WOW that could be as much as 12% commission for one deal! Who wouldn’t be interested in that?! (not me if it’s hurting someone)

After further questioning, I discovered these “white knights” looking to help my sellers get out of their homes make offers at 65% below fair market value minus repairs and tie up the home for several months negotiating with the bank. They had no intention of buying the home unless they can sell the bank on accepting this lowball offer, then finding an end buyer who will pay market value for the home. Once they find an end buyer they use a “Hard Money Lender” to close on the property, then resell the home the same day to the end buyer making a huge profit.

If no end buyer can be found or the bank doesn’t accept the low ball offer the seller could end up in foreclosure, plus during the time the home was under contract with the investor any real buyers miss out on these homes. These investors are not helping the turn around of the real estate market they are just taking advantage of desperate sellers and banks, ultimately you and I as tax payers are fitting the bill for these guys because its our tax paying money that has been bailing out the banks from their losses.

Example: At the end of last year a client of mine made an offer on a home in Crescent Heights, we received a counter offer where the sellers name was scratched out and an investment firms name was in its place. The investor had gotten the seller to sign a contract which allowed the investment firm to control the sale as described above. We did come to terms on a sales price after going back and forth for a couple of days. At the closing the investor walked away with over $13,000. The seller could still be on the hook for any unpaid balance of the mortgage.

I feel the banks and/or the government need to set rules to prevent these investors from taking advantage of our down turned real estate market.

December 2009 MLS Stats for Pinellas County FL

Lot’s of great info here! Take a look at the number of active homes on the market today compared to the past couple of years. The median home price is also on the rise. If we see the unemployment rate go down we could see a much faster recovery in Pinellas County. The number of bank owned homes is also on the way down! Does this mean the end of the great deals? I don’t think so. I’ve seen some great deals in the past few weeks! Like mutiple 3 & 4 bed, pool homes in Clearwater for under $130,000!

Click on the links below and view the pdf. files.

Pinellas December 2009 All Reports: “Condo’s & Single Family”

November 09 monthly foreclosure &short sales report

You still have time to negotiate and buy a “Short Sale” property before the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 move up credit runs out! But don’t delay because what I experienced last year was at about 60 days before the end of the tax credit sellers of non “short sale” homes got a higher sold price to list price percentage because they negotiated harder with buyers because they knew that they had the only homes buyers could close on and still get the credit! The morale of the story here is if you want negotiating power, start early.

Have questions? Call or Email me

264 Valencia Cir, St. Petersburg, FL, 33716

his spacious corner unit townhome is situated on a private preserve lot that is very peaceful. The end unit is light and bright with a nice side yard. Hardwood floors in living and dining area as well as up the staircase. Granite counter tops and maple wood cabinets continue from the kitchen to bathrooms. Stainless steal appliances, designer paint finishes throughout, upgraded tile in kitchen and baths. The split floor plan offers privacy for guests. Laundry room is located upstairs for convenience. Carillon/Feather sound location offers all of life’s conveniences. St. Anthony’s medical and Wellness center are walking distance along with all the shopping for your everyday needs. Of course, there is a Starbucks across Ulmerton! “Sale is subject to seller’s lender’s approval”.

243 Heritage isles Bradenton FL

Heritage Harbour, Award Winning Gated Golf Course Community. This 2,751 Sq Ft Grand Weston Flex floor plan located on the 14th hole. The home has an amazing floor plan which will suite any family! High tray ceiling with crown molding, formal living room and family room on the 1st floor overlooking the heated in-ground salt pool and custom summer kitchen with SS grill and refrigerator. Large master suite with tub and separate shower (1st floor) 2nd floor game room has built-in office with views of preserve and 14th green. Over $100k of upgrades, pool, window treatments, moldings, California closets, tinted windows, Murphy bed, landscaping, built-in office and so much more. This is a must see!

Short Sale process overview

This video is my personal experience of selling homes that need to go through the short sale process. Some banks have made the process easy while others have (bank of America) are making this so hard. I’ve tried to give you an overview of what I’ve see and what my clients have experienced over the past 2 years. If you have any additional questions about the process or maybe you need help selling your home call or email me. visit me at