Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sell Your Home Fast with a Short Sale

These tips for making your home sell fast are sure to streamline the process.
Begin preparing the paperwork as soon as possible. Your real estate agent or short sale investor is often able to help. Typically you will need the following items:

Hardship letter

Tax Returns

Bank Records

HOA, Property Taxes and other pertinent outlays associated with the property.

Copy of Mortgage statements, liens or other monies owned on the house.

Put out the word. Let everyone know you need to sell the home – fast. Use works like ‘motivated seller’ or “distressed homeowner” to indicate a willingness to work with buyers able to provide a fast closing.Contact the lender to let them know your situation. Perform maintenance and upkeep as you are able. If finances are an issue, try to make the property appear as attractive and well maintained as possible.

Create a list of what you need the most from this deal. For example, if you need a fast closing avoid bankruptcy then say-so when speaking with the agent or potential short sale buyers. If you need a new place to live or rent after closing then mention that as well. Often these items can become part of the negotiation process to help make the deal work.

Identify personal property prior to accepting a final offer. If you intend to take the appliances be sure to specify this in advance. Likewise, it’s important to bring all items that will remain with the home (good and bad) as well as be removed from the home prior to entertaining offers.

Make a folder of all contact information and paperwork. Keep it accessible when speaking with real estate agents or potential buyers. Remember, everything must be in writing and never sign something you don’t fully understand.

Avoid entertaining multiple offers all at once. While this might seem like a good way to increase the odds of a successful sale, it often creates unnecessary delays that could result in your losing the home or growing farther into debt. Instead, ask to see proof of financing or other indication of a quick closing.

Keep it realistic. Even the most reputable short sale offer is likely to be somewhat slow given the large number of sales currently going through the system. A lot of sellers are searching for solid short sale offers so increase your odds by responding quickly to all inquiries and remaining patient throughout the process.

Start Early. The sooner you start the better the odds of selling your home before it becomes critical or urgent.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fannie Adds Incentive to Avoid Foreclosure

Beginning in July, Fannie Mae will allow financially troubled home owners to complete a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” or a short sale and be eligible to apply for a new Fannie-backed mortgage in two years.

Currently, borrowers who have completed a deed-in-lieu must wait four years to apply for a loan that Fannie will purchase. Home buyers who go through foreclosure must wait five years.

All these waiting periods can be reduced further, if the potential buyer can show extenuating circumstances. "We are beginning to think about post-recession, how you address borrowers who became unemployed through no fault of their own ... and now deserve the right to re-enter the housing-finance system," said Federal Housing Association Commissioner David Stevens.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos (04/26/2010)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sales of Riverside County Foreclosured Homes up 29%

RIVERSIDE - Sales of foreclosed homes shot up 29 percent in Riverside County last month as a backlog of lender-repossessed properties cleared the market, a real estate tracking firm reported today.

According to Bay Area-based's monthly "California Foreclosure Report," 2,316 foreclosure sales were recorded in Riverside County in March. The figure compares to 1,789 sales in February and 1,307 sales a year ago.

Statewide, foreclosure sales jumped 92 percent between February and March, according to founder Sean O'Toole.

He attributed the surge to lenders catching up after voluntarily holding off on foreclosure proceedings following the implementation in March 2009 of the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, in which qualifying borrowers' mortgage payments can be reduced under government-brokered agreements with banks.

"Despite efforts to promote foreclosure alternatives like loan modifications and short sales, the simple reality is that there isn't a program Advertisement

Barley and Hops for everyone," O'Toole said. "Unraveling trillions in excess debt will take time, and foreclosure is part of the solution, not the problem."

Los Angeles County recorded the highest volume of foreclosure sales in California last month -- 3,285, a 27 percent increase from February.

Riverside County had the second-highest number, followed by neighboring San Bernardino County, with 1,870 foreclosure sales, according to

In most cases, lenders took back their properties without any competitive bids, but O'Toole said the number of third-party sales at auction crossed the 4,000 mark for the first time in California last month, accounting for about one-fifth of sales.

O'Toole predicted foreclosure sales will continue to rise, noting that the lag time between trustees' notices of default and notices of sale has increased from an average 142 to 188 days, with inventories of foreclosed properties swelling.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Obama's Short Sale Program will Pay Owners to Sell versus Foreclosure

The NY Times is reporting on a new Obama initiative to create a financial incentive for banks and home sellers alike to do short sales. A few highlights from the article:

•Program starts April 5, 2010

•Lenders will be "compelled" to accept short sales. We'll see about that.

•The administration wants to streamline the process. We'll see about that too.

•Financial incentives are $1,500 to the home seller, $1,000 to the lender, and $1,000 to a subordinate lender.

•Agents will be used to valuate the properties, but lenders will not be forced to accept offers beneath the agent valuation.

That last point is the rub: BPOs, or broker price opinions, are inconsistent and often unreliable. I do them, and I do not accept BPOs outside of a very small geographic footprint; however, many BPO agents are from far away and do robotic, formulaic, price per square foot hatchet jobs which do not accurately reflect market conditions. Once this happens, a short sale can be set back 6 months (yes, 6 months) or derailed completely. All because some guy from 50 miles away didn't care to do his homework for the $45 fee.

The piece details another thing which I have long believed: lender are skeptical about short sales. A number of quotes detail suspicion of fraud and that is unfortunate. In the short sales I broker, I see nothing but earnest buyers and sellers. We never sell to investors. I have never sold anyone a home and then done a short sale on their old place (strategic default). Banks are engaging in "prevent defense" with this mentality. You throw the baby out with the bath water when you assume fraud at the expense of people who are seeking relief in good faith.

We'll see going forward if this works. The worst thing about short sales is the abhorrent length of time and ridiculous red tape they consume. If the administration can indeed shorten and streamline the process, I'll be the worst to give them credit. This much is true: something has to be done, because too many good people are suffering.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First-time homebuyer's tax credit extended for second time

California lawmakers have voted to extend a $10,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

The credit will apply to first-time buyers who purchase new or existing homes between May 1 and Dec. 31 of this year. It is for 5 percent of the purchase price, or up to $10,000. The bill received bipartisan support in the Assembly and Senate on Monday and will be sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The governor, who proposed the extended tax credit as part of his job-creation initiative, is expected to sign the bill.

California recently passed a tax break that capped the total credit available at $100 million on new homes purchased between March 1, 2009, and March 1, 2010.

The new bill increases that cap to $200 million and applies to new and existing home.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obama's Short Sale Program Unfolds April 5th

The Obama Administration’s new short sale plan, which begins April 5, calls for banks to agree to not pursue borrowers for any deficiency judgments after a short sale, requires second lien holders to accept a maximum of $3000 to settle their debt, allots $1000 to mortgage servicers for a successful short sale, and allows for up to $1,500 in “relocation” assistance to borrowers.

The plan – Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, or HAFA – is for borrowers who qualify for or have participated in the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, but have not been able to make their new reduced mortgage payments through the trial period. It is also for any borrower who has tried to modify their loan through HAMP and now requests a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure.

The program calls for banks to decide what they are willing to take $ wise in the short sale before the property goes on the market, so that the buyer, real estate broker and seller know what price the property needs to sell for in order for the bank to approve the short sale. It also requires lenders and servicers to use uniform documentation and short sale terms, prevents them from reducing the real estate agent’s commissions in a short sale and greatly expedites the lender’s short sale approval process to ten business days after receipt of an offer.

HAFA also allows lenders to offer a deed in lieu of foreclosure to borrowers with government insured loans without requiring borrowers to first put the property on the market for 90 days, which is the typical protocol for a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

With all of this said, the glaring, overwhelming problem with HAFA, like all government programs to date geared toward preventing foreclosures, (starting with the Bush Administration’s Housing Economic Recovery Act), is that bank participation will be voluntary and on the individual lender’s terms.

HAMP, which set out to help 3.4 million borrowers, to date has modified less than 120,000 borrowers’ loans, and even for the loans that have been modified, the lasting impact is questionable.

The good news with short sales is that, at least in my experience thus far in 2010, the nation’s lenders, simply by virtue of the fact that they have had the past 3 years to practice, are starting to move faster on short sales and issue approvals with less stringent qualifying criteria. This means that, without regard to government programs, the average homeowner has a better chance doing a successful short sale than ever before.