Tag Archives: debt

What does FICO have to do with my Home Loan?

ficoYour FICO score is the yardstick by which most lenders measure your credit worthiness. The major credit bureaus keep track of loans that you have taken out in the past and how well you managed this debt. A high FICO score indicates that you have been responsible with the credit extended to you and will reflect positively on applications that you submit, while a lower score indicates that you have had credit issues in the past. Continue reading

Good news for California homeowners facing short sales

short saleUnder regular tax rules, when a lender forgives a debt — that is, relieves the borrower from having to pay it back — the amount of the debt is taxable income to the borrower.

A homeowner who has $100,000 in mortgage debt forgiven through a short sale, for example, would have to pay income tax on the $100,000.

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Housing Distress Dropping or Hiding & Could be Scarier than Halloween?

San Diego-based Data Quick said last Tuesday that Foreclosure Starts or properties entering the foreclosure process are at the lowest point since 2006. See the article-(Click here

The question is, how valid is this statement? Or is this just a preliminary report, “hiding” the fact that there is still plenty of underwater property being led to the slaughter by the nation’s lenders, albeit in a timely manner so as not to disrupt the housing recovery?

It does make sense that lower unemployment & Real Estate Inventory causing rising values, then mortgage servicers and lenders bending over backwards to keep homeowners in their homes that these numbers are falling to record lows; however the flood waters being held by the dam do continue to swirl, albeit a lot of nervous homeowners wondering what will happen or do next.

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Guest Post: Managing your finances before homeownership to save your home from a foreclosure

Managing your finances before homeownership to save your home from a foreclosure

Are you planning to purchase a new home? If yes, you have to buck up your finances so that you don’t fall in trouble in the near future and then risk losing your home to a forced foreclosure. Managing your finances is the most important job that you have to do when you plan to take out a home mortgage loan from a bank. The mortgage loan entails your home as collateral so that when the borrower defaults to make the payments on time, the lender can foreclose the house and recuperate the money. How much house can I afford is the most important question a borrower should ask himself before taking the plunge. Here are some important steps that you should take in order to manage your finances once you plan to take out a home loan.

  • Stop all the unnecessary expenses: Whenever you contemplate buying a new house and forget paying further rent, you should stop making all the unnecessary expenses that you can do without. If you don’t read magazines, stop the monthly subscriptions to magazines. If you can cook well, stop dining out every weekend as this will save your dollars in the long run. You can even do without the cable connection at home. If you can build an emergency fund, you can easily take out a mortgage loan at an affordable rate.
  • Stop using your credit cards: Are you aware of the fact that the mortgage lender will check your DTI ratio or the debt-to-income ratio that is the ratio between the total monthly debt obligations with your monthly income. If you keep on purchasing things with your credit cards, you’ll drown in unsecured debt and thereby be forced to take out a home mortgage loan at an unaffordable interest rate. Therefore, stuff your wallet with cash so that you may stop buying things when you’re exhausted.
  • Save enough money: Yes, this is the ultimate secret that will take you to the path of a smooth mortgage loan approval. The mortgage loan underwriter will check the amount you’re paying down while taking out the loan amount. The more you pay down, the lower will be the rate offered to you. You should save enough money so that you can at least pay down 20% of the loan amount and avoid paying PMIs later on.
  • Keep track on your credit score: Don’t take any wrong step that can hit your credit score. Pull out a copy of your credit score time to time so that you know where you stand financially. Repair your credit as much as possible so as to grab the best mortgage loan at the most covetable cost.

When you’re dreaming of homeownership, make sure you follow the money tips mentioned above. By taking all the tips mentioned above, you can get the most appropriate loan in accordance with your affordability. Don’t forget to ask yourself “how much house can I afford” before taking out the loan.

Five bright spots in the real estate recession

The real estate market meltdown was much more severe and has lasted much longer than even the most bearish housing market observer would ever have predicted. Rather than values taking a dip, they’ve taken a double dip in many places; and the housing sector drama has infected the job market and the entire world’s economy.

Yet, there are some very shiny silver linings to this whole mess — a handful of ways in which our mindsets, habits, behaviors and approaches to money, mortgage and even life decision-making — have been changed by this real estate market debacle. As I see it, here are the five best things about this housing recession:

1. People now buy for the long term

Even Jeff Lewis, that reality TV house flipper extraordinaire, has declared that he’s tapped out of the flipping business for the foreseeable future, trading in his real estate wheeling and dealing for the design business.

Recently, he mentioned having lost six homes in the real estate market crash.

While Lewis flipped homes as his business, just five years ago, many Americans — homeowners and investors alike — took a short-term view on their homes, buying them with the idea that they could count on refinancing, pulling cash out or even reselling them anytime they wanted, at a profit.
Reality check — those days are gone. Now, buyers know they’d better be prepared to stay put for somewhere between seven and 10 years (shorter in strong local markets, longer in foreclosure hot spots) before they buy if they want to break even. And this is causing them to take mortgages they can afford over time, and make smarter, longer-term choices about the homes they buy.

2. Dysfunctional properties are being weeded out and creatively reused

real estate market recessionMunicipalities like Detroit and Cleveland are demolishing blighted and decrepit properties in dead neighborhoods en masse, intentionally shrinking their cities to match their shrinking populations. These efforts are also eliminating breeding grounds for crime, and focusing resources on the neighborhoods that have a better chance of surviving and thriving in the long term.

In the so-called “slumburbias” of central California, Nevada and Arizona, McMansions are being repurposed into affordable housing for groups of seniors, artist communities and group homes.

3. American housing stock is getting an energy-efficient upgrade

The news would have you believe that every American has lost his or her home, walked away from it, or is now renting by choice. In fact, the vast majority of homeowners have simply decided to stay put.

Instead of selling and moving on up, homeowners are improving the homes they now plan to stay in for a long(er) haul. And this generation of remodeling is focused less on granite and stainless steel, and more on lowering the costs of “operating” the home and taking advantage of tax credits for installing energy-efficient doors, windows, water heaters and more. And while the first-time homebuyer tax credit is a thing of the past, the homeowner tax credits for energy-optimizing upgrades are in effect until the end of this year.

4. People are making more responsible mortgage decisions, and building financial good habits in the process

Buyers are buying far below the maximum purchase prices for which they are approved. They are reading their loan disclosures and documents before they sign them. And, thanks to the stingy mortgage market, they are spending months, even years, in the planning and preparation phases before they buy: paying down their debt; saving up for a down payment (and a cash cushion, so that a job loss wouldn’t be disastrous); being responsible and sparing in their use of credit to optimize their FICO scores; and creating strong financial habits in one fell swoop.

5. Our feelings about debt and equity have been reformed

Americans no longer use their homes like ATMs, to pull out cash, pay off their credit cards and then start the whole overspending cycle over again. Many can’t, because their homes are upside down and cannot be refinanced in any event — much less to pull cash out.

Others have been reality-checked by the recession, and are dealing with their non-mortgage debt the old fashioned way: by ceasing the pattern of spending more than they make, and applying the self-discipline it takes to pay their bills off.

Home equity, in general, is no longer viewed as an inexhaustible source of cash. Rather, we see it as a fluctuating asset to be protected and increased — not so much through the vagaries of the market, but through the hard work of paying the principal balance down. Many of those refinancing into today’s lower rates aren’t doing it to pull cash out, as was the norm at the top of the market; instead, they are refinancing into 15-year loans to pay their homes off sooner than planned, or reducing their required payment so their extra savings can be applied to principal.

Of course, it remains to be seen how lasting these changes will be if and when home prices go up and mortgage guidelines loosen up. But since neither of these things look likely to happen in the short term, hopefully there’s a chance that these behavior shifts will become part of a permanent mindset reset for American housing consumers.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. ClientDirect.net.

ING Steps Up & NFCU Waives Promissory Note

This post is a follow up to my recent one (which you can view here) regarding a short sale with active military personnel.  Another military couple in a new transaction were forced to sell their home due to NFCU’s (Navy Federal Credit Union) refusal to help them keep their home.  NFCU then forced them to accept a Promissory Note when selling their home.

Navy Federal Credit Union logoING Bank, who held the first loan, did not require any money from the seller–after I demanded that the seller would provide no contribution. This references the new California Law, SB 458, which allows the lender to collect for closing costs to the transaction only from the seller. However, this is still a gray area and only an agent who has the necessary experience to negotiate with banks, like myself, is obviously worth more than his weight in gold to anyone who may need to sell (paticulary those with assets to protect).  Those agents experienced enough in this area will make sure that the seller or buyer will not be required to make any contributions. 

The buyer, who was also being forced to contribute in the same transaction to the second loan with Chase, was also permitted to not contribute because of my negotiating ability. Even the buyer’s agent, having seen my emails to the lien holder, confided that he couldn’t believe how much I was able to do on behalf of the buyer. 

The commission was reduced drastically as a result of my negotiations, but more importantly, the banks were able to save money by me negotiation an above-fair market price on the property.  My hope is that more people will realize that I do my utmost to keep buyers’ and sellers’ interests (and assets!) above my own–and if they believe that, that they spread the word that I strive to be the best of the best.

This new short sale with NFCU had a requirement: that to be considered for the short sale, the seller would be required to take back a promissory note (which in this case was $30K after the seller took out over $80K cash when the market was booming). A seller, in this sort of case, by letting their property go to foreclosure, may create a battle for a settlement on that second loan of over $80K, due to there being no equity in the second loan and the first loan being the foreclosing entity.  In cases such as these, a short sale becomes the best alternative to avoiding hiring an attorney to settle this.

On this transaction, this promissory note was approved prior to the passing of SB 458 (which allows no contributions from the seller to the loan that would pay it down, reflecting a deficiency judgment). My persistent communication with this lien holder resulted in a complete forgiveness of the total debt–saving the seller $30K!

Without a properly experienced agent working in the best interests of the seller and buyer, this would have spelled disaster.  Even with working with some of the more experienced agents out there.

For the Best of the Best to represent you–whether selling or buying–call me at (619) 890-3648.  Thank you for reading!

Short Sale Memoirs & New Laws

The newest law in California is SB 458.  This law states that borrowers or owners of residential unit dwellings or properties of one to four units, will not experience any deficiency after a short sale extending to a junior lien holder.

Too good to be true, you’re asking? I have long known that the banks do not care about laws and take many months to implement them, whether they be federal or state government laws. They will march at their own drum. That being said, the new law that is instituted by the State of California is a joke!

Even senior lien holders of properties where there is only one loan, are still asking for a seller contribution. The California Law SB 931, passed in January of this year, clearly states there will be no contribution or deficiency and this new law, SB 458, piggy-backs on the SB 931 law. However, junior liens are still requiring contributions.

So why is this not applying to the junior liens and the SB 458 being enforced? Answer is, the banks want to test the validity of the law, while circumventing any loopholes that are there. The most important part of the new bill: “The bill would prohibit the holder of a note from requiring the trustee, mortgagor, or maker of the note to pay any additional compensation, aside from the proceeds of the sale, in exchange for a written consent to the sale.” This states that they can require seller to pay proceeds of the sale, but I have been successful to date with no seller contributions.  The lenders will do whatever it takes to squeeze money out of a transaction, but my track record shows that I have protected 99% of all sellers from contributions. Having an agent or short sale negotiator is now becoming paramount. I tend to avoid recommending many short sale negotiators because they do not have the experience I have in my two decades of short sale negotiating, since a huge problem is often caused in transactions due to the lender being not willing to pay them.

All new laws in real estate that are to help ward off the mess the government technically started by not limiting loan policies a few years ago has made the environment more difficult protecting the American Dream and helping citizens very little who pay their hard-earned money for taxes.

Bottom line–sellers want, and must have, a skilled and experienced agent with a team (assistant, attorney, accountant, escrow and title people) of problem solvers, that can get sellers out of their liability problems including past-due Home Owner Association Fees (which are collectible after bankruptcy filing post-petition or foreclosure). A short sale, when handled by me, will get paid past-due HOA fees with zero contribution by seller 99% of the time, call me today for a consultation, don’t delay!

How to take advantage of a short sale

If you’re shopping for a home with a bargain-basement price, a short sale could be the answer.

This is where a lender allows borrowers who can’t keep up with the mortgage payments to sell their home
for less than they owe on the property. The bank or mortgage company takes whatever you pay to purchase
the home and forgives the remaining debt.
Short Sale
How low can you go and still expect a lender to approve the deal?

Lenders usually will accept offers that net at least 82% (after expenses) of the home’s  current fair market value, regardless of what the borrower owes, says Tim Harris, co-founder of Harris Real Estate University in Las Vegas.

Why would a lender do that?

Because it will lose less by allowing a short sale than by going through a foreclosure.

Taking advantage of a short sale is less risky than buying a foreclosure, because so many repossessed homes need tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs. The worst of the bunch have been deliberately vandalized by angry owners just before they were evicted.

Here are 4 smart moves for buying a short sale property:

Smart move 1. Make sure you’re a good candidate for a short sale.

Short sales are all about presenting the lender with a deal it can’t refuse. Banks and mortgage servicing
companies are most likely to approve buyers that:

•  Have a substantial down payment.

•  Have been preapproved for a mortgage.

•  Place no contingencies on their contract, such as having to sell their current home before
proceeding with the purchase.

Smart move 2. Hire a real estate agent who’s experienced in short sales.

You need someone who can steer you away from short sales that aren’t likely to succeed.

Vincent Bindi, a real estate broker for ShortSalesASAP in Orange County, Calif., says your real estate agent should interview the listing agent to determine whether the seller has done everything that’s needed to win lender approval.

You need to know whether the home has been aggressively marketed — the bank won’t like it if the seller hasn’t made a good-faith effort to get a reasonable bid — and whether the bank has received a broker’s price opinion, which it will use to determine the home’s market value.

Smart move 3. Offer the right price.

Short sales aren’t the time or place to do a lot of dickering.

Lenders don’t have the time or staff to evaluate an endless bunch of bids, each a little higher than the last. If you deliberately lowball a bank or mortgage company, it will just write you off as a waste of time.

You need to come up with a cheap but reasonable offer, which the bank or mortgage company will accept, in one try.

Start by estimating the fair market value of the home for yourself, using comps (values of comparable properties that have sold near the home in the past few months).

Take the condition of the home into account and reduce your estimate if the home needs repairs. It’s a buyer’s market, and you don’t have to treat a fixer-upper like it’s in pristine condition.

Calculate 82% of the home’s value, throw in a few thousand dollars to cover the lender’s cost of doing a short sale (ask your agent what that typically is for your area), and you have a good starting point.

Now look at the quality of your comps.

If they’re straightforward deals, and the homes spent at least three or four months on the market, then you’re good to go.

But if all of the comps are foreclosures that sold within a few weeks of hitting the market, you’ve got to assume those were damaged homes being dumped at fire sale prices.

You’ll have to adjust your offer upward, perhaps all the way to the full fair market value calculated with those comps.

Check how close your offer is to the asking price on the home. Remember, the sellers won’t get any of the money, so they have no incentive to demand an unreasonable price.

They’re just trying to find a price you’ll pay, and the bank will accept, to relieve them of their debt.

If you’re close, then you’ve probably come to the same conclusions as the sellers and their real estate
agent.

If not, then your agent needs to have another talk with their agent to find out why.

Smart move 4. Be patient.

It almost always takes longer to close a short sale, because it takes so long for lenders to review and accept
your proposal.

We’ve heard of deals closing in as little as five weeks when the lender has preapproved the short sale and asking price and you agree to meet that price.

But that rarely happens.

Most sellers don’t seek the lender’s approval for a short sale until they have a signed purchase contract in hand. (Here’s a step-by-step look at what sellers must do to complete a short sale.)

More often than not, it takes two to four months to get a “yes” or “no” from the bank or mortgage servicing company.

Although lenders say they’re trying to process these requests more quickly, there still aren’t enough loss mitigation specialists to deal with the rising demand for short sales, and we’re not seeing a big improvement.

By Bonnie Biafore  |  Interest.com Contributing Editor