Tag Archives: value

Price is not all that matters in real estate sales

Negotiation strategies differ depending on how well the home is priced and who’s on the other side. If you’re trying to buy a short-sale listing where the lender has to agree to accept less than the amount owed, the seller doesn’t have much say in the negotiations about price unless he can contribute money to pay down the loan amount.

Regardless of who you’re dealing with, you’re more likely to grab a seller’s or lender’s attention if you are preapproved for the mortgage you’ll need and can provide verification of cash for the down payment and closing costs.

Many buyers feel that cash is king. If buyers are willing and able to pay all cash with no mortgage, no hassling with the lender and no appraisal contingency, they feel they’re owed a price concession.

Not all sellers agree. Some, who are confident in the value of their home, would rather work 

with an offer from a well-qualified buyer who needs to obtain a mortgage but who will pay a higher price.

Before you start negotiating, you should understand as much as you can about the other party. For instance, if the sellers are moving to a retirement home, they might go for the highest-priced offer in a multiple-offer situation, even though it might not be ideal in other regards. If they are liquidating their last asset, every penny will count.

An all-cash or large-cash-down buyer might not be able to negotiate a “deal” based on the fact that no 

lender will be involved. But if the home is a good value and suits your long-term needs, you might increase your offer price and include a mortgage. This way, you conserve cash for other uses.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Many buyers don’t want to negotiate. They want their first offer to be their best offer. Usually, the only time this is effective is if yours is the only offer, the house is priced right for the market, and you offer full price. In this market, you’re better off planning for some negotiation, and not putting all your cards on the table at once.

In most areas, the home-sale market still favors buyers. A lot of sellers are selling for less than they paid. Some have to bring money to the closing. Sellers who have owned for years are selling for less than they would have years ago. It’s natural that they would want to try for the highest price possible.

Negotiations are about more than price. Generally, the fewer the contingencies or the cleaner the contract, the more attractive it will be to the seller. Closing and possession dates can become issues at the bargaining table. What’s included and excluded, time periods to satisfy contingencies, and virtually everything in the contract is negotiable.

Since everything is up for grabs, be clear about what’s not negotiable — for instance, you can’t go over a certain price. Show flexibility in areas that will hopefully be valuable to the sellers, such as buying “as is” regarding some needed repairs. Don’t waste your time with sellers who are firm at a price that is considerably over market value. Wait until they become realistic while you continue looking. Some sellers eventually get tired of having their home listed and reduce the price to market value. Others don’t.

Sellers need to understand that buyers in today’s market will walk away from a negotiation if they feel they’re not getting anywhere or are being treated unfairly. Buyers could become suspicious or disappear if they’re told by the sellers or their agent that other buyers are lining up to make an offer when they aren’t.

THE CLOSING: A smart strategy is to defend your position while being honest and fair with the other party.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Price is not all that matters in real estate sales

Negotiation strategies differ depending on how well the home is priced and who’s on the other side. If you’re trying to buy a short-sale listing where the lender has to agree to accept less than the amount owed, the seller doesn’t have much say in the negotiations about price unless he can contribute money to pay down the loan amount.

Regardless of who you’re dealing with, you’re more likely to grab a seller’s or lender’s attention if you are pre-approved for the mortgage you’ll need and can provide verification of cash for the down payment and closing costs.

Many buyers feel that cash is king. If buyers are willing and able to pay all cash with no mortgage, no hassling with the lender and no appraisal contingency, they feel they’re owed a price concession.

Not all sellers agree. Some, who are confident in the value of their home, would rather work with an offer from a well-qualified buyer who needs to obtain a mortgage but who will pay a higher price.

Before you start negotiating, you should understand as much as you can about the other party. For instance, if the sellers are moving to a retirement home, they might go for the highest-priced offer in a multiple-offer situation, even though it might not be ideal in other regards. If they are liquidating their last asset, every penny will count.

An all-cash or large-cash-down buyer might not be able to negotiate a “deal” based on the fact that no lender will be involved. But if the home is a good value and suits your long-term needs, you might increase your offer price and include a mortgage. This way, you conserve cash for other uses.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Many buyers don’t want to negotiate. They want their first offer to be their best offer. Usually, the only time this is effective is if yours is the only offer, the house is priced right for the market, and you offer full price. In this market, you’re better off planning for some negotiation, and not putting all your cards on the table at once.

In most areas, the home-sale market still favors buyers. A lot of sellers are selling for less than they paid. Some have to bring money to the closing. Sellers who have owned for years are selling for less than they would have years ago. It’s natural that they would want to try for the highest price possible.

Negotiations are about more than price. Generally, the fewer the contingencies or the cleaner the contract, the more attractive it will be to the seller. Closing and possession dates can become issues at the bargaining table. What’s included and excluded, time periods to satisfy contingencies, and virtually everything in the contract is negotiable.

Since everything is up for grabs, be clear about what’s not negotiable — for instance, you can’t go over a certain price. Show flexibility in areas that will hopefully be valuable to the sellers, such as buying “as is” regarding some needed repairs.

Don’t waste your time with sellers who are firm at a price that is considerably over market value. Wait until they become realistic while you continue looking. Some sellers eventually get tired of having their home listed and reduce the price to market value. Others don’t.

Sellers need to understand that buyers in today’s market will walk away from a negotiation if they feel they’re not getting anywhere or are being treated unfairly. Buyers could become suspicious or disappear if they’re told by the sellers or their agent that other buyers are lining up to make an offer when they aren’t.

THE CLOSING: A smart strategy is to defend your position while being honest and fair with the other party.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Top six reasons mortgage applications are rejected

Half of refinance applications are abandoned or rejected, as are 30 percent of purchase mortgage applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. All told, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) says that well over 2 million mortgage applications were rejected last year.

Want to avoid falling into that number? It’s tough — especially in light of the fact that mortgage lenders have become increasingly restrictive in terms of their lending guidelines since the housing market crash.

Here, as a cautionary tale and primer on what to expect, are the top six reasons mortgage lenders reject applications.FFIEC

1. Income issues. Most failed applications falling into this category have income too low for the mortgage amount they are seeking; often, a spouse’s credit issues can create this problem, too, as the income the spouse plans to actually chip in toward the mortgage cannot be considered by a lender.

But increasingly, the recent vagaries of the job market are also causing this issue, as people who have changed their line of work or have changed from salaried employee to freelancer over the last couple of years can also have their home loan applications rejected based on income.

2. Muddled money matters. If the mortgage for which you’re applying plus your monthly payments on credit card, car and student loan debts will comprise more than 45 percent of your total income, you could have problems qualifying for a home loan. You might also run into problems if you rely too heavily on bonuses, overtime, cash wages or rental income — all of these can be difficult or impossible to get a mortgage bank to consider, and if they do, they might not take all of it into account.

3. Credit issues. Today, the mortgage-qualifying FICO score cutoff falls somewhere between 620 and 660, depending on which lender and which loan type you seek. More than one-third of Americans, by some numbers, have credit scores too low to qualify for a home loan. Even if your credit score is high enough to qualify, if you have any late mortgage payments, a short sale, a foreclosure or a bankruptcy in the last two years, loan qualifying could be difficult to impossible.

4. Property didn’t appraise. Since the whole industry had its hand smacked for allowing home values to skyrocket in a very short time, appraisal guidelines have tightened up — some would say, even more than overall mortgage guidelines. So, it is increasingly common to have the property appraise for a price lower than the sale price negotiated between the buyer and seller.

This is especially common in the refinance realm, as well over a quarter of U.S. homes are now upside-down, meaning the mortgage balance owed is greater than the value of the home.

5. Condition problems. With all the distressed properties on the market, and with most non-distressed sellers barely breaking even, more home-sale transactions than ever are falling apart due to condition problems with the property. Many lenders will not extend financing on homes where the appraiser points out problems like cracked or broken windows, missing kitchen appliances, electrical problems, or wood rot.

And in the world of condos and other units that belong to a homeowners association, if more than 25 percent of units are rented (rather than owner-occupied) or more than 15 percent are delinquent on their HOA dues, new applications for refinance or purchase mortgages on units in the development are likely to be rejected.

6. Technical difficulties with application. The days when lenders just took your word for it are long, long gone. Applications with incomplete or unverifiable information are doomed.

If any of these mortgage loan application glitches arise in your homebuying or refinancing process, it’s critical that you connect with your mortgage professional, be it your banker or mortgage broker, to determine what course of action to take.

In some cases, it might be as simple as buying a stove you find at Craigslist and installing it before escrow closes; but with income issues your mortgage pro will need to help you determine whether it makes sense to pay some bills down, get a co-signer, or even wait six months so your income documentation will qualify.

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

Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value

Under the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, estimated energy-consumption expenses for a house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

When you apply for a mortgage to buy a house, how often does the lender ask detailed questions about monthly energy costs or tell the appraiser to factor in the energy-efficiency features of the house when coming up with a value?

Hardly ever. That’s because the big three mortgage players — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which together account for more than 90% of all loan volume — typically don’t consider energy costs in underwriting. Yet utility bills can be larger annual cash drains than property taxes or insurance — key factors in standard underwriting — and can seriously affect a family’s ability to afford a house.

energy efficientA new bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill could change all this dramatically and for the first time put energy costs and savings squarely into standard mortgage underwriting equations. A bill introduced Oct. 20 would force the three mortgage giants to take account of energy costs in every loan they insure, guarantee or buy. It would also require them to instruct appraisers to adjust their property valuations upward when accurate data on energy efficiency savings are available.

Titled the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, the bill is jointly sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia. Here’s how it would work: Along with the traditional principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) calculations, estimated energy-consumption expenses for the house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

For most houses that have not undergone independent energy audits, loan officers would be required to pull data either from previous utility bills — in the case of refinancings — or from a Department of Energy survey database to arrive at an estimated cost. This would then be factored into the debt-to-income ratios that lenders already use to determine whether a borrower can afford the monthly costs of the mortgage. Allowable ratios probably would be adjusted to account for the new energy/utilities component.

For houses with significant energy-efficiency improvements already built in and documented with a professional audit such as a home energy rating system study, lenders would instruct appraisers to calculate the net present value of monthly energy savings — i.e., what that stream of future savings is worth today in terms of market price — and adjust the final appraised value accordingly. This higher valuation, in turn, could be used to justify a higher mortgage amount.

For example…

Read the rest of this article is by the Los Angeles Times: “Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value“.

Obama casts lifeline to underwater homeowners

With interest rates at record lows, any homeowner with good enough credit and enough equity to can lower his or her mortgage payment by refinancing the loan.

But that option isn’t available to millions of “underwater” homeowners — people who bought their homes at or near the top of the home-price bubble, only to see their homes’ value drop below the amount they owe after home prices collapsed.

Now, the Obama Administration has unveiled a plan that will let some homeowners refinance their mortgages — and take advantage of lower interest rates — even when they owe more than their home is worth.

Among the provisions will be a measure increasing loan amounts made above the value of the home. The program is being offered under the federal government’s two-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Plan, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced today.

Currently, the ceiling for refinancing a loan is 125% of a home’s value — for example, a $125,000 mortgage on a home worth $100,000. That ceiling would be removed for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the FHFA statement said.

Typically, you can only refinance your loan and take advantage of lower interest rates if your home is worth more than the amount you owe. After all, lenders need to have enough collateral in the home to pay off the mortgage if you stop making payments.

This has been a bind for many underwater borrowers who managed to make payments until now, but have been unable to take advantage lower rates. And being able to refinance may help many avoid foreclosure — and reduce housing’s drag on the overall economy.

According to news reports, the new plan likely will help 600,000 to 1 million borrowers refinance their mortgages. MSNBC reported, however, that is only a fraction of the estimated 11 million homeowners who are underwater.

FHFA said that details about the program should be released by Nov. 15.

But highlights include:

  • Eliminating fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term loans (for example, converting a 30-year loan into a 15-year).
  • Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable computer-generated value estimate.
  • Waiving warranties that lenders make on loans sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — so Fannie and Freddie won’t force them to buy back loans that go bad.
  • Removing the current ceiling that limits eligibility to those who owe a maximum of 25% more than their home is worth.

Two local mortgage brokers hailed the proposal as a way to help both homeowners and the overall economy.

Paul Scheper, regional manager of Greenlight Financial in Irvine, said the plan will provide a “snorkel” for underwater homeowners with good incomes and credit scores.

“Such a measure would boost the hopes of the homeowner while reducing the credit risk via lower payments of the bank,” Scheper said. “It also helps the economy because this frees up additional funds to inject back into the economy. It’s a classic Win-Win-Win.”

The best news is no appraisal and nominal underwriting rules, added Laguna Niguel mortgage broker Jeff Lazerson.

“There is a great chance each participating borrower is going to save hundreds of dollars per month on his or her house payments,” he said.

Lazerson said the program will encourage more lenders to participate because FHFA essentially promised lenders that Fannie and Freddie won’t have recourse if these loans go bad. That, he said, will increase price competition among lenders.

Lazerson believes the program will be “the single greatest program” to stabilize the housing market.

“Fewer homeowners will be mailing their keys back to their lenders,” Lazerson said. “Next thing you know, we’ll actually be spotting buyers at weekend open houses again.”

Here’s more on the proposed refinancing plan …

This article is from the Orange County Register: Obama casts lifeline to underwater homeowners

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