Archive for April, 2010

Don’t Foreclose! Do a Short Sale!

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Short sales are the hottest thing going in the distressed-property market, and the trend is expected to get even hotter in coming weeks, when the government starts handing out cash to encourage lenders to close these deals.

This Montecito home is actively listed for sale as a short sale. These new government programs will help make sales of properties like this much easier.

“Banks have ramped up short sale approvals,” said Duane Legate of House Buyer Network, which connects short sellers with buyers. “They’re hiring a lot of the people who once worked in the mortgage-lending industry and moved them over to short sales.”

These transactions, where lenders allow homeowners to sell their houses for less than they owe, accounted for 17% of all residential real estate sales in February, up from nearly 13% in November, according to a monthly real estate market survey by Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance.

And Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), the country’s largest mortgage servicer, has more than doubled the number of short sales it processed in recent months.

Elizabeth Weintraub, a Sacramento, Calif.-area real estate agent who handles many short sales, was amazed at how quickly a recent deal went through. “Bank of America approved it in 24 days,” she said. “That flipped me out.”

This is a huge change from even just six months ago when the short-sale market was stalled and most people would describe the process has real estate hell. Because lenders stand to lose so much on these transactions, they have been reluctant to make short sales happen, often waiting months before getting back to potential buyers.
Beware: You lost your house but still have to pay

“In the past, many short sales would never come to fruition and the ones that did averaged over half a year to complete,” said Chris Saitta, CEO of Equator, which produces short sale software.

“Things would just fall into a black hole and not come out again,” added Weintraub.

And even when banks did agree to the sale, the process could be further complicated if the original owner had a second mortgage.

In most cases, the first lender is repaid in full before any money flows to a second-lein holder. And because most distressed borrowers are severely underwater, there’s usually nothing left to send on. As a result, second-lein holders are left holding the bag and have been killing many deals.

This Summerland ocean view home is actively listed for sale as a short sale. These new government programs will help make sales of properties like this much easier.

But that has been changing. For one thing, banks realize that they make out far better financially with a short sale than a foreclosure. “The lenders lose 50% on a foreclosure and only 30% on a short sale,” said Glenn Kelman, founder of the real estate Web site Redfin. “And short sales offer a way to get distressed properties off their books quickly.”

And on April 5, lenders and mortgage investors will have even more incentives to offer troubled borrowers short sales instead of foreclosing.

Under the new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, borrowers will earn a $3,000 “relocation incentive” and servicers will get $1,500 for handling a short sale.

The investors who actually own the mortgage notes will get $2,000 in exchange for sharing proceeds of the short sales with any second-lien holders. And, finally, those second lien holders will receive up to $6,000 for releasing their claims.

Lenders participating in the program must also determine the market values of properties early on and inform the owners of just what price they’re willing to accept. Then, if owners come back to the lenders with bonafide offers, they have to be accepted within 10 days.

Equator’s Saiita anticipates a short sale explosion in response to the new program. “The challenge will be handling all the volume,” he said.

The company has already tweaked its software, which 58 servicers use, to handle the new HAFA rules. And that should help reduce the time it takes to execute a sale, which currently averages 88 days.

The boom in short sales may accelerate the end to the foreclosure crisis by cleaning out the overhang of borrowers in distress and replacing them with more stable homeowners.

Plus, these sales are better for distressed borrowers because their credit scores suffer less. Going through a foreclosure can knock 200 points off a FICO score, twice as much as the penalty for a short sale.

By Les Christie, staff writer
---- ---- ---- ----

Sylvia Elizabeth Miller

If you would like more information on the Santa Barbara Real Estate Market, or more specific information about its distressed listings within Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria, Goleta, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and/or The Santa Ynez Valley, please contact our Agent on Duty, Sylvia Elizabeth Miller. Sylvia has earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification.

Sylvia Elizabeth Miller
, Senior Realtor® Associate
Broker: Coastal Properties, Inc
Email: sylvia@sanbarb.com
Cell: 805-448-8882 ~ Toll Free: 877-San-Barb
Web: SantaBarbaraConnection.com
DRE #: 00558548

Obama Mortgage Assistance Programs

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

President Obama



Many homeowners who are at risk of default or who have already defaulted on their mortgages believe that foreclosure is their only solution to mounting mortgage problems. The good news is that there are options to helping responsible homeowners avoid distressed circumstances or even avoid foreclosures.

The Obama Administration’s “Making Home Affordable Program” offers three new federally approved housing relief programs designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosures:

       

    • HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program
       

    • HAMP– Home Affordable Modification Program
       

    • HAFA– Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative


    1. – HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program

    Homeowners who are current with their mortgage payments may be able to take advantage of today’s mortgage rates and keep their homes by refinancing to a 30- or 15-year fixed-rate loan via Home Affordable Refinance, a component of the Making Home Affordable initiative launched in early 2009.

    The following list contains an overview of the HARP eligibility criteria:

    • Home
      • Must be owner-occupied
      • Must be a 1 to 4 unit property
    • Existing Mortgage
      • Owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
      • Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is above 80% but not more than 125%
    • Borrower
      • Current on existing mortgage payments
      • Has enough income to support new mortgage payments

    2. – HAMP – Home Affordable Modification Program

    For those home owners struggling to stay current with mortgage payments that experience a change in income or other financial hardships may seek loan modification via HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program). HAMP is one part of the administration initiatives to promote housing and financial stability. For many lenders, loan modification is a suitable workout option since lender losses on foreclosures can run high.

    The following outline contains an overview of the HAMP eligibility criteria:

    • Home
      • Must be owner-occupied
      • Must be a 1 to 4 unit property
    • Existing Mortgage
      • Unpaid principal balance that is equal to or less than $729,000
      • Originated on or before January 01, 2009
      • Payments exceed 31% of borrower’s gross monthly income
      • For those who qualify, mortgage servicers determine how much of an interest rate deduction will be required to bring the borrower’s payment to less than 31% of gross monthly income.
    • Borrower
      • Experiences a change in income or other [specific] financial hardships
      • At risk of imminent default or in default
    • Trial Period
      • The Home Affordable Modification Program requires borrowers to enter into a Trial Period Plan before receiving a permanent Home Affordable Modification. During this period, borrowers must submit trial payments and all required forms and documents. If borrower has payment problems during this time, final approval will be denied and borrower will not go into full modification. If borrower pays consistently during this trial period, then the new loan terms will become permanent.

    Note: To learn more about the HAMP program go to www. Makinghomeaffordable.gov. Free help is available from a HUD-approved housing counselor by calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) and asking for MHA HELP. It’s better to implement earlier than later. YOU MUST ACT NOW SO YOU DO NOT LOSE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR AN AFFORDABLE MORTGAGE PAYMENT.

    3. – HAFA – Home Affordable Foreclosure Program

    Homeowners struggling to sell their homes in a short sale are getting some relief, thanks to the federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, or HAFA, program. Up to now, many short sales — in which the lender accepts a sale of the property for less than the full amount owed — have taken months to complete. Sometimes, the complex and lengthy process has failed, resulting in foreclosure. Sometimes, the complex and lengthy process has failed, resulting in foreclosure. HAFA establishes streamlined short sale rules and incentivizes borrowers and lenders to work together to avoid foreclosure. The rules — in effect between April 5, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012 — also are intended to speed up the short sale process. Under this program, borrowers and mortgage servicers are provided financial incentives; and documentation is standardized to help facilitate short sales or deed in lieu of foreclosure if short sales are not successful.

    The following outline contains an overview of the HAFA program:


    • The Financial Incentives are:

      • $1,000 for servicers for successful short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure
      • $1500 for borrowers/homeowners to help with relocation expenses
      • Up to $3000 toward cost of paying junior lien holders to release liens
    • Other Features of this program include:
      • HAFA establishes streamlined short sale rules and incentivizes borrowers and lenders to work together to avoid foreclosure. The rules — in effect between April 5, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012 — also are intended to speed up the short sale process.
      • Depending on market conditions, homeowners will get 90 days up to one uear to market and sell their property without fear of foreclosure
      • No foreclosures may occur during the marketing period specified in the Short Sale Agreement
    • HAFA requirement include:

      • Property is principal residence.
      • Mortgage originated before Jan. 1, 2009.
      • Mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
      • Borrower is delinquent or default is foreseeable.
      • Homeowner demonstrates hardship.
      • Borrower’s total monthly housing payment exceeds 31 percent of gross income.
      • Unpaid principal does not exceed $729,750.

    Note: According to HAFA rules, lenders now must offer a short sale in writing to the borrower within 30 days if the borrower does not qualify for or complete a loan modification. Borrowers then must respond within 14 days to the lender’s short sale agreement.

    For more information on these new government programs, please visit www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

    ---- ---- ---- ----

    Sylvia Elizabeth Miller

    If you would like more information on the Santa Barbara Real Estate Market, or more specific information about its distressed listings within Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria, Goleta, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and/or The Santa Ynez Valley, please contact our Agent on Duty, Sylvia Elizabeth Miller. Sylvia has earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification.

    Sylvia Elizabeth Miller
    , Senior Realtor® Associate
    Broker: Coastal Properties, Inc
    Email: sylvia@sanbarb.com
    Cell: 805-448-8882 ~ Toll Free: 877-San-Barb
    Web: SantaBarbaraConnection.com
    DRE #: 00558548

Want to brighten up your day? Adopt a Chihuahua!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010
ChaCha, Official Mascot of SBC

ChaCha, Official Mascot of SBC

Chihuahuas have gotten a bad rap as far as dog breeds go. As an owner of two of these adorable creatures, and someone who knows a lot of other people who own them as well, it blows my mind that anyone could think of them as “yappy” or mean dogs. I am going to tell you all the reasons why Chihuahuas make the perfect addition to almost any family.

Most people consider dogs to be extremely loyal animals; after all, they are “man’s best friend”. Chihuahuas however are known for their devotion to their owners. They will also adapt to your lifestyle. If you want to play, they will run around surely put a smile on your face. On the other hand, if you feel like just hanging out, they will lie next to you or in your lap and be perfectly happy as well. They also interact well with other dogs, both inside and outside their breed.

They are small. Some people just don’t like small dogs, and that’s fine, but there are a lot of advantages to dogs that don’t take up much space. One of these is that they don’t take up much space. They can live comfortably with you in practically any living situation. Also they can’t do very much damage to your home. Other than accidents on the carpet there is not much they can do to damage your things.

Please Adopt a Chihuahua!

Just look at that face. Chihuahuas are so cute; they can just brighten up your day. Their large eyes, which give new meaning to the concept of “puppy dog eyes”, give their faces so much expression and personality. There are different types of Chihuahuas as well. There is the toy or teacup, which are the tiniest of all, the short-haired, probably most commonly attributed to the “Taco Bell dog”, and the long-haired version. They also come in several different colors.

They make great guard dogs. While their bark is much, much worse than their bite, Chihuahuas are extremely protective and territorial. Their impeccable hearing allows them to hear things that you or I normally wouldn’t. They will know someone is coming up to the door long before their owners will, and the dogs will let the “intruder” know that they have been spotted as well. Once they are used to a person coming into “their” house though, they will be just as sweet as can be.

They are portable. A lot of dogs love to go for rides in the car, and Chihuahuas are no different. Because of their size, it is very easy to scoop them up and have them keep you company on short, or even long trips.

I have come to believe that people who think Chihuahuas are mean dogs, probably don’t know too much about them and certainly can’t have owned one before. If you are considering adding a dog to your family, I urge you not to overlook this beautiful, loving, and playful breed.

Santa Barbara is home to many wonderful, caring individuals and groups who strive to better the lives of animals in need. Following is a list of many of our local Rescue Groups and Humane Societies which benefit animals in the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Ventura County areas.

Local Santa Barbara Area Animal Rescue Groups

  1. K-9 Pals at the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter.
  2. The Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo
    Note that they currently have 49 darling Chihuahuas available for adoption, please rescue one and your life will be so much happier!
  3. Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG)
    Volunteer organization that cares for dogs and puppies. DAWG is located next door to the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter at 5480 Overpass Rd.
    PO Box 92210, Santa Barbara, CA 93190, (805) 681-0561, bbaker123@cox.net
  4. Santa Barbara Humane Society
    Provides animal assistance in SLO and SB counties. palsfoundation@hotmail.com, (805) 544-0984
  5. HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team)
    An all volunteer, non-profit group on the Central Coast dedicated to the rescue, neuter, fostering and adoption of abandoned and forgotten pets. Where cold noses meet warm hearts!
    PO Box 1394, Cambria, CA 93428 (805) 772-HART or (805) 927-RESQ, coldnoses@slohart.org
    Visit HART’S new Pet Rescue, Adoption and Supply Center located at 1500 Main St. in Cambria, California.
  6. Humane Society of Ventura County
    Assisting animals in the Ventura and Ojai areas.
    402 Bryant Street, Ojai, CA, (805) 656-5031
  7. Santa Ynez Humane Society
    Assisting animals in need in the Santa Ynez Valley.
    111 Commerce Dr., Buellton, CA, (805) 688-8224
  8. Santa Barbara’s Craigslist
    A great resource to find pets of all kinds to adopt and help.
  9. “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us and trusting as a child they are, and we must be kind and take care of their needs…[They] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”
    -James Harriot, Author, “All Creatures Great and Small”