Friday, December 17, 2010

Where O Where have the interest rates gone ......

Rising Rates Could Get Buyers Moving

Ironically, it could be rising interest rates that finally push home buyers off the fence and into the market.

While Congress is debating the tax-cut compromise, the financial markets have interpreted the proposal as a development that will likely push mortgage interest rates higher than they have been for months.

Analysts are predicting that buyers will move quickly when it looks like rates are going up and are unlikely to come down. "Once people see this might actually be the bottom, they’ll go for it," says Paul Dales of Capital Economics.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan increased to 4.61 percent in the week ended Thursday, Dec. 9, from 4.46 percent the previous week. The average 15-year rate rose to 3.96 percent from 3.81 percent.

Source: Fortune, Nin-Hai Tseng (12/10/2010)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Grinch is busy again and Realtors are battling for you ....

Real Estate Professionals Reiterate MID Concerns

REALTORS® are making calls to their U.S. senators to issue another caution about curbing the mortgage interest deduction and making other changes that could hurt home ownership.

Although President Obama’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission last week didn't receive the 14 votes it needed among the 18 commission members to automatically have its recommendations considered in Congress, some parts of the plan are expected to be included in the administration's budget request next year. That would put parts of the report on the table for consideration.

Among other things, the plan would change MID into a credit, eliminate the deduction for second homes and home equity loans, and could change other tax laws that reflect the country's historical support of home ownership and the stable communities that come with ownership.

Among the concerns by REALTORS® is that the negative impact on housing markets of MID and other changes could hurt the already weak condition of the country's job market.

Last week, U.S. House members received some 20,000 phone calls from REALTORS® to remind them of the country’s historical support of home ownership and its centrality to the American Dream.

NAR has made information on why home ownership matters available on its website at its home ownership matters page.

Mortgage rates rise to 6 month high and haven't stopped ....

Mortgage Rates Jump to 6-Month High

Mortgage rates rose for a fourth-straight week to reach a six-month high as yields on government bonds continue to rise. The average interest on a 30-year fixed loan hit 4.61 percent, up from 4.46 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac reported.

Also, 15-year fixed loans averaged 3.96 percent, up from 3.81 percent last week; and rates for variable adjustable-rate mortgages floated higher as well.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2011 forecast by the California Association of Realtors

California REALTORS® forecast slight rise in 2011 home sales

Sales of existing, single-family homes are expected to decline slightly in 2010 compared with 2009, but are forecast to rise slightly in 2011, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2011 California Housing Market Forecast.” Meanwhile, the median price of homes in California is expected to increase both in 2010 and 2011 compared with the year prior.

•Following near record-high levels of year-over-year sales increases, home sales are expected to decline 10 percent in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the C.A.R. forecast. C.A.R.’s economists predict home sales will increase 2 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.

•Home sales are expected to end the year at 492,000 units, compared with 546,500 in 2009. C.A.R. forecasts sales will come in at 502,000 units in 2011.

•The median sales price is forecast to increase 11.5 percent to $306,500 for 2010, and an additional 2 percent in 2011 to $312,500, C.A.R. announced.

•According to C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, the Association expects a net jobs increase of approximately 1.4 million jobs in California for 2011 and an improvement in unemployment figures, which many believe are key to the economic recovery.

•Ms. Appleton-Young also noted that a lean supply of available homes for sale will drive up prices at the low end ($500,000 and less), but larger inventories and limited, less-attractive financing will cause continued softness at the high end of the market ($1 million and more).

Options to saving money on your mortgage...

If you are fortunate and are not in jeopardy on your mortgage at this time, you may consider refinancing to obtain a lower interest rate. Provide you have equity and your home appraises to a value acceptable to your new Lender you should be OK....and if you are even more fortunate and have some cash to paydown your loan, the savings could really increase. Unlike the borrowers who refinanced and took 'cash out' of their property, you would be doing a 'cash in' refinance and could save thousand of dollars over the term of your loan; however there is a second option you might consider and that is a "recast". You must check with your lender to see if the terms of your promissory note allow it and their current policies are to allow what is actually another way to modify your loan. If you can, you must request a recast and be able to paydown some principal balance on your loan(Each Lender will have different parameters so make the call). A fee will be required and the fee for a request is generally nominal by comparison; however, the good news is that you do not have to pay all the points, fees and closing costs associated with a refinance.

Before you do this, I strongly advise that you consult your tax preparer and/or financial consultant to discuss the tremendous savings of interest over the loan term -vs- write-offs -vs- investment possibilities with the cash you might use for 'cash in' or "recasting".

Good luck to you fortunate ones and as always...Keep the faith!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Want to save $100K when buying a home and borrow $ to fix it up?

To pare down their growing inventory of properties, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are scrambling to unload nearly 150,000 foreclosed homes. And that means 2004-esque deals – like requiring as little as 3% down, offering to pay a portion of the closing costs and arranging special financing and warranties for repairs and renovations.

It's another option for home owners who want to trade up -- and an easier way into the market for first-time home buyers, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research who studies the housing market.

The best bargain might be the home’s price. A SmartMoney analysis revealed that buyers could save $100,000 by buying a Fannie or Freddie home instead of similar fair-market properties just a few blocks away.

And while many of Fannie and Freddie’s homes are at the lower end of the market and in less-desirable areas, a search of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac listings revealed that buyers could find properties in good neighborhoods – and for $100,000 less than comparable houses nearby. For example, a five-bedroom, three-bath with a backyard, deck and two-car garage in tony Alexandria, Va., was listed for $445,000, $100,000 less than the average listing price in the area, according to Four blocks away, a similar non-foreclosed colonial is listed for $639,900.

Or how about a three-bedroom, two-bath in Bergen County's leafy River Edge, N.J for $359,900 -- $85,000 less than the average listing in the area. One avenue over, a non-foreclosed similar home is listed for $474,888.

The downside: Angry neighbors. These types of listings are devaluing nearby properties, says David Howell, realtor and executive vice president at McEnearney Associates, which sells homes in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. That means in some areas where Freddie and Fannie homes are on the market, buyers could find a better deal on a nearby market-rate home that doesn't require repairs, he says.

Buying a Fannie or Freddie home can be more complex than pursuing an open-market real estate listing — or even a commercial bank foreclosed property. There’s a smaller selection of appealing properties — there were just six higher-end homes listed on a recent day in Alexandria, for example — and those tend to sell the fastest. And there's little room to negotiate price.

“Our goal is to recover as much as we can to offset our loss and not to be low balling properties just to move them,” says a Freddie Mac spokesman. “We absolutely have no motivation to be leading a downward spiral in home prices.”

The three best features of Fannie and Freddie foreclosures that make digging for these deals worthwhile:

Small down payment
For its foreclosed properties, Fannie Mae will accept down payments as low as 3% on 30-year mortgages at the same interest rates banks are currently offering. And Fannie Mae doesn’t require private mortgage insurance. Compared to a typical bank mortgage, which requires 10% down, plus PMI for buyers with less than 20%, that’s a huge savings – an estimated $51,000 up front and upwards of $2,500 per year PMI on a $300,000 mortgage.

It's a tradeoff, though. For buyers with 20% down, mortgage payments on a 30-year mortgage loan at 5% would be $1,288 a month. With just 3% down, the buyer would need to borrow $291,000 and make a $1,562 monthly payment.

Help with renovations
Fannie and Freddie have fixed big flaws like leaky roofs and damaged electrical work, and they often handle small projects like replacing appliances that are broken or missing, tearing up old carpet, or fixing other damage left by former owners or vandals.

Now, to entice buyers who want to update or upgrade, many of Fannie Mae's properties come with an optional mortgage that includes extra financing up to $30,000 for repairs and improvements. But with a little down payment and the extra amount tacked on, the buyer could end up owing more than the house is worth – especially if home prices continue to drop.

First dibs
Buyers who plan to live in their Freddie Mac-purchased home will get to see properties for at least the first 15 days they’re on the market -- before the listing opens to would-be landlords. Many bank-owned foreclosure properties are snatched up by cash-stocked investors who can wait out the downturn to sell later at a profit.

And Fannie and Freddie homes can be seen inside and out -- unlike some regular foreclosure listings. Consider bringing along a contractor when you view the home to help spot areas that need repairs and provide pricing. (Most contractors will do this for free.)

“It gives families who want to buy a home to live in the opportunity to look and bid without competition from cash-rich investors,” says a Freddie Mac spokesman. Story reproduced from

Fannie has announced (9/23/10) terrific incentives for Buyers who will personally occupy the property who close before year end. Talk to your Realtor

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CalHFA offers new low interest 30-year fixed mortgage aimed at first-time buyers

The California Housing Finance Agency announced Tuesday the launch of a new fixed rate, 30-year FHA-insured mortgage to help low and moderate income California families purchase their first home.

The mortgage, done in partnership with the Federal Housing Administration, provides low and moderate income, first-time homebuyers access to mortgages with below market interest rates, affordable down payments and other benefits, the agency says.

“This new program will help open the door to first-time homeownership for many California families,” says Steven Spears, executive director of CalHFA. “With this program, CalHFA will return to being a significant provider of financing for first-time homebuyers and build on our 35-year track record on behalf of more than 155,000 California families.”

Mr. Spears says that while California real estate prices today are attractive for first-time homebuyers, many cannot meet the loan requirements that conventional lenders are imposing.

“With the disruption in the credit markets over the last two years, we have been limited in our ability to help finance home purchases. This new program offers California families another way to purchase their first home with reliable, fixed rate financing,” he says.

Under federal law, first-time homebuyers are defined as not having owned and occupied a home for the past three years. In addition to first-time homebuyers, qualified veterans under the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act are also eligible.

The CalHFA FHA program includes upfront mortgage insurance. Borrowers are eligible to use the California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program, which can provide up to 3 percent of the purchase price of the home for down payment or closing cost assistance.

Borrowers must meet a number of eligibility requirements to qualify for this CalHFA program including:

• CalHFA’s income limits, which vary by county and family size. For a family of four in Los Angeles County, for example, income must be less than $111,020 per year.

• Purchasing homes that are within FHA’s loan limits and CalHFA’s sales price limits. Mortgage loans are limited to $417,000 under FHA guidelines. CalHFA’s sales price limits vary by county.

• Meeting the minimum credit score requirements with maximum debt-to-income ratios.

• Completion of a HUD-approved homebuyer education program.

“California’s real estate market remains fragile as our state faces high unemployment and a continued disruption in housing prices,” says Mr. Spears. “This new, 30-year fixed rate FHA mortgage is one piece of a broader effort to address California’s housing needs.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

“Is a Property or Home Inspection Report a repair list?”

There is a common misunderstanding by buyers about the purpose of a home inspection report. They often view it as a list of items the seller is obligated to fix, rather than as a list of items which may need immediate or future attention. The fact is sellers are not required to deliver a perfect home, either by law, or by contract.

With a termite report, the requirements are different. Real estate contracts customarily obligate the seller to repair conditions classified as “Section One” items in a termite inspection report. Section One includes the problem of active infestation, i.e. termites, fungus, dry-rot, etc. Other “Section Two” types of conditions, which may lead to active
infestation, such as earth-to-wood contact, are not required to be fixed by the seller.

With a home inspection, most items noted for attention are subject to negotiation between the parties. Typically, buyers will request that various conditions be repaired before the close of escrow, and sellers in many cases will agree to fix some of these items in order to preserve the sale and/or foster good will. However, there is no obligation for the seller to do so, unless these items are required by state law, local ordinances, or set forth specifically in the purchase contract. These “obligations” include things like earthquake strapping for
water heaters and smoke detectors. Standard purchase contracts further provide that all fixtures and appliances, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems be in good working order, that windows not be broken, and that the roof does not leak.

Before you make any demands of the seller, try to carefully evaluate the inspection report with an eye toward the problems of greatest significance and those items that may compromise health and safety. Routine maintenance items warrant a lesser degree of concern. Unless a home is brand new, it is unreasonable to insist upon the correction of every defect. Such demands can alienate the seller and kill the deal. On the other hand
your willingness to accept minor problems may persuade the seller to correct more serious conditions, even though he may not be obligated to do so.

The purpose of a home inspection is not to “corner” the seller with a repair list. The real objective is to know what you are buying before you buy it – and what you may need to fixin the near future. All homes have defects. “It does not matter if your boat has few small
leaks, as long as you know it is leaking.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

New York Times Article worth sharing

When someone writes a good article, I want to share it but also give credit where it belongs. So many times we Realtors and agents understand these premise(s) but fail to share them with our clients, So here goes....

5 Reasons Homeownership Trumps Renting

The seemingly endless run of bad housing news is discouraging some potential home buyers from considering a purchase. But the truth is that the advantages of homeownership have very little to do with investment gains. The best things about owning a home have a lot more to do with personal comfort and satisfaction.

Here are five of them:

· Be your own landlord. The bank can only kick you out if you don’t pay; a landlord can be much less dependable – deciding to sell the property or choosing to live there themselves.
· Paying the principal is forced savings. Yes, it’s possible that home prices will fall further. It is also possible that your 401(k) will lose value. But over the long haul, both are likely to enjoy modest gains in value.
· Fixed-rate mortgages never rise – and eventually you pay them off. With mortgage rates at record lows, people who buy now are locking in real bargains.
· Good schools. Family-sized rentals are harder to come by in areas with excellent public schools.
· Spacious properties in pleasant neighborhoods. Sizable homes in attractive communities are almost always owned – not rented.

Source: The New York Times, Ron Lieber (08/27/2010)

Monday, August 30, 2010

FHA Refinance of Borrowers in Negative Equity Position....but current on their loan

Wow sounds great but what does that mean?

On March 26, 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) announced enhancements to the existing Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) refinance program that will give a greater number of responsible borrowers an opportunity to remain in their homes. These
enhancements are designed to maintain homeownership by providing borrowers, who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, opportunities to refinance into an affordable FHA loan. This opportunity allows borrowers who are current on their mortgage to qualify for an FHA refinance loan provided that the lender or investor writes off the unpaid principal balance of the original first lien mortgage by at least 10 percent.

This Mortgagee Letter provides additional guidance for lenders regarding the requirements and administration of these enhancements to FHA’s refinance program. These enhancements are effective for loans with case numbers issued on or after September 7, 2010, which are closed on or
before December 31, 2012.

So like anything else, there's specific criteria and you can do well by making a copy of the information in the link below, read it thoroughly, highlight the important criteria to determine elegibility and start calling your Lender(s) on your lunch hour to inquire if you qualify. If things start to look rosy, you can talk to your Mortgage Broker or Banker who places FHA loans or even to your existing lender to pursue this endeavor, if they place Government loans (FHA).

So FHA is stepping to the plate - Great!, but if you don't qualify for this loan, you may still qualify for H.A.R.P. the Home Affordable Refinance Program. Your existing Lender will be the party to investigate this other alternative with.

The full story is available at:

Check for other options or log onto and click on Blogs icon .... Keep the faith!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Can Keep Your Good Credit During This Recession - If You Know The Score

You Can Keep Your Good Credit During This Recession - If You Know The Score

People are having to make tough financial choices today, but many don't have to wreck their credit scores if they know how the system works, according to credit expert Eddie Johansson, president of Credit Security Group.

"With the same amount of money, you can make decisions that kill your credit score or ones that keep your score - or at least give you the ability to rebuild your score quickly later," he said. "Most people have wrong or little information about how the system works, and that's a big reason scores go down when difficult decisions are made during a recession."

Johansson advises major financial institutions and consumers on the FICO credit score model used by most lenders in deciding the borrower's risk and interest rate. He described three common misconceptions that needlessly lower credit scores.

Misconception #1: Paying late didn't hurting my credit since I'm caught up now.
Johansson said recent late payments are the credit score killers he sees most often. "It's great that you caught up," he said, "but it doesn't change the fact that you paid late. Anything other than 'paid as agreed' on accounts on your credit report hurts your score."

Misconception #2: Dollar Amounts Matter in Credit Scores.
An example of bad credit score advice here is "pay the highest bill first," Johansson said. "Dollar amounts don't matter in FICO scoring; ratios and recency do. The effect on your score is the same for a $1 late payment as a $1,000 late payment. The fewer late payments on your credit report, the higher your score - regardless of their dollar amounts," he said.

Johansson emphasized the importance of paying all your bills on time, every time. However, he says that if you must pay late and want to avoid damage to your score, pay the accounts that report to credit bureaus first. You can find this information by getting a copy of your credit report.

Misconception #3: Closing Credit Card Accounts Helps Your Score.
If you cancel a card, you may have just thrown away your chance to increase your score by continuing to build on years of positive credit. "Very long term positive account history can really boost your score," Johansson said. "It's best for your score to keep cards open and active, using them for small purchases. Next best is to just keep them open so you can build your score back up quickly by using them later."

Don't Make a Bad Situation Worse.
In tough economic times, people often buy more on credit than they usually would. The amount they pay in interest on these purchases is largely determined by their credit scores. Poor decisions that lower scores combined with an already tight budget can be very costly, making money problems worse than they have to be. "What we're trying to do," Johansson said, "is help people get through these tough times with as little financial damage as possible. This is best for them, for lenders and for our economy."

Johansson emphasized that lower credit scores may be unavoidable for some, and that credit scores are not the only factor to consider. "However," he said, "good credit is an important part of financial security and must be considered when making the best long-term decisions. Having the right information is necessary to make good choices - now more than ever."

Reproduced from RisMedia - August 21, 2010 .....Keep the faith!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fannie, Freddie and politicians, Oh my!

Geithner Calls for Cooperation to Modify GSEs

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told attendees at a housing summit on Tuesday that the U.S. government will continue to guarantee mortgages, but its role will be revised to avoid making it a primary backer if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac face another meltdown.

Geithner urged Democrats and Republicans to work together to rebuild Fannie and Freddie to avoid another crisis. He called remaking the mortgage market one of the most important and complicated economic policy problems the U.S. faces today.

"There is nothing we can do to decrease the significant losses Fannie and Freddie incurred ahead of this crisis. All we can do is to minimize the risk that they get worse,” Geithner said.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos (08/17/2010)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fed gives the last word on Mortgage Origination

Highlights of Final Rules on Loan Originator Compensation and Steering

The final rules protect mortgage borrowers from unfair, abusive, or deceptive lending practices that can arise from loan originator compensation practices. The new rules apply to all persons who originate loans, including mortgage brokers and the companies that employ them, as well as mortgage loan officers employed by depository institutions and other lenders. The final rules, which apply to closed-end loans secured by a consumer’s dwelling, will:

 Prohibit payments to the loan originator that are based on the loan’s interest rate or other terms. Compensation that is based on a fixed percentage of the loan amount is permitted.

 Prohibit a mortgage broker or loan officer from receiving payments directly from a consumer while also receiving compensation from the creditor or another person.

 Prohibit a mortgage broker or loan officer from “steering” a consumer to a lender offering less favorable terms in order to increase the broker’s or loan officer’s compensation.

 Provide a safe harbor to facilitate compliance with the anti-steering rule. The safe harbor is met if:

o The consumer is presented with loan offers for each type of
transaction in which the consumer expresses an interest (that is,
a fixed rate loan,adjustable rate loan, or a reverse mortgage); and
o The loan options presented to the consumer include the following:

(1) the lowest interest rate for which the consumer qualifies;
(2) the lowest points and origination fees, and
(3) the lowest rate for which the consumer qualifies for a loan with
no risky features, such as a prepayment penalty, negative
amortization, or a balloon payment in the first seven years.

The final rules are effective April 1, 2011, to provide lenders and originators time to develop new business models, implement necessary changes to their systems, and train personnel.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also restricts practices concerning loan originator compensation. The Reform Act includes provisions that are similar to the Board’s final rules but also addresses other practices not covered by the final rules. The
Board plans to implement the Reform Act provisions in a future rulemaking with opportunity for public comment.

Keep reading .... and Keep the faith !!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four Proposals for Reforming Fannie and Freddie

The government is wrestling with what to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have needed a combined $148 billion since the government bailed them out two years ago.

There are many ways to restructure the system. Here are four that have the most support:

1. Fully private system. Eliminate Fannie and Freddie and let private lenders take over. The problem is that the market for mortgage securities issued without government backing is small – perhaps, nonexistent.
2. Semi-private system. Dissolve Fannie and Freddie and turn their function over to private companies that would pay for the right to issue government-backed mortgage securities. Small banks don’t like this plan because it would inevitably increase the role of the largest banks.
3. Hybrid system. Fannie and Freddie would compete against other companies that would also issue government-backed mortgage securities.
4. Government-run system. Fannie and Freddie would become part of the government. This is unpopular because it would expand the ballooning federal debt.

Source: Associated Press, Alan Zibel (08/09/2010)

Keep the faith..........

Thursday, August 12, 2010

42,000 of California’s jobless will get help with mortgages

The U.S. Treasury Dept. announced yesterday it is providing additional funding to a California program to help homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments due to unemployment. The program, administered through the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) will assist struggling borrowers make up to six months of mortgage payments. Lenders will be asked to match the government contribution.


•The program aims to help 19,000 unemployed borrowers in California between its November launch and next July. An additional 23,000 borrowers will receive help over the next two years, according to CalHFA estimates.

•To qualify for the program, borrowers must be unemployed and eligible for unemployment benefits, and live in the home tied to the mortgage. Borrowers must be fewer than 90 days behind on mortgage payments and meet low- and moderate-income guidelines. Income requirements can be found at

•CalHFA is focusing on providing aid to unemployed borrowers struggling with purchase loans, excluding refinanced loans. According to CalHFA officials, it is too difficult to decide who “cashed out for a good reason and who didn’t.”

•More information about the CalHFA program, including eligibility, program summary, income requirements, and frequently asked questions, can be found at
To read the full story, please click or cut/paste link

State Deadline for Tax Credit Applications ending 8/15/2010

2010 Tax Credit for New Home / First-Time Buyer

Important Update(08/06/10): FTB to accept First-Time Buyer applications through 8/15/10.

"As shown in the numbers below, we have received First-Time Buyer applications totaling more than $100 million. We announced in June that we would accept at least 28,000 applications since many we had received were duplicate, revised, or invalid applications. Since that time, we have received more and more duplicate, late, and invalid applications. So that we do not risk cutting off the program too soon, we will accept First-Time Buyer applications until midnight on Sunday, August 15, 2010. This will insure that we have more than enough First-Time Buyer applications to allocate the full $100 million. These additional applications must be timely, meet all requirements, and will be subject to the availability of remaining credits. We will only issue approved certificates of allocation until the $100 million is exhausted. Applications received more than 14 days after the close of escrow will be denied. We will continue to accept New Home reservation requests and applications." (Updated 08/06/10)

"We have not processed any applications yet, but our computer system is now completed, and we are ready to begin processing both New Home and First-Time Buyer applications. We will provide weekly updates on the number of certificates that have been mailed and the amount of credits that have been allocated starting August 19." (Updated 08/06/10)

Full story - (If you are looking for more information regarding the 2009 New Home Credit, see FTB Publication 3528, New Home Credit, or search using the “Forms & Publications” available at website.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Puttin' on the Ritz" or How can I showcase my home for sale

If you want to market your property properly, you must stick to the basics. The goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price possible while investing as little as possible in renovations. You can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

These tips were provided by Lowe's through Rismedia August 10, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mortgage Fraud - Let's be careful out there

Even in this day and age, you too can become a victim. There are many, many scammers out there trying to steal your property and/or equity. Don't be fooled! Arm yourself with the best information available. Remember that the one with the most information normally wins..........Click the link for the full story

Thursday, February 4, 2010

They're changing the rules on Loan Modifications

The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced changes to its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The changes, designed to help improve the conversion from trial loan modifications to permanent modifications, take effect June 1. Mortgage servicers may elect to implement the changes sooner.

•Under previous guidelines, homeowners were not required to document their incomes prior to receiving a trial mortgage modification. The trial modifications typically lasted three months, during which time the servicer was supposed to collect documents to verify the homeowner’s income. If the borrower met the monthly obligations, and submitted the required paperwork, the modification was supposed to be made permanent. However, many homeowners failed to provide the necessary paperwork, or the loan servicer lost the paperwork, resulting in just 66,465 permanent modifications out of the nearly 1.2 million trial modifications.

•The updated process requires that servicers collect three documents prior to granting a trial mortgage modification: A formal application, including a description of the hardship created by the mortgage; proof of income, such as two recent pay stubs or the most-recent profit and loss statement for self-employed borrowers; and a form authorizing the Internal Revenue Service to release tax data to the servicer.

•If the borrower meets the modified payment requirements for three months, the modification automatically will be made permanent. The Treasury Dept. also said it will allow servicers some discretion in making loan modifications permanent only if minor paperwork is missing. This discretion will help address a large backlog of incomplete modifications.

•Under the plan, servicers also will be required to respond within 10 days to an initial request for a modification. Once documents are provided, the servicer will have one month to let borrowers know whether they qualify for a trial modification.

•Servicers also must calculate whether the lender or current owner of the loan will benefit from a mortgage modification, or if foreclosing on the property is in the loan owner’s best interest. If the loan owner will benefit from a modification, the servicer is required to grant the modification. Requiring borrowers to provide financial documents upfront will enable servicers to decide if a modification or foreclosure is the best option.

Questions about this or any other article, please email me

Keep the faith!

Full story was in the L. A. Times

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Repeat Buyers need to act fast to capitalize.......

By now it is well documented that today’s affordable housing prices, historically low interest rates and federal home buyer tax credit have combined to create one of the most attractive first-time buyer markets in recent memory. What many Americans might not realize is that a recent expansion of the buyer tax credit has created an equally desirable opportunity for existing homeowners.
This past November, Congress elected to expand the home buyer tax credit to repeat buyers after seeing the success the temporary financial incentive had on the housing market and overall economy. As a result, current homeowners who will have lived in their home for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 may now be eligible to receive a $6,500 tax credit.

“The expanded tax credit offers a great financial opportunity for existing homeowners, particularly those looking to trade up,” said James M. Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, Realtors, one of the nation’s largest independent real estate companies. “Not only can you receive a large sum of money from the government, you’ll also likely purchase your next home for less money and at a lower interest rate than you could have in years past or years to come.”

To qualify for the tax credit, the repeat buyer must have signed a binding contract by April 30, 2010 and close on the home by June 30, 2010. Tax credit eligibility is subject to income limits, $125,000 for single buyers and $225,000 for couples. In addition, the sale price of the home being purchased can not exceed $800,000.

There is no requirement that existing homeowners must have sold their home to be eligible for the $6,500 tax credit. However, Weichert encourages existing homeowners who want to benefit from this incentive to move quickly, particularly those who prefer to first sell their current home before purchasing a new one.

“Typically, it takes three months or longer to sell a home. That’s why it is critical repeat buyers put their home on the market right away. Otherwise they might not leave themselves enough time to both secure a buyer for their current house and find a new home by the April 30 deadline,” added Weichert.

Keep the faith!

Reprinted from Rismedia

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Loan Modifications help now - might hurt later

Of course you need to have that loan modified to allow you to salvage the time, effort, energy and expense that went into acquiring your home. The place you raise the kids, create memories....the place you call home.

You found out about a loan modification, applied and were successful. This allowed you to avoid moving and stabilize your life and those of your family members.

Everything is going pretty good, you're getting caught up on your bills and you decide the family needs a ssafer vehicle to get around. You go shopping on theweekend only to find that your credit scoring has gone down the tubes because of the loan modification reported to the majoe credit agencies....Read the full story

Keep the faith!

Friday, January 1, 2010

ABC's of buying a house and making it your dream home

The big three on the hot sheet for a home are location, condition and price...we all know or have heard that.

A) Price is dictated by Location and Condition.

B) Location - Where one wants to live or needs to live is a major part of the decision that must be made by you and your family and is important to everyone for different reasons ..... school districts for the kids, parish or designated area for your preferred house of worship, commute, shopping, recreational activities.... and so on.

C) If the house your looking at has good bones but it is aesthetically challenged or just doesn't quite meet your minimum standard of acceptability....have no fear...the 203K is here. Sure you can keep looking for that perfect home but in the long run you might just be paying someone else for work you can be in somewhat control of and end up with a product that suits your needs perfectly.

I have just assisted clients in contracting for a home that hit every item on their wish list but was a little lacking in eye appeal, didn't have any of the energy efficient appliances they wanted and had a number of issues that had to be repaired under FHA guidelines before the loan could fund to complete the contract. Considering they made a great offer and it was accepted, money spent fixing these things would not be excessive. Money could heal everything but ..... they didn't have it. Enter the experienced agent, I have a referral tree that allowed the clients to select a lender to assist in an FHA application for a special loan program wherein they could borrow the additional money needed to perform the work and then select trade professionals to provide estimates and perform the work under FHA guidelines. Batter up - Home Run!

This is possible under the FHA 203K Streamline loan program. For more information on the program, visit or contact me

If you'd like to hit the same home run but with my referral teams players on base, let me assist you in making it a grand slam.