Reasons to Buy Real Estate Now

The “Three Reasons” below is a repost from the pages of REALTOR Magazine online, but essentially is what I’ve been saying for weeks, nay months!

The tax credits expired and everyone climbed under a rock! For a measly $8 to $18K in conditional tax credits buyers were jumping through hoops like they were handing out bars of gold. Do the math on 4% interest over 30 years on a distressed property that you bought for 10% below market. . .

So STOP listening to all the fearmongers and their media puppets screaming that the sky is falling. They’ve all got agendas. Be smart, do your homework and if it makes sense buy a home.

As a point of reference, interest rates on 30-year fixed conventional mortgages went to double digits in late 1978 and peaked at nearly 19% in late 1981. It wasn’t until early 1986 that rates dipped (briefly) below 10% again and were not permanently in single numbers until late 1990. In November of last year (2009) they were right at or just below 5%.

Three Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Stocks are up 50 percent from the March 2009 bottom. Some commodities have risen dramatically. The only asset class left in the cellar is real estate, says Michael Murphy, editor of the New World Investor stock newsletter.

As a result, Murphy is advising investors to buy now for these three reasons:

Desperate sellers: Both home owners and lenders are eager to unload a flood of foreclosed and underwater properties. Buyers with the patience to push through these complex deals can save a bundle.

Little competition: Because most people don’t have what it takes to negotiate their way through short sales and REOs, patient investors are winners.

Low rates: Mortgage rates are at their lowest level in 40 years. If you believe inflation is inevitable, lock in now.

Source: MarketWatch, Michael Murphy (08/19/2010)

Posted at REALTOR Magazine online

For more information regarding this post or other real estate information visit LARealEstateINFO.net or contact Robert Dixon at RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty, Telephone (310) 703-1848 or email info@robertdixon.net. Content of this or any other post is presumed to be accurate but not guaranteed. DRE License #01828273

Serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula & South Bay Beach Cities, Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, Silver Lake, Echo Park – Angelino Heights, Los Feliz, the Greater Los Angeles area and Palm Springs.

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Big Banks want MORE!!!

Big Banks and Financial Companies, the same institutions that set the stage for our current downturn, got billions in tax-payer bail-outs and are already becoming profitable (while many American’s continue to struggle or worry) would like yet another pound of flesh from those caught in the cross-fire.


It’s important to note that most of the recent and pending foreclosure activity IS NOT subprime, but prime loans and mortgages. These are A-paper borrowers succumbing to extreme economic challenges.


The piece below, from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® provides information and background.

When is Enough, Enough?
The Big Banks are Opposing C.A.R.’s Bill to Protect Borrowers

C.A.R. is sponsoring SB 1178 (Corbett) to extend anti-deficiency protections to homeowners who have refinanced “purchase money” loans and are now facing foreclosure. Most homeowners didn’t even know that when they refinanced they lost their legal protections, and now may be personally liable for the difference between the value of the foreclosed property and the amount owed to the lender. SB 1178 will be voted on soon by the entire Senate.

One can’t help but think, “when is enough, enough?” Banks have already foreclosed upon a family’s home and now lenders can continue to hound them for additional payment. How much more money can today’s families afford to pay when they’ve already lost their homes and most likely their jobs? Are they never to have the opportunity to begin again?

Action Item
Call Senator Rod Wright Today at 1-800-672-3135
Urge him to vote “Yes” on SB 1178.
Non-C.A.R. members enter PIN number — 182003468

Background

California has protected borrowers from so called “deficiency” liability on their home mortgages since the 1930s, but the evolution of mortgage finance requires the statute to be updated.

Current law says that if a homeowner defaults on a mortgage used to purchase his or her home, the homeowner’s liability on the mortgage is limited to the property itself. The law has worked well since the 1930s to protect borrowers, ensure the quality of loan underwriting and allow borrowers who are brought down by financial crisis to get back on their feet.

Unfortunately, the 1930s law does not extend the protection for purchase money mortgages to loans that re-finance the original purchase debt — even if the re-finance was only to gain a lower interest rate. Recent years of low interest rates have induced tens of thousands of homeowners to re-finance their mortgages, yet almost no one realized that by re-financing their mortgages to obtain a lower rate, they were forfeiting their protections. These borrowers became personally liable for the balance of the loan.

C.A.R. is Sponsoring SB 1178 Because:

SB 1178 is fair. Home buyers, and lenders, entered into the purchase with the idea that the mortgage would be non-recourse debt, and that the lender would look to the security (the house) itself to make good on the debt if the borrower cannot. It meets the legitimate expectation of the borrowers, who have no idea that they are losing this protection by a re-finance. Homeowners didn’t know that their re-finance exposed them to personal liability, and new tax liability, on the note. It would be unfair to allow a lender, or someone that has purchased a note from a lender, to pursue the borrower beyond the value of the agreed upon security.

SB 1178 is consistent with the intent of the orginal law and simply updates it for modern times. Current law was intended to ensure that if someone lost their home to foreclosure, they wouldn’t be liable for additional payment. Since the law was passed over 70 years ago, homeowners re-financing from the original loan to lower their interest rate has become commonplace. The 1930s legislature didn’t anticipate how mortgages would change over time.

Lenders could pursue families to collect this “deficiency” debt years down the road. Under current law, lenders have up ten years to collect on the additional debt after a judgment has been entered on the foreclosure. Years after a family has lost their home, they could find themselves in even more financial trouble. Lenders could even sell these accounts to aggressive collection agencies or even bundle them into securities. The end result would be banks who didn’t lend responsibly in the first place coming after families for even more money that they don’t have.

SB 1178 does NOT apply to “cash-out” re-finances, unless the money was used to improve the home and it doesn’t apply to HELOCs.

Citigroup to suspend foreclosures/evictions for holiday season

I’m not sure exactly how I want to position this… and as much as I want to be professional and not have an opinion, walk the fence (so-to-speak) I can’t help myself on this one.

OK so Citibank is saying “why don’t you folks take an additional 30 days because we’re not going to do anything with your home for the next 30 days anyway and really there are way too many functions on our schedule to sign all the docs until mid January.” The truth is that tens of THOUSANDS of REOs are sitting vacant and will be indefinitely. Much of this inventory is not even being marketed!

Citibank says it’s working on an alternative to foreclosure, so why not work on an alternative to evicting these owners, mid winter 30 days from now? In reality this is a drop in the bucket… The numbers of foreclosures reported in the third quarter were more than 900,000 and that is approximately 23% higher than a year ago. See map at Where Foreclosures Cluster.

Considering the magnitude of this crisis, for an organization the size of Citibank to do a press release about this weak concession is nothing but a publicity stunt to garner “good will” during the holidays. I’m embarrassed for them and ashamed that MSNBC posted it (seriously)… Can I get a WHOOP-DEE DOO!?

Citigroup to suspend foreclosures for 30 days
Bank is working on ‘long-term fundamental alternatives’ to foreclosure

WASHINGTON – Citigroup Inc. will suspend foreclosures and evictions for 30 days in a temporary break for about 4,000 borrowers during the holiday season.

The New York-based bank said Thursday the suspension will run from Friday through Jan. 17. It applies only to borrowers whose loans are owned by Citi. Borrowers who make payments to Citi but whose loans are owned by other investors are out of luck.

“We want our borrowers to have a much less stressful time, to spend their time with their families during the holidays as opposed to worrying about their homes,” Sanjiv Das, head of the company’s mortgage division, said in an interview.

The suspension means Citi will halt foreclosure sales and stop evicting homeowners from properties it has already seized. The company projects it will help 2,000 homeowners with scheduled foreclosure sales and another 2,000 that were due to receive foreclosure notices.

Das also said the company is working on “some long-term fundamental alternatives” to foreclosure, but declined to be specific. “We know that moratoriums are not permanent solutions,” he said.

Most major lenders suspended foreclosures last winter while the Obama administration developed its $75 billion loan modification program. Foreclosures picked up again after those suspensions lifted. In recent months, they have fallen as banks evaluate whether borrowers qualify for the government program.

Citi has enrolled about 100,000 borrowers in the Obama program, but had made only about 270 of those modifications permanent as of the end of last month, according to a Treasury Department report. But Das said the low number resulted from a “reporting error” and said it will rise dramatically by year-end.

“I have put a lot of pressure on my team to make sure that there is almost nothing left in the pipeline,” he said.

More Government pressure on the mortgage industry

It is certainly unfortunate that some of those with the greatest need are failing to provide the necessary paperwork… Some homeowner’s do not understand the loan modification process, while other are actually opting for a short sale or foreclosure rather than wait out any potential recovery. A two percent mortgage for five years sounds pretty attractive to me!

With the Fed’s forcing the issue perhaps those still waiting for a decision (1/3 of applicants according to the article) will get an answer. In the end, it seems the only real leverage the government has is this dreaded “laggers’ list” that will be made public knowledge in an attempt to shame financial institutions into doing a better job. With 14% of homeowners behind or already in foreclosure it’s going to take a Herculean effort. RD

Homeowners who may be eligible for assistance can call 888-995-HOPE, or visit http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/.

Gov’t increases pressure on mortgage industry

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer
Monday, November 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – Faced with sluggish progress in its foreclosure-prevention effort, the Obama administration will spend the coming weeks cracking down on mortgage companies that aren’t doing enough to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

Treasury Department officials said Monday they will step up pressure on the 71 companies participating in the government’s $75 billion effort to stem the foreclosure crisis. They will start this week by sending three person “SWAT teams” to monitor the eight largest companies’ work and requesting twice-daily reports on their progress.

The mortgage companies, also known as loan servicers, have had a hard time getting borrowers to complete the needed paperwork for the administration’s loan modification program. Nearly 60 percent of the 375,000 borrowers who qualify to have their loan modifications completed by year-end have either submitted incomplete paperwork or none at all.

“Borrowers must understand the urgency of getting their completed paperwork in so they do not miss out on the opportunity for more affordable mortgage payments,” said Phyllis Caldwell, who recently was named to lead the Treasury Department’s homeownership preservation office.

The program, announced by President Barack Obama in February, allows homeowners to have their mortgage interest rate reduced to as low as 2 percent for five years.

The administration is feeling intense pressure from lawmakers and consumer advocates to speed up progress. As of early September, only about 1,700 homeowners had finished all the paperwork and received a new permanent loan. About one-third of borrowers who have submitted complete applications are still waiting for a decision.

In an effort to shame the companies into doing a better job, Treasury will publish a list next week of the mortgage companies that are lagging. While big lenders like Citigroup and Wells Fargo have made double-digit gains in the percentage of eligible borrowers they have signed up for trial modifications, other companies like Ocwen Financial and American Home Mortgage Servicing have only increased their borrower participation by 6 percentage points or less since July.

Paul Koches, executive vice president of Ocwen, said his company had already saved 90,000 of its roughly 370,000 distressed homeowners from foreclosure before the government program began. As of October, Ocwen had started trial modifications for 11 percent of its borrowers, up from 5 percent in July.

At American Home, spokeswoman Christine Sullivan said the company has a “large, dedicated team” working on the Obama plan, but also noted that the company modified more than 60,000 loans outside the Obama plan over the past year.

“We are addressing the needs of distressed borrowers and are confident that we are doing all that we can reasonably do to avoid foreclosure,” she said in an e-mail.

Some companies have barely made any inroads. HomEq Servicing, a division of Barclays Capital, only signed up in August. As of October, it had only started 91 trial modifications out of a pool of nearly 41,000 eligible homeowners.

“We have solicited thousands of borrowers for the financial information and documentation necessary … and expect the number of trial modifications to increase substantially in the coming weeks,” company spokesman Brandon Ashcraft said, noting that the company has modified 45,000 loans outside the government program over the past two years.

The participating mortgage companies signed contracts earlier this year that give the government the right to withhold incentive payments or end their contracts with Treasury. But mortgage companies don’t receive those payments until they make a modification permanent, so there is little leverage over companies that aren’t performing well.

That difficulty, consumer advocates say, highlights the program’s key flaw: Since participation was voluntary, the government has little it can do besides shaming the industry into doing better.

“There’s no meaningful accountability,” said Diane Thompson, counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. “If you just aren’t doing the loan mods, so what?”

And then there’s lender limbo. About one-third of borrowers have submitted complete applications but haven’t received a decision.

“In our judgment, servicers to date have not done a good enough job” of making the modifications permanent, said Michael Barr, an assistant Treasury secretary. Companies, he said, “that don’t meet their obligations under the program are going to suffer consequences.”

Industry executives acknowledge there have been problems.

“The documents were confusing. Borrowers did not understand the process wasn’t closed until the documents came in,” Sanjiv Das, chief executive of Citigroup’s mortgage unit, said earlier this month. “Even when the documents came in, they were not always complete.”

Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac has hired an outside company, Titanium Solutions Inc., to send real estate agents around the country to knock on borrowers’ doors and help them complete the paperwork.

“It can be a little bit intimidating,” said Patrick Carey, Titanium’s chief executive. “They don’t, in many cases, understand exactly what is being asked of them.”

Analysts, meanwhile, say the foreclosure crisis is likely to persist well into next year as rising unemployment pushes more people out of their homes.

About 14 percent of homeowners with mortgages were either behind on payments or in foreclosure at the end of September, a record level for the ninth straight quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Homeowners who may be eligible for assistance can call 888-995-HOPE, or visit http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle