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.

Rate on 5-year ARM falls to record low

Interest rates continue to be the best single reason to be in the housing market. Whether you’re buying or need to sell, historically low financing is a huge benefit…

Rate on 5-year ARM falls to record low
But mortgage rates’ weekly move proves minimal: Freddie Mac
MarketWatch June 18, 2010
By Amy Hoak , Real Estate writer

Mortgage rates changed little this week, but the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage managed to slide enough to break its record low, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs averaged 3.89% for the week ended June 17, down from 3.92% last week and 4.97% a year ago. It’s the lowest the ARM has been since Freddie Mac started tracking it in January 2005.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs also fell, averaging 3.82%, down from 3.91% last week and 4.95% a year ago. It’s the lowest that the ARM has been since the week ended May 6, 2004, when it averaged 3.76%.

But fixed-rate mortgages inched up this week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.75%, up from 4.72% last week; it averaged 5.38% a year ago. And the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.20%, up from 4.17% last week; it averaged 4.89% a year ago.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages and the 5-year ARM required payment of an average 0.7 point, while the 1-year ARM required an average 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

“Mortgage rates were little changed this week amid preliminary signs that the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit in April may have led to a slowdown in new construction,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a news release.

“Starts on single-family homes fell 17% to an annualized pace of 468,000 units in May from April’s 20-month high. In addition, permits on one-unit homes fell to the slowest pace since May 2009,” he noted. Read story about housing starts.

“Finally, builders became more pessimistic in their near-term outlook in June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing,” he said. Read about builder pessimism.

But Nothaft added that household balance sheets have been improving over the last year: “In aggregate, households gained $6.3 trillion in net worth in the first quarter from a year ago, according to the Federal Reserve.

“In addition, homeowners have regained $1.1 trillion in home equity over the same time period,” he said

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

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waives state taxes on mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure or short sale

There’s good news for thousands of California taxpayers who sell homes at a loss, a practice known as a short sale. A measure (SB 401) signed last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waives state taxes on mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure or short sale.

The federal liability waiver for mortgage debt relief is still in place, but the state waiver was set to expire at the end of 2008. The new state provision applies to mortgage debt forgiven by lenders during tax years 2007 to 2012.

Without the tax shelter, the difference between the mortgage debt and sale price on a short sale becomes taxable income. So a state earner making $65,000 who sold a home at a $100,000 loss would be responsible for taxable income of $165,000.

On April 5, the Obama administration expanded the existing Home Affordable Modification Program to include new federal guidelines and incentives for lenders and qualified borrowers. The new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program helps eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure by providing options for short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Borrowers are required to be owner-occupants of the principal residence, show financial hardship and have a first lien mortgage originated on or before Jan. 1, 2009 with a principal balance that does not exceed $729,750. In addition, the borrower’s total monthly mortgage payment must be greater than 31% of his or her monthly gross income.

Under the new HAFA program, borrowers can get up to $3,000 in relocation assistance. Service providers can get $1,500 for administrative and processing costs. Forgiven debt that does not exceed the debt used for acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of a principal residence is not taxed as income. (Make sure that you check these guidelines with a tax advisor or the IRS.)

If the home remains unsold despite a good-faith effort by the owner, the lender may accept a title transfer and release the borrower from the debt and further claims through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. For more information about HAMP programs, visit Making Home Affordable.gov or call (888) 995-4673.

Source: LA Times, Money & Company, On the Market: Short sales

Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion

“After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion. Losses in Citigroup’s domestic mortgages and credit units however continued to mount — Citigroup Holding, which contains the bulk of most-troubled mortgage and credit card assets along with businesses marked for sale, lost $876 million.”

The piece goes on to say that the government may soon be selling it’s ownership in the company, some 7.7 billion shares…

After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion
New York Times by ERIC DASH
April 19, 2010

After nearly two years of being drenched in red ink, Citigroup provided the strongest signs yet that the troubled bank is beginning to recover as it reported a $4.4 billion profit in the first quarter.

The earnings, which handily beat analyst expectations and were the bank’s best since the financial crisis began, were the result of the resurgence in the bond market and improvements in the economy, particularly overseas. Both play to Citigroup’s strengths as a major player in fixed income and emerging markets, and come as some of its rivals benefited from similar trends. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both reported big first-quarter earnings from hefty trading profits and from adding less money to their loan loss reserves.

Full article at NYTimes.com

Mortgage Market Review, April 2, 2010

Market Comment

Mortgage bond prices fell again last week pushing mortgage interest rates higher. The Fed ended the mortgage backed securities purchase program last Wednesday. There was no coincidence that rates spiked higher Thursday morning with the Fed no longer there to buffer negative movements and keep rates in check. Stock strength also pressured bonds as the Dow approached the 11,000 mark. Escalating oil prices also caused rates to spike higher as inflation fears begin to increase. Fortunately the PCE Price Index data came in as expected. Rates rose about 3/4 of a discount point for the week.

The Treasury auctions will once again take center stage this week. If foreign demand is lackluster like the last few auctions we could see that carry over to the mortgage bond market causing rates to spike. The Fed minutes and weekly jobless claims may also move the market this week.

April 6

3-year Treasury Note Auction: (important) $40 billion of notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Fed Minutes: (important) Details of last Fed meeting. Volatility may surround the release.

April 7

Consumer Credit: consensus estimate up $1.6 billion (low importance) A significantly larger than expected increase may lead to lower mortgage interest rates.

10-year Treasury Note Auction: (important) $21 billion of notes will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

April 8

Weekly Jobless Claims: consensus estimate at 430k (moderately important) An indication unemployment. Higher claims may lead to lower rates.

30-year Treasury Bond Auction: (important) $13 billion of bonds will be auctioned. Strong demand may lead to lower mortgage rates.

Treasuries

The 10 and 30-year Treasury bond yields are often viewed as “benchmarks”, reflecting the overall state of interest rates in the US economy. Many people concerned about mortgage interest rates track these bonds as a barometer for mortgage interest rates. However, in reality the Treasury and mortgage markets trade independently.

The supply and demand characteristics of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) differ. Treasury securities represent money needed to fund the operations of the US government. MBSs, on the other hand, represent borrowing by homeowners. Demand for mortgage credit is seasonal and is also affected by the state of the overall economy. In terms of demand, Treasury securities are regarded as “risk free” investments, and often benefit from a “flight to quality” in times of financial crisis. Treasury bill, note, and bond prices are dictated by yield requirements and inflationary concerns. Because homeowners can sell or refinance their homes, investors in 30-year mortgage-backed securities usually see principal repayment in significantly shorter periods of time.

In the absence of information directly related to the mortgage interest rate markets, Treasury information can be useful. However, mortgage interest rates can vary significantly. In fact, many times the Treasuries will trade wildly while MBSs only see minor price changes and vice versa.

Source:

Andrew Martz
Mortgage Loan Consultant
The Shintani Group
27 Malaga Cove Plaza, Ste A
Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274
License # 01418195
andrew@shintanigroup.com
http://www.shintanigroup.com/
(310) 378-8212

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Mortgage Market Information Services, Inc. http://www.ratelink.com/ The information contained herein is believed to be accurate, however no representation or warranties are written or implied.

Short-Sale standards could help troubled homeowners

Bravo! Standardizing the short sale process is a fantastic move…

What’s missing from this proposal is requiring that agents be qualified to work in the Short Sale arena. These transactions are much more problematic and time consuming then a standard sale and require an entirely new skill set.

There are agents, with short sale listing who probably shouldn’t have a real estate license and yet they are representing owners in dire straits, where time is of the essence and they (the agent) are all that stands between a successful short sale and foreclosure.

When one or the other is the only option, there’s a big difference. The credit score hit alone is at least a couple hundred points higher, foreclosure verses short sale and a foreclosure stays on your record for a minimum of 7 years verses just a couple with a short sale. There are other issues as well.

If you’ve followed the content I’ve posted recently, you’ll probably agree that we need to assure that more of this “pre-foreclosure” property is successfully marketed. Perhaps the holders of these second liens will need to decide between $3,000 guarantee and the prospect of pursuing more money, over time by legal means. We all know who end up with the lion share in that scenario.

In the end, if we can cut the number of foreclosures then it’s a win. The banks do not need more property and the short sale process needs to be less of a hassle with a higher rate of success. As someone focusing more and more on short sales, parameters and timeline are welcomed.

Obama’s standardized short-sale plan could help troubled homeowners

The Los Angeles Times
By Kenneth R. Harney
December 13, 2009

Reporting from Washington – If you’re in trouble on your mortgage and can’t get a loan modification, check out the Obama administration’s standardized short-sale plan that’s scheduled to roll out in the next several months.

The program, outlined Dec. 1 by the Treasury Department, is an attempt to streamline what has traditionally been a contentious, time-consuming process by requiring lenders and others to use nationally uniform documents, timelines and financial incentives.

A short sale involves a lender or investor agreeing to collect less than the balance owed on a mortgage debt out of the proceeds of a negotiated sale of the property. Often a short sale is the last alternative to foreclosure available to distressed homeowners and banks. Say you’ve lost your job and fallen behind on mortgage payments. With little or no income, you can’t qualify for a modification program.

In this situation — grim as it is — your best move may be to see whether your lender will accept a short sale. Though the idea sounds straightforward, in practice it is not. First, the bank needs to be convinced that a short sale would yield it more money at the bottom line than a foreclosure would.

This usually means you need to bring in a real estate agent who knows the ropes and can pull together the key information needed by the bank: recent comparables on closed sales, local market trends and the likely selling price of your house.

You’ll also need a buyer for the house — one who’ll pay a price acceptable to the bank and has financing to close the deal. If you happen to have a second mortgage or home equity credit line on the property, you’ll also need to negotiate how much that lender will receive from the sale proceeds.

That can be tricky. In depressed real estate markets, the second-lien lender may be holding a note that’s worthless in a foreclosure because plummeting property values have wiped out the collateral. Yet that same bank is in a pivotal position: It has the legal power to block the short sale by refusing to sign on to the deal.

Equally troublesome in short sales is the fact that banks, mortgage servicers and bond investors often have conflicting requirements for documentation and financial yields that can complicate and drag out the haggling for months.

Enter the Obama administration’s new streamlining plan. Besides requiring lenders and servicers to use uniform documentation, pre-approved short-sale terms and accelerated turnaround times, the plan provides financial incentives for key players:

* Homeowners who successfully complete a short sale under the program receive $1,500 to defray relocation costs.

* Mortgage servicers can receive $1,000 per case.

* Investors get $1,000.

* Second-lien holders receive up to $3,000 from the sale proceeds.

Even real estate agents get something: The rules prohibit banks from forcing them to cut their commissions from the listing agreement as part of the final deal.

Sounds like a formula for encouraging a lot more short sales, right? The jury will be out on that for months, and most major lenders are still studying the fine print of the Obama program. But early reactions from big banks appear to be positive.

Dave Sunlin, a senior vice president for Bank of America Corp., said: “We’re very pleased. We welcome any effort to reach standardization for all parties” involved in short sales.

Faith Schwartz, executive director of Hope Now — a Washington-based group representing the country’s largest banks, mortgage servicers, bond investors and consumer counseling organizations — said the plan should bring “uniformity and standards” to a process usually characterized by “mayhem” among the negotiating parties.

Scott Brinkley, a senior vice president for First American Corp., a firm that provides market data for banks, said, “You’re going to see a lot of cooperation” by lenders and investors.

But there could be a major pothole: The Obama plan tilts to consumers by requiring second-lien holders to drop all financial claims against short-selling borrowers beyond the $3,000 they take out of the deal.

Travis Hamel Olsen, chief operating officer of Loan Resolution Corp., a Scottsdale, Ariz., consulting firm, says the $3,000 payment won’t be enough for many second-mortgage lenders. Today they frequently obtain additional short-sale compensation from sellers as the price of their participation — in cash or through promissory notes — far beyond $3,000.

“I’m concerned that that could limit participation” by second-lien holders, Olsen said.

Bottom line for homeowners who might benefit: Don’t have wild expectations, but definitely ask your servicer whether it plans to participate and whether the forthcoming standardized plan for short sales might work for you.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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