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.

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.

A HUD required good faith loan estimate will protect you

Beginning Jan. 1, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required lenders to issue Good Faith Estimates to protect consumers applying for mortgage loans. Some loan officers, however, sidestep the new requirement by giving their initial quotes on informal worksheets that carry no federal consumer protections. It is important that consumers understand the differences between the federally mandated good faith estimate form and a lender’s informal worksheet.

Last month, HUD told lenders and loan officers that under no circumstances can worksheet quotes be issued to a mortgage applicant in lieu of a good-faith-estimate form.

Under the new law, once a mortgage applicant supplies the essential application information, including Social Security number, property address, and estimated value, among other data, lenders must issue a binding-cost good-faith estimate. Once this information is provided, lenders are required to issue the good faith estimate within three days of the application.

Loan officers cannot refuse to provide a good faith estimate to an applicant who requests one, nor can they tell applicants that they must commit to moving forward with their mortgage company to obtain a mortgage prior to receiving a good faith estimate.

Once an applicant has received a good faith estimate, they can take the form with them to comparison shop. The new form includes itemized boxes allowing mortgage applicants to compare quotes from up to four lenders, such as interest rates, loan fees, prepayment penalties, and total settlement expenses.

The good faith estimate also ties upfront estimates to later charges at closing, and encourages borrowers to check line by line for any discrepancies. The form explains which fees come with zero tolerance for changes between upfront estimates and closing—generally the lender’s own fees and local transfer taxes—and which fees allow a 10 percent fluctuation for changes higher than the estimate, such as certain title and closing-related services.

Some worksheets resemble good-faith estimates, but have titles such as “estimated settlement costs” at the top of the page. Others indicate on the bottom of the form that the worksheet is not a good faith estimate, so consumers should carefully review documents before making any decisions.


Shopping for a loan? A good-faith estimate will protect you

LA Times.com
February 28, 2010
by Kenneth R. Harney

If you plan to take out a mortgage or refinance any time soon, you might want to hear this blunt message from federal officials: Don’t fly blind. When you’re shopping among competing lenders for the best loan terms and fees, make sure you know which quotes come with a guarantee and which do not.

Depending upon how loan officers provide their quotes upfront — on an informal “work sheet” that carries no federal consumer protections or on a new, three-page “good-faith estimate” mortgage shopping tool that comes with rock-hard guarantees — there could be a world of difference.

A loan officer might quote you fees that are low-balled by hundreds of dollars on an informal work sheet to get your business. But if the quotes are made on a good-faith estimate, they’ve got to be accurate because, under federal rules that took effect Jan. 1, any significant excesses must come out of the lender’s own wallet at closing.

This month the Department of Housing and Urban Development brought together representatives of the highest-volume mortgage lenders in the country — who originate a combined 80%-plus of all new home loans — to review the agency’s reformed good-faith-estimate and closing documents.

Among the issues discussed: the widespread use of informal work-sheet estimates to quote loan shoppers mortgage rates and closing fees. HUD does not object to lenders using work sheets to give casual shoppers a rough idea of what they’ll pay. But the agency says it wants lenders and loan officers to make clear to customers that work sheets are not good-faith estimates, and they are not guaranteed.

At the meeting with major lenders, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Vicki Bott warned that under no circumstances can work-sheet quotes be issued to a mortgage applicant “in lieu of a GFE.” Once a consumer supplies the essential application information — Social Security number, property address and estimated value, among other data — lenders must issue a binding-cost good-faith estimate.

Also, loan officers cannot refuse to provide a good-faith estimate to an applicant who requests one, nor can they tell applicants that they can receive a GFE only if they commit to moving forward with their company to obtain the mortgage.

“By no means can they say you are bound to me as your lender” following issuance of a cost-guaranteed good-faith estimate, Bott said. Why? Because the whole concept of the revised GFE is to enable home buyers and refinancers to shop intelligently, with confidence in lenders’ estimates.

You can now get cost-guaranteed quotes on a good-faith estimate from one lender, then take them and compare them with GFE quotes from competitors. The new form contains itemized boxes allowing comparison of up to four lenders’ quotes — including interest rates, loan fees, prepayment penalties and total settlement expenses.

The good-faith estimate also ties upfront estimates to later charges at closing, and encourages borrowers to check line by line for any discrepancies. The form explains which fees come with zero tolerance for changes between upfront estimates and closing — generally the lender’s own loan fees and local transfer taxes — and which fees allow a 10% tolerance for changes higher than the estimate, such as certain title and closing-related services.

Here is how to be a smart mortgage shopper using the new federal rules to your advantage. If you are seriously looking for the best deal and are prepared to supply basic application information, ask for a good-faith estimate by name. If you’re merely shopping for generic rate quotes, work sheets are fine as long as you understand their limitations.

Beware of look-alike ploys and substitutes. Bott told lenders to make sure their work sheets do not “look like a GFE” and that they “be clear [to the consumer] that they are not GFEs.”

Some work sheets that have been used by lenders since Jan. 1 resemble good-faith estimates but have titles such as “estimated settlement costs” at the top of the page. Others indicate on the bottom of the form that the work sheet “is not a GFE,” but the typeface is so small it’s barely legible.

Finally, be aware that federal law requires that a good-faith estimate be issued within three days of any application.

Short Sales – Foreclosure: Tax implications

An important piece of the Short Sales – Foreclosure scenario that often gets overlooked are the tax implications of reduced or cancelled debt. The information and especially the links to the IRS website are a must read for anyone contemplating a distressed sale or loan modification.

As always, be sure to contact an accountant or attorney to verify that you understand completely what liability, if any you will have upon successfully selling or modifying.


Home Foreclosure and Debt Cancellation
Information provided by the Law Office of Gregory T. Royston

Update Dec. 11, 2008 — The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualify for this relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion doesn’t apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

The amount excluded reduces the taxpayer’s cost basis in the home. More details

Further information, including detailed examples, can also be found in Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments.

The questions and answers, below, are based on the law prior to the passage of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.

1. What is Cancellation of Debt?

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may have to include the cancelled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When you borrowed the money you were not required to include the loan proceeds in income because you had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation is subsequently forgiven, the amount you received as loan proceeds is reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of the canceled debt to you and the IRS on a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Here’s a very simplified example. You borrow $10,000 and default on the loan after paying back $2,000. If the lender is unable to collect the remaining debt from you, there is a cancellation of debt of $8,000, which generally is taxable income to you.

2. Is Cancellation of Debt income always taxable?

Not always. There are some exceptions. The most common situation where cancellation of debt is not taxable as income involve:

Bankruptcy: Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income.

Insolvency: If you are insolvent when the debt is cancelled, some or all of the cancelled debt may not be taxable to you.You are insolvent when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets.Insolvency can be fairly complex to determine and the assistance of a tax professional is recommended if you believe you qualify for this exception.

Certain farm debts: If you incurred the debt directly in operation of a farm, more than half your income from the prior three years was from farming, and the loan was owed to a person or agency regularly engaged in lending, your cancelled debt is generally not considered taxable income.The rules applicable to farmers are complex and the assistance of a tax professional is recommended if you believe you qualify for this exception.

Non-recourse loans: A non-recourse loan is a loan for which the lender’s only remedy in case of default is to repossess the property being financed or used as collateral.That is, the lender cannot pursue you personally in case of default.Forgiveness of a non-recourse loan resulting from a foreclosure does not result in cancellation of debt income.However, it may result in other tax consequences, as discussed in Question 3 below.

3. I lost my home through foreclosure. Are there tax consequences?

There are two possible consequences you must consider:

Taxable cancellation of debt income (Note: As stated above, cancellation of debt income is not taxable in the case of non-recourse loans).

A reportable gain from the disposition of the home, because foreclosures are treated like sales for tax purposes.(Note: Often some or all of the gain from the sale of a personal residence qualifies for exclusion from income).

4. I lost money on the foreclosure of my home. Can I claim a loss on my tax return?

No. Losses from the sale or foreclosure of personal property are not deductible.

5. Can you provide examples?

A borrower bought a home in August 2005 and lived in it until it was taken through foreclosure in September 2007. The original purchase price was $170,000, the home is worth $200,000 at foreclosure, and the mortgage debt canceled at foreclosure is $220,000. At the time of the foreclosure, the borrower is insolvent, with liabilities (mortgage, credit cards, car loans and other debts) totaling $250,000 and assets totaling $230,000.

6. I don’t agree with the information on the Form 1099-C. What should I do?

Contact the lender. The lender should issue a corrected form if the information is determined to be incorrect. Retain all records related to the purchase of your home and all related debt.

7. I received a notice from the IRS on this. What should I do?

The IRS urges borrowers with questions to call the phone number shown on the notice. The IRS also urges borrowers who wind up owing additional tax and are unable to pay it in full to use the installment agreement form, normally included with the notice, to request a payment agreement with the agency.

8. Where else can I go to get tax help?

If you are having difficulty resolving a tax problem (such as one involving an IRS bill, letter or notice) through normal IRS channels, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help. For more information, you can also call the TAS toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778, TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.

In some cases, you may qualify for free or low-cost assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs are independent organizations that represent low income taxpayers in tax disputes with the IRS. Find information on an LITCs in your area.

Related Items:

Publication 523: Selling Your Home
Publication 544: Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
Publication 908: Bankruptcy Tax Guide
Form 1040: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
Form 1040: Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses
Form 1099-C: Cancellation of Debt
Form 9465: Installment Agreement Request

All good things…

I received my Weekly Mortgage Market Update today from Victor Samaan, our Bank of America rep and as anticipated the threat of higher interest rates on home loans could be just around the corner. It’s been my contention that one of the best reasons to buy now, even with the specter of further devaluation in coming months is interest rates. How much would a point add to your payment?

“ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END…”

Or so the popular saying goes. And last week, the Fed reiterated once again that their Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) purchase program…the program that has helped keep home loan rates low for much of the last year…will end on March 31, 2010 as previously stated. Here’s the lowdown on what this means, and all the latest news impacting home loan rates and the markets.

Last Wednesday during their regularly scheduled meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve kept the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. But history has shown that when the Fed has left rates too low for an extended period of time, there is a price to be paid, via higher inflation. Yet if the accommodation is removed too early, it can derail an already fragile recovery. The Fed continues to walk this tightrope, trying to get it “just right.”

Along with this decision, the Fed emphasized and reminded that their MBS purchase program will still end on their already revised deadline date of March 31, 2010. Why is this significant? Let’s look at the numbers from last week to get an idea. The Fed purchased $16B in MBS in the latest week bringing the year-to-date total to $1.087T. This means there is $163B left to purchase before March 31, which in turn means the Fed will purchase about $11.5B on average each week through the end of the buying program. This is less than half of what the Fed was buying regularly throughout 2009 and a 1/3 less than what the Fed has been buying in recent weeks.

So why does this point to higher rates around the corner? When there is lots of supply and diminishing demand, the price of that item will subsequently go down – it’s Economics 101. So, when Bond prices start to decrease from the diminishing demand of the Fed’s purchases, home loan rates will naturally be likely to increase.

Source: Victor Samaan at Bank of America

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.

Short Sales: The 5 Stages of residential dispossession Pt. 1

The 5 Stages of residential dispossession
Part 1: Short Sales


The process through which a home becomes Bank Owned or an REO (real estate owned) consists of approximately five stages.

1. Short Sale
2. NOD (notice of default)
3. Foreclosure
4. Auction
5. REO (real estate owned)

Over the next several weeks I will attempt to shed some light on this topic and hopefully provide some information or guidance that might help some homeowners avoid losing their home or at least minimize the impact of the inevitable.

Topic one (where a loan modification has failed) is the Short Sale and according to a recent article in the LA Times, the rate of foreclosure among outstanding mortgage loans in the Los Angeles metro area was 3.69% this October, compared with 1.75% in 2008. Those familiar with the real estate market in Q1 and Q2 of this year (2009) can appreciate what that could mean moving into the first part of next year… The national foreclosure average is 3% according to data released by First American CoreLogic, which tracks the mortgage market.

Delinquent loans 90 days or more past due constituted 10.9% of all mortgage loans in the Los Angeles area, up from 5.86% during the same month the year before. So it is likely that we’ll see a lot more short sales and foreclosures in 2010.

Please note that although I am a licensed real estate agent and member of the California Association of Realtors I am NOT and attorney, accountant or loan officer. If you need advice in any of these areas you should contact the appropriate professional. The information herein is meant to offer general information and although deemed to be accurate is not guaranteed.

The Short Sale

In the current real estate market, short sales and foreclosures represent a new traditional real estate transaction. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that over the past several years many homes were purchased for substantially more than their current value. In a recent Wall Street Journal piece “One in Four Borrowers Is Underwater “, writers’ Ruth Simon and James R. Hagerty state that nearly 10.7 million households , or about 23% of homeowners with mortgages had negative equity in the third quarter of 2009. It is estimated that more than 520,000 of these borrowers have received a notice of default.

A short sale is a lender approved sale of real estate in which the sale price is less than (or short of) the mortgage balance.

For agents, knowing how to maneuver the complexities of a short sale, on either side of the transaction is not merely a good skill to have in today’s market, it’s critical.

Distressed homeowners’ are in a race against the clock to avoid foreclosure and buyers need to identify sound real estate opportunities quickly to avoid wasting time and missing opportunity. In either case the agent must be able to evaluate all available options and identify or establish the components of an effective short-sale package.

Anatomy of a Successful Short Sale

Successful short sales require 3 elements:

1. Seller opportunity to get out of a bad situation with minimal credit damage.
2. Buyer gets a deal, purchases property below the true market value.
3. Lender nets more money than a foreclosure action would bring.

Sellers

It’s important to note that Short Sales will not work if the property has sufficient equity for the lender to foreclose, sell as an REO and at least break even. The homeowner must be “upside-down” in their loan for the lender to approve a short sale.

When a homeowner experiences a hardship and can no longer pay the mortgage the first and best option is a lender approved short sale to attempt to avoid foreclosure. Whereas there are still negative credit implications associated with a short sale, they are much less severe.

The first step is valuation, what is the current market value of the subject property? As stated above, if there is sufficient market value in a home a lender will not approve a short sale and perhaps a quick standard sale (even if it requires some money out of pocket) is the best solution.

Establishing the current market value of a home involves measuring the subject property against other properties in the neighborhood that have sold recently. An experienced agent, with working knowledge of an area can put together a Current Market Analysis or CMA or there are tools available online to get a rough idea of value. Understand the there are many factors from square footage, lot size and the age of a structure to amenities like pools, views and location in a given community etc. that can affect the value of one home as compared to another.

If it is determined that the current market value is significantly below the amount owed, then the second step is to contact the lender(s) for a short sale application and instructions specific to their policy. If the seller is working with an agent (and in most cases they should be) they need to execute the proper documentation to authorize the agent to deal directly with the lender and the initial call to the loss mitigation department or the person named in demand letters should be placed together. This is the best way to establish a working relationship, answer questions, verify information and get outline of what they want and how they will make a decision on a short sale.

Beyond these initial steps, any successful shot sale will require a properly prepared Short Sale Packet which can easily be in excess of 50 pages. Closing statements, purchase contracts, market statistics, financial documentation, disclosures and a plethora of other forms, agreements and miscellaneous information must be provided, however one of the more critical elements of the packet is the Hardship Letter.

The numbers are the only thing that a lender cares about, so the hardship letter should NOT be a sob story. It MUST be a factual description of a financial hardship that is leading to bankruptcy, foreclosure or both. The lender needs be convinced that the only other option is foreclosure, at which point they will analyze the situation and determine whether a short sale is a preferable direction.

It must be made evident that the borrower is headed for foreclosure or bankruptcy. The letter needs to give a clear picture of the financial condition and be backed up with documentation (pay stubs, medical bills, termination letters etc).

The average cost for a lender to foreclose is approximately $50,000 and there are the reserves that lenders are required hold to back up non-performing loans. Lenders don’t like to tie up resources to back up these loans and are generally open to alternatives.

Certainly there is more to consider. Pursuing a short sale is a complex process and in some cases, if caught in time it can be avoided. In others foreclosure is inevitable. If you are concerned about maintaining your mortgage or have questions about the process please call or email at your convenience

Buyers

A true Short Sale opportunity is where a homeowner owes more on their home than they will receive from a standard sale and a situation where the lender will approve a price that meets your budget.

Obviously for the buyers’ part, a purchase at the lowest possible price, that the lender will approve is the goal. Priorities for a buyer would be to establish that the homeowner is upside-down in their loan, that the target property is worth less than the total amount owed and that true hardship for the seller exists to convince the lender that a short sale is necessary. Also to be sure of clear title, that there are no prohibitive liens or other claims against the property that will stall the process or cause it to fail. If the loan is VA or FHA, the situation needs to meets their specific criteria for a short sale.

Buyers beware! All homes advertised as “Short Sale” are not necessarily short sales and potential buyers need to verify if and when the paperwork was filed with the lender(s) and whether that paperwork was properly completed. If not, you may end up wasting a lot of time and energy, the home will be foreclosed and you’ll be back to square one. Considering that most short sales involve property that is already in default, time is of the essence. There must be enough time to complete the process before a foreclosure action is completed. This requires a willingness and cooperation from the seller and the lender as well as the motivation to work to avoid foreclosure.

Of course I’ll suggest that you are best served by working with a licensed agent or Realtor who has short sale experience, however if you choose to go it alone, do your homework and remember that the sellers agent was retained by the seller, is working against the clock in an attempt to find a qualified buyer and to strike a deal with the lender. Many agents listing short sales are handling several at once. Your best interest may be best served by you being informed or using an experienced agent focused on you alone.