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The Impact of Foreclosures on Home Prices

Richmond Virginia Foreclosures VAThe never-ending foreclosure crisis is adding to the fear that home prices will fall further. There are about 4 million loans in foreclosure, or at lease 3 months late, according to the analysts at Barclay’s Capital.

How quickly foreclosed homes come into the market and their price will dictate how fast the housing market recovers. Programs, run by the government, to grow stock sales and decrease foreclosures have worked to stabilize the market earlier in the year. Sadly, now that many programs have ended, the back-inventory is a major downer for home prices.

Its been reported that banks have been holding back some inventory and not releasing properties at auction. Could be that they see a turnaround in our immediate future and want to hold out for higher prices. These actions are a far cry from the fire sale prices banks were selling in 2008 and 2009.

Dean Baker, co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research, argues that house prices will decline further. Instead of a government-controlled slow decline, he argues market principles should control how far prices fall.

September 19, 2010   No Comments

Home Prices on the Rise, New Flame or Old Fizzle?

The widely watched released their home price numbers yesterday and   show that the U.S. National Home Price Index improved in the second quarter of 2009. The data covers 20 cities across the US and reports that the index rose quarter-over-quarter by 1.4% but fell 15.4% year-over-year.

Case - Shiller Index

While these numbers may be reassuring to some it has not been without a huge price tag as mentioned here. Can it continue when the stimulus money stops or will it just fizzle out as it did last year? It is hoped that it will create a sense of urgency among buyers that they must act now before they miss the bottom which is being experienced in many housing markets reporting multiple contract offers on listings, something we have not seen in a very long time.

So while this report gives cause for hope, there are still issues in unemployment, foreclosures, new housing inventory, first time homebuyer tax credit ending and Alt-A option arm resets all showing we still have a long road to recovery but could the worst be behind us?

August 26, 2009   1 Comment

Why Only a Fool Would Call this a Bottom in the Real Estate Market

Money TreeNational Association of Realtors last week reported existing home sales had increased for the fourth month in a row. Existing homes, or homes that are previously owned, were up 7.2% to an annualized rat of   5.25 million compared with June and 5% from July 2008.

While many are standing on their soap boxes preaching the end of the crisis as we know it there is strong evidence that we are not out of the woods yet. While yes prices are down, mortgage rates are historically low and strong government incentives; these are exactly the issues in the marketplace.

* Prices are still down 32% from their peak and have not turned
* 30% of home sales in July were First Time Home Buyers
* 31% of home sales were distressed sales or sales of homes in foreclosure (First time in history)

Look at it; we still have huge amounts of “known” inventory on the market. We have government intervention that is artificially reducing this inventory through first time home buyer incentives, loan modifications, short sales and BILLIONS being spent big-mess200.jpgweekly to keep mortgage rates low. You have lenders suspected of withholding foreclosed inventory off the market, by some accounts only about a third of repossessed houses are being actively marketed. Many home sellers above $250,000 taking their unsold home off the market and we may have another round of foreclosures due to “Alt-A” and option arm mortgages that will begin resetting and unemployment levels and underwriting guidelines are still tightening.

While sales of homes to first time home buyers has been a huge drag on home prices I don’t think we can conclude a turn around until prices collectively, actually start to increase, government intervention stops and monthly inventories are reduced.

August 26, 2009   1 Comment

The Significance of the Mortgage Disclosure Information Act (MDIA): How it Will Affect You

July Calender 30thWhat is the MDIA or Mortgage Disclosure Information Act?

The Mortgage Disclosure Information Act or MDIA was passed into law when Congress enacted the Housing and Economic Recovery Act becoming effective July 30, 2009. The MDIA, seeks to ensure that consumer’s receive cost disclosures earlier in the mortgage process to create transparency during the loan process. It is important to understand the significance of this law and the affect it can have on your loan closings. Bear in mind, this rule only applies to primary residences and vacation / second home transactions and the interpretation will vary among lenders who will error on the side of caution.

What Changes Do the New Rules Bring?

The MDIA only allows a “reasonable” credit report fee to be collected before the customer receives the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and Truth in Lending (TIL). The customer must receive both the GFE and the TIL within 3 days of application. Once the borrower has received and signed the initial Truth in Lending Disclosure, the loan officer can then order the appraisal. The MDIA has established the following schedule to be used to determine when it is permissible to accept fees:

  • Disclosures mailed to borrowers —- on the 4th business day after mailing
  • Disclosures e-mailed to borrowers —- on the day actual receipt is confirmed
  • Disclosures are provided in person —- on the day of receipt

There is a 7 day mandatory waiting period after receiving the final Good Faith Estimate and Truth in Lending before signing final loan documents. If, throughout the loan process, the fees and charges change more than 10%, the APR by .125% or a change in loan terms there is a mandatory 3 day wait plus the mandatory wait time based on the manor the re disclosure took place. Its important to note, that this means ANY fees added after the initial disclosure has been made, not just lender.

Government Intervention

What Makes the APR change?

  • Fees – Changes in lender or title fees
  • Interest Rate – Locking a rate other than what was disclosed on the application or an extension in rate lock time period
  • Loan Amount – Putting more or less money down; Reduction in purchase price
  • Type of Loan – Deciding to put less money down, changing to an FHA or VA which can have more fees associated.

What Can a REALTOR® & Lender do to Help Ensure Timely Close?

First it’s important for everyone to be on the same page to understand that the loan process will take longer. It’s crucial that the buyer is genuinely pre-approved prior to entering into the contract. Its imperative that a dialogue takes place in the beginning with the chosen title representative to accurately reflect their fees. Its important for loan officers to lock the loan early in the process, don’t gamble the interest rate. Going forward its important to manage your customers expectations. Also, its going to be important to schedule your loan closings 45 days out and initially even 60 days while lenders get used to these new processes as we are only 3 weeks into it and the first loans are approaching closing.

If something does come up at the end it’s important to note, that no re disclosure is necessary if the lender, broker, Realtor or seller pay whatever fee was added. The final rule also allows consumers to expedite consummation to meet a bona fide personal financial emergency.

Be ready, more regulations coming down the pike as well. New RESPA regulations that were published November 17, 2008 and are scheduled to take full effect on January 1, 2010.

August 21, 2009   No Comments

$8,000 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit is Winding Down, Just 8 Weeks Left to Find a Home

For first time homebuyers out looking for homes that will utilize the $8,000 tax credit, times a running out. November 30th, 2009 is the final day to close and with the new Truth in Lending MDIA disclosure it could take up to 45 days to close on the loan.

The First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit was passed as part of Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, crediting up to $8,000 in tax payments to qualified first time home buyers. The maximum tax credit for an individual first time home buyer is 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000.

Who qualifies for the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit?

  • Must be a first time home buyer defined as no home ownership in the last 3 years, so prior ownership does not disqualify them only home ownership in the last 3 years
  • No repayment is required if the buyer owns and occupies the property for 36 months
  • The tax credit starts to phase out for an individual taxpayer with a modified adjusted gross income from $75,001 to $95,000 for single filers and $150,001 to $170,000 for joint filers.

Who does not qualify for the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit?

  • The property is acquired from a related person
  • The property is acquired by gift or inheritance
  • The buyer is a nonresident alien
  • The buyer disposes of the property before the end of such taxable year

A common misconception about the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit is that it is a true credit and not a deduction. So if you typically get a refund you would get $8,000 above and beyond your typical refund. Conversely if you owe every year your $8,000 would be deducted from the amount you owe.

You can check out the IRS publication at your convenience and remember if you do not have a ratified contract and make loan application by October 15, 2009 chances are your will not close by the November 30, 2009 deadline and you will end up at the short end of the stick.

August 20, 2009   No Comments

Investor Property Flipping, Seller Seasoning and Home Loans

Property Flipping and Seller SeasoningThere is a new, old bad word among lenders now and that is property flipping concerning seller seasoning. The current lending crisis has led to seller seasoning becoming more of an issue among buyers, lenders, investors and brokers. Seller Seasoning refers to the length of time a seller has owned a property or been on title of the property. Property flipping is when an investor buys a property and turns around and immediately sells it. Immediately, by lenders definition is within 12 months.

There are 4 types of lending entities, each with their own flipping guideline.

•    FHA (Federal Housing Authority)
•    Conforming (Fannie and Freddie)
•    VA (Veterans Administration)
•    Hard Money (Kinda like getting a loan from Shady Frank but not to be confused with Barney Frank, although close.)

Now HUD defined property flipping with the original letter as “the practice whereby a property recently acquired is resold for a considerable profit with an artificially inflated value, often abetted by a lender’s collusion with the appraiser.”

In 2006 HUD loosened FHA’s flipping policy to 2 versions, 90 days and less and a 91 – 360 days.
According to FHA guidelines, FHA will only insure a loan on a property sold within 90 days if the seller is HUD, a Government Agency, a Federally Chartered Bank, a Non Profit or a relocation company.  AFTER 90 days to 6 months, FHA will require a 2nd appraisal if the purchase price is 100% above the sellers purchase price and also, this appraisal cost can not be paid by the borrower.

Additionally, up to 12 months, FHA can require additional documentation to “support the resale value if the resale price is 5 percent or greater than the lowest sales price of the property.”

*For more information see FHA MORTGAGEE LETTER 2006 -14

Conforming (Fannie and Freddie) has no seller seasoning requirement

VA (Veterans Administration) has no seller seasoning requirement

Fannie, Freddie and VA have no “seller seasoning” requirements, although each lender I can assure you does. Most lenders are 12 months, some are 6 months and at the very least 1 or 2 will be 90 days. This is called Risk Overlaying.

Risk Overlays …
Lenders may impose additional conditions to further insulate themselves from the possibility that they may have to buy back the loan. Risk overlaying not only applies to seller seasoning but every other loan underwriting guideline as well. As a Buyer, seller, Realtor you have to be very careful….just because there is a DU approval DOES NOT MEAN the lender will fund the loan. I can not stress this enough. The biggest overlays right now are credit scores and debt ratio’s but there are many more. Buyer beware.

Do your due diligence find out prior to submitting an offer how long the seller has been on title. If its less than 90 days save yourself the trouble unless of course it qualifies for the FHA exception. If you don’t, your lender will not find out till the appraisal is done that the title has transferred and then your into the transaction for $350-$400 and a lot more in wasted time.

August 10, 2009   No Comments

Mortgage Market Week in Review and Whats Ahead

Mortgage Rates going upOuch! Mortgage bonds had a horrible week with the 4.5% bond falling from a high of 100.75 to a close of 98.75 a whopping 200 points. Looks like we will begin next week with significantly higher mortgage rates, apparently the economy has begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the worst is behind it according to all the “good news” out last week that caused the selling of mortgage bonds. A key question is are we out of the woods or is it just a little rebound before the downtrend continues?

Mortgage Rates going up

Unemployment dropped to 9.4%, from the prior month’s reading of 9.5% – breaking a streak of 9 straight monthly increases. People still aren’t spending. Savings rate stands at 4.6%, down from May figure of 6.2% but still up significantly from prior publications of negative to 1% all the while wages and salaries have declined 4.7% from the prior year. Consumers have still have little access to credit as credit cards and home equity lines have all but dried up. The only thing that could stimulate the consumer would be a reversal of wages or lower taxes and with the Fed Printing Press working 24 hour days, 7 days a week we can be assured tax rates will increase…significantly is my guess. Just next week the Fed will be auctioning off another $75B. How high can taxes go?… funny you should ask!

Historical Tax Brackets

Housing has been rebounding. On Tuesday, the Pending Home Sales Index came in at an amazing 3.6%, where only a 0.7% rise was expected. The National Association of Realtors reported that Pending Home Sales rose in June for the fifth straight month, fueled by low home loan rates and bargain home prices. Its important to note that this figure is on contracts written and not closed…. But regardless it seems the Fed’s buying of mortgage bonds to keep rates low, over $ ONE TRILLION worth, and the $8,000 “first time” home buyer tax credit does seem to be helping sales to firm. Can we say missing the boat???

Be on the look out his week for rates to bounce a little lower due to last weeks oversold conditions, with hand on trigger to lock. We are still on a long term down trend but still below all major moving averages. Hopefully the 4.5% mortgage bond can get above the 50 day moving average of 99.41 and the 100 day next at 99.90.

August 8, 2009   No Comments

Avoiding Scams When Looking For Mortgage Modification

Before signing any papers for a loan modification, speak to an attorney or a state regulatory agency. You will want to speak with someone who is familiar with the governing process of these companies. Also, make sure the loan modification company has filed a contract with your state and that they hold a valid state license. In addition, make sure they are willing to go through the United States Postal service for pickup and delivery of funds and documents. If not, it could be that they are just trying to skirt issues of mail fraud.

Avoiding Scams When Looking For Mortgage ModificationGet educated on loan modifications. Know what your loan options are. Have several different real estate agents give you a comparative market analysis (CMA) to see what your home would sell for. Seek the advice of an attorney if you want to pursue keeping your home.

Here are some of the common things many “scam” companies will say when you call and ask them if they can help you save your home.

1. “By signing the title of your home over to us, we can salvage your credit. That way when the foreclosure is issued, it’s our name that will be recorded.”

Busted – In truth, a home foreclosure is always recorded against the borrower. It doesn’t matter whose name is on title. The person who borrowed the funds is responsible. If you fall for this, you now owe money on something you no longer own.

2. “We will help you out of this situation by giving you some money AND paying your delinquent payments. Just sign the title to your house over.” [Read more →]

March 25, 2009   1 Comment

American Public Uprising?

Hear no evil, see no evil speak no evil

Over 275 subprime lenders, Countrywide, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now Wachovia……. getting bought out days before it would have to go the way of Lehman Brothers. The FDIC comes out to say that “Wachovia did not fail.” That is a major play on words.

The American public spoke today. I for one am getting tired of the “bailout talks.” Let the cards fall where they may. Giving $700 billion is nothing but a reward to those that got us in this mess. At what point would a rational person think there was a problem? After the 275 subprime lenders? It just did not have to go down this way. Why do taxpayers have to ante up? We did not do this.  There are other ways to fix this situation and saving some executives butt is not something to which I am inclined to say yes.

I say, hell no to the bail out. There has been way to much saving face with Wachovia, Bear, WAMU and all the others.

September 29, 2008   2 Comments

Warren Buffet and the $700 Billion Bailout

Following the sheep over the cliffBig news today was that Warren Buffet was taking a $5-10 billion stake in Goldman Sachs. Two important points to point out is over the last few days Goldman has repeatedly stated that it was in no need of equity and sufficiently capitalized. The second point is not to get too excited. Yes Warren Buffet is the greatest investor of all time and yes he is very shrewd and yes he makes a ton of money on his investments but I would not go as far as the media to say that his investment marks the bottom and would not follow his lead just yet.

Listening to the media there has been 3 prior bottoms as well. His $10 billion is protected to the tune of a guaranteed return of 10% a year. So the bottom is a lot closer for him than us little guys. But this is a good this as a vote of confidence in the sense that the investment community is more willing to make investments in the financial sector…and this could be a turning point. But probably not THE turning point.

On the flip side  Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson had some trouble selling the $700 billion bailout to the Senate Banking Committee. There is a lot uncertainty regarding this bailout funding and the market will be very reluctant to go higher until it can see the plan come together.

So once again we are in a hurry up and wait mentality.

September 24, 2008   No Comments

Volatility is the name of the game

Do not go to the bath room with an unlocked loan or open trade. The 10 minutes can cost thousands! Volatility and panic set in the market again as traders once again questioned the governments plan to buy mortgage backed securities and bid up commodity prices and sold the dollar. Looking forward to the fed having to auction off more Treasuries in their effort to raise the $700 Billion needed to finance the bailout. It’s pretty much a sure thing that anything the government estimates is off by 2/3rds. So it’s only a matter of time before they are in the trillions.

Volatility is the name of the gameOctober Crude contracts were trading $25 higher at one point, the highest one day gain in history, closing up $16.37 higher on the day. With oil higher and heavy metals such as gold rallying nearly $45 an oz, we are once again touching on inflationary fears which would make mortgage rates soar. After hitting a recent high last Tuesday of 101.69 the 5.5% MBS have given up nearly 175bps to close at 99.9375. The Dow got hammered and gave up nearly all Fridays gains to close down 372 points.

If we are in a recession, mortgage rates don’t know it yet. The markets tend to be very omniscient.

September 23, 2008   No Comments

How Much Deeper Can We Go?

The market is hanging deep in its hole but has at least stopped digging. The weekend is thankfully approaching and trade is wondering just how many more things can be thrown its way come Monday morning and how it wants to be positioned. It has paid off to be long the flight-to-quality trade and given Paulson’s less-than detailed press conference, the dip buyers may yet be inclined to shore up prices at the lows.

The 10-yr yield hovers around the pivotal 3.76% level with a close below keeping bonds in the game but severely scrambled.  With the Dow, NASDAQ & S&P raring upwards, Treasuries and Agency MBS’s are taking the brunt of the blow as investors move safe harbor capital off the sidelines to deploy them back in the stock market.  As a result, Agency MBS pricing is off a full point as is GNMA (FHA) MBS.  Wow, what a week it was.

September 19, 2008   No Comments

Market Update

The market backing off with the flight-to-quality taking a bit of a breather. Central banks have coordinated an injection of about $180B into the banking system (Bloomberg) and that seems to have calmed some nerves, for now. But the threat of broken banks hasn’t just gone away and funds will likely flow to treasuries, just not as panicked.

Once again, with each new fix the risk is it doesn’t work.  Not that anyone is paying attention to the mundane economic data being released, but initial claims came in on the high side of expectations at 455K vs an expected 440K mark and leading indicators off consensus levels as well.  The slumping economy’s impact on the credit crunch has not been addressed as much as the vice versa effect, the credit crunch’s effect on the economy.

Don’t discount the exacerbating effect on the current financial fiasco of an economy that is shedding jobs at an alarming pace.  So doom and gloom aside, agency MBS pricing is selling this morning as the central bank capital injections have temporarily soothed the flight to quality stampede.  FNMA 5.00% MBS are off 12 ticks (-12/32) while GNMA (FHA) 5.00% are off 7 ticks (-7/32).

September 18, 2008   No Comments

Winning Your Race

What a great Super Bowl game! Eli Manning sure quieted the critics tonight. I am not fan of either team but I was rooting for the Giants to win. There were two big reminders for me tonight. The first would be no matter how hard you work, how hard you train, how many games or battles you win, if you do not take home the prize, all is lost. The New England Patriots had the opportunity to continue in the history books and lost in the final seconds.Finishing the Race

When working a financial plan, I see all sorts of folks go out of the gates leading the race and somewhere along the line things seem to fall apart. Working a plan is a long and arduous process. It’s crucial that you are in constant contact with your coach (financial planner) and stay on course. Its very easy for folks to get “tired” in the 2nd and 4th quarters.

No one expected the Giants to win. They were underdogs according to every sports poll, broadcaster and viewers. Not only did they not expect the Giants to win but some expected the Pats to win pretty easily. After a lackluster finish last year, Tom Coughlin was on the cusp of losing his job. After the first two games of this year Eli Manning was about to be taken out and be stoned. EVERY publication and news show was telling him how bad he was a quarterback.

The second thing I was reminded. That everyone has the same opportunity to be successful in life. Every morning we get up and put our clothes on just like everyone else. So what separates the successful from the unsuccessful? Beliefs. What limiting beliefs are holding you back from achieving what you want most in life?

February 4, 2008   No Comments

Should I Refinance My ARM?

I received a call Friday January 25th, 2008 from a freelance reporter in Los Angeles named Marcie Geffner who was doing a story for a well known bank website called BankRate. She wanted to interview me to get my opinion on whether those with adjustable rates should take advantage of the lower fixed rates and refinance.

You can see the whole Bank Rate article here.

This interview led me to some important points that I want to make. It’s not a marketing secret that scaring the crap out of consumers is a pretty useful sales tactic. People buy on emotion and make emotional decisions and the news media and advertisers sell products that way.

I have been pounding the table since May 2007 that the Federal Reserve would start to lower rates in the fall of 2007; you can see my Blog post. So this big whoop la comes as no surprise.

What needs to be understood is that mortgages just like any investment should be managed. Just like investments, different loan products “perform” better during certain periods and working with a Certified Mortgage Planner allows customers to take advantage of changes in market sentiment and conditions and save $10’s of thousands of dollars.

Managing a mortgage is not about getting the lowest interest rate. It’s about matching the mortgage to the client’s financial goals. When you match the mortgage to their financial goals rates do not matter. The loan program that you have is meeting a certain financial need of the borrower.

This is part of wealth creation I explain to clients. In this business I have meet many people who have achieved great wealth by aligning their mortgage (s) to their financial need. I have never met one that achieved great wealth because they received the lowest mortgage rate. [Read more →]

February 1, 2008   3 Comments