Archive for the ‘Help for Homeowners’ Category

The Road Map to Achieve Your Financial Future

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LEARN what you MUST know

to make SMART investments.


Upcoming seminars at the Long Beach Real Estate Resource Center:

First Time Home Buyers Seminar
August 26, Thursday
7:00pm to 9:00pm

Multi-Unit Investing Seminar
August 28, Saturday
9:00am to 12:00pm

Creative Investing Seminar
August 28, Saturday

1:00pm to 4:00pm

Reserve your seat today and get a FREE gift!

Investment: $39 each seminar

Backyard Wealth Long Beach



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Government OKs $600 Million in Housing Aid for 5 States

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The Obama administration plans to send $600 million to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure in five states.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that mortgage-assistance proposals submitted by North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina received approval. The states estimate their efforts could help up to 50,000 homeowners.

The administration is directing $2.1 billion from its existing $75 billion mortgage assistance program to a total of 10 states. Each state designed its own plan. Treasury approved money in June for Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, and Nevada.

“These states have designed targeted programs with the potential to make a real difference in the lives of homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments because of unemployment,” Herbert Allison, an assistant treasury secretary, said in a statement.

More aid to the unemployed is coming. The sweeping financial reform bill passed signed into law by President Barack Obama last month provides an additional $3 billion to help jobless homeowners pay their mortgages.

Of that money, $2 billion is coming from Treasury’s foreclosure-prevention effort. The rest is to be managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Source: Alan Zibel (HouseLogic.com)


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Low Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Exterior

front door curb appeal
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Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:


1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows or architectural details.

2.
Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.

3.
Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.

4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.

5.
Repair any cracks in the driveway.

6.
Edge the grass around walkways and trees.

7.
Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.

8. Clear toys from the lawn.

9.
Buy a new mailbox.

10.
Upgrade your outside lighting.

11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.

12.
Clean your windows, inside and outside.

13.
Polish or replace your house numbers.

14.
Place a seasonal wreath on your door.



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5 Important Factors that Decide Your Credit Score

credit report sign

Credit scores range between 200 and 800, with scores above 620 considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage.

The following factors affect your score:

1. Your payment history.

Did you pay your credit card obligations on time? If they were late, then how late? Bankruptcy filing, liens, and collection activity also impact your history.

2. How much you owe.

If you owe a great deal of money on numerous accounts, it can indicate that you are overextended. However, it’s a good thing if you have a good proportion of balances to total credit limits.

3. The length of your credit history.

In general, the longer you have had accounts opened, the better. The average consumer’s oldest obligation is 14 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time, according to Fair Isaac Corp., and only one in 20 consumers have credit histories shorter than 2 years.

4. How much new credit you have.

New credit, either installment payments or new credit cards, are considered more risky, even if you pay them promptly.

5. The types of credit you use.

Generally, it’s desirable to have more than one type of credit — installment loans, credit cards, and a mortgage, for example.

If you feel you need some help with your credit score or would like to fix your credit report, it is best to consult with a specialist.  Find out your options before it’s too late.


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5 Important Tips When Considering a Short Sale

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[tweetmeme]If you’re thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won’t cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don’t have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.

1. Consider loan modification first.

If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as: Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate; providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up; or providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary. When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if:

* Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
* You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
* You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.

2. Hire a qualified team.

The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won’t try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn’t in your best interest. A qualified real estate professional can:

* Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
* Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
* Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
* Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
* Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
* Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.

For additional resources and assistance on short sales, contact your local Real Estate Resource Center.

3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in.

Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include:

* A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
* A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
* Proof of your income and assets
* Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years

4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period.

Even if you’re well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:

* If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
* With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
* With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.

When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)

5. Don’t expect a short sale to solve your financial problems.

Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

* You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
* Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
* Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.

For additional resources and assistance on short sales, contact your local Real Estate Resource Center.  You may have other options available to you.  Find out what they are to make better financial decisions.


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6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home

new home buyers - family
There are still various options to consider when purchasing a home:

1. Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs. These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment. National programs include the Nehemiah program, www.getdownpayment.com, and the American Dream Down Payment Fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, www.hud.gov.

2. Explore seller financing. In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage.

3. Consider a shared-appreciation or shared-equity arrangement. Under this arrangement, your family, friends, or even a third-party may buy a portion of the home and share in any appreciation when the home is sold. The owner/occupant usually pays the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs.

4. Ask your family for help. Perhaps a family member will loan you money for the down payment or act as a co-signer for the mortgage. Lenders often like to have a co-signer if you have little credit history.

5. Lease with the option to buy. Renting the home for a year or more will give you the chance to save more toward your down payment. And in many cases, owners will apply some of the rental amount toward the purchase price. You usually have to pay a small, nonrefundable option fee to the owner.

6. Consider a short-term second mortgage. If you can qualify for a short-term second mortgage, this would give you money to make a larger down payment. This may be possible if you’re in good financial standing, with a strong income and little other debt.

These creative strategies and more are covered in detail at our real estate seminars.  Find out your options and make sound financial decisions for you and your family.

Source: Realtor Magazine


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How to Recognize a Seller’s Market

buyer and seller lane signs

As a homeowner, and a prospective seller, you may be wondering if now is a good time to put your home on the market.

  • But how can you tell if the market is in your favor at this time?
  • Will you lose money or make money?
  • Is it a “sellers market”?

These are all very important questions. And the answer is in the market statistics.

As a seller, one of the first things you must evaluate is the desirability of your location. Market conditions are extremely localized statistics. While the national economy and housing market tie every area of the country together to a certain degree, markets and their conditions range widely from state to state, community to community, and even neighborhood to neighborhood within a community.

You must ask yourself, and your real estate agent, “Is my neighborhood up and coming or has it already come and gone?” If you live in a neighborhood that is highly desired due to its school system, local amenities, or even status and prestige, then you may find yourself in a continual sellers market, where you will always be in the advantage.

A great place to start your research is the National Association of Realtors’s website, realtor.org. They offer monthly quarterly and monthly studies by region, that include such things as existing and pending home sales.

For a more local view, look at the most recent sales in your surrounding area. How much are homes selling for? And how does your home compare in both size, location, upgrades, and condition?

Unfortunately, an issue completely out of your control can have a direct effect on your ability to sell your home, and for a good profit. Foreclosures in your neighborhood affect your home’s value. This isn’t fair, but it is how the market works. Buyers look for the best home for their dollar. If they are able to buy a home on your street for a foreclosure price, then suddenly your asking price must decrease in order to compete. Be sure to ask your agent for tips on how to make your home stand out again to buyers, despite this issue.

Another stat you should be aware of is “days on market”. This means how long it takes a home to sell from the time it hits the market. In general terms, anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers market. If the average time is longer than 6 months, then the market is in favor of buyers. This should be a consideration for when you look to buy your next home. Unless you are prepared to carry two mortgages, you will want to make sure your current home has sold before looking for the next.

How is the local job market faring in your city? If you live in a town that has a healthy economy, then chances are you live in a sellers market. People who have steady jobs are more inclined to look to buy. The bigger the unemployment figures, then fewer buyers on the market.

Another consideration is “appreciation.” In a healthy market, a home should increase in value each year. Many of the areas of the country, however, experienced a “bubble burst” after seeing years of record appreciation rates. Two major areas of uncontrolled appreciation were Florida and California. Homes bought during the bubble may very well be worth less now than their owner owes.

Be sure to discuss all of these issues with your local real estate agent. They will be able to help you determine whether now is a prudent time or not to put your home on the market.

For the right knowledge and resources, look into other strategies and options that are right for your situation at your local Real Estate Resource Center.

Source: Carla Hill (RealtyTimes)Ms. Hill is a Managing Editor for RealtyTimes’ online publication. She also is producer for the real estate news channel, seen daily on RealtyTimes.com and on video newsletters nationwide. She currently works out of the Realty Times corporate office and studio in Dallas, TX.
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