Archive for the ‘Homebuyer assistance’ Category
Friday, December 28th, 2012
There has been a lot of speculation as to what will happen in the real estate market as we head into a new year. Here is my take on real estate market resolutions for 2013:
Home prices will rise, slowly. Based on the current market and the rise in prices in 2012, especially toward the end of the year, I believe that prices will continue to rise, although at a very slow pace. People who are thinking they should wait to sell in order to make a big profit will be waiting a long time, but those who see the opportunities – demand, low inventory and continued historically low interest rates – have the chance to sell in what will slowly become (if it’s not already) a seller’s market. Those homes that show very well and are well-maintained will garner the most interest and could set trends for neighborhood comparables.
Interest rates will remain low. Because of continued uncertainty with the economy interest rates have to remain low. If the feds raise them at this volatile point, when Americans are just beginning to feel comfortable spending again, albeit cautiously, it would be devastating. I do not believe that such a risk is healthy and thus I think rates will stay low for some time.
Inventory will rise. This one is hopeful, but I truly believe that due to the fact that markets are becoming seller’s markets, more people will decide to list their homes in the coming year. 2012 was a difficult year for inventory in most areas, and San Diego county was no exception. Multiple offer situations on the first day properties listed were not uncommon, and many buyers ended this year without the new homes they so desired, feeling frustrated. I think savvy homeowners will see the silver lining in selling their homes as we head into the new year.
Distressed sales will slow. Many lending institutions and federal and state governments vamped up programs in 2012 to assist troubled homeowners, and the numbers from many of these programs indicate that they are working. There are still many more people who need assistance, but I believe that we will see fewer foreclosures. Most banks seem to have warmed to loan modifications and short sales, bypassing the rush to foreclose.
More underwater homeowners may be able to refinance in the future. There is finally a rumbling about extending refinancing programs to those non-equity homeowners who fall outside of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan requirements – this could be HUGE and prevent a slew of foreclosures and even short sales down the road…this will be the real estate story at the top of my watch list in 2013.
All in all, the housing market it improving. It is important to mention, as I always do, that every market is different. If you want specific information about your area/market, consult with a qualified local agent before making any decisions about buying or selling real estate. One more caveat – keep in mind that market improvement is relative. The above analysis is based on numbers that show improvement in the local San Diego market, as well as reports from trusted sources and personal experience working in the local market.
I think 2013 will be a great year for real estate. Please let me know if I can provide any information about your San Diego home sale or home search, and have a very happy New Year!
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Friday, June 15th, 2012
Do you know the difference between a pre-qualification and a preapproval for a mortgage? Surprisingly, many buyers – and even many agents – do not. It is important to understand the difference before you prepare to search for a property.
Pre-Qualification: When a buyer gets pre-qualified for a mortgage, it means that s/he has submitted information to the lender regarding employment/earnings and assets. The borrower discloses what amount s/he has for a downpayment, and provides the lender with a credit score. Not much digging is done to verify the information, and pre-qual letters are fairly easy to obtain.
Some lenders require proof of funds to be shown (which can be done by submitting a bank/securities statement), and pre-qualification letters state that a loan will be granted based on the borrower’s ability to satisfy the conditions – they are not a guaranty for a loan. These letters are the most common types presented with offers, as many banks can evaluate a borrower, but cannot truly evaluate whether s/he can purchase a particular property until they have a fully executed contract and related documents.
Preapproval: Getting preapproved means that a lender took the time to look at a potential buyer’s documentation of income and assets. Credit scores are pulled, and the buyer is examined more thoroughly. Borrowers must provide 1099′s, W2′s, account statements, employment stubs and other information if necessary. Once the preapproval is drafted it is still not a guaranty that the borrower will get a loan. There are other conditions that must be met, which will become more clear once a property is identified for purchase.
No matter which type of letter is obtained, it is important to obtain one before writing an offer so that the buyer looks strong in the presentation. Many listing agents will not respond to offers unless there is a preapproval or pre-qualification letter submitted simultaneously.
Interestingly, most listing agents do not scrutinize whether a borrower submits a preapproval or pre-qualification letter (and I have found that many do not even know the difference), but many do ask that proof of funds (funds necessary to cover any downpayment) be submitted with an offer and the letter. None of these things provide iron-clad proof that the buyer will qualify for the loan, but they do reassure the seller and listing agent that the potential buyer at least looks positive on paper.
It is important in today’s market – where we are seeing many properties obtaining multiple offers – to look as strong as possible. Taking the extra time at the start to obtain a preapproval is a smart decision that could mean the difference between getting your offer accepted over that of another buyer.
If you are considering purchasing a home, it is important to consult with a mortgage professional right away, so that you can figure out for how much of a loan you will qualify. This will allow you and your real estate agent to focus on properties in the right price range, providing a better chance that you will be able to successfully qualify for a loan when you find the right home.
Images courtesy of Dreamstime
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
So many sellers ask me when they can repurchase after a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy. Following is a great synopsis of when a seller can repurchase after a distressed sale or bankruptcy, based on the type of loan/bankruptcy:
Chapter 7: 2 yrs.
Chapter 13: 2 yrs.
Foreclosure: 3 yrs.
Short Sale: 3 yrs, * unless borrower was not late prior to short sale (on ANY obligation) and was not trying to take advantage of the market.
Chapter 7: 2 yrs.
Chapter 13: 2 yrs.
Foreclosure: 3 yrs.
Short Sale: 3 yrs.
VA High Balance:
Chapter 7: 7 yrs.
Chapter 13: 7 yrs.
Foreclosure: 7 yrs.
Short Sale: 7 yrs.
Chapter 7: 4 yrs.*
Chapter 13: 2 yrs. from discharge date or 4 yrs. from dismissal date*
Foreclosure: 7 yrs.*
Deed in Lieu:
• 2 yrs. if subject loan is 80% ltv or less
• 4 yrs. if subject loan is 90% ltv or less
• 7 yrs. if subject loan is over 90%ltv
• 2 yrs. if subject loan is 80% ltv or less
• 4 yrs. if subject loan is 90% ltv or less
• 7 yrs. if subject loan is over 90% ltv
BK Chapter 7: 4 year waiting period is required measured from the discharge date or dismissal date of the BK. A 2 yr. waiting period is permitted if extenuating circumstances can be documented.
BK Chapter 13: 4 year waiting period is required for a Chapter 13 dismissal. A 2yr. waiting period will be permitted with extenuating circumstances (* See below)
Multiple BK filings: for a borrower with more than one BK filing in the last 7 years, a 5 yr. waiting period is required.
Foreclosure: 7 year waiting period is required, and is measured from the completion date of the foreclosure sale date.
A 3 yr. waiting period is permitted if extenuating circumstances can be documented and the loan-to-value rules are applied, MUST to be a purchase of a principle residence or a limited cash out refinance on an owner occupied, second home or non-owner.
*What are extenuating circumstances? They are non-recurring events that are beyond the borrower’s control that result in a sudden, significant and prolonged reduction in income or a catastrophic increase in financial obligations.
This analysis was provided courtesy of Daniel Dobbs with American Commerce Mortgage. He can be reached at 949-250-3981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
I read an astonishing statistic today: Zillow reported that about 47% of homebuyers think they own a home once they have signed the purchase contract. Not only did this shock me, but it really made me upset. Someone – the agent – is not communicating. This is way too important to not discuss with buyers, and we have to have that conversation with them, every time!
After reading the statistic and tweeting about it, one of my colleagues responded that his clients changed the locks on their soon-to-be new house, before the close of escrow.
I decided to have a look at our residential purchase contract to find language that specifically states WHEN the buyer owns the home for which the contract was written. I could not find any, but there are numerous mentions of escrow and what happens during that period. I suppose those who drafted these contracts either assumed the buyers would figure it out that escrow must actually close before they become home owners, or assumed their agents would explain this.
While I think maybe the contract drafters may want to consider including a layman’s paragraph about actual ownership and and what point that is established, it is also extremely important for the agents to be sure to educate their buyers. Whether or not my buyers want to read it, I briefly explain what is on each page as they are signing, and always suggest they read it.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you are a real estate agent, you need to be candid with your clients. Explain everything, even if you think your clients already know it, or think it is silly you should do so. Buyers: if you do not understand something please ask your agent – that is their job, they have a fiduciary relationship with you and keeping you informed is of utmost importance.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
It is official – Congress has voted to bring back the higher FHA loan limits. The measure, once signed by the President, will push the FHA conforming loan limit in the highest priced real estate markets (like California and New York) to $729,750 through 2013. The current limits cap at $625,500 in these markets; they were cut back as of October 1, because of Congress’ failure to extend them.
The limits had been temporarily raised for FHA and Fannie and Freddie during the financial crisis, when it became more difficult to obtain loans from banks.What does this mean for buyers? In the higher priced markets, it means buyers can get higher loans with lower downpayments, a move that prevents them from being locked out of certain neighborhoods due to lack of extra cash.
The new extension applies only to FHA loans, not Fannie and Freddie. FHA, which is a mortgage insurer (not a lender), provides mortgage insurance to buyers who do not have large enough downpayments to obtain prime loans. Borrowers with FHA loans can put as little as 3.5% down on the purchase of a home.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Friday, September 16th, 2011
Real estate contracts in most states are and have always been pro-buyer, especially here in California. Buyers usually have a contingency period, in which they can complete home inspections, get their loan approved and any other things that are important before contingencies must be removed and they risk losing their initial deposit. What most people don’t know is that a buyer needs to have a legitimate reason to cancel the contract, even during the contingency period.
The California Residential Purchase Contract (RPA) gives the buyer several “outs” that allow the buyer to cancel the contract without being penalized and losing the initial deposit.
1. Loan contingency. This is one of the main reasons contracts cancel. The buyer’s lender uses the contingency period – standard is 17 days unless the agent wrote in a different number – to get the buyer’s loan approved. During this time period if the lender finds the buyer cannot qualify for a loan, the buyer can effectively cancel the contract.
2. Appraisal contingency. Likewise, all loans rely on appraisals of the property involved. If the property does not appraise for the agreed purchase price the lender will not fund a loan. The buyer at this juncture can go to the seller and renegotiate the purchase price as per the appraisal. If the seller refuses to do so the buyer can cancel the contract. However, it is important to keep in mind that once a buyer hands the appraisal over to a seller, the seller is made aware of the appraised value of the property in respect to potential future buyers. If the seller’s property cannot appraise for the amount he desires, his only hope of getting that amount is to find an all cash buyer who does not mind paying more than appraised value – good luck with that one.
3. Buyer’s right to accept the condition of and matters affecting the property. If during the contingency period the buyer discovers there are problems or issues with the property that the buyer does not want to or cannot afford to deal with, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract. Some examples include where the buyer’s home inspector discovers a plumbing or electrical problem that will be costly or is dangerous, and the seller will not agree to take care of it; a cracked slab, necessity for a new roof, additions not built to code, or if there is an easement on the property that could effect use and enjoyment of the property, or a myriad of other issues. The contract protects the buyer’s right to back out upon discovering issues that make the property less habitable or otherwise affect the condition.
4. Breach of seller’s duties. If the seller does not provide certain documents to the buyer on time, such as property and statutory disclosures, it may be cause for cancellation of the contract. The buyer must wait until the expiration of the time period and then provide a written notice to perform to the seller. If the seller does not do so in the time period provided the buyer may cancel the contract. Time periods are specified in the contract.
The California Residential Purchase Contract is written with protection of the buyer as a high priority. No one wants to sell a home to a buyer who is unhappy about it (or, let me rephrase that – I certainly do not want to do that, and most agents feel similarly). Look at your contingency period as a time to gather all the information you will need, so that you understand any faults associated with the property.
Most sellers will work with buyers on repair requests, but keep in mind that ALL homes in California are sold as is – the seller has no obligation to make any repairs. Limit your requests to those items that are dangerous or alter the habitability or enjoyment of the property. Lastly, keep in mind that in short sale situations and most foreclosure cases, the lender will not agree to any requests for repairs.
Happy home hunting! Please let me know if you have any questions I can answer about the purchase contract or the purchase process. I will be happy to address them in a subsequent blog…just make your suggestions below.
Sunday, August 21st, 2011
These days it is more difficult than ever before to qualify for a loan. Lenders have such a tight grip on their money that they practically require you to sign over your firstborn to release it. Many buyers find themselves in tricky situations – first time buyers who might not have enough cash or credit scores that are not practically off the top of the charts, and move-up buyers who may not have enough equity in their homes for downpayments. But there is an option that may make home buying possible: FHA loans.
FHA loans have been popular with first time buyers for some time, as they offer low rates, underwriting standards that are not as strict, and only require very minimum downpayments. Furthermore, these loans allow use of rent history for qualification purposes – a great help for those who have never owned. But more recently repeat buyers have been discovering these types of loans, allowing many to purchase when they do not have the cash reserves available for a traditional 20% downpayment.
There are requirements for FHA loans – the buyer must be purchasing the home as a primary residence, have reasonable credit scores, and be able to afford monthly payments, for starters – and these can vary depending on county or state, so it is imperative to consult with an FHA-approved mortgage lender. If you need referrals please let me know. If you are considering a home purchase you should definitely look into FHA loans.
Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
Home Prices Show Slight Increase Heading into Summer. San Diego home prices rose slightly in April over compared to March, 0.4%, ending a four-month price dip across the county. Prices were still lower than they were the same time a year ago, and analysts claim the rise is due to the start of the spring/summer buying season.
Median Market Time for San Diego County Homes Rises. San Diego County homes showed an increase in median market time in May, up to 70 days, according to Realtor.com, lower than the national average of 92 days. Normal market time in the county is about 50-60 days. Median market time is the average time a home is listed on the market. In these more challenging times it is imperative to start a home sale at the right price, so speak with your agent about area comparables, amenities, condition and location of your home and neighborhood to attain the best price and attract buyers.
Half of pending properties in California are short sales or REOs. This may come as no surprise to those who follow the market, and it is great news for buyers. A recent study by the California Association of Realtors found that 28% of buyers who bought property last month purchased REO (lender-owned, or post-foreclosure) properties, and 19% of pending homes sales last month were short sales. The good news, aside from the fact that this inventory is being sold (leaving the market to push toward normalcy), is that these properties are priced lower than traditional sales, allowing the buyer to get a great deal.
Oversight Mandated for National Banks. As part of the regulatory settlement for the robo-signing scandal, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has announced new rules by which all national banks under it’s supervision must adhere. The rules basically require the banks to assess their own foreclosure management processes by September 30, 2011. Banks are also ordered to suspend foreclosure proceedings while working with homeowners on possible loan modifications (this is big news)…although the languages does state “when possible.” Hmmm. There are a slew of other rules as well, so let’s hope this will be a start to lender oversight.
Fannie and Freddie Offer Deals to Save Buyers Money on Home Purchases. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are sweetening the price of homeownership by offering great deals to buyers. Sitting on over 200,000 foreclosed homes combined across the country, these two companies are eager to dispose of their inventory, so if you are a new homebuyer (sorry folks, no investors allowed) you could be eligible for up to 3.5% of the home price paid in closing costs. They are also rewarding your real estate agent with a $1200 bonus. FYI: to qualify for these programs the home must close escrow by October 31 for Fannie homes and September 30 close dates (with contract dates no later than July 31) for Freddie homes. For more information go to http://www.homepath.com/ (Fannie) or http://homesteps.com/ (Freddie).