Archive for the ‘Short Sales’ category

How to Fight Foreclosure

September 21, 2012

The Truth about the 3.8% Obama’s HealthCare Plan

September 4, 2012

The Truth about the 3.8% Obama’s Healthcare plan

by bradpearson

I’m sure you’ve gotten the chain e-mails, read the websites, or had your clients, friends, or family ask you about the 3.8% tax under the “Obamacare” plan. Needless to say, I’ve had many of our agents forward them to me from their clients asking if I “knew about this”. Every time, I simply forward the truth from NAR’s website. These chain e-mails have ridiculous examples like “if you sell a $100,000 home after Jan. 1, 2013, you will have to pay $3,800 in tax”. This couldn’t be further from the truth! I’m a devout Republican, so putting politics aside, these emails are complete fear tactics created to detract from the Obama Administration and Obama’s Health Care initiative. They’re not true and end up getting believed by people who don’t know how to use Google to verify facts before panicking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the tax, I don’t agree with it, but it’s not AS bad as it’s being made out to be and I simply don’t want us to get caught up in spreading incorrect information received in chain e-mails.

Of course as Realtors, we can NEVER give out TAX advice, and should always refer TAX questions to the appropriate professionals, but we can simply forward the correct information as published by a reliable 3rd party.

Below I have attached a link to download the National Association of Realtors PDF booklet that very clearly and simply explains the new law. It has simple scenarios as well as examples to make it easy to understand who this tax would apply to.

Click image to download PDF

Short Sale vs Foreclosure – 10 Common Myths Busted

June 5, 2012

It’s likely you’ve heard the term “short sale” thrown around quite a bit. But what, exactly, is a short sale?

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept less than the total amount owed on a mortgage to avoid having to foreclose on the property. This is not a new practice; banks have been doing short sales for years. Only recently, due to the current state of the housing market and economy, has this process become a part of the public consciousness.

To be eligible for a short sale you first have to qualify!

To qualify for a short sale:

Your house must be worth less than you owe on it.
You must be able to prove that you are the victim of a true financial hardship, such as a decrease in wages, job loss, or medical condition that has altered your ability to make the same income as when the loan was originated. Divorce, estate situations, etc… also qualify.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what a short sale is, there are some huge misconceptions when it comes to a short sale vs. a foreclosure. We take the most common myths surrounding both short sales and foreclosures and give a brief explanation. LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS!!

1.) If you let your home go to foreclosure you are done with the situation and you can walk away with a clean slate.  The reality is that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth in most situations. You could end up with an IRS tax liability and still owing the bank money. Let me explain. Please keep in mind that if your property does go into foreclosure you may be liable for the difference of what is owed on the property versus what is sells for at auction, in the form of a deficiency balance! Please note this is state specific and in most states you will be liable for the shortfall, but in some states the bank may not always be able to pursue the debt. Check your state law as it varies widely from state to state.

Here is an example of how a deficiency balance works

If you owe $200,000 on the property and it sells at auction for $150,000, you could be liable for the $50,000 difference if your state law allows it.

Not only could you be liable for the difference to the bank, but in some situations you could also be liable to the IRS! Although there are exemptions (mostly for principle residences) under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, there are times when you could be taxed on both a short sale and a foreclosure, even in a principle residence situation. Since the tax code on this is a little complicated and I am not a CPA, I advise always talking to a CPA when in this situation as you are weighing your options. Hard to believe?  Well, believe it or not, the IRS counts the difference between the sale and the charged off debt as a “gain” on your taxes. That’s right-you lost money and it’s counted as a gain! (I didn’t make that rule, that’s a wonderful brainchild of the IRS). Banks and the IRS can go as far as attaching your wages. Not to mention if you let your home go to foreclosure you will have that on your credit, as well.

Guess What?  A short sale can alleviate your liability to the bank, in most situations. There are also exceptions to this, but in most cases banks are releasing homeowners from the deficiency balance on a short sale.

2.) There are no options to avoid foreclosure. Now more than ever, there are options to avoid foreclosure. Besides a short sale, loan modifications along with deed in lieu are also examples of the many options. In most cases (but not all) a short sale is the best option. Either way, there are more options today than there have ever been to avoid foreclosure.

3.) Banks do not want to participate in a short sale, or, it is too hard to qualify for a short sale. Banks would rather perform a short sale than a foreclosure any day. A foreclosure takes a long time and creates a huge expense for the banks; a short sale saves both time and money. Banks have more foreclosure inventory than ever before, and certainly do not want any more. Banks more than ever welcome short sales. Qualifying for a short sale is easier than you think, you need to have a true financial hardship, or a change in your finances and your house has to be worth less than what you owe on it. Not only do consumers, but banks also now have government incentive to participate in short sales.

4.) Short sales are not that common. At this present time, short sales range from 10-50 % of sales in various markets and it is predicted that in 2012 we will have more short sales than any other year, to date. Due to economic changes in the last few years, this is something that is affecting millions of Americans. Short sales are in every market, and are not just limited to any particular income class. This has affected everyone from all facets of life. A short sale should be looked at as a helpful tool, not a negative stigma. That is why the government is offering programs that actually pay consumers to participate in short sales. It is not just affecting one community; it is affecting communities and consumers across the nation.

5.) The short sale process is too difficult and they often get denied. Though the short sale process is time consuming; it is not as difficult as the media would have you believe. The problem is that most short sales are denied because of a misunderstanding of the process.  It is true that if the short sale process is not followed correctly there is a good chance of getting denied. An experienced agent knows how to avoid this. Short sales require a lot of experience, and a special skill set. If you are looking to go the option of a short sale make sure your agent is skilled and experienced in this area.

6.) Short sales will cost me money out of pocket.  A short sale should not cost you any out of pocket money. In fact, you could get between $3000-up to $30,000 to participate in a short sale. In many ways, a short sale may put you in a better financial position than prior to the short sale. Almost every short sale program now has some type of financial incentive for the home owner, as long as it is a principle residence, and we are even seeing relocation money being paid on some investment/second homes. As a seller of a property you should never have to pay for any short sale cost upfront to any professional service. Realtors charge a commission that is paid for by the bank. In most communities there are also non-profits and HUD counselors who can help you with foreclosure prevention options for free. The only potential cost you could incur is if the bank would not release you from a deficiency balance in the short sale, which is happening less and less now.

7.) If I am behind on my payments, I can perform a short sale any time. The farther you get behind on your payments, the harder it is to get a short sale approved. The closer a property gets to a foreclosure the harder it is to convince the bank to perform a short sale. As they get closer to a foreclosure sale more money is spent, thus deterring them from doing a short sale. If you think you need to perform a short sale, time is of the essence; the sooner you start the process, the better. Waiting too long can trigger the ramifications of a foreclosure, losing the ability to do a short sale as a viable option.

8.) I have already been sent a foreclosure notice so I can’t perform a short sale. For the most part just because you received a foreclosure notice or notice of default it does not mean that you do not have time to perform a short sale. The timeline and specifics do vary from state to state, but having done short sales all over the country, I have seen banks postpone a foreclosure to work a short sale option as close as 30 days prior to the scheduled foreclosure auction, but the longer you wait the less chance you have. If you have received a legal foreclosure notice, please reach out to a professional right away. The longer you wait, and the closer you get to foreclosure, the fewer options you have. If you have received a notice to foreclose this means the bank is filing paperwork and starting the process to take legal action to repossess the house. You still have time at this point to prevent foreclosure, but do not hesitate! The closer you get to the foreclosure date the harder it becomes to negotiate with the bank for whichever option you choose.

9.) I was denied for a loan modification, so I know I will get denied for a short sale.  Short sales and loan modifications are handled by two separate departments at the bank. These processes are totally different in approval and denial. If you got denied for a modification you can still apply for a short sale; in some cases you can get a short sale approved faster than a loan modification, as some loan modifications are denied because they cannot reduce the loan low enough based on the  consumers income.

10.) If I go through a short sale I cannot buy another house for a long time. The time to buy another house depends on your entire credit picture and can vary from 12-24 months. There are even a few FHA programs that allow for a purchase sooner than that. I have worked with clients who went through a short sale and bought another house in less than 12 months.

These are just a few of the common myths surrounding short sales and foreclosure. With the options available today, no homeowner should ever have to go through foreclosure, and hopefully this information can help a few more homeowners think twice before walking away from their home not realizing the possible long term ramifications a foreclosure can have.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act: Will It Be Extended?

May 17, 2012

Many of our readers have asked whether or not we believe the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007will be extended past its current expiration scheduled for the end of the year. As a reminder, the legislation ensures that homeowners who received principal reductions or other forms of debt forgiveness on their primary residences do not have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.

The reason this act is important in today’s housing market is that, without the act, debt reduced through mortgage modifications or short sales qualifies as income to the borrower and is taxable. If the legislation is not extended, then it would require homeowners to complete a short sale or modification prior to year’s end in order to avoid a tax consequence.

In February, DSNews reported:

“Obama’s FY2013 budget proposal includes an extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007…

In the Treasury’s Green Book, its summary explanation of the administration’s budget proposal, it calls for an extension of the tax break due to “the continued importance of facilitating home mortgage modifications.”

The administration is proposing an extension that would apply to any amounts forgiven before January 1, 2015.”

In today’s political environment, the passage of any budget proposal could be considered doubtful. However, both parties seem to be in agreement that this provision should be extended. We can only hope that it doesn’t fall victim to an election year.

Disclaimer: As with all tax issues, we strongly suggest you consult with your accountant to find out how this may impact you and your family.
Repost: KCM Blog

The Vicious Cycle of Foreclosures

September 30, 2011

C.A.R. Short Sale Lender Satisfaction Survey

March 10, 2011

Note from Sally:  Another reason why hiring the right Realtor is so crucial.  What this survey does not measure is how many of the short sales were held up, delayed, and failed as the result of the Real Estate agent not having the training, experience and resources to accept the job of handling this kind of transaction.

Contact Sally Radi to get an experienced short sale Realtor to handle your sale and don’t take any chances!

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For release:
March 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES (March 8) – Fewer than three of five short sales close in California, illustrating the complexity and difficulty of navigating lenders’ and servicers’ short sale procedures, according to a Short Sale Lender Satisfaction Survey conducted by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).  The survey gauges REALTORS®’ experience in working with short sale transactions – transactions in which the lender or lenders agree to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner.

“It’s disappointing that less than three in five short sales close, despite every effort by the REALTOR®, home seller and potential home buyer,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce.  “Many underwater homeowners who have been hit by the recent economic crisis can no longer afford to stay in their home and just need to sell their home as expeditiously as possible are unable to largely because of the complex and cumbersome short sale process,” she said.

Of the REALTORS® surveyed, 94 percent participated in a short sale transaction during 2010, demonstrating the surplus of short sale listings in today’s real estate environment.

The most frequent problems REALTORS® cited in working with lenders and servicers during the short sale process include unresponsiveness, onerous procedures, and long processing delays.

Nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of REALTORS® said that closing their most recent short sale transaction with a lender or servicer was “difficult” or “extremely difficult,” while only 10 percent said it was “easy” or “extremely easy.”

“The lack of standardization, long approval process, and lack of lender approvals are hampering what should be a 45-day short sale process,” said Peerce.  “Instead we’re hearing the typical response time for lenders is at least 60 days, and in many instances, their response time exceeds 6 months.”

More than half (63 percent) of REALTORS® said that lenders took more than 60 days to return a written response of the approval or disapproval of the short sale agreement submitted.  Only 4 percent said they received a written response in less than 14 days.

Additionally, 44 percent of REALTORS® said that lenders took more than five business days to return any form of communication to REALTORS®.  Only 14 percent said lenders responded “within one business day.”

“The survey results show that the short sale system is clearly flawed and must be standardized and streamlined to reduce the inventory of foreclosures,” said Peerce.  “Increasing the number of successful short sale transactions is one important way we can help California families avoid foreclosure and move our economy closer to recovery,” she added.

Further illustrating faulty communication problems, 64 percent of REALTORS® were “not satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the timeliness of lenders’ response to their inquiries, while only 22 percent said they were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied.”

Moreover, nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of REALTORS® were “not satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the amount of time it took to hear whether a transaction was approved or disapproved, while 16 percent said they were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied.”

In overall satisfaction with the lender they worked with, 67 percent of REALTORS® were “not satisfied” or “not at all satisfied,” while 19 percent were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied.”

C.A.R.’s Short Sale Lender Satisfaction Survey was conducted during the last two weeks of December 2010 to gauge REALTORS®’ experience in working with lenders or servicers of short sales, bank-owned properties (REOs), and foreclosures.  The survey was delivered to 20,000 REALTORS®, with 2,150 responding to the survey.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 160,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

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Navigating Short Sales: What to do when the sales price leaves you!

February 9, 2011

Navigating Short Sales: What to Do When the Sale Price Leaves You Short

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
• 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.

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.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.

Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.