How to Fight Foreclosure

Posted September 21, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: News, Short Sales

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Housing Market Year Over Year

Posted September 21, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: News

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The Truth about the 3.8% Obama’s HealthCare Plan

Posted September 4, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: New Listings, News, Short Sales, Uncategorized

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

Posted June 5, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: Short Sales

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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?

Posted May 17, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: Short Sales

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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

Warren Buffett: It’s Time to Buy Real Estate

Posted March 13, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: News

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Warren Buffett appeared live on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week. During the interview, he was asked about the current real estate market and whether he felt now was the time to buy. His response was rather emphatic and has been used as a headline in hundreds of articles since the interview:

“If I had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes I would load up on them.”

However, throughout the interview, he addressed the market from a few angles. Here is what he said:

Why invest in real estate now?

“It’s a way, in effect, to short the dollar because you can take a 30-year mortgage and if it turns out your interest rate’s too high, next week you refinance lower. And if it turns out it’s too low, the other guy’s stuck with it for 30 years. So it’s a very attractive asset class now.”

Is buying your own home better than investing in stocks right now?

“If I knew where I was going to want to live the next five or 10 years I would buy a home and I’d finance it with a 30-year mortgage… It’s a terrific deal.”

Should we buy multiple houses?

“If I was an investor that was a handy type and I could buy a couple of them at distressed prices and find renters, I think it’s a leveraged way of owning a very cheap asset now and I think that’s probably as an attractive an investment as you can make now.”

Over the last couple of months, there have been more and more financial analysts coming to the same conclusion: It’s time to buy real estate.

House Prices: Window of Opportunity Beginning to Close

Posted March 6, 2012 by sallyradi
Categories: News

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There have been conflicting opinions as to where housing prices are headed. We want to give our opinion on this subject for the short term. We believe sellers have a window of opportunity for the next 90-120 days in most parts of the country in which to sell their homes for maximum price. We believe there will be increased downward pressure on home prices throughout the rest of the year.

Why renewed downward pressure?

Any item’s price is determined by ‘supply and demand’. In many parts of the country, existing housing inventory has dropped to historic norms in the last few months. However, an inventory of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) will be coming to market this year. This inventory has been delayed for over a year as the Federal and state governments crafted an agreement with the five largest banks and mortgage servicers to establish a roadmap for how a foreclosure must be properly completed. That agreement, the National Mortgage Settlement, was reached two weeks ago.

What Impact Will the Agreement Have on Foreclosures?

Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac, explains:

“The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year.”

How Many Foreclosures Could We Be Talking About?

Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities tells us:

“The settlement helps the housing market in the long run because it allows banks to proceed with millions of foreclosures that have been stalled.”

What will this mean to home prices?

As this inventory comes to market, it will impact prices in two ways:

It will bring to market discounted competition for buyers
It will impact the appraisal values of all homes in the area
Which States Will Be Impacted the Most?

The states that have the largest backlog of properties currently in the foreclosure process will be the states that will see the greatest price depreciation.

Bottom Line

There is a window of opportunity currently which sellers should take advantage of. Waiting until later this year will not guarantee a higher sales price. If anything, in many regions of the country, it probably guarantees the exact opposite.

KCM blog repost!