Shopping for Your Home

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well folks you've heard it over and over again, Now is the time to buy.

According to NAR president Vicki Cox Golder, “Inventories have steadily declined and are closer to balanced levels, which indicate home prices in many areas are either stabilizing or could soon stabilize and return to normal appreciation patterns,” she said. “This means buyers still have good choices but are purchasing near the bottom of the price cycle with historically low mortgage interest rates. Throw a tax credit on top and it really doesn’t get any better for buyers with secure jobs and long-term ownership plans.” A very important thing to remember is that we don't know when we "hit bottom" until it has hit and prices rise, so don't miss the boat!

You can get more for you buck according to housing researcher Global Insight, which found housing values were about 10 percent undervalued, based on a model that examines interest rates, household incomes, population, and historical price patterns.

According to a study by Local Market Monitor for Forbes magazine, on average, housing markets on the West Coast lost the most value – 21.6 percent since their peak. Florida lost 31 percent. The Northeast lost an average of 8.6 percent, and the Midwest on average lost only 5.6 percent. Check out my FEATURED PROPERTIES!!!

Question? Comments?
Contact me


Friday, December 4, 2009

Treasury puts the "SQUEEZE" on banks, Should you STAY or should you GO, Pending sales RISE!

The Treasury plans to put the "SQUEEZE" on banks!

Yes, it's now time to play hardball Mr. Lender, Uncle Sam plans to fine you for not increasing the number of homeowners you help with modifications. Also in the works is a
published list of the worst banking offenders as well as withholding cash incentives until loan modifications are made permanent. Our government is
expecting 375,000 home owners to be eligible for permanent mortgage reductions by the end of 2009.

Should I STAY or Should I GO?
Many upside down homeowners are asking themselves this question.

Fact - a foreclosure ruins your credit score, complicates future transactions and will make it difficult to rent or buy a vehicle. Glen Kelman, chief executive at, believes people should consider throwing in the towel. He has said, "I think there are a lot of people who don't walk away from their house for moral reasons that are economically irrational."

Some experts believe that foreclosures will be viewed differently in this era. According to Todd J. Zywicki, a bankruptcy expert at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Va, "This is a once-in-a-century real estate market. The question that FICO will be asking itself is, is a foreclosure in 2008 and
2009 the same as a foreclosure in 1998, 1999 or 2003 and 2004?"

Pending sales have risen consecutively for nine months!
According to the National Associations of Realtors, contracts signed in
October, increased 3.7 percent to 114.1 from 110.0 in September, and is 31.8 percent above October 2008 when it was 86.6.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home sales are experiencing a
pendulum swing. “Keep in mind that housing had been under performing over most of the past year. Based on the demographics of our growing population,
existing-home sales should be in the range of 5.5 million to 6.0 million annually, but we were well below the 5-million mark before the home buyer tax credit
stimulus,” he said. “This means the tax credit is help
ing unleash a pent-up demand from a large pool of financially qualified renters, much more than borrowing sales from the future."

Questions? Comments?


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goals, components and benefits of the Affordable Health Care for America Act

House passes Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) by a VERY NARROW MARGIN - 220-215 VOTES!!!

Our house speaker Nancy Pelosi stated this had bipartisan support even though the majority of Republicans opposed the bill (only one Republican vote by Rep. Joseph Cao of LA). Thirty-nine Democrats joined the 167 Republican NAY votes. Now, the Senate needs to pass its own health-care bill, then the two bills need to be combined in some manner and voted on again. The REAL fight is just beginning...

The key goals of this bill are:

  • slow the growth in out of control costs

  • introduce competition into the health care marketplace in order to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest (good luck)

  • protect your choice of doctor and health plan

  • assure that all us Americans get access to quality, stable, affordable health care (key word "access")

It restricts insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition or charging higher premiums based on gender or medical history. It also provides federal subsidies to those of us who cannot afford health insurance and it guarantees coverage for 96% of our citizens.

Key components include:

  • Increasing choice and competition

  • Giving peace of mind

  • Improving quality care

  • Ensuring shared responsibility

  • Protecting consumers and reducing waste, fraud and abuse

  • Reducing the deficit by ensuring the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid

So how do you benefit?

  • Ends discrimination for pre-existing medical conditions

  • No dropped coverage if you become sick

  • No co-pays for preventative care

  • Yearly caps on what you pay

  • No caps on what insurance companies pay

  • Improves focus on wellness and prevention

  • Lowers costs over the long term by cutting down fraud, waste and abuse

  • Strengthens medicare

Stay tuned for a breakdown of what our Senate proposes!!!

Questions? Comments?

Contact me @


Monday, November 9, 2009

$8000 Home Buyer Tax Credit EXTENDED!!!

Well as we all know, last Friday our Prez signed signed into law a bill that includes an extension of the $8000 home buyer tax credit to April 30, 2010.
Expected is a 22 billion dollar contribution to our economy. More people are now eligible to take advantage of the law, which includes a $6,500 tax credit for buyers who are current home owners and have lived in their home for five of the past eight years. Also, income limits for eligible home buyers were also expanded to $125,000 for single buyers and $225,000 for couples. Qualifying home prices are capped at $800,000!

Click here to view NAR's chart of compiled facts regarding changes made to the current tax credit!!!

NAR estimates that approximately three million renters are now financially qualified to purchase a median priced home. Lawrence Yun (NAR chief economist) states, "“As long as buyers do not overstretch and stay well within their budget, a sizable pent-up demand can be tapped among financially qualified potential buyers..."

So if you are on the fence or just don't know if you qualify


contact me and together we will see where you stand...


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do you have a MOLD & MILDEW clause in your rental agreement?

Dear Ruben,

I am having an issue with mold and mildew in my apartment for many months and have contacted my landlord. He still has not fixed the problem stating he is too busy. What can I do? Can I withhold rent until it's fixed or get it fixed and deduct from rent?

The first thing you must do is check your rental agreement for a MOLD and MILDEW clause. Unfortunately we here in Florida have climate conducive to the growth of mold and mildew and it's necessary to provide adequate ventilation and dehumidification. The clause usually states the tenant agrees to properly ventilate and dehumidify the unit and that the landlord will not be responsible for damages to the premises or tenant's personal property due to mold and mildew.

Now, indoor air quality complaints for apartments and hotels are regulated as public lodging establishments by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Divisions of Hotels and Restaurants. I would strongly advise you to first file a complaint with the DBPR by calling 850-487-1395 or online.

As far as your landlord's responsibilities, he is to comply with all applicable building, housing and health codes, so a complaint filed with the DBPR will start the ball rolling.

The Florida real estate law concerning withholding rent is as follows:

Providing that the lease or rental agreement is silent on the procedure of repairs and maintenance and that the responsibility is solely your landlord's you first must give written notice giving a minimum of 20 business days to complete (include an exact date to be completed). I STRONGLY suggest notice be sent certified mail with return receipt!!!
If no action is taken by the landlord, my advice would be to again give written notice by certified mail and return receipt advising the landlord that the rent is being placed with the registry of the court. This will offset eviction if your landlord chooses to evict you for non payment of rent.

Here are some links that may be of help...

Indoor Mold and Health

Tenants Rights, Laws and Protections

Good Luck and please contact me with any other questions or concerns @


Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama admin at it again, CAUTION first time home buyers, Mortgage rates hold steady!

Unable to make your mortgage payment due to job loss?
Help may be on the way!

The Obama administration is at it AGAIN. Talks with major lenders, economists and Uncle Sam officials have opened over the possibility of helping unemployed homeowners who no longer can afford their mortgages due to job loss. Assistance may range from skipping payments to grants or loans that will temporarily cover mortgage payments.
Stay tuned for more info....

Caution First Time Buyers!!!
Are you hoping to close before the November 30th expiration credit date?

Don't charge anything!!! Lenders are running credit checks prior to closing and any additional debt may jeopardize your loan. Even inquiries may alert the lender, so NO PURCHASES until after closing.

Mortgage rates holding steady!!!

According to Freddie Mac, for the week ending on September 24th, a 30 year fixed held at 5.04%, which is down 6.09% from a year ago.

Other rates:
15 year fixed dipped from 4.47% to 4.46%
5 year hybrid adjustables were flat at 4.51%
1 year ARMS fell from 4.58% to 4.52%

Questions? Comments?
Contact me @



Tuesday, August 25, 2009


According to the National Association of Home Business and Wells Fargo, if your household earnings reaches our nation's median income of $64,000 a year YOU could afford to buy 72.3% of all homes sold in the U.S. WOW!!!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FHA 203(k) LOAN PROGRAM! This program lets an owner occupied buyer borrow money for both the purchase and renovation all in ONE loan and guess what? YOU only put 3.5% down! Check out

$8000 TAX CREDIT (EXPIRES NOVEMBER 30TH)! Hurry up buyers because the process can take approximately 2 month, so YOU will need to have a contract by the end of September!!! Check out

...and of course THE FIRST TIME BUYER LOAN PROGRAMS! Check out the link on my FAVS list!



Saturday, August 15, 2009

FED declared recession is ENDING, Sellers continue price cuts & Forbes releases top 10 leading cities

The Federal Reserve declared the recession is ENDING,
"Economic activity is leveling out." Our main money holder ended the policy making meeting last Wednesday stating it will leave rates alone; however will be ending its program to buy $300 billion worth of Treasury bonds by the end of October.

Almost 1/4 of home sellers cut prices in July reports nearly 25% of all US home sales on August 1st had a price cut in July.

  • Cities showing significant increases in the percentage of listings with price cuts from June 1 to Aug. 1 were:
    Fresno, Calif.: 67 percent
    Colorado Springs, Colo.: 27 percent
    Kansas City, Mo.: 25 percent
    Oklahoma City, Okla.: 24 percent
    Albuquerque, N.M.: 22 percent.

  • Cities with significant declines in the percentage of listings with price reductions included:
    Dallas: -42 percent
    Las Vegas: -33 percent
    Louisville, Ky.: -33 percent
    Los Angeles: -19 percent
    Washington, D.C.: -17 percent

Forbes' 10 leading cities leading MARKET RECOVERY 4 are located in CALIFORNIA!
1. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2. Lincoln, NE
3. Colorado Springs, CO
4. Salem, OR
5. San Luis Obispo, CA
6. Bremerton, WA
7. Denver, CO
8. Redding, CA
9. Santa Barbara, CA
10. San Jose, CA
Contact me @

Friday, July 24, 2009

Have we hit BOTTOM?

Let's recap...

  • Mortgage rates still low

  • Home prices at a historic low

  • Government incentives for first time buyers (see my fav links)


Inventory is shrinking. According to the National Association of Realtors, housing inventory peaked in November 2008 at an 11 month supply. In May 2009 it fell to 9.6 month supply. Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace. Great news for you sellers, as we all know when inventory decreases home prices begin to increase!!!

Investors are helping in the price increase, they KNOW a good deal when they see it (they are who keep me as well as this market moving FORWARD) and KNOW that real estate is a sure thing. These wise movers and shakers are biding thousands above original asking prices on foreclosures KNOWING that real estate ALWAYS makes a comeback!

Existing home sales increased 3.6% to an adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from 4.72 mil in May. NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, is optomistic, “The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,” he says. “We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax-credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions."

Freddie Mac reports the average rate rose 5.2% for a 30-year fixed mortgage this week rose to from 5.14% a week ago.

Don't let this GREAT opportunity slip away!!!

Contact me NOW!!!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Proof!!! Real Estate market is on the RISE!!!

YES, the stock market is still sketchy; YES, the "GLOBAL RECESSION" makes it difficult to see light at the end of our recession tunnel. SURPRISE! the real estate market is showing strong positive signs!!!

According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales (signed contracts in escrow) rose nearly 7%!

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's survey ending July 3rd, another near 7% increase in home purchase applications!

On average interest rates last week were 5.3% for a 30 year fixed and 4.8 for a 15 year fixed!

Orawin Velz, economic forecaster for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a commentary that "the steady improvements in pending home sales are encouraging," and confirm the view that existing home sales hit their cyclical bottom in January and are likely to continue to rise in the coming months.
Since the January low point, she noted, the Realtors' pending sale index is up by 13 percent.

A new California Association of Realtors survey showed 68% of buyers were swayed off the fence, rather pushed by the great deals available. YES, many of these deals are short sales and foreclosures, but keep in mind the sooner WE absorb theses "distressed" properties the sooner the market will readjust and our equity will again RISE!!!

For more info contact me!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Programs Target Low-Income Buyers

YES!!! More to celebrate this FOURTH OF JULY!!!

Under the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, many new state and local initiatives are expected to roll out in the next few weeks that will help middle- and low-income families buy foreclosed homes in hard-hit neighborhoods.

In all, about $5 billion is available, including $50 million in technical assistance to get the programs up and running. Regulations limit participation to households earning no more than 120 percent of the median income with 25 percent of the money going to families earning less than half the median. The funds must be used for primary residences in communities with the highest incidences of foreclosures and subprime loans.

There also will be a lease-to-own program.The Neighborhood Stabilization Program was authorized last summer, but it has been rolling out slowly because the volume of paperwork involved has stymied communities.

***compliments of, Les Christie (06/24/2009)


Sunday, June 14, 2009


It's looking good peeps! The economy, especially the housing market is making its way back up the latter. Let's look at some geographical stats:

Northeast: The Pending Home Sales Index shot up 32.6 percent to 78.9 in April and is 0.8 percent above a year ago.
Midwest: The index rose 9.8 percent to 90.4 and is 11.1 percent above April 2008.
South: The index slipped 0.2 percent to 93 in April but is 3.5 percent higher than a year ago.
West: The index rose 1.8 percent to 94.8 but is 2.9 percent below April 2008.

According to our money guru Bernanke,
"We continue to expect economic activity to bottom out, then to turn up later this year. Key elements of this forecast are our assessments that the housing market is beginning to stabilize. Final demand should also be supported by fiscal and monetary stimulus."

In Cali, our economic epicenter, data suggests that housing prices nationally could start to rebound relatively soon. That data includes two consecutive monthly gains in the median price of existing homes. In April, single-family median home price rose 1.4 percent to $256,700 YEAH!!!

As I have mentioned before, KUDOS to all you investors out there, you are key to our UPTURN! Some investment companies like Discovery Enterprises are snapping up foreclosed properties at bargain basement prices. Then financing buyers with small down payments and less than perfect credit. Keep in mind that many of these properties are in need of work, so more jobs are created YIPPEE!!!

Comments, Suggestions, Questions?


Saturday, June 6, 2009


YES, it's true first time buyers, as I have stressed before, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?Now that $8000 tax credit given to you by our Obama administration (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) can now be applied to your closing costs!

FHA approved lenders can now develop bridge loans under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that first time homebuyers can use toward:




Keep in mind that you would still need to come up with the 3.5 percent down needed, however there are many sources out there to help you with that downpayment. Some states have developed their own tax credit bridge loan programs giving buyers the tax credit upfront to cover all or part of their downpayment.

Contact me for more info:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Renters, Know Your Rights!

I was awaken from a deep sleep a couple of nights ago from a VERY high strung individual, ok drama queen, BOY ABOUT TOWN, regarding his continuing rental nightmare and I know that many of you are experiencing similar issues, so I decided to give all you renters some tips and facts. First of all, before you decide to rent from anyone, DO SOME RESEARCH about the owner and management company. Ask current tenants, past tenants and neighbors about them and their experiences with them. It will definitely decrease the chances of being victim to unwanted rental problems caused by non-caring, unresponsive landlords (slumlords).

Before You Rent

If the property manager says the deposit will be returned whether you decide to rent the apartment or not, always get that verbal promise in writing.
Request a written lease that clearly states all the terms. Oral leases are subject to misunderstandings and are more difficult to enforce.

If there is no written lease, how your make your rental payment (weekly, monthly, etc.) determines the length of the agreement.

Before signing a rental agreement make sure you understand the terms of the contract. If you don't understand, don't sign the lease!

Before signing a rental agreement do a walk-through while listing any problems that should be fixed before you rent. Verbal promises made by the landlord should ALWAYS be included or attached as a written agreement to the lease and signed by the landlord.

A security deposit is one of the most common requirements of landlords. Include any and all problems or potential problems such as broken fixtures, worn rugs, ripped linoleum, broken tile, etc. in your walk-through list.

Know the difference between a security deposit and an , administrative fee or processing fee; usually only security deposits are refundable.

Your Landlord's Responsibilities

1. The roof must not leak.
2. The walls must be weather-tight and in good repair.
3. The stairs must be safe for normal use and maintained in good repair.
4. Windows and doors must be weather-tight, water-tight, rodent-proof and kept in sound working condition. Outside doors have to have proper locks.
5. Window panes cannot have cracks and holes. Outside windows must have screens.
6. Inside floors, walls, ceilings must be basically rodent-proof and kept in sound condition and good repair and should be safe.
7. The house or apartment must have hot water that is connected to the kitchen and bathroom sinks, tub or shower.
8. All houses or apartments must have a flushing toilet in good working condition.
9. When cooking and heating equipment are provided by the landlord, they must be safely installed and in good working order.
10. There must be adequate garbage disposal facilities or garbage storage containers.
11. Every habitable room must have at least two separate floor or wall electric outlets and, additionally, every kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and hallway must have a ceiling or wall-type fixture, or an outlet controlled by a wall switch near the entrance to the room.
12. All electrical systems must be in good repair and good working order.

Questions? Concerns?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Making Your Money Work for YOU!

Would you stash money away in your linen closet for a rainy day or would you put it in the bank to collect some interest? Obviously, you would want to keep that money where you can make money. Many of you out there are doing the opposite; how much equity are you sitting on? Why not make that money work for YOU! Times are tough, the market if down, but the price is RIGHT! Do what all the savvy investors are doing now, BUY BUY BUY! Your equity is doing nothing for you if it just sits there. I know it's scary, however as I've mentioned before TIME IS RUNNING OUT! There are fantastic deals out there that are manageable as well as gold mines in five years time. Real estate has NEVER let us down in the long term, no crystal ball needed. Yes, we have had a BIG downturn, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Foreclosure properties are moving FAST, our Obama administration is giving you tax breaks and many of us are getting great loan modifications that make us able to keep our homes. We are even seeing price wars! Bids are coming into those great deals out there and when those start to escalate more and more prices, ALL PRICES, will start to ascend and we can all again sing HALLELUJAH!

Not convinced? Need some proof? Want to know where you stand? Contact me for the facts on how YOU too can be a savvy investor!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beware!!! Foreclosure Fraud is on the rise!

WOW! It's amazing to me how scammers con people, especially when they are down on their luck. First we had those greedy mortgage brokers and lenders granting RIDICULOUS unaffordable loans to people with the promise of "The American Dream." Well millions of those dreams turned to nightmares when that balloon payment came due or that interest rate flew threw the roof. Now I am sad to report scams are on the rise disguised as a negotiator between homeowners and lenders. Heres how it works..

They place ads telling you they can get you a loan modification that will reduce your monthly payment and save you from foreclosure. They lay out a plan and assure you that everything is going to work out. They will do all the negotiating with the lender and you only have to pay 2/3 of your mortgage payment. Of course, the payment is made out to the program or the organization not the lender - RED FLAG! You see where this is going right? No negotiation was ever done, no payment ever went to the lender and BAM you're home is being foreclosed on.

Contact me for a list of programs that are on the up & up!
Some won't cost you a dime!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Have to sell? Want top dollar? CURB APPEAL is your answer.

Remember the old cliche, "Never judge a book by it's cover?" well in today's market forget it!!! There is so much inventory out there, selling your home for top dollar is nearly impossible, or is it? THINK about what attracts, beauty, money and sex, so why not make money by making your home beautiful and sexy. Curb appeal is that answer... Here are ways to spruce up and attract those buyers to your sexy home, it's basic simple grooming:

  • Stow away those unnecessary tools that are scattered around the house and yard.

  • Clean windows and gutters

  • Pressure wash dirty siding and decks

  • Edge sidewalks and remove those wild unattractive growths (like moles with whiskers) between concrete blocks

  • Mow the lawn and get rid of the weeds (think how you feel and look when you get a fab cut and color)

  • Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the roof

  • Replace old hardware

  • Fresh paint

Need help? Contact me and let's together get those buyers knocking down the door to see what's inside.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


Since my last posting more good news has transpired, yes we are on the


Moody's cheif economist guru, Mark Zandi, says these increasing home sales and gains in the stock market are promising signs that the worst is over! However he also warns that, "Confidence is a very fickle thing. It can go from abject pessimism that prevades now to a more balanced view now of the world rather quickly." (wow that's like quoting from a speedsheet)Some of the hardest hit markets, Florida's Gulf Coast, Cali's Inland Empire and Las Vegas, just to name a few, experienced an 80% jump in home sales. Experts say foreclosures, low interest rates and that $8000 Obama tax credit are helping first time buyers and investors.

So to all you first time buyers, LET'S GET GOING!!!

To all you homeowners sitting on that equity, MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU, become that investor that makes a mil

And to all you investors that are doing the do KUDOS!!!

See you around the neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

6 Reason why YOU should buy NOW

Yes there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Properties are moving, the foreclosure inventory is decreasing and our new

Obama administration is lending a hand.

Here are six reasons why YOU should buy NOW!

  1. Hail to our new Prez - First time buyers are entitled to a maximum $8000 tax credit, interest rates are at a record lows and our Federal Reserve is doing what it can to make those seemingly impossible loans possible.

  2. Either by pro-creating or adopting like Madonna and Branjolina and by our VERY generous immigration/naturalization policies increasing our household count by 800,000 a year. WOW!

  3. It's simple math, borrowers leverage their investment - If you put $10,000 into the stock market and it earns 10 percent, you’ve earned $1,000. If you put $10,000 down on a home and its values increases 10 percent, you’ve made $10,000.

  4. Instant equity - With all the foreclosure movement driving prices down, when the market zooms back up as it always does, you will rapidly gain more and more equity.

  5. Your mortgage costs WILL stay the same - As I suggest to ALL my clients FIXED RATE ONLY, your monthly payment stays the same while everything around us goes up, including rent.

  6. It's my house and I live here - Diva Diana said it all it that phrase (oops I dated myself again) Oh well there is nothing more comforting than owning your own home. You can paint what you want, let you pooches run free in the yard and have that piece of mind that security brings.

...yet another reason to BUY NOW!

According to the National Association of Home Builders, buyers could be gearing up for a return to the market.

In a survey for Century 21 Real Estate last month among prospective first-time home buyers who indicated they were likely to purchase a home in the next two years, a majority – 78 percent – said that now is a good time to buy a home. Of those responding to the online poll, 68 percent said that now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

And its not just good news there. The new home market is seeing promising numbers as well. Single-family permits were up 11 percent in February.

"With affordability up dramatically, reports from our builders in the field indicate that foot traffic in new homes is on the rise and consumer interest is increasing with each passing day. These are encouraging signs that the housing market may be finally reaching a bottom," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson.

So why wait, even if you think you don't qualify now, get a plan going so that you can qualify. Without the facts and a plan you may miss the opportunities that are waiting for you.

Contact me and let's get started today!

See you around the neighborhood!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama's Housing Plan - Q & A for Borrowers

compliments of :
David Pemberton
Stratis Financial Corp.

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The following is a reformatted version of questions and answers on the Obama administration's housing plan released by the U.S. Treasury in Washington.

Q and A for Borrowers about the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

Borrowers Who Are Current on Their Mortgage Are Asking:

1. What help is available for borrowers who stay current on their mortgage payments but have seen their homes decrease in value?

Under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, eligible borrowers who stay current on their mortgages but have been unable to refinance to lower their interest rates because their homes have decreased in value, may now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30 or 15 year, fixed rate loan. Through the program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they hold in their portfolios or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

2. I owe more than my property is worth, do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Eligible loans will now include those where the new first mortgage (including any refinancing costs) will not exceed 105% of the current market value of the property. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000 or less you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

3. How do I know if I am eligible?

Complete eligibility details will be announced on March 4th when the program starts. The criteria for eligibility will include having sufficient income to make the new payment and an acceptable mortgage payment history. The program is limited to loans held or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

4. I have both a first and a second mortgage. Do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

As long as the amount due on the first mortgage is less than 105% of the value of the property, borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Your eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that has your second mortgage to remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage.

5. Will refinancing lower my payments?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage with affordable payments that are sustainable for the life of the loan. Borrowers whose mortgage interest rates are much higher than the current market rate should see an immediate reduction in their payments. Borrowers who are paying interest only, or who have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future, may not see their current payment go down if they refinance to a fixed rate. These borrowers, however, could save a great deal over the life of the loan. When you submit a loan application, your lender will give you a "Good Faith Estimate" that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount that you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms. If it is not an improvement, a refinancing may not be right for you.

6. What are the interest rate and other terms of this refinance offer?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide borrowers with a safe loan program with a fixed, affordable payment. All loans refinanced under the plan will have a 30 or 15 year term with a fixed interest rate. The rate will be based on market rates in effect at the time of the refinance and any associated points and fees quoted by the lender. Interest rates may vary across lenders and over time as market rates adjust. The refinanced loans will have no prepayment penalties or balloon notes.

7. Will refinancing reduce the amount that I owe on my loan?

No. The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers refinance into safer, more affordable fixed rate loans. Refinancing will not reduce the amount you owe to the first mortgage holder or any other debt you owe. However, by reducing the interest rate, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest that you repay over the life of the loan.

8. How do I know if my loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

To determine if your loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and is eligible to be refinanced, you should contact your mortgage lender after March 4, 2009.

9. When can I apply?

Mortgage lenders will begin accepting applications after the details of the program are announced on March 4, 2009.

10. What should I do in the meantime?

You should gather the information that you will need to provide to your lender after March 4, when the refinance program becomes available. This includes:
· information about the gross monthly income of all borrowers, including your most recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
· Your most recent income tax return
· Information about any second mortgage on the house
· payments on each of your credit cards if you are carrying balances monthly
· payments on other loans such as student loans and car loans.

Borrowers Who Are at Risk of Foreclosure Are Asking:

1. What help is available for borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure either because they are behind on their mortgage or are struggling to make the payments?

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan offers help to borrowers who are already behind on their mortgage payments or who are struggling to keep their loans current. By providing mortgage lenders with financial incentives to modify existing first mortgages, the Treasury hopes to help as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure regardless of who owns or services the mortgage.

2. Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for a modification?

No. Borrowers who are struggling to stay current on their mortgage payments may be eligible if their income is not sufficient to continue to make their mortgage payments and they are at risk of imminent default. This may be due to several factors, such as a loss of income, a significant increase in expenses, or an interest rate that will reset to an unaffordable level.

3. How do I know if I qualify for a payment reduction under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

In general, you may qualify for a mortgage modification if

(a) You occupy your house as your primary residence;

(b) Your monthly mortgage payment is greater than 31% of your monthly gross income;

(c) your loan is not large enough to exceed current FNMA and FHLMC loan limits.

Final eligibility will be determined by your mortgage lender based on your financial situation and detailed guidelines that will be available on March 4, 2009.

4. I do not live in the house that secures the mortgage I'd like to modify. Is this mortgage eligible for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

No. For example, if you own a house that you use as a vacation home or that you rent out to tenants, the mortgage on that house is not eligible. If you used to live in the home but you moved out, the mortgage is not eligible. Only the mortgage on your primary residence is eligible. The mortgage lender will check to see if the dwelling is your primary residence.

5. I have a mortgage on a duplex. I live in one unit and rent the other. Will I still be eligible?

Yes. Mortgages on 2, 3 and 4 unit properties are eligible as long as you live in one unit as your primary residence.

6. I have two mortgages. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce the payments on both?

Only the first mortgage is eligible for a modification.

7. I owe more than my house is worth. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce what I owe?

The primary objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers avoid foreclosure by modifying troubled loans to achieve a payment the borrower can afford. Lenders are likely to lower payments mainly by reducing loan interest rates. However, the program offers incentives for principal reductions and at your lender's discretion - modifications may include upfront reductions of loan principal.

8. I heard the government was providing a financial incentive to borrowers. Is that true?

Yes. To encourage borrowers who work hard to retain homeownership, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan provides incentive payments as a borrower makes timely payments on the modified loan. The incentive will accrue on a monthly basis and will be applied directly to reduce your mortgage debt. Borrowers who pay on time for five years can have up to $5,000 applied to reduce their debt by the end of that period.

9. How much will a modification cost me?

There is no cost to borrowers for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. If you wish to get assistance from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or are referred to a counselor as a condition of the modification, you will not be charged a fee. Borrowers should beware of any organization that attempts to charge a fee for housing counseling or modification of a delinquent loan, especially if they require a fee in advance.

10. Is my lender required to modify my loan?

No. Mortgage lenders participate in the program on a voluntary basis and loans are evaluated for modification on a case-by-case basis. But the government is offering substantial incentives andit is expected that most major lenders will participate.

11. I'm already working with my lender / housing counselor on a loan workout. Can I still be considered for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Ask your lender or counselor to be considered under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.

12. How do I apply for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

You may not need to do anything at this time. Most mortgage lenders will evaluate loans in their portfolio to identify borrowers who may meet the eligibility criteria. After March 4 they will send letters to potentially eligible homeowners, a process that may take several weeks. If you think you qualify for a modification and do not receive a letter within several weeks, contact your mortgage servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Please be aware that servicers and counseling agencies are expected to receive an extraordinary number of calls about this program. 13. What should I do in the meantime? You should gather the information that you will need to provide to your lender after March 4, when the refinance program becomes available. This includes:
· information about the gross monthly income of all borrowers, including your most recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
· Your most recent income tax return
· Information about any second mortgage on the house
· payments on each of your credit cards if you are carrying balances monthly
· payments on other loans such as student loans and car loans

14. My loan is scheduled for foreclosure soon. What should I do?

Contact your mortgage servicer or credit counselor. Many mortgage lenders have expressed their intention to postpone foreclosure sales on all mortgages that may qualify for the modification in order to allow sufficient time to evaluate the borrower's eligibility. We all support this effort.

Thanks David! Great information everyone, PLEASE take it to heart it just may save you money and/or your home.
Please contact me with any questions 562-331-7396 or
See you around the neighborhood!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I can’t pay my mortgage, what do I do?

If you are stuck, like many of our financially stressed homeowners here in the country of the land and the free ? (thank you Bush administration), a big question to ask is what do I do when I can’t make my mortgage. The best advice I can give is TALK TO YOUR LENDER! Many of them are willing to renegotiate your loan; it’s called a MOD (modification loan agreement). There are several ways they do this:

RATE REDUCTION MODIFICATION – permanently reduce your interest rate, lowering the monthly payment

CAPITALIZATION – adding the delinquent payments into your remaining balance and updating the payment due date and perhaps recasting your payment amount.

TERM EXTENSION – extending the amount of time you have to repay their loan to achieve a reduced monthly payment. Term extensions are often used together with an interest rate reduction or a capitalization modification.

ONE TIME ASSUMPTION – “arms length” transaction, providing there is no pre-existing relationship between you and the individual assuming your loan.

LOAN TYPE CONVERSION – converting arm loan to a fixed in order to lower your payments.

Now if you are not in a position to qualify for any of these MODS, you may have to face the fact and relocate. This is where many homeowners freeze and give up; this is where you need to start thinking about your credit.

Short Sale or Foreclosure?

Well short sale is the way to go without a doubt. Yes, it will still affect your credit, however not as much as an all out foreclosure.

Here are the facts:

Of all available options, foreclosure is the worst
The inevitable result of a foreclosure is the lender taking your house. Not only will you lose your house, but the lender can get a judgment against you for the arrearages you owe plus his costs for the foreclosure action. If that isn’t enough, your credit report will be in terminal condition for many years to come, worsening an already bad financial situation and making it very difficult to obtain any other kind of credit. There is no upside to foreclosure. It should be avoided at all costs.
Consider a short sale when foreclosure seems inevitable
A short sale is a popular option for homeowners mired down with financial problems. In this case, you would sell your home for less than what you owe your lender; the biggest problem you will face is getting your lender to agree to a short sale. In many situations, they will not. Experts advise pursuing this option the minute you realize that you are falling behind in your payments and most likely won’t be able to catch up. The longer you wait and the greater the amount you are in arrears, the less likely it becomes that your lender will even be willing to discuss a short sale.
Short sale has disadvantages too
While a short sale will save you from foreclosure, it will also have a negative effect on your credit score, frequently lowering it by as much as 200 points. This can be overcome more quickly than the black mark of a foreclosure, especially if you manage to retain one or two credit cards and keep them current. Perhaps equally distressing, the Internal Revenue Service frequently deemed the difference between the mortgage balance and the amount realized from the short sale to be taxable as income despite the fact that the debtor never saw a dime of it. There is new federal legislation called the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act 0f 2007 that went into effect on January 1st, 2008. The new act essentially eliminates this problem.
Almost any option is better than foreclosure
Simply stated, do everything you can before foreclosure occurs and do it as quickly as humanly possible. Don’t sit back and keep thinking, “What can I do?” Instead, consider that short sale and check with your lender before your options become more limited.
The One Best Tip I Can Give You: Don’t Do This Alone
You need an experienced real estate agent to help you and that is yours truly. Fortunately, at Prudential, I have a very experienced short sale team that can negotiate with your lender and help get your home sold! So don't hesitate to call ASAP! Time is of the essence when preparing a short sale so please act NOW!

Cal me at 562-331-7396 or e-mail me at

See you around the neighborhood!