February 2011


A short sale is an attractive alternative to foreclosure, mainly because the impact on your credit is far less severe.  However, just because you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth doesn’t necessarily mean that a short sale is a viable option.

In a short sale, the lender agrees to accept a pay-off on your mortgage for less than the amount owed.  Logically, the lender is not going to agree to receive less money if there is evidence that you can continue to pay your mortgage as promised.  Thus, a homeowner hoping to sell their home in a short sale must demonstrate that they can no longer afford the mortgage payments. 

The first question the lender will ask is “What happened?”  At the time of loan origination you were able to make your payments….why not now?  You will be asked to identify one or more recent hardship factors that have negatively impacted your ability to pay.  Examples of hardship factors include: 

  • Illness/Disability                                             
  • Death of a Spouse
  • Unemployment                                               
  • Reduced Income
  • Medical Bills                                                   
  • Too much Debt
  • Divorce/Separation                                        
  • Military Service
  • Incarceration                                                  
  • Business Failure

The lender will also request that you complete a financial worksheet that lists all of your monthly expenses and income.  You will need to provide bank statements and pay stubs to document the information on the financial worksheet.  Contrary to popular belief, it is OK to have a small amount of money in savings and lenders do not expect you to drain your 401K to pay your bills.

So the bottom line is that if you have experienced an event(s) that triggered a financial hardship and your monthly expenses are greater than your monthly income you probably qualify for a short sale.  Please feel free to contact me with specific questions about your situation.

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Short sales can be a real pain for everyone involved…sellers, Realtors, buyers…and because so many fail, people are often left with a negative view of the short sale process.  But, do you really know the benefits that might make it worth the effort?

As I’ve mentioned before, I work with an exceptional short sale negotiation company that has a 99% success rate in getting approvals.  The president of that company recently put together a nice chart outlining the benefits of a short sale vs. a foreclosure and I’ll share the highlights.

Future Ability to Purchase a Home:    When you apply for a home loan, there is a question on the application that asks, “Have you had a property foreclosed upon or given title or deed-in-lieu thereof in the last 7 years?”  A positive response may impact your ability to qualify and will certainly influence the interest rate you are charged.  Currently, there is no question on the loan application with regard to short sales.

Impact on Credit Score:    With a foreclosure, credit scores can drop 250 – 300 points.  Conversely, with a short sale only late payments will impact the credit score.  After a short sale, the mortgage that was paid-off short will be reported as ‘paid as agreed’, ‘negotiated’, or ‘settled for less than agreed’.  This can lower your score as little as 50 points and will usually have little to no effect in twelve to eighteen months.

Impact on Credit History:   Foreclosure remains on your credit history for seven years.  Since short sales are not specifically reported their impact is only as great as the number of missed payments, as noted above.

Deficiency Judgment:  Unless you’re in a state with anti-deficiency laws, the bank can pursue a deficiency judgment.  In a successful short sale, the bank will waive the right to pursue a deficiency judgment.

Current and Future Employment and Security Clearance:   Many employers require credit checks for all employees, and certainly for anyone hoping to attain a security clearance.  While individual companies and agencies have different requirements, a foreclosure can have a negative impact on your ability to get a job, keep your job, or get certain clearances.

Of course I’m not a lawyer or accountant, and each individual’s situation is different, and not everyone will qualify for a short sale.  You should always consult the appropriate professional for advice.  But as a real estate professional, I would definitely give the short sale serious consideration before deciding to just walk away.  For a confidential consultation just give me a call at 619-846-9249.

I’m almost feeling like we can breathe again.  We’re not out of the woods, but here in San Diego, we’re headed in the right direction.  And surprisingly, the next generation of home buyers is not running screaming into the night frightened by the plague of foreclosures, but rather embraces the idea of one day owning a home.  Check the numbers.  What do you think?

According to a January 2011 Harris poll conducted on behalf of Trulia, the American Dream of home ownership is alive and well.  70% of those surveyed say that home ownership is still part of their dream, and 78% of homeowners surveyed say that their home is the best investment they ever made.  Well, those are probably folks who didn’t buy in 2004-2006.  Buyers during those years are probably the 20% who feel trapped in an underwater equity home or the 14% who are considering just walking away.  Like I said, we’re not out of the woods.

But what I found very refreshing is that 88% of 18-34 year olds aspire to be homeowners, and overall  in the west 70% of renters plan to become homeowners.  In my estimation, this group will drive the long-term recovery, and drive the next real estate bump in value. Only 10% plan on buying in the next 24 months, but they will help prime the pump.  By 2015 we could be in the midst of the next upswing.

So when to buy?  Consult with your accountants and money managers, but my bet is now….just as we turn the corner and start to head up.

Negotiating a short sale is one of the most challenging jobs in real estate today.  As an agent representing a short sale client you are responsible for helping them get out from under a huge financial burden and save their credit, and responsible to the new buyers for closing the deal in a reasonable length of time.  Not only is it often stressful, but it can be downright frustrating;  re-faxing documents to the bank that you’ve sent three times, waiting for responses to phone messages and emails, and trying to find someone at the bank who actually cares about getting the transaction completed.

One of the short sales that I’m currently working on is especially trying as there are two different lenders involved on a 1st and 2nd mortgage, and as in similar cases, the 2nd mortgage holder won’t really look at the file until we have approval from the 1st.  After weeks of sending documents the 1st lien holder comes back to the table with an offer of approving the short sale, if the borrowers paid them $9,000.  Impossible!  If my clients had an extra $9,000 they wouldn’t be selling their home!  We counter at $1,000.  The bank then comes back at $3,000, insisting that according to their financial statement the borrowers can afford to contribute $3,000.

Hmmm…..my clients are insisting that as much as they would like to sell their house short and avoid foreclosure, they can’t afford the $3,000, especially as they just did their 2010 taxes and learned that they owe close to $10,000!  Aha!  More ammunition to make their case!  We submit their tax return and two days later have a short sale approval from the 1st lien holder with a $1,000 contribution!  Exactly what we countered!  The approval has been submitted to the 2nd lien holder and we’re pushing for a speedy response.

The bottom line is that my clients are thrilled and half seriously asked if I could help them negotiate their tax liability!  Ha!  I think I’ll stick to short sales.  Banks are tough enough…..I can’t imagine negotiating with the IRS!

You all know that I’m not exactly a huge football fan, but mix in some real estate and I’m at least intrigued.  Did you know that the Super Bowl winner can be predicted by analyzing the commercial real estate market in the opposing teams’ home towns?

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate, the percentage of vacant commercial real estate in the hometown is a predictor of which team will prevail.  Based on their historical analysis, the city with the higher vacancy rate will win and they’ve been right two-thirds of the time since 2000.

In 2006 office vacancy rates were at 15.95 in Pittsburgh and only 10.5% in Seattle, and the Steelers outscored the Seahawks 21-10.  In 2005 Boston had a vacancy rate of 18.9% and Philadelphia just 16.1%, and New England prevailed.  The theory held true for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 as well.

So who would even think to compare these stats?  It should be no surprise that the executive chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle is two-time Super Bowl champ Roger Staubach.  “As a student of both football and commercial real estate, I can tell you that this vacancy rate hypothesis is absolutely the real deal,” Staubach said. “When it comes to picking a winner, you can throw everything else out the window.”

So what does that mean for this year’s match-up?  As of January 1, Pittsburgh had an office vacancy rate of just 12.2%, one of the lowest in the country.  Green Bay on the other hand, has a vacancy rate of 18.9%.  Clearly, the numbers are pointing to a win by the Packers, their first since 1997.

But I had to check this with my husband who also has a system for predicting the winner of any football game, and he’s right about 80% of the time.  If he watches a game and he has lived in one of the cities, that city’s team where he once lived will lose.  If he watches the game and has lived in both cities, the city’s team where he most recently lived will lose.  Now he’s never lived in either Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but did live in Philly…so based on proximity he is also predicting a Packers win.

If I were a betting kinda gal I think I’d have to agree!  Enjoy the game!

Home prices across the country have taken a roller coaster ride over the past few years with far more hair-raising dips than inclines.  According to a Fiserv, Inc. report, the ups and down may not be totally over, but the financial services company predicts that by the end of 2011 75% of U.S. metro areas will see stable prices.

The good news for San Diego is that we are only one of three metro areas that had prices stabilize in recent months.  San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are the other two.  Still suffering are hard-hit areas including Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas where prices are not expected to smooth out until late 2012.

This is not to say that we won’t see some price reductions in certain neighborhoods, but overall the downward slide in value is over for most San Diego homeowners.  Foreclosures, unemployment, and restricted access to credit will continue to be the three negative factors influencing our market, but increased demand based on low prices and low interest rates seems to be balancing our market favorably.

So is this a good time to buy?  As I’ve said before…..absolutely!  Prices are already increasing in many areas, but if you’re curious about where you can get the most bang for your buck in San Diego county, give me a call.