August 2013


Great news for homeowners who experienced a short sale and are ready to buy again! HUD announced yesterday that they will reduce the wait period to qualify for an FHA backed mortgage to 1 year! Previously, the wait time to qualify for an FHA backed mortgage was 2 years following a bankruptcy and 3 years following a foreclosure or short sale. According to FHA Commissioner Carol Galante, “FHA recognizes the hardships faced by these borrowers, and realizes that their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

This of course does not mean that everyone will qualify. Borrowers must prove that they experienced an “economic event” where their household income fell by at least 20% for 6 months or longer. They must also document that they have fully recovered financially, and agree to take a housing counseling course prior to close of escrow.

This is very encouraging news for those of us who have helped clients through a short sale, as many have recovered and are ready to buy again while housing prices and interest rates are still relatively low. Reducing the wait time should also encourage overall housing market recovery as more people will be eligible for FHA financing. Likewise, this is good news if you are currently facing a short sale as you will now be able to buy again much more quickly.

If you have any questions about FHA reducing the wait time to borrow after a short sale, or short sales in general, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

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If you are considering selling your home in a short sale, the selection of who will represent you is an important decision. Not only will the agent be marketing your home, but they have the added responsibility of representing you in negotiations with your lender(s) and securing approval of your short sale.

So if you are wondering how to select a short sale agent, here are some questions you will want to ask when interviewing potential agents:

• Does the agent personally do the short sale negotiation or do they hire an in-house or outside negotiator? If they use the services of a negotiator, the following questions should be directed to that person or company.
• How much experience do they have? No number of certifications will make up for lack of experience.
• What is their success rate? It is likely they have had at least one unsuccessful negotiation. Ask them why it did not get approved.
• Ask them to explain the short sale process and what you can expect in terms of a timeline and the documentation you will need to provide. (They should provide you with some sort of a handout explaining the process and describing the required documents.)
• Will they request a preliminary title report? (This is important in order to determine if there are additional liens on the property that will have to be cleared).
• Do they request that the buyer deposit their earnest money into escrow BEFORE the short sale is approved? (This is a good way to make sure you have a serious buyer and keep them in the game and not out looking at other properties. If the sale is not approved, the buyer of course gets their money back).
• How often do they contact the bank during the review process? (They should be in contact with the bank at least once, but preferably twice a week.)
• How often will they provide you with updates? (You should expect an update at least once a week.)
• If you have received a Notice of Default, and/or a sale date has been set, what steps will the agent take to have the sale postponed?
• Are they familiar with HAFA guidelines? Are they familiar with Equator? (If they do short sales on a regular basis, the answer to both should be “Yes”).
• Can they supply you with a reference from at least one client that was happy with their short sale services? Just because they advertise on TV doesn’t mean their clients are happy.
• And finally, are they empathetic regarding your situation, or is their only concern getting the listing? A short sale can be emotionally tough for you the seller and you should work with an agent who cares about you and what you are experiencing.

Do NOT believe them if they tell you they have an inside connection at your bank and can guarantee that your short sale will be approved. That is simply not true. Investors have the final say on approvals and it is highly unlikely that the agent even knows who the investor is at this point, not to mention that investors do not speak directly with negotiators.

If you have any questions about how to select a short sale agent for your San Diego County home, please don’t hesitate to give me a call for a confidential consultation.

It’s not your imagination: The housing market recovery is on a roll, upwards! A recent survey of over 100 real estate and economic experts predicts that by the end of 2013, home values will have increased nationwide by an average of 6.7% over a year ago. This is significantly more than the 5.4% bump anticipated in an earlier study.

The Home Price Expectations Survey was conducted by Pulsenomics, LLC on behalf of Zillow. Based on market expectations, the panel predicts that home prices will continue to rise until 2017, coming very close to the record highs of May 2007. The rate of increase however will not be as dramatic as 2013, with appreciation anticipated to slow to 4.4% in 2014 and down to 3.4% in 2017. This represents a cumulative increase of 23.7% through 2017, at which point appreciation is expected to be more in line with historic norms.

Interestingly, most panel members did not feel that rising interest rates would derail the recovery, unless interest rates rise above 6.0%. According to Zillow Senior Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell, “As long as interest rates don’t rise too far and too fast, most markets should be able to absorb these changing dynamics and remain healthy.” It is anticipated that as interest rates rise, investors will pull out of some markets, increasing inventory and helping to stabilize the market.

What does this mean for you? If you are looking to buy, now is the time as prices will continue to rise. Looking to sell? You are more likely to get top dollar between now and the end of the year as inventory, especially here in San Diego County is very limited. As appreciation slows and more inventory hits the market it is less likely that the multiple offer scenarios that we are currently experiencing will continue.

Questions about the value of your home? Interested in an investment property? Just give me a call and I’ll be happy to answer all your questions.