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.

Ever wonder why it was so difficult for people to get permanent loan modifications a couple of years ago? Maybe it’s because some employees were allegedly paid to make sure they were denied, at least at one bank.

According to a June 14 Bloomberg.com article, Bank of America provided employees with incentives including cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas linked to sending homes into foreclosure. The allegations were revealed by past employees as part of a lawsuit filed against the banking giant earlier this month by homeowners who were denied modifications. Many who were denied loan modifications eventually lost their homes to foreclosure.

Apparently employees in the loss mitigation department were instructed to delay review, ask homeowners for items they already had in the file, and do whatever was necessary to deny permanent loan modifications. Former B of A loan servicing specialist Theresa Terrlonge said that they received restaurant gift cards and cash rewards for denying loan modifications. “I witnessed employees and managers falsify information in the systems of record, and remove documents from the homeowners’ files to make the account appear ineligible for loan modification,” said Terrelonge.

But the big rewards came for actually pushing a borrower into foreclosure. According to Simone Gordon, a loss-mitigation representative who left the company in 2012, specialists who put 10 borrowers into foreclosure, including those in a trial modification, received a $500 bonus. Bank of America insists that the allegations are inaccurate and will file an opposition to the motion to make this a class action case.

Unfortunately, I’m not terribly surprised by these allegations and find it difficult to believe that B of A was the only bank involved in this type of behavior. It’s no wonder that there have been so few successful loan modifications; the very people charged with creating positive outcomes were apparently paid to do otherwise.

Wells Fargo Incompetence Spells F*O*R*E*C*L*O*S*U*R*E*

 

I am livid.  Seeing red, as they say.  Here’s the short version:

  • Steele Group Realty took a short sale listing  because the sellers were in a loan modification program, but the husband was still unable to get a job, so the payments were not possible.  They listed as a short sale on 5/11 with  a scheduled foreclosure sale date of 5/30.
  • All seller documentation was submitted on 5/16.
  • 5/23 an executed offer with a full price, market  value offer was submitted.
  • Offer was uploaded into the Wells Fargo system by an employee who labeled the file “Customer Correspondence”.
  • 5/25 – 5/30 I am in contact with Wells Fargo short sale and foreclosure department nearly every hour to obtain a  postponement of sale date.  I made  sure that the review of the file by the short sale set-up department was  escalated.  Once they approved that this was indeed a viable short sale offer, the foreclosure would be  postponed.
  • 5/29 a processor in the short sale set-up  department reviewed the file, and did not see a file labeled “Offer”  in their imaging system, despite the fact that I had already confirmed with supervisors that the offer and all supporting documents were there.
  • 5/29 the processor who was apparently unwilling,  to look through all of the files, no matter how they were labeled,  determined that there was no offer and therefore declined the short sale option and approved the foreclosure.
  • House went to sale this morning at10:30 a.m.

I honestly can’t get over the failure of this system.  I have been on the phone since 7:00 a.m.this morning, trying to push through another review….to no avail.

This is just wrong, on every level.  Had the file been correctly labeled originally this would be a different outcome. Had the person in the set-up department taken an extra five minutes and reviewed all files, this would be a different outcome.

Buyers and sellers are devastated.  I spent hours and hours, and everyone loses, even Wells Fargo, who will now have to pay to re-market the property.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  A clerical error by a non-decision maker has changed the lives and business outcomes of many. There is no excuse for this level of incompetence in my book.   I have never lost a short sale and this doesn’t sit well.

A couple of days ago one of my favorite loan officers shared some information about a problem facing many would-be buyers who are trying to get approved for an FHA mortgage after a short sale.  Here’s a couple of surprising things I learned that could squelch some dreams.

Most of us probably know that FHA requires a 3 year wait from the date of the short sale, (conventional 4 years), but here is the kicker:  Did you know that for DU underwriting it is actually 3 years from the reported date?  That means that if the 1st or 2nd lien holder didn’t report the account as closed until 10 months after the close of escrow, a buyer would not qualify until 3 years and 10 months after closing!

And it’s not just short sales.   FHA looks at a short sale, deed-in-lieu, foreclosure, and loan modification, (YES, even a loan mod) as the same derogatory event, and as noted above they require a 3 year wait from the reported date.  Approval for an FHA loan is normally based on running the application through the Desktop Underwriter (DU) automated underwriting program.  The DU program reads the dates entered on the credit report so if that is incorrectly reported, the loan will be denied.  In the case of a short sale, it might be helpful to find a lender who agrees to manually underwrite the loan so that the correct dates are used.

Besides the date, the other item that could trip up a buyer is how the old mortgage debt is reported.  If the account is reported as closed, but still shows the amount not paid off in the short sale as a balance on the account, the reported balance will probably disqualify them in DU by calculating a payment and inaccurately increasing their debt-to-income ratio.

Advice from my loan officer:  Following a short sale, borrowers should check their credit report from all 3 reporting agencies about 6-8 weeks after closing.  If the sale is not reported, and/or it does not show a zero balance they should contact their previous lender to get it corrected. Then, get a DU or manual underwriting approval well before shopping for a home.  It may mean the difference between buying again in 3 years versus facing an unanticipated and disappointing wait!

 

 

San Diego real estate broker Marti Kilby describes the precuations you should take when buying a foreclosed property.


 

Bankruptcy and Foreclosure

 A frequent question I receive is, “Can filing bankruptcy save my home?”  The answer is “no” and “maybe”.  And please note that I’m not an attorney and sharing this information is not intended as legal advice.

 

Foreclosure in California

Whether you’re facing an involuntary foreclosure or considering a strategic default, here is what you need to know about the process and time line for foreclosure in California.