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Month: January 2009

Should Judges Be Allowed to Dictate Mortgage Terms?

There is a bankruptcy bill that is being pushed by Democrats that would give Judges the power to dictate mortgage terms.

If this bill were to pass, a homeowner could file bankruptcy and the Judge could change the terms of his primary residence mortgage to make it more affordable for the homeowner so one they can afford their monthly mortgage payment and two to bring the mortgage down to market value.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, American Bankers Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose this bill and have spent millions to try and prevent it from being passed.  According to the chief lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, Steve O’Connor, said “new homebuyers would end up paying higher interest and bigger down payments if lenders are saddled with the risk that a judge could change mortgage terms.”  Why would homebuyers end up paying a higher down payment and interest rate?  The lending guidelines are very stringent now and you can’t buy a home anymore without at least 3.5% down so I would imagine that the default rate on these new home loans would be very small?  So the risk for Lenders and Banks have dropped considerably compared to loans they gave out back in 2003-2006.

I can see why the Mortgage Bankers Association and American Bankers Association would want to prevent this bill from passing because it certainly would harm the bottom line for lenders and investors holding mortgages or would it?  How much harm would it really cause Lenders and Banks with the Government bailout?  Bank of America just received a 2nd bailout of $20 billion dollars!  Banks appear to be using their bailout money to acquire other banks so I am not too concerned with them complaining that they would lose money if this bill passes.  What I am concerned with is Lenders and Banks requiring homebuyers to come in with a higher down payment and increases in interest rates.

We need a solution to the foreclosure mess since Banks and Lenders can’t get short sales or loan modifications approved in a timely manner.  The passing of this bill would help streamline the process and allow homeowners to keep their homes by bring their mortgage down to market value and giving them a payment they can afford.  This will prevent more homes from going into foreclosure which helps keep inventory levels from increasing and should help prices begin to level out.  When there is confidence again in the real estate market, it will begin to spill over to other industries which will help lead us out of the recession our Country is facing.

Las Vegas Loan Modification

What is a Loan Modification and does it fit the needs of homeowners who cannot afford their mortgage payment and who owe  more on their mortgage than the home is valued?

“A Loan Modification is a permanent change in one or more of the terms of a mortgagor’s loan, allows the loan to be reinstated, and results in a payment the mortgagor can afford.”

In the State of Nevada, an Attorney should negotiate on the behalf of a homeowner to get a loan modification approved.  There are those that aren’t Attorneys that attempt to help homeowners, which is fine,  but it’s against the law for them to charge you any up front fees.

A Las Vegas Homeowner does not have to be late on a payment in order to be approved for a loan modification.  However; I have seen some Lenders deny a Loan Modification because the homeowners weren’t late on their mortgage, so it does come down to who your lender is.

We work with several reputable Attorney’s in Las Vegas they we can recommend to you if you are in need of a Loan Modification for your Las Vegas Home Loan.  We can be reached at 702.838.7522 or complete our contact form and one of our representatives will contact you for a private consultation.

Buyers Beware: Disturbing Trend of Low Ball Listings in Vegas

Buyers Beware! The disturbing trend of low ball listings in Las Vegas!

A disturbing practice I am seeing more and more of lately is the low ball listing of Las Vegas short sale/foreclosed properties. A low ball listing is a listing that is priced, by the Listing Agent, SUBSTANCIALLY below what a common sense comparative market analysis says the property is really worth.

I have spoke to many Las Vegas Listing Agents and asked them why they priced their listings so artificially low. They tell me they were not getting any offers at a higher (more realistic) price. OK, I understand that logic but are they really helping to sell the listing any faster with an unrealistic price.

I would argue that low balling the listing doesn’t help sell the property any quicker and in fact hurts the chances of a sale for the following reasons:

  1. Buyer expectations – The Buyer sees the artificially low price and thinks they can get the house for that amount. Even after it is explained that the Seller’s Bank has the final say on what they will or will not accept, this is a difficult psychological hurdle to latter overcome.
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  3. Wasted Time – So the low offer is in and the waiting begins. Banks are not known for quick decisions and several weeks could go by before they respond to the offer. During this time the Listing Agent is required to place the property as Contingent in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This could lessen the chance of the property being shown since other potential Buyers could see the property as possibly being sold already. It is also against Nevada law for the Listing Agent to submit other offers while the first offer is pending review by the Bank. Many times the offer will come back from the bank 10% or more higher than what the Listing Agent had it listed for. This tends to anger the Buyer and often causes a complete breakdown of negotiations.

The best way to mitigate against this practice is to educate the Buyer in advance. Las Vegas Buyer’s Agents need to prepare their clients for the possibility of a counter offer above the listing price. If the comparative market analysis shows that the property is worth more than the asking price, share this with your client, it might be what saves the deal in the end.

How Do I Know if a Las Vegas Short Sale Is Right for Me?

Las Vegas short sales have always been around but in general were pretty rare. Usually, someone would endure a personal or professional hardship and had to sell their home. Perhaps the home had depreciated a bit and factoring in selling costs, the homeowner found they were unable to cover these costs. The homeowner would then contact their Realtor and assuming they could find a qualified Realtor, they would work with their bank and the bank might take a small loss to avoid taking the home in a foreclosure.

Back in those days however, exotic mortgage products were not the norm. Recently, we have had mortgages such as interest-only, Alt-A, negative amortization loans, as well as having a 2nd even 3rd mortgages against the house which allowed a normally unqualified buyer to purchase a home. The negotiation with the bank was a little more straight-forward back then. Fast forward to 2009 where depreciation on real estate is rampant and whole regions have been has seen home prices down 30-50%, unprecedented since the Great Depression, when one considers the breadth of scale.

The first step is to accurately and HONESTLY take a look at your finances. Set up a place in a corner of the house; pull out your bills and a blank sheet of paper. Write out your all your monthly obligations as well as your gross monthly income. If you are under and it isn’t going to change just by modifying your lifestyle, you have some hard decisions to make. You’ll have to justify your situation as a hardship which will prevent you from recovering in the eyes of your bank. A Realtor proficient in short sales will be able to guide you with this process.

Talk with your lender and if they can modify your loan in a way that makes sense both near-term and long-term, that might make sense for you. Be very aware of how they will want to address the issue of future equity in your home when hopefully, prices might actually increase. Also, keep mind there is always a time crunch. Banks do not move fast except when agreeing to accept your money! The clock is ticking against foreclosure. When you’re going to be behind or certainly when you’re already behind, you cannot afford to spend all your time trying to do a loan modification and then not leave any time to attempt a short sale.

Next talk to a CPA or tax professional that is familiar with the tax ramifications of doing a short sale as well as being responsible for any potential deficiencies against your mortgage loss. If the CPA advises you that a short sale makes sense from their prospective, you can begin start scouting for a qualified Realtor.

The good news is that the entire industry is seeing the benefits of doing a short sale instead of foreclosure. Banks avoid having to take the property back in foreclosure. The home is only going to sell for what the market will bear anyway, so why they would want to go through the extra expense of having to own the home and re-sell it is baffling. The new bank generating the loan (if they didn’t pay cash) now has a new customer. The buyer got a great deal, and I am quite sure most of the neighbors are happy about having a viable owner as opposed to a distressed one.

Please check my next blog article when I will give you industry insider techniques to interview and select the right Realtor to successfully manage your short sale.

Paul  Rowe is 5 year veteran of the Las Vegas real estate market, having seen both the incredible highs and now the lows of 2008 and 2009.