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Month: March 2011

Five Ways Landlords Can Protect Their Vacant Las Vegas Rental Properties

Five Ways Landlords Can Protect Their Vacant Las Vegas Rental Properties

As a former police officer for the city of Henderson, I have a unique perspective on crime involving vacant properties.

Patrolling neighborhoods at all hours of day and night has helped give me an eye for possible break-in opportunities that burglars and vandals would take advantage of.

Now, as a property manager with hundreds of rental properties, I’m able to lean on my law enforcement experience to help our landlords and out-of-state investors protect their vacant homes during the transition period of when Shelter Realty takes over management of their properties.

Here are five things we recommend to landlords for keeping their vacant Las Vegas rental properties safer:

1. Remove “For Rent” Signs From Windows And Yard –

The first, and one of the most important things we ask our property management clients to do is remove any rental advertising on vacant properties.

Even worse than a “For Rent” sign in the window of a vacant property, is if it states that the owner has installed a new Fridge, Washer, Dryer and Upgraded Light Fixtures.

2. Maintain The Landscaping –

Weeds, broken sprinklers and dead grass are signs that a property may be vacant or even abandoned.

Obviously, a maintained yard will also give a potential renter the warm and fuzzies, as well as keep the neighbors happy.

If you hire a landscaping company to handle your weekly outside chores, make sure you ask them to collect any flyers or door hangers from your entryway that may look like trash.

3. Put Lights On A Timer –

A porch light that is on 24 hours a day is almost as noticeable as one that is off at night.

In addition to keeping your outside lights on a regular schedule, it may be a good idea to put an interior light on in the upstairs or within the center of the home to give the perception that there is someone living in the house.

4. Blinds Open Or Shut –

We can make an argument for either keeping the blinds open or closed. With that said, our recommendation is to keep the upstairs open and the downstairs closed.

It also really depends on whether or not you have neighbors that are willing to keep an eye on your property for you.

If the blinds are open, then it’s easy to see when someone is inside, especially if you drive by the property one day and notice that some of the blinds have been shut.

However, having open blinds also allows anyone to look in the windows and see that the property is vacant.

Basically, use your best judgement on this topic, but it is something to be aware of and strategically plan for.

5. Qualifying Interested Callers –

If you are marketing your property in the newspaper or online, be cautious of what information you give callers who may be interested.

For example, it would be a bad idea to give away your address to someone who wanted to swing by and take a look at it after work… if you also told them that you live out of town and there won’t be anyone around to help them until the end of the week.

Keep in mind that you may not be the only person on the phone that is having a “pre-qualifying” conversation.

While keywords such as move-in ready, vacant, fully furnished and new appliances may appeal to potential renters, they also peak the interest of criminals.

Shelter Realty definitely understands how challenging of a balancing act it can be between giving too much information in your marketing while still protecting your investment property.

Shelter Realty is a Real Estate and Property Management Company specializing in the areas of HendersonLas Vegas and North Las Vegas, NV. Feel free to give us a call at 702.376.7379 so we can answer any questions you may have.

Are VA Loans Better Than Conventional Mortgages?

Are VA Loans Better Than Conventional Mortgages?

A VA loan is often a better option than a convention mortgage for veteran and active duty military home buyers who are interested in purchasing a Las Vegas home.

With Nellis Air Force Base located near North Las Vegas, we have several VA eligible first-time homebuyers contacting Shelter Realty about taking advantage of the historically low housing prices in the valley.

Unfortunately, the national media has many buyers convinced that the only way they can qualify for a home loan is if they have perfect credit and a huge downpayment.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be tearing apart the common myths and misunderstandings about mortgage financing in order to help shed some light on the truth about getting approved for Las Vegas mortgage.

Even though each qualifying scenario is unique and requires a full loan approval from a mortgage professional who has experience with VA financing, the following list highlights the main benefits VA loans have over conventional mortgage programs:

1.  100% Financing –

A typical convention mortgage requires an initial down payment that can range from 5% – 20% of the appraised value on a purchase.

I say “appraised value” vs “purchase price” because there are instances when a property does not appraise for the full value of a homeowner’s asking price.  At that point, the borrower would have to pay the difference between the asking price and appraised value, as well as the standard 5% – 20% down payment.

Either way, VA loans generally do not require that initial large down payment based on the standard Loan-to-Value lending guidelines that come with a conventional mortgage program.

2.  Lower Interest Rates –

Another major benefit is that VA loans have comparatively better interest rates.  In some cases, a VA loan mortgage rate can be as much as .50% lower than on a similar conventional program.

Over the course of several years, a $35 – $75 a month payment will definitely add up to a significant savings.

The process of shopping mortgage rates is the same with any program, so it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how the markets work if you’re concerned with comparing quotes between a few lenders.

3.  No Mortgage Insurance –

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is generally required on conventional loans when the loan amount being borrowed is greater than 80% of the value of the property.

The Department of Veterans Affairs does have a funding fee requirement for VA loans. This funding fee can be anywhere between 0.5% to 3.3% of the loan total. However, veterans who were classified as disabled during at least 10% of their time in active duty do not have to pay the fee.

Mortgage insurance is basically in place to protect the lender in the case of payment default or foreclosure.

4.  Qualifying Guidelines –

It is also typically easier to qualify for a VA mortgage loan than a conventional mortgage, especially if you have a recent bankruptcy or foreclosure within the past four years.

There isn’t a hit to the interest rate for lower credit scores, and VA underwriters tend to give special circumstances more consideration if there is a good letter of explanation.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, VA loans have two payment term options – Fixed or Adjustable Rate.

The difference between the two options is as follows:

  • Fixed rate loans have one payment tied to the same interest rate for the entire term, which is typically 15 or 30 years.
  • Adjustable rate loans start off with a set interest rate for a predetermined period of time, and then the rate may change based on the specific terms set forth on the note. Know you options, and make sure you understand which program you are choosing.

Refinancing with a VA loan also has many benefits over refinancing with a conventional loan.

Some of refinance benefits include:

  • A higher refinance limit (up to 90% and some 100%) than the majority of conventional loans.
  • Easier credit requirements, which often make refinancing with a VA loan simpler and less stressful.
  • Help from the Department of Veterans Affairs for borrowers currently in default because of financial hardship.
  • No requirement of private mortgage insurance.
  • The ability to include the VA funding fee with the total amount of the refinance.

Between the tremendous savings and streamlined qualifying guidelines, any veteran who is in the  process of purchasing or refinancing a home should strongly consider using their  VA benefits.

Shelter Realty works with several qualified and experienced mortgage professionals that specialize in helping Las Vegas Veterans qualify for a VA loan.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about VA approved properties or speaking with one of our trusted lenders.

Can I Finance A Luxury Las Vegas Queensridge Home With A Low Down Payment?

Can I Finance A Luxury Las Vegas Queensridge Home With A Low Down Payment?

Yes, it is possible to finance a luxury Las Vegas home in the beautiful Queensridge Community with as little as a 3.5% down payment, provided the purchase price is below $400,000 for FHA financing.

There is actually an opportunity to qualify with zero down financing for a slightly higher purchase price if you are eligible for a VA loan.

It’s obviously important to work with a trusted mortgage professional who understands these various local lending guidelines.

However, I find that most of my Las Vegas First-Time Home Buyers looking in the Peccole Ranch area start their real estate search for homes between $60k – $130k, when they can actually afford financing on a property in some of the more prestigious neighborhoods around the 89117 or 89145 zip codes.

While there are certainly several available listings in lower price ranges that may provide a cash flow opportunity for investors, choosing a home and neighborhood to live in involves searching with a slightly different criteria.

Queensridge, for example, is a guard-gated luxury community, which includes a full fitness center, tennis, pools, spa and is woven around the Badlands Golf Course.

With several listings in the million dollar price range, Queensridge does have a select few properties for sale that would qualify for lower down payment financing.

If you’re concerned about the investment quality or potential for future earned equity, it’s generally a wise idea to purchase a home in a neighborhood with stronger comparable values.

So, only if your personal budget and comfort level warrant it, you feel confident in your future employment security and there is a low possibility of moving in the next 5-10 years, it may be worth considering a home in the luxury Las Vegas Queensridge Community.

Since most of these listings require a scheduled appointment to preview, please feel free to contact me at any time about setting up a few viewings at your convenience @ 702-376-7379.

How Can A VA Compromise Sale Help Underwater Las Vegas Homeowners?

How Can A VA Compromise Sale Help Underwater Las Vegas Homeowners?

If your Las Vegas property is secured by a VA loan with a mortgage balance that is higher than the appraised value, and you need to sell, then you may be eligible for a special program called a VA Compromise Sale.

Basically, a VA Compromise Sale is a program similar to a short sale transaction, which is designed to help veterans sell a property with an upside down mortgage balance without taking a huge financial loss.

In any case, if you bought a home with a VA loan back when the housing market was healthy, you probably didn’t foresee the need to sell your home in the depressed housing market of today.

The need to move overseas, divorce or or a station change are a few of the reasons that would force a VA homeowner into selling a property.

Obviously, for many veteran borrowers who are facing this scenario, taking a loss on the sale of their home could result in extreme financial difficulty.

How Can A VA Compromise Sale Help Me?

If you are selling your house and receive a purchase offer for less than what you still owe on your VA loan, you can turn in an application with the Veterans Administration for a VA Compromise Sale.

In many ways, a VA Compromise Sale is similar to a short sale with another type of mortgage program.

The good news is that if you receive approval for a VA Compromise Sale, then the VA will redeem you for the difference between what you can sell your house for and what you have left on your VA loan.

To Qualify, You Must Show Proof Of:

  • Financial difficulties.
  • The realistic market value of your house at time of sale.
  • A VA appraisal.
  • Standard closing costs.
  • No second lien (the VA does makes rare exceptions if the total is not significant).
  • The reasons why you are selling your home.

Another important component of getting approved for a VA Compromise Sale is that the total net loss should be less than if the property was taken back by the bank through foreclosure proceedings.

So basically, if it costs more to foreclose vs “short sale” the home, then there is a greater chance of getting a VA Compromise Sale approved.

On another note, if your VA loan originated before December 31, 1989 you might have to sign a promissory note as well as enter a payment plan to redeem the VA a percentage of the compromise claim payment. This sum would end up being less than what you would owe if you did not originally have a VA loan, and the payment plan itself is formulated around what you would reasonably be able to pay.

Our Short Sale team has a proven track record of successfully negotiating with banks to help homeowners sell their properties for less than they owe on their mortgages. However, with a VA Compromise Sale, most of the negotiating process is reduced to simply filling out the proper paperwork and submitting a clean and fully completed package.

Please feel free to contact us to see if your property or unique short sale scenario might be eligible for a VA Compromise Sale.

Purchasing A Las Vegas Home With A VA Mortgage Loan

Purchasing A Las Vegas Home With A VA Mortgage Loan

Financing a property with no down payment is still possible for Las Vegas buyers who are eligible for a VA Mortgage Loan.

And even though we have Nellis Air Force Base located in North Las Vegas, it’s amazing to me how many local real estate agents lead their first-time home buyers to believe that they can only get qualified for a mortgage if they have high credit scores and a 20% down payment.

The truth is that taking out a VA mortgage loan on a new home purchase is fairly straightforward, relatively easier to qualify for than a conventional loan, generally comes with lower interest rates, doesn’t require mortgage insurance and can be financed up to 100% of the purchase price.

The Basic VA Loan Approval Process:

  • Meet with a qualified mortgage officer to get a pre-approval letter, discuss closing costs and payment options and get a list of items needed for full loan approval.
  • Find the property you would like to buy and arrange the purchase with the seller.  You’ll then sign a purchase contract conditional upon approval of a VA guaranteed loan.
  • Choose your lender, present your Certificate of Eligibility, and finish the loan application. Your lender will determine your credit and submit a request to the VA to dispatch a licensed appraiser to evaluate the value of the property.
  • If the determined value is acceptable to all involved parties, and the lender determines that your loan application meets the VA loan requirements, your mortgage can be approved.
  • You (and co-borrower, if applicable) will then attend the loan closing and sign the related papers. The closing escrow agent or attorney will explain loan terms and requirements and monthly payment details.

Please note that when the VA receives a report of the loan, the Certificate of Eligibility is adjusted to reflect use of entitlement and is then returned to the veteran.

No further actions are required to get your COE back, which just makes the overall process easier for veterans

There are a few unique aspects and conditions to getting approved for a VA Loan, which is why it’s important to make sure your loan officer has experience closing VA Mortgage purchase transaction.

Income, assets, credit scores and appraisal requirements are a few of there areas that can cause a delay or result in a denied loan if your lender is unfamiliar with the recent VA guideline changes.

I’ll actually be writing extensively about the VA mortgage program over the next few months to help educate our Las Vegas veterans and VA eligible home buyers about some of the unique advantages available with VA loans.

Get Mortgage Approval If You Are One Day Out Of A Short Sale

You Can Get Mortgage Approval If You Are One Day Out Of A Las Vegas Short Sale

How long after a short sale before I can qualify for a new home loan?

This is the main question most of our Las Vegas underwater homeowners have that are weighing their options of loan modification, short sale or foreclosure.

And, not being able to plan for future home-ownership can add more anxiety to the equation.

It’s frustrating when you struggle to do the right thing and make your mortgage payments on time, and then feel penalized by the system by being denied for new mortgage financing due to a recent short sale that was out of your control.

Obviously, if we’re going to turn this slow market around, banks will eventually have to figure out a way of providing special circumstances for qualified borrowers that may have fallen victim to a financial crisis that was largely influenced by mortgage and real estate fraud.

Well, the good news is that according to recent changes in FHA Financing Guidelines as of March, 2011, Las Vegas home buyers who are as little as one day out of a short sale on a previous property may qualify for a new mortgage.

FHA Day Out Of Short Sale Overview:

You can read the official FHA Guidelines, but the following screenshot created by a friend Scott Schang highlights the main points:

So, what this is basically stating is that unless you did a short sale simply for financial gain, there is a chance you could be eligible for a new FHA mortgage right away.

Examples Of Possible Acceptable Reasons For Short Sale:

  • Living in previously owned bachelor pad condo – got married, have kids – 1 bed 1 bath doesn’t accomodate 3+ person family
  • Kids move out of home – parents no longer need 4 bed 3 bath home for 2 people
  • Relocating because of job
  • Death in the family
  • Forced sale due to a divorce

Before writing this post, I did a considerable amount of research online, as well as speaking with one of our trusted local loan officers, Brian Maier, to ensure there weren’t any hidden challenges our buyers would face if they planned on purchasing a new home immediately after doing a short sale.

Brian said it is important that the borrowers have a clean mortgage payment history for the past 12 months.

This means that there are no 30-day late mortgage payments on your credit report in the past year.

He also stated that each lender has their own qualifying criteria based on standard eligibility guidelines, such as credit, loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios.

I certainly understand that the words “May Qualify” probably create more uncertainty than hope, but Brian did mention that some lenders were more lenient than others on what they determined “Acceptable” reasons for a short sale.

Either way, the point is that we are moving in the right direction for making mortgage financing available for “make sense” scenarios.

Our Las Vegas Short Sale expert, Paul Rowe, definitely has the knowledge and track record to help answer any of your selling questions.

If you’re interested in digging deeper about how to qualify for a new home loan please contact us for more information.

Shelter Realty Closes a Short Sale Listing in Turnberry Towers

Shelter Realty’s short sale division successfully closed a listing in the high-end condo development, Turnberry Towers located in Las Vegas, Nevada. We negotiated a full liability release on the sellers’ mortgage obligation. Sellers who may be stuck upside down in these condo projects should be heartened to know that there may be alternatives to foreclosure.

Buyers who may be interested in taking advantage of the incredibly low prices in the Las Vegas condo market need to take a look at short sales. In this case, the short sale we negotiated was below current market value, providing a fantastic buying opportunity.

If you have questions about a short sale in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the southwest, please contact us through this website or call us directly at 702-376-7379.

Paul Rowe manages the short sale division at Shelter Realty in Henderson, Nevada.