Is the Right Short Sale Agent Working for You?

I saw the following video recently, and it really struck a chord with me. I’ve worked both sides of the short sale, representing buyers as well as sellers. And, although this clip takes a humorous approach to the topic, it’s all all too real problem that will only be solved when every real estate agent out there becomes better educated — through both training and experience — in short sales. Too many are just dabbling in the process, and it’s those agents’ clients who suffer as a result of their ignorance. About the Author: Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Redmond and...

Homebuyer Tax Credit Closing Deadline Extended

The reprieve that many American home buyers  were hoping for has indeed materialized:  Those  eligible for a federal Homebuyer Tax Credit have until Sept. 30 to close the transaction and receive the credit. The credit was set to expire June 30, but on July 2, Congress voted to  extend the closing deadline  by three months. It’s estimated that the extension  affects  180,000 homebuyers who were unable to close on their purchase by the end of June. One reason many buyers weren’t able to complete their transactions on time is that they were purchasing Short Sales, which require bank approval in addition to seller acceptance (because the purchase price is lower that the amount owed, and the bank will incur a loss). The additional bank approval protocols  can add months to the process; and the timeline a short sale will require is difficult to predict because each bank’s approval process varies. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 4.4 million people have received the credit since it was made nonrefundable in 2009, including 2.9 million first-time buyers and 1.5 million repeat...

Foreclosure Forum Scheduled in Bend

Today,  the Oregon Housing and Community Services department begins hosting a series of public forums across the state designed to determine how best to provide assistance to Oregon homeowners facing foreclosure. Recently, the Obama administration announced that Oregon will receive $88 million in funds earmarked for the creation of a program designed to help struggling homeowners stay in their homes (Oregon was included in the second round of states that will receive money from the U.S. Treasury Dept.’s   “Hardest Hit Fund”). The fund helps states  with high concentrations of people living in areas where there was an unemployment rate higher than 12 percent in 2009 (in Central Oregon, that includes Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties). After stops in Medford and Eugene, the forum will be held  in Bend on Thursday (May 13), from 6-8 p.m., at the Bend Community Center Community Hall (1036 NE Fifth). The final stop will be in Portland on May 19. After Oregon Housing and Community Services receives input from participants at the forums, they will submit a proposal to the U.S. Treasury (the deadline for that is June 1). The program should begin to be implemented in late summer or early fall. Here’s more info about the...

HAFA Who? The Year of the Short Sale

On Thursday, I listened in on Distressed Property Institute co-founder Alex Charfen’s monthly phone call with his CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) constituency. The topic of conversation: HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative), the Obama Administration’s latest housing-related initiative, which is set to launch on April 5. One comment that caught my attention right off the bat: Charfen said 2010 is being hailed as “the year of the short sale.” Not just because of the extensive short-sale inventory currently on the market all across the country. And not just because distressed properties will continue to be a significant segment of the real estate market for the foreseeable future. What should 2010 apart is that it is the year in which short sales got easier. Let’s hope so. Because, for many people who have experienced a short-sale firsthand in Central Oregon during this recession — whether as a buyer, seller, real estate agent or mortgage broker — it has been a challenging, often infuriating, even impossible, process. Without an industry-wide standard for handling these complex transactions, lenders have been left to deal with the onslaught of requested short-sale approvals however they see fit. Some have been more successful than others at working their way through their short-sale inventory. Many have failed miserably. Enter HAFA. An extension of HAMP (the underwhelming Home Affordable Modification Program), HAFA was designed to simplify and streamline the short-sale process. Unfortunately, the “streamlining” took the form of 43 pages of governmental guidelines (sigh). Basically, most homeowners struggling to pay the mortgage on a principal residence purchased before Jan. 1, 2009, are eligible, including borrowers who were eligible for HAMP but weren’t successful in...

Brain on Overload: Classes, Classes and More Classes (guess the topic)

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve attended several really good classes, two of which addressed different aspects of the foreclosure market. At the first class, Jim Long, Bend’s Affordable Housing Manager, discussed a new loan program available in Central Oregon for residents with moderate income who purchase bank-owned homes. As part of phase two of HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (also know as NSP-2), qualified buyers may receive a zero-interest, deferred-payment loan of up to 20 percent of the purchase price (or a maximum of $35,000). Those funds can be used to help with a down payment, mortgage buy-down or closing costs, or may go toward completion of an unfinished home. Only owner-occupied purchases are eligible. Bend has been allocated $2.1 million in funding (not all of which will be available to residents.) Long said the funds are expected to be available by the end of April, and will be distributed throughout Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties on a first-come/first-served basis. Another important caveat, he added: if you’re considering seeking these funds, you must fill out the application before an offer is written. One other thing to keep in mind: It’s a federal program, with the requisite red tape involved, so patience and persistence are recommended. So, for example, the closing might take longer and there are a few additional hoops to jump through (a HUD-designated home inspector, for example). But what a great coup for Central Oregon! (By the way, Oregon’s application to receive the NSP-2 grant money was one of only 56 of the 480 applications that were approved — and the only award in the Northwest United States.)...

The First-time Home Buyer-Distressed Property Paradox

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about first-time homebuyers. (What with all the industry and media attention focused on the impending deadline of the First time Homebuyer Tax Credit, it’s hard not to.) First-time buyers are the ones who, even in a traditional market, often need the most help negotiating the purchase of their home. For them, even under the best of circumstances, the process can be overwhelming. Because they have little or no first-hand knowledge of the many ins and outs of the home-buying process, enlisting the services of a knowledgeable real estate agent can be a real benefit. Of course, today’s market is anything but traditional. In Central Oregon, like much of the country, distressed-property inventory accounts for a good chunk of the entry-level market. In Bend, for example, of the 209 Residential Single-family-residence listings under $200,000 active as of Jan. 20, 97 listings (46 percent)were short sales and 40 (19 percent) were bank-owned properties. In total, 65 percent of available homes under $200,000 are distressed. Sixty-five percent! That means there’s a good chance the first-time buyer in Central Oregon will consider buying a short sale or bank-owned property. In fact, that’s the segment of the market perhaps most likely to purchase a distressed property. It’s also the segment least likely to understand the potential pitfalls of the distressed-property purchase. Unfortunately, as many buyers have learned the hard way, this can be a disastrous combination: Because not only do many first-time home buyers not know the right questions to ask, but they may not even realize that there are questions to ask. However, in a distressed-property sale,...
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