Short sale process broken, REALTOR survey finds

For release:
July 21, 2011

Short-sale process broken, pushing Central Valley families into foreclosure,
REALTOR® survey shows
Latest lender satisfaction survey highlights glaring issues in short-sale process

FRESNO, CALIF.  (July 21) – More than half of Central Valley REALTORS® characterized closing short-sale transactions as “difficult” or “extremely difficult,” according to a Lender Satisfaction Survey conducted by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).  The survey gauges REALTORS®’ experience working with lenders in their most recent transaction.  The majority of those surveyed dealt with short-sale transactions – transactions in which the lender or lenders agree to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner. Continue reading “Short sale process broken, REALTOR survey finds”

NEW – Search Properties for Sale Throughout San Diego, CA!

My property search page has been completely redesigned to make searching properties available for sale just a bit easier. Browse through and take a look! You have the option to register which will allow you to receive updates as new properties hit the market. Also, click on “Schedule Showing” to alert me and we can set something up to take a look. If you’re REALLY interested, click “Place an Offer” and type in your details:

Gov. signs SB 458 into law

For release:
July 15, 2011

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® applauds Gov. Brown on signing SB 458 into law

LOS ANGELES (July 15) – The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) applauds Gov. Jerry Brown on signing SB 458 (Corbett) into law.   SB 458 extends the protections of SB 931 (2010), to ensure that any lender that agrees to a short sale must accept the agreed upon short sale payment as payment in full of the outstanding balance of all loans.

Continue reading “Gov. signs SB 458 into law”

Fannie Mae Buyer Incentive – Closing Cost Assistance

Please view the HomePath website here to learn more about the current buyer incentives –

HomePath® Buyer Incentive: June 14 – October 31

Fannie Mae is currently offering buyers up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance through October 31, 2011. A $1,200 selling agent bonus is also available to selling agents who close on an owner occupant property and meet all eligibility requirements and terms and conditions. Continue reading “Fannie Mae Buyer Incentive – Closing Cost Assistance”

3 big banks lose mortgage modification incentives

By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times

June 10, 2011

The Obama administration has punished three of the nation’s largest banks, judging them unworthy of receiving financial incentives through its signature foreclosure relief program until they improve their practices.Bank of America Corp.JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. were found to be in need of “substantial improvement” under the $75-billion Home Affordable Modification Program, officials said. It was the first time that the administration had taken any major punitive action against the banks in its program, which has been criticized by consumer advocates and Republicans as ineffective and falling short of its goals. Continue reading “3 big banks lose mortgage modification incentives”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Align Guidelines for Servicing Delinquent Mortgages

“Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco hasdirected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to align their guidelines for servicing delinquent mortgages they own or guarantee. The updated framework will establish uniform servicing requirements as well as monetary incentives for servicers that perform well and penalties for those that do not.”

Click here for full article – FHFA NEWS RELEASE

Rebates – Up To $4000 for making your home more energy efficient

Ever stepped back and looked at your SDGE bill, wishing that you could do something to lower your monthly bill, or wanted to take steps to make your home more energy efficient? SDG&E has a program that will work with you to do just this. Take advantage of their programs, and receive up to $4,000 in rebates just for making your home more energy efficient! While most of these programs are from SDG&E, I should mention that there are rebates from many of the water suppliers in San Diego as well.

Upgrading an existing home is an ideal way to save energy, money and conserve natural resources. And now, through Energy Upgrade California, SDG&E® customers can receive incentives along the smart energy journey.

Property owners of single-family homes are eligible for incentives of up to $4,000 for installing energy-efficient measures in their homes. Property owners can choose between two paths for participation.

– Energy Upgrade California Website

However, this program is not just for homeowners, renters can take advantage of many of this programs savings as well!

Their two largest rebate programs consist of a package of measures to decrease your energy consumption by 10-40% with measures that includes air sealing, attic insulation, duct sealing, insulation of hot water pipes, thermostatic shower-start devices, carbon monoxide detectors and combustion safety testing.

While I could easily spend the next 10,000 words describing some of their rebate programs, it may be easier to just take a look here for more information about rebate programs here in San Diego County by clicking here.


If you have used any of these programs before, please comment below to help out others who are looking into these programs! Please share your experience.


How Do We Love Real Estate Benefits?

Let us count the ways…

By Mike CotterEmail the author | April 8, 2011


Owning real estate has benefits unlike any other investment.  Sure, there is no guarantee that real property will automatically begin to appreciate the minute we close escrow, but no investment has such guarantee. Even so called risk-less U.S. Treasury obligations are subject to market value fluctuations before maturity and are usually subject to risks of inflation. So we invest our money as we choose.

But the advantages of a real estate investment are unique and sizable.

First of all, we all have to live somewhere, and shelter is not cheap.  Investing in a home allows us to live in our investment.  Over a long period of time, this usually results not only in a positive return on our capital, but also is “free rent” while we live there.  That’s huge.

Of course, if we have to borrow money to buy a home, the monthly interest payments on the debt can be substantial.  But we get an incredibly low interest rate compared to other sources of credit. Where else can we borrow money for 30 years at an annual fixed rate of less than 5 percent?

Also, taxpayers can deduct from their income home mortgage interest up to $1 million annually.  This benefit alone often makes the monthly cost of owning a home with a mortgage less expensive than the nondeductible monthly rent of a similar home.

As for annual California property taxes, they can be substantial for new homeowners—at about 1 percent of the market price paid for the property.  But over time,  Proposition 13 allows the tax bill to grow at no more than 2 percent per year.  So, as property values rise and inflation erodes the dollar, the property tax bill becomes a relatively minor consideration.

Owners of historic properties can apply for a Mills Act agreement with their city that can cut their property tax by 60 percent in some cases—if they agree to preserve the properties.  San Clemente has such a program with 65 of the city’s 206 historic properties participating.

Adding frosting to the cake:  If we sell a home and trade down to a less expensive home after reaching age 55, Propositions 60 and 90 often allow us a one-time opportunity to transfer our relatively low existing tax bill to our new home.  That’s huge.

When we sell most investments at a gain, we usually have to pay capital gains tax.  Not so with real estate used as our primary residence.  A federal law passed a few years ago allows up to $250,000 in capital gains tax forgiveness for each property owner. So a married couple can get a $500,000 capital gain on their home without paying any capital gains tax. That’s huge.

But, let’s say our property investment doesn’t turn out very well.  For one reason or another we end up defaulting on the loan we obtained to purchase our home.  Unlike with other investments, lenders generally have no recourse other than repossessing the real estate in collecting the bad debt.  California home lenders usually have to forgive any deficiency they suffer in collecting the original “purchase money” loan.  That’s huge.

Further, while a forgiven loan has always been considered taxable income in the past by the IRS, current law in most cases prevents federal and state taxation of a forgiven home loan, at least through 2012.  That’s really huge.

Disclaimer:  I’m not an attorney.  This is a very general and incomplete review of some of the benefits of owning real estate.  Always consult with your tax attorney and CPA when making decisions with respect to real estate.

For more of the latest market news and statistics on San Clemente real estate, visit my blog or

Original article at


House votes to kill Obama mortgage plan

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer
March 29, 2011: 8:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The House passed a bill Tuesday to kill a signature Obama administration program that helps homeowners stay in their homes but has faced criticism as ineffective.

The House voted 252 to 170 to stop any new funding for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Eleven Democrats joined Republicans to defund the program.

The program taps the federal bailout that saved the big banks, providing incentives to mortgage servicers to modify mortgages for borrowers behind on their payments.

“To many struggling Americans seeking permanent mortgage relief, HAMP offered little more than false hope. More homeowners have been kicked out of the program than have received permanent relief,” Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement.

The bill’s path in the Senate is uncertain. President Obama has vowed to veto it.

Already, House Republicans have passed three other smaller programs designed to help families and neighborhoods dealing with foreclosure. What makes the HAMP program different is the widespread criticism it has received, from both Republicans and Democrats, for being ineffective.

“It would put an end to the poster child for failed federal foreclosure programs,” said Rep. Judy Biggert, an Illinois Republican.

On Tuesday, 50 House Democrats wrote Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a letter, urging him to reform the program, saying “HAMP must change to meet its potential.”

“Yes, the HAMP program has a lot of problems,” said Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, on the House floor. “But, the absence of any program leaves homeowners worse off.”

The outgoing special investigator general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program called HAMP a “failure,” in an interview with CNN on Friday. He said it was supposed to help 3 to 4 million underwater homeowners stay in their homes. But so far, it has only managed to help about 500,0000 homeowners.

“It’s really one of the deep failures of TARP,” said Neil Barofsky, the special investigator general. “TARP wasn’t supposed to just help the banks return to profitability, it was supposed to help people stay in their homes.”

Treasury has pointed out, on several occasions, that while the HAMP program could be better, it’s the only federal program spurring mortgage servicers to help homeowners.

“This is a very difficult housing market to fix, and this program, is at least helping fix it,” Timothy Massad, the Treasury acting assistant secretary who is overseeing HAMP, said recently to a Senate Banking panel. “It’s not enough. But it needs to be continued so we can try to ease the pain for millions of American families.”

The GOP proposal would stop Treasury from being able to help 100,0000 new troubled homeowners, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Treasury spends about $13,000 per homeowner on the program, CBO said.

It would also cut federal deficits, saving a minimal amount, $1.3 billion over the next five years.

Massad said in a statement released late Tuesday that the House move will “make it harder to prevent unnecessary foreclosures and for our country to recover from this housing crisis.”

Original article at

Banks drag feet on short sales, survey finds

Associated Press
March 7, 2011, 10:09 p.m.

Banks are dragging their feet when considering so-called short sales, an increasingly prevalent type of real estate transaction in which lenders allow homes to be sold for less than what is owed on them, according to a survey of California real estate agents.

Nearly two-thirds of the 2,150 respondents to the California Assn. of Realtors’ survey of member agents said banks took longer than 60 days to respond to short sale offers and that fewer than three out of every five offers ultimately resulted in a sale.

The response times are much longer than those specified in government guidelines for banks who agreed to participate in programs that help troubled borrowers when they accepted a share of the $700-billion Wall Street rescue.

“The survey results show that the short sale system is clearly flawed,” CAR president Beth L. Peerce said. “Increasing the number of successful short sale transactions is one important way we can help California families and move our economy closer to recovery.”

Although the survey only covered agents in California, National Assn. of Realtors spokesman Walter Molony said similar complaints had come from across the country, especially from states with hard-hit housing markets such as Nevada, Florida and Arizona.

“Banks just have not been equipped or willing to make quick decisions on this,” Molony said. “It’s unfair to all parties concerned.”

Short sales have played an increasingly large role in California’s real estate market, with declines in property values leaving many borrowers with crushing payments on mortgages that are greater than their homes’ worth.

The transactions allow troubled borrowers to dodge the hit to their credit scores that would come from a foreclosure, while banks are able to keep distressed properties off their books without going through the costly foreclosure process.

The estimated percentage of resales in the state that were short sales went from about 10% in 2008 to 18% in 2010, according to tracking firm DataQuick Information Systems.

But foreclosures are still much more common, accounting for nearly 38% of all resales in 2010, DataQuick said.

Richard Green, who directs the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, said the market would benefit from avoiding foreclosures, which can lead to homes languishing on the market, by encouraging more short sales.

“Forcing banks to clear the market through short sales would almost certainly get us through this faster than we’re getting through it,” he said.

Green said he suspected banks were slow to approve short sales because the transactions force them to immediately report the difference between the sale price and what they’re owed as a loss, rather than carrying the loan balance as a purported asset. He said some banks may also fear inadvertently letting property go for less than it’s worth.

Mortgage Bankers Assn. spokesman John T. Mechem did not return a phone message.

CAR had previously written to federal government agencies that oversee short sales to ask them to mandate faster responses by banks and to take other steps to foster more of the transactions.

The association said in the December letter to the Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees government-supported lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that banks were not living up to the terms of the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives’ short sale program.

Since most lenders have repaid their bailout funds to the government, participation in HAFA is now primarily voluntary, but CAR said the banks should still be bound by the agreement.

The association noted that banks were taking much longer to approve short sales than the time allotted by HAFA: Ten days in cases where the lender has already decided on a selling price; 30 days if the selling price is being proposed by a listing agent.

CAR asked for the government agencies to force banks to complete all short sales following HAFA guidelines and to comply with the program’s time frames. It also recommended increasing monetary incentives to banks for completing short sales.

Treasury spokeswoman Andrea Risotto said that her agency was still working on its response to CAR’s letter, but that some of the requests — such as punishing banks for not meeting HAFA’s time frames — would require legislative action.

A message left with the Federal Housing Finance Agency was not returned.

Original article at,0,6800709.story