HARP changes put refinancing in reach of more homeowners – Appeal-Democrat: Real Estate

HARP changes put refinancing in reach of more homeowners

When the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program HARP launched in 2009, millions took advantage, but many other homeowners found they couldn’t qualify to refinance their underwater mortgages. Today, significant enhancements have made the program more accessible for homeowners and a great opportunity to lower payments or build equity faster.If you owe as much or more on your home than its current value, you’re considered “underwater” or “upside-down” on your mortgage. For some homeowners, the situation has led to foreclosure. Others, however, have stayed current on their mortgage payments, and those are the people HARP is intended to help.You may be eligible for HARP if: You are current on your mortgage. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backs or owns your mortgage, and they acquired your mortgage on or before May 31, 2009. Use Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s online tools to find out. The mortgage is for your primary home, a single-family second home or a one- to four-unit investment property.

via HARP changes put refinancing in reach of more homeowners – Appeal-Democrat: Real Estate.

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Federal Government Looks to Spread Awareness of Refinancing Options – Press Release – Digital Journal

Federal Government Looks to Spread Awareness of Refinancing Options>PRWEB.COM NewswireChicago, IL PRWEB October 03, 2013The Federal Savings Bank is continuously informing current lien holders of various refinance opportunities. With refinance activity on the decline, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is doing all it can to spread awareness about the Home Affordable Refinance Program.However, theres more to the FHFAs awareness campaign than just spurring on mortgage activity. The government agency has said that too many Americans who are eligible to benefit from the program have not done so due to a lack of knowledge regarding HARP.”Theres a perception among some that youve got to be delinquent in order to have some government-sponsored program that can help you,” FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco told Bloomberg on September 23rd. “What we want to do is correct that misperception.”

via Federal Government Looks to Spread Awareness of Refinancing Options – Press Release – Digital Journal.

Distressed sales remain source of risk | 2013-09-13 | HousingWire

Distressed sales remain source of potential fraud riskShort sale transactions on the rise since 2006Megan HopkinsSeptember 13, 2013 5:27PM0 CommentsForeclosureShort saleCoreLogicDistressed SalesShort Sale FraudEd GerdingEmailPrintReprintsShare on facebookShare on twitterShare on linkedin MoreAAARelated ArticlesInterthinx Fraud Report Links Mortgage Fraud, Foreclosure: DBRSSuspected Mortgage Fraud Reports to FBI Grew 5% in 2009Mortgage fraud greater in areas riddled with foreclosures: InterthinxRelated CompaniesHubzuThe volume of the nations shadow inventory is on the decline, but remains high as lenders and servicers continue to work through a backlog of properties, CoreLogic CLGX said. The research firm said during a webinar on fraud risk that distressed asset sales, such as short sales, remain a potential source of fraud.Unrealized recoveries on suspicious short sale transactions can cost lenders as much as hundreds of millions per year.”The trend that we’re seeing is that the overall short sale volume has dropped slightly, but that the combined suspicious rate has been static so far from 2012 to 2013 at 83%,” said Ed Gerding, fraud and risk strategist at CoreLogic.

via Distressed sales remain source of risk | 2013-09-13 | HousingWire.

The ‘Perfect Storm’ for Short Sales Continues in 2013

Like 2012, 2013 may just continue to be the perfect storm for doing a Short Sale:

  • Sonoma County’s available inventory of homes for sale continues to be the lowest in years.
  • Competition for what inventory does exist has pushed up prices and turned the tables, making it a Sellers Market.
  • Bank and Government programs are getting more and more favorable for the Distressed Homeowner who needs to sell.
  • Lenders have too many foreclosures on their books, making Short Sales a better alternative for them.
  • Short Sales are getting, well, shorter because of improved operating standards by the banks and programs by the government.
  • The option to Short Sale is easier on your credit than a foreclosure, making it possible to buy another home sooner.

And the Number One Reason:  The Forgiveness of Debt Tax Relief Act has been extended to the end of 2013 saving you literally tens of thousands of dollars you would otherwise owe the IRS in Federal Income Tax after a Short Sale.

How the Does the Mortgage Debt Relief Act Affect You?

When you escape a debt the IRS normally counts the amount of the debt you were forgiven as income, and taxes you accordingly.  In terms of a taxable event, this could be significant to you financially if you short sale your home.

Example:  Mr. & Mrs. Jones owe $550,000 on their mortgage, but the current market value for the house is $350,000.  Faced with a transfer, they have to sell their home. Their lender allows them to Short Sale their home for the current market value even though it will net less than the balance owed on the mortgage. In agreeing to sale short, the lender also agrees to forgive the debt on the outstanding balance; in this case, $200,000. Enter the IRS, who view the $200,000 as taxable income!

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act addresses this very scenario, and has been in effect for the last since 2007 when the market began its collapse, throwing many homeowners into financial distress by owing more on their mortgage than what their house was actually worth in the changed market. (It has recently been extended to the end of 2013.)

This act allows a home owner a tax exclusion for the forgiven mortgage debt. Without this Act, in the scenario above, the Jones would get a tax bill on the $200,000 as though it were regular, earned income. That means a bill of somewhere around 30%, or $60,000. Quite a deep hole to fall into!

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is about making it possible to get out from under financial hardship so you can get back on your feet again.

Note:  While this is fantastic news, there are some qualifiers to this tax act.  Be sure to consult a qualified tax preparer before moving ahead.  Also, another thing to consider; the state of California is expected to follow suit with their own forgiveness of debt relief. However, as of this writing, they have not yet extended this tax break on the state level. Plain English: You may get off the hook at the Federal level, but the state is not there….yet.

Effective Today Fannie & Freddie Get a Green Light to Save You Another Step

Fannie Mae Reaches Short Sale and Deed-in-Lieu Delegation Agreements with Mortgage Insurers

WASHINGTON, DC – Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) announced today that it has reached delegation agreements with all of its mortgage insurer counter parties so that servicers can complete short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure without seeking approval from the insurer.  These agreements will further streamline the foreclosure prevention process and allow short sales and deeds-in-lieu to be completed more efficiently.

“Short sales and deeds-in-lieu are important tools to prevent foreclosures and help struggling borrowers,” said Leslie Peeler, senior vice president, National Servicing Organization, Fannie Mae. “These delegation agreements create an even more streamlined process that will ultimately help more families avoid the costly effects of foreclosure and benefit taxpayers.  We are pleased that the mortgage insurance companies have stepped up to the plate with us to help more homeowners.”

Previously, Fannie Mae had individual delegation agreements with the majority of its top mortgage insurer counterparties.  Now, a standard delegation agreement has been reached with all nine mortgage insurers, making the approval process more consistent and efficient for servicers and borrowers.

The new delegation agreements allow servicers to approve any short sale or deed-in-lieu that meets Fannie Mae’s requirements without individual mortgage insurance approval.

These agreements are an important achievement in Fannie Mae’s efforts to stabilize neighborhoods and have been established with CMG Mortgage Insurance Company, Essent Guaranty, Inc., Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation, PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., Radian Guaranty Inc., Republic Mortgage Insurance Company, Triad Guaranty Insurance Corporation, and United Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company.  All delegation agreements will be effective as of November 1, 2012.

Borrowers can visit http://www.knowyouroptions.com/ for foreclosure prevention information and resources, including how to contact Fannie Mae’s twelve Mortgage Help Centers across the country.  Through the first six months of 2012, Fannie Mae completed 142,987 loan workout solutions, including 46,226 short sales and 7,509 deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.  Earlier this year, Fannie Mae announced new short sale guidelines and new short sale timelines.

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

via News Release – Fannie Mae Reaches Short Sale and Deed-in-Lieu Delegation Agreements with Mortgage Insurers | Fannie Mae.

Principal “Curtailment” for Underwater Home Owners

If you fit this description:

  • Have low to moderate income
  • Owe more than your house is worth
  • Live in your home
  • Are delinquent, or have a hardship that puts you at risk of default
  • Have a mortgage balance of less than $729,750

Read this article….

Principal relief for stressed homeowners

A limited number of underwater homeowners in California will soon be able to get principal reductions of up to $100,000 apiece on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans through the federally funded Keep Your Home California program.

The federal agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie has steadfastly refused to allow permanent principal reduction on loans they own or guarantee on the grounds it would cost taxpayers money. But in mid-September, Fannie and Freddie told servicers they could immediately begin accepting money for principal reductions from programs financed by the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, including Keep Your Home California.

Fannie’s and Freddie’s willingness to accept money from Hardest Hit Funds does not signal a change of heart on the part of their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, Freddie says it will allow funds to be used for “principal curtailment.”

Read the rest here…

via Principal relief for stressed homeowners – SFGate.

Why a Short Sale Blog?

After earning my CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) designation I was fired up. The landscape in my profession had changed drastically over the preceding 4 years. People were hurting…lots of them.

Our homes are one of the things we tend to take for granted and if there’s one thing this recession has taught us, it’s just how central a role our homes play in our lives.

Not knowing if you can continue to stay in your home, and being worried about where else you could live if you lost it, is a tremendously stressful ordeal to go through.  Add children to the mix, and it is pure misery.

The CDPE training showed me just how many options people had.  The problem was that no one wanted to own up to their situation.  When your security is shaken to the core, the appearance of stability affords you a comfort you are reluctant to give up, even if it is only the appearance and not the reality.

So, I started this blog with some definite standards…

  • Put all this great information from my training out there
  • Be unbiased and present ALL the options (not just Short Sales)
  • Allow people to access it in privacy without having to sign up
  • Be current
  • Give links to helpful sites
  • Alert readers to potential pitfalls

The blog has helped me too.  After months of wading through the morass of a tortured real estate market this blog gave me an outlet to do something positive. Being able to make a difference, even if I don’t know the person I helped, was such a relief

Things are improving, gradually.  First with the Robo Signing settlement, then the refinement and improvement of some government programs, as well as changes in both federal and state laws that protect the homeowner and help to level the playing field between them and their lenders.

I am happy you found your way here, and it is my sincere hope that the information here helps you.

So You Missed the Deadline for Debt Relief Exemption?

When you escape a debt the IRS normally counts the amount of the debt you were forgiven as income, and taxes you accordingly.  In terms of a taxable event, this could be significant to you financially.

Example:  You owe $550,000 on your mortgage, but the current market value is $350,000.  Under an a Short Sale agreement with your lender, you sell your home for the $350,000 and the remaining $200,000 is forgiven. Enter the IRS, who view the $200,000 as taxable income!

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act addresses this very scenario, and has been in effect for the last 5 years for distressed home owners who short sell  their homes between 2007 and 2012. This act allows a home owner a tax exclusion for the forgiven mortgage debt. However, the measure is due to expire at the end of 2012 with a very good chance it will NOT be extended before the end of this year.

We are still 2.5 months from the end of this year–the deadline to close so that you can benefit from the current Mortgage Debt Relief Act.  Getting from listing to close in that time is a challenge  but may be doable depending on your lender.

One advantage you have right now is that the inventory of available homes for sale in Sonoma County is drastically low.  Buyers are competing aggressively for homes and that is pushing the prices up.  Depending on your lender, it may be possible still to accomplish a short sale in time so that you don’t have to hope that the bill is extended next spring.

But if you missed it, and there is a chance you may at this stage…have some hope.

It is believed that the law may be retroactively extended in spring of 2013. So, if you talk to your accountant, you may find that by going ahead with your short sale and doing an extension next year, you would be able to claim the benefit after all.  There is still a chance that it won’t be renewed, but if a Short Sale is definitely in your path, then this gives you an added chance to avoid penalty.

By extending your tax return to October 15th, 2013, if the law is extended retroactively in the first half of 2013, you may then be able to exclude the forgiven amount. Remember: consult with a tax professional before deciding.