Shelli Dore’s Real Estate Blog

By Michele Lerner , Bankrate.com

Homeowners struggling to sell their homes in a short sale are getting some relief, thanks to the federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, or HAFA, program.

Up to now, many short sales — in which the lender accepts a sale of the property for less than the full amount owed — have taken months to complete. Sometimes, the complex and lengthy process has failed, resulting in foreclosure.

HAFA establishes streamlined short sale rules and incentivizes borrowers and lenders to work together to avoid foreclosure. The rules — in effect between April 5, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012 — also are intended to speed up the short sale process.

“The streamlined short sales process will definitely help homeowners,” says David Liniger, Re/Max International chairman and co-founder.

Prior to HAFA, homeowners often listed their home for sale without an idea of what the lender would accept.  “A lot of sellers and their Realtors have not been able to sort out the problems with short sales and have given up on the process because, even after sending in the correct paperwork, they have sometimes waited three or four months for their lender to respond,” Liniger says.Under HAFA, borrowers receive preapproved short sale terms from the lender prior to putting the home on the market. Lisa Matykiewicz, a Realtor and Certified Distressed Property Expert in Gilbert, Ariz., says the updated short sale rules establish an easy-to-understand process with predefined steps that “make it easier for everyone to understand.”

Eligibility requirements

The HAFA guidelines apply to lenders who voluntarily participate in the HAMP program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development says more than 100 servicers have signed up to participate in HAMP, covering more than 89 percent of mortgage debt outstanding in the country.

To be eligible for HAFA, homeowners must first apply for a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Owners who do not qualify for a loan modification or miss payments during the initial loan modification period qualify for HAFA.

Other HAFA requirements include:

  • Property is principal residence.
  • Mortgage originated before Jan. 1, 2009.
  • Mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • Borrower is delinquent or default is foreseeable.
  • Homeowner demonstrates hardship.
  • Borrower’s total monthly housing payment exceeds 31 percent of gross income.
  • Unpaid principal does not exceed $729,750.

According to HAFA rules, lenders now must offer a short sale in writing to the borrower within 30 days if the borrower does not qualify for or complete a loan modification. Borrowers then must respond within 14 days to the lender’s short sale agreement.

“I think it’s great that the lenders in this program have to offer a short sale before going to foreclosure,” Matykiewicz says. When a purchase offer is made, borrowers must submit the sales contract to the lender within three days, along with the buyers’ mortgage preapproval and the status of negotiations with other lien holders on the seller’s property.

Finally, lenders must approve or deny the contract within 10 days. HAFA rules also state that lenders must release borrowers from the obligation to repay the difference between the sales price and the loan amount. No deficiency judgments are allowed for a first or second loan.

Other incentives

In the past, short sales were especially difficult for homeowners with more than one loan on their home, since the home sale typically repaid only the first mortgage. HAFA’s financial incentives include a payment of up to $3,000 for second mortgage holders.

“Second trust lien holders are often owed five or 10 times that $3,000 payment,” says Liniger. “But if the property goes to foreclosure, the second trust holder is not likely to get any money at all. This at least guarantees they get something.”

Other HAFA financial incentives include $1,000 to loan servicers to cover administrative fees, up to $1,000 for mortgage investors who agree to share short sale proceeds with second lien holders and $1,500 to the homeowners for relocation.

“The moving expense allocation acts as an incentive for them to stay in the property until the short sale goes through,” says Liniger. “Owner-occupied properties are usually in better condition than vacant homes.”

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Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) was introduced to simplify and streamline the short sale process. HAFA accomplishes this in the following ways: 

  • Compliments the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) by providing viable alternatives for borrowers who are HAMP-eligible
  • Utilizes borrower financial and hardship information collected in conjunction with HAMP, eliminating the need for additional eligibility analysis
  • Allows the borrower to receive pre-approved short sale terms prior to the property listing
  • Prohibits the servicer from requiring, as a condition of approving the short sale, a reduction in the real estate commission agreed upon in the listing agreement
  • Requires that borrowers be fully released from future liability for the debt
  • Uses standard processes, documents and time frames
  • Provides financial incentives to borrowers, servicers and investors

HAFA provides financial incentives as follows: 

  • Financial incentives for lenders participating in the program include a $1,000 servicing bonus
  • Homeowners can receive up to $1,500 in relocation assistance (which, in some cases, may classify as taxable income) after a short sale or deed-in-lieu has been executed
  • Lenders pay all servicing fees – homeowners suffer zero out-of-pocket expenses

If you (or someone you know) are a homeowner looking for answers, or would like to determine if you qualify for HAFA, contact me at 303-942-0648.  I’m here to help.  

Sources:

HousingWire “Treasury to Announce New Program to Avoid Foreclosure” (2009): http://www.housingwire.com/2009/10/12/treasury-to-announce-new-program-to-avoid-foreclosure/

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The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Program is a government-sponsored initiative led by the US Treasury Department assisting all Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)-eligible homeowners in avoiding foreclosure, specifically through short sales or deeds-in-lieu.

First introduced November 30, 2009 in Supplemental Directive 09-092 as part of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), HAFA assists eligible homeowners in quickly and effectively implementing short sales by providing financial incentives to lenders that work in conjunction with HAMP to assist homeowners in need.

The program was introduced in part with the intent to remove the stigma from short sales and help keep communities from being destroyed through massive foreclosures. HAFA in its current state is only applicable to conventional-type, non-Governmental Serviced Enterprises (non-GSE) mortgages and therefore does not apply to loans owned or guaranteed with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. These organizations may have plans to release their own versions of HAFA.

If you (or someone you know) are a homeowner looking for answers, or would like to determine if you qualify for HAFA, contact me at 303-942-0648. I can help.

Sources:
• 1Making Home Affordable “HAMP Supplemental Directive 09-09” (2009): https://www.hmpadmin.com/portal/docs/hamp_servicer/sd0909.pdf

• 2HousingWire “Treasure to Announce New Program to Avoid Foreclosure” (2009): http://www.housingwire.com/2009/10/12/treasury-to-announce-new-program-to-avoid-foreclosure/

• 3HousingWire “Treasure to Announce New Program to Avoid Foreclosure” (2009): http://www.housingwire.com/2009/10/12/treasury-to-announce-new-program-to-avoid-foreclosure/

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Shelli Dore

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…Remember! The next time you are in a conversation with someone who is thinking about a move – IN ANY CITY OR STATE IN THE US OR CANADA – call me first! I can help make sure your friends, family members and work associates are very well taken care of.

For agents trained to help home owners in distress, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Program  is the single most important piece of housing legislation to take place. Why?

For those trained in how to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and financial ruin by assisting them through the short sale process, after April 5, 2010, not only will trained agents  receive more requests for assistance with short sales from distressed homeowners, they will also receive increased support from the lenders that hold those distressed mortgages. HAFA shows that the government fully supports agents trained to help homeowners and work with lenders.

This is a tremendous opportunity to help homeowners facing financial hardship, and have a positive impact on communities nationwide.

If you (or someone you know) are a homeowner looking for answers, or would like to determine if you qualify for HAFA, contact me at 303-942-0648. I can help.

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Shelli Dore

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Source: www.indenvertimes.com
By Kevin Flynn on March 23, 2010

The North Metro commuter rail corridor through the heart of Adams County will be proposed as a single-track line but with five strategically placed double-tracked segments that will allow RTD to slash costs while retaining the capability for 15-minute service on this FasTracks corridor.

The refinement to the corridor, the second-most expensive and third-longest rail line in the FasTracks rapid transit program, is contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will be voted on Tuesday night by the RTD board for public release and comment.

The 18-mile corridor serves Denver, Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton, between Denver Union Station and 162nd Avenue, north of CO 7 and Colorado Boulevard.

The North Metro Corridor’s cost has been reduced from a high of $1.065 billion two years ago to the current working estimate of $909.8 million – a nearly 15 percent drop due in great part to RTD’s review of every corridor from the bottom up. New General Manager Phil Washington ordered the zero-based budgeting review to determine the least-cost way of getting all the corridors built while still serving all of the communities along them.

In the case of North Metro, planners found that they could build a system that mostly uses a single track for both northbound and southbound trains if they included five two-track passing segments and coordinated the schedules, allowing trains in opposing directions to pass without delays. Two of the double-track segments are at the north and south ends, and three are in the middle of the line. They are from south of 72nd Avenue to around 74th Avenue, from north of Thornton Parkway to just north of 104th Avenue, and from south of 124th Avenue to before the York Street crossing south of 136th Avenue.

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Colorado’s use of the federal government’s stimulus-related Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) is relatively low as of February, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Treasury and Housing and Urban Development departments.

As of the end of last month, Colorado had a total of 14,320 mortgage-loan modifications related to HAMP — 2,613 permanent modifications and 11,707 active trial modifications, according to the report. A trial modification precedes a permanent one.

By comparison, California had the most total loan modifications for that period at 205,606, followed by Florida with 123,144, Illinois with 53,285 and Arizona with 49,763.

States with the least HAMP activity included states with relatively low populations, including North Dakota with 245, South Dakota with 474 and Wyoming with 545.

The HAMP data also included mortgage-delinquency information provided by the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Colorado fared well in that arena, as well.

Colorado’s mortgage delinquency rate, according to the report, was in the second-lowest category, at 5.01 to 10 percent of total mortgage loans. The data relate to loans that are delinquent by 60 days or more.

Two states had the highest delinquency rates — California and Florida — at 20.01 percent and higher.

HAMP was created as part of the stimulus (or “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”), the federal government’s $787 billion package designed to jump-start the recovery of the U.S. economy. The HAMP program went into effect in August 2009, and can be used by holders of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Authority.

Via HAMP, such mortgage holders can modify their loans to make payments more affordable, and mortgage holders have the potential to get the full amount of the existing balance on a loan, according to the government.

As of last month, more than 170,000 homeowners nationwide have gotten permanent mortgage modifications, and another 91,800 such modifications have been OK’d and are pending, according to the report.

Homeowners with permanent modifications are saving a median of more than $500 per month on mortgage payments, for a total of $2.7 billion. Median is the midpoint between highest and lowest figures in a range.

Some 1.1 million homeowners have started trial modifications, and more than 1.3 million homeowners have gotten offers for trial modifications.

HAMP’s goal, the report said, is to offer 3 million to 4 million homeowners lower mortgage payments using loan modifications through 2012.

Click here to download the report in PDF format.

Source: Denver Business Journal

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve on Tuesday repeated its pledge to hold interest rates at record lows to foster the economic recovery and ease high unemployment.

But the Fed’s assessment of the economy at its meeting Tuesday was a bit more upbeat. It said the job market is stabilizing, which was an improvement from its January statement when it said the deterioration in the labor market was abating.

It also said business spending on equipment and software has risen significantly, also an upgrade from its last assessment.

Still, the Fed cautioned that consumer spending could be dampened by high unemployment, weak wage growth, lower wealth and tight credit. And it noted weakness in the commercial real-estate and homebuilding markets.

“The Fed painted the economy in a slightly brighter shade,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. “It’s been painted black for so long. Now, it is a lighter shade of gray.”

The Fed held its target range for its bank lending rate at zero to 0.25 percent, where it’s been since December 2008. In response, commercial banks’ prime lending rate, used to peg rates on certain credit cards and consumer loans, has remained about 3.25 percent — its lowest in decades.

Super-low rates benefit borrowers who qualify for loans and are willing to take on more debt. But low rates are hard on people living on fixed incomes and earning scant returns on their savings.

The Fed’s pledge to keep record-low rates for an “extended period” relieved investors. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day up nearly 44 points. Before the announcement, it had posted a gain in the single digits.

Prices for Treasurys rose slightly. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury fell to 3.66 percent from 3.68 percent just before the announcement.

The Fed made no changes to a program to drive down mortgage rates and bolster the housing market, even as a government report Tuesday showed housing construction tumbling in February.

Source: The Denver Post
03/17/2010 01:29:32 AM MDT
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Shelli Dore

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