HAFA Programs From Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac

Everyone understands that we are in the midst of a difficult recession and  struggling economy and it is effecting people all over the country. The unemployment rate is steadily on the rise and has an astounding effect on the real estate market.  

Thousands of  home owners are feeling the pinch and struggling to make their monthly mortgage and many owe more than their home is worth.  A home owner in this situation usually finds that their best option is to do a  “short sale,” in which their lender agrees to accept less than a full payoff to release the mortgage. Short sales is a solid option to foreclosure, it alleviates financial and emotional strain for all involved

There are programs designed to help,  HAFA is a Federally sponsored program that provides incentives to lenders that agree to short sales. Because short sales typically are a lengthy process, HAFA is hoping to streamline and standardize the short sale process. Unfortunately not all home owners will be eligible and not all lenders that participate in the program.

Recently both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they will implement their own type of  HAFA Program and will be very similar to the original HAFA program. Their programs will work like this: distressed homeowners will need to apply for a mortgage modification under the federal HAMP program and the programs will then offer incentives to homeowners and lenders to complete a short sale such as  $3,000 in “relocation assistance” offered to homeowners for completing a short sale.


New Threat For Homeowners After Short Sales and Foreclosures

Homeowners who have been able to sell their home as a short sale often feel a sigh of relief to be out from under the burden of their home loan debt. However,  it may not be that easy for both short sales and foreclosures as lawsuits against these homeowners may be increasing in the future.

According to several real estate and legal analysts, it is anticpated that lenders will file a tidal wave of lawsuits against homeowners in the next few years as a way to recoup losses when home sales or foreclosure auctions don’t result in enough money to pay the mortgages in full.

Under Florida law, banks have five years from the date of the sale to file for so-called deficiency judgments and up to 20 years to collect. Lenders can garnish wages or make claims on borrowers’ assets. These types of lawsuits were virtually unheard of before the real estate market turned, mainly because foreclosures and short sales  were relatively rare at the time.

Homeowners who are at the most risk of being involved with these lawsuits can include those homeowners who ransack properties or even those borrower’s who walk away from “underwater” mortgages.  According to a recent survey released by Trulia and RealtyTrac, four out of 10 homeowners said they would consider abandoning properties that are underwater, or worth less than the mortgages. Lenders hope to discourage these behaviors by filing these lawsuits.

On the other hand, most mortgage companies typically won’t sue homeowners who negotiate in good faith or those who default on their loans because of job losses or other unforeseen circumstances, said Anthony Manno, an executive with Steelbridge Real Estate Services. The Miami-based company works with lenders on the resale of foreclosed homes. Still, borrowers shouldn’t rely on a lender’s verbal commitment, Manno said. “Get something in writing.”

A forgiven mortgage balance through 2012 is not considered taxable income on a primary residence as long as the debt was used to buy or improve the house. But borrowers who walk away from investment properties risk having to pay federal income taxes on the forgiven amount.

Homeowners who hand their properties back to the bank through so-called deeds in lieu of foreclosure also should make sure they won’t be on the hook for any mortgage debt.


Madison Area Memorial Day Fun!

Memorial Day is right around the corner and it is the unofficial start of summer! The Madison area is host to many fun events for everyone to enjoy, so plan your weekend now with some of the below events. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!
Madison – Brat Fest, May 28-31: The World’s Largest Brat and Music Fest, featuring over 200 performances of free live music and fun. Willow Island at Alliant Energy Center. Brat Fest is 4 days filled with music, food and fun in the heart of downtown Madison. The World’s Largest Brat Fest is held every Memorial Day weekend – rain or shine – with all proceeds benefiting the local charities that help to staff the event. Brat Fest is also about enjoying good food at great prices while celebrating Wisconsin’s heritage and the people who make Madison a great place to live. And, a place where the cooking is done for the celebrating families and groups of friends.For more information call (608) 236-2035.

Madison Marathon-May 29-30:The Madison Marathon is held on Memorial Day weekend and  consists of a marathon and half marathon that begins and finishes at Alliant Energy Center. A Quarter Marathon, a first of its kind in the country, was added in 2008. A Health & Fitness Expo is held on Saturday; the races are on Sunday. American Cancer Society became MFI’s charity partner in 2007; they provide some of the volunteers and offer the ACS Charity Runner Program which brought them over $50,000 their first year.

Johnson Creek – Memorial Day Sidewalk Sale. Kick off summer fun and shopping with the  first sidewalk sale of the season! Johnson Creek Premium Outlets. For more information call (920) 699-4112.

Black River Falls – Memorial Day Pow-Wow, May 29-30: Black River Falls Memorial Day Pow-Wow – Memorial Day Weekend. Hwy 54 in Black River Falls. For more information call (800) 404-4008.


Personal Property Coverage

If you are a current homeowner or are searching for a new home, you know that homeowners insurance is a must in order to protect your investment. However, insurance policies can be confusing and you may not understand all the components. One part is called personal property coverage , this is the part of your homeowner’s insurance that covers your personal belongings – the contents in your home. Here are a few tips to make sure that you have the right coverage for your personal possessions.

1. Know what you have before you need to make a claim – a video inventory is a great way to have a thorough list of your household goods
2. Keep your receipts (especially of large purchases)
3. Understand the types of coverage (actual cash value or replacement costs) and how it works best for you
4. Add luxury items like jewelry or coins to the appropriate schedules or endorsements
5. Know what items may be excluded or covered under other policies (don’t make assumptions)

While you hope that nothing happens to your home, it is best to prepare ahead of time for possible loss or damage. That includes keeping a property inventory and having information on the cost of your items readily available and also stored in a safe place. Many agents recommend that you carry replacement cost coverage – while certain items may depreciate in value once they are purchased, the cost to buy the item new may be greater than what you originally paid for it or the depreciated costs.

You may own antiques, jewelry or art that is not covered under your basic policy (or has limits to the coverage). Typically you will need to obtain a certified appraisal for luxury or collector’s items and then carry special coverage through an additional endorsement to your existing policy.

Be sure to review your policy througly and don’t make assumptions that everything you own is covered. A good agent can help you understand the policy limitations and exclusions so that you are not caught with your belongings uninsured or underinsured. You may pay a little extra on your annual premiums, but good coverage makes for a good night’s sleep!


What You Should Know About The Home Seller Disclosure

Home seller disclosures are mandatory in many states and are becoming more common regardless of the state or federal requirements. A home seller disclosure is statement signed by both the home seller and the buyer listing all the pre-existing conditions of a home that could potentially affect the property value or future ability to sell.

A home disclosure is the responsibility of the seller – not the realtor or listing agent. While guidelines and disclosure forms can vary state to state, a federal disclosure for lead-based paint is required if the home was built prior to 1978. In fact, most disclosure guidelines are directed at older or existing homes, rather than new construction.

Material Facts are an important part of seller disclosures. A material fact can be any defect or situation that can impact the buyer’s decision to move forward on the purchase or the price and terms of the property sale. Here are some examples:

  • Structural defects
  • Property taxes
  • Fire or flood damage
  • Death in the home

Personal situations such as divorce, separation, job loss and other intimate matters are NOT material fact and do not have to be disclosed.

In new subdivisions, builders may choose to give additional disclosures such as future land use plans for new roads, new commercial projects, transportation intrusions (like air or rail traffic noise) and other issues that could impact a person’s decision to choose a certain neighborhood. While these disclosures may not be mandatory, current trends lean toward over disclosure to avoid possible litigation down the road.

Home seller disclosures are another piece of the home buying puzzle, but with a little due diligence, you can make them fit. Know your rights, and know what you are buying, and all the pieces will fall into place.