Sunday, March 22, 2009
Home Maintenance Tips -
Repair the Ravages of Winter
As Spring approaches, keep these tips to freshen the outside of your home.
- Prune your trees and shrubs.
- Head to the shed and do a “tool inventory” to make sure you have all the items you'll need in the months ahead. Inspect the tools you already have. For example, test your hoses for leaks.
- Spring is a good time to paint fences and the exterior of your home, especially wood surfaces, to protect them from summer heat and sun. Wood decks should also be sealed once a year.
- Now that the heating season is over, have a chimney sweep clean fireplaces and flues.
- Inspect door and window screens for tears. You can often repair small tears using a kit from your local hardware store. This will prevent insects from getting into your home, and keep you comfortable on the screened porch.
- Have your gutters cleaned.
Excerpted from www.pueblo.gsa.gov
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
$6,000 Home Run Grant
What is the $6,000 Home Run Grant?
The $6,000 Home Run Grant is a mortgage assistance program that grants $6,000 to home buyers who finance the purchase of a newly constructed, never occupied residence in Utah using a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The Home Run Grant is funded by the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund, established by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah State Legislature, and Utah Housing Corporation.
Who is eligible to receive a $6,000 Home Run Grant?
· The Home Run Grant is available to any Utah home buyer who meets the following income restrictions:
o Single person, $75,000
o Married couple, $150,000
· Buyers must occupy the purchased home as a primary, permanent residence no later than 30 days after closing.
What homes can be purchased with a $6,000 Home Run Grant?
Homes must be recently constructed. They cannot be previously occupied.
How does a home buyer apply for a $6,000 Home Run Grant?
Home buyers should tell their home builder, realtor and mortgage lender that they want to apply for a Home Run Grant. Mortgage lenders are the key link between the home buyer and the Home Run Grant. The mortgage lender assists the home buyer to provide necessary information to secure the grant from Utah Housing Corporation. The home buyer does not work directly with Utah Housing Corporation.
What type of loan can home buyers use to purchase the home?
Buyers must qualify for a 30 year, fixed interest rate loan of their choice to finance the purchase of the home. Examples of qualifying loans include:
* FHA, VA, or Rural Housing
* Utah Housing Corporation’s FirstHome and FirstHome Plus
* Federal Home Loan Bank’s HomeStart
What mortgage lenders can assist homebuyers to secure a $6,000 Home Run Grant?
Any mortgage lender qualified to make mortgage loans under Utah law can assist homebuyers to secure the Home Run grant.
Can the $6,000 Home Run Grant be combined with the new federal $8,000 tax credit?
Yes. Home buyers can take advantage of both the Home Run $6,000 Housing Grant and the $8,000 federal tax credit. The $6,000 grant is available at the time the home is purchased.
How many Home Run Grants are available to home buyers?
A total of 1,666 grants are available. Each grant is $6,000. Only one grant can be used for each home purchase. Home Run Grants are distributed on a first-come first-serve basis to qualified home buyers through the home buyer’s mortgage lender.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
If you're thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won't cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don't have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.
1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as: Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate; providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up; or providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary. When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if:
- Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
- You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
- You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.
2. Hire a qualified team. The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won't try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn't in your best interest. A qualified real estate professional can:
- Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
- Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
- Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
- Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
- Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
- Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.
3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include:
- A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
- A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
- Proof of your income and assets
- Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years
4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you're well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:
- If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
- With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
- With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.
When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)
5. Don't expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
- Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
- Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.
1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
2. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
3. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
4. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
6. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
7. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
8. Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
9. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.