Super Storm Sandy Federal Assistance

According to FEMA, the deadline for residents and small businesses to apply for federal assistance for damages  related to super storm Sandy has been extended to Jan. 28, 2013.  The original deadline was December 31, 2012.  The extension applies to Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley.


Any homeowner, renter, or business owners who suffered loss and damages as a result of Super Storm Sandy, is encouraged to register with FEMA and seek assistance by the January deadline.

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If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. And some of that advice is probably negative. Why buy now with prices still falling? Don’t you realize real estate is no longer a good investment? Don’t you know that people who bought six years ago lost their shirt? We understand the concern your friends and family have. However, let’s look at whether or not now is actually the perfect time to buy a home.

There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. What are the experts recommending?

In the last 120 days, many experts have said that buying now makes sense. This list includes: John Talbott, Christopher Thornberg and Warren Buffett.

2. When will I begin to see appreciation if I buy now?

This is a great question. Macro Markets, LLC is a company that studies housing prices. They started their Home Price Expectation Survey in 2010. They ask 100+ housing industry experts to project housing prices through 2016. The most current survey shows that the experts are predicting prices to remain relatively flat in 2012. The experts then project prices to rise reaching a cumulative appreciation of over 10% by 2016.

Purchasing a home today makes great sense from a financial standpoint. Think of the old axiom: you want to buy low and sell high. This decision should not only be a financial one however.

That leads us to our third and final question:

3. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey shows that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
A place where you and your family feel safe
More space for you and your family
Control of the space
What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the reason you decide to purchase or not.

Bottom Line

Don’t allow money to get in the way of you making the right decision for you and your family. In the long run, the finances will work in your favor anyway.

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5 Foreclosure MYTHS

Beginning in 2007, foreclosures rocked the real estate world. Like an out-of-control freight train, they began decimating the market, peaking in 2009. Myths and rumors began propagating like mushrooms as consumers struggled to understand the new reality. Although many misconceptions have come and gone, we still encounter five myths on a regular basis.

1. There is going to be a flood of new foreclosures to the market.

This rumor has appeared every year since 2008 and has been routinely debunked. However, recent announcements that the Feds reached a settlement over the robo-signing scandal have reignited speculation. The idea is simple: Since the cork is now out of the foreclosure bottle, we’ll soon see another flood of REOs inundating the marketplace.

My personal opinion: don’t hold your breath.

Banks have learned that if they control inventory, they can affect local prices. By releasing homes in measured amounts, they realize higher prices than if they released a glut of homes. In addition, they’ve learned that if they can mitigate their losses by agreeing to a short sale, everyone wins.

2. You can go directly to a bank to buy a foreclosure.

Every few weeks I’m asked how to buy foreclosures direct from a bank. Someone knows a friend being foreclosed on and they want to step in and grab the house before it hits the market. Don’t we all? In reality, banks have a simple system – they first offer properties on the courthouse steps. The rest they assign to asset mangers who then hire local real estate agents to put them on the market along with all the other homes. Want an REO? Pay cash at the courthouse steps or get in line witheveryone else when they hit the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

3. You can get a killer deal by submitting lowball offers on foreclosures.

You would think this myth would be dead by now. Unfortunately, like Elvis sightings, it just won’t go away. Here’s the truth: Banks want REOs sold in 30 days or less, so they typically appear on the market priced slightly under comparable properties. If the property doesn’t sell quickly, the bank will lower the price after about 30 days. Lowball offers are ignored and are, quite frankly, a waste of everyone’s time and effort. You might get a deal by offering a lower price on a foreclosure that’s been sitting on the market for more than 90 days, but remember that there are good reasons it’s gone unsold for so long. And even if you have cash, your lowball offer won’t be accepted —seriously.

4. You can’t use foreclosures when doing an appraisal.

Or short sales, for that matter. That is no longer true. In fact, in many neighborhoods, that’s all that’s there. Therefore, foreclosed or distressed sales represent the actual value of homes in the area and HAVE to be used to appraise other properties. Don’t like it? Get over it. Times have changed and the ways neighborhoods are valued have changed as well.

5. Foreclosures are only affecting the bottom end of the market.

This used to be true. However, while foreclosure rates on the lower end of the market have actually decreased, they’re actually increasing on the upper end. According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, the market share of foreclosed homes under $1 million is shrinking, but those among properties valued over $1 million are rising – up 115% since 2007. And foreclosures on properties valued upwards of $2 million have increased by 273%. While some well-known jet-setters have melted down and lost everything, others are choosing to strategically default. They see it like liquidating a poorly performing portfolio – they have enough resources to cut their losses and move on. Historically, banks have been reticent to foreclose high-end homes and absorb a large loss, but defaulters are now forcing their hands and mansion foreclosure rates are moving on up.

Myths control behavior, and this has never been truer than in the housing market. Savvy agents will work hard to educate their clients, debunk myths, explain market trends, educate with solid facts – and actually close transactions.


Author: Carl Medford, a practicing Realtor with Prudential California Realty in the San Francisco Bay Area   TRULIA.COM

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complements of the IMPERFECT HOME (dot com)

Posts published in this series so far: 
Day 1: You’re here!
Day 2: An Organized Coat Closet
Day 3: The Three Baskets Tip
Day 4: How to Apply Contact Paper to Drawers 
Day 5: Fabulous Pantries 
Day 6: A Peek Inside My Kitchen 
Day 7: DIY Pocket Organizer
Day 8: Defining Clutter 
Day 9:  Permission to Let Go, and to Keep
Day 10: Sometimes you Just Have to Live With It
Day 11: Kids’ Socks
Day 12: Kid’s Clothes (The Rule of Three)
Day 13: Kids’ Closet Inspiration
Day 14: Sock Drawer 101 
Day 15: Master Closet
Day 16: A Place for Everything
Day 17: Command Centers
Day 18: Create an Action File 
Day 19: DIY File Basket
Day 20: Manuals and Warranties
Day 21: DIY Magazine Files
Day 22: Electronic Odds and Ends
Day 23: Pretty Tidy Desks
Day 24: How to Make Labels using Picnik
Day 25: Bathroom Storage
Day 26: Linen Closets
Day 27: It’s Linky Party Day!
Day 28: Laundry Room Organization
Day 29: Sentimental Items
Day 30: My craft Closet
Day 31: Staying Organized
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ROBO SIGNING National Mortgage Settlement: What You Need To Know

Last week, the Federal government and 49 state governments (Oklahoma being the exception) agreed to a $25 billion settlement regarding robo-signing and the challenges it created in the foreclosure process. We want to give a synopsis of the settlement and some perspective on what effect it will have on the housing market in 2012.

The Basics

The $25 billion in funds will be dispersed as follows:

$17 Billion National Commitment to Foreclosure Relief Efforts
The servicers collectively agree to commit a minimum of $17 billion directly to borrowers through foreclosure relief effort options, including principal reduction for qualifying borrowers, short sales, anti-blight measures, and enhanced homeowner transition programs.

$3 Billion National Commitment to Underwater Mortgage Refinancing Program
The servicers collectively agree to commit $3 billion to refinance “underwater” homes (when a homeowner owes more on a mortgage than a home’s current market value). To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments on a mortgage owned by one of the five banks.

$5 Billion Payment to States and Federal Government
The servicers’ $4.25 billion payment to the states includes $1.5 billion for payments to borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure by one of the five servicers…$750 million of the state-federal payment will go to the federal government to resolve federal claims.

For further details on the settlement you can go to the official website.

Will the Settlement Have a Major Impact on a Housing Recovery?

Probably not. Though it is a step in the right direction, it may be too little too late. Here are some opinions on the settlement:

IHS Global Insights

“Like many previous plans to stem foreclosures, this agreement will help at the edges. The problem is too big for it to have a large impact, however…This agreement will help the housing market move ahead in 2012 in a small way. But it is hardly a game changer.”

“While there is no doubt some benefit to formalizing and organizing the process of foreclosure and better monitoring of the process, the fact is that the settlement changes little.”

Capital Economics

“While it is good that the settlement has been finalized and will offer principal reductions and refinancing schemes to borrowers, the bigger picture is that the settlement is not large enough to dramatically alter the outlook for the housing market or the wider economy.”

What about Foreclosures Moving Forward?

The settlement did bring clarity to one major issue – foreclosures. Banks have been holding off the foreclosure process on millions of homes over the last 18 months as they waited for the particulars of the settlement. They now know how they can move forward without penalty. The result will be an increase in foreclosures coming to the housing market.

Housing Wire

“It will speed up processing, and perhaps mean that foreclosures that have been waiting around since robo-signing came to light in 2010 will now gain legitimacy.”

Calculated Risk

“It does appear the number of completed foreclosures will increase following this settlement – especially in some judicial states with large backlogs – so there will probably be more REOs (lender Real Estate Owned) for sale.”

Bloomberg News

“The $25 billion settlement with banks over foreclosure abuses may result in a wave of home seizures…Lenders slowed the pace of foreclosures as they negotiated with attorneys general in all 50 states for more than a year over allegations of faulty and fraudulent paperwork used to repossess homes. With yesterday’s agreement, banks are likely to resume property seizures.”

Wells Fargo

“Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said the settlement helps the housing market in the long run because it allows banks to proceed with millions of foreclosures that have been stalled. Many lenders have refrained from foreclosing on homes as they awaited the settlement.”






from The KCM Blog

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Fannie Mae Extends Mortgage Relief for Unemployed Borrowers

Fannie Mae issued new guidelines to its servicers Wednesday, introducing an unemployment forbearance program which provides servicers the flexibility to assist borrowers who have a financial hardship due to job loss, including those facing imminent default.

With unemployment forbearance, the servicer reduces or suspends monthly payments for a specified period for a borrower who is unemployed.

With the new guidelines, the servicer can approve an unemployment forbearance term of six months without

obtaining Fannie Mae’s approval, provided that all borrower eligibility requirements are met.

If during the final month of the initial unemployment forbearance period, the borrower remains unemployed, the servicer must determine if the borrower is eligible for an extension no more than six additional months.

Forbearance extensions may be recommended on a case-by-case basis and must be submitted to Fannie Mae for review and a final decision.

The new directive from Fannie Mae mirrors the unemployed forbearance guidelines issued by Freddie Mac last week.

Fannie Mae says the program “simplifies and streamlines the use of forbearance options” for the GSE’s servicers.

The new guidelines prohibit the servicer from proceeding with foreclosure during the forbearance period.

Servicers are required to implement Fannie Mae’s unemployment forbearance policies and procedures no later than March 1, 2012, for borrowers who become eligible for such assistance on or after that date. However, the D.C.-based GSE is encouraging all servicers to adapt their processes to the program guidelines immediately.


By: Carrie Bay 01/11/2012 for

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Postage Increase

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