Frustrations with housing initiatives
In a recent report, it was noted that there is diminishing help available for underwater and financially distressed borrowers across the United States.
There are many types of help available to financially distressed mortgagees, but often this help is hard or difficult to obtain.Over the last few years, there has been a lot of media attention drawn to the difficulties of locating trustworthy and knowledgeable folks that are familiar enough with homeowner initiatives in order to effectively process a short sale package or triage a loan modification application.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to read an article about an initiative offered by a specific lender. Then, when you lift the phone and contact the lending institution, you cannot get through or the customer service representative has no knowledge of the topic in question.
Treasury housing initiatives
Here’s a list of the most common federal housing initiatives and whom to contact if you need support.
Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) – This is a Treasury program that offers short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure programs to certain distressed borrowers if and only if the first lien investor that owns the note on the loan participates in the program. To find out if a specific loan qualifies, contact the servicer and submit a package for review.
Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – This is a Treasury program that offers a loan modification to certain borrowers. Underwater borrowers that apply must be able to demonstrate ability to make mortgage payments on the new terms offered by the lender. Only certain investors participate in the program and, if the loan modification gets approved, the borrower will sign new loan documents—just as s/he did when the loan was obtained. To find out if a specific loan qualifies, contact your servicer and submit a package for review.
Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) – This is a program that “rewards” underwater borrowers who have continually paid their mortgage for a specified period of time with the opportunity to refinance their current mortgage at today’s prevailing rates. It is for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans only, and borrowers need to be able to qualify to obtain a new loan. To find out if a specific loan qualifies for HARP 2.0, contact a local or national loan officer that participates in the program. Borrowers do not need to contact their current mortgage servicer.
Although there has been a great deal of positive news about the housing industry in the last few weeks, this positive news may not last long. With the sequester just a few days away, there may be a new faction of distressed borrowers that need to take advantage of some of these Treasury housing initiatives.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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