Refinance while Underwater? HARP Expanded to Reach More Borrowers

A ray of hope has just been offered to some homeowners with properties that are seriously upside down, according to the California Association of Realtors.

In order to help a broader range of distressed homeowners and offer relief to the housing market, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on Oct. 24 that the mortgage relief program HARP — the Home Affordable Refinance Program — has just been expanded.

Per FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 9 million families refinance into a lower cost or more sustainable mortgage product, approximately 10 percent of those via HARP. HARP is unique in that it is the only refinance program that enables borrowers who owe more than their home is worth to take advantage of lower interest rates and other refinancing benefits.

One of the biggest hurdles for borrowers who are current on their home loans and are considering refinance is the fact that the equity on their house is too low to qualify for a refinance. Until now, Fannie Me and Freddie Mac would only allow fixed-rate mortgages if the borrower’s property stays under 125 percent loan-to-value.  This requirement prevented many upside-down borrowers from refinancing to take advantage of the current low interest rates that they desperately need.  The enhanced HARP guideline lifted that restriction.

Other HARP program enhancements effectively reduced certain fees associated with the refinance as well as eliminated the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model estimate.  Both allowed cash strapped borrowers the ability to refinance without the steep fees a refinance might require.  The HARP program, schedule to expire at the end of 2011 has now been extended until the end of 2013.  New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by Nov. 15.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:

  • Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Borrowers can check whether they have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan by going to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/loan-look-up/Pages/default.aspx.
  • Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
  • Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
  • Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
  • Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Words of Caution:  Remember my previous blog about SCAMs – Too Good To be True, Then Beware? There are a lot of scammers out there to take advantage of distressed homeowners at their most vulunable stage.  Before engaging services that promise to modify your loans or save your home from being foreclosed on, make sure you check out the FTC Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule that outlaws advanced fees and false claims and requires clear disclosures from the servicers.

More Information About HARP:

More information about HARP is available from FHFA.

Other Resources for Distressed Homeowners:

Fannie Mae Offers New Buyer Incentives on Homepath Homes

Featured

New Buyer Incentive on Fannie Mae HomePath® Homes

Fannie Mae is offering buyers up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance on HomePath properties through December 31, 2010.

Buyers must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for the incentive:

  • HomePath property sale must close on or before December 31, 2010 and close within 60 days of offer acceptance
  • Only owner occupants purchasing a HomePath property as their primary residence will receive up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance
  • the initial offer must be submitted on or after September 23, close within 60 days of offer acceptance and close on or before December 31, 2010. No bonus will be given for investor purchases.
  • Buyers must request incentive upon submission of initial offer in order to be eligible.

Note: Offers submitted after November 15, 2010 may be difficult to close by incentive deadline of December 31, 2010.

Terms & Conditions:

  • The 3.5% seller contribution is to be used towards closing costs, including a home warranty, if desired and available.
  • Retail and public entities are eligible for the incentive however pool and auction sales, and sales to investors are not eligible.
  • Fannie Mae reserves the right to remove any property from promotion or end the promotion at any time. Any dispute over the payment of a bonus shall be resolved by Fannie Mae in its sole discretion.
  • Buyers should consult their lenders for guidance on financing. Lenders and mortgage products may impose their own limitations on the use of the 3.5% incentive. For example, the lender may consider the incentive a Seller Contribution and limit the amount to 3.0%. In those instances, the remaining 0.5% will no longer be available to the buyer.

See link to search for Fannie Mae Homepath Homes

Living Green? Small Space? Check out the Space Saving Furniture!

Featured

According to Kentfield, Marin county Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.”

“Green Living” is not limited to only use ‘Green’ products such as energy efficient appliances, water saving faucets, shower heads, toilets, bamboo flooring, recycled water, drought resistant plants, solar energy, double/triple paned windows, reuse building material, no VOC paint, and such.

Today, a friend of my shared a video of space saving furniture, which I thought would fit in nicely with green minded, sustainable living friends. these furniture has intelligent design where each piece of furniture has several purposes and fits in a tight space, are artistic an allow for smaller space thus reduce footprint of the new building design.

On a practical side, for friends or college kids who live in small apartments, houses, dormitories; these furniture allow them to have better quality of life while dealing with the tight space.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Prepare Your (Marin County) Home for the High Wild Fire Season – An Annual Exercise!

Featured

Living in Marin and Sonoma Count, San Francisco North Bay, and for that matter, the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the entire state of California, we are constant on “High Fire Alert” during the dry summer seasons.

With the state budget cut, which deeply affected the state, county park as well as municipal fire department budgets, it is with even more urgency that homeowners heed to the advise and guidelines on how to prepare yours homes for the fire season during the next few months.

In 2008, San Francisco Chronicle published an article highlighing what builders in the Oakland Hills did while rebuilding homes after the 1991 Oakland Fire. The Oakland Fire “ultimately killed 25 people and injured 150 others. The 1,520 acres (6.2 km²) destroyed included 2,843 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion.”

Along with the article, S.F. Chronicle included a partial list of checklist developed by (of all the places) Travis County, Texas about what how to prepare for a fire:

I am following suit and quoting below:

Wildfire Preparedness Check List

The more “yes” answers you have, the more prepared you are in the event of a wildfire threat.

The House

  • Fire-resistant roof i.e. metal, tile, composition?
  • Non-flammable siding materials?
  • Home is located down-slope?
  • Wooden deck facing or overhanging level ground?
  • Large glass windows, facing level ground?
  • Deck, porch, vents or house screened to keep sparks out?
  • Chimney extending above the roofline?
  • Chimney spark arrester in place?
  • Roof and gutters clean of debris?

Around the House

  • A fire defensible space (D-space) zone of 30 – 100 ft?
  • Adequate clearance of weeds, tall grasses and brush?
  • Leaves raked?
  • Trees pruned 10 ft up from base of trunk?
  • Debris cleared from beneath trees and near structures?
  • Tree limbs pruned at least 10 ft from roof or within 15 ft laterally from chimney?
  • House location or address clearly marked (3 inch letters)?
  • Small amounts of mulch used near wooden structures?
  • Firewood and other burnable items stored at least 30 ft from the house?

Access

  • Easy access to home by emergency vehicles?
  • Road grade less than 15% (not steep)?
  • Road wide and accommodating to two-way traffic?
  • Road straight with wide turns?
  • Large areas for vehicles to turn around?
  • Short driveway from main road?
  • Home area level and easily plowed or raked for fire line?
  • Multiple roads into and out of developed area for safe and easy access and evacuation?

Water Supply

  • Pressurized hydrants available?
  • Non-pressurized or dry hydrants available?
  • Water sources such as ponds or streams accessible?
  • Power lines buried and not susceptible to fire?
  • Well pumps maintained with uninterrupted electricity?

Ten Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for a Wildfire

1. Cut grass and weeds, rake leaves and pine needles and remove yard debris and branches.

2. Relocate woodpile and left over building materials at least 30′ from house.
NOTE: It is best to not locate the woodpile directly uphill or downhill of any structure.

3. Signs, address and access are well marked, and visible both night and day. Reflective numbering/lettering that is 3″ or larger is recommended.

4. Prune dead and low-hanging tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground around house. Remove all dead vegetation in brush and shrubbery.

5. Store all gas, oil and other chemicals away from the house. This includes propane tanks on BBQ pits.

6. Keep roof and gutters free from leaves and needles.

7. Enclose spaces under porches, decks, foundations and overhangs, and roof/attic vent openings with 1/8″ metal screening.

8. Have garden hoses connected on all sides of your house.

9. Place tools (such as ladders, shovels, rakes and hoes) for easy access to fire fighters.

10. Check driveway for adequate clearance for emergency vehicles. (Both height and width).

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Federal Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyer Closing Deadline Extends to 09/30/10

Featured

Updated July 1, 2010 – US Senate Passed this Bill and it is now at President Obama’s to be signed.

June 29, 2010 – US House extends Closing Deadline for First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit to 09/30/10 if they are in contract as of 04/30/10.

The homebuyer has to be in contract before 04/30/2010 and now close by 09/30/10 (instead of 06/30/10). This bill is going to the congress and is expected to pass.

This is in part due to the slow process by the lenders and loan servicers during the loan approval and loan funding process where two months escrow might not suffice to close escrow. However, I also fee the benefits to First Time Homebuyer in contract on Short Sale properties due to the notorious slowness in lender approval of short sales.

Hopefully the ones that are in contract on short sale as of 04/30/10 will also get the up to $8,000 tax credit if they close by 09/30/10. There is also the California Tax Credit of up to $10,000 which expires 12/31/10 – unlike the federal tax credit, this tax credit has to be claimed over a three year period.

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barr

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Novato, Marin Real Estate Market Overview as of May 27, 2010

Featured

It’s been quite sometime since I published a Novato Markret Overview. As I have told interested parties – the market is hopping for homes that are entry level homes, attractive to both first time home buyers and investos; but can be quite challenging for high-end or move-up homes.

Vey clear drop in % in escrow happens between $700K and $800K, with a steep drop from sellers market to buyers market; this might have something to do with the Jumbo Conforming loan cut off point of $729K.

However, homes are very competitively priced and in great conditon can go into escrow quickly, no matter where the price point is.

               
  Novato Market
  Week of 05/27/2010
           
  # of Total Units % of Total Market
  # Total Units # In Escrow   % Active % In Escrow  
Type          
SFDs 255 98 62% 38% N
CIDs 89 47 47% 53% S
All SFDs and CIDs 344 145 58% 42% S
           
SFD by Price Range          
$0-$500K 55 32 42% 58% S
$500,001-$600K 38 16 58% 42% S
$600,001-$700K 38 16 58% 42% S
$700,001-$800K 36 19 47% 53% S
$800,001-$999,999 36 7 81% 19% B
$1M – $1.25M 20 3 85% 15% B
$1.25M – $1.5M 17 3 82% 18% B
$1.5M+ 13 2 85% 15% B
TOTAL SFDs 253 98 61% 39% N
           
% in Contract Type of Market      
< 25% Buyers      
25% – 40% Neutral      
> 40% Sellers

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View

Leisure Stroll on Mt. Burdell, Marin Open Space, Novato, CA

A leisurely stroll on Mt. Burdell, Marin Open Space, on a very fine, early spring day.

Sunny, warm, clear, air fresh, quiet, except for birds chirpping, grasses are green; shining with dew,flowers are budding and tiny leaves peeking out. Water was flowing and Duke happily splashed in the stream.

We can see miles ahead all the way to the bay……

A picture perfect day!

This is from the trailhead in Partridge Knolls …. there are many trailheads for Mt. Burdell in San Marin area, Novato, CA.

A Casual Stroll along Mt. Burdell, Novato, in the Magnificant Marin County

Fabulous Mt. Burdell provides a gorgeous backdrop for City of Novato in the magnificant Marin County, San Francisco North Bay, CA. The pictures were taken in the summer, around the very desirable Partridge Knolls neighborhood, overlooking San Marin, showing the ‘golden’ state. During the raining season, the hills turns fresh and than jade, provides a refreshing look throughout the county. Mt. Burdell, being one of the ‘younger’ hills in Marin County, has oak trees dotted in various places, provides a lively and beautiful picture of the hills.

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

 MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.

Novato Marin Schools in Session, Duke is Happy at Dogbone Dog Park

Novato public schools are back in session, and Duke, our beloved Laborator / Pointer mix is very happy that he gets to go to Dogbone Meadows Dog Park to see his best friend, Hunter, again.  Since Dogbone Dog Park is in the opposite direction of my house in Partridge Knolls, San Marin Area, to my work, Frank Howard Allen Realtors, Duke only gets to go there after I drop my younger son off at the local school which is just a block away from the park.  This means Duke has not been there for quite sometime 😦  

The park is very popular, lots of dogs and their humen go there to hang out with their buddies.  The place can get overwhelming for Duke and I late afternoons after work.  I love going there in the mornings where things are calm, and there are only a few familiar dogs and very responsible dog owners.  We enjoy seeing each other and catching up.  And Duke!  He is in heaven!  You can not find a happier dog (o.k. maybe the other dogs at Dogbone Dog Park).

See the following for info about the very premier Dogbone Dog Park, Duke and his best friend, Hunter!  I still need to take some pictures later in the day when the sky is blue and bright.

—————————————————————————————————————–Dogbone Meadows Dog Park in Novato, Marin County, located en route to Stafford Lake and West Marin, dogs often bring their people when they are on the way to the beaches.  The dog park is right accross from Novato Chase luxury homes, is probably the best dog park in Marin County, or maybe even California.  Due to the great location and the natural surroundings, there are talks of starting the first community garden in Novato next to the dog park. 

Built by dog loving volunteers (or shall we say, slaves of dogs), the property is around 1 acre, with tracks for dogs and human alike, toys and exercise stations (the hoops, loops, bridges, jumps, tubs, etc) for dogs only.  The volunteers planted trees for shade, put down benches and , water fountains, , porchesThe backdrop is Open Space, part ofO’Hare Park, great hiking, horseback riding trails.

This is a morning with unusual heavy fog from West Marin, a beautiful background for the dog park. 

Duke (black with white spots, rescued from 2nd Chance Rescue) and Hunter (Golden, dapper with his red bandana – he has a whole collection of those) love to come here in the morning – Duke, after dropping his brother off at local high school, and Hunter, after dragging his mom for his daily 2 hour walk and play (can’t say Hunter does not have a GREAT life, even Duke is envious of him!) – Hunter will chase the tennis ball and Duke will run along Hunter.

Makes Happy Dogs and Happy people when their dogs are tired the rest of, the day!   

It’s a foggy morning, but I thought it’s interesting, so I snapped the pictures.  

 

Duke and Hunter waiting for Hunter’s mom to throw the ball.

Time to chase the ball!

Duke’s best friend, Hunter, whose only passion is chasing the tennis ball!

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

SERVING MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA – FOR ALL YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.

Marin County Bank Owned / REO / Foreclosed Homes as of 07/16/09

MARIN COUNTY BANK OWNED / REO / FORECLOSED HOMES

UPDATED 07/16/09 (last updated 06/06/09)

By Popular Demand … Thanks for emailing… Here is the updated report as requested!

Due to strong demand from my past and current clients and the interest from the prospective clients, I am providing you with list of current Bank Owned (REO – Real Estate Owned, and Foreclosed) homes.  The list will be updated freqeuently depending on relevant activities.  

(Word of Wisdom from your Realtor –  In addition to REO (Bank Owned) properties, there are GREAT Deals out there if you look hard enough.  I will be able to help you to find the best property for you in Marin and Sonoma county, Bank Owned or Not!  (O.K. I still have to work on the new Blog ‘Tale of a Short Sale’, but there are other priorities)  

The towns included in this list are Marin County towns South Marin, Central Marin, North Marin and West Marin (yes, we even have a few in South, Central and West Marin).  Specifically: Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Marin County, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales

Single Family Homes, Farms and Ranches are in one link; and Condos/Townhomes are in another link.  Note that the link expires in 30 days (Per MLS rule).

Marin County Bank Owned Single Family Homes   Marin County Bank Owned Single Family Homes (Updated 07/16/09)

It has been 1 and 1/2 months since I last (06/06/09) posted Marin REO proeprties – taking care of my clients tends to get in the way of posting online.  However, never hestiate to email me if you need current info.

The Marin housing market is heating up again, as evident in the new ‘sellers’ market.  Lack of supply and increasing demand play a big role in that – Economics 101, I am sure.  This can be attributed to a few reasons:  Continuing interest in first time homebuyers taking advantage of the up to $8,000 tax credit from the government, interest rates stay historicacl low, including the new friendly Jumbo ($729,000 in Marin county), consumer believing the market has hit the bottom (as evident by many multiple offers), the lenders are required to hold of for an additional 90 days before starting the foreclosure process – allowing distressed homeowners the opportunity to work out their loans with the lenders – we have heard quite a few successful loan modifications), short sales are getting easier to approve, less stress for buyers, and much more.  

And 1 and 1/2 months later, the famous, but accurate remark of: “The Bottom of the Market is Hindsight”   Don’t be the one who missed out on the opportunity.

Changes between 06/06/09 and 07/16/09!  for Single Family Homes

66 Totals!

  • 19 Active – Rumor had it and now Luxury REOs are finally on market.  Vacation at home with Bay and Mt. Tam views in Sausalito – speaking of breathtaking views!  check out that 178 Santa Rosa Avenue.  Belvedere REO? with stunning water view, small but sure

        ~ Continue watching for outstsanding properties on REO list! ~

  • 29 Pending (Contingent, Pending) a gorgeous home in Larkspur – 5 Wittshire Avenue, inescorw just after 3 days; 1190 Cambridge (short sale at $470K, now REO at $372,900) in escrow after 2 days, probably multiple offers too!  On the other hand, a major fixer (or tear down) in San Anselmo, first priced at $1,350,000 went into escrow when it was reduced to $1M in May. 
  • 18 Sold since 06/06/09 – Remember that super hot deal on Sun Lane? Sold for  $710K (12.72% over asking) ALL Cash. One of those, no offers, but then suddenly many offers came in.  A Shea Home in Pointe Marin closed in 21 days for $855K (last sale in 06 for $1,150,000)

Changes between 06/06/09 and 07/16/09 for  Marin County Bank Owned Townhomes / Condos  

54 Total Listings – 

Questions about the current market? a specific property? The Incentive?  Ready to Buy? Ready to Learn?  Call your trusted Realtor to give you personalized updates...

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

 MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.