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:

Novato Marin Real Estate Market Overview 08/19/09 – Sellers Market!!!

Partridge Knolls under Mt. Burdell

Partridge Knolls under Mt. Burdell

Can’t believe summer slips by so quickly!  I last posted Novato Statistics on April 1, 2009 and now is the later part of August.  Students are back in school and we are heading into fall.    

During the past four months, with housing prices dropped 20%-30% and certain condos at 50% drop (the ones with problementic HOAs), stimulus plan, attraction of the ‘up to $8,000 credit back’, interest rate staying low, regular sellers holding onto their properties unless they have to sell; the supply remains low and demand has heightened.  All these contribute a shift in the percentage of houses under contract, moving most price ranges into the ‘sellers’ market, meaning % of houses under contract is great than 40%.    

The only decrease in percent of pendings are the 700-800K range (inbetween starter homes and luxury homes) and the super luxury range (over $1.5M) in Novato.   

Novato, and for that matter, Marin county real estate are seeing an encouraging trend of more buyers are out looking for homes, and they are Serious and Anxious buyers.  Most are the traditional buyers with solid downpayments, steady jobs; some are seasoned investors, all cash buyers, some are first time investors, and many first time buyers are also taking advantage of the soft market, low housing prices; and not surprisingly, all are looking for that great bargains and many are getting them. 

% pending are also skewed by the many short sale homes that have been in contract for a long time while waiting for lenders approval, but what great bargains the buyers can get with time in hand and plenty of patience.  I often encourage my clients to look for short sales if they can wait, beats jumping back into that multiple offers situation with REO, bank owned homes.  All my buyers clients are getting the best deals now because both of us have the patience to strategize, look, wait and bargain for the best property to purchase.       

Contact me at (415) 717-0293 or at sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.com to discuss the market and the current trend, get familiar with the buying process, and start hunting for inventories on the market, whether REO, Trust Sale, start home, luxury homes.  Take time to see many homes so you know the right house when you see it!  It’s never too late to get ready.      I will be very happy to find the best house / investment property for you! 

It will be my pleasure to serve you!  Good Hunting!

category   Total Units/ In Escrow   % Active   % Pending % +/- since 04/01/09
All SFD’s and CID’s   350/164   53%   47% (S) +11%
SFD’s   248/106   57%   43% (S) +11%
CID’s   102/58   43%   57% (S) +13%
$0 -$500K SFD   47/36   23%   77% (S) +24%
$500,001-$600K   35/22   37%   63% (S) +20%
$600,001 – $700K   40/20   50%   50% (S) +13%
$700,001 – $800K   33/6   82%   18% (B) -7%
$800,001 – $999,999   39/10   74%   26% (N) +20%
$1M – $1.25M   23/7   70%   30% (N) +19%
$1.25M – $1.5M   14/5   64%   36% (N) +15%
$1.5M+   17/0   100%   0% (B) -20%
  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

_________________________________________________________

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.

Marin Real Estate Home Sales Statistics as of June 15, 2008

Compare to four months ago, in the middle of winter, the number of inventories almost doubled (from 844 to 1586).  The good news is, the market has started to move again, after the dramatic slow down. 

The percentage of pending sales for bread and butter homes priced under $1M increased a healthy 6%, from 20% to 26% (brings it right to neutral market).  Homes priced higher than $2M stays the same at 15% and homes priced between $1M and $2M dropped 2% from 22% to 20%.  

The lowered price for start homes are allowing buyers who were not able to afford a Marin Home to start buying again. 

There is a silver lining in all that cloud! 🙂  

As of 06/15/2008      
     On Market In Contract % Pending
Marin Real Estate – Total 1586 362 23%
       
Belvedere Real Estate 22 4 18%
Corte Madera Real Estate 50 13 26%
Fairfax Real Estate 40 7 18%
Greenbrae Real Estate 33 7 21%
Kentfield Real Estate 29 7 24%
Larkspur Real Estate 35   5 14%
Mill Valley Real Estate 169 42 25%
Novato Real Estate 458 123 27%
Ross Real Estate 18 4 22%
San Anselmo Real Estate 80 17 21%
San Rafael Real Estate 400 94 24%
Sausalito Real Estate 65 13  23%
Tiburon Real Estate 86 8 9%
       
Marin Homes $1-2 million 396 80 20%
Marin Homes  > $2 million 215 32 15%
Marin Homes $0-999,999 975 250 26%
Buyer’s Market <25%
Neutral 25% – 40%
Seller’s Market >40%
 

Novato Real Estate Market Overview as of May 28, 2008

Interesting Novato Real Estate Market Trend, May 28, 2008

As there are more Short Sales and Bank Owned (REO) properties on the market, the trend is driving prices for short sales and REO properties downwards; attracting bargain hunters while higher end properties move slower and more cautiously.   

Coupled with the new programs since the announcement of the new Jumbo Loan limits, the consumers are out shopping again and will not wait when the right property comes along.  Instead of two loan threasholds, conforming (up to $417,000) and Jumbo (over $417,000); there are now three brackets – Conforming (up to $417,000), Super Conforming (between $417,000 and $729,250) and Jumbo ($729,250 and up).  The consumers are certainly taking advantage of that! 

For the lower end properties, some borrowers are checking into certain low income financing plan as well as the revived FHA loans (Check out FHA loans in another post). 

Many first time home buyers and people relocating from out of state or other california housing markets are quite excited about the prospect of finally being able to own a home in Marin county.  

Keep a close eye on the market. Make sure you get all your ducks in a row and jump in when a great deal comes along! you informed!   

category

 

Total Units/ In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

% +/- since 4/30

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

459/112

 

76%

 

24%

+3%

SFD’s

 

326/70

 

79%

 

21%

+3%

CID’s

 

133/42

 

68.5&

 

31.5%

+4.5%

$0 -$500K SFD

 

48/23

 

52%

 

48%

+24%

$500,001-$600K

 

41/10

 

76%

 

24%

-3%

$600,001 – $700K

 

43/9

 

79%

 

21%

-3%

$700,001 – $800K

 

51/12

 

76.5%

 

23.5%

+3.5%

$800,001 – $999,999

 

56/6

 

89%

 

11%

+6%

$1M – $1.25M

 

39/5

 

87%

 

13%

-7%

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

13/1

 

96%

 

4%

-12%

$1.5M+

 

25/4

 

84%

 

16%

+12%

  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Marin County Farmers Market Up and Running

Marin County Farmers Market - Courtsey of Marin IJMARIN COUNTY FARMERS MARKET SCHEDULE 

May marks the opening of most Marin County Farmers Markets, other than the newly approved Ross Farmers Market which received the authorization from the Ross Town Council on  4/10/08.

The Ross Farmers Market will run from 4 to 8PM, Thursday nights from June through September.  The market will begin after Ross School goes on summer break, to avoid traffic issues downtown. 

The following is the list of market and respective schedule as reported by local Marin paper, Marin IJ. www.MarinIJ.com

Corte Madera Farmers Market, Town Center courtyard in Corte Madera noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays year-round.. Call 382-7846.

San Rafael – Marin Civic Center Farmers Markets, by the lagoon Thursdays and behind the Civic Center Sundays, both from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. Call 472-6100 or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

San Rafael – Downtown San Rafael Farmers Market, Fourth Street between B Street and Lincoln, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 25. Fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, baked goods and entertainment. Call 457-2266.

Fairfax Farmers Market, 124 Bolinas Road, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through October. Call 472-6100, ext. 113, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Larkspur Farmers Market, Larkspur Landing Circle at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through September. Call 382-7846.

Novato Farmers Market, Grant Avenue, 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 30. Call 472-6100, ext. 104, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Sausalito Farmers Market, Ferry Landing parking lot at Tracy and Bridgeway, 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays through October. Call 382-7846.

Marin County Population Marks Growth in 2007

According to Marin Independent Journal (Marin IJ), the populaton in Marin Country grew by 2,326 in 2007, almost a 1% growth, the largest jump in 4 years.

Marin population grew from 255,080 to 257,406; a 0.9% growth from 01/01/2007 to 12/31/2007; which is in line with those of the state of California, which measures growth from 07/01/2006 thrun 06/30/2007.

Mill Valley had the largest growth percent wise at 1.1%, or 154 residents; San Rafael, on the contrary, saw the smallest growth of 0.7% or 392 residents.

Property type wise, Novato has the most single-family detached homes, at 12, 196; and the largest number of mobile homes at 718. San Rafael has the largest number o multi-unit apartments, at 2,070. Ross has the laragest number of people per household, with 2.97; while Sausalito hasthe smallest, at 1.74.

The largest city in Marin county is San Rafael, with 58,235 residents, followed by Novato, at 52,737. The smallest city in Marin is Belvedere, 2,161.

California’s population grew by 1.3% t 38 million with 490,000 new residents in 2007. One out of eight Americans now lives in California (12.5%).

San Francisco grew a whole 1.5% during 2007. The new population is 824,525 on 12/31/2007.

Novato Market Review as of April 30, 2008

 Novato Market Review as of April 30, 2008

Changes since March 19, 2008.  Available units changed from 376 to 436 (16% increase), in escrow changed from 82 to90 (10% increase), so we have a loss of 5% in percent in escrow. 

The biggest gain in In-Escrow is in the your bread and butter single family home price ranged from $600K to $800K and not surprisingly, the $1M to $1.25M range where the rich but not super rich are looking for homes.  The fixers and very small homes (1,000 sf or slightly more) see a drop in houses under contract. 

Will be an intersting summer.  I will keep an eye on all homes and keep you informed!   

category

 

Total Units/ In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

% +/- since 3/19

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

436/90

 

79%

 

21%

1%-

SFD’s

 

306/55

 

82%

 

18%

0.5%-

CID’s

 

130/35

 

73&

 

27%

2%-

$0 -$500K SFD

 

34/8

 

76%

 

24%

12%-

$500,001-$600K

 

44/12

 

73%

 

27%

12%-

$600,001 – $700K

 

41/10

 

76%

 

24%

15%+

$700,001 – $800K

 

44/9

 

80%

 

20%

4%+

$800,001 – $999,999

 

55/3

 

95%

 

5%

8%

$1M – $1.25M

 

39/8

 

80%

 

20%

9%+

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

25/4

 

84%

 

16%

7%-

$1.5M+

 

24/1

 

96%

 

4%

1%-

  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Novato Real Estate Market Overview, Week of March 19, 2008

It’s been almost two months since I last posted the market statistics for the Novato Real Estate Market (part of Marin County).  There is a noticeable improvement on the market – Other than a couple of price ranges, most of the others increased sales pending percentage anywhere form 10% to 20% increase in sales for various price range even as the inventory has grown.  

My office reported an active March, a lot of buyers out there looking for ‘bargains’ in Marin county, and Novato is where  you will find it!

We are Optimistic!

Want to know the market statistics or go out and see a house or tow?  Just give me a call!

category

 

Total Units/In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

376/82

 

78%

 

22%

SFD’s

 

264/49

 

81.5%

 

18.5%

CID’s

 

112/22

 

71&

 

29%

$0 -$500K SFD

 

33/12

 

64%

 

36%

$500,001-$600K

 

39/6

 

85%

 

15%

$600,001 – $700K

 

33/3

 

91%

 

9%

$700,001 – $800K

 

42/10

 

76%

 

24%

$800,001 – $999,999

 

45/6

 

87%

 

13%

$1M – $1.25M

 

27/3

 

89%

 

11%

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

22/5

 

77%

 

23%

$1.5M+

 

21/1

 

95%

 

05%

  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Marin County Two Month Closed Sales Comparison Report – 01/2008

Marin County Association of Realtors released the two months closed sales comparison report for the months of December, 2006/January 2007 vs December 2007/January 2008.As you can see from the report; the sales price stays slightly ahead of average, but the sales volume dropped substaintially from 2006 to 2007, and again, from 2007 to 2008. Interesting thing is that the highest price of sold home in 01/08 is over $10M and for 2007 is over $20M.  However, the average sale price in 2008 is higher than that of 2007.  Average Days on Market is actually 10 days lower than that of 2007. Something for Marin buyers to think about if they are sitting on the fence.    

Marin County
Two-Month Closed Sales Report
All Residential Homes Sold

January 2007

January 2008

TOTAL PROPERTIES SOLD: 148 TOTAL PROPERTIES SOLD: 98
  List Price Sale Price DOM   List Price Sale Price DOM
AVERAGE: $1,266,588 $1,223,173 104 AVERAGE: $1,382,876 $1,322,220 94
MEDIAN: $879,000 $869,000 83 MEDIAN: $945,000 $900,000 82
HIGH: $21,000,000 $20,000,000 1217 HIGH: $10,799,000 $10,500,000 465
LOW: $139,000 $135,000 0 LOW: $239,900 $215,000 0
ADJ. AVG.: $1,139,151 $1,102,017 98 ADJ. AVG.: $1,296,697 $1,238,152 94

December 2006

December 2007

TOTAL PROPERTIES SOLD: 210 TOTAL PROPERTIES SOLD: 145
  List Price Sale Price DOM   List Price Sale Price DOM
AVERAGE: $967,763 $943,819 84 AVERAGE: $1,221,434 $1,171,945 88
MEDIAN: $839,000 $815,000 73 MEDIAN: $795,000 $760,000 63
HIGH: $3,995,000 $3,900,000 613 HIGH: $9,950,000 $8,500,000 522
LOW: $40,000 $33,000 0 LOW: $49,500 $45,000 0
ADJ. AVG.: $957,670 $933,985 84 ADJ. AVG.: $1,168,590 $1,128,581 88

Statistics from BAREIS MLS® February 8, 2008. Information herein believed reliable but not guaranteed.
Copyright @ 2008 by Bay Area Real Estate Information Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

Adjusted average does not include the high and low sale data.