Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Great Article from ProPublica

Homeowner Tips for Getting Loan Modifications

by Srinivas RaoProPublica, Sep. 15, 11:48 a.m.

ProPublica asked a simple question of more than 700 homeowners dealing with the administration's mortgage modification program: Knowing what you know now, what tips would you give someone who's struggling with a mortgage payment? Their advice: Get help, stay organized, and don't give up.

In total, 718 homeowners, all of whom applied for a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, volunteered tips and tricks for struggling homeowners. While more than a third of respondents were skeptical about the value of program, the majority of respondents suggested simple steps homeowners should take to survive the process of applying for a modification. Culling through the hundreds of responses, three pieces of advice stood out.

Have you worked for a servicer in a loan modification call center? We want to hear from you.

Are you a homeowner who's struggling to pay your mortgage? Are you seeking a loan modification through the government program? We want to hear from you.

Don't do it alone. The most popular suggestion was a simple one: Don't be afraid to ask for help. One hundred thirty-five respondents advised struggling homeowners to hire lawyers, contact their elected representatives, alert the media and file complaints with a variety of government agencies; they also advised homeowners to rely on emotional support from friends, family and other homeowners in the same situation. As one California homeowner put it, "Find others to talk to, or you will go crazy."

One of the most recommended resources for struggling homeowners was the HOPE Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE. The Treasury Department-sponsored hotline, operated by the nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, helps connect callers with HUD-approved counselors who can provide struggling homeowners with information and support. Homeowners who suspect their servicer of making mistakes can escalate their case to a special HOPE Hotline team. The Hotline can also connect homeowners to local HUD-approved counselors; homeowners can access the list of counselors directly at HUD's website.

Stay organized. Research and organization were important themes among respondents, with 125 of them advising homeowners to take notes, to do online research, and to get everything in writing during their campaign to get a loan modification. For many respondents, the process of applying for a loan modification stretched across months, involving an ever-changing parade of customer representatives that 64 percent say gave them contradictory answers at times. Respondents recommended everything from pen and paper to certified mail, phone recorders and video cameras to keep track of the process. As one New Mexico homeowner explained, "document your journey thoroughly -- you will never be able to recall or communicate all the madness you will go through."

Just keep trying. Another 48 homeowners stressed the importance of making mortgage payments by any means possible. Despite what 52 percent of respondents say they were told by their servicer, homeowners do not have to be behind on a mortgage to be eligible for a HAMP modification. By making their monthly payments, however painful, struggling homeowners can prevent themselves from descending into a spiral of debt, and perhaps avoid the loan modification process altogether. As one Massachusetts homeowner put it, "Sell your furniture, car, dog and your soul to the devil to get your mortgage payment. The banks are liars, incompetent and not trustworthy."

Others offered optimism to those searching for loan modifications, asking struggling homeowners to not give up the fight. Ninety respondents told homeowners that they had to "be relentless," to "persevere" and to "just keep trying." Many who stuck with the program remarked that it eventually paid off, with one homeowner saving over $25,000 after treating the application process like "a part-time job." While most described the struggle as heroic, at least one respondent put her advice bluntly: "It sucks, but stick with it."

Still others gave homeowners common-sense advice, ranging from tips on how to getting a consistent story from your servicer (by building a relationship with one or two representatives you can reach directly) to how to improve your application's viability (by watching your spending and not using your ATM card for eating out). One Maryland homeowner spoke for a handful of respondents in stressing the importance of being polite. "Above all, don't be combative on the phone, or the entire conversation and time spent on hold will be for nothing."

But some respondents were less hopeful about the value of the program. 193 respondents advised homeowners to steer clear of the program altogether, describing it as "pointless," "humiliating," "hopeless" and "not worth the hassle." "Quit paying, save your money and find an apartment," said one Nevada homeowner, echoing a common theme of many of the more downtrodden responses. "They're going to get your house anyway they can."

To many of these homeowners, the loan mod program is at once deeply frustrating and their best shot at securing their home and financial future. They have spent months, sometimes years, navigating a bureaucratic maze set up by their servicers, all the while in the dark about the final the status of their loan modification.

For struggling homeowners looking to start the process of a loan modification, one Florida homeowner may have had the most practical advice of all: "Pray."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Real Ideas for Real Estate Salespeople Impacted By the BP Oil Spill

Proposed Method for Calculating Income Losses
For Real Estate Agents, Brokers, Brokerages in Directly Impacted Locations

There exists irrefutable evidence that the BP oil spill disaster absolutely and directly impacted the ability of Real Estate agents, brokers and brokerages from selling properties along the gulf coast.

These agents, brokers and brokerages have historical data to prove that their incomes have been derived through sales activity on these impacted shores, yet they are to date denied the ability to receive appropriate compensation for their losses.

This is in direct conflict with the $93M advertising campaign that BP has funded stating that they will “make it right”, “make you whole”.

If these businesses are not appropriately and adequately assisted, they will perish. That will be as a result of inaction on the part of BP and now the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Please consider this approach to calculating lost income due to agents/brokers and brokerages:

• Compare 2008, 2009 and 2010 income.

• Determine what percentage of income is derived from real estate sales commissions.

• Establish what percentage of the real estate commissions are from property sales in DIRECTLY impacted areas.

• Use this factor to determine loss of income due to lost sales POSSIBILITY in the DIRECTLY impacted area.

If my income is 100% derived from real estate commission sales, and historically 50% of those sales were in the DI area, then it would stand to reason that 50% of the income that I would have made in 2010 would have also been derived from that area. That would mean that whatever my 2010 projected income should have been would be 50% attributable to real estate commission sales that I would have made on the DI area.

Shouldn’t I then be eligible to receive compensation for that loss based on the proportionate part of my income that is dependent on sales in that area?

Proximity, and Dependency on the Gulf – Check, Check.

Monday, September 13, 2010

42% of Perdido Key Listings Have Price Reductions!

Saavy buyers are checking out gulf front and resort properties hoping to take advantage of the seasonal adjustments as the third quarter of the year approaches.

The current inventory of residential properties on Perdido Key stands at a moderate level of just 267 units. This includes single family, attached homes and condominiums, and is far from excessive.

Still between April and September a little more than 40% of sellers have reduced their prices.

Search available listings in Perdido Key, Pensacola and Pensacola Beach and see for yourself!

Interested in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores or Fort Morgan, Alabama? Search here for available properties.