Monday, March 28, 2011

C.A.R. launches short sale website

With fewer than three of five short sales closing in California, C.A.R. is well aware of the complexity and difficulty of navigating lenders’ and servicers’ short-sale procedures. To assist both REALTORS® and consumers, C.A.R. has launched, a website specifically focused on short sales.

On the new site, visitors will find information ranging from short sale news, foreclosure timelines, and red flags to watch for, to legal Q&As, a short-sale glossary, and much more.

Additionally, consumers can find a REALTOR® to assist with their short-sale transaction, learn what to expect as a buyer or seller of a short-sale property, and find out whether they qualify for government programs to keep their home.

Visit the new site at

Sunday, March 20, 2011

U.S. Mortgage Rates Flat This Week

The U.S. mortgage rates held steady basically this week, said the Primary Mortgage Market Survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac said that 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rose slightly to 4.88 percent for the week ending March 10, 2011, up from last week when it averaged 4.87 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.95 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week was 4.15 percent, the same from the previous week' s figure. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.32 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.73 percent, up from the prior week' s 3.72 percent, the company said.

Moreover, the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 3.21 percent this week, down from last week when it averaged 3.23 percent.

"Mortgage rates held steady amid a strong employment report. The private sector added 222,000 jobs in February, the most since March 2006 while the unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent, the lowest share since April 2009," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac.

"Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have averaged at or below 5 percent in every week but one this year, contributing to record home affordability."

Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders.

Source: Copyright Xinhua News Agency - CEIS 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inexperienced Real Estate Agents Cause HAFA Failures

Real Estate Industry News

Inexperienced and uneducated real estate brokers and agents are hampering short sales in the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, according to a pair of real estate professionals that specialize in the distressed real estate sales.

Agents and brokers who are knowledgeable of the short sale process can complete HAFA agreements in as little as 60 days, according to Teaneck, N.J.-based agent Travis Waller, who spoke at a real estate conference in New York. But it all comes down to the short sale paperwork.

“The banks know who’s experienced and who’s not,” Waller said. ”If you don’t present the files correctly to the bank, you’re going to get put at the bottom of the pile. When the banks recognize you know what you’re doing with your presentation of the documents, you’ll get a call within a few days.”

But the inexperienced agent can cause a deal to fall apart. ”Many short sales are lost to foreclosure because of the inexperience of the listing agent,” Waller said.
Getting into the short sale market is sometimes the only option for agents and brokers trying to stay in business in tough markets, explained Cincinnati-based agent Holly Maloney. An educated short sales agent can help distressed mortgage borrowers, promote local housing stability and create new opportunities for agents, she said.

“There are so many REO properties out there,” Maloney told conference attendees. ”If we can short them, we’re keeping the market values up 35%-40% higher than what they would get on an REO property.”
Maloney spent years in the mortgage industry before getting her real estate license; both she and Waller have professional designations in distressed sales. Maloney said she’s completed 14 short sales under HAFA and Waller said he’s successfully closed 73 of the 75 short sale cases he’s taken.

In addition to listing properties intended for short sale and representing prospective short sale buyers, the agents also will work as a consultant to other listing agents and brokers, handling the short sale process in exchange for a referral fee — 30% of the listing agent’s fee, Waller said.

Waller said, in his experience, borrowers he lists properties for short sale have missed four to seven mortgage payments before they come to him, and most don’t have a lot of time before their property will go into foreclosure, so they must act quickly.

“You are working under the gun as a short sales agent. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then time is just ticking away,” he said.

But uneducated real estate agents and borrowers who wait too long aren’t the only causes of failed short sales. ”There are problematic banks and non-problematic banks in dealing with short sales,” Waller warned.

Maloney agreed and recommends agents use online resources to dispute failed HAFA agreements, particularly when dealing with a servicer for a private investor, rather than Fannie Mae of Freddie Mac. She recounted one deal where the servicer gave approval on a Thursday for a deal, but only if he closed by the following Monday. When all the pieces were in place, the servicer’s employee did not follow through with the proper documents to close the sale, and the bank repurchased the house at sheriff’s sale the next day.

“Through these websites I was about to dispute it and sell it during the 30 day redemption period,” she said.

The agents credited technology like the Equator platform as an effective technology tool to communicate and transmit HAFA documents to servicers, but Maloney added it’s the only way that officials from servicers like Bank of America and Nationstar will work with agents and brokers.
For the less tech-savvy servicing shops, fax machines are still the communication method of choice, though Maloney and Waller said they prefer e-mailing the loss mitigation personnel.

By: Austin Kilgore,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hispanic Soldier’s Home Foreclosed While She Was Serving Abroad

“I couldn’t believe it,” Capt. Tania Garcia said. “I was in shock.”

Excerpts from the report…

Army Capt. Tania Garcia said she was on active duty in South Korea when she got the news.

Garcia’s Realtor informed her that her south Orange condominium had been foreclosed upon. Suddenly, a soldier serving abroad had no home to return to.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Garcia said. “I was in shock.”

More shocking news was ahead. Court files from the foreclosure showed an affidavit had been filed that stated Garcia was not in the active military and that the notice of foreclosure was served on her husband.

Two problems: Garcia said this week she was on active duty — and she is not married. Now, Garcia is fighting to win back the home she thinks was taken from her unfairly.

Garcia’s condo initially was bought back by Flagstar Bank and then resold… (No, it was Fannie Mae!)

Garcia’s real-estate broker, Celia Ruiz of Casa Latino Real Estate, said she worked with the bank during the short sale, in which the lender allows a home to be sold at a price often far below the amount owed on the mortgage. She has e-mails from a bank employee stating the sale was approved.

Five days before the scheduled sale, Ruiz said, she received the bad news. Ruiz was flabbergasted.

“I’ve done a lot of short sales,” Ruiz said. “I have never seen a property go to foreclosure while we are working on a short sale.”

The “non-military affidavit” included in the court file attested to the fact that Garcia was not in the active military, and a military status report from the Department of Defense was attached, stating: “Based on the information you have furnished, the DMDC [Department of Defense Manpower Data Center] does not possess any information indicating that the individual is currently on active duty.”

If a person is on active duty, the military must be served notice of the foreclosure to make sure the person is aware of it, Kaufman said. Garcia said there was “no way” that the bank could claim to be unable to contact her.

Still in the service, Garcia shipped off to Iraq on Friday with the legal battle serving as a constant distraction in a place where, she said, distractions cost lives.

“When I was not in this country, I was working to protect my country,” she said. As she prepared to leave again this week, Garcia was hopeful that she would return to find the situation resolved.

Read the article in its entirety here…

Minority Real Estate Leaders AREAA, NAHREP, NAREB Say Government Efforts Are Failing to Meet the Needs of Multicultural Homebuyers

Saying millions of Americans are being left out of the American dream of homeownership, the nation´s three largest organizations representing multicultural real estate professionals, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), today called upon policy makers to do more for minority homebuyers.

This callto action comes after AREAA, NAHREP, and NAREB met in Washington, D.C., to discuss regulatory and policy changes to preserve access to homeownership for people of color.

"Overwhelmingly, the members of our three organizations agree that the lack of mortgage financing is the single biggest challenge facing minorities who want to buy homes," said Kenneth Li, AREAA chairman. "The government´s housing recovery efforts have not gone far enough to improve the situation facing minority homeowners."

At the March 3-4 Multicultural Real Estate & Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., members of AREAA, NAHREP, and NAREB were surveyed on their views of the home buying market and economic recovery efforts.

According to the survey results, nearly 80 percent of the attendees responded they "believe that the current policy efforts have done little to improve the situation facing minority homebuyers."

Attendees also felt strongly that an active secondary market role is needed by the government to ensure that all homebuyers have access to the American dream of homeownership.

"These are real estate professionals who are out in the community, trying to help hard-working Americans achieve their dreams of buying homes, and they are confirming what we have long suspected - that their clients cannot get loans," Carmen Mercado, Chair of NAHREP said.

In the survey of attendees, "mortgage financing availability" was cited as the single greatest factor facing the multicultural real estate community. Additionally, respondents cited "tight underwriting requirements" as the greatest challenge facing prospective homebuyers looking to obtain financing.

To stabilize the home-buying market for minorities, the organizations issued a joint report entitled "The Five Point Plan: Refocusing the Future of Minority Homeownership."

"Our Five-Point Plan is designed to bring common sense and a balanced approach to restoring the dream of homeownership to everyone. None of us wants to have homeownership a dream deferred or denied," NAREB President and CEO Vincent Wimbish stated.

The Five-Point Plan focuses on sustainability, accountability and responsibility on the part of all parties in a real estate transaction.
It calls for more diverse solutions to meet the future housing needs, and demands more preparation and responsibility on part of consumers and the industry alike. It also calls on the industry to develop unique and innovative solutions to the housing challenges facing the multicultural communities today and in the future.

Specifically, The Five-Point Plan calls for.

- A balanced regulatory approach that will support and encourage sustainable homeownership for qualified and responsible consumers seeking to purchase a home;

- Increased diversity in the financial services arena and adequate oversight of minority business utilization and senior management hires;

- Maintaining strong government support of the secondary market system that includes the broad network of primary lenders, government-supported securitization agency, and FHA that collectively works to broaden credit availability for all communities at all times;

- Strong consumer protection oversight to restore consumer and market confidence in homeownership; and

- Mandatory financial education for all first-time homebuyers that prepares them for the responsibilities, risks and rights associated with homeownership.

The Plan includes specific recommendations for each of the Five Points.

Visit : , : , or : to download the Five-Point Plan.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lending to blacks, Hispanics plummets during housing crisis By Kenneth J. Cooper

Since the housing market collapsed, mortgage lending to African Americans and Hispanics has plunged precipitously — by more than 60 percent, according to a new study of loan information that banks submit to the federal government.

Together, African Americans and Hispanics were able to borrow 62 percent less to buy or refinance homes in 2009 than in 2004, before the market crashed, the computerized analysis finds. With lenders imposing tighter credit standards, mortgage dollars going to non-Hispanic white borrowers also declined, though by considerably less: 17 percent. Asians fared best, obtaining nearly an equal amount in mort­gages.
The study, using Federal Reserve data, was conducted by Maurice Jourdain-Earl, founder and managing director of ComplianceTech in Arlington, Va., which advises financial institutions on fair lending practices.

Mortgages made to Hispanics have decreased the most, by 63 percent, to $78 million in 2009 from $214 million in 2004. Lending to African Americans has dropped to $49 million from $122 million, or 60 percent.

Whites have been affected much less and Asians barely. New mortgages to white borrowers declined to $1.1 billion from $1.3 billion, or 17 percent. Lending to Asians stayed almost the same.

Whites were about twice as likely as African Americans and Hispanics to be approved for prime mortgages with the lowest interest rates, while members of the two largest minority groups were two to four times more likely to receive subprime loans, which have higher rates. By contrast, the disparities were much narrower for loans insured by the government’s Federal Housing Administration, which has attracted a growing number of borrowers during the credit crunch.

The study concluded that a “dual mortgage market” has emerged, with white and Asian borrowers having better access to lower-cost mortgages than African Americans and Hispanics, who on average pay more to own or refinance a home — if they can obtain a mortgage.
“The higher cost for mortgage credit translates into less money for basic necessities,” Jourdain-Earl writes. Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carmen Mercado Named Chairman of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals


Carmen Mercado, a Long Island, New York-based Education & Diversity Manager with NRT’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, was installed as chairman and president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals during its policy forum last week in Washington, D.C. Mercado has served on the association’s national board since 2006 and most recently was vice chair. Gerardo “Jerry” Ascencio, a Los Angeles-based real estate broker, will succeed Mercado as vice chair. Both officers will serve a one-year term in their post.

“Carmen Mercado and Jerry Ascencio bring a potent combination of real marketplace knowledge, leadership and understanding of the challenges that Hispanic homebuyers and practitioners encounter,” said immediate Past Chair Alex Chaparro. “Their grasp of the issues will be a huge benefit to NAHREP’s national leadership team.”

By day, Mercado trains real estate agents and drives leadership development for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, which is owned by NRT LLC, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company. Mercado is also an active member of the Realogy Diversity and Inclusion Council. She is a certified real estate instructor and delivers training programs throughout the Long Island and Queens area. She became active in NAHREP at the local level in 2004 when she founded the local NYC affiliate chapter. In 2006, she was appointed to the national board and has served on the executive committee prior to being named last year as vice chair. A passionate advocate for underserved homebuyers, she has helped educate local Latinos about homeownership over the years by delivering seminars in liaison with local nonprofits.

Gerardo “Jerry” Ascencio, GRI, CRS is founder and past president of the NAHREP San Fernando/Santa Clarita affiliate chapter and a member of the association’s national board. He is an established real estate broker in the greater Los Angeles area with two offices and 65 agents and broker-associates. Ascencio served on the board of directors for the Southland Regional Association of Realtors and has served in numerous leadership and educator roles. He will succeed Mercado as chairman in 2012.


The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, a non-profit 501c6 trade association, is dedicated to increasing the homeownership rate among Latinos by educating and empowering the real estate professionals that serve them. Based in San Diego, NAHREP is the premier trade organization for Hispanics and has more than 18,000 members in 48 states and 50 affiliate chapters.


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