Fannie and Freddie Set Timeline Requirements For Short Sales

Beginning June 15, real estate agents working with distressed homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should expect to receive a decision on a short sale offer within 30-60 days.

The GSEs issued new guidelines Tuesday that fall under the Servicing Alignment Initiative rolled out last fall and aim to bring greater transparency to the short sale process and expedite decisions related to these pre-foreclosure sales.

Not only is a short sale an effective foreclosure alternative when home retention is no longer an option, but it keeps homes occupied and helps to maintain stable communities, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

Addressing real estate practitioners’ No. 1 complaint about short sales, FHFA directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to establish a new uniform set of minimum response times that servicers must follow in order to facilitate more efficient short sale transactions.

The GSEs’ new short sale timelines require servicers to make a decision within 30 days of receiving either an offer on a property under the companies’ traditional short sale programs or a completed Borrower Response Package (BRP) requesting short sale consideration, whether it’s through the federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) program or a GSE program.

If more than 30 days are needed, servicers must provide the borrower with weekly status updates and come to a decision no later than 60 days from the date the BRP or offer was received.

According to the GSEs, this 30-day add-on will provide some leeway for servicers who may need more time to obtain a broker price opinion (BPO) or a private mortgage insurer’s approval for a short sale. All decisions must be made within 60 days.

In the event a servicer makes a counteroffer, the borrower is expected to respond within five business days. The servicer must then respond within 10 business days of receiving the borrower’s response.

The GSEs plan to use the new short sale timelines to evaluate servicer compliance with the Servicing Alignment Initiative.

Edward DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA, says the GSEs new borrower communication and timeline requirements for short sales “set minimum standards and provide clear expectations regarding these important foreclosure alternatives.”

GSE servicers must comply with the new minimum communication time frames for all short sale evaluations conducted on or after June 15, 2012, although servicers are encouraged to begin implementing the new requirements sooner.

“I applaud Fannie and Freddie for finally coming out with real guidance with real world timelines for their servicers,” commented Anthony Lamacchia, broker/owner of McGeough Lamacchia Realty Inc., which specializes in short sales. “There is no question that this will help short sales and the market as a whole.”

Last year Freddie Mac completed 45,623 short sales, a 140 percent increase since 2009. Fannie Mae’s short sale completions shot up by 101 percent over the same period, totaling around 79,800 in 2011. by Carrie Bay

CoreLogic Reports Denver-area Home Prices Up Slightly

Denver Business Journal by Dennis Huspeni, Reporter
Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 12:41pm MDT

Home prices in metro Denver continued a gradual climb upwards in February as compared to a year earlier, according to the latest home price index (HPI) report from CoreLogic Wednesday.

The Denver-Broomfield-Aurora area saw the HPI, including distressed sales, increase 1.2 percent from February 2011. Without the distressed numbers, the index increased 1.6 percent year over year.

“That does not surprise me,” said Sunny Banka of Metro Brokers Sunny Homes in the Denver Tech Center. “It should show the market is going up because of the low inventory and I believe we have a lot more buyers in the market.”

Denver also showed year-over-year increases in January and in December 2011, CoreLogic reported.

In February, metro Denver again beat the national average, which showed a year-over-year price decline of 0.8 percent, excluding distressed sales (short sales and “real estate owned” transactions). With those distressed sales, the national HPI fell even farther — 2 percent from February 2011.

“House prices, based on data through February, continue to decline, but at a decreasing rate,” Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, said in a statement regarding the national trend.

“The deceleration in the pace of decline is a first step toward ultimately growing again. Excluding distressed sales, we already see modest price appreciation month over month in January and February,” he said.

CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) data includes resales of single-family houses and condos. The Santa Ana, Calif.-based company provides consumer, financial and property information and analysis to business and government.

Banka said home prices in metro Denver have already hit bottom and will continue to climb. With the recent slight increase in the interest rates, buyers see a window of opportunity closing — which should drive activity here.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Banka said. “Many buyers are saying ‘Oh my gosh, I better do something.’ We’ve already hit the bottom of the market on price and interest rates, so they don’t want to miss an opportunity.”

The report noted that of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas, which are measured by population, 67 show year-over-year declines in February — which is nine fewer than in January.

For all of Colorado, the HPI for sales including distressed rose 0.9 percent from a year earlier, and up 2.1 percent for sales without distressed properties.

“The continued strength of sales activity and tightening inventories in many markets are early and hopeful signs that prices will continue to stabilize and improve in the coming months. In fact, non-distressed home sale prices, which represent two-thirds of all sales, have appreciated by just over 1 percent since the beginning of the year,” Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic president and CEO, said in a statement.

The CoreLogic report is one of several popular measures of home prices, using different methodologies, covering different housing types and geographic areas, and giving different results.

The most recent S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Index from Standard & Poor’s, issued March 27 and covering January, showed metro Denver homes posting a small year-over-year price increase of 0.2 percent, the first such rise in 19 months of Case-Shiller reports.

The Case-Shiller prices are for resales of stand-alone single-family homes only, not for new construction or condominiums.

Home Prices Close To Bottoming, To Rise In 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The relentless decline in home prices is nearing an end and prices should rise for the first time in seven years in 2013, but a possible new wave of foreclosures could threaten the recovery, according a Reuters poll of economists.

The median forecast of 24 economists polled by Reuters was for the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index to end the year unchanged. That was the same finding back in January for this house price gauge, which covers 20 cities.

“We are expecting a gradual improvement, but if we get a big wave of new foreclosures coming to the market, price declines could be even greater,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

The survey forecast the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rising 2.0 percent next year, up from 1.5 percent in the January survey.

The housing market’s collapse pushed the economy into its longest and deepest recession since the 1930s. Historically, housing has led the economy out of recession, but it has been the weakest link in the recovery that started in mid-2009.

While residential construction accounts for a mere 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, home prices have an oversized reach in the economy, influencing a wide range of consumption decisions by households.

House prices have so far fallen about 32 percent from their peak at the end of 2005, and an estimated 11 million Americans now owe more on their homes than they are worth.

A resulting tide of foreclosures has held back the housing market’s recovery.

The survey predicted about 1.5 million foreclosed properties will come on to the market this year. While there is no comparison for this figure, most analysts believe the foreclosure wave has either peaked or is close to topping out.

Given that foreclosures and the accompanying fear of further price declines are the main obstacles to any housing market recovery, few analysts say that further purchases of mortgage backed securities by the Federal Reserve will help.

Fed officials meet on April 24 and 25 to debate whether further steps are needed to drive borrowing costs lower to spur stronger economic growth.

Mortgage rates are already near record lows and house affordability is the best in history.

“The problem with the housing market is not necessarily that mortgages are expensive,” said Millan Mulraine, a senior macro Strategist at TD Securities in New York.

“It’s more the expectation that prices may continue to fall and cause a lot of potential buyers to sit on the sidelines to wait for more attractive entry points. I don’t think there is lot more mileage to be achieved from MBS purchases.”

Further MBS purchases by the U.S. central bank, however, could help keep mortgage rates low as the economy’s recovery gains momentum.

The survey forecast the 30-year mortgage rate averaging 4.00 percent in 2012, down from 4.15 percent in the January poll.

Although job growth slowed in March, the labor market is expected to continue strengthening this year.

That should help to lift home sales. Sales of previously owned homes are expected to register an annualized 4.70 million unit annual pace in both the second and third quarters of this year before topping at 4.80 million units in the fourth quarter.

That compares to a rate of 4.60 million units and 4.70 million units in the second and third quarter respectively in the January survey.

“This gradual healing is encouraging, but we must tread carefully as the housing market is still far from a robust recovery,” Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; polling by Snehasish Das and Aakanksha Bhat; Editing by John Stonestreet

10 Ways To Turn Off A Homebuyer

What a difference a couple of years makes.

Back in 2007, homebuyers would beg to purchase your house. They would even bid more than the asking price for the privilege to do so.

Today … well, not so much. Once the real estate bubble burst and foreclosures poisoned the housing pool, buyers suddenly regained the upper hand. But instead of buying, they’re waiting, convinced that housing prices will continue to drop.

What’s a smart seller to do in this environment?

We assembled a coast-to-coast SWAT team to address the crisis: Chad Goldwasser of Goldwasser Real Estate in Austin, Texas; Terry Cannon, a buyer’s agent and broker with Oregon Exclusive Buyers Realty in Salem, Ore.; and Julie Dana, the New York-based “home stylist” and co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell.”

They suggest 10 buyer turnoffs that sellers should avoid at all costs.

“If you do all the staging correctly and have a good agent, the house will hopefully only be on the market a few weeks,” Dana says. “Then you can go back to living your life.”

Read Article:

Home Prices to Increase Modestly by Year-End: Clear Capital

The valuation firm Clear Capital released the results of its home price forecasting models Thursday. The company expects residential property values at the national level to show slight increases over the next three months, ending the year with a growth rate of 1.2 percent.

Diagrams illustrating the trajectory of home prices from 2006 to now and Clear Capital’s projections heading into 2013 depict the valley shape with current prices at the bottom and a subtle upward trend from March through December of 2012.

Read Article:

10 Home Maintenance Tips For Spring

When was the last time you checked your foundation vents?
By Paul Bianchina, Friday, April 6, 2012.

The sun is peeking out and the plants are starting to  blossom, so it must be about time for spring chores again. Here’s my annual  spring checklist of important issues to tend to around the house.

1. Roofing repairs:  If you suspect winter storms may have damaged your roof, it needs to be  inspected. (If you’re not comfortable with the height or steepness of your  roof, hire a licensed roofing contractor for the inspection.) Look for missing  or loose shingles, including ridge-cap shingles.

Examine the condition of the  flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof  and walls intersect. Look for overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a  wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.

If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if older  shingles makes patching impractical, consider having the entire roof redone.  Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from  falling tree limbs, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.

2. Check gutters and  downspouts: Look for areas where the fasteners may have pulled loose, and  for any sags in the gutter run. Also, check for water stains that may indicate  joints that have worked loose and are leaking. Clean leaves and debris to be  ready for spring and summer rains.

3. Fences and gates:  Fence posts are especially susceptible to groundwater saturation, and will  loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence  posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are.

If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out, then excavate  around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them.  Replace any posts that have rotted.

4. Clear yard debris:  Inspect landscaping for damage, especially trees. If you see any cracked,  leaning or otherwise dangerous conditions with any of your trees, have a licensed,  insured tree company inspect and trim or remove them as needed.

Clean up  leaves, needles, small limbs and other material that has accumulated. Do any  spring pruning that’s necessary. Remove and dispose of all dead plant material  so it won’t become a fire hazard as it dries.

5. Fans and air  conditioners: Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air  conditioners and whole-house fans. Shut the power to the fan, remove the cover  and wash with mild soapy water, then clean out dust from inside the fan with a  shop vacuum — do not operate the fan with the cover removed.

Check outdoor  central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup, and clean or  replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate  to make sure they are undamaged and well sealed. Check dampers for smooth  operation.

6. Check and adjust  sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a cycle, and watch  how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are  hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation  vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that  shouldn’t be getting wet.

7. Check vent blocks and  faucet covers: As soon as you’re comfortable that the danger of winter  freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow  air circulation in the crawl space.

While removing the vent covers, check the  grade level around the foundation vents. Winter weather can move soil and  create buildups or grade problems that will allow groundwater to drain through  the vents into the crawl space, so regrade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet  covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it’s been shut off.

8. Prepare yard tools:  Replace broken or damaged handles, and clean and condition metal parts. Tighten  fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and service  engines and belts in lawn mowers and other power equipment.

9. Change furnace  filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked  with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you  have central air conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system’s fan to  circulate air during the summer.

10. Check smoke detectors:  Daylight Savings Time snuck up early again this year, and that’s usually the  semi-annual reminder to check your smoke alarms. So if you haven’t already done  it, now’s the time. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the  detector’s operation before it’s too late.

If you have gas-fired appliances in  the house, add a carbon monoxide detector as well (or check the operation of  your existing one). CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are  available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and  supplies.

Remodeling and repair  questions? Email Paul at All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.