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A quarter of Nevadans who lost homes strategically defaulted

January 28th, 2011

Almost a quarter of Nevada residents who lost their homes to foreclosure walked away from them. A Nevada Association of Realtors (NVAR) Report found that 23 percent of homeowners strategically defaulted on mortgage loans. The report also found that most Nevadans facing foreclosure did not know about federal and nonprofit programs designed to help them.

Many of the people who went through foreclosure had experience at least two “life-altering events” that increase their risk of defaulting on a home mortgage. Losing a job and medical expenses were the most common events that triggered a foreclosure. Also, 46 percent of homeowners blamed banks and lenders for foreclosures, 20 percent blamed the government and 13 percent blamed homeowners.

Residents don’t know where to turn for help

Nevada has consistently had one of the highest rates of foreclosure in the U.S. With so much attention given to foreclosure during the housing crisis, it seems surprising that so many homeowners would be unaware of programs that can help them.

Linda Rheinberger, 2010 NVAR president, said in a statement:

“We think this research will help the public, the real estate industry, lawmakers and others grappling with this difficult issue. Personally, it was striking to see that nearly one in four Nevadans who lost homes to foreclosure admitted that they simply walked away from their mortgage. As for solutions, there may not be a single cure-all, but this report suggests that we can do more to make distressed homeowners aware of the free and low-cost resources available to them.”

Arranging a short sale

Among the alternatives to foreclosure is arranging a short sale. A short sale occurs when a mortgage lender agrees to allow you to sell a home for less than what is owed on a mortgage loan. The mortgage lender is able to recover some of the mortgage loan, and you, the homeowner, get out from under the burden of a mortgage you can’t afford.

Should you let extended family move in to help with the mortgage?

January 21st, 2011

The economic crisis has led more people to move in with family members. As a result, there has been an increase in multi-generational households since the recession began.

A record 49 million Americans, or 16.1 percent of the U.S. population, lived in a multi-generational household in 2008, compared with 12 percent in 1980, according to the Pew Research Center. Back in 1940, about a quarter of the population lived in multi-generational households.

Use checklist before living together

If you’re struggling to pay your home loan and other bills, it could help to have extended family members move in (and pay rent). But make sure that everyone involved has realistic expectations about the arrangement. Consider the following things when trying to decide whether to invite relatives to move in.

  • Do you actually like and get along with your relatives? You can’t pick your family members, but you can choose whether or not to be in close proximity to them. If you and your relatives have a history filled with disagreements and clashes, living together to get the mortgage paid could be a huge mistake.
  • Who will be responsible for various household bills? Ultimately, your name is on the documents for the home mortgage, so it is your responsibility to make sure it gets paid each month whether or not your relative comes up with cash to help. If necessary, draw up a formal contract that spells out the obligations for everyone.
  • If your adult children are moving back home, don’t expect them to have curfews or ask your advice for every move they make. It is important that they respect you and your home, so setting up some rules before they move in is important.
  • Set up an agreement for sharing household chores. You should not be picking up after your relatives all the time. Everyone should be fully aware of their responsibilities for cleaning the home, yard work, waiting for the cable guy, etc.
  • Are small children moving in with your relatives? If so, are they expecting you to be a regular babysitter? Decide exactly how much involvement you want to have with carpools, playground duty, and other child care arrangements.
  • Are elderly parents moving in? If so, what kind of care are they going to need and can you handle it?

Set up a plan for everyone

Depending on your particular case, there may be other factors you need to consider before agreeing to a multi-generational living arrangement. Take time to think through your situation to make your living arrangement as smooth as possible.

4 things to consider before getting a mortgage for a fixer-upper

January 14th, 2011

There’s something about old and/or rundown houses that can bring out the inner handyman in many people. But before you get caught up in DIY dreams of renovating and restoring an old house to its former glory or turning a huge profit on a foreclosure disaster, there are several things to consider. Use the following checklist to decide if buying a fixer-upper is the right choice before applying for a home loan.

  1. How much will it cost? Don’t just factor in the purchase price and then name a dollar amount that you are willing to spend. You must do the math to actually determine the realistic costs that are going to be associated with the particular property you want to buy, not just the payments on a home mortgage. You’ll need to thoroughly evaluate the property and note all the repairs needed and what they are likely to cost in your area. If you hope to sell the home after fixing it up, it’s important to research current market values in the neighborhood.
  2. You must get a home inspection. Do not even think of skipping this step. To get arrive at a realistic cost estimate, it is imperative to have a thorough home inspection. Hire someone who is reputable and knowledgeable about what it will take to update the home. When you make an offer for a house the contract should have a contingency for the inspection so that if major deficiencies are discovered you can get out of the contract or try to negotiate for a lower price if you still want the property.
  3. Does the home need major structural improvements? Replacing plumbing, totally re-doing wiring, or fixing foundation issues can really drain your wallet. Are you willing to pay for these expenses and deal with any surprises that come up in the process?
  4. Will you need to apply for a home equity loan to pay for all the repairs? While many homeowners assume they’ll be able to get home equity loans when they apply for them, the fact is that many lenders are turning down many applicants even if they have good credit. Make sure that you aren’t going to be stuck without the funds you need to spruce up a fixer-upper once you’ve committed to monthly mortgage payments.

It’s important to choose the right repairs and renovations if you are on a limited budget. If you plan to remain in the home for many years, you’ll have time to budget and save for any work that is needed as you go along.

US home prices dropped 4.1 percent in 2010

January 7th, 2011

U.S. home prices fell 4.1 percent in 2010, according to a report from Clear Capital. The provider of data services for the real estate industry also said that home prices dropped in 70 percent of major markets, pressured by high unemployment and REO saturation above 22 percent during the year. REO saturation is the proportion of homes that are sold as bank-owned.

Is there a recovery?

Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician with Clear Capital, said in a statement:

Some housing markets are well on their way to recovery, while others are experiencing a renewed downturn reminiscent of the housing crash only two years ago. Understanding which path a given market is likely to follow is dependent on several key factors, but the two clear drivers are local unemployment rates and the prevalence of distressed homes.

Housing markets change

Only eight major markets experienced double digit declines during the year, indicating that rapid and severe declines are subsiding. Those markets were Dayton, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wis.; Tucson, Ariz.; New Haven, Conn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Richmond, Va.

Of the 15 major markets that had price gains, six were in California, a state that has been hit hard by the housing crisis and had a lot of homeowners default on mortgage loans. Those markets were Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno.

Home mortgage applications

Some housing markets were lifted by home buyers taking advantage of a government tax credit. The tax credit encouraged many people to apply for mortgages while interest rates were at or near historical lows. Without the tax credit some homeowners may not have enough money saved up for a mortgage loan down payment and may put off buying a house.

Markets expected to continue struggling

The clear Capital data indicates that housing markets in the West may continue to struggle this year, and that Arizona may post double digit declines. Major Arizona cities have unemployment below the national average, but REO saturation in Tucson is more than 12 percentage points above the national level and more than 19 percentage points for Phoenix.

California markets that improved this year and posted gains may not experience that again this year. Also, housing markets in the South also are expected to struggle, with four of the 10 worst declining markets being in that region.