Mortgage Mania 17 - Foreclosures Inside The Bubble

June 7, 2008

Long-time Mortgage Mania readers, (aka Mortgage Maniacs) know that I’m an avid reader of the New York Times, so it should come as no surprise that I would have some comments on this article in the Friday June 6 edition regarding the continuing foreclosure crisis affecting consumers across the country.

Authors Bajaj and Grynbaum review some recent statistics on foreclosures, and then go on to predict another wave of foreclosures as the economy continues to slow and more consumers fall victim to layoffs and job cuts.

It’s easy to ignore these rumblings here in wealthy Silicon Valley where the local economy is still vibrant, even with nearly $5 a gallon gas, as it is still a minor impact on a budget with a $5,000 a month mortgage. It’s easy for us living in The Bubble of Unstoppable Real Estate (which I define as: Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Los Altos, your mileage may vary) to say “it can’t happen here”.

Not so fast there pardner. A Short Sale in Atherton you say? It’s almost enough to make you drop your Grey Poupon.

This little number at 199 Selby Lane in Atherton recently listed by Lanny Dannenberg of Keller Williams is a short sale at $1,795,000. It has been on the market with a couple of different brokers for over two years, starting at $2,495,000 in March of 2006.

The good news is that the local market continues to be pretty strong, especially at the upper levels, above $3 million. Don’t take my word for it, check out this market data for the latest facts and figures on Palo Alto and surrounding communities.

Thanks for reading . . .

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How to Avoid Foreclosure, Part 1 of 3

March 19, 2008

More and more these days, it seems I’m hearing good people say, “What are my options if I’m facing foreclosure?”

In the last few years, so many people bought homes with either 100% financing or risky loans that have negative amortization and/or an interest-only payment for a couple of years which adjusts after the initial period. God forbid if your loan has all of those characteristics! Consequently, lots of those loans are now resetting to a higher interest rate and therefore a much larger payment. As home values decline in some areas, lots of people owe more than their home is worth. This can be best illustrated with a quick story.

There’s a man here in the Willow Glen area of San Jose who bought a beautiful, newer home at the end of 2005 for $940K with a 100% financing, 2 year interest-only option ARM loan. His payment, between the 1st and second mortgage, was about $6,000 per month.  “Don’t worry,” Mr. Sub-Prime Lender told him at the time, “since property values are going up at more than 20% per year, in two years you can simply refinance your house with a more stable, long-term loan and you’ll have plenty of equity to get an 80% 1st mortgage.”  Yeah right.

Fast forward to a month ago. Mr. Homeowner-Been-Screwed gives me a call and says that in December, his payment jumped from $6K per month to over $9,000 per month!  Not only that, but the house across the street from him which is the same age, about the same square footage, is of similar design, features and construction has been sitting on the market for the past 6 months at a list price of $850K. Ouch.

He tells me that he lays tile for a living, and has been working a second job over the past couple of months to try and make his new $9K mortgage payment, but he just can’t seem to make ends meet anymore and is going to miss this month’s payment, so he’s afraid that his lender is going to foreclose on him. He says he feels angry, betrayed, helpless and stuck between a rock and a hard place and doesn’t know where to turn. I tell him that he actually does have options, 11 options in fact. So I offer to sit down with him and show him a new report I just wrote entitled “11 Options for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure.” He was delighted to know that there are things he can do to avoid foreclosure.

So in this first part of a three part series, I’ll share with you the first set of options in my new report, which break them into three categories:

  1. Things you can do to try and keep your home,
  2. Things you can do to sell your home,
  3. And finally, some “last resort” options.

Lets look at the first category and review a summary of the options.  First of all, if you want to try and stay in your home, then you need to open a dialogue with your lender. Ask them if the will do a loan modification.  This is where the terms of your loan are changed to make the mortgage payments more affordable. If you are behind in your payments, then you may be able to work out a payment plan, where the missed payments are either added to the loan balance or simply divided up and paid over time. This option will usually go in hand in hand with a forebearance agreement where the bank agrees to postpone taking further foreclosure action, particularly if you can prove that your setback is temporary.

At any time during the foreclosure process, you have every right to cure, or reinstate your loan by paying it off. This can be done with a conventional refinance, however many times, a conventional refinance is out of the question, because a new bank will require at least 10% equity in your home, and if you’ve missed payments, then your credit is likely suffering enough to prevent you from getting that new loan anyway. Another option might be an equity loan or what is know as a hard money loan. Hard money lenders don’t really care about your credit, they are just concerned that your property can secure the loan. These loans usually have incredibly high interest rates and all kinds of up-front fees, so they should only be used as a short-term solution, usually buying you enough time to stop the foreclosure and sell the home. Again, these types of lenders will need to see significant equity in your property.

If you would like more detail on each of these 6 options to stay in your home, as well as all the other options I will be discussing in part 2 & 3, you can download a full copy of my report, “11 Options for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure” right here on my Website.

In part 2 of this three part series we will examine the three options to stop the foreclosure by getting out of your property and the loan. Stay tuned!

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More Foreclosure News . . .Not Even The Rich Are Safe

February 28, 2008

I think we will file this under: “News of the Weird”, but I was stunned to see that even Michael Jackson has been unable to escape the clutches of the expanding foreclosure crisis. Apparently, The King of Pop’s has joined the thousands of homeowners across the country who are losing their homes to foreclosure.

Apparently, Jacko owes $24.5 million on the property and the county is planned to foreclose for non-payment of back taxes. The property is scheduled to be auctioned at the courthouse steps on March 19.

Michael - Contact our resident foreclosure and short sale expert, Bart Marchioni, right away. He can help you out.

For all you readers out there, help a reclusive, aging pop star out, go buy a 25th anniversary edition of Thriller. On sale now!

For CNN’s take on the story, click here.

Thanks for reading

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