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Are you eligible to make your loan disappeared?

Bank of America Notifies Eligible Mortgage Customers of Second Lien Mortgage Debt Extinguishment

Friday, September 28, 2012 4:20 pm EDT
from Bank of America website

As part of Bank of America’s ongoing efforts to help customers in need of mortgage assistance, this company is in the process of mailing approximately 150,000 letters to pre-qualified homeowners offering automatic extinguishment of their second lien mortgages. The intention of the program is to place homeowners in an improved financial situation by reducing their monthly debt obligations and, potentially, help them create equity in their property.

The full forgiveness of second lien balances on eligible loans is being extended under Bank of America’s participation in the 2012 national mortgage settlement among the five largest mortgage servicers, 49 state attorneys general and the federal government.

Letters that began mailing in July 2012 and continue through the end of this year inform predetermined eligible homeowners that the full balance of their Bank of America-owned and -serviced second lien mortgage will be forgiven and the bank’s lien on the collateral property will be released free and clear, unless the customer opts out of this relief offer within 30 days of receiving the letter.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
Hummm… really?!? Are they the good guys now?? Let’s read on…

Questions and Answers

1. What is the second lien mortgage elimination offer?

We are offering eligible customers who are behind on their home loan payments the opportunity to have their remaining second lien mortgage debt eliminated. With this offer, the full unpaid principal balance on the second lien mortgage will be eliminated.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
So what BOA saying is if you have a second mortgage with them, they will make that loan disappeared and you don’t have to pay!!!!??? OK, the key words here are “eligible customers” and “behind”. Who is eligible? Are you eligible? On Question 3, BOA explained who is eligible without telling how (is one of those official only information). And the other key word is “behind”, if you are not behind on your mortgage, now you go behind that disqualified line. In the other word, you have to qualified at BOA’s provision and go through their loops and hoops.

2. Why is Bank of America doing this?

These offers are part of Bank of America’s ongoing efforts to help customers in need of mortgage assistance and are among the customer relief programs we have launched under the national settlement agreement between the five largest mortgage servicers, state attorneys general and the federal government. The goal is to help customers remain in their homes and avoid foreclosure whenever possible. By eliminating this debt for eligible customers, we are trying to help them get back on track financially with their first mortgage payments and return to sustainable homeownership.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
WHY?? That’s a good question. It’s part of a $25 billion court settlement due to the big 5 banks’ “questionable” practices on many troubled homeowners that are facing foreclosure. Basically the Federal court slapped their hands and said you cannot steal the whole thing coz people are starting to notice. Though them a bone back and next time do it while nobody is watching.

3. Who is eligible for the offer?

To qualify, customers must currently have a second lien mortgage owned and serviced by Bank of America that meets certain threshold delinquency or property value criteria, or a second lien mortgage associated with a first lien mortgage that is severely delinquent. Only second lien mortgages owned and serviced by Bank of America are eligible for this extinguishment program. It does not matter who owns and services the first lien mortgage. The vast majority of the second lien mortgages eligible for this program are in default in their subordinate lien position. A small number of second lien mortgages that are paid current will be extinguished if they are associated with a first lien mortgage that meets the program criteria.

Amada's Comments [Amada's Comment]
The New York Times reported on an article How to Erase Debt that Isn’t there explained those who “Eligible” don’t even have the debt anymore. And it said “a small number of second lien mortgages are paid current will be extinguished …. meets the program criteria.” Part of this criteria is the borrowers had begged and begged the banks to work out something for them but the bank didn’t.

4. How are you contacting eligible customers?

Eligible customers will receive letters from Bank of America via Federal Express or certified mail, explaining the offer to have their second lien mortgage debt eliminated. Mailings began in late July. At this time, only customers receiving letters will be eligible for the program.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
Sorry for those eligible customers now may be obligated to deal with the IRS due to the debt forgiveness program.

5. Do customers have to accept the offer?

We will eliminate the remaining second lien mortgage debt for eligible customers, unless they contact the bank to decline the offer within 30 days of receiving the offer letter. Customers are asked to contact a Bank of America Home Loans representative at 1.800.496.7831 if they have questions or wish to decline the offer.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
For those who may still have choice – make the best choice for yourself. But some of these people might have moved away and this letter would never reach them, yup, they are now stuck with the IRS issue.

6. Are customers who are not contacted by the bank eligible for this program?

We will be contacting customers who are eligible to have their second lien mortgage debt eliminated. Customers cannot request to be part of the program.

7. How will second lien mortgage elimination impact the first mortgage?

The elimination of the second lien mortgage is completely separate from any actions being taken regarding the first mortgage. If the first mortgage is in foreclosure, those foreclosure activities may continue.

8. What happens if the customer is in foreclosure?

Although the second lien mortgage balance is being forgiven and the lien on this second mortgage is being extinguished, this action does not extinguish the customer’s first mortgage. If a customer’s first lien mortgage is impacted and in foreclosure, this will not stop the foreclosure proceedings; foreclosure activities are likely to continue. Customers should continue to answer and reply to all foreclosure communications from their first lien lender. If customers do not understand the legal consequences of the foreclosure, we encourage them to contact an attorney or housing counselor for assistance.

9. What are the tax implications of the forgiveness?

Bank of America may be required to report the amount of the eliminated second lien mortgage debt to the Internal Revenue Service. Current federal law provides for certain exceptions to tax liability when debt is forgiven in connection with a foreclosure prevention transaction for some customers; however, debt elimination may trigger state and federal income tax liabilities for customers. To understand whether they qualify for one of these exceptions and what other tax implications this transaction may have, we urge customers to contact a tax professional. Additional information on mortgage debt forgiveness can be found at www.irs.gov.

Amada's Comments[Amada's Comment]
Circle back to earlier issue of the IRS.

10. How does this affect Bank of America’s implementation of the terms of the agreement?

The program is consistent with the provisions of the agreement for second lien mortgage debt forgiveness.

11. Are there other ways that customers can have their second lien mortgage debt eliminated?

Additional government-sponsored and proprietary Bank of America programs are available which may involve the partial or full elimination of second lien loans. Interested customers should call 1.800.669.6607 or visit http://homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com/en/home-equity-modification.html.

12. For a home mortgage loan, what is the difference between principal reduction or forgiveness and lien elimination?

If a lender forgives a portion of a home loan’s principal balance, the borrower is responsible for the remaining balance due and the lender retains its lien on the borrower’s property as collateral for the loan. In a lien elimination, the entire balance of a mortgage loan is reduced to zero, the lien securing the loan is released and the mortgage note is cancelled. The lender has no further claim to the borrower’s property as collateral, and no further monetary claims against the customer.

13. Will a customer benefit if their second lien mortgage debt has been discharged in a bankruptcy filing?

Yes. While customers who have filed for bankruptcy and receive a discharge of their second lien mortgage debt obligations are no longer personally liable for the debt, the bank still remains a lien holder to the extent of the remaining balance on the second lien. This means the bank still has a legal claim to the customer’s property as collateral to satisfy the second lien mortgage debt still owed through a court-approved foreclosure, or if the property is sold for a gain. Once the debt is cancelled and the lien extinguished or released (subject to court approval, if required), the bank relinquishes any further monetary or collateral claim to the property. This reduces the debt attached to the property and may provide the opportunity for the borrower to build equity in their home. Because the underlying personal obligation for the debt was discharged in bankruptcy, the bank will not report debt forgiveness to the IRS as a result of this transaction.

14. Will this affect the customer’s credit rating?

Through the extinguishment program, we will report to the major credit bureaus that the customer’s second lien mortgage is now “paid and closed” and has a zero balance, which could affect a customer’s credit rating. A credit score is determined by the customer’s credit history and is not controlled by Bank of America. Customers should review information on credit scores at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre24.shtm.

15. If the lien is extinguished in a bankruptcy filing, what are the credit reporting implications?

In the event debt is discharged through bankruptcy, the credit bureaus normally reflect that event as a loan or a debt discharge in a bankruptcy filing. Through the extinguishment program, we will report to the credit bureaus that the customer’s second lien mortgage is now “paid and closed” and has a zero balance.

16. How will Bank of America help customers who are still in need of assistance following the elimination of their second lien mortgage with the bank?

We want to work with customers to address their financial needs, especially if they are in need of assistance. Customers can always visit one of the 50 Customer Assistance centers in cities around the country or call 1.800.669.6607 or visit http://homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com/en/home-equity-modification.html to find out about available programs.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 56 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,600 retail banking offices and approximately 16,200 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

www.bankofamerica.com

FHA Waives 3 Years Wait Time for Short Sellers..

This may help a few of ‘Short Sale Sellers’ who  have already “short sold”  their homes…or it can  make a big difference to future Short Sellers who are considering a “short sale”.

FHA has financing for homeowners who are short selling their home and wants to repurchase another home after the short sale is approved and completed thru their current lender.

There are a number of home owners who  will qualify for this program by meeting the “extenuating circumstances” criteria.

In other words…there  will be “life (home ownership) after foreclosure” following their short sale”.

The caveats are:

1) They must be current on their mortgage and all other credit obligations for the 12 months prior to the actual short sale completion date.

Editor Note: Contrary to popular belief ..a “short sale” in and by itself  is a not a credit score killer! The damage to a borrower’s credit score by the  number of lates incurred during the “ramp up” to the short sale.

Also note…there is absolutely no discernible difference between a “short sale” and a “foreclosure action” (or loan mod for that matter) in the eyes ofan underwriter.

 

FHA/Fannie/ Freddie see all 3 events listed below as equally negative to each other ….thus triggering the  3 year “wait time”:

 

a) Loan modifications

b) Short sales and deed -in-lieu

c) Foreclosures

2)  Home owners must document “hardship” as defined by:

a) Job loss and subsequent job transfer/ relocation… (a new stream of income will be needed to qualify for the new loan).

 

b) Catastrophic medical bills (and/ or possible death) incurred by a member of the borrower’s “nuclear family” (i.e. co signer of the current mortgage..child…spouse..or other dependent as listed on the borrower’s tax returns).

 

3) They must be downsizing  and relocating. Buying a bigger home across the home will not fly.

4) Their current lender(s)  must be willing to approve the short sale of their current residence.

5) Their credit scores need to be above 620 and any outstanding collections (usually medical bills) need to be paid THRU ESCROW (ONLY)  at COE.

Lenders Tighten Rules on Self Employed Borrowers

Real Estate Blog : Investment Property : Los Angeles : Manhattan Beach : Hermosa Beach : Redondo Beach : Palos Verdes : Torrance

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The ever changing lending rules is different by the hours (OK, I am kidding) but by the weeks is pretty close.

One of the latest is Fannie Mae will tighten the guidelines for self employed borrowers on October 27 2012. How Tight?? We don’t know yet.

But the current guideline is pretty favorable since only 1 year Tax Return is required with 20% down.

  • Only 1 year Tax Return Required
  • for Self Employed Borrowers…
  • 20% Down …Conventional Financing
  • Refi or Purchase OK!
  • Loans up to $625,000
  • 620+ FICO scores

If you are a Self-Employed person looking into buying or refinancing your home, contact your loan agent for the latest before more changes are coming.

Top 20 metros for rising home prices

Median single-family existing-home prices rose on a yearly basis in just over half of 146 markets tracked by the National Association of REALTORS® in the first quarter, indicating prices are stabilizing, the trade group said today.

 

Nationally, the U.S. median single-family existing-home price dipped 0.4 percent from a year ago in the first quarter, to $158,100. Real estate owned (REO) and short-sale properties, typically sold at a discount, accounted for 32 percent of sales in the first quarter, down from 38 percent a year ago.

“Home prices lag sales activity because the transactions were negotiated mostly in the previous quarter,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a statement. “Given the steadily dwindling supply of inventory and notably higher listing prices that are being negotiated today, prices are expected to show further improvements in the near future.”

At the end of the first quarter, for-sale inventory stood at 2.37 million existing homes, down 21.8 percent year over year. Inventories have been declining since a record 4.04 million in the summer of 2007, NAR said.

“We now have broad shortages of lower-priced homes in much of the country, with very tight supply in Western states for homes through the middle price ranges. This is good news for many sellers who wish to list now, or for those waiting for prices to improve,” Yun said.

Total sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the U.S. rose 5.3 percent on an annual basis in the first quarter to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million.

“This is the highest first-quarter sales pace since 2007. With strong market fundamentals, total home sales this year should rise 7 to 10 percent,” Yun said.

Regionally, sales rose the most in the Midwest, 11.7 percent year over year, to 1.02 million. The region posted a slight annual increase in median sale price, 0.8 percent, to $125,300.

In the Northeast, sales increased 6.6 percent to 590,000. The region’s median sales price dropped 3.2 percent from a year ago to $226,300.

The South saw a 4.1 percent jump in sales, to 1.76 million, and 1.2 percent rise in median price, to $143,600.

The West saw the smallest sales increase, 1.4 percent, to 1.2 million. Median price in the region fell slightly, 0.9 percent, to $196,200.

First-time buyers accounted for a third of sales nationwide in the first quarter, a slight year-over-year increase. Cash buyers, mostly investors, made up 32 percent of sales last quarter, while investors made up 22 percent.

Of 146 metro areas, 74 saw median sales prices increase year over year in the first quarter, compared to only 29 in the fourth quarter. Of the 20 metro areas to see the highest year-over-year jumps in sales prices in the first quarter, five were in Florida. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., saw the biggest price jump, 28.1 percent, to $117,600.

Nonetheless, half of the 20 metros were in the Midwest, with Grand Rapids, Mich., posting the biggest increase in that region, 19 percent, to $96,500.

Metropolitan Area Q1 2012 Pct. Chg.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. $117,600 28.1%
Grand Rapids, Mich. $96,500 19.0%
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. $104,600 16.9%
Erie, Pa. $110,200 16.6%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. $131,900 16.1%
Ft. Wayne, Ind. $94,600 14.8%
Peoria, Ill. $122,100 13.6%
Bismarck, N.D. $179,300 12.4%
Elmira, N.Y. $98,900 12.0%
Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla. $163,400 11.1%
Dayton, Ohio $86,600 11.0%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla.. $182,000 9.6%
Akron, Ohio $81,600 8.9%
Oklahoma City $140,500 8.7%
Charleston, W.Va. $131,500 7.6%
Florence, S.C. $115,700 7.5%
Honolulu $616,700 6.5%
Decatur, Ill. $86,100 6.4%
Lansing-E.Lansing, Mich. $65,500 6.2%
Gary-Hammond, Ind. $107,300 5.9%
Source: National Association of Realtors.

Among the top 20 metros with the sharpest annual price decreases, eight were in the Northeast, five were in the South, four were in the Midwest, and three were in the West.

Kingston, N.Y., saw the biggest decline, 22 percent, to $156,800, followed by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., down 18 percent to $334,000. While only four of the 20 metros that saw the biggest price increases had median sales prices above the national median in the first quarter, eight among those with the sharpest declines had medians above the national level.

Metropolitan Area Q1 2012 Pct. Chg.
Kingston, N.Y. $156,800 -22.0%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. $334,000 -18.0%
Mobile, Ala. $91,200 -14.7%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. $87,800 -12.0%
Rockford, Ill. $79,500 -11.7%
Reno-Sparks, Nev. $147,800 -11.1%
Jacksonville, Fla. $113,800 -10.7%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. $98,400 -10.6%
Salem, Ore. $137,200 -10.6%
Newark-Union, N.J.-Pa. $326,000 -9.6%
Burlington-South Burlington, Vt. $246,200 -9.2%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. $265,400 -7.6%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. $202,000 -7.6%
Appleton, Wis. $107,700 -6.8%
New York-Wayne-White Plains, N.Y.-N.J. $411,700 -6.3%
Trenton-Ewing, N.J. $205,500 -6.0%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. $170,600 -6.0%
Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. $93,500 -5.9%
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. $111,300 -5.8%
Wichita, Kan. $99,900 -5.5%
Source: National Association of Realtors.

With today’s report, NAR also released a new metro-by-metro analysis on the qualifying incomes to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming 5, 10 or 20 percent down payments and a mortgage interest rate of 4 percent with 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest.

Nationally, median family income was $61,000 in the first quarter, NAR reported. At the national median home price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need a $34,700 income; that drops to $32,900 and $29,300, respectively, for those making 10 or 20 percent down payments, the association said.

“Qualifying incomes are well below median incomes in most of the country, which means homebuyers generally can stay well within their means,” Yun said.

“For example, a buyer in Indianapolis making a 10 percent down payment would need an annual income of $24,004 to purchase a median-priced home, while in Seattle it would be $55,300. For now, buyers are facing an extraordinarily advantageous situation if they can obtain a mortgage.”

 

Most markets tracked by NAR post annual gains

By Inman News

2012 be the Record Year for Short Sales

2012 is on track to become a record year for short sales, according to a report from foreclosure data aggregator RealtyTrac.

Homes for sale short sale

2012 will be the record year for short sale foreclosures

Sales of U.S. homes in the foreclosure process, typically short sales, rose 33 percent year over year, to 35,000, in January. A total of 32 states saw annual increases in short sales, and 12 states saw more short sales than REO (real estate owned) sales.

The short-sale increase comes after three years of declines following the inauguration of “a new presidential administration with a new approach to the foreclosure problem,” wrote Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president and author of the report.

“Short sales have long held great promise as a market-based solution to the nation’s foreclosure problem, but short sales transactions over the past three years have actually declined after peaking in the first quarter of 2009,” Blomquist said in a statement.

“January foreclosure sales numbers, along with first-quarter foreclosure activity, strongly indicate that downward trend is ending, and we believe 2012 could be a record year for short sales.”

Several states saw triple- or double-digit yearly jumps in short sales in January, including:
Georgia (up 113 percent)
Michigan (90 percent)
California (52 percent)
Texas (48 percent)
Arizona (44 percent)
Nevada (36 percent)
Florida (20 percent).

Although REOs continue to outnumber short sales nationwide, there were only 2,600 more REO sales than short sales in January. Nearly a quarter of states had more short sales than REO sales, including Utah, California, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, New York and New Jersey, according to the report.

Six out of the 10 states with the highest share of short sales in January were in the West.

Of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, nine out of the 10 metros with the highest share of short sales in January were in the West, six of them in California.

Even as short sales increase, the prices buyers pay for them have decreased. In fourth-quarter 2011, a pre-foreclosure property sold for an average $184,221, down 11.3 percent from fourth-quarter 2010. In January, such a property sold for $174,120, down 10 percent year over year.

Short sales are also selling for bigger discounts when compared to the average sales prices of nondistressed homes. Short-sale buyers received an average 21 percent discount in January, up from an average discount of 17 percent the year before. RealtyTrac does not take into account property condition or size when calculating discounts for distressed properties.

Short sales in Massachusetts, Missouri and California saw the biggest discounts in January.

Short-sale timelines appear to be getting shorter. After peaking at 318 days in third-quarter 2011, the average number of days it took for a property to go from the start of the foreclosure process to its sale as a pre-foreclosure was 306 days in the first quarter, slightly down from 308 days in the fourth quarter.’

Although foreclosure starts — either default notices or scheduled foreclosure auctions, depending on the state — were down 11 percent from the previous year in March, last month also saw the third straight monthly rise in foreclosure starts.

There are nearly 3.5 million delinquent borrowers nationwide; 41 percent of those borrowers are seriously delinquent and therefore at high risk for entering the foreclosure process and becoming short sales, RealtyTrac said.

Another, bigger potential pool of short-sellers are borrowers with underwater mortgages. More than 12.5 million borrowers owe at least 25 percent more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

“Even if these homeowners aren’t struggling to make mortgage payments and therefore are at low risk for foreclosure, if they need to sell sometime in the next five years it’s likely they’ll need to sell via short sale,” the report said.

Among lenders and loan servicers, Bank of America had the highest short-sale volume in January, followed by Chase and Wells Fargo.

PNC Financial saw the biggest annual jump in short sales, followed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac combined.

Those three government-backed entities also had the lowest average short-sale prices in January, the biggest declines in average sales price for short sales, the lowest number of average days to sale, and the biggest decrease in time to sell.

Real Estate’s Bidding Wars Are Back

Pending-home sales in March hit their highest level since April 2010, spurring the return of real-estate bidding wars. Nick Timiraos reports on The News Hub. Photo: Peter Earl McCollough for The Wall Street Journal.

What is HAFA?

HAFA Explained in video!
How HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative) program can help home owners on a tough foreclosure situation.

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IMproved HARP Refinance Program Expanded

HARP Refinance Program Expanded

Borrowers who are current on their home loans may be able to refinance for lower interest rates, even if they are seriously upside down. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that it will broaden the scope of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by removing the current 125 percent loan-to-value cap for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other program enhancements include, among other things, reducing certain fees, eliminating the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model (AVM) estimate, and extending HARP until the end of 2013. New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by November 15.

The basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:

  1. Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To check whether a borrower has a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, go to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/loan-look-up/Pages/default.aspx.
  2. Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
  3. Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
  4. Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
  5. Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
  6. More information is available from FHFA at http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/22721/HARP_release_102411_Final.pdf.
Amada’s Comment:
This could help many home owners staying at their home.

Bill would encourage foreigners to buy U.S. homes

A house in San Marino, where median home prices have risen -- largely because of Asian home buyers and investors -- even as real estate values in the region have declined. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times / January 27, 2011)

Article from L.A. Time. This could be a help of our depressed market. Somebody is ought to pump some real money into this economy, not the artificial money from Bernanke.

By Jim Puzzanghera and Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
October 20, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles— American consumers and the federal government haven’t been able to bail out the sinking U.S. real estate market. Now wealthy Chinese, Canadians and other foreign buyers could get their chance.

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on residential property to obtain visas allowing them to live in the United States.

The plan could be a boon to California, which has become a popular real estate market for foreigners, particularly those from China.

Nationwide, residential sales to foreigners and recent immigrants totaled $82 billion in the 12-month period ended March 31, up from $66 billion the previous year, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. California accounted for 12% of those sales, second only to Florida.

“Overall, Los Angeles is the perfect place for investors,” said YanYan Zhang, an agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, who travels to China several times a year to meet potential clients.

Sandra Miller, a broker at Engel & Volkers in Santa Monica, an international real estate firm that caters to foreign clients, said about 10% of the luxury market now is composed of foreign investors. She estimated that offering them U.S. visas would triple that figure, as well as help sales elsewhere.

“California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Hawaii and Texas — those states will see a huge increase in demand,” she said. “The whole Westside would certainly benefit.”

The bipartisan proposal, part of a package that also would make it easier for international tourists to visit the U.S., is similar to an existing program that puts foreigners on a fast track to a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in an American business that creates at least 10 jobs.

“Many people want to come and live in the United States,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation Thursday along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “They will be here spending money and paying taxes, and the most important thing is they’ll sop up the extra supply of homes we have right now compared to demand, and that’s what’s dragging our economy down.”

The legislation would create a new homeowner visa that would be renewable every three years, but the proposal would not put them on a path to citizenship. To be eligible, a person would have to buy a primary residence of at least $250,000 and spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate. The other properties could be rented.

The program would come with several restrictions.

The purchase would have to be in cash, with no mortgage or home equity loan allowed. And the property would have to be bought for more than its most recent appraised value, Schumer said.

The buyer would have to live in the home for at least 180 days each year, which would require paying U.S. income taxes on any foreign earnings. Buyers would no longer be eligible for the temporary visa if the property were sold.

The buyer would be able to bring a spouse and minor children to live in the U.S. but would need to apply for a work visa to hold a job. Neither the buyer nor dependents would be eligible to receive Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security benefits.

“The bill does not limit people from being productive,” Schumer said. “It simply prevents them from coming here and taking jobs that otherwise would go to Americans.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett and others have advocated boosting the U.S. economy by attracting foreign investment.

The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act, aims to do that by also making several other changes to visa policies.

Among them are allowing Chinese tourists to receive a five-year visa that permits multiple visits. They now must apply for a new visa every year. Canadians would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for more than 180 days without having to obtain a visa.

Schumer and Lee have lined up support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Assn. and the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. Schumer said he was working to get the backing of the Obama administration, which received the bill’s details Thursday.

“For too long, we have created barriers, and too many hoops and hurdles, which act to deter visitors from other countries coming to the United States to spend their money and create jobs,” said Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. “This is a loss we can ill afford in today’s economy.”

Robert Toll, executive chairman of Toll Brothers Inc., a Pennsylvania builder of luxury homes, joined Schumer on a conference call with reporters to back the foreign home-buyer proposal. He said it was no different from tax breaks designed to attract businesses.

Lee described it as a free-market way to boost demand in the real estate market after “big-government programs have failed to work.”

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Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

DENIED!! Home Buyers Rejection Rate High

The title for this NY Times post is “Triggers for Rejection” – about 2 millions wanna be home owners got rejected on the loan process due to various reasons.

Here’s a few tips and remedies to improve your chance to get approval:

1) Insufficient income – Remedy : buy a house that you can afford (do not guess the numbers) – talk to a mortgage lender BEFORE you go shopping for a house. Find a competent loan agent and real estate agent who can help you close the deal.
2) Cloudy financial picture – Remedy : if you have something to hide – don’t even try! Most underwriters nowadays are very savvy and they are required to be diligent. Don’t complicate things – keep it simple!! Provide everything they ask for – nothing more, nothing less. However, they will usually want more.
3) Poor credit – Remedy : this might need long term healing process. There are credit repair agents claimed to be able to ‘erase’ all the bad things on your report. I have no seen anything that really works – most of them are scams. They even made it to national TV. If you need to take a while to repair what you need to repair, that might be the case. Or find a loan that is less credit driven, i.e. FHA loan.
4) Low appraisal – Remedy : depends on your market condition, this might become an advantage to re-negotiate with the seller. Unless you must absolutely buy the house with extra money down, re-negotiate down the price is the best remedy. Challenging the appraisal is a long haul battle.
5) Property problems – Remedy : unless you know what you are doing, sometime walking away is a good thing.
6) Information mix-ups – Remedy : check your own credit regularly, like every 6-12 months. This will help you stay on top of what is happening in your credit report. There are many Joe Smith in your area, so you don’t want to be someone else that you are not. Also in case you find errors in your report, you can start corrections and disputes before you even start the loan process.

Many of these problems could be avoid if you plan ahead. So you improve your chance of getting the loan funded.

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