Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Avoid Foreclosure! Follow These 10 Guidelines!

Here’s a fact that may surprise you – lenders hate foreclosures almost as much as you do! After all, they’re losing money and have to follow a complicated legal process to take the property back.

This tells you, if you’re facing the possibility of foreclosure, that it’s in your best interest to work with your lender. So, if you’re having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payment, contact your lender immediately and inform them of the situation.

Also, you can contact a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency or call them Toll FREE at: (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339.

Now, if you’re unable to make your mortgage payment, I recommend you follow the guidelines below. They were taken straight from HUD with some additions on my part.

Guideline 1: Definitely Don't Ignore the Situation!
With foreclosure, there’s a natural tendency to hope the whole situation will just go away if we ignore it.

This is not a wise choice because the farther behind on the payments you fall, the more difficult it’ll be to re-instate your loan and the more likely it’ll become that you’ll lose your home. So, take the foreclosure “bull” by the horns and deal with the situation right away.

Guideline 2: Contact Your Lender Immediately!
As I said earlier, lenders hate foreclosure nearly as much as you do. So, most have options to help you through tough financial times. It depends on the lender, but such options may include:

• modifying the mortgage length or interest rate.
• waiving fees or penalties.
• deferring payments through temporary forbearance.
• increasing monthly payments to cover past due amounts.
• modifying an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed rate, etc.

Guideline 3: Open and Respond to All Lender Mail Right Away!
Normally, the first notices you receive from a lender will give you one or more of the options listed under Guideline 2.So, definitely open that mail immediately because those options can help you through a rough time.

If you don’t open the mail or toss it out, you’re only making matters worse because they may include notices of pending legal action. And, believe me, foreclosure courts don’t accept any excuses regarding failure to open mail!

Guideline 4: Know Your Mortgage Rights!
Always learn the specifics of your loan documents so you know what your rights and those of the lender are under the terms of the contract if you can’t make the payments. If you don’t understand the contract provisions, talk to a counselor or a real estate attorney.

Also, remember that foreclosure laws and time frames vary by state. This means you need to contact the appropriate state office to learn what’s involved in the foreclosure process.

Guideline 5: Understand Foreclosure Prevention Options!
HUD has free and valuable information on options for preventing foreclosure (also called loss mitigation). These options can be found on the internet at portal.hud.gov/portal/page?_pageid=33,717348&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL .

Guideline 6: Contact a HUD-approved Housing Counselor!
HUD funds free or very low cost housing counseling nationwide. The counselors can help you understand the law and your options, organize your finances and represent you in negotiations with your lender if you need this assistance.Find a HUD-approved housing counselor near you or call (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339.

Guideline 7: Evaluate Your Spending and Budget. Budget, Budget!
After healthcare, your first priority should be keeping your house. So, that means you need to look at where your spending goes and “cut out the fat.”

By that, I mean zero in on “optional” expenses – cable TV, memberships, daily trips to the coffee shop, eating out, etc. If you’re not careful, these expenses can tear the heart of your budget, and they’re easily avoided! All the money saved by foregoing these items can go to making your mortgage payment.

Also, delay payments on credit cards and other "unsecured" debt until you’ve have paid the mortgage.

Guideline 8: Employ Your Assets!
You may well have assets that you can sell for cash and apply to your mortgage payments. These could include items like a second car, jewelry, a whole life insurance policy, etc. Also, if anyone in your household can get an extra job, it’ll bring in additional income.

Even if that income isn’t great, the effort demonstrates to the lender that you’re willing to make sacrifices to keep your home.

Guideline 9: Avoid Foreclosure Prevention Companies!
I repeat – avoid these companies! Some are legitimate; some are scam artists. In either case, you don’t need to pay them hefty fees for foreclosure prevention!Sometimes those fees can amount to two-to-three months’ worth of mortgage payments! Why do this when, for free, you can work with a counselor or with the lender?

Guideline 10: Don't Lose Your Home to Foreclosure Recovery Scams!

You may be contacted by firms claiming that they can stop your foreclosure right away if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf. If that’s the case, tell them to get lost! This is a scam where you end up signing over the title to your property and becoming a renter in your own home!

NEVER, ever sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD-approved housing counselor!

Want to talk more about options for preventing foreclosure? Contact me right now at 402.598.3965 or email me at: peg@pegmaloney.com, and I can provide you with that information!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How to Be a Wise House-Shopper in a Great Buyer’s Market!

There’s no doubt about it – there are a great many bargains in the real estate market today if you’re a person looking for a new home. However, I highly recommend that you don’t get dazzled by all the opportunities and make a potentially expensive and poor decision. To that end, I’d like to offer you some common-sense guidelines to follow.

Guideline 1: Pay Attention to Your Budget
Before beginning your search for that new home, sit down and come up with a monthly payment you can handle with ease and then look for the house that fits that budget.

Guideline 2: Save Up for a Down Payment
Due to the “mortgage meltdown,” lenders are currently much more cautious about giving out money. Depending on the situation, they may insist on a minimum down payment of 10% or one that’s all the way up to 25%. So, start saving!

Guideline 3: Improve Your Credit Score
A good credit score is a great way to make the whole process easier when you apply for a loan. Today’s lenders scrutinize such scores more closely today than in the past. If you don’t have a good score, work hard to get it up into an acceptable range. It’ll save you money on interest charges and down payments in the long run!

Guideline 4: Get a Pre-Approved Mortgage Loan
If you’re a first-time home buyer or simply a buyer who wants to make sure you stay within your means, it’s a wise idea to get a pre-approved mortgage.This is simply the process of applying for a mortgage and getting approval for the loan prior to buying a home.

A “pre-approval” is an indication that the lender is ready to extend a mortgage to you once you’ve located the right property.  And it has several benefits. First of all, it saves time and energy. Once you have a pre-approved loan amount, you’re required to stay within the limits of that loan in terms of the price you’ll pay for a house.

First, when working with a realtor, ask him or her to limit the choices to those stated in the loan. This prevents the agent from showing you properties which are out of your range. By the way, they’ll really appreciate those parameters because it’ll help them zero in on properties with the best chance of sale! 

Second, you can spend more time looking at homes you really like and, simultaneously, not wasting time on houses that aren’t within your budget. This allows you to focus on the details of the homes you do like in order to make sure you select the right one; for example, kitchens, baths, garages, etc.

Third, you can bargain more effectively with sellers once they know you’re pre-approved. In the current market, that’s a great relief for many sellers because they realize they have a reasonable certainty of selling their property when working with a pre-approved buyer.

Fourth, you can close faster with a pre-approved loan because there’s no time lost in the usual processing period for loans. For example, an appraisal can be ordered right away, and you have the potential to cut a 30-day closing to two or three weeks.

Finally, the seller will prefer to deal with you, particularly if he or she needs to move quickly.

Now, you have some common-sense guidelines to follow when seeking a new home in today’s market! You can learn even more by contacting me today at 402.598.3965

Monday, March 1, 2010

4 Important Questions to Ask When When Getting a Mortgage

A special thanks to Stacy Thorne of West Star Mortgage for her interview!

You know, home buyers often have several questions about fees involved in the whole mortgage process
. I know mortgages and their associated fees can seem overwhelming and confusing at first, so I thought I’d ask Stacy Thorne of West Star Mortgage to break down those fees - so you can make best-informed decision possible when it comes time for you to shop for a loan.

So, here is a breakdown of the questions I asked and the answers Stacy provided!

Question 1. In Nebraska, a Home Loan Is Called a “Deed of Trust” While In Other States It’s Called a Mortgage. What’s the Difference? 

Answer: Actually, they’re very much the same thing. It’s just that the administrative processes are different. The more common term, of course, is “mortgage.”

Question 2: What Are Standard Mortgage Fees?

Answer : You can break them down into three areas:

• Lender fees – these are administrative fees for processing the loan.
• Third party fees – these are standard fees charged by, for example, a title company, which searches the title to make sure there aren’t any unexpected liens or other things of that nature. Other third party fees can include: appraisals, credit reports, closing fee, etc.
• Any local or state government fees (varies by state)

Question 3: Are Fees Negotiable?

Answer : For the most part, no. They’re pretty standard. However, lenders will be more flexible on the mortgage loan’s interest rate because they want to remain competitive with other lenders.
So, be sure to compare rates among lenders to get the best deal! It can save you a tremendous amount of money over the life of the loan!

Question 4: What’s the Difference between a Mortgage Banker and a Mortgage Broker?

Answer : A mortgage banker lends you their money.Think of mortgage brokers as “go-betweens.” That is, their job is to find you the best mortgage for your needs. So, they shop for that mortgage among banks or lenders and charge a fee for that service.As you can see, this is more expensive than working directly with a banker but a broker can be a good choice in the right circumstances.

I hope you found this information valuable, because I have much more to share with you ! Naturally, I couldn’t include everything in this short message, so why don’t you give me a call today at 402-598-3965 or contact me at peg@maloney.com , so I can provide you with all the information you need to make the right decision!

I look forward to speaking with you soon!