Negative Equity continues being a Serious Concern Despite Year Over Year Decline!

Negative Equity continues being a Serious Concern Despite Year Over Year Decline!

HARP-Refinance

While the percentage of homes in the United States with negative equity has declined substantially since the fourth quarter of 2013, they experienced a slight increase quarter-over-quarter in Q4 2014, according to CoreLogic‘s Q4 2014 Equity Report released last Tuesday.

CoreLogic reported that 10.8 percent of all residential homes were underwater in Q4, this is about 5.4 million properties approximately, which was down from 13.3 percent  in the same quarter a year earlier. The Q4 total was up slightly from the 10.3 percent that was reported for Q3 2014 – an increase of 3.3 percent.

Despite the year-over-year decline in the percentage of underwater residential properties, negative equity remains a serious issue, according to Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. For the full year of 2014, 1.2 million borrowers regained equity – but nearly five and a half million properties remained in negative equity as of the end of the year after approximately 172,000 homes slipped into negative equity from the third quarter to the fourth quarter in 2014.

Approximately 10 million of the nearly 50 million residential properties with a mortgage in the United States, which is about 20 percent of these properties have less than 20 percent equity, a condition known as under-equitied.

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FHFA outreaching more Homeowners

FHFA outreaching more Homeowners

In an effort to sign more eligible homeowners up for the Home Affordablefhfa Refinance Program (HARP), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)   is holding its third HARP outreach event in October, 2014.

The goal is to get the word out about HARP to borrowers who are current but underwater, and help borrowers who are either delinquent or at risk of losing their home recognize that they too have options.

  • Borrowers are eligible for a HARP loan if they meet the following requirements:
  • Their loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac;
  • The loan must have been originated on or before May 21, 2009;
  • LTV ratio must be greater than 80 percent;
  • Borrower must be current on mortgage payments.

Borrowers who could benefit from HARP are referred to as “in the money” borrowers; they are “in the money” if they meet all the HARP eligibility requirements, have a remaining balance on their loan of greater than $50,000 with more than 10 years left on their term, and have an interest rate of more than 1.5 percent more than current market rates.

As of June 2014, about 3.1 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP since it was introduced by FHFA and Treasury in 2009 as part of the Making Home Affordable Program.

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this year, and the good news is they’ve been stuck at historically low levels. However, mortgage rates are expected to move higher as we head through the fall. While various groups report national mortgage rate averages each week, the rates you get can vary dramatically from that average, depending on what product you choose and how you shop.

One of the biggest mistakes home buyers make is to take a 30 year, fixed-rate mortgage when they don’t really need it. The 30-year fixed is the most expensive of all mortgage products because the rate is the highest and you’re paying for the longest time.imprevistos

It is better to consider a product that matches how long you expect to be in your home, and make some changes later. Points are an upfront payment of interest in exchange for a lower rate. This boosts your closing costs and makes the rate appear to be artificially low.

Also, a great rate can turn into a bad one if your rate lock expires and you have to pay for an extension. Get your financials ready and provide them when asked, the sooner the better so it won’t interfere with the possibility of losing your rate lock. Documentation requirements can be arduous these days, and financial institutions are not going to waive them.

Beware of hidden fees and loan level pricing adjustments. Be sure to review a full breakdown of closing costs before committing to a lender. You can shop by rate or shop by fees, but you can’t shop for both at the same time.

Be aware about the Zero-closing cost mortgages that are sometimes available for as little as 12.5 basis points (0.125 percent) added to your mortgage rate. Your payment might raise $30-50 per month, but you’ll eliminate $4,000 in closing costs or more.

And finally, don’t let multiple lenders run your credit score. This can actually damage your score.

 

 

Fact or Fiction: Tax relief for homeowners’ on debt forgiveness.

Fact or Fiction: Tax relief for homeowners’ on debt forgiveness.

Congress is now back from its summer vacation, so the burning financial question on thousands of homeowners’ minds right now is this: Are you finally going to help the consumers who are underwater on their mortgages and have already accepted a principal reduction by their lenders? 20131125_fact copy

Under current federal tax law, when the homeowners accept reductions in what they owe, the amount forgiven by the bank gets reported to the IRS, and the owner is hit with taxes as if it were ordinary income.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was created to help distressed homeowners; that were faced with taxes after a Principal reduction; however this law has already expired Dec. 31, 2013.

If Congress does not extend the law retroactively thousands of underwater homeowners could be hit with tax burdens they may not be able to handle. We hope for the Best!