Monday, October 18, 2010

Foreclosures - what's next?

Per Steve Brown from

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he is joining with attorneys general and regulators from 49 other states to investigate improper home foreclosure procedures.

The action comes a week after Abbott sent letters to 30 of the state's top mortgage lenders asking them to halt all foreclosures and resales of foreclosed properties.

Abbott's office said that the multistate mortgage foreclosure group's "chief focus will be the accuracy and validity of documents that lenders and servicers used to support foreclosure proceedings."

"Specifically, the states will review whether individuals who confirmed facts supporting foreclosures – either in affidavits or other related documents – actually had personal knowledge of the facts to which they swore," the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Mortgage companies around the nation have come under fire for having officers or agents authorize home foreclosures without completely reviewing the documentation. "Robosigning" was used on thousands of electronic documents related to home foreclosures.

Several major lenders, including Bank of America , JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial, have halted foreclosure activity while they sort out the situation.

But so far, the Texas attorney general's efforts – which are just a request and do not have the full effect of law – aren't having much of an impact on local home foreclosure filings.

"It looks like the postings might be off 10 to 12 percent at this point, but they are still coming in fast and furious," said George Roddy, president of Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service Inc. "There are obviously some problems in the system.

"But good grief, with the number of foreclosures going on in this country, it's hard not to have problems," Roddy said.

Home foreclosures are at near record levels in North Texas and the U.S. this year. So far in 2010, more than 50,000 home foreclosure filings have been recorded in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In most cases, the local home foreclosures are due to economic issues – loss of jobs and income – and subprime mortgages, which can increase payments to borrowers over time.

"The people having problems today are not going to benefit that much from a foreclosure moratorium," Roddy said. "We hope this is short-lived, the lenders will find the mistakes, and we can move on with this."

In contrast to some states where judicial foreclosures are the norm, in Texas most borrowers will have to file suit against their lenders to legally dispute or overturn a foreclosure.

But the Texas attorney general's office said that both "judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures will be subject to the workgroup's review."

Real estate sales industry members in Texas and across the country are bemoaning the potential slowdown in sales of foreclosed homes, which now make up a big chunk of their business.

In the D-FW area, about a quarter of the homes sold this year have been distressed properties.

The National Association of Realtors warned this week that thousands of U.S. homebuyers in the process of acquiring a previously foreclosed properly now face uncertainty.

"As the leading advocate for homeownership issues, we understand that many lenders need a time-out to review their actions to ensure that homeowners are not improperly foreclosed on and that the lenders are following regulations and state laws," Realtor president Vicki Cox Golder said in a statement.

"After that, the foreclosure process must resume quickly to return stability to families, the housing market and the economy."

Housing analysts have warned that a prolonged delay in home foreclosures and resales of those properties will drag out the U.S. housing markets recovery.

"The lenders are going to have to work out some kind of settlement agreement on this," said James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. "We have enough troubles with the housing market.

"If you let this fester and the problem grow, you create a negative psychological impact to the market."

Gaines said Texas home sales, which have already suffered since federal tax credits expired this spring, could sink another 20 to 25 percent if foreclosure resales are halted.

"My expectation is there already will be some fallout."

The Texas Association of Realtors has warned its members that the investigation into lenders' practices could delay home sales and some properties already under contract.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BP emergency funds for real estate professionals lost income along Gulf Coast

Breaking news ...


Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Gulf Coast Claims Fund, is providing an allocation from the fund for real estate brokers and agents in the region, including Texas. Along with other local businesses, Gulf Coast real estate activity has been affected since the Deepwater Horizon gusher.

These emergency funds are for real estate professionals' loss of income as a result of the oil spill. To qualify, applicants' lost business must be in close proximity to the coastline.

“The economic impacts of natural disasters like Hurricanes Rita and Ike, while certainly unwelcome, are relatively easy to determine. But the long-term impact of the BP oil spill to Texas has yet to be determined,” says Bill Jones, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “We do know there are local real estate professionals who’ve experienced financial losses due to transactions that were terminated because of the oil spill. The decline in tourism and interest in real property sales and leases due to the oil spill has affected some of our real estate businesses in southeast Texas, and we’re grateful to Mr. Feinberg for all he’s doing to help.”

Each state association of REALTORS® of the affected Gulf Coast states will receive funds as determined by a standard, widely accepted, loss-estimation methodology. The states, which include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, have developed timely and objective processes for receiving and processing claims and determining loss payments. A major part of this work will be conducted by a third-party national claims adjustment firm, Indiana-based NCA.

“Texas REALTORS® build and, whenever necessary, re-build communities. This process will help us continue to do that along our economically battered Gulf Coast,” Jones says. “This historic agreement between the real estate industry and the BP Fund is a model for public/private partnerships. And it will help restore economic vitality to the region and ensure that a unique culture and way of life continues into the future.

Texas Real Estate Licensee Emergency Claim Form (Word document)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

NAR Representative Explains HAFA and Short Sales

In this video Jeff Lischer, communications Representative for National Association of Realtors Gives information on HAFA which took effect on April 5, 2005. Great 15 minutes Video, worth time spent watching it.

If you are in need for assistance, please contact Irena Gorski to discuss short sale of your Houston area house 281-610-4524, Irena Gorski has SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource) certification by National Association of Realtors.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

10 important questions to ask lenders when buying a home

Once you've narrowed the lender field to a short list of finalists, it's time to compare their offers.

Here are the 10 key questions to ask at application time to help you find the best overall mortgage loan. If you have already selected a lender and are ready to apply, make sure you have the answers to these questions first.

1. What is the interest rate on this mortgage?
To determine exactly what you'll pay over the term of the loan, you need to know the rate. Rates change quickly, and if your credit is less than perfect, you may not be offered the lender's lowest figure.

To effectively compare different lenders' programs, ask for the annual percentage rate (APR) of the mortgage interest, which is generally higher than the initial quoted rate because it includes some fees. But beware: the APR found in advertisements can be misleading. Mortgage lenders don't always include all the fees they charge in the calculation that determines APR, so customers who use that figure to shop rather than an itemized breakdown of rates, points and fees may end up comparing apples to oranges.

2. How many discount and origination points will I pay?
Lenders may charge prepaid mortgage interest points to lower your interest rate or other points that have no benefit to you at all. Find out how many you'll be expected to pay and which kind of points they will be.

3. What are the closing costs?
Mortgages come with fees for various services provided by lenders and other parties involved in the transaction. You want to know what those fees will be as early as possible. Lenders are required to provide a written good-faith estimate of closing costs within three days of receiving a loan application.

4. When can I lock the interest rate, and what will it cost me to do so?
Your interest rate might fluctuate between the time you apply and closing. To prevent it from going up, you may want to lock the rate, and even points, for a specified period. Ask your lender if lock fees apply

5. Is there a prepayment penalty on this loan?
There may be a prepayment penalty on your loan. Some penalties are 1 percent of the loan amount, others are equal to six months' interest, some apply only when you refinance or reduce the principal balance by more than 20 percent, and some kick in if you sell your home. Find out the duration of any penalty period and how the penalty is calculated. Some lenders offer lower interest rates to buyers who accept prepayment penalties.

6. What is the minimum down payment required for this loan?
The rate and terms of your loan will be based on a down payment figure, typically 3 percent to 20 percent of the buy price. If you can put more money down, you may be able to lower your rate and improve your terms; if you come up short, you may be required to get mortgage insurance.

7. What are the qualifying guidelines for this loan?
These requirements relate to your income, employment, assets, liabilities and credit history. First-time homebuyer programs, VA loans and other government-sponsored mortgage programs typically offer easier qualifying guidelines than conventional loans.

8. What documents will I have to provide?
Most lenders will require proof of income and assets before approving your loan, and may require other documents as well. Buyers with excellent credit may qualify for a no-documentation or "no-doc" loan, but they can expect to pay a hefty down payment and higher interest rate.

9. How long will it take to process my loan application?
The answer will depend on a number of variables. When the loan business is brisk, underwriters get backed up, verification takes longer, appraisals move slower and other bottlenecks develop along the loan pipeline. Lenders may say two weeks, but 45 to 60 days is probably more realistic in most cases. You'll need their best guess to determine how long to lock in your loan.

10. What might delay approval of my loan?
If you provide the lender with complete, accurate information, the loan process should run smoothly. If the underwriter discovers credit problems, however, there could be delays. Make sure you notify your lender if you change jobs, increase or decrease your salary, incur additional debt or change marital status between the time you submit an application and the time the loan is funded.

Put these 10 questions to your leading candidates and compare their answers. The results should lead you toward the mortgage lender that is right for you.

The above information is per

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Real Estate Brokerage Scams in Dallas/Fort Worth Area

The Texas Real Estate Commission Standards and Enforcement Services Division (TREC) has received complaints
against a group of individuals and companies that have been doing business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The
individuals and companies named in the complaints represent themselves as real estate agents and real estate brokerage
companies but do not hold Texas real estate licenses. Owners of real property, tenants, buyers, and investors claim to have
lost large sums of money related to the group’s real estate schemes. Among other things, the complainants allege that the
group takes and keeps deposits for properties over which they have no authority or no control. They allegedly do not pay
rent to property owners on property they claim to manage for those owners, or take large security deposits from tenants
and then keep the money. They take deposits or earnest money on properties that they claim are available for a short sale
but in reality are days away from foreclosure. Apparently, much of the solicitation of potential victims has been
conducted through
Before a consumer gives personal information, money, or financial information to a person claiming to be a real estate
agent, they should verify the identity of the person and check whether that person actually holds a Texas real estate
license. License information can be obtained by doing a “licensee lookup” on TREC’s website,, or
by calling TREC Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 1 (800) 250-TREC or (512) 465-3942. The public
should be aware that Texas laws provide that consumers who use licensed Texas agents have the financial protection of
the Real Estate Recovery Trust Account if they suffer actual damages caused by misconduct of a real estate licensee in a
real estate brokerage transaction and later obtain a civil court judgment against the licensee that cannot be collected from
the licensee. Consumers who use unlicensed individuals or companies to perform real estate brokerage activities are not
eligible to be reimbursed by that account.
Based on information filed with the complaints, the group allegedly hires unsuspecting people to perform real estate
brokerage services, such as showing real properties for sale or lease and writing contracts or leases, and misrepresents to
the “employees” that a real estate license is not required in order to perform those services. These employees are also
apparently solicited via craigslist. Unlicensed real estate activity can be subject to conviction for a Class A misdemeanor,
punishable by up to one year in jail and criminal and civil penalties.
If anyone has questions or information regarding this activity or about other activities that require a real estate license,
they should contact TREC at the number above. Also, additional information and a TREC complaint form can be
obtained from the website above.
The mission of TREC is to assist and protect consumers of real estate services and foster economic growth in Texas. Through
its programs of education, licensing and industry regulation, the Commission ensures the availability of capable and honest real estate service providers. More information at:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Tips for the homebuyer tax credit

The new-and-improved federal homebuyer tax credit can benefit not only first-time homebuyers but also homeowners who want to sell their current home and buy a new one.

The credit is reasonably straightforward, but there are some tips for those who want to take advantage of it. Here's what you should know:

1. Deadline: April 30, 2010
The most important tip is to be aware of the deadline. Buyers who want to use the tax credit must have their new home under contract (i.e., in escrow) by April 30, 2010, and must close the transaction within 60 days after that date.
That deadline is much sooner than it may seem: Many buyers take months to locate a house, and closing a transaction typically takes 45 to 60 days.

The short deadline may create even more of a crunch for homeowners who need to sell their current home and purchase a new one, Pettijohn says. Sellers need to be realistic about the value of their current home and put their home on the market as soon as possible, so they'll feel confident about buying their next home.

Buyers who get behind the curveball shouldn't count on another extension to keep them in the game since Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a former Realtor and the principal supporter of the legislation that extended and expanded the credit, has said in a statement that the tax credit won't be extended again.

2. Credit up to $8,000 or $6,500
Buyers also need to understand that the tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the sale price of the home, which could be less than the maximum of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat homeowners.
For example, if a first-time buyer purchased a small condominum that cost just $70,000, the tax credit would be $7,000. And by the way, if the home costs more than $800,000, the credit now drops to zero.

3. Get good advice
Homebuyers who want to take advantage of the tax credit should consult the right people for help, including:
A tax preparer, who can help them ensure they meet all the requirements to use the credit.
A mortgage lender, who can help them choose a loan program that will fit their needs.
A Realtor, who can help them locate a home they can afford and want to purchase.
Buyers should be aware that not all loans allow the borrower to finance closing costs or accept a contribution from the seller toward those costs, Bernard says. Many loan programs do allow those options, but that "certainly is not a blanket opportunity," she says. Buyers whose savings won't stretch to cover all the out-of-pocket costs to buy a home should discuss that constraint with their loan officer or mortgage broker.

4. Beware of tax fraud

According to Patti Ketcham, broker and owner of Ketcham Realty Group in Tallahassee, Fla., homebuyers should educate themselves about the tax credit and learn the lingo.
"It is critical that buyers educate themselves and that they not fall for the slick smoke and mirrors," she says. "Anytime you have found money, it brings out all the rats."

Three Web sites that may be helpful are:

National Association of Realtors
National Association of Home Builders
Buyers and sellers should be wary of any advice that sounds suspicious or overly complicated, Ketcham says. For instance, buyers who are told to conceal any information from their lender should "get away" from whoever offered that advice, she says.

One final tip: The IRS has found such a high incidence of fraud and creative tax accounting associated with the homebuyer tax credit that taxpayers who take the credit will now be required to attach a copy of the settlement statement to their federal tax return as proof of purchase. Buyers should keep their paperwork handy.


Irena Gorski specializes in selling real estate in West Houston,Sugar Land, Katy, Missouri City, Richmond

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Improved Homebuyer Tax Credit

How to Get the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit
You've decided to purchase a home and take advantage of the Home Buyer Tax Credit. Here's what you have to do to get your benefit:

•Close on your home purchase by July 1, 2010
•Ensure that you are a qualified first-time buyer under IRS guidelines
•To prevent fraud, you are required to provide documentation proving that you purchased a home
•Be at least 18 yeas old to claim the credit
•Fill out Form 5405 to determine the amount of your available credit

If you would like to purchase a house in Greater Houston Area and take advantage
of Home Buyer Tax Credit please contact Houston Realtor® Irena Gorski 281-610-4524,