Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Neighbors worry as banks take longer to sell foreclosed homes

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 22, 2012 – A neighborhood’s chances of recovering quickly from the hung-over U.S. housing market depend not only on how many foreclosed homes it has but also, it seems, on which banks own the properties.

Bank of America, for instance, takes almost two months longer on average to sell a foreclosed property than EverBank Financial does, according to new, nationwide data from the research company RealtyTrac Inc. And BofA, the lending giant that inherited many of its troubled mortgages when it bought Countrywide Financial in 2008, has been taking longer this year to sell its foreclosure properties than it took last year.

A lot of things can happen when long-abandoned houses sit on the market for additional months. By slowly releasing their foreclosed properties, for instance, some lenders have benefited from rising home prices this year; in the core Orlando market, prices are up 16 percent since the start of 2012.

But those long-held properties also rack up more unpaid association fees, overdue property taxes, repair costs, neighborhood complaints and even code-enforcement fines as the months wear on.

At Cranes Roost Villas in Altamonte Springs, the first thing residents and visitors see as they enter the gated community is a leaky corner unit draped in blue tarp so long that the plastic sheeting has started to disintegrate.

“Bank of America put a bright-blue tarp on top of roof rather than repair it,” said longtime resident Richard Campanaro. “Half of it has blown off. It would make a wonderful haunted house if you wanted to do something for Halloween. It’s terrible – I wouldn’t even want to enter the property.”

Last year, it took Bank of America an average of 5.3 months to sell a foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. So far this year, it has averaged 6.7 months. Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo & Co., Ocwen Financial and Citigroup have also fallen further behind in selling their foreclosed properties. Through September, all of them were taking at least 20 percent longer than they took in 2011, based on RealtyTrac’s nationwide data.

Smaller banks appear to be more nimble when dealing with foreclosures, perhaps because they aren’t faced with nearly the same volume of properties, said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. And mortgage servicers with portfolios of higher-end properties are better able to sell those homes than are companies saddled with less-desirable houses.

But the longer a bank-owned house sits idle during the foreclosure process, the deeper it falls into disrepair.

“Banks are not typically too willing to repair these homes, particularly if there are property flippers ready, willing and able to buy the more scratch-and-dent variety of homes and fix them up,” Blomquist said. According to RealtyTrac, the number of flippers is up 25 percent nationally and 34 percent in the Orlando area compared with a year ago.

Two nonprofit housing organizations recently filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, accusing Bank of America of failing to maintain foreclosed houses in 10 cities’ minority communities, including Orlando’s. The groups included photos of houses with unlocked doors, mold, interior walls spray-painted with graffiti, and piles of trash heaped outside.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based lending giant denied any wrongdoing and said it stands behind its property-maintenance-and-marketing practices. “Bank of America is committed to stabilizing and revitalizing communities that have been impacted by the economic downturn, foreclosures and property abandonment,” spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said.

Orlando Code Enforcement Officer Mike Rhodes said he sees repeated problems in low-income areas and elsewhere with houses owned by various lenders. A review of code violations within the city found that Wells Fargo had the greatest number of code infractions among the nation’s top five lenders.

A year ago, for instance, Orlando cited Wells Fargo for failing to secure a swimming pool at a foreclosed house in downtown Orlando. At the same house last month, Orlando cited Wells Fargo for overgrown landscaping and debris in the backyard. And just two weeks ago, Wells Fargo got a notice for broken front windows and black water in the pool.

Repeated safety violations at the same bank-owned houses have become such a recurrent theme for local governments that some of them, such as the city of Tampa, have considered establishing foreclosure registries, which require lenders pay $125 to register a property within 10 days of filing a foreclosure notice.

In registering a property, banks have to provide contact information for a property manager in case the house falls into disrepair and the local government – or the neighborhood’s community association – wants some action taken.

Rhodes said there has been some discussion about creating a registry in Orlando, but getting the properties “signed up” does not ensure the houses will be maintained. He said his staff already knows whom to call at most of the mortgage companies with foreclosures in the city, so he questions whether such a registration is necessary.

“You call a company in Texas that manages the assets of Wells Fargo, and they contact someone here,” Rhodes said. Calls, though, don’t always resolve the problems.

“We’ve got a situation in Parramore, the property is owned by Wells Fargo,” Rhodes said. “There are squatters, drugs being dealt and you name it.”

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the company inspects foreclosures monthly, registers foreclosures as required, maintains abandoned houses and secures them.

“We occasionally receive code violations or concerns regarding the condition and maintenance of homes in our servicing portfolio that are not foreclosed,” the bank said in a written statement. “If the property in our servicing portfolio is delinquent and vacant, but has not yet gone to foreclosure sale, we will maintain and secure it.”

The time JP Morgan Chase takes to sell its foreclosed properties has held steady from last year to this year. Lisa Shepherd, vice president of Chase’s REO and Preservation unit, said the company has not changed its sales strategies in the past year but has been able to move more properties as it winnows its inventory.

“When there is less distress inventory in the market, we find there are more interested buyers,” Shepherd said. She added that Chase works with local real-estate agents and makes necessary repairs, taking into consideration the neighborhood overall.

Prospects for banks generally to work through their foreclosure inventory in Florida do not look promising. RealtyTrac projects that foreclosure filings in the state will continue to increase for the next six to 12 months, and that will likely increase the average time to sell for many of these lenders during the next year.

“However, because buyers and investors finally appear to be flocking to the market, pulled by low prices and interest rates, I don’t expect the influx in bank-owned inventory to cause a major dip in average prices,” said Blomquist, the RealtyTrac vice president.

Back in Altamonte Springs, Campanaro said it’s sad that he has grown accustomed to the shredded blue tarp that creates an eyesore at the entrance to his neighborhood.

What’s even sadder, he said, is what that does to the property values for residents trying to rebuild some equity in their homes.

Copyright © 2012 The Orlando Sentinel

Monday, October 22, 2012

FLORIDA's housing market shows upswing in Sept. 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 19, 2012 – Florida’s housing market had higher pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in September, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Florida’s real estate market is no longer in recovery mode – stability and growth gain solid footing,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Realtors across the state are reporting consistent increases in home sales and median prices, and multiple offers from buyers isn’t unusual. In fact, increasing buyer demand in many local markets is creating inventory shortages – and that’s putting pressure on prices. For sellers who may have been reluctant to enter the market, it’s now time to reconsider. Conditions are turning to a sellers’ market.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 15,643 in September, up 2 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed by not yet completed or closed – of existing single-family homes last month rose 40.1 percent over the previous September. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $145,000, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2012 was $188,700, up 10.2 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in August was $343,820; in Massachusetts, it was $317,750; in Maryland, it was $255,498; and in New York, it was $225,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes-condos, a total of 7,329 units sold statewide last month, down slightly (-2.9 percent) from those sold in September 2011. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhome-condos in September increased 30.6 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $105,736, up 18.8 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in August 2012 was $176,700.

Last month, the inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply; inventory for townhome-condo properties was also at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

“The onward march of Florida's housing market continues,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Inventories have now tilted to the point where we truly have a sellers’ market forming. Prices are up smartly and have been for quite a while. It’s getting to the point where Florida is the place to buy, but it may soon move out of reach for many households.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.47 percent in September 2012, lower than the 4.11 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Take a look the future of Florida's real estate market.

Here is the latest from FAR.
1. Great prices. Statewide, home prices have fallen about 20 percent in the past year. Florida Association of Realtors® statistics show the existing-home median sales price was $185,400 in the third quarter of 2008, compared with $233,200 in third quarter 2007. By the way, those numbers are still significantly higher than in the early years of the decade. In 2003, the third-quarter sales price was $163,700, which reflects an increase of about 13.3 percent over the five-year period. (The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.)
2. The time is right. Home sales volumes are rising again -- a signal that the market recovery may be underway. In third quarter 2008, statewide sales of existing single-family homes were up 5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to FAR statistics.
3. High inventory levels. Conditions are ideal for buyers to find their dream home. Inventory is plentiful in all price ranges. But as sales volumes increase, inventory levels are likely to shrink. That reality translates into this advice for buyers: Don't wait too long.
4. Low mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are still at the lowest levels since the 1960s. Lower rates multiply a buyer's financial power. Even half a percent can make a sizeable difference. For example, on a $200,000 home, half of 1 percent could save the homeowner about $815 a year. Buyers can get more home for the money, which is a perfect scenario for families looking to upsize.
5. Incentives to buy. Federal, state and local housing programs can help buyers make that big purchase. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has increased the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit from $7,500 to $8,000 for purchases on or after Jan. 1, 2009, and before Dec. 1, 2009. Talk to a local mortgage lender about state and federal incentive programs.
6. A long-term-growth state. Long-term economic and demographic trends continue to favor Florida. By 2010, economists forecast that Florida will be the third-most-populated state in the country. Florida has been one of the 10-fastest-growing states in the U.S. for each of the past seven decades, and often the state has been in the top four, according to Census data. Population growth will continue to provide a foundation for other economic development, such as new jobs and growing incomes. All of these trends are positive indicators for real estate growth.
7. A migration magnet. Even with a slowdown in economic growth nationally, projections call for Florida's population to return to more normal growth levels of about 317,000 a year between 2010 and 2020, similar to the 1980s and 1990s, said Stan Smith, director of the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. That's a lot of new buyers coming into the market.
8. A favored retirement destination. Over the long term, Florida stands to benefit from the migration of the aging Baby Boomer generation, roughly 80 million strong. Demographic studies show that the Sunshine State's mild climate and outdoor amenities continue to make Florida a favorite retirement destination.
9. A diverse economy. Florida's economy, like the rest of the nation, is impacted by the recession. Some business sectors, though, appear promising for the Florida economy. The healthcare and technology sectors are quickly becoming an important economic force in South and Central Florida. The Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners ranked five Florida communities on its "Best Performing Cities Index 2008," which ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. Florida's business climate ranked fourth among executives and sixth overall on Site Selection magazine's 2008 Top State Business Climate rankings.
10. Investment outlook. Every quarter, the University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. In the fourth quarter 2008 survey, the investment outlook for various types of Florida properties declined from the third quarter of 2008, although it is noted that the investment outlook remains higher than it was at times in 2006 and 2007. "We have 40 pages of comments from our respondents, and although the dominant theme is the disruption of financing, perhaps the second theme, as one person put it, is people being on the sidelines with full pads and helmets just waiting to jump back in," says Director Dr. Wayne Archer, when referencing the 2008 third quarter results.
11. Homeownership has value. Realtors® believe -- and research supports the belief -- that homeownership provides a variety of tangible and intangible benefits to the community and homeowners. Studies show that home equity is still the largest single source of household wealth.
12. Greater sense of well-being. Owning a home leads to increased personal well-being. Research shows that people who own their own homes tend to show higher levels of personal self-esteem and life satisfaction, which in turn helps to make homeowners and their children more productive members of society.
13. Beneficial for kids. Studies show that children raised in homes owned by their families are more likely to stay in school and graduate high school. They're also shown to have a higher lifetime annual income.
14. Community involvement. People who own homes have a strong financial stake in what happens to their community and tend to become more involved in community and civic affairs. Studies show that homeowners also interact more with their neighbors and communities. Compared to renters, homeowners join up to 41 percent more civic and/or nonprofessional organizations, such as the PTA or Scouts; vote in local elections 15 percent more often; enhance their neighborhoods with gardens 12 percent more often; attend church about 10 percent more often; and have a 3 percent greater chance of being interested in public affairs.
15. An unsurpassed lifestyle. Finally, let's not forget the things that brought people to Florida in the first place, and will continue to attract them -- beautiful beaches, fabulous weather and a friendly business climate, with no state income tax. It's no wonder that Florida's combination of temperate climate, outstanding recreational amenities and economic opportunity has consistently put the Sunshine State in the top three of Harris Poll's "Most Desirable Places to Live" survey.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Behind on payments and don't know what your options are?

There are options for Central Florida families in foreclosure that do not want to stay in their home because they want to scale down, move, or maybe need a larger home. Short sales involve hiring a local Realtor, knowledgeable with the process, and listing the home on the market for its current value. Because the mortgage balance exceeds the sales price, the homeowner will not have enough money at closing to pay the bank; hence, the sale is “short.”
     Once the house is under contract with a viable buyer the bank will have to agree to the short sale, which does not always happen. In order to complete a short sale, families in risk of foreclosure need a realtor that is experienced in short sales and that has successfully closed at least 10 short sales in the past few months. This should be a good indicator that the agent is familiar with the latest changes.
    Paul Antonelli has a history of success and integrity in real estate that you can depend on. Paul Antonelli is very experienced in Florida real estate transactions, including short sales. Having completed hundreds of Short Sales throughout Central Florida, Kissimmee, Orlando, St. Cloud,  Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Dr. Phillips, Lake Mary, Longwood, Sanford, Windermere, Winter Park, Winter Garden, Celebration, Lake Nona, all over Orange and Osceola counties. Through dealing with numerous banks over the years, Paul Antonelli will sort through the factors that the bank will consider including: the homeowner’s hardship and income, appraised value of the home, the equity the bank would obtain at a foreclosure sale, in addition to the cost they would incur if they have to “carry the property” after the sale.
The important thing to note for any short sale not just in the state of Florida is that if the homeowner cannot show true hardship, the bank will expect the homeowner to bring or have available an amount of cash to closing. However, the benefit of a short sale is that as long as the short sales approval comes with a full waiver, once the house is sold, it’s sold. The homeowner is done with the bank, and the bank is done with the homeowner.
Contact Paul Antonelli today for your FREE consultation 321-443-4028 .

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Follow Up to; Is Bank of America really doing away with second liens

     I posted this original "report" a few days ago and I basically said, Yea right I'll believe it when I see it.  We'll I ready to say that so far it looks like they are actually going to do something that they said they were going to do. Bank of America and the other major bank players were all talking about doing Loan Mods the "Right Way" (You know reducing the principle balance) and cutting out the second mortgages. Pipe dreams right? It was always them saying the right things but never following through with them. It wasn't until the beginning of this year when all the major players (the Mega-banks) were slapped with fees by every states Attorney General, for the Robo signing scandal of years past.
   Last month Bank of America sent out thousands and thousands of these letters, not just in Kissimmee or Greater Orlando area, but all over Florida and the country offering people to forgive the second mortgage. Everyone's thought was Yea right, what's the catch? My fear was that the owners would have to divulge all their financials, pay history, living status, etc. and probably a pint of blood and urine sample to boot. So then they would have all your information and could really determine your financial status. They could have come back to these people and stated that "Oh you have plenty in your 401K so you don't qualify" or "We see that you just financed a new car so you don't qualify" or something like this " We see you have about $7000 in your bank accounts so you won't qualify for this program". The big issues or what I call the Scary part of all this was that with this info that they now had they could also say the "You won't qualify for any of our programs including a Short Sale". That would mean that Foreclosure would be your only out or a Deed in Lieu, which is the same thing.
     Yesterday I get a call from one of our sellers in Kissimmee, that we are short selling the property. They got this letter last month I said don't bother everyone is getting it. Just like all those Loan Mod letters. They said that Bank of America called them again and said that they only had 10 days to file for this or they are out. I asked if they had to send any financials, and they said NO, They wanted Nothing, they were already qualified. Then they told them that they see there was an active Short Sale and that this program would take a minimum of 3 months to complete and once started they could not stop or they would not finish the program and would Always Owe The Balance To Them. This means No Chance for a Full Waiver of Deficiency! That is Big and Important to know. My words to them “Go For It, You Have To". I then got on the phone and cancelled the Short Sale until they completed the process. The agent on the other side was in full agreement.
     So, to all my Kissimmee, Saint Cloud and Greater Orlando clients and friends, if you got one of these letters, CALL THEM NOW before time runs out. Or maybe your one of those people that are still in denial and just threw the letter in the trash like all the others from the banks. If that's the case and you or someone you know, has a second mortgage with Bank of America, call them today to see if you qualify for this program.
I will post a copy of this letter on my website soon, www.PaulAntonelli.com
Thank you
Paul Antonelli
La Rosa Realtor and Short Sale Trainer and Property Owner Advocate

Monday, October 1, 2012

Is Bank of America really doing away with second liens??

Borrowers with second liens owned and serviced by Bank of America ($9.08 0.25%) may qualify to get their subordinate debt extinguished entirely.

The banking giant mailed 150,000 letters to pre-qualified homeowners who are eligible to have their Bank of America second-lien mortgages eliminated.

The program was designed to ease the pains of struggling borrowers who are also dealing with issues on first mortgages and to help more individuals create equity in their properties.

Borrowers receiving the letter will have second liens on collateral property completely removed unless the customer decides to opt out of the automatic relief by sending a response within 30 days of receiving the letter.

The offer takes care of the entire unpaid principal balance on second liens. Only second liens owned and serviced by BofA that meet certain delinquency and property value guidelines are qualified for the program.

Second lien mortgages associated with a severly delinquent first lien mortgage also qualify as long as the second-lien is serviced or fully owned by BofA. Ownership of the first lien mortgage does not matter as long as BofA has control of the subordinate lien.

Mailings to eligible customers began in July. Only customers who receive pre-qualified letters will be able to use the program today.

The bank points out that eliminating a second lien does not resolve issues with the first. If a first lien mortgage is delinquent or in foreclosure, the borrower still has to work with the servicer to resolve those issues. The extinguishment of the second debt is an attempt to limit other financial concerns, but it cannot resolve issues with the first lien.

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