Real Estate Information Archive


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81 Homes in Hamilton County and 225 in Marion County Under Contract

by O'Neil & Company Realtors

In the week ending August 14, Hamilton County saw 81 homes go under contract while Marion County saw 225 homes go under contract. 

Interestingly enough, as you look the price points of these homes, in Hamilton County, over 85% (69) were listed under $300,000. Our market drops off significantly as you get to higher price points. We are living in a divided market and sales are taking place in the first time buyer ranges. The strong activity is being fueled by low interest rates, lower home prices and the $8,000 federal tax credit targeted at first time home buyers, which expires before the end of the year. Note: you do not have to be a first time home buyer to qualify, email if you have questions about the program. These numbers bolster the position of passing the $15,000 tax credit for all home buyers. That should get the housing industry back on it's feet; home sales lead us into recession and could lead us out.


Monday Morning Update

by O'Neil & Company Realtors

Good Monday Morning!

Last week Hamilton County saw 83 go under contract while Marion County saw 264! These are the numbers we are looking for!

The $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers has given rise to a vastly increased number of sales for this buyer group.  This credit offer ends soon, but there is talk of an extension.  Currently developing is an abundance of pressure on legislators to enact a $15,000 tax credit for all home buyers. This was proposed as a part of the initial economic stimulus package but was cut. The thoughts here are that every single home transaction puts about $63,000 directly into the local economy. Economic recoveries have always begun with housing.  It would make sense for lawmakers to direct stimulus money right into and onto main street. If you agree, talk to your representatives, they do listen.

Have a facebook account? So do we! Follow O'Neil & Company Realtors on facebook, click the link and become a "Fan". As a fan you will be privy to our latest marketing ideas, you will see new listings before they hit the market and we'll always share a wealth of local information about the folks we do business with on a regular basis. We are honored to have you as part of our online community!

Have a great week!

Home Owners Frustrated With Short Sale Process

by O'Neil & Company Realtors

Great article from USA Today. If you know anyone who needs advice on the short sale process, please let us know.

Home sellers frustrated as short-sale deals collapse

The sales of homes for less than the amount owed the bank, known as "short sales," have been widely viewed as an alternative that could help slow the foreclosure epidemic. In theory, delinquent homeowners escape a mortgage they cannot afford, and lenders, although taking a loss, avoid the even costlier process of completing a foreclosure.

Instead, many homeowners are watching potential buyers walk away as months pass while they deal with lenders' lengthy delays, lost documents and unreturned calls, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Not all the snafus are lenders' fault; inexperienced real estate agents who fail to turn in complete paperwork also are causing holdups, as are severely underpricedhomes.

The problems have become such a kink in the market's recovery that banks and the federal government are launching new efforts this month to simplify and speed up the short-sale process.

Just 23% of short-sale offers that homeowners receive from potential buyers actually close, according to a February study of 1,300 real estate agents by Campbell Communications. More than 90% of agents cited a slow response from the lender as the reason short sales were lost.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Barack Obama | Bank of America | Wells Fargo | RE/Max

"The delays are quite extensive and a real problem. It's a serious issue," says Mark Zandi of Moody's "You're seeing a lot of short sales go bust, and it's contributing to the crisis because it's one of the reasons foreclosures continue to mount."

Jorge DeMattos, 45, just completed the short sale on his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla. — a process he and his real estate agent, Edward Goldfarb, say took 17 months and eight separate offers.

DeMattos began pursuing a short sale after he was laid off two years ago and his income plunged from $46,000 to $26,000 a year.

Chase Bank, his mortgage servicer, rejected the first offer, which was $14,000 over what was then fair market value, according to Goldfarb.

On the next seven offers, the bank took months to respond. Each prospective buyer got tired of waiting and canceled the contract. The eighth offer, accepted in May, was $24,000 less than the first one that Chase rejected in February 2008, Goldfarb says.

"Chase made it very difficult. I had to stop paying the mortgage. It was so frustrating," says DeMattos, who now lives with his sister in Kissimmee, Fla. "We would put the paperwork in, and they would never give a definite answer. Buyers waited for months."

DeMattos says he owed $355,000 on his mortgage. The short-sale price was $225,000.

Christine Holevas, a Chase spokeswoman, says earlier offers on the home weren't accepted because they were significantly below the appraised value and the homeowner didn't send in updated financial information.

No longer uncommon

Short sales once were extremely rare. But now, with unemployment climbing and home values down, more homeowners are pursuing short sales when they can't afford their mortgage. About 11% of all sales transactions in June are such short sales, according to the NAR.

Some delays stem from agents who fail to prepare buyers and sellers for the length of time it takes to get a short sale approved or who supply incomplete information to banks.

But many short sales are faltering, largely because some lenders may lack the internal staffing, expertise and systems to process such sales in a timely fashion. And short sales can be complex, especially if they involve home-equity lines of credit or other second liens held by different lenders, who also must agree to take less than the amount they're owed from a home's sale.

Several lenders acknowledge that banks have been part of the problem, in part because most have done so few short sales in the past that they've faced a steep learning curve.

"About half of short sales never close. We see it as a big lost opportunity, and we need to improve the rate we close them," says David Sunlin, vice president in charge of short sales at Bank of America.

Uncompleted short sales that go to foreclosure are costlier for lenders and homeowners. For lenders, a short sale may save as much as 30% of the expense incurred by going to foreclosure.

For homeowners, a foreclosure wreaks longer-lasting damage to their credit records. A homeowner who has gone through a short sale typically can get a new home loan in one to three years, according to the NAR. A foreclosure usually means it takes seven.

Borrowers are expected to pay their mortgage during the short-sale process, but not all can afford to. That leads to abandoned properties that may sit vacant and deteriorate for months. In other cases, homeowners unable to make their payments may stay put and pay nothing, in some cases for up to a year, until the lenders' review-and-approval process plays out.

Large numbers of uncompleted short sales are especially troublesome, because other efforts to stem foreclosures have been less effective than expected. The Obama administration's housing rescue plan, which includes getting banks to rework home loans into more affordable mortgages, has made such slow progress that representatives from 25 major mortgage servicers were called to Washington, D.C., last month to discuss improving the efforts.

Short sales are moving into the national spotlight now as:

•Mortgage servicers ramp up their programs. Bank of America has begun trying to slash the turnaround time on short sales from up to 90 days after a buyer submits an application to just a week. In a typical short sale, a buyer makes an offer, then the bank conducts appraisals to determine the price it will accept. Setting that price can take so long that would-be buyers may walk away. To try to avoid such delays, Bank of America has begun doing appraisals and determining a minimum price it will accept before a home goes up for sale.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo has created a real estate agent education guide that explains the process, has increased staffing and has set up procedures to handle short-sale requests and explain the process to homeowners. The bank says it has cut its average turnaround time from offer to approval from up to 90 days to about 30.

•The U.S. government is getting more involved. The Treasury Department soon will detail a plan to streamline short sales by providing standardized documentation and cash incentives to lenders and a moving allowance to homeowners.

Treasury has said that servicers have opted to pursue foreclosures instead of short sales because of the complexity and time required to complete the discounted home sales.

Borrowers who complete a short sale will be eligible for $1,500 to help with relocation expenses. Second-lien holders will get up to $1,000 to relinquish their claims in such transactions.

Eligible homeowners can be accepted through Dec. 31, 2012, but the short-sale program is for those unable to get mortgage modifications from their banks.

"We realized we couldn't reach everyone with a modification. For us, that wasn't the end of the story," says Michael Barr, Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions. "The alternative is to significantly speed up short sales."

No authoritative figures on short sales' completion times are available, but some research indicates the problem is worsening.

A survey in March 2008 by Campbell Communications found that the average time for a mortgage servicer to respond to an offer to buy a short-sale property was 4.5 weeks. Campbell's follow-up survey in February found that the average response time had doubled to nine weeks.

A third survey in June found the response time was 9.5 weeks. The surveys were sponsored by Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry publication.

"The foot-dragging means it's taking six weeks to six months," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the NAR. "There are big delays. The review process is taking way too long."

'We had a learning curve'

Lenders say the approval process takes time because there are so many parties involved. Some bank officials say they've been learning as they go.

"We had a learning curve," says David Knight, senior vice president for Default Retention Operations, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "Any stakeholder has a right to disapprove the sale. Realtors out there were used to regular sales. Now, all of a sudden, the servicer and Realtor have had to learn a lot."

Some real estate groups also are trying to improve the process. Re/Max International Chairman David Liniger says his company is aggressively working to train agents on handling short sales and other so-called distressed properties. Instead of eight weeks to close a short sale, trained agents can get them done in two to four weeks, he says.

Within the real estate industry, hopes are rising that short sales will become a shorter process.

"It's horrible the amount of time it's taking to do these sales," says Valerie Torelli, who owns Torelli Realty in Costa Mesa, Calif. "It happens all the time that short sales fail and then go to foreclosure. A seller doesn't make payments for a year and then just walks away. It's unbelievable."


View Full Article Here

Monday Morning Update

by O'Neil & Company Realtors

Good Monday Morning!

There was a lot of news late last week about the state of housing "Turning the Corner," while this is probably true, I want you to remember that housing trends, pricing and absorption are local. Sometimes the media loses sight of that fact; talking about national housing prices is the equivalent of talking about the average temperature of the United States, some places are hot some are cold. As I've said before, we won't know that we are truly at a bottom until it's too late. I think we are on the up-swing due to the number of showings, advertising calls and overall buyer activity in our market; further, inventory is significantly diminishing and over the past few weeks we have seen a number of multiple offer scenarios. The real test for our housing market will be this Fall, how high will rates rise, will the first time homebuyer stimulus be extended, there are a number of variables that we just do not know about...stay tuned.

Last week 82 homes went under contract in Hamilton County and 241 were contracted in Marion County.

We have been working for months developing a proprietary Home Search System. It is here. Now, anyone can search all homes for sale based on their own criteria. Search by address, city, zip, map, neighborhood and the list goes on. Please use our site, you can even create your own user ID and password where you can create your own search criteria and save homes that you like. Remember, we will never sell your information. Over the coming weeks we will be adding enhancements and more search options, if you have any feedback, please let us know. 

Make it a great week!

And Here's Your Morning Coffee!

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O'Neil & Company
Encore Sotheby's International Realty
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