Thursday, June 28, 2012

U.S. Sets Rules for Foreclosure Compensation

U.S. Sets Rules for Foreclosure Compensationanks could be forced to pay as much as $125,000 per customer to compensate borrowers who were subject to foreclosure-processing errors.

More than a year after finding widespread abuses in the industry, banking regulators unveiled a plan Thursday to compensate borrowers for a wide variety of errors, including starting foreclosure for a borrower who wasn't in default, denying loan assistance in error, making a mistake on a loan modification and wrongfully foreclosing on a member of the military.

Many borrowers with foreclosure errors may not see any money. Only about 194,000 of 4.4 million borrowers sent letters last year have requested a review of their cases to date. Separately, independent consultants are doing reviews of about 145,000 consumers' files.

The compensation plan is separate from a $25 billion foreclosure-abuse settlement that federal and state officials announced earlier this year. That settlement covered the nation's five largest mortgage-servicing firms: Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citi Group Inc. and Ally Financial Inc.

The national servicing settlement includes $1.5 billion in cash payments, or up to $2,000 per borrower, for homeowners who went through foreclosure between September 2008 and December 2011. That was a different approach from bank regulators, who required banks to hire independent consultants who are undertaking a more detailed review of each consumer's case.

The biggest awards under the rules announced by the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would be $125,000 per consumer. Those awards would go to consumers who lost their home without defaulting on their mortgage. Banks also must pay that same fine if they violated a federal law preventing foreclosures on the military or foreclosed on a homeowner enrolled in a loan modification plan.

Smaller awards would go to consumers who had other kinds of violations. Consumers whose applications for loan modifications were improperly denied are in line for up to $15,000. Those who were never solicited for loan help as required under federal programs are eligible for up to $1,000.

Hogan Lovells the law firm that represents the banks said Borrowers are likely to face a tough burden of proof for the larger awards.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fed to Extend Operation Twist Program

Fed to Extend Operation Twist Program


The Federal Reserve announced it will extend its Operation Twist program to the end of the year, pushing down long-term interest rates in another effort to spur home purchases and business investments.

The program, which began last September, was set to expire this month. It involves the Fed buying up long-term Treasuries and selling them as short-term bonds. The Fed said it will transfer another $267 billion over the next six months to longer-term notes to try to push down rates.

“We are prepared to do what is necessary,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said. “We are prepared to provide support for the economy.”

The Fed said even though the Great Recession ended three years ago, the economy and job market will take longer than expected to recover. The Fed said it expected for unemployment to remain around 7.5 percent to 8 percent by the end of 2013.

Some analysts are skeptical that the Fed’s latest move will spur any more jump-start to the housing market. Anthony Valeri, a strategist for LPL Financial, told USA Today that the ailing job market will continue to hamper the housing market’s recovery, as well as discourage consumers from borrowing and banks from lending.

USA Today Full Story


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reasons You Could Be Rejected for Credit…And What To Do About Them

Reasons You Could Be Rejected for Credit…And What To Do About Them

Proportion of balances to credit limits is too high on bank revolving or other revolving accounts.
What it means: The score likely looks at your total available credit limits and compares them to your outstanding balances, individually and in the aggregate. The greater the percentage of your available credit that you are using, the greater the impact to your scores. There’s no magic number here, though. In other words, getting your balances below 30% or 50% of your available credit doesn’t automatically eliminate this factor.
What you can do about it: Focus on paying down balances that are close to the credit limits as quickly as possible. What about transferring a balance from a maxed-out card to one with a smaller balance? While that might help, it’s not likely, since you still have just as much debt as before (another factor). If you can’t make headway on paying down your credit cards, you may want to talk with a credit counseling agency.

Amount owed on accounts is too high.

What it means: This factor may look at your debt in comparison to other consumers, and if your debt is higher than optimal, it could show up as a reason why you weren’t approved.
What you can do about it: This one is particularly frustrating because you probably have no idea how much debt is too much, nor do you know which balances to try to pay down first. Typically, though, you’ll get the most bang for your buck, credit-wise, by focusing on paying down your credit cards with balances that are closest to the limits first.

Too many recent inquiries last 12 months.

What it means: This reason appears when your credit report indicates a high number of credit applications (inquiries) within the last year. But not all are counted the same. Checking your own credit reports doesn’t count; nor do promotional inquiries, inquiries from employer and insurance companies, and account reviews by your current creditors. The impact of inquiries on your credit will vary, depending on your overall credit profile, but the typical inquiry can be expected to impact your score by about 5 points.
What you can do about it: This reason is more likely to appear when you have a limited credit history or strong credit, simply because there are fewer other significant negative factors affecting your scores. But it doesn’t hurt to lay low for a while. Avoid opening new retail cards. While all inquiries resulting from shopping for a mortgage, student loan or auto loan aren’t as likely to hurt your score as the same number of inquiries for credit cards, limit your applications to a short period of time, such as 14 days.

Level of delinquency on accounts.

What it means: Delinquency refers to payments that were late. The general rule of thumb is that the further you fell behind, the greater the impact to your credit score.
What you can do about it: If the information is inaccurate, you can dispute it. If it’s correct, you’re going to have to live with it for a while; usually up to seven years. Focus on making your current payments on time. If cash is tight, remember that all you have to do is make the minimum payment on time to avoid a delinquency on your report.

Time since delinquency is too recent or unknown.

What it means: Recent late payments will have a greater impact on your score than older late payments. Typically, those within the most recent year or two can hurt your scores the most. If an account was delinquent a while ago, but the credit report doesn’t indicate the date, this factor can pop up as well.
What you can do about it: The good news is that as time passes, these delinquencies will carry less weight, especially when you are paying current bills on time. But the date is important here. If an inaccurate date (or no date) is reported for a charge-off or collection account, for example, make sure you dispute that with the credit reporting agency.

Serious delinquency, derogatory public record or collection filed.

What it means: This can mean your credit report includes a bankruptcy, judgment, tax lien or collection account. Bankruptcy remains on your report 10 years from the date you file (7 years for a completed Chapter 13); paid judgments can be reported for 7 years but unpaid judgments can stay on there even longer; paid tax liens are removed 7 years after being paid, but unpaid tax liens can remain on your report indefinitely; while collection accounts may be reported seven years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to the account being turned over to collections.
What you can do about it: If the information is accurate, then this is also a matter of biding your time and making sure you have as many positive credit references currently reporting as possible. (A secured card may be an option if you can’t qualify for a regular credit card.) And while paying a collection, judgment or tax lien won’t likely change this factor in the short run, it could result in the public record item being removed from your report sooner, and protect you from being sued for a debt which could result in additional judgments or collections on your credit reports. If dates are incorrectly reported or payments are not being reported — not uncommon with collection accounts — dispute them.

No recent revolving balances (or no recent bankcard balances).

What it means: This reason may appear when your credit report doesn’t include any revolving accounts (usually credit cards), or when all your credit cards closed or are no longer being reported. If you have open credit cards, it may also appear when there are no balances on those accounts.
What you can do about it: Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to have debt to have good credit. As long as you use your cards from time to time, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are avoiding credit cards all together, you’ll have a tough time getting a top credit score. Get a credit card and use it occasionally — even a secured card — and pay it in full and on time, and you should be fine.

Lack of recent installment loan information.

What it means: Your mortgage was paid off years ago. You pay cash for your cars. You don’t have any outstanding student loans. Guess what? The fact that you’re ultra-responsible here doesn’t help your credit scores.
What you can do about it: The strongest credit scores go to those with a mix of different types of accounts. Does that mean you have to rush out and take out a loan? No. But next time you go to buy a car, you may want to find out if you qualify for 0% financing, or a low-rate loan. Or you may want to see if you can get a low-rate personal loan to consolidate some higher-rate credit card debt. On the other hand, don’t go overboard. You don’t want to pay a lot in extra interest charges.

Too few accounts currently paid as agreed.

What it means: This reason appears when your credit report does not show enough accounts paid on time relative to the number of accounts with late payments. But if you haven’t been late with payments, this reason most likely means that you need more accounts reported on your file as “paid as agreed.”
What you can do about it: You may want to think about adding a current credit reference, or even a couple of them over time. If you’re having trouble getting approved for a credit card or personal loan, consider a secured card.

Too many consumer finance company accounts.

What it means: Consumer finance companies make relatively small personal loans, usually limited to several thousand dollars, and quite often at interest rates higher than those on most credit cards. Consumers who rely heavily on consumer finance company accounts tend to be riskier to lenders than consumers who do not have any.
What you can do about it: Paying off these types of accounts will not improve your credit immediately but it’s still a good idea to pay them off as soon as you can since the interest rates are probably high. Next time you need to borrow, try first to get a standard personal loan through a social lending website, for example, or your bank or credit union.




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Checking And Maintaining Your Major Appliances



The Preventative Maintenance Plan can help you extend the life of your appliances Maintain peak efficiency, which can save you money and avert system failures. Below is a list of the standard maintenance procedures we will follow when servicing your appliances.We will mark each item as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory and provide you with comments on next steps if repair is needed.

Washer

•Check/Adjust leveling of unit

•Check lid switch operation

•Check operation of all console controls

•Check for water leakage

•Check for visible signs of oil leakage in transmission area

•Check drive belt

•Check tension of drive belt and pulleys

•Check pump-out timing

•Check tub springs for correct positioning

Dryer

•Check/tighten supply connections (gas/electric)

•Check/adjust leveling of unit

•Check operation of all console controls

•Check cycling of heat thermostats

•Check dryer belts

•Check rollers and guides

•Check heater wiring/gas valve connections

•Check lint filter

•Check tub springs for correct positioning

Range

•Check oven door gaskets

•Check oven door latch assembly

•Check surface burner operations

•Check broiler operation

•Check oven operation

Refrigerator

•Check/clean condenser coils

•Check/tighten water line connections

•Clean door gaskets for proper sealing

•Check/adjust leveling for proper door closure

•Check/align door hinges as needed

•Check fresh food/freezer air temps

Dishwasher

•Check/clean spray arms for proper operation and cracks

•Check for possible leaks

•Check detergent/drying agent dispensers

•Check timer and electrical components

•Check water temperature and advise customer if it is not hot

Microwave (Built-in)

•Check oven door alignment

•Check for proper operation of interlocks

•Check for stirrer operation

•Check for control operations

•Check for turntable operations

•Check for auto sensor operation


Thursday, June 21, 2012

5 Biggest Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Some home buyers fall for common pitfalls when purchasing a home. How can you help make sure your clients don’t fall for one?  Credit.com recently featured some of the biggest mistakes home buyers often make. Their list included:

1. Trying to fix credit scores before buying a home.  Home buyers may do more harm than good if they don’t consult a financial expert first. “Even paying down credit card balances, which is a good thing as far as your credit scores and debt ratios are concerned, could be a problem if it leaves you short the cash you need to qualify to get the loan,

2. Not considering the future enough in their purchase.  Buyers should consider what they want out of a house not just for today but also five or 10 years down the road. Do they plan to expand their family? If so, they may need a bigger home and want a different location. Also, how long do they plan on staying at the home? That can help determine the type of mortgage that makes the most sense for them too.

3. Failing to research financing enough.  First comes the home and then the financing? Not in today’s market. Home shoppers should get prequalified for a mortgage before they start shopping for a home so they know what they can afford. Evaluating your credit, deciding on a product you prefer, how much down payment you feel comfortable making, whether you want to pay fees or points and even shopping for a lender should happen well in advance of even wandering through the market looking at houses.”

4. Making the assumption that the Good Faith Estimate is always what you pay at closing.  The form lenders provide that estimates closing costs is not set in stone. Closing costs may actually be more, so buyers need to be prepared. Closing costs generally are about 3 percent to 5 percent of the loan amount. “Shop around and compare the Good Faith Estimate provided by the lender with that of two or three other lenders.  If there is a significant disparity in estimates, then request an explanation from the lender to determine if you would like to move forward.

5. Failing to budget for home expenses.  Budgeting to purchase the home isn’t all new home owners should be squeezing in their budget. They’d be wise to not forget to budget for maintaining the home too. New home owners should budget for an increase in utility bills as well as for future maintenance and repair costs, such as repairing a furnace or roof.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mortgage Rates End Six-Week Streak of Record Lows

After six consecutive weeks of reaching all-time record lows, fixed-rate mortgages reversed course this week, starting to inch upwards, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

Despite the slight uptick in fixed-rate mortgages this week, however, rates “remain near historic lows helping to keep home buyer affordability high, and providing a strong incentive for those looking to refinance,” according to Freddie Mac.

Here’s a closer look at rates for the week ending June 14:
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.71 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week’s record setting average of 3.67 percent. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.50 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.98 percent, with an average 0.7 point, also inching up after its record setting average last week of 2.94 percent. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.67 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.80 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 2.84 average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.27 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.78 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, dropping slightly from last week’s 2.79 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.97 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Psalm 15 (A Tough To Do List)

A psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,

who does what is righteous,

who speaks the truth from their heart;

3 whose tongue utters no slander,

who does no wrong to a neighbor,

and casts no slur on others;

4 who despises a vile person

but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

and does not change their mind;

5 who lends money to the poor without interest;

who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

will never be shaken.

Lord, I pray for your help and guidance that you will mold me and shape me to be more like your servant David.  I know there is much that has to change, but with you all things are possible.  Amen.



Prepare Air Conditioner for the Cooling Season

Here are two easy, practical and essential tips to prepare your air conditioner to work at it’s most efficient and reliable the entire summer:
  • Clean the condenser coils. By removing the entire cover off your unit you can gain access to the coils. Clean the coils with a soft bristle brush or by blowing compressed air at them.
  • Replace the air conditioner filter. For best results, experts recommend that you do this once a month through the summer months. For best value, try electrostatic filter cut-to-fit material which fits most air conditioners.
Cut-to-fit filter fits all standard A/C units, as well as central air units






Saturday, June 9, 2012

Preparing Your Home For Sale: Appeal to the Senses

Appeal to the senses
There are many ways to create a more exciting and saleable interior, at surprisingly little cost. Here are some suggestions on how to use sensory selling tools to improve each room.

Light
People react more favourably to properties shown under bright light. These steps will help you keep your rooms bright.
  • Keep windows clean
  • Use adequate wattage in light bulbs
  • Consider replacing old fluorescent lamps, which darken with use
  • Use mirrors to magnify the feel of light and space
  • Use track lights to create a high-tech look
  • Open drapes and blinds and turn on lights prior to showings
Colour
A fundamental rule when selling your house is to keep colours neutral and light. The following are specific suggestions:
  • White, beige and gray are the most popular exterior colours
  • Shades of white, off-white and very light pastels are the safest choices for the interior
  • Avoid high patterned wallpaper
  • Try to limit bright colours to accents like fresh flowers, towels, area rugs, and shower curtains
Sound
The sounds of peace and quiet are some of the best sounds to have when your home is being shown to a prospective buyer. But there are other sound considerations of which you should be aware.
  • Avoid barking dogs and noisy children if possible
  • Avoid work sounds like vacuums, dishwashers and lawn mowers
  • Make sure there are no sounds of mechanical problems like banging pipes or faulty appliances
  • Light classical or instrumental music can be effective in creating a pleasing atmosphere
Smell
Smell has more impact than you might expect. If can work for you or against you.
  • The smell of newness is positive. This scent can be achieved by applying a fresh coat of polyurethane to natural wood or latex paint to walls.
  • The smell of cleanliness is important to the selling environment of your house. Beyond actually cleaning, lemon oil or lemon wax can create a lasting scent of freshness.
  • Fresh flowers can be effective
  • For a real heart-warming touch, place a dish of vanilla in a warm oven to create the aroma of fresh baked cookies or bread. Sweeten the refrigerator with a box of baking soda.
  • Smells to avoid include strong pet odours, tobacco, cooking and oil or gas.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cut Your Home Energy Use

Here are a few easy and effective ways of cutting your home energy use – in half!  These sensible tips are easy to practice and implement, and they will add up to huge savings, both financial and environmental.  And best of all – you will feel good doing it:
  • Your refrigerator is the biggest home energy consumer. If you have an old unit that was built before 1993, it is time to replace it for a more energy efficient model. You should always keep your refrigerator clean and discard old food. Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator every six months to keep it running at its best.
  • Installing Energy Star ceiling fans in rooms where you spend most of your time, could add up to 19 % in energy savings . Turn your air conditioner off an let your ceiling fans keep you cool during the summer months.
  • If you already own high efficiency Energy Star appliances, keep them clean and well maintained and fix them if they break. This will give them a long, efficient life and keep our landfills cleaner. This is an excellent resource for appliance repair parts, instinctual videos, repair help, maintenance tips and more.
  • You can cut your washing machine energy use in half by doing your laundry in cold water. Your clothes will be just as clean and will last longer and look fresher. If you dry clothes on an outdoor clothes line they will smell like the wind and sunlight and you will save more than a hundred dollars a year.
  • In an average American household, home appliance account for 20 percent of energy consumption. If your appliances are old and inefficient and you are looking to buy new ones, look for the most efficient Energy Star models that you can find. The higher cost will pay for itself over a few years and you will feel good about saving both money and energy. Refrigerators and clothes dryers are the biggest energy consumers.
  • By placing an insulating cover or blanket on your water heater, you can lower heat loss by 24-45 percent. If possible, turn your water heater temperature down by ten degrees – if half of American homes did that, 239 tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented from escaping into the atmosphere. And, if you upgrade to a tankless or solar water heater, you will save even more – 14% more.
  • Save 10% in energy cost by installing a programmable thermostat and using it to greatest advantage.
  • By using your dishwasher unit effectively (make sure it’s full!) instead of hand washing dishes you will actually save water and energy, but make sure to let your dishes air dry. Use your dishwasher wisely by skipping the drying cycle and the pre-rinsing option. Also, run your appliances (dishwashers as well as your laundry machines) at night, when the energy use is at it’s lowest and you will help ease the energy consumption demand.
  • Keep track and measure the energy use of your home appliances with a Kill-A-Watt meter. This is an easy way to remind yourself to be more watchful and careful with energy consumption!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

WOW Real Estate Sales Improving


The above chart shows Real Estate Closings for 2012 and the past three years.  You can see from the chart that 2012 has started out better than last year and in some cases if not better in the past four years at least equal.  The trend is encouraging for the local housing market and we are all hopeful that this will be a continuing trend.  This is a great market for both buyers and sellers.  Buyers because there are still a lot of great buys and for sellers because there are lots of folks still looking for a great buy.  This is a win win. 

As you can see from the chart the trend is the peak will be in June but the good news the market will probably remain strong through November. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lucca's Birthday (2 Years Old)

Here are some pictures taken at my grandsons 2nd birthday.  Hope you all enjoy; sorry Luca couldn't be there but Pepa, Bobbi, Mackenzie, Ralph all wish you the best.





Happy Birthday Lucca



Friday, June 1, 2012

Essex Homes Casino Event


Just a few days ago Bobbi and I went to Essex Homes annual luncheon.  The food was great and the entertainment was even better.  I am now sure that Elvis Lives.  Essex is also rolling out its' new E-Built program and the great thing about the program is it comes standard in all their homes.  Now even I can go green because it is free.  Way to go Essex Homes!

Also Bobbi and I would like to thank all the Essex employees' who made us feel at home and the Outback and Barnes and Noble gift cards.  Hope to see you at the closing table soon.