You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2012.

On April 17, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a new directive as part of FHFA’s continued servicing alignment initiative that directs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to align their guidelines for servicing delinquent mortgages they own or guarantee.

The new directive requires that servicers of Fannie and Freddie loans:
• Review and respond to borrower requests for short sales within 30 days after receipt of a short sale offer and a complete borrower request.
• If the review is still under way after 30 days, give the borrower weekly status updates. (This allows more time where necessary, such as where subordinate lenders and/or mortgage insurance is involved.)
• Advise the borrower of the final decision within 60 days after receipt of a short sale offer and a complete borrower request.

The new timelines apply both to HAFA loans and to other short sales approved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Additional enhancements are planned by the end of 2012 addressing borrower eligibility, simplifying documentation, valuing property, payments to subordinate lien holders, and mortgage insurance.

REALTOR® officials at the national, state and local level applaud the move by FHFA to streamline the short sale process. Faster response times will help thousands of distressed homeowners, according to Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

“Short sale transactions are more complicated than regular transactions and they have taken so much time that many prospective buyers have walked away from short sales,” said Yost. “The FHFA’s move to streamline the short sale process is a critical step toward a full housing market recovery.”

FHFA Announcement
Freddie Mac Bulletin

In another move to protect struggling California homeowners, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) is sponsoring a bill so homeowners who face losing their home and have negotiated a short sale in good faith with their lender or servicer are not forced to go through foreclosure.

Assembly Bill 1745 (Torres, D-Pomona) prevents lenders or servicers that have agreed to a “short sale” from foreclosing on a home. For any number of reasons (e.g., sickness, job loss, etc.), a homeowner may be unable to continue making his or her monthly mortgage payment. Rather than go through a lengthy and stressful foreclosure process, the homeowner will attempt to negotiate a “short” sale with the lender in which the lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed by the homeowner.

Foreclosures and short sales are usually handled by two different departments within banks. Unfortunately, these two departments often do not communicate with each other, which can frequently result in a homeowner being foreclosed upon, despite having previously negotiated a short sale with the same bank.

AB 1745 will likely result in banks implementing a dual tracking system to prevent foreclosing upon homeowners with whom they have already negotiated a short sale. The measure is scheduled for hearing on Monday, April 30 by the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.

REALTORS® applaud the recent move by California Congressional members opposing the implementation of REO sales in California. Implementing the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)’s “REO Initiative” pilot program in California would negatively impact the state’s housing market and increase losses to taxpayers and the GSEs, according to California’s REALTORS® and legislators.

Congressman Gary Miller (R-Brea), along with 18 other members of California’s congressional delegation, issued a letter last week to Edward J. DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), urging DeMarco to refrain from implementing the agency’s “REO Initiative” pilot program in California because it would negatively impact California’s housing market and raise costs for taxpayers. The REO Initiative pilot program calls for the sale of more than 600 Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed homes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties to institutional investors. 

REALTORS® believe the pilot program is not beneficial to the California market because housing inventory is extremely low and demand is high. Home buyers in most of California’s markets are experiencing multiple offers, even for distressed and foreclosed properties. According to data from the California Association of REALTORS®, sales of bank-owned homes are closing in an average of less than 60 days – and often above the list price – without government intervention.

“We commend the California congressional delegation’s letter to Mr. DeMarco,” said LeFrancis Arnold, C.A.R. president. “Carrying out this plan in California would potentially further delay a housing recovery and, ultimately, result in greater losses for the taxpayer.”

The latest National Association of REALTORS® report on second homes indicates investment home purchases represented nearly one-third of all existing-home sales last year. NAR says this robust investment activity underscores the importance of limiting the government’s use of real estate owned (REO) bulk sales. The 2012 NAR Investment and Vacation Home Survey shows investment-home sales surged an extraordinary 64.5 percent to 1.23 million last year from 749,000 in 2010.

“Silicon Valley is experiencing a high demand for homes, resulting in multiple offers due to the very low inventory,” said Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® President Suzanne Yost. “We believe policymakers and lenders should instead focus on expanding the availability of financing for qualified home buyers and investors and intensify pre-foreclosure efforts to keep families in their homes.”

The 19 California Congressional members who backed the letter include Gary Miller, Jerry Lewis, Ken Calvert, Jeff Denham, Elton Gallegly, Dana Rohrabacher, Buck McKeon, Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray, Mary Bono Mack, Susan Davis, Brad Sherman, Joe Baca, Grace Napolitano, Judy Chu, Jim Costa, Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Howard Berman.

Legislative Day is the day when REALTORS® from all over California travel to Sacramento and meet with their elected officials to discuss critical legislation that can affect REALTORS®, homeowners and private property rights. This year Legislative Day is on Wednesday, May 2.

Once REALTORS® arrive in Sacramento they will receive a special briefing from California Association of REALTORS® leadership and honorable guests, including California Governor Jerry Brown, who has confirmed that he will be speaking at the Morning Briefing.

A luncheon will follow the briefing. Dr. Tony Quinn, co-editor of California Target Book and non- partisan analyst of California’s legislative and congressional elections, will be the guest speaker at the luncheon with members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. Dr. Quinn has 40 years experience with California state government. Currently, he is engaged in writing and elections analysis. During his career he has headed several public relations firms, directed the Office of Economic Research in the California Department of Commerce, served as Chief Consultant for Elections and Reapportionment and Policy Director of the Assembly Republican Caucus. He also served as a member of California Fair Political Practices Commission and assistant to the California Attorney General.

After lunch Silicon Valley REALTORS® will meet with their legislators, including Senators Elaine Alquist, Sam Blakeslee and Joe Simitian, and Assembly members Jim Beall, Paul Fong, and Rich Gordon. At these meetings REALTORS® will have the opportunity to discuss important real estate issues, such as private property rights, legal reforms and housing opportunity policies.

California REALTORS® are encouraged to attend Legislative Day. REALTORS® make up one of the largest groups that hit Sacramento every year.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joins the nation in observing Fair Housing Month in April. This year marks the 44th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.

“REALTORS® play a vital role in ensuring fair housing for all and strive every day to make home ownership accessible to everyone,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

“REALTORS® are on the ‘front lines,’ working with buyers and sellers to see that they enjoy the benefits of a housing market free from discrimination.”

Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® abide by a Code of Ethics that provides under Article 10 that REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin and shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.

The home seller, the prospective home buyer, and the real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law. Home sellers and landlords have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. They cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as their agent to convey any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate.

Buyers and renters have the right to expect that housing will be available without discrimination. This includes the right to expect:
• housing in their price range made available without discrimination
• equal professional service
• the opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
• no discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
• no discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing
• reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
• non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling
• freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.

If you feel you have experienced discrimination in the rental, sale, financing or insuring of a property, you may file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Complaints must be filed within one year of the alleged discrimination. Visit http://www.dfeh.ca.gov for more information.

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