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The latest California Association of REALTORS® Lender Satisfaction Survey report says lenders have made some progress in their short sale processes from a year ago.  Sixty-four percent of California REALTORS® said they still experienced difficulty in closing short sales, down from 77 percent in August 2011 and 70 percent in 2010. The percentage of REALTORS® who reported short sales as “extremely difficult,” dropped from 56 percent in 2011 to 34 percent in 2012.

C.A.R.’s Lender Performance Index (LPI), which measures REALTORS®’ lender satisfaction levels, rose to 23 in 2012, up from 17 in 2011 and 16 in 2010. The increase in the LPI is positive, but the index is still below the median of 50.

According to the C.A.R. report, communication issues continue to be the biggest stumbling block to the process:
* Lenders’ slow response time to a short sale package, cited by 67 percent of REALTORS® in 2012, up slightly from 66 percent last year;

* Poor communication with lender representatives, cited by 55 percent of REALTORS®, unchanged from 2011;

* Repeated requests for documentation, cited by 50 percent of REALTORS®, down from 51 percent a year ago.

* Eight percent of REALTORS® reported the lender foreclosed on the home before the short sale transaction could be completed, down from 15 percent in 2011.

However, overall satisfaction in working with lenders in short sales improved, with 59 percent expressing dissatisfaction, down from 75 percent in 2011. 

REALTORS® believe a more standardized process may be the best way to facilitate the sale of homes that qualify. “The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s decision to align Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale guidelines will allow lenders and servicers to quickly and more easily qualify eligible borrowers for a short sale,” says Richard Miller, who is chief banking officer of Ratecomb and serves as affiliate chair of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR). “We are seeing progress as all parties involved strive to maintain better communication and are proactive with solutions.”

SILVAR President Suzanne Yost adds, “Whether a struggling homeowner chooses the path of foreclosure or a short sale, the experience is both financially and emotionally difficult. We hope lenders will continue to make improvements so the process is both easier and quicker for homeowners.”

In a few short weeks, the polls will open and Americans will be casting their vote in the November 6 Presidential Election. If you are qualified to register to vote and have either moved recently or not voted in the last six elections, or are not registered, remember that you must register by Monday, October 22.

To find out more information about the upcoming elections, or to register to vote, visit www.sccvote.org, or www.shapethefuture.org.

SILVAR REALTORS® received an upbeat message about the housing market from California Association of REALTORS® Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young at Wednesday’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District tour meeting. Appleton-Young told REALTORS® the housing market is “the bright spot of the economy” and the fundamentals are sound.

“Yours is the strongest regional economy by far,” she told SILVAR REALTORS®.

Consumer confidence, though uneven, is getting better. Unemployment is heading down. The state, which lost 1.3 million jobs during the recession, has added 485,000 jobs since January 2010.

There is a shortage of inventory for various reasons. Homeowners with equity are still unwilling to sell at today’s prices. Others may want to sell but do not have enough equity in their homes for a down payment and closing costs for their next home. Then there are those who are stuck and cannot sell their home because they are underwater on their mortgage.

Appleton-Young said 29 percent of California borrowers are underwater and 4.4 percent are within 5 percent of being in negative equity. These performing loans may not be sustainable for the long-term. Despite this, Appleton-Young said it is an urban legend that lenders will flood the market with foreclosures after the election. 

Mortgage rates are still at 50-year lows and the Federal Reserve has promised they will remain this way until 2015. Fifty percent of people living in the state can afford to buy a home, however many buyers can’t buy because investors are outbidding them; they are “living in the gray” due to a recent short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy; or their credit scores are low and can’t meet lending requirements because banks continue to practice “defensive lending.”

Due to an improving economy and shortage of inventory, California home prices are snapping back slowly, said Appleton-Young. The California median home price increased 15.5 percent from August 2011 to $343,820. The statewide median home price is forecast to increase a moderate 5.7 percent to $335,000 in 2013. For this year, C.A.R. projects the California median home price will climb 10.9 percent to $317,000.

Strong demand is reflected in August 2012 home sales, which shot up 6.5 percent from August 2011. Appleton-Young said it has been a strong year without tax credits, government programs or stimulus. Of total sales of existing single-family homes in August, 62 percent of sales were traditional equity sales, 14.4 percent REOs and 23 percent short sales.

Appleton-Young projects home sales in 2012 will increase 5.1 percent from the 497,900 existing, single-family homes sold in 2011. The C.A.R. forecast sees sales in 2013 gaining 1.3 percent from this year’s sales.
 
“The market is working itself through,” said Appleton-Young.

SILVAR Global Business Council Chair Jennifer Tasto welcomes everyone to the association’s global heritage potluck.

Over 30 SILVAR members attended “Global is Good Business,” a heritage potluck promoting SILVAR’s global business initiative on Monday. The event featured an array of traditional California and ethnic dishes, social networking, and an education segment in which real estate professionals with international experience spoke briefly about the importance of doing business globally.

SILVAR Global Business Council Chair Jennifer Tasto and SILVAR President Suzanne Yost explained SILVAR’s global initiative and the purpose of forming a Global Business Council. They said the number of foreign and immigrant buyers has steadily grown in recent years, and SILVAR would like to provide members with the tools and resources that can help them succeed in this market.

Janet Case, CEO of Proxio, explained how the international MLS can help REALTORS® extend their market reach and gain a competitive advantage. “Silicon Valley home buyers come from many cultures and from many parts of the world,” said Case. “Proxio provides multilingual marketing services to agents and brokerages, so they can serve multicultural and foreign buyers better, and global marketing tools that gain international exposure for sellers.”

Kenneth Chan, premium mortgage consultant with HSBC, and Citi mortgage consultant Evelyn Figueira said foreign buyers experience financing challenges like meeting mortgage requirements, moving funds from their country, and foreign income and asset verification. “It’s not as simple as having the money to buy property,”said Chan.

Michael Repka, managing broker and general counsel for DeLeon Realty, said foreign investors are drawn here due to business opportunities, the stability, and appreciation potential. “Real estate is becoming increasingly global,” stressed Repka.
 
Zach Benjamin, Business Development and Outreach Manager for the National Association of REALTORS® Global Business and Alliances Group, identified some tools and resources from NAR that can help agents, including NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.

SILVAR is offering the five CIPS courses required to fulfill the classroom requirements for the designation on November 26-30 at an early bird registration price of $550 for any AOR member, if they register by Monday, October 15. These courses are open to the public, as well. You don’t have to be a REALTOR® in order to enroll in these courses.

CIPS SCHEDULE AND REGISTRATION FORM

MORE ON SILVAR’S GLOBAL BUSINESS POTLUCK, INCLUDING PHOTOS

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