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This issue is common in many market places today.  Mortgage lenders will only close/fund up to a specific percentage of the appraised value for refinance and for purchase.  When properties don’t appraise for the value necessary to refinance or the agreed upon purchase price most transactions fall out or cancel.  In the case of a purchase a home buyer could increase their cash down payment or the buyer and seller could renegotiate the purchase price AND your agent could take the five steps listed below.

1. Read the appraisal and look for errors.  Sometimes appraisers undervalue properties because they mistakenly use comps that are not neighborhood comps, sometimes the bedroom or bathroom count is wrong, sometimes the square footage is wrong.  On occasion, other neighborhood information is wrong, such as schools.  All of this data impacts the final appraised value.  If you find errors then dispute the appraisal immediately.
2. If the lender or appraiser refuse to correct the appraisal then ask for a second opinion.  Request that the lender consider a second appraisal.
3.  Once a true appraised value is decided and the value is still lower than the previously negotiated price then renegotiate.  In today’s market your Buyer pool may be primarily FHA buyers who lack cash to make up the difference or the buyer simply does not want to make up the difference.  Work with your agent to renegotiate the purchase price.  While most Sellers want to avoid this tactic the reality is that once you start over again you may face the same appraisal results with a new buyer and by then you may have lost considerable time.
4. Buyers should consider splitting the difference with the seller.  How long have you been shopping for your home?  What will you lose by waiting?  If you have been looking for a year and think the solution is to wait think again – when interest rates that are so begin to increase a waiting buyer could experience a payment increase of up to $200/month on a purchase price of $300,000.  Buyers making a home purchase where they will raise their children will reside in their homes for upwards of ten years which equates to a possible savings of $24,000 in monthly mortgage payments based on today’s lower rates.  So if your appraisal came in $20,000 below your negotiated price work on splitting the difference with the seller.
5. If all else fails, extend contingencies and change lenders.  A new lender, mortgage banker or broker will have their own appraisal process and approved appraisers that could have very different results.
Stay tuned for more tips on completing successful closings in today’s market!
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3 considerations before abandoning underwater home

REThink Real Estate

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson Inman News®

Editor’s note: This is  the second of a two-part series. Read Part 1: “When it makes sense to keep an underwater home.”

Q: At the top of the  market, I owned three properties: my first home (in a marginal neighborhood, now  about 100 percent upside down), my own residence (a big fixer in a great  neighborhood), and a triplex I bought as an investment (an OK neighborhood,  needed some work, fully rented, but now upside down by about 30 percent).

When the market  turned, I had a couple of bad tenants in my first home and the triplex that set  me way back financially, and I was unable to borrow the money I needed to fix  the house I lived in. I did a short sale on the fixer and got temporary loan  mods on the other two, and moved back into my first home.

The problem is, they’re  both so upside-down and don’t seem likely to come back up anything soon … should  I just sell everything and start over?

A: Last week, we covered the preliminary step I want you to  take with respect to your personal residence, of examining whether the home  still works for you, for the most part, as a personal residence,  notwithstanding the fact that it’s upside-down.

Many a homeowner makes the wise decision of staying put in  an underwater home on the grounds that the home is functioning well as a home  for their family, is affordable and looks like it will remain functional on  those counts for the foreseeable future.

I’m aware, though, that your situation is complicated by  your perception of both of the properties at issue, at least in part, as  investments that now seem likely to have outlived the purpose for which you  bought them.

I can’t give you a black or white answer in terms of whether  you should sell or hold either or both of your properties. But I can give you a  set of considerations to factor into your decision. After you evaluate the  life-property fit of the home you currently live in, consider these three  things:

1. Your options.  One of the biggest, most stressful mistakes we make, as humans, is to agonize  over decisions without a complete understanding of the full spectrum of options  that are available to us. So, educate yourself!

Get online and do your reading,  talk with your own lenders to see what options they might have available, and  then also talk with local professionals you trust — at the very least, include  a real estate broker, a mortgage pro, an attorney and a tax expert on this  list. They might know of options you don’t, and they might be able to help you  understand the timelines and feasibility associated with each option.

For example, banks seem to be granting short sales at higher  rates than before, but they still take a long time, and the exemption from  federal income taxation on the debt forgiven via a short sale is currently set to  expire at the end of 2012. That might suggest you should list your properties  for sale and apply for short-sale approval, stat.

On the other hand, there have been a number of governmental  foreclosure relief program developments that might offer help for you, some of  which are available only in the hardest-hit states.

The pros can also help you get a deep understanding for all  of the tax, credit, financial and even legal implications of all the options  available to you. Get the information and professional input you need to fuel a  clear, complete understanding of your options before you move forward with your  decision-making process.

2. Your values. The  decision whether to hold or sell your properties is a hybrid business/personal  decision that will impact the overall “after” picture of your life.  While you can and should factor in input from professionals and even personal  advisers whom you trust are knowledgeable and have your best interests at  heart, only you can decide what’s really important to you in a way that drives  the ultimate decisions you make.

(And decision really should be decisions, plural, because you could  very well create an action plan that involves putting the place on the market  as a short-sale listing while you apply for a loan modification, or some other  set or sequence of actions.)

So, when I say to factor in your values, I’m simply  encouraging you to get clear on what is important to you. Owning the place you  live? Tax advantages? Reducing your expenses? Saving up to secure your  retirement?

This phase of the process will help you get out of the very  common real estate decision trap of doing things for their own sake: owning  because ownership is good, or getting out of the market because that’s the  supposedly smart thing to do.

Whether you decide to hold, sell, or try to make  some other changes to your situation then sell as a backup plan, it’s important  that each action step you build into your plan be set in service of some higher  life aim, goal or value.

3. Your priorities.  Once you do a deep dive into your values and even list them out in writing, one  essential truth will quickly become very evident: You can’t (likely) have them  all. Early on in this decision process, you’ll need to rank your values and  objectives in order of importance, and communicate that to the professionals  you look to for advice.

There are trade-offs involved in virtually every real estate  decision. For example, you might have to give up some tax benefits of property  ownership to cut your costs and save your financial acorns for the winter of  retirement.

You might have to sacrifice free time and get a side job to  make your real estate obligations if you decide to keep the triplex after the  mortgage adjusts (if you’re currently paying only interest, a mortgage  adjustment that happens in January might involve a decrease in interest rate but still increase the overall payment if you have to begin paying toward  principal).

Only you can know what’s important to you, in your finances  and your life, to make the critical decisions you now face. So get clear on  your full range of options and the implications thereof, build out a strong  sense of your own values and life vision, then prioritize and rank the  things that are important to you. Once you have these inputs, your action plan  should soon become clear.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of “The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook” and “Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions.” Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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It’s official. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) unveiled a new, revamped government mortgage refinancing program Monday.

The initiative involves a series of rule changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to allow more underwater homeowners to reduce their mortgage debt by taking advantage of today’s rock-bottom interest rates.

Mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and originally sold to the GSEs on or before May 31, 2009 are eligible for the program.

Under the revised HARP guidelines, the 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ceiling has been eliminated. Previously, only borrowers who owed up to 25 percent more than their home was worth could participate in HARP. That limitation has now been removed. The program will continue to be available to borrowers with LTV ratios above 80 percent.

The new program enhancements address several other key aspects of HARP that industry participants say have restricted its impact, including eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers, as well as allowing mortgage insurers to automatically transfer coverage from the original loan to the new loan.

In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done away with the requirement for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate already provided by the GSEs, and they’ve agreed to waive certain representations and warranties on loans refinanced through the program.

Not only are loans eligible for HARP considered “seasoned loans,” but a refinance helps borrowers strengthen their household finances, reducing the risk they pose to the GSEs. Thus, FHFA feels reps and warranties are not necessary for some of these loans.

With Monday’s announcement, the end date for HARP has been extended from June 30, 2012 to December 31, 2013.

The GSEs will release program instructions to lenders by the middle of next month, and FHFA expects some lenders will be ready to accept applications by December 1.

Since HARP was rolled out in early 2009, approximately 1 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgage loans through the program. FHFA estimates that with the revised guidelines, another 1 million will be able to take advantage of the program.

To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments, but government officials believe by opening HARP up to more homeowners with higher thresholds of negative equity, it will help to prevent foreclosures by erasing the primary motivation behind strategic defaults.

Economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business estimate that roughly 35 percent of mortgage defaults are strategic. Numerous industry studies have found that homeowners who owe significantly more than their home is worth are more likely to throw in the towel and walk away from their mortgage debt even if they have the ability to continue making their payments.

“We anticipate that the package of improvements being made to HARP will reduce the Enterprises credit risk, bring greater stability to mortgage markets, and reduce foreclosure risks,” FHFA stated in its announcement Monday.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also released statements in response to the announcement.
Michael J. Williams, Fannie Mae’s president and CEO, called the program a “welcome development.”

“By removing some of the impediments to refinance, lenders can more easily participate in the program allowing more eligible homeowners to take advantage of the low interest rates,” Williams stated.

Charles E. Haldeman, Jr., CEO of Freddie Mac said, “These changes mark another step on the road to recovery for the nation’s housing market.”
For more detailed information, please visit:

http://www.dsnews.com/articles/administration-announces-refinance-program-for-underwater-borrowers-2011-10-24

Authors: Krista Franks and Carrie Bay
Source: DSNews.com

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10/24/2011 BY: KRISTA FRANKS AND CARRIE BAY

It’s official. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) unveiled a new, revamped government mortgage refinancing program Monday.

The initiative involves a series of rule changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to allow more underwater homeowners to reduce their mortgage debt by taking advantage of today’s rock-bottom interest rates.

Mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and originally sold to the GSEs on or before May 31, 2009 are eligible for the program.

Under the revised HARP guidelines, the 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ceiling has been eliminated. Previously, only borrowers who owed up to 25 percent more than their home was worth could participate in HARP. That limitation has now been removed. The program will continue to be available to borrowers with LTV ratios above 80 percent.

The new program enhancements address several other key aspects of HARP that industry participants say have restricted its impact, including eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers, as well as allowing mortgage insurers to automatically transfer coverage from the original loan to the new loan.

In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done away with the requirement for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate already provided by the GSEs, and they’ve agreed to waive certain representations and warranties on loans refinanced through the program.
Not only are loans eligible for HARP considered “seasoned loans,” but a refinance helps borrowers strengthen their household finances, reducing the risk they pose to the GSEs. Thus, FHFA feels reps and warranties are not necessary for some of these loans.
With Monday’s announcement, the end date for HARP has been extended from June 30, 2012 to December 31, 2013.
The GSEs will release program instructions to lenders by the middle of next month, and FHFA expects some lenders will be ready to accept applications by December 1.

Since HARP was rolled out in early 2009, approximately 1 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgage loans through the program. FHFA estimates that with the revised guidelines, another 1 million will be able to take advantage of the program.
To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments, but government officials believe by opening HARP up to more homeowners with higher thresholds of negative equity, it will help to prevent foreclosures by erasing the primary motivation behind strategic defaults.

Economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business estimate that roughly 35 percent of mortgage defaults are strategic. Numerous industry studies have found that homeowners who owe significantly more than their home is worth are more likely to throw in the towel and walk away from their mortgage debt even if they have the ability to continue making their payments.

“We anticipate that the package of improvements being made to HARP will reduce the Enterprises credit risk, bring greater stability to mortgage markets, and reduce foreclosure risks,” FHFA stated in its announcement Monday.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also released statements in response to the announcement.

Michael J. Williams, Fannie Mae’s president and CEO, called the program a “welcome development.”
“By removing some of the impediments to refinance, lenders can more easily participate in the program allowing more eligible homeowners to take advantage of the low interest rates,” Williams stated.

Charles E. Haldeman, Jr., CEO of Freddie Mac said, “These changes mark another step on the road to recovery for the nation’s housing market.”

• Tags: FHFA, Foreclosure Prevention, HARP, Making Home Affordable, Mortgage Rates, Negative Equity, Refinance, Treasury, Underwater, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac •

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PMIC was ordered to stop writing new policies in August
By Inman News
Inman News™
October 27, 2011

PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. — one of the nation’s top three issuers of private mortgage insurers before it was forced to stop writing new policies in August — has been taken over by regulators, who have slashed claim payments and are seeking to place the company in receivership.

Saying growing losses had left the company undercapitalized, the Arizona Department of Insurance on Aug. 19 placed PMIC and PMI Insurance Co. under supervision and ordered the companies to stop writing new mortgage insurance policies in all states.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which require private mortgage insurance when homebuyers make down payments of less than 20 percent — suspended the companies from their list of approved insurers three days later.

On Thursday, the Department of Insurance obtained a court order authorizing it to take possession of PMIC. Parent company PMI Group Inc. said regulators had instituted a partial claim payment plan under which payments will be reduced to 50 percent, with the remaining amount being deferred as a policyholder claim.

In a complaint, regulators said PMIC had “recently experienced a rapid increase in losses that has adversely affected its solvency and that of its affiliates.”

During the second quarter, the complaint said, PMIC reported net incurred losses of $574 million and net earned premiums of $227 million — a 253 percent loss ratio.

Citing an internal PMI report, Arizona regulators said the situation worsened during the third quarter, with net incurred losses rising to $520 million and earned premiums dropping to $112 million. At negative $213 million, PMI’s “policyholders’ surplus” was below the required minimum of $1.5 million, the complaint said.

Mortgage insurers — including the government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan guarantee programs — have been hit by rising claims on policies written during the boom.

After the housing boom went bust, private mortgage insurers tightened underwriting standards and lost market share to FHA and VA loan guarantee programs, which have grown from 20 percent of the market in 2007 to 84 percent last year, according to statistics compiled by Inside Mortgage Finance.

While premium increases and lower claim rates on more recent loans have helped FHA and VA loan guarantee programs rebuild their capital reserves, private mortgage insurers have missed out on much of that business.

PMIC and other PMI subsidiaries wrote $6.7 billion in new insurance last year, down 85 percent from $46.1 billion in 2007. During the same period, “insurance in force” — the dollar amount of insurance issued — remained at about the same level, $102 billion.

PMIC is the second private mortgage insurer to stop writing new policies this year. Republic Mortgage Insurance Co., a smaller player, was forced to stop making new commitments after waivers issued by North Carolina regulators expired Aug. 31.

The nation’s largest private mortgage insurer, MGIC Investment Corp., is operating under similar waivers issued by Wisconsin regulators. But in its latest quarterly report to investors, MGIC said its risk-to-capital ratio was 22.2 to 1, well within the maximum 25-to-1 ratio required by the Wisconsin insurance commissioner.

MGIC, which had $179 billion in insurance in force on 1.1 million mortgages as the end of September, reported a $165 million net loss for the third quarter, up from $51.5 million the same quarter a year ago.

Company officials warned investors that jurisdictions other than Wisconsin, including those that don’t have specific risk-to-capital ratios, could take actions that prevent it from writing new insurance.

In 2009 MGIC entered into an agreement with Fannie Mae allowing its subsidiary, MGIC Indemnity Corp., to insure loans in jurisdictions where MGIC is not able to due to its failure to meet capital requirements. That agreement is good through the end of this year. A similar agreement with Freddie Mac expires next year.

Radian Group, the second-largest private mortgage insurer with $125 billion in insurance in force, said in August that profits on derivative investments helped it turn a $137.1 million second-quarter profit, compared with a $475 million loss during the same quarter a year ago.

The company said its primary mortgage insurance subsidiary, Radian Guaranty Inc., had a risk-to-capital ratio of 19.8-to-1. More recently, on Sept. 19, Radian Group announced it had terminated Radian Guaranty’s chief operating officer and was laying off 7 percent of its mortgage insurance and corporate employees.

If claims on loans made during the boom are forcing some companies out of the private mortgage insurance business, higher premiums, tighter mortgage underwriting standards and lower claim rates could also make the business attractive to new players. Last year, Essent Guaranty Inc., which has backing from JP Morgan Chase, became the first company to enter the business in many years.

Copyright 2011 Inman News

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WaysHome™ Press Release

Contact: Jason Vasquez | 202-752-2878

Date: January 6, 2011

Fannie Mae Launches WaysHome™ Interactive Video Tool to Help Struggling Homeowners

Industry-Leading Video Educates and Empowers Homeowners About Options to Avoid Foreclosure

WASHINGTON, DC – Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) today launched WaysHome, a free, interactive multi-media tool designed to educate homeowners about their options to avoid foreclosure, empower them to make informed decisions and motivate them to take action and seek help in 2011. As part of Fannie Mae’s “Know Your Options” initiative to help struggling homeowners, the WaysHome video uses innovative technology to allow homeowners to put themselves in real-life situations, make informed choices and immediately see the outcomes of those actions. WaysHome is available at www.KnowYourOptions.com.

“In 2011, an estimated 4 million homes will be at imminent risk of foreclosure. As we enter a new year, the company is expanding its efforts to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure — WaysHome is an innovative tool to help achieve this goal,” said Jeff Hayward, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President. “Since the beginning of 2009, Fannie Mae has helped more than half a million families stay in their homes through modification or other solutions. With innovative initiatives like WaysHome, we are determined to do everything possible to help homeowners.”

Unique to the other industry-wide foreclosure prevention efforts, WaysHome was developed by Fannie Mae to educate distressed homeowners on the short- and long-term impacts of their decisions. Through video reenactment, WaysHome allows homeowners to experience scenarios that address a range of options for avoiding foreclosure that include repayments plans, forbearances, modifications, deeds-in-lieu, and short sales.

The WaysHome video is set in a neighborhood that has been hurt by the foreclosure crisis. Real actors play three residents of the neighborhood – each in financial distress. Homeowners select to play one of the residents and, as their stories unfold, make important financial decisions for them and see how the consequences of these decisions play out. Fannie Mae provides helpful tips, tools and links during the process and users have the ability to go back and revise their decisions should their choices lead to a negative outcome. Most choices lead to an immediate consequence followed by a related teaching point.

“With a variety of financial hardships and other circumstances affecting homeowners across the country, making educated decisions is more important than ever,” added Jeff Hayward. “It’s a travesty when people lose their homes because they don’t know or understand their options. Homeowners who are proactive about working with their mortgage company, housing counselors, or using consumer tools like WaysHome have a significantly better chance of finding a solution that allows them to avoid foreclosure.”

In an effort to connect with homeowners who have not yet reached out for help, Fannie Mae will be promoting WaysHome on www.FannieMae.com, through its comprehensive new consumer website, www.KnowYourOptions.com, and a series of events in partnership with local faith-based organizations, non-profits and industry leaders in metro regions that include: Safeway Eastern Division; Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Capital Area Foreclosure Network; Collective Empowerment Group; NeighborWorks® America; and National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Collateral materials and website content will be made available at no cost through Fannie Mae’s mortgage servicing and community partners.

Fannie Mae continues to conduct homeowner outreach across the country, which includes the opening of Mortgage Help Centers in Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth with other locations to be announced in the coming weeks. The company also uses direct mail, phone calls, and in-person visits to encourage homeowners to pursue foreclosure alternatives.

For more information, please visit www.KnowYourOptions.com.

###

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

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http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/01/a-mortgage-backed-security-map-the-fantastic-fate-of-one-mans-loan-1.html.

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