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Patrick Fields, MBA's Blog

By Patrick Fields | Agent in Dallas, TX
  • Know How to Spot Real Estate Scams with Internet Ads!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Texas, Agent2Agent in Texas, Rental Basics in Texas  |  September 12, 2012 1:44 PM  |  1,277 views  |  2 comments
    All to often, I receive phone calls from prospective rental consumers to inquire about the legitimacy of ads found on sites similar to Craigslist.com.

    The following is guidance published by the U.S. FBI:

    The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation remind individuals to be cautious when using the Internet to advertise rental properties and real estate. The IC3 continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as online real estate postings.

    Rental scams occur when the victim has property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed upon, the scammer sends a check for the deposit. The check covers housing expenses and is either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund.

    Because banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.

    A second common scam involves real estate that is posted via classified websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate sites, alters them, and reposts them. Often, the scammers use the broker’s real name to create a fake e-mail address, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an e-mail through the website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner.

    The “owner” typically says he and his wife are doing missionary work in a foreign country and need someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested, he or she is asked to send money to the “owner” in the foreign country. These funds go directly to the scammer, and the would-be renter loses his or her money.

    Ways consumers can protect themselves from these schemes include:

    • Do not accept overpayment for rental properties. If you receive a check that’s for more than the specified amount, return it. Do not deposit it.
    • Do not wire funds to people you do not know.
    • Verify potential renters’ income.
    • Request renters’ personal references and follow up with those individuals.
    • Check with your county recorder to learn who owns the property you’re seeking to rent.
    • Call the property manager or association, if applicable, and ask about the landlord.
    • Ask the landlord for a rental application. It’s a red flag if one is not available; most managed properties require an application.
    • Find out how much of a security deposit may be requested in your state. Scammers will often ask for extra money in the form of a deposit.

    Be on guarde for these indicators of fraudulent activity:

    • The would-be tenant wants to rent or purchase the property sight unseen.
    • The potential tenant says he or she is out of the country and he or she would like to send you a cashier’s check.
    • The payment is for more than the agreed upon amount.
    • There’s urgency to the entire process. For example, the tenant says he or she is arriving in the country next week and needs to establish residency right away.
  • Just Announced: FHFA Provides New (Favorable) Short Sale Guidelines

    Posted Under: General Area in Texas, Home Selling in Texas, Foreclosure in Texas  |  September 4, 2012 12:35 PM  |  1,209 views  |  No comments

    FHFA Announces New Short Sale Guidance

    On August 21, 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA, the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be issuing new guidelines to enhance and streamline the short sale process.

    Servicers of Fannie and Freddie loans will be allowed to:

    1. approve short sales for borrowers with severe financial hardship with limited documentation,
    2. provide borrowers who are current on their loan the option for a short sale if they face a financial hardship such as divorce, long distance employment transfer, or a severe disability, and
    3. provide valuation guidance to real estate agents early on in the short sale process.

    Servicers are required to implement the changes by Nov. 1, 2012.


  • President Obama Announces New Steps to Provide Housing Relief:

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Texas, Financing in Texas, Foreclosure in Texas  |  August 24, 2012 6:33 PM  |  1,253 views  |  1 comment

    FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Steps to Provide Housing Relief to Veterans and Servicemembers and Help More Responsible Homeowners Refinance

    In his State of the Union address last winter, President Obama laid out a "Blueprint for an America Built to Last", calling for action to help responsible borrowers and support a housing market recovery. While the government cannot fix the housing market on its own, the President believes that responsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief when there are measures at hand that can make a meaningful difference.

    The President has announced two steps the Administration is taking to support homeowners and their families – providing relief for servicemembers and veterans, including those wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied a lower interest rate on their mortgages, and reducing fees for FHA borrowers looking to refinance. Along with the President’s broader plan to help millions of Americans refinance and save thousands of dollars a year, support the communities hardest-hit by the housing crisis, and help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes, this is part of the President’s overall strategy to support responsible homeowners and the housing recovery.

    Providing Relief for Servicemembers and Veterans: On top of the historic settlement completed by the Federal government and 49 state Attorneys General last month, major servicers will be providing significant relief to thousands of servicemembers and veterans. Under the agreement, they will:

    • conduct a review of every servicemember foreclosed upon since 2006 and provide any who were wrongly foreclosed upon with compensation equal to a minimum of lost equity, plus interest and $116,785;

    • refund to servicemembers money lost because they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates;

    • provide relief for servicemembers who are forced to sell their homes for less than the amount they owe on their mortgage due to a Permanent Change in Station;

    • pay $10 million dollars into the Veterans Affairs fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for veterans; and

    • extend certain foreclosure protections afforded under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act to servicemembers serving in harm’s way.

    Reducing Fees for FHA Borrowers Seeking to Refinance: As part of the President’s aggressive effort to reduce barriers and costs for refinancing, the Administration is also announcing that the FHA will cut its fees for refinancing loans already insured by the FHA. An estimated 2-3 million borrowers could be eligible for this savings, providing the typical FHA borrower with the opportunity to save about a thousand dollars a year through refinancing than they could have under today’s fee structure.



    Reprinted from whitehouse.gov/the-press-office

  • The Truth About Short Sales - Credit Impact

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Phoenix, Financing in Phoenix, Foreclosure in Phoenix  |  May 2, 2012 4:05 PM  |  2,454 views  |  No comments

    One of the most frightening titles you can own right now is “homeowner.” That’s because millions of us have completely lost the equity in our homes, which means we are in the unenviable position of owing more than the home is actually worth. Nobody asks for their home’s value to fall, but plenty of homeowners are now in the position of trying to dispose of mortgages that are considered upside-down.

    There are several ways to do this. First, you can actually find someone willing to buy your house for enough dough to cover all of the mortgages it secures. NOTE: That’s probably not going to happen so proceed to Option #2. Option #2 is to pay the difference out of your own pocket. So, if you owe $150,000 and find a buyer at $125,000 you’d have to show up at closing with a check for $25,000 to cover the difference. If that’s not an option then you can walk away from the home (foreclosure), turn the keys back over to the lender (forfeiture of deed in lieu of foreclosure), or attempt to have the loan modified and stay in the property. Finally, you can attempt to short sell the home.

    A short sale is when the lender accepts less than the full loan balance and considers the loan to be paid. So, in the aforementioned example, if the lender had accepted $125,000 as a full payoff then you would have been on your way to a successful short sale. The lender would eat the $25,000 deficiency and everyone would call it a day. But it’s not that simple. There’s the impact this event will likely have on your credit.

    Short sales are a relatively new phenomenon and because of this there’s an incredible amount of misinformation about the impact to your credit. Some people are even going so far as to say that a short sale is neutral to your credit, which is incorrect. Short sales are reported to the credit reporting agencies as either settlements or charge offs, both of which are accurate. The lender is settling for less than you really owe, and they’re likely charging off the deficiency.

    Some people, real estate agents in particular, have seized this reporting format as to mean that short sales are not reported to the credit bureaus at all simply because the words “short” and “sale” do not show up on your credit reports. And, they’re using it to market the value of short sales as a benign event in an effort to drum up business. Pretty much every reputable credit source acknowledges that short sales are just as bad for your credit as any other negative mortgage event, but just in case it’s at all unclear, I offer the following statements from the people who actually invented the FICO credit score:

    From the Minneapolis Star Tribune – “Both short sales and foreclosures are considered negative by the score, because our data shows us it’s very predictive of future credit risk,” Tom Quinn, vice president of FICO scores at FICO (FICO), formerly known as Fair Isaac Corp.” The claim that doing a short sale is not going to hurt your score is false. It’s inaccurate.”

    From American Banker – “To the FICO score, there is very little difference between a short sale, a deed-in-lieu or a foreclosure — and we’ve been saying that to anybody who will listen, but this rumor that short sales are somehow benign has persisted,” Craig Watts, a spokesman for Fair Isaac, the maker of FICO scores.

    That should just about clear up any misunderstanding or misrepresentation of how a short sale impacts your credit. It’s still a better option than a foreclosure because people trying to market their home for a short sale will still maintain the home’s cleanliness, mow the law, and won’t rip out the copper piping or appliances. But, it’s still not a clean break between you and your mortgage lender.

     

  • Attn Costco Shoppers, Mortgages Now on Sale!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas, Financing in Dallas  |  May 2, 2012 2:21 PM  |  1,533 views  |  4 comments

    Not only can Costco shoppers find bulk-packs of chicken wings, 24-rolls of toilet paper and large-screen TVs at a discount, they can now land themselves a mortgage.

    After a year of testing, Costco is rolling out a full-service mortgage lending program on its website in partnership with First Choice Bank, a New Jersey-based community bank, and 10 other lenders.

    Costco's partners have issued more than 10,000 mortgages to members under the program. But Lauren Kutschka, Costco's manager of financial services, expects that number to swell as the warehouse retailer markets the service more aggressively to millions of members in its stores and in its weekly publication Connection.

    "I went in to buy some bottled water, big bags of chips, cereal and some Nutri-Grain bars that I eat on my route," said Ray Sheets, a FedEx courier from Canton, Ga. "I saw a home loan brochure on my way out and picked it up."

    Sheets went onto Costco's site, put in his information and quickly accessed offers from four lenders. The rates, closing costs and terms were listed up front. And the closing costs -- of about $2,500 -- were about a third of what he would have had to pay through other lenders, he said.

    Within a few weeks, Sheets refinanced his $170,000, 15-year fixed mortgage carrying a 4.25% rate into a 30-year loan with a rate of 4%. The move lowered his monthly payment by nearly $500 to $811 a month.

    Mortgages are just one of several financial products available to Costco's members. The warehouse club also offers health and auto insurance, as well as stock brokerage services, said Kutschka.

    Up next: Auto loans and student loans.

    "We've always known that our members wanted more financial services," she said. "Right now, we offer recreational vehicle and boat loans and we're going to add auto loans to that. We're also looking to offer student loans."

    Costco had started offering mortgages a couple of years ago but the service provider it was using didn't share enough details about how it was dealing with Costco's members, said Kutschka. So Costco started over from scratch, partnering with First Choice Bank to build a new mortgage lending portal.

    Much like LendingTree, the site gathers quotes from various lenders. However, there is one key difference. Under the Costco program, the borrower's identity is revealed only after they officially select the lender, said John Alexander, business development director at First Choice.

    With many other lead-generation sites, the consumer fills out an application and any lender can make an offer and begin sending marketing communications to the applicant without restrictions.

    Costco members will still need to do their homework and compare offers, though, said Keith Gumbinger of mortgage information company HSH.com. Even after a year of testing, Costco's service is still new.

    First Choice said it will police the other lenders to ensure they comply with Costco's policies, which include giving accurate rates and terms and following up quickly on questions and requests. The technology enables Costco to monitor individual applications and make sure they are handled properly and expeditiously.

    Costco takes no profit on the lending itself, but it does get paid to market the service.

    In Sheets' case, his lender, Bank of the Internet, sent a representative -- an attorney -- to his home to close on the loan, he said. She answered all his questions and explained all of the legal terms in the contract.

    "There were no surprises," he said.

    Gumbinger said the service may prove better for people like Sheets, who are refinancing than those who are purchasing homes.

    "The mortgage origination process is still a hands-on, face-to-face process," he said. "It involves a comfort level and you don't get that with an online service."

    That may be true in the initial stages of the borrowing process, but once a Costco borrower has chosen a lender the level of service steps up, as Ray Sheets's lender did for him.

    Given the size of Costco's footprint and its ability to squeeze great deals out of vendors, Costco members should at least "include the site in their search plan," said Gumbinger. 

    -------- Please add your comment on this news! Thanks ----------


    Cnn Money 4/26/2012

  • The Signs Don't Lie - The Market is HEATING UP!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dallas, Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas  |  April 30, 2012 1:40 PM  |  1,506 views  |  No comments
    If you're starting to hear of multiple offer listings, contracts at or over asking price, shorter times on the market, then that activity is consistent with the activity being reported by agents nationwide.

    Nearly 70 percent of real estate agents recently polled predict home prices will rise by the end of this year, particularly among homes in the low and mid-price ranges, according to the RE/MAX Market Insights, an online survey of more than 1,000 RE/MAX agents. 

    “This market is definitely heating up,” says Margaret Kelly, RE/MAX CEO.  “[Real estate agents] are witnessing a recovery across the country fueled by home buyers and sellers taking advantage of a significant market opportunity.”   

    More real estate professionals are also reporting greater interest among non-investor home buyers in foreclosures, even more so than homes being sold as short sales. Sixty-two percent of the agents surveyed report that non-investor home buyers have a favorable attitude toward foreclosures while 27 percent say they have a favorable attitude toward short sales.

    “With distressed properties still making up a sizeable portion of homes on the market, this inventory is being cleared effectively by buyers, who don’t mind investing a little to fix up a property in return for an attractive bargain,” says Kelly.

    The agents surveyed report that the challenges first-time home buyers face the most are having a credit score that is acceptable to banks, raising an adequate down payment, and a shortage in the number of homes for sale. Meanwhile, repeat home buyers report some of their greatest challenges nowadays is selling their current home, as well as “the scarcity of homes to purchase in the lower and middle price ranges.” 

    The survey found that buyers’ biggest priorities when shopping for a new home are quality of schools, the home’s condition, and its size. The lowest priorities, on the other hand, were public transportation, walkability, and energy efficiency, according to the survey.



    Daily Real Estate News | Monday, April 30, 2012

  • Gimmicks Used When a Home Won't Sell

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas, Celebrity Homes in Dallas  |  April 27, 2012 8:15 AM  |  1,549 views  |  3 comments

    Homeowners and real-estate agents are turning to increasingly creative tactics to sell homes in areas where the market is weaker.

    They include raffles, one-day-only sales, even free weekend stays at the house to entice buyers at a time that consumer credit is tight and the supply of available homes is rising.

    "With inventory and supply the way it is, (homes) have to stand out," says Walter Maloney of the National Association of Realtors.

    What some sellers are doing:

    Home raffles. Tom and Dianne Walters are selling $50 tickets to the public in hopes of raising enough to pay off the loan on their log cabin in Edgewater, Md. They need to sell 27,000 tickets for the Jan. 26 drawing; more than 22,700 have been sold.

    An Annapolis non-profit, We Care and Friends, is overseeing the raffle and will share in any profits.

    "This is becoming more and more popular. I've been called by more than 200 people who want to raffle their own homes," says Tom Walters, 42, a mortgage broker and owner of a construction company. "We get to sell in a tough market, and someone gets a new house for $50. It's also good for buyers, because they don't (have to) get financing for a home."


    Aggressive incentives. Luxury cars, recreational vehicles, flat-panel HDTVs and gift certificates have been around for a while as come-ons to get reluctant buyers to sign on the dotted line.

    "One couple even offered the buyer a complete refund of their purchase price later when the sellers die," says Marni Yang, a real-estate broker and mortgage loan officer in the Chicago area.Giveaways "sometimes work," says Tina Merritt, a real-estate agent in Virginia Beach. One client, a townhouse owner, offered a 42-inch flat-screen TV and had a contract in two weeks.


    Tryouts. Some sellers, especially in resort or tourist areas, are allowing potential buyers to stay free of charge at the home for a day or a week before they decide to buy.

    At the Atwater Place in South Waterfront in Portland, Ore., home buyers can sample a property by staying one or two nights in a fully furnished $1 million condo with sweeping views of Mount Hood. They also get gift certificates to restaurants, a fridge stocked with wine and food, and a pass to the gym.



    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/realestate/articles/2009/01/09/20090109biz-re-homesellers0110.html#ixzz1tFoATOxD
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