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Low Foreclosure Rate in North Carolina

by Masha Halpern

How to Avoid Foreclosure

by Masha Halpern

When your in a foreclosure situation it can be quite scary and many homeowners just don't know of how fast a foreclosure can proceed. I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories in the last few months. The foreclosure process is painfully personal and can be painfully fast. Do you realize you and your family can lose your most precious asset in just a few short months?

So what happens in a foreclosure--and when? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has prepared an easy-to-understand foreclosure timeline. Just to emphasize how pressing foreclosure can be, I’ve put that timeline into very human perspective below:

You miss one payment. You get a call or note from your lender. Not so bad, right? You’re just juggling the bills a little right now--no problem. You’ll pay as soon as possible. Not to worry.

You miss two payments. Your lender calls again. Where are the payments? You’re still trying to convince yourself that everything is OK, but you still can’t make the payment, either. Things have to get better, don’t they? You’re starting to worry, but you do nothing.

You miss three payments. You get a scary “Demand Letter” or “Notice To Accelerate” from the bank that says you must pay all the missed payments in 30 days. If you don’t pay or negotiate different arrangements, the bank can start foreclosure. Now you’re really worried, but you’re hoping it’s a bluff. Foreclosure takes forever, doesn’t it? So you again do nothing.

You miss four payments. You still haven’t paid or made other arrangements within that 30 days. The lender turns you over to the legal team, and now you’re responsible for all the legal expenses, too. Once again you do nothing--because you’re overwhelmed and terrified.

You get notice that your home will be sold by the Sheriff--and you’re in foreclosure. But it’s only been just a few short months! You’re told you can save your home if you make all the missed payments and pay all the delinquency costs. But where will you get all that money, and why would the lender accept other arrangements now? So you again do nothing. It’s too late!

You get one last chance to save your home. You can still keep your home even after the sale if you pay all the missed payments and all foreclosure costs. You can’t do it.

Your home is lost. Why? Because you didn’t take action to save it.

Although foreclosure may differ by state, this gives you a good idea of how foreclosure works--and how fast it can happen. HUD notes that a housing counselor could have helped even after the fourth missed payment. Doing nothing if you’re facing foreclosure is the worst possible thing you can do.

Doing nothing is not an option if you want to save your home. HUD advises that you be honest with your lender as soon as you suspect you’re in trouble. You can also contact HUD to find a housing counselor who can help. You don’t have to face foreclosure alone, please contact me if there’s anything I can do, I’m always available to assist with all your real estate questions, even difficult ones like this.

 

 

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Home Sales Are On The Rise

by Masha Halpern

Home sales are finally on the rise! Sales of existing single-family homes rose in December for the third straight month! 2011 was not the recovery year it was expected to be, but 2012 is showing positive signs of a recovery. The upcoming spring and summer market should tell a lot.

The National Association of Realtors reported last week that single-family sales rose 4.6% in December. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery."

Year end totals show 3.78 million single-family homes were sold in 2011, up 2% from 2010. Two-thirds of 2011 sales involved properties priced below $250,000 and less than 10% of sales involved properties above $500,000.  If your home is on the market or if you plan to sell your home, make sure it is priced right!

Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team can help you determine the value of your home.

Here's to a great year in real estate!

Masha

 

 

 

Good News For The Real Estate Market

by Masha Halpern

We finally have some good news for the Triangle Real Estate Market! Sales were up 11% over the same period a year ago. Although showings were down 3%, pending sales were up 8 percent. When the federal homebuyer tax credit expired at the end of June last year, sales were down for 6 months but now they seem to be on the rise which is good news as we head into 2012!

There were 19% less homes on the market this November than a year ago. One problem that continues is a lack of qualified buyers.  The average price of homes that sold in November was down 11% from a year ago and the average days on the market for homes that did was up to 129 days from 110 days a year ago. Clearly, it is still a buyer's market.

As we exit 2011, prices still not have rebounded after their huge declines, inventories are still well above normal, and the foreclosure rate is still high but as job gains continue to rise, the real estate market should steadily improve.

The winter months are typically the slowest period of the year however I have a good feeling as we approach the new year. Onward and Upward!

Until then, Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team wish everyone a Happy and a Healthy 2012!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Avoid Foreclosure

by Masha Halpern

Facing foreclosure is frightening, and many homeowners are just not aware of how fast a foreclosure can happen. I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories in the last few months. The foreclosure process is painfully personal and can be painfully fast. Do you realize you and your family can lose your most precious asset in just a few short months?

So what happens in a foreclosure--and when? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has prepared an easy-to-understand foreclosure timeline. Just to emphasize how pressing foreclosure can be, I’ve put that timeline into very human perspective below:

You miss one payment. You get a call or note from your lender. Not so bad, right? You’re just juggling the bills a little right now--no problem. You’ll pay as soon as possible. Not to worry.

You miss two payments. Your lender calls again. Where are the payments? You’re still trying to convince yourself that everything is OK, but you still can’t make the payment, either. Things have to get better, don’t they? You’re starting to worry, but you do nothing.

You miss three payments. You get a scary “Demand Letter” or “Notice To Accelerate” from the bank that says you must pay all the missed payments in 30 days. If you don’t pay or negotiate different arrangements, the bank can start foreclosure. Now you’re really worried, but you’re hoping it’s a bluff. Foreclosure takes forever, doesn’t it? So you again do nothing.

You miss four payments. You still haven’t paid or made other arrangements within that 30 days. The lender turns you over to the legal team, and now you’re responsible for all the legal expenses, too. Once again you do nothing--because you’re overwhelmed and terrified.

You get notice that your home will be sold by the Sheriff--and you’re in foreclosure. But it’s only been just a few short months! You’re told you can save your home if you make all the missed payments and pay all the delinquency costs. But where will you get all that money, and why would the lender accept other arrangements now? So you again do nothing. It’s too late!

You get one last chance to save your home. You can still keep your home even after the sale if you pay all the missed payments and all foreclosure costs. You can’t do it.

Your home is lost. Why? Because you didn’t take action to save it.

Although foreclosure may differ by state, this gives you a good idea of how foreclosure works--and how fast it can happen. HUD notes that a housing counselor could have helped even after the fourth missed payment. Doing nothing if you’re facing foreclosure is the worst possible thing you can do.

Doing nothing is not an option if you want to save your home. HUD advises that you be honest with your lender as soon as you suspect you’re in trouble. You can also contact HUD to find a housing counselor who can help. You don’t have to face foreclosure alone, please contact me if there’s anything I can do, I’m always available to assist with all your real estate questions, even difficult ones like this. 

There are Alternatives to Foreclosure

by Masha Halpern

Foreclosures have increased dramatically the last three years as a result of the subprime lending disaster and a lot of people are wondering if they will be next. There are options for many homeowners, they just need to know what to look for and where to look for it at.

If  you find yourself struggling to make your mortgage payments, and you fear foreclosure may be in your future, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has suggested a few possible alternatives. These options to fend off foreclosure include:

  • Repayment Plan
  • Reinstatement
  • Forbearance
  • Loan Modification

The Federal Trade Commission wants people to know that these alternatives may not work for everyone especially if you are already three or four mortgage payments behind.

Visit the NFCC's Homeowners Crisis Resource Center website for more information regarding the above alternatives. They can also assist you in locating a certified housing counselor to explore your options in an effort to fend off foreclosure.

 

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Top Ten Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Your Home

by Masha Halpern

You’re ready to buy a home – or so you think. Many home buyers make mistakes when purchasing a home, especially a first home. But these mistakes can lead to a bad purchase or even a foreclosure. Here are the top ten pitfalls and mistakes many people make when buying a home – don’t fall into these traps!

1. The “No Money Down” Pitch.  Beware these online or cable TV ‘gurus’ who tell you how to get rich in real estate without a penny down. The only money these guys make is off of you if you buy their CD, book or attend a seminar. It takes experience AND capital to make money in real estate, whether it is one home or ten.

2. All Realtors are the Same, Right? Wrong. Holding a real estate license does not mean that the agent you are talking to is the best one in your market or for your situation. Get referrals, look at the agents sales statistics and interview potential agents carefully.

3. Depleting Your Savings. Most lenders require 20% or more down on a new mortgage. If you don’t have it, wait until you do. Completing wiping out your savings or borrowing a down payment leaves you in a precarious financial situation if something happens.

4. Ignoring Professional Advice. Unless they sound really off base, listen to your realtor and mortgage broker when they offer advice or guidance. You should also do your own homework when looking for the right neighborhood or figuring out the best mortgage package for your family. Let the professionals guide you with their expertise and experience.

5. The “Too Good To Be True” Monthly Payment. Low monthly payments can mean that you are building no equity in your home – even going in the hole on your principal balance. Make sure that you completely understand ALL the terms of your mortgage agreement – from interest rates to monthly payments, and what the consequences are.

6. Landing in the Wrong Neighborhood. Do your homework on the neighborhoods you are looking at. The city should have demographic information, school information and ranking and crime statistics. Is the neighborhood full of foreclosures? IT could affect the value of all the homes in the neighborhood. Make sure you understand the comps and the real value of your potential home site.

7. Buying Above Your Means. Tough times mean that everyone has to revaluate priorities. Be sure to carefully consider the features and prices of homes that will really suit your needs and allow you to live comfortably without spending your entire income on your monthly mortgage payment.

8. Foregoing the Home Inspection. Even if the conditions of your loan don’t require a home inspection, go ahead and spend the relatively small sum to get the home thoroughly checked out by an objective third party. You may uncover problems that the seller should be responsible for, and at the very least, you’ll go into the purchase with the right information about the condition of the home.

9. Acquiring More Debt Before Closing. With credit requirements continuing to tighten, rest assured that your lender will run additional credit reports right before closing. If you have made additional credit purchases – from a new car to furnishings for your new home, it can reflect negatively on your credit and your debt to income ratio. In some cases in can cost you your new mortgage, even if you were pre-approved.

10. Sinking Into Debt After Closing. Many people breathe a sig of relief once the home loan has closed and then immediately begin purchasing for the home or buying items they have been putting off while waiting for the mortgage to go through. Take it easy! You’ve just added a big responsibility with that mortgage payment.

You may not realize it at the time, but many of the decisions you make when looking for a new home will affect your ability to stay in it once the loan has closed. Respect the advice of professionals, do your homework and avoid the common pitfalls of ‘too good to be true pitfalls.’

Share your experiences, what other pitfalls should buyers avoid?

 

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In 2007, as a response to the subprime mortgage crisis, President George Bush initiated the creation of an alliance between lenders, investors, foreclosure counselors and the U.S. government (including FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) designed to help homeowners threatened by foreclosure. The formation of the HOPE NOW Alliance was one of the first steps the government took towards ‘foreclosure avoidance.’

HOPE NOW has helped more than a million homeowners find the resources, counseling or programs they needed to stay in their homes. Visit www.hopenow.com to see the resources available for distressed homeowners.

First of all, the site offers a simple online eligibility assessment, based on the six questions below:

  1. Is your home your primary residence?
  2. Is the amount you owe on your first mortgage equal to or less than $729,750?
  3. Are you having trouble paying your mortgage?
  4. Did you get your current mortgage before January 1, 2009?
  5. What is your monthly mortgage payment?
  6. What is your monthly gross income

Your answers are quickly analyzed and then you will be directed to a ‘Next Steps’ section for Home Affordable Loan Modification program or to other options for additional services. While the site can help you quickly determine your eligibility, your mortgage company is the only organization that tell you if you actually qualify.

Other resources for home owners through HOPE NOW include a toll free hotline (888-995-HOPE) to a free, 24X7 counseling service provided by Homeownership Preservation Foundation; a home owner ‘Options’ page that explains various programs like repayment plans, loan modification, partial claims and others by state; unemployment resources; other counseling and government resources and more. The site offers an extensive list of links and references to outside services.

HOPE NOW also sponsors events in different cities and offers a list of events and public outreach programs coming to your area. The site is helpful in not only providing a calendar of these events but in also explaining the documentation you should bring with you if you attend.

If you are in danger of foreclosure or are having trouble with your mortgage payments HOPE NOW can help you to learn more about the many programs and counseling services ready in place for distressed home owners.

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New HUD Policy to Allow Quicker Foreclosure Re-sales

by Masha Halpern

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)announced that effective February 1, 2010, they will relax FHA rules that prohibit insuring mortgages on homes that are owned by the seller for less than 90 days. This is a positive move, one that can help to expedite the rehabilitation and resale of foreclosure properties.

This news comes at a time where recent tighter lending requirements have made FHA financing the only option for some buyers. The 90-day policy has kept some
homebuyers from being able to purchase affordable homes. In addition this has also prevented the quick resale of foreclosed properties, which affects the ability of communities to stabilize and rebuild.

This temporary waiver will be in effect for a period of one year, unless extended or withdrawn by the FHA. "FHA borrowers, because of the restrictions we are now lifting, have often been shut out from buying affordable properties," said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. "This action will enable our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity."

To ensure FHA borrowers are protected from inflated prices, the policy has certain restrictions, including:

  • All transactions must be arms-length and there can be no identity of interest between the buyer and seller.
  • If the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller's acquisition cost, the lender must meet specific conditions for the waiver to apply.
  • The waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and cannot be used under the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) purchase program.

Read more specifics on this waiver, visit the HUD.gov release.

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Masha Halpern - Boutique Real Estate
Keller Williams Realty
101 Cosgrove Avenue, Suite 200
Chapel Hill NC 27514
Direct 919-951-1780
Toll Free 877-478-4669
Fax: 919-928-9030




Masha Halpern of Keller Williams Realty provides real estate services in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area including real estate services for buyer, sellers and those relocating to the surrounding areas of Apex, Bahama,Cary, Efland, Hillsborough, Holly Springs, Mebane, Raleigh, and Wake Forest. Search for homes in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham or the surrounding communities.  Request a market analysis for your North Carolina property.  I list and sell residential real estate, investment property, vacant land, lots for sale in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina real estate and homes for sale in North Carolina - Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team