South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Preparing Your Home for Hot Weather

As warm weather rolls across most of the country, it’s time to start thinking about how to protect and care for your home when the mercury soars. What can you do to ensure the summer sun doesn’t cause damage to your home?

Beat_The_Heat_With_A_Programmable_ThermostatHeat stays out, cool stays in.
That’s the general idea, right? Check the weather stripping around doors and windows to make sure you don’t have a leak where your air conditioning can escape. This is a good time to assess the state of your insulation as well. Many power companies also offer home energy-efficiency assessments — often at no cost — to help you pinpoint places where the heat is creeping in, and often they’ll supply solutions too.

Perform an A/C checkup.
Don’t wait until you really need the air conditioning to make sure it’s working properly! If something goes wrong at the  height of summer, it could be weeks before repairs can be made. Replace your HVAC unit’s filters, and consider having    your air ducts and vents cleaned out and the seals checked.

Turn it around.
Your ceiling fan, that is: Many types have a way to reverse the direction they spin. In summer, the blades should rotate counterclockwise in order to maximize the fan’s beneficial effect on your home’s temperature.

Scout the perimeter.
Most people spend more time outdoors when temperatures rise. Check the boundaries of your property for damage to fences, security lights, and gate locks. Clear away any long grass that may have grown up next to fences as they can harbor fleas and ticks. Reset timers on sprinklers and outdoor lights in consideration of the longer hours of daylight.

Paint: It’s not just for looks.
Although we generally think of a new coat of paint as a cosmetic indulgence, it actually helps to protect the home from the effects of strong heat and sun. While you’re at it, check the deck to see if it needs a fresh coat of sealant as well. Washing the windows will ensure you can enjoy the summer sunshine. And speaking of windows, check screens and shutters for damage too.

Prepare to party.
If you love to entertain outdoors, or you want to live off barbecue for the next few months, your summer fun equipment will need a good once-over. Hose down patio furniture and check cushions to see if they would benefit from a good wash and a chance to dry in the fresh air or if they’ll need to be replaced. Clean off the bbq and fill the propane tank [or stock up on briquettes].

Scale the heights.
Before it gets too hot, an inspection of the roof and attic is a great idea. Check outside for missing shingles or other signs of damage. Trim back tree branches that could be used by local critters as stepping stones to get onto and then under your roof. Check out the gutters while you’re up there too. Then head inside to examine the attic for leaks, holes, and signs of animal trespass.

We may think of summer as a time for vacations, but we never really get a vacation from taking care of our homes. I hope these tips help you have an enjoyable summer!

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HARP and HAMP Receive Probable Final Annual Extension

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( An article from Colin Robertson of TheTruthAboutMortgage.com dated May 11, 2015 )

Since being introduced back in 2009, both and the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) have helped millions either avoid foreclosure and/or save money on monthly mortgage payments.

Both programs have been deemed pretty successful, though the numbers did fall short of original projections (as everyone probably expected) despite several annual extensions. I think the original estimate was nine million.

HAMP Is Finished at the End of 2016

HAMP

Since HAMP was launched in the spring of 2009, a total of about 1.5 million homeowners have received permanent loan modifications through the fourth quarter of 2014.

Nearly 2.3 million trial modifications were started but fewer than one million are permanent and still active either because of a positive outcome such as loan payoff or alternative modification, or because of something negative like a short sale or foreclosure.

This has resulted in aggregate savings of approximately $32.7 billion compared with prior unmodified mortgage obligations.

The goal of HAMP is to get the borrower’s front-end DTI ratio down to 31% by reducing the interest rate, extending the loan term, and potentially forgiving principal.

About 95% of HAMP loans received an interest rate reduction, though those are temporary and subject to rise.

Just over 60% of HAMP borrowers received a term extension and less than a third (30.3%) received principal forbearance.

[HAMP participants are now eligible for $5,000 more in principal forgiveness.]

HARP Probably Done After 2016

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is a program that allows underwater borrowers with Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages to refinance to take advantage of lower interest rates.

It originally allowed borrowers to refinance with LTVs as high as 105%, but that number was later increased to 125% and eventually the cap was removed entirely for most types of loans.

Over the years there were pleas to expand the program and open it up to borrowers with non-agency mortgages (remember HARP 3), but those demands fell on deaf ears.

To date, roughly 3.3 million borrowers have taken advantage of the program, though the numbers have been waning lately. Around 10,000 borrowers are refinancing monthly via HARP nowadays.

This is not unexpected given the fact that most have already applied for assistance under the program or no longer need it thanks to rising home prices.

During FHFA director Mel Watt’s speech at the Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit last Friday, he spoke about both programs and revealed that HAMP would be finished after one final extension through the end of 2016.

Since March 2013, Fannie and Freddie have also offered a proprietary Streamlined Modification that requires less paperwork than HAMP, and this could serve as an ongoing loss mitigation solution for borrowers.

As far as HARP goes, he said “we anticipate that this will also be the final extension for HARP.”

Apparently some 600,000 plus borrowers could still benefit from HARP though they’ve yet to come forward for one reason or another.

Watt said the FHFA will use the next year and a half “to explore possible streamlined refinance solutions for future Enterprise loans,” so there might be some kind of permanent HARP solution for Fannie and Freddie loans that “might apply in a non-crisis environment.” ( End of Colin’s article.)

From Bob Phillips:  Over the past couple of years, local house prices have risen substantially, which may help in two different ways.  First, former underwater homeowners may now actually have some equity, hopefully allowing a little breathing room.

Second, owners having difficulty making their payments on a loan that has a high interest rate, may, in fact, be able to refinance now, where they couldn’t before, staying in their home with a lower payment, OR, they may now be able to sell their home without going through a short sale, getting themselves out from under a terrible loan that they’ve been living with, for years.

Even if the home is STILL underwater, solutions have become easier to accomplish, if you’re dealing with an agent who has both training and experience, in dealing with distressed loan situations.  I, Bob Phillips, have both the training, and the experience, to help you sort out the many options you might have.

If you – or someone you know – is still having difficulty making their house payments, please consider calling me at (949) 887-5305, or shoot me an email to BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.

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Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and Easy

Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and EasyYour mortgage payment may be among the largest payments you make every month. While certainly an important part of your budget, this payment is also critical to helping you build equity in your home because it attributes to mortgage principal reduction. Managing your mortgage payments can be challenging, but there are some incredible apps available for use with Android or iPhone smartphones that can simplify your mortgage management tasks.

Mortgage Mentor

This app is available for both iPhones and Android devices, and is designed to be compatible with all types of mortgages. It can calculate PMI for adjustable rate and variable rate mortgages, and it can help you to determine the true cost of a mortgage. Through the use of this intelligent app, you can track your account information in real-time, or you can manipulate the numbers to help you to make more thoughtful and intelligent decisions about your finances.

Loan Calculator Pro

This app is only currently available on iOS devices, but those with this operating system may want to download it today. It has some of the same capabilities as Mortgage Mentor, but it goes a step above and beyond by providing you with mortgage payment notification reminders. It also has a unique feature that allows you to set a final payoff date for your mortgage, and it will calculate how much money you need to pay per month toward your mortgage to accomplish this goal.

Bill Payment Log

The Bill Payment Log app is a unique program that can entirely replace the outdated manual entry checkbook balancing task. It is suitable for use with iOS, Android and even Windows. You can use it to monitor and track payments for all credit accounts, including mortgages. While it does not have the analytical tools associated with some of the other mortgage apps, those who are looking for an all-in-one app that facilitates bill payment tasks for all accounts, this may be a great option to consider.

Making your mortgage payments on time is important, but you also may need to know if you need to pay extra each month and what the effects of that will be. You may also be concerned about “what if” scenarios for your adjustable rate mortgage. There are numerous apps available on the market today that can help you to facilitate your efforts, and these are among the leading choices available.

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Thinking About Buying Rental Properties?

4_Quick_Tips_On_Becoming_A_Young_Real_Estate_InvestorThinking About Buying Rental Properties?

While housing is still very affordable in many areas of the country, it seems like a good time to purchase real estate as an investment — that is, to own rental property. Should the average American consider this as a legitimate means to grow their financial portfolio?

In a word, yes. Even during the housing recession you heard the experts maintaining that real estate was still a valuable investment. There are many reasons to take the plunge and invest in rental properties. Here are a few.

It’s a good time to buy property. Rates and property prices are generally low right now, which means you can get a great mortgage rate and a good price on a property you like. But rates and prices are slowly building all across the country. This is both a plus and a minus: every eighth of a point rise in rates means your purchase power goes down. You’ll get less property for the money, and as home prices rise you’ll pay more for less as well. But keep in mind

that property you purchase now will cost more in the future. As the market continues to recover, your investment should appreciate steadily.

Your expenses are offset in several ways. By buying a property and renting it out, your tenants will be covering a large portion of the costs you incur. Over time, rents will increase as you pay off the mortgage, leaving more income as profit. In addition, you’ll benefit from tax breaks and incentives* on depreciation and expenses.

Appreciation works in your favor. Your investment will be appreciating on the entire value of the property. If you put 25% down on a $400,000 property, you may be paying 4.5% interest on the 75% you borrow, but a 3% appreciation on the value of the property is on the entire $400,000, not just the $100,000 you put down. Compare that to your return on an investment in the stock market.

Diversity in your investment portfolio is a good idea. See above. And remember that by spreading out your investments, you’re more likely to reap the benefits of a changing economy.

You can invest in your retirement. If your $400,000 investment appreciates 3% per year for the next 20 years, just think of what you can do with the money when you sell the property upon your retirement. Or perhaps you bought a property you would want to retire to.

It’s true that being a landlord can be stressful for many people. However, the benefits of investing in property usually outweigh the negatives for most landlords. I am always available to review your goals and to help you determine the strategy and options that can benefit you the most. In addition, I’m also experienced with the management of rental properties and am available to relieve you of that chore.

Call, text, ( 949-887-5305 ) or email me ( BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com ) today to start to explore the possibilities.

*I am not a tax advisory expert. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and may not reflect current tax year rules and regulations. Consult your tax advisor or the IRS for current tax year rules, restrictions and regulations.

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3 Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales Process

Three Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales ProcessHave you decided to sell your home, perhaps to make an upgrade to a newer, larger house? Whatever your reasons for selling, you’ll have a number of decisions to make as you craft your listing and begin receiving offers from buyers but few are as important as your initial selling price.

Let’s take a look at three reasons why setting your listing price is the most important factor in your home sale.

Reason #1: You Can Scare Off Potential Buyers With A High Price

You’ll receive the majority of your buyer interest in the first few days and weeks after you place your home up for sale, so it’s critical that your price isn’t set so high that it scares a number of buyers off.

While some sellers believe that it’s better to price high and let buyers submit lower offers, this can actually work against you. It’s better to have your home priced fairly from the beginning as you can always refuse offers that you deem are too low.

Reason #2: Your Price Directly Impacts How Long Your Sale Will Take

If you’re interested in seeing your home sell quickly it’s going to be in your best interest to have it priced competitively. Buyers will be shopping around for similar homes in your community and if there are other listings with lower prices on the market you may find it takes you a while to get your home sold.

Also, if you do find a buyer who is interested they’ll likely try to haggle with you, which can extend the length of the sale by a week or more as you go back and forth to reach an agreement.

Reason #3: A Low Price Means Leaving Money On The Table

While pricing too high can cause issues with your sale, pricing your home too low isn’t going to benefit you either. While you’ll likely find that you receive a high number of offers very quickly, you’ll end up leaving some of your home equity on the table – equity that you could easily have realized as buyers would have been willing to pay the difference. That’s a good reason for choosing a Realtor with an excellent track record of obtaining top dollar sales prices on his or her listings, in the shortest amount of time possible.

In these parts – South Orange County, in Southern California, such a Realtor is Bob Phillips, of Realty One Group. Call Bob today at (949) 887-5305, or email to BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.

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Saving on Your Property Taxes

Tax-Saving-Tips-252This is a recent blog by one of my preferred lenders, Kevin Budde, of Prime Lending. Kevin has been doing loans in South Orange County for over 40 years, and I highly recommend him and his team, for any type of residential lending services.

Many Baby Boomers are selling their homes and downsizing these days. A question that is becoming more frequent is, “How do I transfer my current property taxes to a home I wish to purchase?” Most everyone in the real estate industry is aware of Proposition 60/90 but to articulate the guidelines and to not give wrong information is difficult. I find myself referring clients to the County Tax Assessors Office website for the technicalities of the Propositions. 

I decided to furnish the basics below to you and at the very bottom the URL address for the Assessor’s office. This is good information for any of your client’s that are thinking of making a move. If they are unaware of the ability to save on property taxes you might want to share this with them.

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http://ocgov.com/gov/assessor/programs/55plus#470

 

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CoreLogic: Nearly 1 million houses return to positive equity

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An article by Brena Swanson, of HousingWire.com, dated 9/25/2014:

Nearly 1 million properties returned to positive equity in the second quarter of 2014, bringing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity in the U.S. to more than 44 million.

The latest CoreLogic report revealed that 946,000 residential properties regained equity, and nationwide, borrower equity increased year over year by approximately $1 trillion in second quarter 2014.

Negative equity means that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

“The increase in borrower equity of $1 trillion from a year earlier is evidence that things are moving solidly in the right direction,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. “Borrower equity is important because home equity constitutes borrowers’ largest investment segment and, as a result, is driving forward the rise in wealth for the typical homeowner.”

However, there are still approximately 5.3 million homes, or 10.7% of all residential properties with a mortgage, that are still in negative equity as of second quarter 2014. This is compared to 6.3 million homes, or 12.7%, for first quarter 2014, and a negative equity share of 14.9%, or 7.2 million homes, in second quarter 2013, representing a year-over-year decrease in the number of homes underwater by almost 2 million, or 4.2%.

“Many homeowners across the country are seeing the equity value in their homes grow, which lifts the economy as a whole,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

“With more and more borrowers regaining equity, we expect homeownership to become an increasingly attractive option for many who have remained on the sidelines in the aftermath of the great recession. This should provide more opportunities for people to sell their homes, purchase a different home or refinance an existing mortgage,” Nallathambi added.

For the homes in negative equity status, the national aggregate value of negative equity was $345.1 billion at the end of second quarter 2014, down $38.1 billion from approximately $383.2 billion in the first quarter 2014. Year-over-year, the value of negative equity declined from $432.9 billion in second quarter 2013, representing a decrease of 20.3% in 12 months.

In addition, of the 44 million residential properties with positive equity, approximately 9 million, or 19%, have less than 20-percent equity (referred to as “under-equitied”) and 1.3 million of those have less than 5%(referred to as near-negative equity). ( End of Brena’s article.)

From Bob Phillips, CDPE, Realty One Group, South Orange County, CA

The initials after my name, above, CDPE, stand for Certified Distressed Properties Expert, and reflect some unique training I’ve received, over the past several years.  They also validate that I have both training and experience, in guiding homeowners who are having difficulties with their mortgages, to solutions, either in continuing to keep their homes, or in assisting them to get out from under an unmanageable mortgage, and on with their lives, as painlessly as possible.

If you, or someone you know, is STILL having difficulty with making your mortgage payments, I am prepared to offer solutions – most of which have ZERO costs associated with them.  Give me a call or text today.  Bob Phillips, CDPE, Realty One Group, Cell: (949) 887-5305 or email me at BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com

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Separation Anxiety: How to Deal with a Joint Mortgage Loan in the Event of a Divorce

Separation Anxiety: How to Deal with a Joint Mortgage Loan in the Event of a DivorceDuring the course of a marriage, it is common for the couple to acquire property together. This is what is referred to as joint or community property.

When a couple divorces, it is up to the parties involved to determine what happens to this joint property or let a judge use applicable law to determine how property is to be split.

What Happens To The House?

A couple of options are available when deciding what to do with a house where both partners are listed on the mortgage. First, the couple may decide to simply sell the home and split the proceeds from the sale.

Another option would be for one person to give the other person the house as part of the divorce settlement.

Technically, the house is sold or transferred and whoever gets the home is now the sole person listed on the mortgage.

Beware Of The Tax Implications

Typically, the person who gets the house should be the person who is in the lower tax bracket. This is because capital gains taxes may be lower or non-existent for those who are in the 10 or 15 percent tax bracket.

If the house is sold and the proceeds are split, capital gains taxes are exempted on the first $250,000 of profit made on the sale. For a married couple, the exemption is $500,000. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to sell the house before the marriage is over.

What If Children Are Involved?

In the event that the divorcing couple has a child, the best interest of the child must be considered. Typically, a judge will award a principal residence to the parent who will raise the child after the divorce is finalized.

To help the custodial parent afford any payments on the house, the other parent may be asked to help make payments as part of a child support or alimony agreement. This may be beneficial to the noncustodial parent as payments that are considered alimony are tax deductible.

When a couple divorces, they have a lot to think about. As this may be an emotional time, figuring out what to do with a home where both parties are on the mortgage can be difficult. However, those who are divorcing amicably or who want what is best for their children can come to an agreement without a lot of stress or drama.

I Can Help You Sort Out Your Options – Both Of You

For over 38 years I’ve been helping South Orange County people in all facets of their real estate lives, buying, selling, and leasing local property. I would be honored to assist you in your real estate planning.

Bob Phillips,            Realty One Group, South Orange County, CA.         Cell/Text:  (949) 887-5305,               BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com

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Sellers, Beware: Five Reasons You Might Not Get Top Dollar when You Sell Your Home (And How to Avoid Them)

Sellers, Beware: Five Reasons You Might Not Get Top Dollar when You Sell Your Home (And How to Avoid Them)For most people, their home is their largest asset, so they want to maximize that asset by getting top dollar when they sell. Here are a few reasons you might not get top dollar when you sell – and how to avoid them!

Selling At The Wrong Time

From early spring to late summer is home-buying season for most people, especially those with children. Putting your house on the market during this period is when you are likely to get top dollar for it. Early fall is also a good time to list your home. Winter – especially December – is the worst time to list. If you list your home outside of prime selling season, you are likely to get less for it than you could have otherwise.

Not Staging Your Home Properly

Many people think of staging as simply rearranging the furniture or changing curtains, but there is so much more to it, and not doing it properly can mean less money for your home. To stage your home properly, you must declutter, putting knick-knacks and family pictures away. You also want to make sure your home is as clean as possible and that you correct any defects such as holes in the wall or cracked window panes. Another thing you should do as part of your staging routine is to paint your walls in neutral colors and update cabinet hardware and light fixtures that are out of date. These little changes can make a big difference.

Not Paying Attention To Curb Appeal

You can spend all the time and money necessary to spruce up the inside of your home, but if your lawn is a patch of dirt and your gutters are falling down, all that work and money can go for naught. To get top dollar for your home, you need to improve your curb appeal. This includes seeding or sodding bare spots in your lawn, trimming trees and shrubbery and fixing up home-related items such as broken concrete and sagging gutters.

Not Getting The Price Right

You might think that to get the highest price out of your house, you have to price it high. However, that’s not necessarily always the case. If you price your house too high, it can make other similar houses that are priced lower look like better deals. You should make sure to pay close attention to what comparable homes are selling for in the area and price your home accordingly.

Not Working With A Real Estate Agent

Many people think they can save a bundle selling their home by not working with a real estate agent. While you might save on the real estate commission, that is probably not the case, since your potential buyer is wanting to save that same commission.  So, at best you’re likely only saving HALF the commission.  Also, if you’re thinking that the commission is going to be 6%, you’re probably wrong there, as well.  Many agents, like me, are willing to offer a substantial discount to a seller – frequently, as low as 1% to 2% on the seller’s side, ( Depending on the price range.) while offering 2.5% to the buyer’s side of the transaction.  You can quickly lose more than that 3.5% to 4.5% – that the buyer expects at least 2.5% of – by making mistakes in pricing and marketing.

A real estate agent will have access to resources you don’t, such as information on buyers looking in your neighborhood. An agent will market your home, make sure it is priced accordingly and set up showings. It is worth your time and money to call an agent experienced in selling homes in your neighborhood who can give you a free market evaluation.

In South Orange County, that agent is Bob Phillips, with over 38 years of local, professional real estate service.  Why not give me a call or text today, at             949-887-5305, or shoot me an email to BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.  I’d love to talk with you about your real estate plans.

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Can One Missed Mortgage Payment Affect Your Credit Rating? Yes! Here’s What to Do if You Miss One

Can One Missed Mortgage Payment Affect Your Credit Rating? Yes! Here's What to Do if You Miss OneMost people don’t know whether or not a single missed mortgage payment can have serious consequences for their credit score.

The good news is that there are things that can be done to mitigate the damage and help anyone who has missed a payment repair their credit. What are some options to help homeowners get back in the good graces of their creditors?

Own Up To The Mistake

The best thing to do is to admit that the payment was missed and immediately make amends for it. For the most part, mortgage lenders are sympathetic to the fact that people miss payments for reasons that may be beyond their control.

By calling the lender as soon as it appears that a payment may be late or not forthcoming at all, it is easier to make arrangements to roll that payment back into the mortgage or take other steps to decrease the odds of a negative remark being made on a credit report.

Don’t Let A Single Missed Payment Turn Into Multiple Missed Payments

While a single missed payment can hurt a credit score, it is important to not compound the mistake by missing more payments. In some cases, someone may decide to make up for the late payment before making any further payments.

However, that only makes the mistake worse because a borrower will be considered late on all subsequent payments. It is better to make the most current payment on time and make the late payment the secondary priority.

Hire A Third-Party If Necessary To Negotiate A Loan Modification

It is important to not let emotion get in the way of negotiating a modification to a mortgage. When a borrower hires a credit counselor or a bankruptcy attorney to talk his or her creditors, the negotiations can stay professional and on topic.

In most cases, a lender will be willing to make modifications for those who need them because it is better to get the money from the borrower willingly instead of having to go through a foreclosure proceeding.

While a missed mortgage payment can be bad news for a credit score, it is possible to make amends for the missed payment while minimizing long-term damage to a borrower’s credit score. By owning the mistake, staying current on all future payments and working with a third-party, it may be possible for a lender to forget that the missed payment ever happened.

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