Get your voice heard about Sound Transit changes coming 2013 and beyond

We’ve got one of the best bus systems in the United States, but we’re still working on overall high capacity transit strategies in the Puget Sound region.  While some areas of King County and Snohomish County have benefited from rail service there are requests by Sound Transit for input from more of the I-5 corridor for new high capacity options.  If you’d like to weigh in your opinion and are in the Federal Way and Des Moines areas, here is your chance by either attending an upcoming meeting and/or filling out the accompanying survey:

Sound Transit is kicking off the process for working with South King County communities on options for extending high-capacity transit service. The effort will help shape alternatives for building high capacity transit from South 200th Street to Kent/Des Moines, as well as a shovel-ready plan for reaching the heart of Federal Way.
This is the public’s first chance to weigh in on this key regional project. There are several ways to give feedback, by attending and upcoming open house, or by taking our survey by Monday, Nov. 19.

Take the 6-minute survey>>>

Attend an open house
Des Moines
4-7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 8
Highline Community College (Building 2),
South 240th Street and Pacific Highway South
Federal Way
4-7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 13
Truman High School (Gym),
31455 28th Ave. S.

 

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Expansion of trail system in Renton will benefit the Puget Sound region and salmon!

I’m proud of yet another cool project that Renton has helped to make a reality in the Puget Sound region. So many good things to come out of this project, part of which includes cleaning up a salmon stream to try and help bring back our local stocks to sustainable numbers and connecting to the foothills trail system.

You can read all about the project at this link from Renton Patch.

What I love about living in this city is that we have a diverse community that is constantly striving to improve itself with thoughtful projects. Helping to redeem waterways that salmon use to spawn is a great thing and the use of permeable sidewalk material helps to dampen pollution/runoff. Taking an old industrial site and turning it into a greenway with use for the public is fantastic and connecting it to even larger trail systems is good for everyone and not just folks in Renton. Thinking outside its borders and how our community affects those around us is a good thing to do. Love that it doesn’t have that feel of NIMBY…

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Guest column from Community Power Works of Seattle about available energy credits and rebates!

Dear Homeowner:
If you live in Central or South Seattle you should know about Community Power Works, a residential energy upgrade program created by the City of Seattle (www.communitypowerworks.org). The program conveniently provides a one-stop shop for homeowners who want to complete home energy upgrades.

Through Community Power Works the city has created a pool of qualified local contractors, new rebates and competitive financing. The City of Seattle is currently able to offer significant financial incentives and rebates to homeowners thanks to a $11.3 million federal grant made to spur energy savings and create green jobs.

After filling out an application, you will receive a subsidized Home Energy Assessment that will give you a report that explains the potential cost and energy savings impact of each possible upgrade. The average project ranges between $4 – $10k, but if you decide to go ahead with the upgrades you will be eligible for up to $3,000 in rebates for things like replacing old windows or adding insulation.

Making your home more energy efficient will benefits our entire community, but it is also a good investment. A study by the Appraisal Institute indicates that for every dollar of energy costs saved per year, the value of that property can increase by $20. http://1bog.org/files/2009/02/solar_home_value.pdf

Fill out an application online (https://my.communitypowerworks.org/apply/) or call 206.449.1170 with any questions.

Thanks!

Christine Grant
Community Power Works- Home Retrofit Coordinator
206.449.1135 | kellyr@cascadiaconsulting.com
www.communitypowerworks.org

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Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound has some great classes on tap for this week in August!

This week at RHA:

Tuesday at 5:30 pm – South Sound Supper Club in Fife (Free).

Wednesday at noon – How to Read a Credit Report Seminar (Free) followed by Advanced Landlord Tenant Law by Chris Benis at 3 pm.

Thursday there will be a free Resident Retention & Discount Program Webinar at noon.

Call Holly at 206-905-0605 or visit our website to register for any of these!

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Options to Foreclosure – A necessary post that I hope you’ll forward to a friend or family member who may be in need of the info.

Foreclosure Avoidance Options  Foreclosure is one of the most devastating financial challenges that a family can face and one that many times can be avoided. The options available to residents for foreclosure are many, including but not limited to short sales. Following is a brief explanation of these solutions:

Reinstatement  A reinstatement is the simplest solution for a foreclosure, however it is often the most difficult. The homeowner simply requests the total amount owed to the mortgage company to date and pays it. This solution does not require the lender’s approval and will ‘reinstate’ a mortgage up to the day before the final foreclosure sale.

Forbearance or Repayment Plan  A forbearance or repayment plan involves the homeowner negotiating with the mortgage company to allow them to repay back payments over a period of time. The homeowner typically makes their current mortgage payment in addition to a portion of the back payments they owe.

Mortgage Modification A mortgage modification involves the reduction of one of the following: the interest rate on the loan, the principal balance of the loan, the term of the loan, or any combination of these. These typically result in a lower payment to the homeowner and a more affordable mortgage.

Rent the Property  A homeowner who has a mortgage payment low enough that market rent will allow it to be paid, can convert their property to a rental and use the rental income to pay the mortgage.

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure  Also known as a “friendly foreclosure,” a deed-in-lieu allows the homeowner to return the property to the lender rather than go through the foreclosure process. Lender approval is required for this option, and the homeowner must also vacate the property.

Bankruptcy  Many have considered and marketed bankruptcy as a “foreclosure solution,” but this is only true in some states and situations. If the homeowner has non-mortgage debts that cause a shortfall of paying their mortgage payments and a personal bankruptcy will eliminate these debts, this may be a viable solution.

Refinance  If a homeowner has sufficient equity in their property and their credit is still in good standing, they may be able to refinance their mortgage.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (military personnel only) If a member of the military is experiencing financial distress due to deployment, and that person can show that their debt was entered into prior to deployment, they may qualify for relief under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The American Bar Association has a network of attorneys that will work with servicemembers in relation to qualifying for this relief.

Sell the Property  Homeowners with sufficient equity can list their property with a qualified agent that understands the foreclosure process in their area.

Short Sale  If a homeowner owes more on their property than it is currently worth, then they can hire a qualified real estate agent to market and sell their property through the negotiation of a short sale with their lender. This typically requires the property to be on the market and the homeowner must have a financial hardship to qualify. Hardship can be simply defined as a material change in the financial stability of the homeowner between the date of the home purchase and the date of the short sale negotiation. Acceptable hardships include but are not limited to: mortgage payment increase, job loss, divorce, excessive debt, forced or unplanned relocation, and more.

This represents only a summary of some of the solutions available to homeowners facing foreclosure. Locate a CDPE in your area for an evaluation of your individual situation, property value, and possible options.Understanding your options now could mean all the difference in the world.A CDPE can help. 

If you’d like to schedule a private and confidential discussion with our team at Team Reba to discuss your options and to learn more about what is involved in a short sale, please contact us using the following methods:

Email: Reba@TeamReba.com

Phone: 425-970-3697

Cell/Text: 206-910-3429 

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New Rules for who can negotiate real estate short sale transactions. Pay attention or put yourself at risk!

Short sales have become a well known item and sales process now in the real estate world.  It used to be that very few agents knew much about them, and even fewer had to work with them regularly.  Not so in today’s market environment.  WA State’s Dept. of Licensing, Dept. of Financial Institutions, and the Attorney General have been watching closely what has been occurring and have instituted some new rules around who can actually work on these types of sales, as has the Federal Trade Commission. 

I will say that for a while, it was like the “Wild West” of real estate when all manner of people started claiming they could help distressed homeowners – and many had only the idea of ill-gotten gains on their minds.  Not all were scammers, but the issues around the mortgage crisis certainly opened up the field to a lot of potential mis-information and misleading tactics.

Below is a snippet of what’s changing:

New short sale laws were adopted by the Federal Trade Commission on November 19, 2010.   Washington State’s Departments of Financial Institutions and Licensing have created reference guides for Licensees & for Consumers.    

There are significant changes to the law, familiarize yourself with the new requirements to ensure compliance.  A few critical changes are: 

  • Short Sale Negotiators may not collect an upfront fee.
  • A broker cannot provide short sale assistance unless they are the listing (or co-listing) broker or selling broker.
  • Short sale brokers may not charge fees in excess of normal & customary commissions.
  • Beware the “flip”. 

Other changes are that only licensed individuals in the fields of real estate, mortgage and law (attorneys).

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Wells Fargo and restrictive terms for stalling foreclosures, Nov 2010

As someone who follows the distressed property field very closely, it’s important to understand what various lenders are doing with their non-performing assets (aka loans in default) and how they’re working, or not working, with borrowers on short sales.

In the latest DS News (Default Servicing News) update, word has come down from Wells Fargo regarding their policy on extending trustee sales for homes in foreclosure.  You can read the full article here at this link.

Basically, it breaks down to this….

1.  An approved short sale contract must be in effect.

2. The buyer must show proof of funds and/or lending for the purchase of the asset (home).

3. The sale can close within 30 days of the bank’s approval of the contract.

There are some other caveats to this, such as investors who are behind a Wells Fargo loan that won’t follow these guidelines or issues in states where foreclosures are not allowed to be delayed. Each state is different, so you have to check first to see what applies to your individual situation.

What does this mean to borrowers who are in a position of default or imminent default due to unemployment, medical issue, divorce, or other hardship?  It’s important that if you would prefer to do a short sale versus going through the full foreclosure process (and some people can’t due to job viability/security clearance concerns) that you should put your home on the market as soon as possible and price it right to lure in a buyer. Pricing obviously will make a difference on whether or not WF will consider accepting the terms, so completely lowballing it won’t necessarily help you, but there have been some percentages that do tend to get attention from banks that are operating under HAFAHAMP and receiving TARP funds to help fill in shortfalls on the losses they’re taking from short sales.

In Washington State, the foreclosure timeline is 190 days, so getting on market earlier is better.  If you wait till the end of the process, you’ll find it a much harder task to tackle, and the banks will be less open to working with you – and that’s not true just for Wells Fargo, but across the board with most banks/lenders and loan servicing companies.

Another consideration on the WF list is that many banks have 30-45 processing times for new purchases, so you must be sure that your buyer can get the lending process done within that 30 day window or less. For FHA loans, it could be more problematic than a conventional loan but not necessarily impossible.  Qualifying everything in this process is critical!

Be sure to talk to an attorney and an accountant for your situation – and when interviewing an agent to help you with marketing the home for sale, look for individuals or teams that have experience in this area. Preferably, look for someone with a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) who is trained in this field of real estate as there are real estate brokers in all 50 states who have earned this worthwhile designation.

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Housing and economic recovery continue to be media hot topics…

The recession that the United States is experiencing continues to put pressure on the housing industry and therefore it continues to be in the middle of the media spotlight.  Recently, Alex Charfen, the head of the Certified Distressed Property Expert program, was included in an interview on CNBC.  You can view the video by going to this link.

Alex’s message on the program is that the public, including media and government officials, should become better acquainted with agents who are getting this kind of specialized training. They’d learn a few things about the process that many of us have been involved in now for many years.  Reba Haas, head of Team Reba, has been doing short sales for nearly 7 years and has watched the processes change dramatically during that time.

At Team Reba we have several team members who have had the CDPE training to become certified to work with short sales and distressed properties.  There is constant change in this field of real estate and it’s important to be working with professionals who know what they’re doing and who are paying attention to the regular flux of bank requirements, process changes, and more so that if you have to be in a short sale situation, you have the most opportunity for success.

Being well versed in the process doesn’t make miracles, but it can help with assessing situations and negotiating with the bank as well as working with the other professionals (such as attorneys and accountants) that should be involved in any transaction of this type.

To help the public understand more of this process, look for Team Reba to begin offering classes on purchasing short sales and bank owned (REO) properties starting in January 2011.

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