Arizona Short Sale Process

TRANSCRIPT:
PART II: Pre-foreclosure Options (SS Overview)

Hello Again, and welcome to The Butler Blog. As always, I am your intrepid host, Allen Butler, managing director of TRBLLC and agent of West USA Premier Properties.

Today we’ll continue with our series on pre-foreclosure help for Arizona families. Last time, we talked about loan modifications and the problem with negative equity. Let’s review that for just a moment:

Remember, if you want to stay in your home, you can either bring your account current, or you can modify your loan to make it more affordable. Loan modifications are a personal choice that should be taken cautiously, and with an eye to the future. Also remember, the payments will go up again, and you may be in the home for quite awhile.

Now, for those who can’t keep their homes there are other options to minimize foreclosure damage. Today, we’ll deal with one option, and that’s a short sale.

A short sale is nothing more than selling your home for less than you owe the lender. You are asking the lender to allow you to do a “short payoff” or short sale on the home.  Here is an example.

If you owe $250,000 to your lender on your home, and you can no longer pay, you can get permission from your lender to place your home on the market at the current fair market value and find a buyer.

In Arizona, negative equity is tremendous, and it’s not uncommon for a home like this home to be listed on the open market for $120,000. Once an offer is secured, this offer is submitted to the borrower’s lender, and the lender agrees. They’ll allow you to sell it for $120,000.

However, there is still $130,000 left on the loan balance. What will happen to this “extra debt” you owe the lender? Many times, the debt is simply forgiven and written off by the lender. Of course, there is more to this, as there are lots of legal, credit, and tax pitfalls to look out for. We’ll deal with those in future episodes, but remember, these are serious topics for qualified professionals.

The question begs itself at this point: why would a lender do that? Why wouldn’t they just foreclose on the home and sell it themselves? It’s a good question, and one that we’ll answer in a moment, but first: why would a HOMEOWNER do a short sale? What are the benefits to THEM?

First, for homeowners facing foreclosure, a short sale can

1.) Minimize credit damage resulting from foreclosure

2.) Avoid a foreclosure on credit and/or public records.

3.) Make the foreclosure process less disruptive to personal life.

4.) May allow the borrower to make a new home purchase much quicker.

Now, as to why a lender would do a short sale, it helps to understand the inner workings of the foreclosure process from the lender’s perspective, and it’s ALL about money and finance.

1.) First a lender has to spend LOTS of money to remove a homeowner from their home.

2.) Second, lenders will have to spend thousands on maintenance and holding costs.

3.) Third, lenders can SEE what a home is worth TODAY, but cannot know what the home will be worth later. If prices continue to fall, lenders will lose even more money.

4.) Finally, every time a lender forecloses on a family, it causes further depreciation of the market and THEIR OWN loan portfolios.

A short sale actually benefits both homeowners AND lenders, and is probably the best idea if you simply can’t stay in your home. Let’s take a look at eligibility requirements.

1.) First, any homeowner who has a verifiable hardship can pursue a short sale.

2.) Second, the home has to have negative equity to pursue a short sale.

These really are the ONLY two requirements to pursue a short sale. However, how a short sale is processed and how it works is considerably more complex. One of the most serious complexities is the tax, legal, and credit considerations. Let’s look at those briefly.

1.) Sometimes, due to special circumstances with second lien-holders, insurance companies, or a HELOC, the homeowner may be asked to contribute to the loss, either up front, or with a promissory note.

2.) For some, the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007 may not protect them from having to pay taxes on the discharged debt from the lender.

3.) In rare cases, the lender may demand that the homeowner waive their rights under the Arizona Anti-Deficiency Statutes.

4.) The credit damage arising from mortgage default can also be substantial in cases where short sale processing is anything but “short,” and drags on for almost a year.

These are SERIOUS potential consequences, and you absolutely MUST protect yourself.
1.) First, always talk to trained, certified, professionals about your specific circumstances.

2.) Seek a real estate agent with short sale experience, and at least 3 short sale references from clients with completed short sales.

3.) Know and understand the tax and deficiency laws in your state.

4.) Never pay anyone for help. Almost ALL reputable loan counselors and short sale agents DO NOT charge ANY fees to the client, ever.
Now, this has been a brief overview of the short sale, and in our next installments, we’ll break down short sales even further. Next time, we’ll deal with verifiable hardship, and the immediate actions to take when hardship comes.
Please, if you have questions or concerns about loan modifications, I encourage you to call our offices, or simply send an email. We are always here to help. Also, remember, these broadcasts are just my own personal opinions. The things I say should NEVER be construed as specific legal, credit, or tax advice. If you have questions regarding your specific set of circumstances, I encouraged you to call my offices, and also to seek the appropriate professional counsel.
Until Next time, this is Allen Butler, Managing Director of The Realty Butler LLC, and agent of West USA Premier Properties, signing out.

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Arizona Loan Modifications vs Negative Equity

TRANSCRIPT: PART II: Pre-foreclosure Options (Modification)

Hello again, and thank you for joining us today at the Butler Blog. As always, I am your host, Allen Butler, Managing Director of The Realty Butler LLC and agent of West USA Premier Properties.

Before we get started, let me remind our audience again regarding pre-foreclosure options: there are really only two; you can work it out so you can stay, or work it out so you can leave. Today, we’ll discuss your options for STAYING in the home, and there are two: either rectify the loan, or modify the loan.

Now, before we get too far ahead, I want to go back for just a moment here and pull the timeline of foreclosure, and review the “Action Zone” for homeowners. Remember, the quicker you call for help, the more options you’ll have. And, you’ll feel better knowing that a plan is in place for dealing with the problem.

Now, the reason for you loan “delinquency” is very important, because it determines your options in dealing with the foreclosure. There are two reasons for delinquency.

One reason is Hardship. This can be any number of things, from death to divorce to illness to military or job transfer. Notice that these “certifiable hardships” are something over which the homeowner has little or no control.

The other reason for delinquency is Strategic. This is where homeowners CAN pay their mortgage, but simply don’t want to because the house is too far “upside – down.” Whether fortunate or not, there is no help for people who have the money to pay, but choose not to.

Now, if you have a verifiable hardship, you have two options to STAY IN YOUR HOME:

1.) First, you can bring your balance current. If your hardship was temporary, or you have some way to come up with the money to clear the back payments and fees and continue the payments, you CAN get yourself our of foreclosure, right up until the home is sold at auction. Obviously, this will not be an option for many.

2.) Your only other option to stay in the home is to request a loan modification from your lender. Let’s examine these loan mods, and how they work.

Earlier this year, the US Treasury Dept issued the Home Affordable Modification Program or “HAMP” for short. The program has guidelines to determine eligibility for a loan mod, and it identifies four methods of doing loan mods. We’ll deal specifically with HAMP, as 85% of all mortgage servicers in the US use it, or a program like it, to modify loans.

Now, the primary goal of HAMP is to make loans more “affordable,” and it identifies an affordable mortgage as one that is not more than 31% of monthly net income.

It is important to note that all modifications are on a trial bases for 90 days, and if the payments are made in full and on time, and all requested documents are provided to the lender, the modification will be “locked in” for 5 years.

In order to be eligible for HAMP

1.) You have to either already be behind on payments, or in a position where your ability to make payments is about to stop.

2.) You must also have a certifiable hardship, as discussed previously.

3.) The loan must have been written BEFORE January 1st 2009

4.) Second mortgages and Home Equity Lines of Credit are NOT eligible for this program. The Dept of Treasury is currently working with investors and industry trade groups to develop ways to include second lien-holders into the program.

5.) Finally, your loan balance cannot be greater than $729,750

If you are eligible, your loan can be modified in up to 4 ways:

1.) Most loan modifications are done by lowering the interest rate. Rates can go as low as 2%. At the end of 5 years, the rate will go back to either your original rate, or the Freddie Mac 30 year fixed rate at the time of the modification, whichever is lower. If a rate adjustment is NOT sufficient to reach 31% of your monthly income, the lender can next adjust the term of your loan.

2.) HAMP says that lenders can extend and re-amortize loans for up to 40 years. However, many loans are sold in packages to loan servicers using “Pooling and Servicing Agreements”. These agreements usually will not allow servicers to extend the term of only one loan within the pool.

3.) Now, if lowering your mortgage rate and extending your term are not enough, lenders CAN do principle “forbearance.” This means that a portion of the mortgage will be “lopped off” and placed into an insulated “bubble”. You won’t pay any interest or principle on this portion for a while, but that amount is still attached to the mortgage, and the entire amount is still owed.
4.) The final modification is “principle forgiveness”. This means that a portion of your loan is again, lopped off, but this time, it’s entirely forgiven and “disappears”. Of the 1700+ permanent loan modifications made under HAMP so far, only 5 were achieved by principle reduction. In other words, the chances of this happening are SLIM.
Now, this highlights a problem.

Let’s talk about that for a minute.

I mentioned in our first installment that negative equity was a large part of the foreclosure crisis. Now, in comparing the problems of negative equity and unemployment against the programs in place to combat this foreclosure crisis, we see that these programs may simply delay the inevitable.

Let’s do a simple example for an Arizona family in trouble with their mortgage.

So, this family bought a home in 2005 for $250,000, and the monthly payment is $1,887 per month.

Now, hardship comes, the mortgage is modified, and the new payment is only $1025 per month. Now the family can afford their home. Remember, the family still owes $250,000 on the house. The fact of the matter is, right now, the home in question is really only worth $100,000 TOPS.

Now, let’s fast forward. In year 6, the loan interest rate goes back up. Is the family making more money now, so they can afford the re-adjusted payment? If not, they’re in the same boat they were in 5 years ago. But that’s only part of the problem.

Remember, the family still owes close to $250,000 on the home, and it was only really worth $100,000 at the time of the loan modification. If any life change forces a move, you’re in the same place you were in 2007; upside down, in a big way.

What will the real estate market look like in 2017? Who knows, but I’ll ask you, the viewer: how many years do YOU think it will be before home values in Arizona DOUBLE from what they are now, so these people can sell if they need to? My professional instincts say it’ll be PLENTY longer than 5 years. It’s already been 4, and the problem seems to just keep rolling along, impervious to efforts to stop it.

See, the bottom line is, loan modifications are a personal family decision regarding the home, and families should definitely proceed with caution. Also, be sure to keep an eye toward the future when planning your long term strategy. Remember:

1.) Your payment WILL go up again. IF you can afford to make the new adjusted payment, you’ll live happily forever after.

2.) You may be living in the home well, “forever after”. . .
Now, please listen, and listen carefully: I AM NOT advocating that Arizona homeowners should decide against a loan modification. What I AM saying is: do not jump in blindly, thinking that a loan modification will resolve the underlying issues. And remember that for the remaining 97% of the country where home prices have NOT crashed and burned, a loan modification may be exactly what those families need. They may have a very good expectation that they’ll be able to recover the equity they need to sell their homes again in 5-7 years.
Please, if you have questions or concerns about loan modifications, I encourage you to call our offices, or simply send an email. We are always here to help. Also, remember, these broadcasts are just my personal internet ramblings. The things I say should NEVER be construed as legal, credit, or tax advice. If you have questions regarding your specific set of circumstances, I strongly encouraged you to seek the appropriate professional counsel.

In our next installment, we’ll cover the SHORT SALE, what it is, who can do one, and why they would do one. Until then, if you have questions or concerns regarding your personal pre-foreclosure situation, I encourage you to contact me. My staff of highly trained and certified mortgage default specialists is always ready to take your calls or emails.

Until Next time, this is Allen Butler, Managing Director of The Realty Butler LLC, and agent of West USA Premier Properties, signing out.

Arizona Foreclosure Process

Transcript:

Hello and thank you for joining us today at the Butler Blog.  As always, I am your host, Allen Butler, Managing Director of The Realty Butler LLC and agent of West USA Premier Properties. Today I want to examine some of the issues and strategies involving loan delinquency, mortgage default, and foreclosure affecting Arizona’s families.  

   For nearly everyone being affected by this foreclosure crisis, the foundation is almost always negative equity and financial hardship: If financial hardship comes, and you can’t sell the house because it’s “upside down,” you are likely about to stop, or have already stopped, paying your mortgage. This is when the process of foreclosure begins.

     It is absolutely critical that you know the process and timelines of delinquency, default, and foreclosure, and what your options are in dealing with them. The entire foreclosure process starts with your first missed payment. Let’s take a look at the timeline.

When you miss your first payment, you will likely start getting all kinds of communication from your bank. They want to know where their money is, and if you can’t bring your payments current very quickly (usually within 30-90 days), a “notice of default” will be issued.

The Notice of Default is a legal notice filed by your bank, indicating they have notified the courts that you are seriously delinquent on the loan. This notice also indicates that if you do not clear the delinquency within 90 days, the property will be scheduled for public auction.

When the home is scheduled for public auction, a Notice of Trustees Sale will be posted on the home itself, and filed with the courts. This notice identifies the place and time of the trustees’ sale, the loan servicer and/or legal office pursuing the sale, and the homeowner against whom this action is being taken. The auction date for the trustees’ sale is usually 30 to 90 days after the posted notice date. When and if the property is sold at auction, it now belongs to someone else, usually the lender who filed the action. 

The next step in the process is eviction. Once the home has transferred ownership at the trustees’ sale, the new owner is going to take possession. Sometimes, the lender will contact the occupants of the home, and offer a “Cash for Keys” deal in exchange for leaving the home within 15-30 days. If the occupant is uncooperative or not able to be contacted, a forcible detainer action will be filed, and eviction proceedings will commence.

Now, it is absolutely vital that you understand your “Action Zone.” This is the time during which you can act to contain and mitigate the damage to YOURSELF, your family, your credit, and your future. The Action Zone starts before you even miss a payment, and ends just a few weeks after the Notice of Trustees Sale. It is during this time that you absolutely need to contact someone for help with your situation, as there are several programs in place by lenders, and federal and state governments to help.

In our next installment, I’ll discuss these foreclosure prevention programs, how they work, who can do them, and who should do them. Until then, if you have questions or concerns regarding your personal pre-foreclosure situation, I encourage you to contact me. Both myself and my staff of highly trained and certified mortgage default specialists are always ready to take your calls or emails.

Until Next time, this is Allen Butler, Managing Director of The Realty Butler LLC, and agent of West USA Premier Properties, signing out.