More Sellers to Qualify for HAFA Short Sales after 6/1/12

Posted on 30. Apr, 2012 by ctlms in Foreclosures, My Blog, Real Estate, Short Sale

More sellers, including investors, may qualify for HAFA after June 1, 2012!

The Treasury Dept issued an updated Directive to HAMP and in turn HAFA back in March with an effective date of 6/1/12

Some welcomed news is coming to short sales, unless Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan.

There are currently 3 different versions on the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) short sale program.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each have their own program guidelines, and then there is Treasuries version that covers everyone else.

The Treasury version has been ever evolving since inception and for the most part those changes have been positive.

Up until now the 2 biggest reasons that borrowers did not qualify for HAFA were either that the property had been non-owner occupied for too long or the borrower's mortgage payment was lower than 31% of their Gross Income.

Both of these issues are being addressed in the upcoming changes.

Owner Occupancy

With these new revised guidelines there will no longer be any occupancy requirements for HAMP modifications or HAFA short sales for Non-Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned loans.  This means that even investor owned properties may qualify.

31% Gross Income Rule

This guidelines still exists.  However a new Tie 2 eligibility has been added that can be used to further evaluate borrowers whose mortgage payment is already below 31% of their gross income.  This will allow for more of their overall financial picture to be considered when determining if there is a financial hardship.

The bottom line is more non-owner occupied properties including properties that were never owner occupied and more financially strapped borrowers will qualify for HAFA.  HAFA gives a seller the best chance of walking away from a short sale with full forgiveness of debt.

Sean Wilder

Short Sales and Title Searching

Posted on 17. Nov, 2011 by ctlms in Blog, Foreclosures, My Blog, News, Real Estate, Short Sale

Should an agent do a search of the title on a listing?

Alright, so it has been way too long since my last post on short sales.  I totally apologize.

Today's topic is going to be on searching title.

In today's real estate environment there are a few things agents should be doing with their listings to cover their own "assets".  Asking the sellers about their mortgages and any liens is one of these.

You do not want to be the agent that takes the word of a seller that they have plenty of equity to sell without a short sale, only to find out a week before closing that it is not true.  This just doesn't look good for you or your brokerage and it can jeopardize your commission if the deal falls through.

Plus, there are many cases where the seller does not know that they have title issues.  Many people do not realize that small claims and collections judgments as well as medical judgments can be, and often are, attached as judgment liens to their property.

It is very important today that you research the title of your listings before taking the listing.  Many agents already go down to the town hall and pull the field card for the property and allot of agents also get a copy of the deed.  Some Broker's actually require this be in the file, as they should.

So while you're there you should be searching the title for mortgages and any other liens that may be on the property.

Many towns now have their land record index right online where you can search the title and get an index of what documents are recorded for that property.  A simple search like this can quickly reveal documents of concern such as; Judgment Liens, Tax Liens, Water or Sewer Liens, Lis Pendens, etc.

Now I am not saying that every Realtor needs to be a title search expert.  But a simple purchase date forward search of the land records can uncover any possible issues to your transaction closing so that they can be addressed long before the 11th hour before closing.

In the case of a short sale this is critical.  Any money judgments against the property need to be negotiated with the lien holders.  If we do not know about them, we can't negotiate them.  It is also very difficult to renegotiate with a mortgage company to pay a judgment after they have already approved a short sale and that judgment was not listed as an expense from the beginning.

On top of that, many judgments for credit card liens and medical liens are very difficult to get released for less than full payoff.  Spending months negotiating a short sale on a property that has unknown judgments on it that will doom the property to foreclosure, or the seller into bankruptcy, is not fair to all parties involved.  These need to be known up front so that if they are unwilling to negotiate, all parties know it sooner rather than later.

One of the most useful resources here in CT is  Here you can search by the seller's name and find foreclosures and lawsuits.  There are 2 areas to search.

Under the Case Look-up link on the left;

1. Civil/Family will find foreclosures, collections and divorces.  If the plantiff has the same last name as your client, it's probably a divorce

2. Small Claims will find all small claims files.

Any judgments for collections or small claims that do not show as satisfied are more than likely recorded as a lien on the property as well.

In addition to this resource, the town clerk's office will have any and all liens recorded against the property.  When searching though an electronic index the following guide of commonly used document short cuts may be useful.

ASN = Assignment, FCL = Foreclosure, IRS = IRS Tax Lien, JDG = Judgment Lien, LN = Lien, LPN = Lis Pendens (foreclosure initiated), MEC = Mechanics Lien, MTG = Mortgage, QTC = Quit Claim, REL = Release, SOJ = Satisfaction of Judgment, TXL = Tax Lien, WAR = Warantee Deed

This is by no means an exhaustive list and the short cuts differ from town to town.  You may also come across others that are less common.

But if you are fortunate, your listing will have 1 War, 1 or more MTG and that is it.

When processing a file for a short sale, we typically try to check any online resources available to us to investigate the status of the title.  But we rely heavily on the listing agent and the seller to inform us of any issues that need to be addressed in the short sale negotiations.  The only other alternative would be to require every single seller that we process a file for to pay for a title search on their property.  Since these issues come up without being presented to us by the agent or seller a small percentage of the time, we feel that would add cost to many sellers unnecessarily.

These issues can be easily discovered by a cursory search of the land records by the listing agent and many brokers already advise or require their agents to do so given the pervasiveness of title issues today.

So if you do not often take this extra step on your listings, I hope these suggestions cause you to consider doing so in the future to save yourself some future headaches.

Sean Wilder

State of CT finally sets it straight for Debt Negotiators.

Posted on 20. Jul, 2011 by ctlms in Blog, Foreclosures, My Blog, News, Real Estate, Short Sale

Clarification is finally here!

So it has been over 2 months since the CT Depts of Banking and Consumer Protection confused the entire real estate community with a joint warning letter regarding Debt Negotiators in CT.

The letter dated 5/10/11 was apparently in response to one or more complaints brought about by the actions of one or more Debt Negotiators.  I do not know the specifics of the issues or complaints but can gather enough from the letter to know the actions indicated were not only bad business, but obvious to result in complaints.  We always strive for 100% transparency and disclosure with all parties involved and all our agreements are in writing.

In general the letter made it appear that all Debt Negotiators in CT may be violating the regulations.  It also suggested that if a debt negotiator were paid more than $500 from any party,the were violating the $500 max fee cap to the mortgagor and that real estate Brokers could not pay for the service.

This letter jeopardized the businesses of all Debt Negotiators in CT and the services they provide to their clients.

It has taken the Debt Negotiator industry over 60 days to get these state agencies to clarify their opinions on what we do.  Over that time we have had several phone and email conversations with both agencies.  This all culminated with a meeting, which I attended, with the Commissioner of the Debt Of Banking and several representatives of the Dept of Consumer Protection who attended on the behalf of their commissioner who could not attend.

This meeting was extremely helpful to all parties in clearing the confusion and both agencies agreed to address our concerns in writing by the end of this week.

On Monday 7/18/11 the Dept of Banking issued it's opinion letter. DOB Opinion Letter 7-18-11 The letter stated clearly that the fee cap of $500 for payments from the Mortgagor DOES NOT prohibit a real estate firm or any other person or entity who is not the Mortgagor from paying for Debt Negotiation services and that the $500 cap does not apply.  The $500 fee applies to payments for Debt Negotiation services paid for by the Mortgagor (seller) directly. So it is perfectly legal for a real estate firm to hire a debt negotiator who is properly licensed in CT to negotiate on their clients behalf in securing a short sale approval.  This service is provided to the real estate firm to accomplish a task that the real estate agent is either not properly equipped to do themselves, or simply does not wish to do.  It is also legal for that Broker to agree in writing to compensate the debt negotiator for this services contingent on the successful sale of the property.

On Wednesday 7/20/11 the Dept of Consumer Protection issued it's own opinion letter. DCP Opinion Letter 7-18-11 In it, the Dept of Consumer Protection states that "It is appropriate for real estate licensees to retain an outside party for the purpose of debt negotiation and those services fall within the scope of the debt negotiator's work." The letter also address how this "fee for ancillary service" should be paid.  1. The fee should be a dollar amount agreed to by the Broker and the Debt Negotiation company in writing and should not be a % of the sales price so as not to be construed as a commission split.  2. The fee should be paid by the Broker after closing.

These two letters finally put to rest the confusion resulting from the letter these agencies issued on 5/10/11.

It also seems that the actions of one or more debt negotiators has tainted the view of the industry by some.  This is very unfortunate for those of us who work within the laws and regulations we are governed by and strive to provide the very best service to the sellers' and real estate agents we serve.

It is unfortunate that it took so long to get these issues addressed but we have done our best during this time to not let this affect our clients.

Please contact Sean Wilder at Loss Mit Services for any questions about what this means for your clients.

Sean Wilder