Foreclosure is just a one-time event—with discipline and perseverance, you can get a mortgage and become a homeowner again.

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It won’t be easy to obtain a mortgage after foreclosure. But with enough time, discipline, and desire, you can own your own home again. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Stick with a job after foreclosure

Did you fall into foreclosure because of the lack of a steady job? If you did, the first step toward homeownership after foreclosure is finding and holding one. And if you already have one—stick with it, unless you can move to a better one. Note that potential lenders will require stable employment before they’ll give you a new mortgage loan after a foreclosure. Even if it means taking a lower-paying job, it’s worth it.

2. Rebuild your nest egg after foreclosure

Establish a safety net. Financial planners generally recommend three to six months of living expenses in a liquid account, but since you’re coming out of foreclosure, six is a minimum to show stability and that you’re able to pay your bills—including your mortgage—for an extended period if you lose your job.

3. Raise your credit score after foreclosure

This is the hardest and most time-consuming part. After foreclosure, your credit score, according to myFICO, probably dropped by about 150 points. You’ll need to raise it back up with perseverance.

Pay bills on time and keep your credit card balances below maximum levels. The foreclosure will stay on your credit report for seven years, but if you prove your money management skills have matured, it will become less of a red mark as years go by.

Tip: Consult a housing counselor. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers free housing counseling for distressed homeowners with a foreclosure in their past. A counselor can help you with money management and budgeting. Counseling works—an evaluation of a program in Indianapolis discovered that credit scores greatly improved because of education and counseling, and increased average borrowing power by $4,500 per family.

4. Reduce your waiting time for a mortgage after foreclosure

Normally, you would have to wait seven years after foreclosure before you can apply for a new mortgage under Fannie Mae rules. (Fannie Mae changes rules frequently. You can check the latest rules at Fannie Mae’s site.)

However, you might wait only three years if you can show extenuating circumstances for your foreclosure, which are defined as “events that are beyond the borrower’s control that result in a sudden, significant, and prolonged reduction in income or a catastrophic increase in financial obligations.” These include:

  • Losing a job
  • Getting divorced
  • Having unexpected medical expenses

There’s one last alternative if waiting isn’t your thing—you can obtain seller financing, essentially bypassing the traditional mortgage. If both parties are amenable, you can enter into a lease with an option to buy, or take a mortgage directly from the seller. You’ll most likely have to show some hefty reserve funds, but if you’ve turned around your financial situation quickly after your foreclosure, it’s worth a shot to deal directly with the seller.

Keep in mind that sellers may be motivated to agree to this if they need to sell and the potential buyers they’ve met with can’t obtain a conventional mortgage—perhaps because they’ve been through foreclosures, too.

5. Be honest about your foreclosure

When you’re ready to apply for your new mortgage, don’t try to hide your foreclosure. On the contrary, be proactive and reveal the steps you’ve taken to remedy the problems that led to your foreclosure.

Tip: Try a mortgage broker, who can work with a variety of lenders to find you a loan. When you work directly with a retail lender, like a bank, they have a limited pool of loans to offer you. But a good mortgage broker—one with a vast network of lenders or has many options, and may be able to find a mortgage solution if the foreclosure in your past is creating challenges in obtaining one.

If you stay disciplined and positive, the American dream—obtaining a mortgage and owning a home of your own—can, indeed, be yours again. Even after foreclosure.

Contact me for help getting started: Regina@ReginaWallace.com or 708-966-9065

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Hurricane Season Approaching — Are You Ready?

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Hurricane season 2013 is expected to be very severe. Here’s what you need to do to hurricane-proof your home and protect your family.

Get ready — it could be a wild year for hurricanes. Saturday, June 1, is the official start of the 2013 hurricane season, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says could be extremely active.

NOAA predicts seven to 11 hurricanes; a typical year has six.

Nobody wants to see another destructive Hurricane Sandy, but it makes sense to be as prepared as possible to protect your family and home. Here’s an overview and links to in-depth information to get you started.

Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

You should always have a home emergency kit in case you lose power and have to hunker down in your home for awhile. Items in a home emergency kit include:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • First aid supplies
  • Water and food
  • Sanitation and hygiene supplies
  • Radio
  • Cash

Get more details about what to put in your emergency kit here.

Pack a Grab-and-Go Bag

In case you have to evacuate quickly, having a pack-and-go bag will save you time and headaches. Include essentials such as:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
  • A change of clothes for each family member.
  • A back-up drive from your computer.
  • A copy of your home inventory.
  • A flash drive with copies of important documents such as insurance papers, birth certificates, deeds, tax returns, passports, and drivers’ licenses.
  • An inventory your home’s possessions.

Here’s a complete list of what to include in an emergency grab-and-go kit.

Make (or Update) a Home Inventory

If the worst should happen and your home is destroyed or severely damaged, you’ll have problems filing your claim if you don’t have a home inventory.

Having a checklist of items with serial numbers, brands, quantities, and estimated values will make the claim process much easier. You can get started by downloading a home inventory checklist here.

To be doubly sure, take pictures and/or videos of your possessions. Those photos will serve as proof to your insurance adjuster that you did possess those items.

Be sure to create duplicates of your checklist, photos, and videos to store online or in a safety deposit box — and as part of your grab-and-go bag.

More tips on creating a home inventory here.

Check Your Insurance for Adequate Coverage

Does your policy have any restrictions on wind and water damage? Many policies do. And almost all policies exclude damage resulting from floodwaters. If your home is in a high-risk area, you should probably consider flood insurance and check the price and availability of coverage for hurricanes, too.

We explain what’s covered, what isn’t — as well as pricing and eligibility — in these two articles:

Reinforce Your Garage Doors

Did you know that during a storm, garage doors are your home’s weakest spot? Because they are often flimsy and cover a large area, they are vulnerable to wind damage, which can result in water flooding your home.

There are two main options to hurricane-proof your garage doors:

  • Buy new hurricane-proof doors.
  • Install a door bracing kit.

Reinforce Your Windows 

Like garage doors, your windows are vulnerable. During a hurricane, winds coming in through broken windows can create dangerous pressure inside, causing walls and roofs to collapse.

There are several options for reinforcing your windows:

  • Putting up plywood.
  • Adding storm shutters.
  • Installing impact-resistant (hurricane-proof) windows.
  • Applying hurricane window film.

You can learn more about each of these options in this article: How to Hurricane-Proof Your Windows.

Reinforce Your Roof

Hurricane winds inflict an uplift effect on your roof that can pull off shingles, tiles, and even the roof sheathing. You can use roofing cement to strengthen your roofing shingles, or even hire a contractor to install hurricane clips or straps to secure your roof to your walls.

Learn how to hurricane-proof your roof here.

And Don’t Forget:

  • Check to see if your sump pump is working. Replace it if it isn’t.

Email me with your questions or comments – Regina@ReginaWallace.com

Is Your Mortgage Lender Treating You Right?

New mortgage rules favor you, the home owner. We explain the rules, plus give you tips to ensure your lender treats you fairly.

House on top of stack of money

Tired of getting the run-around from your mortgage lender or servicer? Starting Jan. 10, 2014, you’ll get consumer protections aimed at taming the worst habits mortgage lenders picked up during the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

But realize that you need to follow specific procedures to make the protections work for you.

Companies have to offer you good customer service and set up procedures to ensure employees do their jobs correctly. 

The fact that federal legislators put this in the law tells you a lot about how frustrated consumers have gotten with mortgage lenders and servicers.

Servicers (the companies that collect your mortgage payments on behalf of the lender or investor who owns your loan) are now officially required to set up their operations so that employees can actually find information about your loan, respond to your questions, and help you if you have a problem paying your mortgage.

The servicer has to answer your questions and respond to your mortgage problems and questions pretty quickly. 

How fast?

  • Within 5 days, it has to admit it got your letter.
  • It has 30 to 45 business days to fix an error, send you the info you need, or explain why it can’t do either of those things.

Tip: You have to report errors and ask for information in writing. Calling doesn’t trigger the protections, nor does jotting a note on the payment coupon. You have to write a letter and send it to the right address for complaints. Check your lender’s or servicer’s website for directions about where to send correspondence and keep copies of your letters for your records.

Looking to buy or sell your next home? I can help make it a smooth transaction!

Email me at: Regina@ReginaWallace.com

www.SearchChicagoHomesForSale.com

Tips for Home Buyers

6 Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Professional

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the sight of the numbers and paperwork involved in financing a home. However, your long-term fiscal success hinges on being aware and informed about a few key mortgage facts. Here are 6 questions every smart buyer (or refi-er) should ask their mortgage professional before they borrow:

1. Ask: Are you a bank, a broker, or both?

Why:

To Find Your Real Home Value

Working with a mortgage brokerage that is (or has) a bank could be a deal-saving move because they have more control over their appraisal process. When it comes down to appraisals the ability to designate a local appraiser that understand the neighborhood matters, especially if the property is in an area that hasn’t had many recent sales or is otherwise challenging to appraise.

sell straight to Fannie and Freddie often mirror the FHA minimum guidelines precisely.

A “Just in Case” Lending Net

Brokerages with their own in-house bank and a large roster of lenders and programs provide the advantage of offering a wider range of fallback options for financing than plain old banks or plain old brokerages – Plans A, B, C and D. It’s increasingly common that buyers first choice bank or loan program doesn’t work out, but with combination bank/brokerages, those buyers have a lot more options to help get the deal done.

Lower Downpayments and Easier Approvals
Some broker/banks that originate loans and sell them straight to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac offer the same benefits of an FHA loan – a low down payment and moderate qualification guidelines – without the restrictive “overlays” imposed by some larger banks. For example, FHA guidelines don’t impose a minimum credit score, but many banks overlay their own 640 minimum FICO requirement. Broker/banks that

2. Ask: Will you explain my Good Faith Estimate to me?

Why: The current, national standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE)
clarifies all sorts of deal points,
from the broker’s commissions to the costs associated with the loan. However, as a point of customer service, you should ask your mortgage professional to explain it to you in order to be safe.

Tips for Home Buyers

3. Ask: May I have a fee sheet or estimate of funds to close?

Why: The one shortfall of the latest edition of the GFE is, while it clearly shows the costs associated with a particular loan scenario, it does not always show so clearly the actual amount of funds you’ll need to close the transaction (which might be more or less than those costs)! Ask your mortgage representative to prepare a fee sheet or an estimate of funds to close as early in the transaction as possible.

4. Ask: How long will it take to close?

Why: The time it takes to close a mortgage, and consequently a home, can vary widely depending on the loan type, lender, and other factors.
When you first meet with your prospective mortgage pro, talk with them about these issues so they can help you understand and insert realistic time frames into your offer. This will help ensure you don’t loose your future home because a piece of the process took longer than you expected.

5. Ask: Are there any fees for the loan application/approval process?

Why: Some lenders charge for credit checks up front, and most require that you pay for your appraisal before you find and get into contract on your property. You need to know upfront how much cash you’ll need to get the loan approval ball rolling.
6. Ask: How long have you been originating loans with this company?

Why: When it comes to mortgage professionals, experience pays. Those who have been around for a long time have advance knowledge of troubleshooting, workarounds and backup plans. In addition, they know the current underwriting practices

to get a loan closed in this restrictive mortgage market.

 I would be happy to offer you a list of preferred lenders to get you started.

For help getting you pre-approved for a home loan email me at: Regina@ReginaWallace.com

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Finding the right financing and professional can take a lot of the hassle out of the mortgage and closing process. Ask these questions to be sure you’re making the right lending decision. Remember today’s loan can affect your budget for the next 30 years to come.

How the Mortgage Interest Deduction is Vital to Housing Market

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Having a tax deduction for mortgage interest makes owning a home more affordable because the deduction lowers the amount of tax you pay. U.S. Census data shows 37% of home owners with mortgages spend more than 30% of their income for housing. Paying less for housing means having more disposable income for savings and other household expenses.

Increasing housing affordability increases the number of renters who can afford to buy a home of their own responsibly; increasing the number of home buyers helps keep home prices stable for those who already own homes by ensuring a steady stream of new buyers.

How the deduction works

In general, any home owners who pay U.S. taxes and who itemize their taxes can deduct mortgage interest attributable to primary residence and second-home debt totaling $1 million, and interest paid on home equity debt of as much as $100,000.

Mortgage interest deduction threatened

In recent years, the mortgage interest deduction has come under attack. Among the suggestions for cutting it back to deal with the deficit:

* Reduce the mortgage interest deduction for upper-income taxpayers—they’d only receive 28 cents on the dollar, even if they’re in a 33% or 35% tax bracket and can now deduct 33 or 35 cents on the dollar.

* Reduce the $1 million cap by $100,000 a year.

* Change the mortgage interest deduction to a 15% tax credit.

In the past, members of Congress have suggested other mechanisms for eliminating or limiting the mortgage interest deduction. None of those has ever gained traction.

Now is a Great time to Buy, Sell or Invest in Real Estate! Ask me why….

Email me at Regina@ReginaWallace.com or visit my website at www.SearchChicagoHomesForSale.com

Fannie Mae Announces Eviction Moratorium for the Holidays

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Fannie Mae has announced recently that it will suspend evictions of foreclosed single family and 2-4 unit properties from December 19, 2012 through January 2, 2013. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families living in foreclosed properties will be allowed to remain in the home during this period.

“We’re taking this step in support of families who have faced financial challenges and gone through a foreclosure,” says Terry Edwards, executive vice president of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae. “The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year. We encourage homeowners having difficulty to reach out for help as soon as possible.”

Previously, Fannie Mae announced a temporary suspension of foreclosure sales and evictions [1] in areas designated for individual assistance by FEMA due to Hurricane Sandy. That 90-day suspension will last through February 1, 2013.

Homeowners can visit www.knowyouroptions.com [2] for resources on how to prevent foreclosure, including contact information for Fannie Mae’s 12 Mortgage Help Centers located across the country.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com [3]

How to Seal Out Drafts and Seal in Comfort

Seal air leaks around your windows and doors to prevent wasting precious home heating and cooling energy that costs you money.

Check for air leaks

With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement. Note what sources need caulk, sealant, and weather-stripping.

Seal air leaks around windows

If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up.

  • Bronze weatherstripping ($12 for 17 feet) lasts for decades but is time-consuming to install.
  • Self-stick plastic types are easy to put on but don’t last very long.
  • Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber ($8 for 10 feet) is a good compromise, rated to last at least 10 years.

Nifty gadgets called pulley seals ($9 a pair) block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames.

Seal air leaks around doors

Check for air leaks, and replace old door weatherstripping with new.

  • Foam-type tape has an adhesive backing; it’s inexpensive and easy to install. If it comes loose, reinforce it with staples.
  • Felt is either adhesive-backed or comes with flexible metal reinforcement. it must be tacked or glued into place. It’s cheap and easy to install, but it has low durability.
  • Tubular rubber, vinyl, and silicone weatherstripping is relatively expensive and tricky to install, but it provides an excellent seal. Some types come with a flange designed to fit into pre-cut grooves in the jambs of newer doors; check your existing weatherstripping and replace with a similar style.

Check exterior trim for any gaps between the trim and your door frames, and the trim and your siding. Caulk gaps with an exterior latex caulk ($5 for a 10-ounce tube).

Seal door bottoms

If a draft comes in at the bottom, check the condition of the threshold gasket. Replace worn gaskets. If you can see daylight under the door, you may need to install a new threshold with a taller gasket ($25 for a 36-inch door). Or, install a weather-resistant door sweep designed for exterior doors ($9). Door sweeps attach directly to the door and are easy to install.

Email Me To Discuss Your Real Estate Needs – Regina@ReginaWallace.com

It’s Time to Make Short Sales Shorter

New Fannie and Freddie rules and bipartisan bills aim to speed the short sale process, preventing more home owners from slipping into foreclosure and keeping the economy on its feet.

Why do short sales take so long to get approved?

Short sales languish on the market or fall through altogether even when a REALTOR® has a seller and a buyer lined up, because it can take months for short sales to work through a bank’s complicated bureaucracy.
Short sales can also be held up by second mortgage lenders or mortgage-backed securities investors that refuse to accept the deal even though the bank that has the first mortgage wants to do the deal.
Currently, it can take as long as nine months to approve a short sale. That’s too long to ask home buyers to wait for a response to their offer. Can you imagine putting in an offer on a house only to be told: “We’ll get back to you in nine months?”
“The current short sale process can be time-consuming and inefficient, and many would-be buyers end up walking away from a sale that could have saved a home owner from foreclosure,” said Moe Veissi, president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Short sale benefits
Not only does a short sale help the home owner get out of an unworkable situation, it helps the neighborhood: A short sale typically forces down surrounding home values less than a foreclosure does.
And lenders benefit, too. Foreclosures cost lenders more than short sales — they have to maintain those properties. That’s why banks are willing to do short sales at all.
Seeing Republicans and Democrats come together to offer solutions to speed up the housing recovery should give home owners hope. Although most of Washington remains paralyzed to act on most issues and both these bills are stalled, the housing economy should be one issue that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
Congress must realize that housing isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue — it’s a national issue.

Email: Regina@ReginaWallace.com for questions regarding a short sale purchase or sale.

Foreclosure Review Offers Big Payout, But Few are Asking for It

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Home owners who went through a foreclosure could get up to $125,000 if their mortgage servicer made mistakes. So why are so few asking for an independent foreclosure review?

There’s a big payout waiting for some of the 4.3 million home owners (and former home owners) whose mortgage servicers made mistakes during the foreclosure process or during a mortgage loan workout.

Thanks to a settlement between 14 mortgage servicers and the federal government, a home owner who was caught up in the foreclosure wave of 2009 and 2010 could receive up to $125,000.

The six-figure checks will go to home owners who were hurt the most, but even those who were only slightly harmed could get as much as $15,000 if an independent foreclosure reviewer finds in their favor.

The catch? You have to fill out a form to ask for an independent foreclosure review of your case.

Foreclosure review rules

The rules for who can ask for a foreclosure review are simple. These three things tell you whether you can get your foreclosure reviewed:

  • You sent mortgage payments to one of the 14 servicers that are part of the deal.
  • Your foreclosure was started, pending, or completed between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010.
  • Your troubled loan was for your primary residence and not a vacation or second home.

If you can answer yes to those three questions, call 888-952-9105 right now and ask them to send you the form to request a free foreclosure review. Worst-case scenario: You fill out yet another form and don’t get anything for your trouble.

Real Estate Needs? Email Regina at Regina@ReginaWallace.com

Home sellers more successful with Real Estate agent

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Some homeowners may have a strong preference for selling their own properties, but a new poll by HomeGain suggests having a real estate agents improves a person’s odds of offloading their home.

HomeGain is an online marketing solutions provider for real estate agents. The firm recently conducted a survey of 400 homeowners, asking them whether they attempted to sell their homes on their own or through an agent.

About 66% of homeowners who utilized the services of a Realtor, for example, managed to sell their home — while only 30% of those who attempted to sell their own properties were successful.

22% of those who attempted to list properties on their own eventually enlisted the help of a real estate agents. Of those homeowners, 55% were eventually able to sell.

The survey period ran from July 31 through Aug. 10.

CONTACT ME FOR HELP SELLING OR BUYING YOUR NEXT HOME:

Regina Wallace
Prospect Equities Infiniti
Orland Park | Homewood
Call or Text: (708) 966-9065
E-fax: 800-654-4904
Email: Regina@reginawallace.com
Website: http://www.searchchicagohomesforsale.com