Posts Tagged ‘Finance’


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For Santa Clara – San Mateo – South Alameda – Santa Cruz Counties.

2012 saw a continuation of 3 major trends which began in mid 2012:
o. As always, Up and Down movements start at the low end of the market and rise or fall till they include the whole price range.
o. Typically this is over a 2 to 3 year period, after which prices settle down to a 3 to 5% annual increase till the next Boom or Bust. This places us about half way through the current upward stage of the cycle.
o. This is mainly due to banks finally co-operating with the Federal Government sponsored Loan Modification programs i.e. HARP, HAMP, and HAFA. These programs are also allowing many current homeowners to refinance into much lower payments even when there is little or no equity in the home.
o. First time Buyers who thought they were priced out of the market in 2008 now find the reduced prices and Tax benefits make owning cheaper than renting, and are jumping on the home ownership wagon.
o. Multiple Federal Government supported low/no down payment loans i.e. FHA, V/A etc.
o. Multiple great 1st Time Buyer programs from the IRS (MCC), plus Santa Clara County, (MAP), and San Mateo County (HEART) 3% down payment programs.
o. A flood of Investors, both domestic and foreign, who see California Real Estate as a great investment when compared to more traditional options.
1. MOVING UP? (New baby, bigger house, better school district etc).
o. Excellent time in most situations. Get top dollar for your current home in strong Sellers Market, and a good deal buying into a more expensive property where it’s still more of a Buyer’s Market.
2. MOVING DOWN? (Kids all grown and gone, retirement, want smaller but closer to Grand children etc).
o. Good possibility of top dollar for current home in strong Sellers Market, and getting a good deal buying outside our market area where prices are seeing little if any improvement i.e. anywhere other than the Bay Area.
3. STAYING HERE? (No reason to move).
o. Nice to see home equity growing again. Get refinanced as soon as possible. Call for advice if needed.


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For borrowers unable to afford their mortgage payment, listed below are the options you will need to consider in the following order… HARP is always your 1st Option

1.) HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) this allows you to convert to a low 30Y Fixed. You must have a Fannie or Freddie loan with good credit and be current on your payments.

2.) HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) this is where most of the borrowers will be; however not everyone will qualify. You will need to have a financial hardship and there are front and back end financial conditions that need to be met.

3.) HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative) If you were denied a loan modification and unable to afford your mortgage payments, then you may want to consider selling your property at a loss (Short Sale). Your lender would first need to agree to the short sale and the credit impact will be two years and is less damaging then a foreclosure.

4.) Deed in Lieu (DIL). This is where you give the property back to the lender by signing a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure. This also avoids a Foreclosure. DIL is not possible if you have more than one loan i.e. 2nd mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit as these stay in force and the 1st mortgage holder would have to accept responsibility for them.

5.) Foreclosure. People with excellent credit are now foreclosing on their properties by walking away from it. They believe the property will not go up in value and have suffered a substantial loss from it. Consequences apply as this will stay on your credit report for 7 years.

6.) Bankruptcy. Regardless if it’s a Chapter 7 or 13, it will stay on your credit report for 10 years.
With the new Bankruptcy ACT of 2005 it is now more difficult to file for Chapter 7 and most likely you will need to file a 13, which still requires you to pay back your debts.

The Fed and the Crisis

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The Fed and the Crisis

For anyone wishing to understand what the Federal Reserve actually did, and will continue to do in dealing with our current financial problems, here is a link to a San Francisco Fed web site where you will find a goldmine of facts and commentary.

It’s a great resource dealing with the process of digging out of the hole and getting back on track.

Maybe one day they will do an equally good job on their failure to prevent all this from happening. As far as I can see they did not have the courage to take away the cookie jar when this Bubble was so obviously getting seriously inflated.

Turns out that Mr. Greenspan really let us down by failing to spell out what was happening, and take the risk of being unpopular with his Political Masters. Like many before him he seemed to buy into the “New Paradigm” myth. Remember that phrase during the run up to the Dot Com bust.

The True Meaning of “Sub-Prime”

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In the world of smoke and mirrors called “The Finance System” the word PRIME has two very different meanings.

One is PRIME RATE (the interest rate banks charge their best clients. Normally 3% above Fed Funds Rate.

The other is SUB-PRIME to describe a mortgage (SUB-PRIME MORTGAGE) that should never have made. Hence the “The Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis“.

In the real world occupied by most of us “Ordinary Folk” the term Sub-Prime should not be linked to a Mortgage; It actually refers to the Borrower of the Mortgage i.e. The person whose Credit, Income, and/or Cash for down payment is not good enough to get a ”Prime” Mortgage. Hereafter referred to as The Sub-Prime Borrower.

This person has always been with us. Until the unbridled greed and avarice of Banks and Wall St intervened with their “No Possible Homebuyer Left behind” programs these folks rented until such time as their financial situation allowed them to qualify for a sensible mortgage.

Let’s be clear on this. The Sub-Prime Mortgages were and are High Risk loans made to High Risk people. These loans could only be made if the Bank knew it could sell them on to a 3rd party before the inevitable late payments started. This way the Banks got their profit with effectively no responsibility for the future performance of the flakey loan.

It was effectively a game of “Pass the Parcel in a Bagdad Pub”.

By the time these loans started going bad they had spread throughout the Worlds Financial systems leading to the current situation so often referred to as the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis.

At the end of the day we have a large number of Banks and other Wall Street hot shots who  made enormous profits by selling what they all knew to be an unstable product to an undereducated public.

This is a recurring story in our history.

If you don’t want to become a victim of the next wave then you need to get educated in how the system really works before you meet the next Bernie Madoff.

For some thoughts on how you might do this check out my posts from 04/25/2008 “Kick Start the Kids”.

Who Might Buy “Toxic” Mortgages

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Major profits are going to be made by the big investors (including Governments) who buy the “Toxic” mortgage Bonds currently available at deep discounts from their original prices. Think of it this way:

These Bonds are each made up of hundreds, even thousands of individual mortgages such as yours and mine.

Currently only 7% of all mortgages in the U.S. are in default. Even assuming they all go to foreclosure the Lender still only loses a small percentage of the total mortgage value once the property has been resold. Let’s allow for a loss of 25% of the original value on 7% of all the mortgages in a given $20 million bond. That equates to a $350,000 loss.

For our purposes let’s say the interest rate on the Bond was 6%. That’s $100,000 per month income.

Now let’s see how buying this Bond in todays market will work out for the cash rich bottom fisher (or Government).

Purchase price of the $20 million Bond at 50% of book value = $10 million.

Note: This is way above the prices paid on the 1st Lehman Bro’s sales of similar assets.

Interest income is unchanged at $100,000 per month. The interest rate though is now 12% based on the $10 million invested.

Finally, let’s suppose our government is the the buyer, and they have promised to do everthing possible to help the 7% of homeowners who are struggling. Given a 12% effective rate on each mortgage they have plenty of scope to re-negotiate the loan into a much lower rate at which many troubled borrowers will be able to save their house.

Remember, Uncle Sam can borrow easily at rates less than half of that which will be earned. If the Treasury borrows $10 million at 5% and is able to earn 12% on it, and therefore help prevent large numbers of foreclosure, then I’m all for it..

This is a pretty simplistic example but hopefully the big big picture is clear.

As always comment are welcome.