How Soon Can We Buy After A Short Sale

(Courtesy of REALTOR.COM Ask Michele, Buy, Finance |  By: Michele Lerner)


QUESTION: We had to do a short sale on our home in Nevada last year, but now we have landed on our feet again and want to buy a home in our new location in Oregon. We have enough money saved up for a 20 percent down payment for a house we can afford. Is it possible for us to qualify for a mortgage?

ANSWER: It’s great that you landed on your feet and have been able to save money for a down payment on a new house. Your bigger down payment can be a compensating factor that some lenders will use to qualify you for a loan in spite of a negative credit profile that’s a likely result of the short sale.

Conventional loan guidelines established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say that you must wait two years after the closing date on your short sale to finance another home, if you have 20 percent for a down payment. You would have to wait longer if you had less cash for a down payment (four years with 10 percent and seven years with less than 10 percent). So if you want a conventional loan, you’ll need to wait another year.

FHA-insured loans are available with a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent after a three-year waiting period. Veterans Administration loans, which don’t require a down payment at all, are available after a two-year waiting period.

However, the FHA recently introduced a “Back to Work – Extenuating Circumstances” program to help the many people who lost their homes during the recent housing crisis and recession. You may qualify now for this program if you lost your home due to a job loss or a drop in income or both. This temporary loan program will be available for FHA loans issued between Aug.t 15, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2016.

To qualify, you’ll have to meet standard FHA guidelines for a loan approval and a mortgage lender’s requirements. Typically, this means that your credit score must be 620 or 640 and above and your debt-to-income ratio must be 41 percent to 43 percent or less.  You’ll be required to fully document your job history, income and assets.

In addition, the Back to Work program has other specific requirements. You must:

  • Participate in an FHA-approved housing counseling program.
  • Provide documentation for the “economic event” that caused the bankruptcy, which must have reduced your income by 20 percent or more for at least six months. In other words, you’ll need a W2 or tax returns or a termination letter.
  • Prove that you had good credit before the economic event damaged it.
  • Prove that you’ve fully recovered from the event by having a credit report without any late payments for at least 12 months on installment debt and without any major derogatory comments on revolving credit accounts. Your report cannot show any judgments or collections unless they’re related to medical bills or identity theft.

Consult a mortgage lender to see if you can qualify for this FHA program, but remember that FHA loans require mortgage insurance for at least 11 years, even if you make a down payment of 20 percent. You may want to consider asking a mortgage lender if any exceptions are possible for individuals who want to apply for a conventional loan after a short sale. If not, you should weigh the benefit of waiting one more year to buy a home rather than committing to years of mortgage insurance payments.

Home Sales Rebound for the Holidays, Inventory Shrinks

Sales volume rebounded for December, increasing 21.5% to 1,313 single family home sales. This is nearly an identical rebound from the 21.4% drop from October to November (1,375 sales down to 1,081 sales). This marks an increase in sales after four months of consecutive decline. Equity sale dominate the market, accounting for 87.5% of all sales (1,145 units). The remainder of sales comprised of 80 Short Sales (6.1%) and REO sales (6.7%). For the month, REO sales increased 26.4%, short sales decreased 1.6% and conventional sales decreased 1.4%.

Of the 1,313 sales this month, 202 used cash financing, 661 used conventional (mortgage‐backed) financing, 318 used FHA (Federal Housing Administration), 100 used VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and 32 used Other* types of financing. The average DOM (days on market) for homes sold this month was 41, while the Median DOM was 26. These numbers represent the days between the initial listing of the home as “active” and the day it goes “pending.” Breaking down the Days On Market, there were 709 listings that sold between 1 – 30 days, 287 listings that sold between 31 – 60 days, 160 between 61 – 90 days, 81 between 91 – 120 days and 76 sold after being on the market for over 120 days. See comparison of sales volume for 2013 and 2014 below.


The month‐to‐month median sales price increased 1.1% from $265,000 to $268,000. The current level is 7.2% above the $250,000 median sales price of December 2013. The current figure is up 67.5% from the January 2012 low of $160,000. When compared to the all‐time high ($392,750/Aug. ’08), the current figure is down 31.7%.n
Active Listing Inventory in Sacramento County decreased for the month, down 19.2% to 2,427 (from 3,002 listings). Compared year‐to‐year, the current number is up (32.2%) from the 2,836 units of December 2013. Following this drop, the current months of inventory decreased 35.7 % to 1.8 months.

MLS Statistics for December 2014

Home sales in a lull, median sales price stalls, inventory hovers over 3,400


Sales volume decreased for the third straight month, closing with 1,375 single family home sales. This is down 1.5% from the 1,396 homes sold last month. Month‐to‐month since July, sales have decreased 1,548 – 1,428 – 1,396 – 1,375, respectively. Compared with last year, the current figure is down .8% (1,386 sales). Making up this month’s total are 1,208 Equity Sales (87.9%), 83 Short Sales (6%) and 84 REO sales (6.1%). For the month, REO sales remained the same, short sales increased 17.6% and conventional sales decreased 1.1%.

Of the 1,375 sales this month, 256 used cash financing, 654 used conventional (mortgage‐backed) financing, 312 used FHA (Federal Housing Administration), 89 used VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and 64 used Other* types of financing. The average DOM (days on market) for homes sold this month was 37, while the Median DOM was 23. These numbers represent the days between the initial listing of the home as “active” and the day it goes “pending.” Breaking down the Days On Market, there were 816 listings that sold between 1 – 30 days, 293 listings that sold between 31 – 60 days, 148 between 61 – 90 days, 69 between 91 – 120 days and 49 sold after being on the market for over 120 days. This breakdown, as well as types of financing, is show in the graphic below.

October 2014 Housing Stat

The month‐to‐month median sales price decreased 1.1% from $275,000 to $272,000. The current level is 7.3% above the $253,500 median sales price of October 2013. The current figure is up 70% from the January 2012 low of $160,000. When compared to the all‐time high ($392,750/Aug. ’08), the current figure is down 30.1%.

Active Listing Inventory in Sacramento County decreased 2.7% for the month to 3,434 listings, down from the 3,529 listings of September. Year‐to‐year, the current number is up (29.1%) from the 2,659 units of October 2013. The months of inventory remained the same at 2.5 months.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Courtesy of*

Photo Courtesy of*

With severe drought conditions across large swatches of the west and pockets of the rest of the United States, many homeowners are looking for ways to conserve water on landscaping. But there’s no need to rip out your whole yard and replace it with gravel—unless you want to. There are plenty of other ways to create a drought-tolerant landscape while also creating a beautiful and functional space. And drought-tolerant landscaping not only saves water immediately, but will be more resilient against future droughts. Here are some ideas:
Take on manageable pieces
Identify your biggest areas of water consumption. Besides lawns, the biggest areas of water use tend to be rose gardens, summer vegetables and cut flower gardens. If you’re not ready to eliminate these areas entirely, figure out how you might want to reduce their size. A rose garden, for example, could be made into a smaller group of favorite bushes. Vegetables and cut flowers can go in containers or raised beds where you will have more control over how much water they get. Mix compost into soil for better moisture retention.

Make your lawn more water-efficient
If you want to keep a lawn, consider downsizing to a smaller swatch, picking a spot where you’ll get the most use, like a play area for kids. Find low water grasses for your area. Raise the blades on your lawn mower—keeping grass longer will reduce evaporation and promote deeper root growth. Leave clippings on the grass after mowing to help retain moisture and return nutrients to the soil–extra clippings can also be tossed on the compost pile. Aerate soil with a soil aerator tool to reduce runoff and help water absorb into the soil.

Or go lawn-free
Consider replacing your lawn with an alternate ground cover. Try ornamental grasses for interesting textures, low-growing flowering plants for seasonal color or edibles like low-growing herbs or strawberries. Some cities offer financial incentives for switching to a drought-tolerant landscape or for using gray water (reused water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances.) Check your area for opportunities.

Add more areas of low-water use
Replace a section of lawn with an outdoor seating area, a sandbox for kids or a raised bed with herbs. Create intrigue by laying down paths of flagstone, pavers, gravel, mulch or other porous material. Add new focal points like a porch swing, fire pit, or a patio. Instead of water-thirsty blooms, think of other ways to incorporate color with colorful perennials, planters, chairs or bright native grasses.

Optimize your sprinkler system
Inspect your sprinkler system for leaks, broken heads or misdirected heads that water driveways, sidewalks, or the street. Make sure the system runs early in the morning or late in the day. Consider a “smart” system that will monitor the soil and automatically adjust watering as necessary. Try watering less frequently or for shorter periods. When reducing your irrigation, make changes gradually, so plants and trees have time to adjust.

Water smartly
If you have plants with high water needs, plant them together. Use a drip irrigation system or soaker hose to minimize run off and evaporation. Watering deeply and infrequently encourages deeper roots and more resilient plants. Take advantage of natural sources of water by putting in plants next to paths, driveways and other spots where water run off naturally occurs. Direct eave spouts into raised beds or other planted areas and consider using rainbarrels to collect rain water.

Go native
Native plants are a great choice for drought-tolerant landscaping because they won’t need much (if any) watering once established. Over time native plants have developed a natural resistance to pests and won’t require added chemicals and special care. For ideas on good native plants for your area, ask at a local nursery, look on the EPA’s listing of native and regionally appropriate plants, or contact your local extension office.

Plant smartly

Shrubs, perennials, bulbs and trees use less water than most annuals and lawns and well-established plants use less water than newly-planted ones. Evergreens and other trees are also a good choice—they’re drought-resistant and offer shade that helps retain moisture in the rest of the yard. Cover steep areas with deep-rooted native ground covers and/or shrubs to discourage water run-off and erosion. Mulching is essential—it helps soil retain moisture and keeps weeds at bay. Use organic mulch like bark, cocoa husks, or pine needles that decompose and nourish the soil. Layer mulch about three inches deep and replace as necessary.

And don’t worry too much about the pool
New research indicates that pools use only about as much water as a lawn of the same size. And covering a pool will cut water use by 50-70 percent, making a covered pool about equal in water use to drought-tolerant landscaping.


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Tackling Tricky Cleaning Jobs: 7 Jobs Just Got Easier

clean house funnyThere are a few tricky cleaning jobs universally dreaded for being time-consuming, hard, or just plain confusing. How are you supposed to clean off a ceiling fan without getting dust all over the house and your head? How do you clean a fireplace without creating an indoor dust cloud? The tips below won’t make any of these jobs fun, exactly, but they will make them quicker, easier, and maybe even tolerable.



Ceiling FanCeiling Fans
Put a drop cloth or old sheet on the floor and furniture over an area about twice the radius of the fan blades. If you want to keep your hair dust-free, pop on a hat as well. Use an old pillowcase to dust blades, sliding the case around the blade so the dust falls into the case. Make a second pass over each blade with a new pillowcase, this time spraying each blade first with a cleanser (a spray bottle of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar works too.) Hop on a sturdy chair or ladder and wipe around the rest of the fixture with a dust cloth or use a long handled micro-fiber duster.

To clean the interior, first take everything out the fridge. Remove shelves, bins, and drawers and wash in warm soapy water (don’t plunge cold glass shelves directly into hot water because they might shatter). Wipe down interior with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water. For extra cleaning power, let mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping off. Use a plastic–not steel wool–scouring pad for stuck-on food and spills. Clean seals with a baking soda paste or undiluted hydrogen peroxide, getting into crevices with cotton swabs. While interior parts are drying, wipe down jars and containers, removing drips and spills. Check expiration dates and toss any out-of-date items. Follow the same procedures for the freezer, adding a plastic scraper to remove frozen-on ice or food.




refrigerator interiorRefrigerator—Exterior
For the exterior of the fridge, wipe down the outside surfaces with soft cloth and a gentle cleaner. Use a toothbrush or plastic scouring pad for grime on handles. Unplug the fridge to clean the condenser and coils. Remove the trim panel from below the door (you may need to unscrew it.) Vacuum or dust the panel, or if it’s plastic, soak it in warm soapy water to loosen dirt. Using the brush or crevice attachment, gently vacuum dust from coils and condenser. You might need to move the unit away from a wall to get at the back. When you put it back, make sure to leave enough space between coils and wall so the unit can run efficiently.


Make a first pass over the boards with a dust mop, vacuum or a dusting cloth. If there’s leftover grime, wipe down with damp cloth and mild detergent. Use wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. Try a cotton swab to get at intricate designs and corners. Touch up scuffs and scrapes with a bit of matching paint. Finish off by wiping down clean, dry baseboards with dryer sheets to repel future dust.

Prepare for the job by donning old clothes and a pair of gloves. Cover the area around the fireplace with old sheets or newspaper. Remove grate and andirons and put outside on a tarp. Put a handful or two of used coffee grounds into the ashes to minimize flyaways, then shovel out the old ashes and put in a double-bagged trash can. Use the fireplace brush to sweep up remaining ashes. You can scrub the inside further by scraping with a wire grill brush and a fireplace cleaner, if desired. Clean the andirons and grate with the wire brush and a hearth cleaner or a paste of baking soda and warm water. Let everything dry thoroughly before putting back in.

Grout can be a challenge to clean because it’s porous and often light-colored. To clean, you will need a cleaning agent and a scrubbing tool, like a scrub brush or toothbrush. Use a baking soda and hydrogen dioxide paste, a half and half solution of white vinegar and water or a mix of oxygen bleach and warm water. Spray or apply the solution to the grout and let sit for about 20 minutes. Scrub the grout, reapplying the solution for tougher stains. For mold that won’t come off, you can use a chlorine bleach spray, but the bleach will weaken the grout over time. To maintain your grout and delay another deep cleaning, spray weekly with vinegar and wipe clean.

Gentle vacuuming with a brush attachment works for all types of blinds, including cloth, wooden, and metal/vinyl blinds. Close the blinds so they’re fully extended and brush each slat individually, working downward. Swivel the slats to do the other side, again moving downward. You can also dust with a micro-fiber cloth or a duster. Again, you have to go over each slat, front and back. For dingy vinyl and metal blinds, make a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water and go over each slat with a dampened cloth or, for more flexibility, an old sock turned inside out and worn on your hand. Cloth blinds can be spot treated with a damp cloth and a bit of dishwashing liquid. You can cut down on scrubbing time by removing metal and vinyl blinds and taking them to the bathtub or outside to hose them down, then scrubbing with warm soapy water, but you run a greater risk of bending or breaking the blinds. Make sure the blinds are fully dry before rehanging.

6 Things Homebuyers Should Avoid Once They are Preapproved for a Mortgage

black couple loan approved

You have done the hard part in the home-buying process and chosen a lender and a real estate agent to work with. You have also gone out and found the home of your dreams! Best of all, your team has done a great job of negotiating the best deal for you.

Now, as a buyer, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your loan to close … right? Wrong!!

Getting a home loan these days is a very interactive process. I am always amazed by how many clients I work with who come to me unaware of all the pitfalls they face during the loan process. To help avoid any surprises while waiting for final approval, I provide my clients with a short list of “do’s and don’ts” to follow.

Let’s start with the “do’s” …

  1. Do keep the process moving by responding to your loan officers’ requests for documentation as soon as possible.
  2. Do make decisions as soon as is reasonably possible.
  3. Do convey questions or concerns you
  4. Do continue to make all of your rent or mortgage payments on time.
  5. Do stay current on all other existing accounts.
  6. Do continue to work your normal work schedule with no unplanned time off.
  7. Do continue to use your credit as normal.
  8. Do be prepared to explain any large deposits in your bank accounts.
  9. Do enjoy purchasing your home but remain objective throughout the process to help make decisions that are best for you.

After you have been preapproved for your mortgage you will want to refrain from the following…

  1. Do not make any major purchases (car, boat, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
  2. Do not apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved or “xxx days same as cash”).
  3. Do not pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer to do so).
  4. Do not make any changes to your credit profile.
  5. Do not change bank accounts.
  6. Do not make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around from one account to another.

Follow these simple rules and you will help to make your loan closing as smooth and hassle-free as possible! Good luck!

Buyers: How High Should You Go? Creating the perfect real estate purchase offer

How Much is Too Much?

How Much is Too Much?

Deciding how much to offer a seller for a home you’d love to own is rarely easy. Ideally, your offer price should not be above what you think the property is worth or what you can afford, but tempting enough to the seller that he can’t refuse to accept.

Arriving at that perfect offer price is harder in some markets than others, and it depends on a lot of factors that are beyond your control. For example, in buyers’ markets where there is a lot of inventory, you may find more realistic sellers who understand that they need to be flexible if they want to sell. In sellers’ markets where there are more buyers than sellers, you may have no choice but to offer more than the asking price if you hope to be the successful bidder.

The first step to arriving at an effective offer price is to find out how much properties similar to the one you’re interested in have been selling for recently. Look at the relationship between the list and sale prices of each listing. Did they sell for more or less than the asking price? How long did it take them to sell? Your real estate agent can provide you with this information. Ask for a Comparative or Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) for the listing in question.

Then ask your agent to talk to the listing agent and find out how much attention the listing is receiving. Are there any other buyers serious about writing offers? If so, you’ll have to offer more than you will if there is no other serious interest.

How much you need to offer to pique the seller’s interest will depend a lot on how long the listing has been on the market. A seller may snub a less-than-asking-price offer if the listing is new on the market. However, if the listing is weeks old and there are plenty of new listings coming on the market each week, you may be successful with an offer for less than asking.

How much a seller will negotiate usually depends on several factors: how long the property has been on the market, whether the seller is motivated (that is, he really needs rather than just wants to sell) and how realistic the seller is about the current value of his home.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: You can save yourself a lot of time and aggravation by asking your agent to have a heart-to-heart talk with the listing agent before you make an offer, particularly if you intend to offer significantly less than the list price. If the seller is adamant about his price, and there are plenty of other similar listings on the market, devote your energies to a seller who is willing to sell at market value.

Some buyers wonder if they should pay over asking in a strong market that could lose steam over the next year as interest rates rise. That depends on how the listing is priced. If it’s priced below market value, it could attract multiple offers. If the property will suit your long-term needs, it may be reasonable to pay more than the list price as long as it’s not more than you can afford now and for the long term. You won’t lose money unless you have to sell during a down market.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate if you’re not in competition. Some motivated sellers still can’t resist trying for a higher price. Several rounds of counteroffers back and forth could bring about a successful conclusion.

THE CLOSING: But, promise yourself to walk away if the seller doesn’t see the light.


(Article courtesy of “ClientDirect – by By Dian Hymer)