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Beware Of Loan Scams

by Samia S. Morgan

If you are planning on purchasing a new home or even refinancing your home you may find all the options for financing confusing. Every year, misinformed homebuyers, often first-time purchasers or seniors, become victims of predatory lending or loan fraud. Even if you have been thru the loan process before it can be easy to fall victim to a loan scam. While most lenders are professional and legitimate, there are predatory lenders who are willing to take advantage if you are not a smart consumer.  Unfortunately with the current economomic status and the availability of loans more difficult, loan scams are on the rise.  Below are some tips to help you from being a victim.

Avoid Being A Victim

  • Shop for a lender and compare costs. Be suspicious if anyone tries to steer you to just one lender.
  • Avoid Unsolicited phone calls. Be wary of any phone call offering remarkably low interest rates on loans, especially if you have registered your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry. Most major nationwide lenders do not solicit business over the phone. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you are absolutely sure who you are speaking with.
  • Be informed. Research and get information about the prices of other homes in the neighborhood. Don't be fooled into paying too much.
  • Shop for a lender and compare costs. Be suspicious if anyone tries to steer you to just one lender.
  • Never sign a blank document or a document containing blanks. If information is inserted by someone else after you have signed, you may still be bound to the terms of the contract. Insert "N/A" (i.e., not applicable) or cross through any blanks. If the terms aren't what you'd agreed on, do not sign the document.
  • Avoid bad credit mortgage rates when looking for a loan.
  • Many loan scammers use high pressure sales tactics, so if you feel pressured or uncomfortable in anyway, never sign anything. It is a good idea to contact a real estate lawyer if in doubt to review the documents. If the company is legit, they should have no objection to a lawyer looking over the loan agreements before you will sign them.

Warning Signs

  • Do business with reputable companies, stay away from unsolicited calls, e-mails or letters offering you a loan.
  • Never do business with anyone who asks for money to be sent in advance to cover "processing", "application", "insurance", or the "first month's payment". Legitimate lenders never ask for these things to be paid before a loan is disbursed.
  • Requests that you "wire" or "send" money, as soon as possible to a large U.S. city or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria, by Western Union, Moneygram, or similar means.

What To Do If You Think You Have Been Scammed?

If you feel that you have been scammed or the company you have been in touch with is suspicious, contact the below agencies.

  • The FTC
  • The FBI
  • File fraud alerts with each of the three credit bureaus. This is important if you have provided the scammers with your sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number and information on your driver's license. They can use this to obtain credit in your name.

For more tips to help you be an educated consumer and to avoid loan scams, visit the US HUD website for more information

Becoming A Homeowner

by Samia S. Morgan

The current buyers market is perfect for purchasing a home. With historically low interest rates, first time homebuyer credits and low home prices, many potential homebuyers are making the leap into homeownership.  Purchasing a home is a big step, so how do you know if you are ready to take that leap and become a homeowner? Below are some things that you can consider when making the decision

  • If you can create a workable budget and are able to stick to it, you are on the right track. Managing your finances is the major first step in becoming a homeowner, especially in a difficult economy that can be financially challenging.  Having good money-management skills are a must-have so that when you do own a home you will be able to have a smooth financial flow for monthly home expenses.
  • If you have a sizable down payment of at least 20%, you are on the right path. While this is a large amount of money to come up with it is important to have as you will start out with having some equity. There are options out there for zero or low money down loans but if you have to sell your home before you expect you can potentially loose money and you will also need to pay for PMI (priviate mortage insurance).
  • It is important to have a steady source of income. Of course in a recession there is no real thing as job security but when you buy a home you are going to be required to have a reliable source of income to cover not only mortgage payments but all the other monthly and unexpected expenses that come along with homeownership. It is important to look at how stable your source of income is as well as having an emergency savings fund where you will have enough funds to cover these expense in case of a loss of a job or other emergency.
  • Your debt and credit are clean. Having a good credit score will help to not only get a home loan but will also get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Hold off on any large purchases such as cars before applying for a loan as this could effect your rating. Also review your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com before even applying for the loan to check for any errors.
  • You are ready for the responsibility. In addition to the financial aspect of homeownership, you need to be sure you are ready for the other things that come along. Things like lawn care, upkeep as well as unexpected repairs need to be considered as part of owing a home. 

Real Estate Pulse - Short Sales

by Samia S. Morgan

Interview with Samia Morgan regarding Short Sales

 

New Changes Announced From FHA

by Samia S. Morgan

A new set of changes have been announced from The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in regards to their home loan program. These new changes are aimed to strengthen the FHA’s capital reserves, while enabling the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to provide access to homeownership for underserved communities. The agency hopes that these changes will help the FHA in a better position to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.

With the rising defaults on FHA loans, the FHA’s cash reserves are falling below federally mandated levels.  FHA officials hope that policy changes will ensure borrowers have a stronger equity position and are less likely to default.

Some of the specifics with the new policy changes include:

Raising the up-front mortgage insurance premium: The premium will rise to 2.25 percent from its current 1.75 percent.  HUD is expected to release a Mortgagee Letter on Jan. 21 making the premium increase effective in the spring.

Raising the minimum credit score requirements: New borrowers will be required to have a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for the FHA’s 3.5 percent down payment program.  New borrowers with less than a 580 FICO score will be required to put down at least 10 percent.  FHA expects this to take effect in early summer after it goes through the normal regulatory process.

Reduce allowable seller concessions:  The agency is lowering the maximum permissible level to 3 percent from its current 6 percent limit.  FHA expects this to take effect in early summer after it goes through the normal regulatory process.

In addition to the proposed changes,the FHA is continuing to review its overall response to housing market conditions, and continuing to evaluate its mortgage insurance underwriting standards and its measures to help distressed and underwater borrowers through FHA/HAMP and other FHA initiatives going forward.

Maximizing Your Home’s Sales Potential Through Staging

by Nancy Linebarier - Stager & Feng Shui Consultant

Habitat Enhancements

Nancy Linebarier
Stager/Designer

Maximizing Your Home’s Sales Potential Through Staging

In today’s challenging market conditions, most Real Estate professionals and savvy sellers recognize the importance of Staging and properly preparing a property for sale.

In order to maximize your homes sales potential there are several very important things for you to consider:

Whether you are selling a $300,000 starter home or a $3,000,000 executive estate it is critical that your home captures the interest of your targeted market One of the most important things to accomplish this is for your buying demographic to see your property in the best possible light

• Staged homes will generally command top dollar
• Staging of your home highlights the more positive and sought after aspects of a home and softens and diverts attention from the less desirable aspects
• Staged homes will generally sell faster and spend fewer days on the market .
• Staged homes increase the likelihood of generating multiple offers even in today’s challenging market conditions.

Remember; “You only have one chance to make a good first impression”.

In follow up articles I will go into detail on how to implement a successful stage.

Nancy Linebarier
Interior Designer and Stager
Feng Shui Consultant
Habitat Enhancements
Email Me 

Author and Business are endorsed by Samia Realty Group
Move2CA - our website
San Francisco Bay Area Home Search  - find San Francisco Bay Area properties for sale
What’s Your San Mateo - San Francisco Bay Area Home Worth? - get current market information for your San Francisco Bay Area home

Meet Andy Block - Mortgage Advisor

by Samia S. Morgan

Andy Block of Opes Advisors is welcomed as a contributor to Samia Realty Group Blog for San Mateo County and the Bay Area.

 

Opes Advisors is licensed as a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is licensed as a Residential Mortgage Lender by the CA Dept of Real Estate.

 

Author and Business are endorsed by Samia Realty Group
Move2CA - our website
San Francisco Bay Area Home Search  - find San Francisco Bay Area properties for sale
What’s Your San Mateo - San Francisco Bay Area Home Worth? - get current market information for your San Francisco Bay Area home

Cutting Your Property Tax

by Samia S. Morgan

Being a homeowner comes with many expenses, one large one being property taxes. There are some ways you can your property tax bill, one being a propery reassessment.

Property taxes are typically calculated based on an official assessment of your home’s value. Because the value of many home's have dropped in the last few years, you can challenge what the value of your home is currently valued at and thus reduce your tax by hundreds of dollars. Even before you seek an assessment, it is a good idea to check your records to make sure there are no mistakes. Simple typos and incorrect information can cause homeowners to be.

With the current economic crisis, many counties are raising property taxes in an attempt to balance their fiscal budgets and reduce their deficits. According to a survey by the National Association of Counties, a group that represents county governments.property taxes, about 18% of counties whose fiscal year begins between January and June increased property taxes to address revenue shortfalls.

Whether you are planning to sell your home in the near future or are planning to stay for a few more years, it is worth trying to get a reassessment. Keep in mind that if you can reduce your taxes, it will be a great selling tool.

Mortgage Outlook for 2010

by Andy Block - Mortgage Advisor

For the moment we are in a very sweet – but temporary – spot as we have low mortgage and short term rates, a growing economy and have been shielded from inflation. As we stand in this temporary sweet spot, we expect the first half of the year to be the best period for selling or purchasing homes.

With the weak recovery and high unemployment, we don't anticipate big interest rate moves from the Fed during 2010, though we anticipate the quantitative easing will end. This suggests mortgage rates will be under pressure to rise when Fed buying ceases.

Consumer spending has been coming in positive relative to the depressed levels of late 2008, but not overly strong given the depths of the recent recession. Much of that slower growth in spending is due to the excesses of the years prior to 2008 when consumers were regularly using mortgage equity withdrawals to boost their spending. As you all know, that is greatly curtailed in today's mortgage market.

Unemployment will be staying much higher than we've been used to in the last decade, with increased globalization continuing to keep pressure on wages and job opportunities in this country.

We anticipate the equity markets will have another positive year, though more in the high single digits than the 20%+ markets of 2009. Equity valuations are reasonable given the level of interest rates, but not downright cheap as they were in March 2009 given what subsequently happened in the economy. Wall Street has formed a fairly solid consensus that corporate earnings will spike upward in 2010 by 35% (banks won't be writing off as much while other companies show better growth), but much of that rise has already been priced into today's markets.

The biggest wild cards out there are housing and the government. Banks are sitting on lots of foreclosed properties; if that supply comes on too quickly, the drop in housing inventories we have seen could reverse quickly and bring on another step down in housing prices. The government has been in full blown stimulus mode, and will soon have to back off the accelerator. That transition will have big implications for how interest rates and the economy will perform in the upcoming 12 months.

Regardless of the market landscape, our focus and offer remains the same: to lead clients as they plan, invest and finance for the futures they want to make happen.

Please call me to discuss specific situations or to review what actions to be in to meet both lifestyle and financial goals.

Andy Block - Mortgage Advisor & Financial Advisor
Opes Advisors

Email Me

Direct: 650.931.0605
Fax: 650.931.0601

License #01096311
400 S. El Camino Real
Suite 250
San Mateo, CA 94402
Fax 650.931.0601


Opes Advisors is licensed as a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is licensed as a Residential Mortgage Lender by the CA Dept of Real Estate.

 

 

Author and Business are endorsed by Samia Realty Group
Move2CA - our website
San Francisco Bay Area Home Search  - find San Francisco Bay Area properties for sale
What’s Your San Mateo - San Francisco Bay Area Home Worth? - get current market information for your San Francisco Bay Area home

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

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Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633