Housing hints for President-elect Obama

By Marcie Geffner, INMAN NEWS
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama,

Strong housing markets and financially stable homeowners are crucial to the well-being of the U.S. economy. With that in mind, I hope you'll support policies that will strengthen the nation's housing markets and polish off the tarnish that clings to homeownership today.

Here are nine suggestions:

1. Create jobs. There is a plain and direct connection between employment and healthy housing markets. People who feel secure about their financial situation can form new households, get married, have children, buy homes and rent apartments. People who are out of work lose their homes and are forced to bunk in with their families and friends. The creation of more good high-paying jobs is the best way to strength the housing markets and national economy.

Read the rest of this story: http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/marciegeffner/housing-hints-president-elect-obama

Government offers Hope for Homeowners

New loan program allows homeowners to refinance mortgages
By Marcie Geffner - LendingTree.com
November 2, 2008

The federal government has introduced a new mortgage program for homeowners who are having difficulty making their mortgage payments. The program, called “Hope for Homeowners,” is another option for struggling homeowners who want to refinance their mortgage into a fixed-rate loan that they can afford.

The Hope for Homeowners program might be a good choice for you if:

● Your home is your primary and only residence.
● You don't own any other residential property.
● You obtained your mortgage on or before Jan. 1, 2008.
● You've made at least six payments on your mortgage.
● You're financially unable to make any future mortgage payments without help.
● As of March 2008, your monthly mortgage payment (including principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner's insurance) was more than 31 percent of your monthly income.

If you qualified for the Hope for Homeowners program, your original mortgage would be refinanced into a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate that would be negotiated between you and your new lender. The maximum amount of your new loan would be $550,440.

A key advantage of the Hope for Homeowners program is that your current lender must waive any prepayment penalties and late payment fees that you owe and forgive a portion of your existing mortgage.

For example, suppose your home were worth $100,000, but you owed $120,000 on your mortgage. Through the Hope for Homeowners program, you could get a new mortgage for $90,000, mortgage payments that you could afford and 10 percent equity in your property. Your current lender would write off the additional $30,000 that you owed.

There are a few tradeoffs: Your new loan would require mortgage insurance. You would have to share your initial equity and any future appreciation in your home's value with the government, which might give part of that amount back to your original lender to make up for the loss on your loan. And you wouldn't be allowed to take out a second mortgage for at least five years, except for necessary repairs to your home.

To get started, you can call your lender or loan servicer, contact a new lender of your choice that's approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or ask a housing counselor to help you work through the process. You can find a list of FHA-approved lenders at www.fha.gov, and you can find out more about the Hope for Homeowners program at www.hud.gov/hopeforhomeowners.

© 2008 LendingTree, LLC. This story, "Government offers Hope for Homeowners," is reprinted by the author with written permission of LendingTree, LLC.

Buyers rule autumn housing markets

By Marcie Geffner, Cyberhomes Contributor
November 04, 2008

No one likes to negotiate from a position of weakness. Yet that’s the challenge most home sellers faced in U.S. housing markets in September: More homes were for sale, prices were lower and homes remained on the market for months at a stretch before they were sold.

Yet just as one condo owner’s ceiling is another condo owner’s floor, those same market conditions added up to good news for home buyers. Competition, pricing pressure and delay worked in their favor.

Read the rest of this story: http://www.cyberhomes.com/content/news/08-11-04/Buyers_rule_autumn_housing_markets?ReturnURL=%2fcontent%2fnews%2f

Unemployment could knock out housing

By Marcie Geffner, Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First, subprime mortgages exploded and home prices crashed. Then, the financial markets fell apart. Will unemployment be the proverbial next shoe to drop on the already weakened U.S. housing markets? If so, the implications for real estate will be profound indeed.

Historically, employment and home sales have been inextricably linked: People who had good jobs with steady paychecks bought homes while people whose income wasn't reliable weren't given home loans. Strong employment was a good indicator of future home sales while rising unemployment was an equally sure sign of fewer home sales on the horizon.

Read the rest of this story: http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/marciegeffner/unemployment-could-knock-out-housing