March 23, 2009

Renters get foreclosure relief

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

It's every renter's worst nightmare: To move into a home or condominium with affordable rent only to find out that the owner has lost the property in foreclosure. The rent money and security deposit are gone, and chances are good that the bank that now owns the property will evict the tenant even if the rent has been paid.

Such sudden evictions have been on the rise due to the dramatic increase in home foreclosures across the U.S. But some tenants will have other options now that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have introduced new programs that let renters (and in Freddie Mac's case, former homeowners) continue to occupy the home after foreclosure.

Read on: http://beta.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/renters-get-foreclosure-relief-1.aspx

Government helps homeowners refinance

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

If you're looking for a way to refinance your mortgage, you might want to consider a loan that's backed by the Federal Housing Administration or, if you're a U.S. military veteran, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Loans backed by these two federal government agencies are especially attractive today because the loan amount limits have been raised, and some loan programs are open to homeowners who have little to no equity or imperfect credit.

Given those benefits, it's no surprise that government-backed loans have accounted for a much larger share of total loan applications. In the second half of last year, government-backed loans accounted for as much as 30 percent of the total loan applications submitted to lenders, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C., which has tracked that figure since January 1990. Compare that one-third share to the lowest share of government-backed loans on record -- 5.8 percent in August 2005 -- and it's clear that homebuyers and homeowners have taken a renewed interest in these loans

Read on: http://beta.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/government-helps-homeowners-refinance-1.aspx

Survival mode

Veterans reveal 12 ways to keep your business rocking in a rough market

By Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate

Though newer real estate agents may be understandably mystified by the challenges of today’s housing markets, longtime veterans have, quite literally, seen it all, and due to their decades of experience, they aren’t nearly as daunted as some of their newer and greener colleagues are.

“Real estate goes through cycles,” observes Annette Graw, a broker-associate with South Bay Brokers in Manhattan Beach, whose career dates back to 1974. “We go up and we go down. It’s nothing new.”

If this is your first—or steepest downturn—here are a dozen tips that veterans suggest could help you hang on until the market turns.

Read on: http://www.car.org/newsstand/crem/current-issue/march2009/survivalmode/

Real estate brokerages hit by bankruptcy, closures

Court records list hundreds of personal, corporate filings

By Marcie Geffner - Inman News

An increase in real estate business closures and bankruptcies is an inescapable reality of any housing market downturn, and this cycle has been no different from those past. Though there are no hard statistics that quantify the number of companies that have closed their doors, merged with their competitors or filed for bankruptcy court protection, there's no doubt that closures and bankruptcies are on the rise and that both large and small real estate companies have been involved.

A search of court records for real estate bankruptcies pulled up hundreds of records of personal and corporate filings, and seemingly no segment of the industry has been immune. The lengthy list of Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 filings included individual brokers, sales agents, independent companies, franchises, developers, homebuilders, mortgage brokers, property managers, time-share operators and more.

Read on: http://www.inman.com/news/2009/03/23/real-estate-brokerages-hit-bankruptcy-closures