Archive for the ‘Financing’ Category

Tucson Real Estate Market Ripe for Purchasing

Monday, November 24th, 2014

After years of downturn, Tucson is beginning to come out of the morass which was the real estate market. 2015 is projected to be a year when the market should appreciate at a normal rate. Most of the foreclosures and short sales will have been sold or auctioned off.

But, we still are influenced by those buyers from other parts of the country who live in judicial foreclosure states. They are about three years behind Arizona and distressed inventory is weighing down their markets.

Potential buyers from those states who are considering a move to Tucson may be hemmed in by lower prices just as we were three years ago and therefore be unable to purchase now.

The average price of a home in Tucson went from $202,342 in December 2013 to $210,454 in October this year.

The median price rose a bit more than 4% from $159,900 to $166,500. Sales statistics are a lagging indicator since they are one month in arrears. The numbers for December 2013 reflect what transpired in November since closing takes approximately 30 days. Seasonal adjustments must also be considered, the normal drop off in sales during the winter holidays when people are celebrating and not thinking about selling their home.

Banks are talking about raising rates and if that happens, buyers may come out of the woodwork to take advantage of their ability to buy more home for the same amount of money. Housing prices have not escalated considerably and the market generally has been quiet.

If you are thinking about purchasing a new home, this is the time. Builders have inventory on hand and especially with spec homes, buyers can take advantage of incentives which include lower interest rates for the loan life. Call me and we can discuss what is out there and where it is located in proximity to your lifestyle. And take advantage of 2014 fiscal year tax deductions.

Why Continuing Education Beyond That Mandated By The State?…

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Why should you, the buyer or seller, care about the level of continuing education your Realtor® has, and whether he/she continues to take classes beyond the mandatory continuing education requirements for license renewal?

The real estate industry is constantly changing.  Short sales and foreclosures on the market brought new designations: SFR, the National Association of Realtors® designation for Short Sales, Foreclosure Real Estate, and the CDPE which stands for Certified Distressed Property Expert, and now the new classes designed for Investors in Distressed Properties.

Working with distressed buyers demands an entirely new set of skills and requires considerable paperwork which the lender, (or sometimes lenders), need to make a decision whether a short sale is granted.

Essentially this paperwork is a prerequisite for the bank to ascertain whether mortgage fraud may be involved.  Mortgage fraud, if litigated and proven, carries prison terms as well as fines for all participants.

No agent wants to subject himself/herself to possible prison terms nor do they want to subject their seller to such conditions.  Sometimes a seller genuinely does not understand that hiding assets is not protocol!

Financing is another area where the Realtor® who has additional education can make a transaction work where a Realtor® who does not understand the nuances of financing will let the potential transaction go by the boards…only because he/she doesn’t know how to structure the transaction.

With the changes which have occurred in obtaining a mortgage, many people cannot now qualify because of credit issues.

A Realtor® who has information about credit repair can pass the name of a good credit repair person on to his/her client.  Often credit can be repaired in a short time which will put the buyer in the driver’s seat to purchase a home within six months.

A knowledgeable Realtor® has knowledge far beyond the types and prices of homes on the market.  He/she spends time and money on continuing education in order to serve clients best.

Look for a Realtor® who has continuing education beyond what is required by the state.  Check the state database of the Real Estate Commission to see what types of classes your agent has taken and when.  Look for advanced designations such as GRI, CCIM, CRS, SRES, ABR, the most rigorous of which is the CRS or CCIM, the latter of which is for commercial properties.

Marshall Vest sees housing continuing to improve slowly…2014 year of expansion…

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The economy is expanding, real Gross Domestic Product is up but the economy is facing some headwinds which include housing, the public sector, and the lack of mobility, said Marshall Vest,  Director of the Economic and Business Research Center at the Eller College of Business, University of Arizona.  Vest spoke Thursday at the Tucson Association of Realtors Summit.

Vest sees 2011 to 2013 as continuing to be economically better, but that expansion of the economy will not begin until 2014.  Credit is still shrinking despite fiscal and monetary policy which are at “full throttle” .   The housing and public sector will be a drag on the economy which will impact growth, and mobility rates are at a 60 year low.

On the brighter side, the economy has registered six quarters of positive growth and the GDP numbers being released today (January 28) should show growth in the 3 1/2% range.  It is anticipated the growth during the fist quarter of this year will be in the 4 1/2% range, Vest said.  (Numbers released this morning show a 3.2% GDP growth rate for the last quarter of 2010-see report in Resources below.)

Corporate profits are high and business is thinking about hiring which should ameliorate the jobs condition somewhat.

Household credit continues to decline and consumer confidence is positive compared to the last few years, “up over five full points at 60” which is still a recessionary level.   Consumers remain concerned about the value of houses and are cautious and business is still uncertain about taxes, financial regulations being considered by Congress, health care costs,  and weak demand.

Arizona has “an enormous inventory of vacant houses”, 130,000 or 4.9% of  housing when the normal vacancy is 1.5%.  The credit squeeze and the inability of people to sell houses in other areas impacts Arizona.   Half of the migrants to Arizona are from California, and California has been hard hit by economic conditions.  Vest said half of all Arizona homeowners are “upside down” .

Housing is “bumping along the bottom”; the tax credit has ended, building permits are down as are existing homes sales, home prices are down, and although foreclosures show a 4% decline from 2009, they are still high. Comparing 2005 to today, building permits are 2,000 verses 12,000; existing home sales are at an annual rate of 10,500 compared to 19,000 in 2005, and the median price in Tucson is now $140,000 and $120,000 in Phoenix.

Tomorrow: More of Marshall Vest


GDP Report January 28, 2010

It’s True, Numbers Don’t Lie…Prices are Going UP!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

A contrarian doesn’t wait until national magazines and newspapers let the world know prices are on the way up.

Trend analysis is the tool used and is important for those people who want to “get in on the ground floor”.   The buy low, sell high mentality can’t wait for Time or Newsweek to announce home prices are up; by that time, the floor has risen considerably.

Sheer logic tells us this is true, think about the lead time needed for a reporter to first  realize prices are on the way up, then gather information to substantiate the claim, write the story, then the editor has to decide if this is a cover story or not…which may be a few more weeks.  Just as I am purveying this information after the fact, since prices are already on the way up, I too am late to the party!

Tucson Multiple Listing information for December 2010 shows that prices are up 3.13% from an average sales price of $180,736 in November to $186,399 in December.  The average list price of a home is up 3.04% from November, or from $191,637 to $197,457.

The median sales price remained approximately the same between November and December with a .29% decrease from $139,900 in November to $139,500 in December.

Although the total number of homes under contract in December decreased 7.37% from 1900 in November to 1760 in December, traditionally the months of November and December see fewer people putting offers on homes because of the Thanksgiving – Christmas holidays.

Yet the total sales volume rose 16.93%, an impressive amount, from $144,588,779 in November to $169,063,508 in December.  This represents an increase of 13.38% in total units sold within the Tucson Multiple Listing area, from 800 in November to 907 in December.

The holidays also see fewer people listing their homes.  Many wait until January, beginning the new year with new intentions, having put the holidays behind.  December new listings decreased 25.63% to 1,071 from 1,440 in November.   This brought the number of active listings in the Tucson Multiple Listing Service area down to 6,859 in December, which is a decrease of 7.99% over November.

New home construction prices are also on the rise.   In one subdivision I visited this weekend, prices on one model have had two increases in pricing within the last month.

Tomorrow we look at the various areas in Tucson and where the most homes are being sold…later this week we will revisit the numbers of short sales and foreclosures in the various areas.

Another Way to Look at Financing…

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Pay attention to Ben Bernake’s words and what the Fed is going to do if you are thinking about purchasing a home.

Why? you ask. What does the Fed have to do with my buying a home in Tucson Arizona?

The Fed determines the monetary supply and if we are in for inflationary ride, you may be wise to consider not paying all cash for your property but rather instead take a loan putting 20% down because you will be paying off that 30 year loan with cheaper dollars.

If you can get 4.75% or 5% money, and if we run into inflation in a few years, you still have 80% of that amount you originally were going to use to pay cash for a house, squirreled away and now you can hopefully put it into an investment where you will make more than 5%. And to boot, you will have the interest deduction.

History illustrates that inflation is always with us. Think about ten years ago and the price of an automobile, the price of a pound of hamburger, and the price of home. What are the percentage increases? And yes, it’s true you have had increases in your own paycheck, but that kept you even with inflation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics at it’s website :

has a calculator which will calculate the dollar value in terms of today’s dollar. It’s fun (and frightening) to play with it to see how much of your dollar has been eroded by inflation over the years. $1.00 in 1942, the year I was born, is equal to $13.32 today. $1.00 in 1964 when my daughter was born is now equal to $7.04, and that same $1.00 in 1968 when my son was born is now equal to $6.27.

Humor me with this little exercise. In 2000, you hypothetically purchased a property for $200,000 and financed the entire property at 5% interest for 30 years.
The monthly payment would have been $1,073.64 principle and interest only.

Now, ten years later, the inflationary index (using the calculator) places that home’s value at $253,556.33 in dollars today, and that same $1,073.64 principle and interest payment with inflation is equal to $1361.14 in today’s dollars. That is a 21% increase in 10 years.

So if Bernake wants to curb deflationary pressures by trying to increase inflation through bond buying, some type of inflation may be in the offing. Think about how you want to finance property and consult with your tax accountant and your financial advisor.

Articles RE: FOMC meeting

Taking Advantage of Tax Credits…Don’t Wait!!!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

   The government isn’t in the habit of giving away money to the average citizen who doesn’t have exotic tax loopholes, but anyone thinking about purchasing a house should contact a Realtor and begin looking as soon as possible.  It could be worth up to $8,000 to you.  The tax credits expire April 30.

    First time home buyers are eligible for up to $8,000 or 10% of the market value of the home.  Qualified repeat homeowners are eligible for up to $6,500.  Contracts must be executed by April 30 and closed escrow by June 30, 2010.

   What does this mean to you?  Depending upon where you live and the laws governing real property of your state, the speed with which your lender can act, and the timeliness of your Realtor, purchasing a house from start to finish can be done in as little as a week for a cash buyer, to two months for a buyer using financing. 

   Sitting down with a Realtor should be priority one.  He or she can guide you to a lender who will be responsive to your needs, and a lender who knows and understands the area in which you plan to purchase a property.  Internet  lenders have no idea about the peculiarities of individual areas; using a local lender is always the best choice.  Any problem can usually be resolved fast and competently.

    The lender will ask for all types of documentation and the faster the buyer provides this, the sooner the loan commitment can be made.  While this is transpiring, the Realtor and the buyer can determine criteria  and begin looking.  Finding a property can be accomplished in a few days if buyer and Realtor work full time during that period.

    Once the property is identified and a contract written, the response from the seller may take a few hours to several days.  Because short sales often take months, purchasing a short sale and trying to come in under the April 30 deadline is self defeating.  Time must be allotted for counter offers, or possible rejection, at which point the buyer must determine whether to submit another higher offer, or begin looking again.

     Assuming the offer has been accepted, and one week has elapsed, all inspections must be done.  In Arizona, the buyer has ten days in which to complete all inspections for the property which includes any and all inspections desired by the buyer, but usually the home inspection and a termite inspection.  The request for repairs is then made to the seller who has five days in which to respond.  

     We are now more than two weeks into the process.  Be aware, the seller may opt to decline to do any repairs.  These small challenges along the way should be explained to the buyer by the Realtor.  If we began today, the process so far would take us to the first week of March. 

    The repair addendum has been negotiated and now we must tie up loose ends.  In Arizona, the Realtor will review the commitment for title and make sure there is clear title to the property, issues such as how to take title, disclaimer deeds if needed, must be completed and provided to the title company, and any special documents such as septic certifications, well certifications or Affidavits of Disclosure must be completed properly and submitted to title.

    At this point, we are probably into the end of the second week of March.  The loan officer is completing his paperwork, submitting information to underwriting, and the appraisal has been ordered.  Now it is a waiting game.  The property can probably close escrow by the end of March.  But the process has easily taken more than one month. 

     There are many people working to make sure a buyer is successful purchasing a property.  Many work behind the scenes and are an integral part of a successful transaction.  It is the Realtor’s job to make sure all function seamlessly and that the buyer understand what is transpiring every step of the way.

   Call your Realtor today so you can take advantage of the $8,000 and if you are purchasing a second home, look at the $6,500 tax credit!

     For further information or to find a Realtor near you, contact Terry at

Questions and Information about the Tax Credit:

Short Sales and Foreclosures…Sellers Must Document…

Friday, February 12th, 2010

    Potential sellers who do not have a financial hardship sometimes change their mind when they realize the types of paperwork the bank needs in order to have a successful short sale. Much of this documentation is required to justify to the lender(s)  why selling “short” is the only alternative.  People who have assets which could be used to pay the mortgage note, but just want to “walk”, may be denied a short sale or face a deficiency judgment if a short sale is successful.

    In addition to the hardship letter which details why the seller cannot pay the mortgage, the bank requires an authorization letter from the seller authorizing the lender to speak with the Realtor or attorney.  The Realtor then must assemble the “package” for the lender which includes; income tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements including savings and retirement accounts, copies of bills, a list of assets and liabilitieis, monthly expenditures, and documentation of other unusual expenses.  Other information may be requested by the lender to support the case for short sale. 

      Up to date information must be obtained about homeowner’s dues, other special assessments, any other liens on the property, and property tax status.  Sometimes the seller does not have current information about these items and the Realtor must track down this information.

   Working  with a reputable agent is paramount.   The sellers’ information requested is private and confidential, and contains all of the necessary ingredients fora successful identity theft; another reason that propels “foreclosure scammers”.

    All of this information is considered by the lender(s) when determining if an offer on a property will be accepted.  The lender(S) needs to know if the seller can contribute any amount of funds to the sale of the property.  The seller should determine if they are in a “deficiency judgment” state, or “non deficiency judgement” state.  A deficiency judgement permits the lender(s) to collect from the sellers the amount of a specified “deficiency” after closing on the house.  If the property is a second home, often a deficiency judgment will be granted.  Sometimes a judgment will be granted to the lender holding a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) if the funds were not used for the home, such as improvement. 

    Working with a competent Realtor and/or attorney and exploring options is one of the best things an “underwater” seller can do to get answers and help himself/herself.  A Certified Public Accountant can also be included in the team to discuss income tax consequences of any action. 

    Going to a short sale is a far better option for the seller than foreclosure.  Unfortunately many people who have their homes sold in foreclosure never asked for professional help and as a result, will suffer the consequences of credit deterioration for a longer period of time. 

    If you or anyone you know is having problems, consult a Realtor, an attorney, or a CPA as soon as possible. The more time to solve the problem, the better for the seller.  If you need help, contact me at, and I can provide you with the name(s) of someone in your area who can help you.

Caveat Emptor…Let The Buyer Beware…Scammers Abound…

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

   Short sale and foreclosure scammers come out of the woodwork when opportunity presents itself, and in today’s market, when as many as one in four homeowners are underwater in some areas, “foreclosure expert” scammers see the tree ripe for picking.

   Understandably homeowners will buy in when a person or “company” says they can make the problem disappear.  That is human nature.  The first red flag is when the “foreclosure consultant” asks for money up front.  If you, or someone you know,  has been victimized by such a “forclosure consultant”, gather as much information as possible and report that to the Better Business Bureau, a local and state Consumer Protection office,  and the Attorney General’s office.

   These “experts” prey on people who have little understanding of the law and are adept at presenting a believable case.  Always ask for credentials and write that information down in case you need it later.  Ask for as much information as possible and if that information is not forthcoming, cease dealing with that person. 

      Many of these people are high powered salespeople, and they may present information to you which you thought was confidential.  Remember, many documents relating to real estate are public information. Any liens, late taxes, the date the home was purchased,  quit claim deeds and other documents are in the public domain. 

    If the homeowner is going to pay up front money up, he/she is better off hiring a competent attorney for up to the minute legal advice.  Many attorneys will not charge an “upfront” fee, but will bill when the problem is resolved.  An attorney on board, can advise whether filing for bankruptcy is prudent, and can direct the homeowner and often postpone have any foreclosure action postponed.  

    Several states have laws on the books, or are passing laws, banning upfront fees.  Consumer fraud divisions are rift with complaints and are burdened by cumbersome consumer fraud laws when apprehending and bringing these people to justice.

    A CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) or a Realtor with the National Association of Realtors Short Sale, Foreclosure Resource (SFR) designation will not ask for up front money.  They will present their credentials and lay out a plan.  These are people licensed by the state, and in many instances, fingerprinted, and they do not get paid unless the transaction is consumated.  It is easy to check with the State Department of Real Estate to make sure the person is licensed which can often be done on line.

    The site has information about non profit organizations which are approved by HUD to give information about loan modificaitons, short sales, and foreclosures. 

    Know with whom you are dealing.  That is your best defense against fraud.


Department of Housing and Urban Development – housing

Certified Distressed Property Expert:

National Association Realtors:

Arizona Foreclosure Workbook from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office:

Short Sale and Foreclosure Options…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

      Short sales and foreclosures are not always the best option for the homeowner.  If the situation which curtails income is temporary, the homeowner can ask for “forebearance”. 

     Forebearance involves negotiating a repayment plan for the amount of payments missed, usually with penalties and interest.  The missed payments can be put at the end of the mortgage amortization or an extra amount each month can be included in the regular mortgage payment.   The lender will want to be assured of the homeowner’s ability to repay the newly negotiated amount and will ask for evidence such as pay stubs.  The newly negotiated amount is in force until the deficiency is made current, and then  the payment will revert to the amount prior to the default. 

    Reinstatement can occur if the homeowner is expecting funds which can be used to bring the delinquent loan current.   An insurance settlement, an income tax refund, an inheritance, any anticipated source of funds which can be paid at one time to the lender to bring the loan current is called reinstatement.   The homeowner should talk with the lender and explain these funds are anticipated and will be used for the loan.  Reinstatement is a good option when one or two payments have been missed because of some extraordinary circumstance where restitution will be made.  Like all other plans, the lender will want documentation of the event. 

     If the homeowner has the funds available and can qualify in today’s market, a refinance can be a good option.  Rates are still very low and especially if there is an Arm (adjustable rate mortgage), very often a homeowner can cut the amount of payments.  Remember however, that if the homeowner has owned the property for six years and refinanced to another 30 year mortgage, the clock starts ticking again for another 30 year mortgage.  However, this option may provide the breathing room necessary but the homeowner should be sure to request a fixed rate mortgage to avoid further surprises.  Homeowners must provide all the documentation necessary to the lender including pay stubs, tax returns, assets and liabilities, divorce decrees, etc.

     A Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure also called deed in lieu, is another homeowner option.  The property must be worth more than the note on the property.  The homeowner negotiates with the lender and agrees to send the keys of the property and turn the property over to the lender so the lender will not foreclose on the property. 

    If you need additional information, contact me at  If you are looking for a Realtor in your area who understands distressed properties, contact me and I will find you a competent, knowledgeable Realtor in your area.


Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Freddie Mac:

Fannie Mae:

MDIA Not Much Change For Ethical Lenders…

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

   The new Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act (MDIA) promulgated by the federal government is not much of a change for lenders who were ethical and disclosed costs initially;  but for those unscrupulous lenders who performed “bait and switch” during the home buying heyday, lamentations are rampant.

   “The purpose of the new Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act is to insure buyers are fully aware of closing costs and interest rates which they will be charged on their mortgage loan,” said Courtney Walker, Vice President of Nova Home Loans.  “They don’t get to the closing table and are surprised by the numbers”, Walker continued.

   Within three days of applying for a loan, a full cost disclosure must be given to the applicant.  The cost disclosure must be given before any fees are collected, with the exception of any fee charged for pulling the consumer’s credit report, according to the amendment to Regulation Z, Truth in Lending.  Closing cannot take place for seven days unless specifically requested for an emergency.

   In the heyday, reputable lenders provided cost estimate sheets for their clients with the closing costs and loan costs spelled out, including the interest rate.  Good Realtors helped clients by providing clients with names of honest lenders and kept an eye on closing costs, making sure there were no pre payment penalties or other charges unless the client understood the terms of the loan. 

   This legislation comes as a result of the numbers of people who said they did not understand the terms of their loan and the loan costs, such as the option arm loans or the first 80% fixed rate loan with an adjustable rate for the second loan. 

    “The point of the MDIA is that whenever closing costs or interest rates change, the APR reflects these changes in the closing costs and interest rate.”  Walker gave the following example:  A person is offered a fixed rate and the APR is stated, and then offered a 2% rate with a $10,000 up front charge.  How does that person know which loan to choose?  “How are they going to compare an apple with an orange?  The APR will help do that”, Walker said.

   Under the new legislation, if the APR moves 1/8 of a point either up or down, the lender must redisclose to the client “to insure that the buyer is fully aware”.  The borrower must be given a reasonable amount of time to review the new numbers.   “The buyer must receive, review and acknowledge in writing the new disclosure”  and if the new numbers are not approved, then the buyer must change courses. 

    Escrow fees are included in the APR so it is important that the Title Company named in the buyer contract documents is not changed.  Title companies in the Phoenix area charge different rates than the title companies here in Tucson.  For people purchasing foreclosure or short sale properties, any costs the buyer pays, such as allowable seller closing costs, must be included in the APR. 

    If the market moves tremendously, and interest rates go down, redisclosure is mandated, even if to the borrower’s advantage.  Lenders cannot collect upfront fees from borrowers at the time of application.   These include appraisal fees and lock in fees. 

    Lock in fees are relatively new and are similar to earnest money, Walker said.  The purpose of up front lock in fees is because investors (of the loans which the borrower is applying) are beginning to penalize lenders for not delivering on loans for which borrowers apply.  This is often due to borrowers shopping rates.  “Time, money, and effort is put into getting a loan approved” Walker said, and the lock in fee shows good faith on the part of the borrower.  The fee is remitted at the close of escrow as a credit on the closing statement.

    The new requirements do not add time to the loan process, Walker said.  “Nova underwrites locally, draws the docs locally, and funds from its own money,” she added.  “Even with FHA and VA loans, we have basically a 30 day turn around time”.

    Some lenders are recommending a 45 day closing time, so that if a contract is written August 1, closing should be stated September 15.    A Realtor who works closely with the lender is your best advisor, knowing the turn around times of lenders is even more important, and it underscores the need to use local lenders.


Nova Home Loans

Federal Reserve Board Press Release

Federal Register: