Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Worried about paying your mortgage? Read the Best Tips to avoid foreclosure!

I came across this very valuable article on in regards to the foreclosure process and how to stay ahead of it!  This article is packed full of resources, definitions, and tips so definitely check this one out.

Ways to Avoid Foreclosure

By Ray Routhier
The quickest way to lose your house to foreclosure is to do nothing.
But today—after a foreclosure crisis that has lasted some four years or more—doing nothing is harder than it used to be.
That’s thanks to new laws and programs developed during the Great Recession to help resolve foreclosures without a home being lost, and without a lender having to get into the real estate business.
At the federal level, the Obama administration created the Making Home Affordable program, a joint effort between the federal departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which offers specific help for people who qualified for federal loans and are struggling with payments or face foreclosure.
At the state and local levels, Maine has made a very active effort to help people facing foreclosure, or the possibility of it, during the past few years. In 2010, a state law created the Maine Foreclosure Diversion Program, which allows any foreclosed home owner to ask for mediation, in which a court-appointed third party is charged with helping the home owner and lender work out an alternative solution to foreclosure.
Maine also has several private or nonprofit efforts, such as Pine Tree Legal Assistance, which offers foreclosure assistance and prevention services, and Maine Attorneys Saving Homes, which arranges for lawyers to handle foreclosure cases for free.
In Maine, the foreclosure crisis has been leveling off. In the last quarter of 2010, 265 mortgage loans were being foreclosed upon by state-chartered banks, down from 297 the quarter before, according to the state. By the end of 2010, the number of foreclosures in Maine had dropped for three straight quarters.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Last Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that home values nationwide posted the biggest decline in the first quarter of 2011 since 2008—3% down from the first quarter of 2010—mostly due to an abundance of foreclosed homes on the market.
Facing financial problems and possible foreclosure is an overwhelming proposition. The big questions are: What do I do? And how do I know when I should start?

Think about prevention

Lawyers, bankers, and housing counselors say the best way to avoid foreclosure is to recognize early the warning signs that you may have trouble paying your mortgage—and then do something about it.
“If you’re constantly paying the mortgage a couple weeks late (the federally mandated grace period) and you’re always skipping other bills to pay the mortgage, those are tell-tale signs you need to begin budgeting to avoid bigger problems,” said Chris LaRoche, a HUD-certified housing counselor who is also housing director for York County Community Action Corp. in Sanford. “Usually these signs can be seen months before someone actually misses a payment. That’s the time to cut back, to start rethinking things you might think are necessities—a cell phone, cable TV, high-speed Internet—that are really luxuries.”
Other, perhaps more obvious, signs that you may have mortgage problems with a possibility of foreclosure are life-changing events such as loss of a job, a major illness, or a divorce. Those are some of the major reasons people run into mortgage and foreclosure problems, said Christine Conrad, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Androscoggin Bank, based in Lewiston.
Conrad, as well as LaRoche and others who work on foreclosure prevention, say one of the first things you should do if you’re running into mortgage trouble or potential foreclosure is to talk to your lender as soon as possible.
“Communication is the key. If you come to your bank with a clear financial picture and a plan ahead of time, and say, ‘I can see where three months down the road I might have a problem,’ you’ll have a lot more options than if you wait until you miss a payment,” said Conrad. “The potential to refinance, to work out some different terms, is greater if you come in earlier.”
One thing to keep in mind is that a lender’s business is lending money. So it’s better for them if a borrower can keep paying than if the lender has to take over a property.
“No banks want to take over the property. We want the loans to perform, so foreclosure would really be the last choice,” said Chris Pinkham, president of the Maine Bankers Association. “Banks have always been willing to work out something when it makes sense. But if you wait until you can’t make payments at all, you’re not in a good position to remedy the situation.”

Preparing for the worst

If people do find themselves delinquent—having missed a payment—or facing a foreclosure summons, they should definitely seek out a HUD-certified housing counselor, said Barbara Fields, HUD’s regional administrator for New England. They can seek one out, for free, before that as well.
Housing counselors can explain the foreclosure process in Maine, including how much time you have to answer a summons complaint and how much time you have to request a mediation (20 days).
The housing counselor can also steer a person toward free or reduced legal help, and to federal programs such as Making Home Affordable. That program helps qualified home owners get help finding loans that better fit their circumstances. HUD runs other programs also available to people with FHA (Federal Housing Administration) or VA (Veterans Affairs) loans.
“It can help someone get a more stable loan, and even if they aren’t eligible for a (HUD-approved) loan, they are entitled to free counseling,” said Fields.

Loss of home can be avoided

When a person goes into default, they get a notice of default, which has to happen before foreclosure can begin. The default notice, according to the state’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, tells a person that they must pay the full amount in default, plus interest and fees, in 35 days or face a foreclosure proceeding.
In Maine, anyone who gets this foreclosure summons has a right to request court-run mediation under the Maine Foreclosure Diversion Program.
During the first year of the program, 1,243 foreclosure mediations were conducted. In 21% of those that were concluded, a settlement was reached between the parties, according to the Maine Judicial Branch’s 2010 Annual Report. Another 98 foreclosure cases were dismissed.
When you answer the summons in a foreclosure case, there is a place on the form to check if you want mediation. The court will then appoint a mediator—a third party—to work with you and the lender to try to reach a solution that avoids foreclosure.
Once mediation is requested, a home owner will need to do a detailed financial analysis, including a clear debt picture, said Chet Randall, an attorney and housing counselor who is coordinator for the Foreclosure Prevention Program at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland.
The foreclosure proceedings are stayed, or put on hold, while mediation takes place.
A housing counselor can also help a person find reduced-priced or free legal help to prepare for foreclosure proceedings.
Once mediation sessions begin, the parties see if other remedies can be worked out, such as extending the loan out to 40 years but lowering the payments.
A home owner may also be able to get an extension of the time he or she has to resume making payments if they can demonstrate the possibility of additional income in the future, such as someone in the family starting a new job, said Randall.
Randall added that if both a home owner and lender come prepared with as much information as possible, the potential for a good outcome in mediation is pretty high. A mediator has no authority to make a ruling, however, and both parties have to agree to any settlement.

Foreclosure goes forward

If a home owner and lender can’t work out something that allows a person to stay in the home, there are still other options short of foreclosure.
There is the possibility of a short sale—selling the house for less than what is owed.
In some cases, depending on the amount, a lender will accept the money made from a short sale and stop foreclosure.
A home owner can also strike a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” deal with the bank, in which they basically give up the house but aren’t formally foreclosed upon.
In both those cases though, a home owner may be liable for taxes on the exchange.
Then there is always the possibility that a home owner can try to sell the house on their own, and either use the money to make payments or pay off the loan. Or they can try to sell the home to someone who assumes the mortgage. They can also contact a bankruptcy lawyer about whether that is something that would fit their situation.
Even if you lose a foreclosure case, you could technically keep your house by paying back the full mortgage amount, plus legal costs and fees.
“Even during the foreclosure, you can still work directly with the bank,” said LaRoche. “The main goal, for the home owner and the bank, is for the loan to become current with the least amount of impact.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Terms to know

Here are definitions of some of the terms that often come up when a home owner is being foreclosed upon or is facing the possibility of foreclosure:
  • Acceleration clause—The clause in a mortgage that can be enforced to make the entire debt due immediately if the borrower defaults on a payment.
  • Default—The failure to make mortgage payments in full, on time, or at all, or to live up to any other obligations placed on the borrower by a loan agreement.
  • Delinquency—When a mortgage payment is late, but the borrower is not yet in default.
  • Foreclosure—The process of a mortgage holder filing a lawsuit to take a mortgage-holder’s property to satisfy a debt.
  • Loan modification—Changing the terms of a loan after negotiations between a lender and borrower, hopefully resulting in the ability to pay off the loan.
  • Mediation—In Maine, home owners who are being foreclosed upon have the right to request court-run mediation between themselves and the bank. The lender and borrower, aided by a trained mediator, try to resolve the issues at hand. The mediator does not have the power to make the ruling; the two parties will control the outcome.
  • Short sale—Selling a home for a price that is lower than the amount owed to the bank. Sometimes a short sale can help the home owner resolve foreclosure proceedings with the bank.
  • Upside-down—When the loan balance is more than the worth of the house.

There is help

If you’re facing foreclosure on your home—or are having trouble making your mortgage payments—here are some federal and state agencies and other groups where you can find information and help:
Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection—This state agency has the responsibility of giving information about resources and help to people who have received legal foreclosure notices. The bureau’s website includes a list of housing counselors who provide free foreclosure counseling, as well as other foreclosure-related resources.
Foreclosure Prevention Hotline—Run by the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. (888) 664-2569
Pine Tree Legal Assistance—This Maine-based group is certified to do foreclosure counseling by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It also has a very detailed Foreclosure Prevention Toolkit with explanations of the foreclosure process, available help, and a guide to the state’s fairly new foreclosure mediation process.
Maine Foreclosure Diversion Program—Run by the state judicial system, this program was put into law in 2010 as a reaction to the huge increase in foreclosures in the state a few years earlier. The program allows any foreclosed home owner to ask for mediation, where a court-appointed third party is charged with helping the home owner and lender work out an alternative solution to foreclosure.; 822-0706
Making Home Affordable—This recently created program is a joint effort between the federal departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, and offers specific help for people who qualified for federal loans and are struggling with payments or face foreclosure, including help with loan modification.; (888) 995-HOPE (4673)
Maine Lawyers Saving Homes—A joint project of Pine Tree Legal Assistance and the Maine Volunteer Lawyers, this group helps find lawyers to work pro bono on foreclosure cases for home owners. The group’s website also has a “Home owner’s Tool Kit” and other related information.; 774-4348
Originally published by by Ray Routhier staff writer.
(c) 2011 Portland Press Herald. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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Thanks and have a great day,
Nicole St. Aubin, Realtor
Realty Masters of FL   #1 in professional property management in Pensacola, FL
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Pensacola Voted #1 Community on the Gulf Coast!

As lifelong residents of Northwest Florida, we are pleased to announce that Pensacola has been voted the #1 Community on the Gulf Coast~! Check out this article by Gulf Scapes Magazine to view the top 10 destinations on the Gulf Coast.!/notes/gulfscapes-magazine/top-10-gulf-coast-towns-released-by-gulfscapes-magazine/10150215978381860

For more information on our beautiful beach community, visit the community links below, or give one of our agents a call at (850) 473 3983.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great news for Real Estate Investors! 2012 is the year for cash flow investments!

Great news for real estate investors all over the US:  2012 is our year!
There’s a lot of buzz about investors taking advantage of the real estate market in 2011 and 2012.  Experts predict that Real Estate Investors will outnumber the average home buyer 3 to 1!  This includes investors purchasing single and multi-family properties for rentals, as well as second / vacation homes.
Inman News realeased its report dubbing the Top 10 Real Estate Markets for Investors. 2 of the top 5 markets are our neighbors in Florida.  To view the full report free of charge, visit
More great news for investors:  In addition to declining sales prices, and the best prices on multi-family in over 10 years, the Pensacola area is seeing an increase in rental rates for 3 bedroom 2 bath homes as well as larger, nicer homes.  Nationally, rents are expected to increase up to 25% through the end of 2012.
We are proud to call Northwest Florida our lifelong home.  The Pensacola metropolian encompasses Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in Florida and includes the cities of Gulf Breeze, Pace, Milton, Navarre, Pensacola, Cantonment, Perdido Key, and Pensacola Beaches.  Our beautiful waterfront community is a great place to invest in real estate for many reasons:
1.       Military installations including Pensacola NAS, Whiting Field NAS, Corry Station, Saufley Field, Hurblurt Field AFB and Eglin AFB. 
2.       Two local univerisities including University of West Florida and Pensacola State College
3.       Beautiful, white sand beaches that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year including snowbirds and retirees!
To find out more information about the Pensacola area, check out these community links:
In our area, sales prices are down, but the number of sales is increasing! View our current sales data for the last few years curteousy of the Pensacola Association of Realtors.
Pam Keen, broker of Realty Masters, is a fellow property investor and a specialist in investment sales in the Pensacola area. She sold more multi-family properties than any other agent in the Pensacola area last year.  Realty Masters will begin hosting Investor Seminars in Pensacola during Summer 2011, check our blog for future dates.  Find her on linked in at: 
 If you’d like to be on an email list of investment properties in Pensacola, email or call her at (850) 232-2200.

Realty Masters of FL
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
(850) 473 3983 Office