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Foreclosure Protection Bill for Servicemembers Passes in Both House, Senate

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 12/16/14

Foreclosure Protection Bill for Servicemembers Passes in Both House, Senate

S.2404 Foreclosure Protection Servicemembers

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representativeshave both unanimously voted to pass a bill that give military servicemembers who have recently returned from duty added protection from foreclosure, according to an announcement from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who introduced the bill in May.

S.2404, also known as the Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2014, unanimously passed in the Senate on Thursday, December 11 and in the House on Friday, December 12, according to the announcement from Whitehouse.

The bill extends until January 2016 a provision that sets one year as the time a servicemember's house is protected from foreclosure upon his or her return from active duty, if the mortgage was obtained before the servicemember was an active member of the military. The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves had submitted a report that prompted the foreclosure protection extension from 90 days to nine months in 2008. The period was extended to nine months as part of the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in 2008 and lengthened further to one year in 2012 as part of a bill introduced by Whitehouse.

The one-year period was set to expire at the end of December and would have reverted back to its pre-2008 level of 90 days at the beginning of 2015. Whitehouse's bill that he introduced back in May called for the permanent adoption of the one-year foreclosure protection period.

"After fighting for our country overseas, our troops shouldn’t have to fight to keep a roof over their heads when they return home," Whitehouse said. "Servicemembers returning from active duty often need time to regain their financial footing, particularly those in the National Guard and Reserves who give up their full-time jobs to fight for our freedom. We should ultimately pass legislation to make this protection permanent, but I’m glad we were able to secure peace of mind for our veterans for one more year."

The SCRA contains other protections for military members and their families from auto repossessions and other personal property while the servicemember is on active duty. Under the current law, servicemembers and their families cannot be evicted from housing due to nonpayment of rent that is less than $1,200 per month while the servicemember is on active duty.

Freddie Mac Announces New Foreclosure Prevention Guidelines, Revisions

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 11/19/14

Freddie Mac Announces New Foreclosure Prevention Guidelines, 

Freddie Mac Foreclosure Prevention

Government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac has announced a set of new loss mitigation and foreclosure prevention guidelines and revisions in Guide Bulletins 2014-19 and 2014-20 that include a new deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure incentive, increased foreclosure timelines, and additional foreclosure relief for service members and their dependents.

Freddie Mac is offering a supplemental incentive of up to $7,000 for new borrower evaluations for deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure that are conducted on or before December 1, 2015. Borrowers in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania who complete a Freddie Mac standard deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transaction are eligible. The new deed-in-lieu borrower incentive is scheduled to go into effect on February 1, 2015, but servicers at Freddie Mac have been encouraged to implement the new incentive as early as November 14, 2014.

Foreclosure timelines have been increased in 47 jurisdictions for all foreclosure sales completed on or after November 1, 2014, as a result of Freddie Mac's recent review of state foreclosure timelines. An updated list of Freddie Mac's state foreclosure timelines can be found in Guide Exhibit 83.

As part of Freddie Mac's commitment to active duty servicemembers, Freddie Mac is offering additional foreclosure relief to service members and their dependents. Foreclosure relief will be extended to mortgages while the service member is active for one year after military service ends when the borrower: 1) is a service member and the mortgaged property is the service member's primary residence, regardless of when the mortgage loan was originated; 2) is a dependent of the service member and the mortgaged property is the primary residence of the service member or his or her dependent; 3) was a service member who died during active military service and the mortgaged property continues to be the primary residence for a dependent of the service member. Servicers can determine if a borrower is eligible for these benefits by checking Freddie Mac's Mortgage Relief Options for Service Members web site.

Repeat Foreclosure Percentage Increases to Tie All-Time High

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 11/12/14

Repeat Foreclosure Percentage Increases to Tie All-Time High

repeat foreclosures

The percentage of September's foreclosure starts that were repeat foreclosures rose by two percentage points month-over-month to account for 53 percent of foreclosure starts, tying the highest percentage for a single month, according to Black Knight Financial ServicesSeptember 2014 Mortgage Monitor.

In all, there were 91,000 foreclosure starts nationwide during September, an increase of 11.5 percent from August but a decrease of 16.5 percent from September 2013, when 109,000 foreclosure starts were reported, according to Black Knight. For September 2014, Black Knight reported that 48,200 of the 91,000 foreclosure starts were repeat foreclosures – a total of 53 percent, which tied July 2014 for the highest percentage in a single month since Black Knight began tracking the data in January 2008.

September 2014's percentage of repeat foreclosures represented an increase of 2 percentage points from August (41,500 out of 81,600, for 51 percent) and 4 percentage points from September 2013 (53,400 out of 109,000, a total of 49 percent). September 2014 was the eighth consecutive month in which the percentage of repeat foreclosures accounted for 50 percent or more of foreclosure starts and the 28th consecutive month in which the percentage totaled 40 percent or more. The percentage has not been below 40 percent since May 2012, when 80,800 out of 218,900 foreclosure starts were repeat foreclosures for a total of 37 percent, according to Black Knight.

The lowest percentage of repeat foreclosures was reported in February 2008, just prior to the housing bust, when 29,100 out of 205,000 foreclosure starts were repeats (14 percent). The percentage has been 20 percent or more every month since March 2009; the last month where repeat foreclosures made up less than 20 percent of foreclosure starts was February 2009 (48,200 out of 265,300, 18 percent), according to Black Knight.

The highest overall number of repeat foreclosures for any one month was reported in March 2011, when 109,500 repeat foreclosures were reported out of 263,900, for a total of 41 percent. The only other month in which the total number  of repeat foreclosures exceeded 100,000 for a month was in March 2012 (103,800).

Loan Mods Down, Foreclosure Starts Up in July

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 09/17/14

Loan Mods Down, Foreclosure Starts Up in July


The total number of homeowners receiving permanent loan modifications declined in July, as did the number of modifications made under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), according to figures released this week by HOPE NOW.

Including both HAMP and proprietary programs, permanent completed modifications totaled 35,402 in July, according to HOPE NOW, down from 38,489 the month prior.

The decline reflected a drop in both the number of proprietary mods, which totaled nearly 25,000 compared to June's more than 27,000, and in the number of HAMP mods, which fell to 10,177 from 10,813 in June.

Since 2007, HOPE NOW estimates nearly more than 7.1 million homeowners have been granted a loan modification, including 1.4 million made through HAMP (dating back to 2009).

Factoring in short sales, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, and other workout plans, the group reports that servicers worked with homeowners to come up with nearly 157,000 solutions to avoid foreclosure.

Meanwhile, foreclosure starts rose a little more than 1,000 from June to settle at 70,401, the highest level of starts since January. Through the first seven months of 2014, foreclosure starts totaled nearly half a million; for all of 2013, starts came to an estimated 1.2 million.

Meanwhile, completed foreclosure sales rose to 38,428 compared to 36,826 in June.

Extrapolating from data provided by the Mortgage Bankers Association (covering approximately 88 percent of the industry), HOPE NOW estimates the number of loans with delinquencies of 60 days or more came to nearly 1.86 million, down from 1.88 million in June. The percentage of total loans overdue by 60 or more days stayed constant for the 11th straight month at 4 percent.

Fannie Mae Relaxes Waiting Period for Distressed Borrowers

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 09/12/14

Waiting Period Distressed Borrowers

Fannie Mae recently released a report revising the waiting periods for distressed borrowers with a derogatory credit event such as a foreclosure, bankruptcy, short sale, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure on their credit history to obtain a new loan.

For borrowers with a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure on their record, Fannie Mae's new mandated minimum waiting period to become eligible for a new loan is four years. The time is shortened to two years if there are extenuating circumstances. According to Fannie Mae, extenuating circumstances are defined as "nonrecurring events that are beyond the borrower’s control that result in a sudden, significant, and prolonged reduction in income or a catastrophic increase in financial obligations."

If a borrower has a foreclosure on his or her credit record, the new minimum waiting period is seven years. Under extenuating circumstances, that period is shortened to three years with some additional requirements for up to seven years.

For those with a bankruptcy (chapter seven or 11), the waiting period is four years (two years with extenuating circumstances). For distressed borrowers with a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the required waiting period is now two years from the discharge date and four years from the dismissal date. If there are extenuating circumstances, the waiting time from the dismissal date is shortened to two years.

If there are multiple bankruptcy filings on a borrower's record, the waiting period for a new loan is five years if there has been more than one filing in the previous seven years.  Under extenuating circumstances, the waiting period is cut to three years from the most recent dismissal or discharge date.

Fannie Mae said in the report that it is "focused on helping lenders to provide access to mortgages for creditworthy borrowers while supporting sustainable homeownership" and that the new policy "provides opportunities for borrowers to obtain a loan to Fannie Mae’s maximum LTV (loan-to-value) sooner after the preforeclosure (short) sale or DIL."

The new policy is effective for loans with application dates on or after August 16, 2014.

Under the previous policy, the standard waiting period for borrowers with a derogatory credit event was two years with a maximum 80 percent LTV ratio; four years with a maximum 90 percent LTV ratio; or borrowers were eligible for a new loan after a standard seven-year waiting period. For borrowers with extenuating circumstances, the previous waiting period was two years with a maximum 90 percent LTV ratio.

For More information contact

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group


SIGTARP Calls for Changes to HAMP

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 07/31/14


The office of the Special Investigator General for TARP (SIGTARP) released its quarterly report on the progress and status of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Among the report’s findings was the assertion that TARP’s signature housing program, The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), has not provided enough sustainable foreclosure relief given the unspent TARP funds that Treasury has set aside. Treasury had allocated $45.6 billion in funds to be provided for housing relief. To date they have spent $12.8 billion.

HAMP’s foreclosure relief is only sustainable if the homeowner does not fall out of the permanent mortgage modification during the five year period, increasing the risk of foreclosure.

HAMP has seen its share of problems. As of June 30, 2014, only 958,549 homeowners were active in a HAMP permanent modification. In an effort to attract more people, Treasury continues to extend the application period for Making Home Affordable (MHA) programs such as HAMP, and did so again on June 26, 2014, further extending the programs  through December 31, 2016.

Twenty Nine Percent of the individuals that had taken advantage of the program and obtained a modification on their home loan have since fallen out of the program because of an inability to pay their new, lower mortgage payment.

SIGTARP implored the Treasury Department to implement the changes to HAMP that the office had previously suggested.

First, the report says that Treasury should promulgate benchmarks and goals for acceptable program performance for all MHA servicers, including the length of time it takes for trial modifications to be converted into permanent modifications and the length of time it takes to resolve escalated homeowner complaints.

Next, the report argues that Treasury should complete a public assessment of the program performance of the top 10 MHA servicers’ against acceptable performance benchmarks. Criteria would include the length of time it takes for trial modifications to be converted into permanent modifications, the length of time it takes to resolve escalated homeowner complaints, and the percentage of required modification status reports that are missing.

Further, SIGTARP calls for more stringent enforcement. Specifically, they want Treasury to ensure that all servicers participating in MHA comply with program requirements by strenuously enforcing the terms of the servicer participation agreements. Treasury should be transparent and make public all remedial actions taken against any servicer.

Foreclosure Starts Rise for the First Time in Months

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 07/03/14

Foreclosure Starts Rise for the First Time in Months

Foreclosure Starts Rise for the First Time in Months

Foreclosure starts rose for the first time in eight months in May, but there is still reason to be optimistic about the United States housing market, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor Report of the latest available data released by Black Knight Financial Services. The report indicated that foreclosure starts nationwide rose by 9.5 percent.

The rise in May reverses the eight month trend of continuing decline in starts. However, the outlook for the housing market is still trending upward compared to years past and Black Knight cautioned against reading too much into the backwards step.

"While foreclosure starts did rise over 9 percent in May, it's important to remember the historical trend is still one of improvement," said Kostya Gradushy, Black Knight's manager of Loan Data and Customer Analytics. "On a year-over-year basis, January through May foreclosure starts were still down 32 percent, and we are still looking at the lowest level of foreclosure starts in seven years."

"Additionally, over half of these starts are repeat foreclosures, rather than new entries into the pipeline, That is, these are loans that had been in foreclosure, shifted back to either current or delinquent status by way of modification, repayment plan or some action by the borrower, but have now fallen into foreclosure once again."

New Jersey was the only state in the union to see a year over-year increase in foreclosure starts and almost 80 percent of starts nationwide came from loans originating in 2008 or earlier.

Although foreclosure starts were up in May there were positive notes to take from the report. The total U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate actually dropped 5.62 percent in the month. Foreclosure inventory is down 37.23 percent year-over-year, signaling that Americans are more likely to be able to pay their mortgages now than they have been at any point since the financial crisis began.

Likewise, the overall loan delinquency rate (the number of loans 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure) is down 7.55 percent from this point last year and stayed static in May at 5.62 percent.

This bump in the road notwithstanding, a look at the recent trend in mortgage performance and other indicators reveal that there is still good reason to be cautiously optimistic that housing will continue on its long, gradual path to recovery.


Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Mortgage Collectors Silence Homeowners with ‘Gag Orders’

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 06/24/14

Mortgage Collectors Silence Homeowners with ‘Gag Orders’

Mortgage Collectors Silence Homeowners with ‘Gag Orders’

A curious piece of text is appearing in some homeowner's loan modification agreements—by accepting a modification from the bank or non-bank servicer, the homeowner agrees to never publicly say, write, or post anything negative about the company doing the modification.

As originally reported by Reuters, Ocwen, Bank of America, and PNC Financial Services Group are adding new terms to their modification contracts to prevent homeowners from publicly disparaging the companies as part of a mortgage modification agreement.

Essentially, the gag orders are being used when distressed homeowners use litigation to resolve foreclosure and loan modification cases, making the modification contingent upon a homeowner's silence. The deal often extends to lawyers handling litigious cases on behalf of the injured parties.

Reuters cited, "A 2013 report by the National Consumer Law Center found that servicers routinely lost borrowers' paperwork, inaccurately input information, failed to send important letters to the correct address—or sometimes just didn't send them at all."

"These clauses can hurt borrowers who later have problems with their mortgage collector by preventing them from complaining publicly about their difficulties or suing, lawyers said. If a collector, known as a servicer, makes an error, getting everything fixed can be a nightmare without litigation or public outcry," Reuters noted.

According to the original report, the restrictive text is also now showing up when servicers grant regular modifications outside of the courtroom.

These new requirements are creating problems for homeowners—and ire from regulators. New York's Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky said he is investigating Ocwen's use of these clauses.

"Reports that Ocwen is imposing a gag rule for certain struggling homeowners—preventing them from criticizing the company—are troubling and deeply offensive," said Lawsky in an emailed statement to Reuters. "We will investigate this issue immediately."

PNC's vice president of external communications, Marcey Zwiebel, told Reuters that "these clauses are part of the consideration we receive for agreeing to settle the case. This helps to ensure that the discussion is not re-opened in public after the case has been settled."

Modifications still play an important role in the ongoing housing recovery. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1.3 million loan modifications have been completed under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Servicers have completed an additional 5.6 million modifications.

"The banks are attempting to hold our clients hostage with a provision they know we cannot agree to," said University of Notre Dame law professor Judith Fox to Reuters, who runs a clinic for troubled homeowners and who has also petitioned the Indiana Bar Association over attempts to muzzle attorneys. "It is coercive and unethical."

For more information contact:

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Black Knight: 1 in 10 Borrowers Underwater

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 05/05/14

Black Knight: 1 in 10 Borrowers Underwater

In Black Knight Financial Services’ latest Mortgage Monitor Report, the company found that only one in ten Americans are underwater, down from one in three in 2010. Overall, the company’s look at March data reflected a shifting landscape. As home prices have risen over the past two years, many distressed loans have worked their way through the system and the percentage of Americans with negative equity has declined considerably.

The company noted that 55 percent of loans in foreclosure have been delinquent for over two years.

"Two years of relatively consecutive home price increases and a general decline in the number of distressed loans have contributed to a decreasing number of underwater borrowers," said Kostya Gradushy, Black Knight's manager of Loan Data and Customer Analytics.

"Looking at current combined loan-to-value (CLTV), we see that while four years ago 34 percent of borrowers were in negative equity positions, today that number has dropped to just about 10 percent of active mortgage loans," Gradushy said.

Gradushy references the 10.1 percent negative equity average, but what states homeowners reside in paint a clearer picture of negative equity across the spectrum. Judicial states have a higher negative equity rate at 13.4 percent, compared to the 7.9 percent rate experienced in non-judicial states.

Regardless, Gradushy notes that both judicial and non-judicial states have experienced declines. "Overall, nearly half of all borrowers today are both in positive equity positions and of strong credit quality—credit scores of 700 or above. Four years ago, that category of borrowers represented over a third of active mortgages," Gradushy said.

Loans, on average, are in foreclosure for 966 days.

The total delinquency rate is 5.37 percent, the lowest since October 2007 according to Black Knight. Month-over-month, delinquency rates have declined to 7.57 percent and are down yearly 16.29 percent in March.

The total U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory stands at 2.07 percent, the lowest figure since October 2008. Inventory rates are down 36.69 percent year-over-year.

Black Knight had more positive news in its Mortage Monitor Report: leading indicators, such as foreclosure starts, new problem loan percentage, 90-day defaults count, and 30 to 60 roll count are all down heading into the second quarter.

The company offered that the 2013 population of loans was "the best vintage on record," but the statement belies the fact that higher credit restrictions severely hampered new originations for lower credit borrowers.

The top five states with the highest total non-current loans were Mississippi (13.4 percent), New Jersey (12.9 percent), Florida (12.1 percent), New York (11.1 percent), and Maine (10.6 percent).

Excluding Mississippi, the remaining four states are judicial states, suggesting the longer timelines required to resolve foreclosures are impacting non-current loan rates, depressing the market's ability to quickly clear the remaining backlog in foreclosure pipeline.

For more information contact

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group


Clear Capital: Best Home Deals in ‘Mid-Tier’

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 05/05/14

Clear Capital: Best Home Deals in ‘Mid-Tier’

Clear Capital recently released its Home Data Index Market Report, which found the best deals in the housing market now reside in the middle-tier of available homes. The group found that following more than two years of recovery, low-tier homes are no longer the best value for homebuyers.

Mid-tier homes are homes selling between $95,000 and $310,000, nationally.

The company reported that low-tier homes experienced 32.3 percent growth from the trough in 2011. Mid-tier homes are still 30.6 percent off of peak values, while the low-tier price sectors remained just 21.5 percent below peak values. Top-tier homes, on average, are just 18.2 percent off of peak values.

"Very interesting dynamics are at play as we head into spring. Though our April data suggests the spring buying season is off to a slow start, we aren't concerned about the sustainability of the recovery," said Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

Villacorta continued, "To be clear, there are lots of adjustments taking place in housing markets across the country. Everything from lender regulation, consumer confidence, investors tapering purchases, local economics, and rising home prices have forced participants to continually adjust to a market that has been anything but stable."

The company found that quarterly rates of growth for the nation and three of four regions remain virtually unchanged.

Nationally, housing markets experienced a 0.9 percent growth quarter-over-quarter. The largest gains were in the West, which experienced a 1.8 percent increase from the previous quarters. The South was next at 0.8 percent growth, followed closely by the Midwest (0.7 percent) and the Northeast (0.6 percent).

"Generally speaking, we see price growth stabilizing throughout 2014, which should help boost the confidence and purchase activity from buyers on the fence," Villacorta said.

Villacorta continued, "The days of double digit price gains are behind us, and the market will continue to calibrate to the new reality of annual growth rates between 3% and 5%. A strong spring buying season might be a casualty of the major adjustments underway, but it's no reason to ring the alarm bells quite yet."

Average number of days it took to complete a short sale!

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 05/03/14

Is Your Loan Modification Going Nowhere?

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 04/12/14

Is Your Loan Modification Going Nowhere?


With the recent passing of the California Homeowners Bill Of Rights, mortgage lenders in California were mandated to offer distressed homeowners an alternative to foreclosure as part of the banks restitution in the lawsuit by the state.


Many distressed homeowners were given loan modifications in lieu of foreclosure even if they did not qualify previously. These homeowners had already applied for a loan mod and were declined by the same litigators. So why would they allow the loan mod again? The answer is because the state mandated they do. If a homeowner could not afford to pay a loan modification prior, how would they be able to now? Well, they can’t. And that’s why over 56% of these loan mods and homeowners have already re defaulted on their mortgage again.


In trying to help these distressed homeowners, the state has actually just prolonged the agony and inevitable of foreclosure for these families. Now these families will have to again seek alternatives to foreclosure. After exercising a loan mod, there are not many options left and should elect to short sale their home. An alternative that should have been done much sooner but wasn’t due to this mandate.


A short sale should be used in lieu of foreclosure all the time. The short sale option will salvage your credit and give you a much quicker recovery from your misfortune. In most cases if you short sale your home and continue to pay on time your other creditors, in 18-24 months you should be able to buy another home. With foreclosure a family is looking at 5 years to recover and the foreclosure can haunt them and remain on their credit report for up to 10 years.


If you are a distressed homeowner and have been considering a short sale or are in the middle of the process and your bank offers you a chance to get a loan mod even when they turned you down in the past. Make sure you weigh all the possibilities. If you know you will not be able to make the payments you may not want to prolong the inevitable. Your recovery starts as soon as you take the steps towards a recovery option such as a short sale.


There are many benefits to a short sale; especially tax wise, such as the debt relief act extended to 2014 insures you will not have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven. There are qualifications for this, but most will take advantage of this. Always discuss all the aspects of a short sale with your agent before you agree to enter into the agreement.


Make the right choice for your future. Too many distressed homeowners have blinders on and only look at the short term. Loan mods last 3-7 years, you must look at your future past 7 years and base your decision on where you want to be in 3-7 years. That is the real deciding factor!

Orange County, Los Angeles, and Inland Empire Housing Prices Jump!

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 04/12/14

Orange County, Los Angeles, and Inland Empire Housing Prices Jump!

Huge price increase from 2013 in Orange, Los Angeles, and Inland Empire Counties!

Prices have risen by 11.7% in Orange County, 12.2% in Long Beach/Los Angeles County, and 12.1% in the Inland Empire.  Southern California had 3 of the top 4 regional price increases Orange County, Los Angeles County, and the Inland Empire!


by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 04/03/14

Today's Residential Real Estate market is challenging. While values have risen dramatically in 2013, most would be sellers are sitting on that bubble of equity. Their values have gone up but not quite enough to allow sellers to cash out as much as they hoped or would like. Therefore, many would be sellers are contemplating selling their homes themselves.

Selling your home yourself sounds beneficial if you are one of the sellers sitting on that bubble mentioned. Saving the 6% commission that agents normally charge to sell a property sounds like a good deal and makes the sellers feel they are closer to their magic number they wanted to net in the sale. But today the market has changed and is moving back towards a buyers market. Meaning there are more properties available due to the interest rates rising close to the 5% mark from 3.5% a couple months ago. This change in the interest rates took many of the potential buyers out of the market due to now payments are not as affordable as before.  Thus, turning the market around and back towards a buyers market, meaaning there are not as many buyers so sellers are having to make more concessions and are no longer experiencing multiple above asking price offers as they did a few months ago.

When the market is hot for sellers with lots of buyers drooling over the chance to buy, selling your home yourself is much easier. But when buyers are fewer, sellers need as much exposure as possible to their property. This is true in any market but more so in this one. Your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it! And, if you are trying to get top dollar for your home you need to expose and market your home to as many potential buyers as possible to find that one buyer that just falls in love with your property and is willing to pay your price. You cannot get this kind of exposure yourself posting on free websites.

Especially in this market, you should utilize a licensed agent. By using an agent, if the agent is good they will give your home 10 times the exposure you can. For example, when we market a property. At The Gusman Group we send your property to over 250 real estate websites nationally and internationally. We send property information to our over 300 investors. And if you pick the right agent that specializes in listing and marketing homes most likely like we have many buyers waiting to purchase that came from the other properties we had listed that they did not get. You also cannot overlook the power of the MLS Multiple Listing Service that agents are part of and utilize. Listing your property on the MLS exposes your home to tens of thousands of other agents that have qualified buyers also ready to purchase. With all this exposure you are more certain to secure a buyer than if you undertake the sale yourself.

Also consider this. A good agent will make the sale as easy and effortless as possible. They are there to protect your interests. They make sure the buyer is fully qualified so that your time is not wasted or your property is not tied up with a bogus buyer. This agent will make sure your home is properly priced for your market to insure you attract many buyers. Remember that commissions are negotiable. We recognize that sellers are sitting on that bubble of equity and we are making adjustments to lower commissions in this market to allow the sellers to be able to sell. This is something no agent wants to do ever! But the market is demanding an adjustment.

So is it worth it for you to sell your home yourself?  NO, not in this market. Not if you really want to sell your home. I see the same ads on sites of the same homes for months still trying to attract a buyer. Contact an agent discuss your needs and make a deal that fits and is fair to both parties, and sell your property for REAL.

Remember this also....."There is no bad time to sell your home, only a bad marketing plan!"

For more information Contact:

Jerry Gusman

The Gusman Group


$63.1 Million Awarded to Stave Off Foreclosures

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 03/19/14

$63.1 Million Awarded to Stave Off Foreclosures

$63.1 Million Awarded to Stave Off Foreclosures

NeighborWorks America announced Tuesday in a press release that $63.1 million had been awarded to 29 state housing finance agencies, 18 HUD-approved housing counseling intermediaries, and 67 community-based NeighborWorks organizations.

The money, provided through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program, is earmarked for counseling to families and individuals facing the threat of foreclosure.

The organization notes that although the number of households facing foreclosure is below the peak seen a few years ago during the housing crisis, "[M]any hundreds of thousands of homeowners will still face trouble with their mortgages this year."

More than 167,800 families who face foreclosure are expected to be directly assisted by the funds.

NeighborWorks America notes that more than 1,100 nonprofit counseling agencies and local NeighborWorks organizations across the country are expected to be engaged with the NFMC program as a result of the award.

The agencies provide, "[F]ree assistance to families at risk of losing their homes, determine homeowner eligibility for the various state and federal foreclosure prevention assistance programs, help homeowners understand the complex foreclosure process, and identify possible courses of action so their homeowner clients can make informed decisions and take action," according to the release.

Additionally, funds will go to the training of 2,000 counselors who can assist in foreclosure-related issues.

The NeighborWorks America program has been effective. The release cites a 33 percent decline in serious mortgage delinquencies for homeowners who received NeighborWorks pre-purchase guidance, compared to similar homeowners who received no pre-purchase help.

However, the $63.1 million awarded is not enough to satisfy all demand for NFMC funding. Requests for awards totaled in excess of $100 million dollars, which suggests that the many families seeking assistance 

First-Time Buyers Show Interest; Face Tough Market

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 03/13/14

First-Time Buyers Show Interest; Face Tough Market

First-Time Buyers Show Interest; Face Tough Market

More than 4 million first-time buyers want to enter the market, but they face some tough issues as market conditions aren’t exactly favorable to new buyers.

This conclusion came from the Zillow Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), a new calculation released by Zillow and Pulsenomics.

The ZHCI is a measure of consumer sentiment; anything over 50 indicates a positive sentiment. The current national index is 63.7. Of the 20 metros surveyed, 11 had individual confidence levels above the national average.

In 19 of the 20 large metros surveyed, more than 5.0 percent indicated they wanted to buy a home in the next year. The report notes, "Among current renters, homeownership aspirations were particularly strong, with about 10 percent of all renters nationwide saying they would like to buy within the next 12 months."

A vast majority of respondents said they were "confident or somewhat confident" they could afford a home in 2014.

If every respondent who indicated they wanted to buy a home actually purchased one, first-time home sales would total more than 4.2 million for 2014, more than double the roughly 2.1 million first-time buyers in 2013.

While this optimistic total from Zillow suggests interest is high, actually purchasing a home should prove to be a challenge in the upcoming year.

Market conditions are mixed: inventory, up 11 percent from a year ago, is still well below optimal levels, and has fallen year-over-year in 8 of 20 metros measured by the ZHCI. Mortgage rates, once a record low 3.3 percent in 2013, have risen to 4.2 percent, according to the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

A dearth of inventory coupled with rising mortgage rates could push homes out of a homebuyer's price range, particularly for first-time buyers.

"For the housing market to continue its recovery, it is critical that homes are both available and remain affordable to meet the strong demand these survey results are predicting, particularly from first-time homebuyers," said Zillow Chief Economist, Dr. Stan Humphries. "Even after a wrenching housing recession, this data shows that the dream of homeownership remains very much alive and well, even in those areas that were hardest hit."

He added, "But these aspirations must also contend with the current reality, and in many areas, conditions remain difficult for buyers. The market is moving toward more balance between buyers and sellers, but it is a slow and uneven process."

Areas indicated by the ZHCI with the highest interest in purchasing a new home come from metros that were hit hardest by the housing recession: Miami (67.5), Atlanta (62.9), and Las Vegas (64.1).

Each were near or above the national index of 63.7 for "Overall Housing Confidence."

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Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Total Foreclosures Fall; ‘Zombie Foreclosures’ Pose Challenges

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 03/13/14

Total Foreclosures Fall; ‘Zombie Foreclosures’ Pose Challenges

Total Foreclosures Fall; ‘Zombie Foreclosures’ Pose Challenges

Foreclosure filings are down to record lows, but a more sinister-sounding problem may be on the rise—"zombie foreclosures."

RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February, reporting that foreclosure filings (default notices, schedule auctions, and bank repossessions) were 112,498, down 10 percent from January and down 27 percent from the previous year.

Foreclosure filings in the month of February represent the lowest monthly total since December, 2006—a more than seven-year low.

"Cold weather and a short month certainly contributed to a seasonal drop in foreclosure activity in February, but the reality is that new activity is no longer the biggest threat to the housing market when it comes to foreclosures," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.

"The biggest threat from foreclosures going forward is properties that have been lingering in the foreclosure process for years, many of them vacant with neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home—or at the very least facilitating a sale to a new homeowner more likely to perform needed upkeep and maintenance," Blomquist said.

As of the first quarter of 2014, a total of 152,033 properties in the foreclosure process had been vacated by the homeowner. These “zombie foreclosures” represent 21 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process.

Owner-vacated properties have been in the foreclosure process an average of 1,031 days, nearly three years.

"One in every five homes in the foreclosure process nationwide have been vacated by the distressed homeowner, but it is closer to one in three foreclosures in some cities," Blomquist added. "These properties drag down home values in the surrounding neighborhood and contribute to a climate of uncertainty and low inventory in local housing markets."

The state with the most owner-vacated foreclosures was Florida with 54,908, representing 36 percent of the national total. Illinois (15,512), New York (10,880), New Jersey (8,595), and Ohio (7,780) rounded out the top five states for owner-vacated foreclosures.

Foreclosure starts fell back to 51,842, their lowest level since December, 2005. A total of 47,715 U.S. properties were scheduled for a future foreclosure auction in February, down 15 percent from the previous month and down 21 percent from a year ago.

Bank repossessions (REO) were 30,307 in February, up less than 1 percent from January. Year-over-year, REO properties were down 33 percent.

States with the highest foreclosure rates in February were Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Among metros with populations of 200,000 or more, Florida held nine of the top ten metros for foreclosure rates in February. The dubious honor of leader went to the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro, where one in every 296 housing units were in foreclosure—nearly four times the national average.

For more information contact

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Should States Fast-Track Foreclosures?

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 03/10/14

Should States Fast-Track Foreclosures?

A new study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggests that fast-tracking foreclosures on vacant properties could provide states with substantial savings. Researchers Kyle Fee and Thomas J. Fitzpatrick used two judicial states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, to show that savings from fast-tracking could save at least $24 million annually.

The report notes, "In Ohio, the annual savings from a foreclosure fast-track is estimated to be between $24,000,000 and $129,000,000," and that savings are "an elimination of deadweight losses, rather than a shifting of costs. That is, these costs already exist and benefit no one."

Pennsylvania could have saved an estimated $24 million to $54 million.

States that require foreclosures to be conducted through the courts "have decided that protecting the rights of property owners is worth the higher cost of judicial foreclosure relative to nonjudicial foreclosure," Fee and Fitzpatrick said.

Costs are incurred when properties are left vacant, leaving them more susceptible to be vandalized and stripped of valuable items, like metal. Repairing these homes to sell is a costly endeavor, and by speeding up the foreclosure process, properties would be left vacant for smaller periods of time, resulting in less damage.

Additional concerns arise as unoccupied homes create health and safety hazards, and cause homes in neighboring areas to decrease in home value.

The report notes that the costs of vacant properties provide no value, and "these costs are born primarily by the lender through rehabilitation costs or lower sales prices."

By fast-tracking homes through the judicial process, researchers Lee and Fitzpatrick found that Ohio could have lowered its foreclosed inventory by .5 percentage points, to less than 2 percent instead of the current figure of just under 2.5 percent. Pennsylvania would have seen similar results, according to the report.

In the study, Lee and Fitzpatrick found that fast-tracking foreclosures could shave off between 8 and 43 days in Ohio, and 9 to 20 days in Pennsylvania.

However, creating legislation to hasten the judicial process is likely to be difficult.

"Crafting legislation that adequately balances the interests of creditors and homeowners while meaningfully fast-tracking foreclosures is no simple task, and would likely require the input of creditors, communities, foreclosure attorneys, and the judiciary," the report said.

For more information contact

Jerry Gusman, THe Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Foreclosure Inventory Down 31% in 2013, Slow Progress Expected in 2014

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 02/24/14

Foreclosure Inventory Down 31% in 2013, Slow Progress Expected in 2014

Foreclosure Inventory Down 31% in 2013, Slow Progress Expected in 2014

National foreclosure inventory fell 31 percent year-over-year in December, with 2.1 percent of all homes with a mortgage in some stage of foreclosure, according to CoreLogic's December National Foreclosure Report.

Completed foreclosures also declined year-over-year in December, though at a somewhat lower rate of 14 percent, according to CoreLogic.

Despite declines, foreclosures remain elevated compared to historical norms. From 2000 through 2006, about 21,000 foreclosures were completed each month.

In December 45,000 foreclosures were completed, down from 47,000 in November and 52,000 in December 2012.

"Clearly, 2013 was a transitional year for residential property in the United States," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

"Higher home prices and lower shadow inventory levels, together with a slowly improving economy, are hopeful signals that we are turning a long-awaited corner," Nallathambi said.

However, he anticipates "progress to remain very slow" this year.

Five states accounted for nearly half of all completed foreclosures in 2013. Those states included Florida with 119,000 foreclosures, Michigan with 53,000 foreclosures, California with 39,000 foreclosures, Texas with 39,000 foreclosures, and Georgia with 35,000 foreclosures completed over the year.

At the other end of the spectrum, the five states with the fewest foreclosures completed in 2013 were the District of Columbia with 63 foreclosures, North Dakota with 417 foreclosures, Hawaii with 493 foreclosures, West Virginia with 505 foreclosures, and Wyoming with 759 foreclosures.

The states ranking highest for the percentage of foreclosure inventory as of year-end is not consistent with the list of states with the highest numbers of completed foreclosures over the year, except that Florida ranked highest in both categories.

In Florida, 6.7 percent of all homes with a mortgage are in some stage of foreclosure.

Florida is followed by New Jersey (6.5 percent), New York (4.9 percent), Connecticut (3.6 percent), and Maine (3.6 percent).

States with the smallest foreclosure inventory rates in December were Wyoming (0.4 percent), Alaska (0.5 percent), North Dakota (0.6 percent), Colorado (0.6 percent), and Nebraska (0.6 percent).

In total, 4.8 million foreclosures have been completed since the start of the housing crisis in September 2008, according to CoreLogic.

For more information contact

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

Expired Mortgage Tax Relief Could Increase Pressure on Troubled Borrowers

by Short Sale Agent Jerry Gusman on 02/07/14

Expired Mortgage Tax Relief Could Increase Pressure on Troubled Borrowers

Expired Tax Relief Could Increase Pressure on Troubled Borrowers

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act's (MFDRA) expiration may lead to negative pressure on liquidation timelines and recoveries for legacy U.S. mortgage investors if the act is not renewed, according to Fitch Ratings.

Recently expired as of January 1, the MFDRA was signed into law December 2007 with the purpose of aiding underwater mortgage holders. Fitch Ratings projects a negative effect from the MFDRA’s expiration.

The act was designed to provide tax relief by allowing certain borrowers to exclude mortgage debt that was cancelled or forgiven by the lender through a foreclosure, short sale, or loan modification—debt that would normally be considered income for tax purposes.

Without this relief, Fitch expects a decline in the volume of short sales and principal forgiveness modifications. The agency cites three reasons for its projection:

  • Without the tax exemption, there is less incentive for distressed borrowers to agree to a voluntary property sale that will not pay the loan off in full, likely increasing the number of involuntary foreclosure sales.
  • The MFDRA's expiration provides less incentive for servicers to offer principal forgiveness modifications. The tax burden on the borrower increases the likelihood of redefault.
  • Servicers may increasingly opt for principal forbearance, which requires the borrower to repay the reduced principal amount at the end of the loan term.

Congress is currently considering extending the tax relief through 2015 or 2016.

For more information contact

Jerry Gusman, The Gusman Group

(888) 213-4208

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