You are here: Home » 2012 » July

VA/FHA Short Sale Wrinkle

“Yes” or “No.” That’s how I like questions answered. That’s also how I’d LIKE to answer questions. But so many times when someone asks me a question, I have to say, “Well, it depends…” I’m sure my clients find it incredibly frustrating when I do that, but the reason is not that I don’t WANT to answer the question, it’s just that it really DOES depend on a large number of variables and educated guesses.

For example, for years we had to tell our short sale sellers that if their short sale approval letter didn’t contain “full satisfaction” language that their lender may be able to pursue them for the deficiency after the short sale. But then last year California passed a law that said that in nearly all short sales, the lender is forbidden from pursuing you for the deficiency, no matter what the approval letter said. And there was much rejoicing in the land!

But I’ve recently discovered a new wrinkle in regards to VA and FHA loans. These are both Federal programs. So while the State of California passed a law saying that THEY forbid lenders from pursuing you, there are several legal precedents where Federal law trumps State law. Rut-roh… But then what if your lender issues an approval letter that states they are giving your full satisfaction? Well, VA and FHA are not your lender, they are insuring or guaranteeing the loan. So now the question becomes whether VA or FHA can come after you for their losses? Note that this may apply no matter how they had losses, so this may apply in a foreclosure, too. If you are considering a short sale or foreclosure and you have an FHA or VA loan, be sure to have an attorney review your original loan documents and get their opinion. I AM NOT A LEGAL EXPERT, PLEASE CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FOR SPECIFICS TO YOUR SITUATION.

If you have questions on any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Wow! How unique!

“Oh my gosh! Honey, come quick! Look! I finally found it! I know our agent told us our requirements were too strict, that we’d NEVER find a home like this, but after 14 months of looking at every new listing to hit the market in a four county wide area, I found it! Look, a home that has a square corner in one of the bedrooms! This is EXTREMELY rare! So glad this agent highlighted it for us, or we’d have never found it! Who cares what the rest of the house looks like, let’s write an offer RIGHT NOW!”

Foreclosure Help Being Ignored

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, right? And we all know there are a lot of scams out there to be careful of. We’ve seen the ads or the mailers that scream out their incredible, unbelievable headlines – “Government homes for $1!” or “Wronged by your lender? We’ll get your mortgage wiped off!”

It’s to the point that we’re all skeptical. Well, apparently we are now TOO skeptical! Even when there is legitimate help, they aren’t taking advantage of it! There are two main programs out there right now where you may be eligible for help, even if you already lost your home to foreclosure. There is the independent foreclosure review, that will do a free review of your foreclosure to determine if it was done improperly and see if you are due any money, and then the national mortgage settlement that may help with either a loan mod, principal reduction or also if you already lost your home to foreclosure. Over 4 million homeowners qualify for one of these programs, but only 5% have applied!

I don’t have the space to get into all the details of each program, so I’ll just give you the websites that you can check out and then apply if you think you may qualify. Each of these programs are FREE. It wouldn’t hurt to look and apply!



If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Comes with BBQ – in the pool?

I’ve seen pools that have volleyball nets in them, umbrella holders, and even one with a covered swim-up bar. But a BBQ in the pool?

Is The Market Getting Better?

I’ve heard people call a “bottom” to this market several times over the past 3-4 years. “Never a better time to buy!” they say. “It can’t go any lower!” we hear. But then the market moves down another 5-10%, or more.

Lately, inventory (number of homes for sale ) has gotten lower and lower, and appears to be staying low due to banks continuing to delay foreclosing en masse on most their delinquent homeowners. Interest rates are low, and staying low (so far). And lastly, prices HAVE dropped to the point where investors can buy some homes and rent them out for more than their mortgage payment. Or at least they can get a better return on their money than sitting in a CD or savings account.

On top of all that, we do have a sizable population of pent-up buyers on the sidelines. First, there are the first-time buyers that got priced out of the market from 2002-2007, then got scared 2008-2012, and now are getting out-bid again by investors. Then you have all the people that lost their homes the last few years due to foreclosure or short sale. Many of them are coming up on their 2-4 year anniversary to where maybe they can qualify to buy another home. And then of course there are the investors who are gobbling up most of the homes under $200,000 looking to rent them out.

All of the above items do appear to have created A bottom in home prices. In many areas, we are seeing an increase of 5-10% in prices the last few months. So is this “the” bottom? If inventory stays low, rates stay low, and the general economy improves to where the unemployment rate improves in a sustained, organic way (meaning jobs created by actual demand, NOT government stimulus), then, yes, this is probably the bottom!

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty


Picture in a picture?


picture of picture

This is ACTUALLY a picture within a picture.

I have no idea what circumstances conspired to make this situation happen. Someone had a digital camera at some point to take a picture of the picture of the house, but not of the house itself?

Did they take a picture with their film camera (not bothering to ask the Seller to move their car), go get it developed, then drive to someone’s house where there was a digital camera, then put the picture on their bed and then take the picture without zooming in? Then not bother to crop the photo before uploading to the MLS?

So many questions on this one! Feel free to leave your comment as to what you think happened here.


Agent – “OK, you go across the street and take the picture, but wait for me to put up the sign and get out of the way first.”

Assistant – “Right, I go take the picture.”

Agent – “….um, wait until I get out of the way, THEN take the picture.”

Assistant – “Got it. You put up the sign, I’ll take the picture.”

Agent – “…after….”

Assistant – “After what?”

Agent – “After I put up the sign!”

Assistant – “Oh, YOU are going to put up the sign? Cool! Should I take the picture before or after you do that?”

Agent – “AFTER I put up the sign! Got it?”

Assistant – “Of course, sign, then picture. Got it, Boss!”

Agent – [Starts taking sign out of trunk…]

Assistant – [CLICK] “Got it! But are you sure it’s OK that you are in the picture?”

Agent – “Sigh…”


Property Tax Appeal

I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that depending on when you bought your home, it may be worth less than what you paid for it. Besides the obvious reason why this is bad news, there is more bad news: You could be paying too much in property taxes! Your tax bill is based on your assessed value, which is usually based on your purchase price and can increase slightly each year after that. Values dropped significantly when the real estate bubble popped, which opens up the possibility for you to appeal your assessed value if you think it is too high.

I spoke with Gus Kramer, the Assessor for Contra Costa County, about this topic a while ago. He was surprisingly very willing to adjust assessed values when it is warranted. They are aware that values have dropped, so they are even proactively dropping some assessed values without the homeowners even asking! Way to go Gus! He told me that some letters have already gone out to homeowners informing them about their reduced tax bill, so check your mailbox!

If you don’t want to wait, you can call the Assessor’s office yourself at 925-313-7400 and ask to file a Proposition 8 appeal. There is a form to fill out, and you will need to provide evidence to show why you think your assessed value is too high. You do not need to spend the money to have your home appraised (although if you have a recent appraisal, that’s great). A printout of recently sold similar homes is probably enough to make your case.

I have a supply of the form you’ll need at my office. You are welcome to come by and pick up a copy at no charge. Just ask at the front desk and we’ll hand it to you. If you need me to run the comparable sales for you, just give me a call or email me at Brian@SharpHomesOnline.com.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

How Sellers Choose Offers Part III

Today I’ll discuss how offers are considered for bank-owned properties. It’s important to keep in mind that you are dealing with a representative of the owner in the form of a bank employee, but not the actual “owner” themselves. Bank employees are graded on hitting certain “metrics,” which are ways to measure their performance. As crazy as it may sound, sometimes maximizing net profit on each deal can be in conflict with the employee’s metric that month.

 Let’s take the fictional “Joe,” an asset manager for a bank. He’s had a string of months where all his escrows are closing late because of delays due to the buyer’s financing. He’s getting pressure from “the suits upstairs” to close deals quicker. Joe lists a home that needs a LOT of work with a local agent for $200,000. Immediately they are swamped with offers ranging from an all-cash offer at $190,000 up to $250,000 for a buyer that’s getting a 203k “rehab” loan that will let the buyer finance their fix-up costs through their loan.

Here is what is running through Joe’s head: The all-cash offer can close before the end of that month and will take the home as-is. They have liquid funds and won’t have any loan issues. The $250,000 buyer will net the bank more money, but will take longer, and there could be hang-ups along the way. Joe also knows that the all-cash offer of $190K is within the tolerance level his bank has set to where he won’t get “dinged” on his internal report card. So banks will often give a GREAT deal of preference to cash, as-is offers, even if they are less than list price, which regular equity sellers and short sale sellers are not as impressed with all-cash. However, there are a LOT of cash buyers these days, so banks often have the luxury of choosing from among the highest all-cash offer.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

HARP Update II

Brace yourself, I’m about to report on something POSITIVE about the government’s efforts to help distressed homeowners! (Don’t worry, I may never do this again…) Remember last year when I told you about the FHA short-refi program, where you could get your loan balance knocked down to the market value and at current (low at that time) interest rates? Well, sorry, that one is still a disaster. I’ve yet to hear of a SINGLE FHA short-refi to go through.

But then earlier this year I told you about HARP II where you could refinance your under-water loan into current (now even lower) interest rates. You are still upside-down, but at least it’s a way to get your payment lowered and get into a fixed, principal-reducing payment that is more affordable. I told you I’d let you know how it’s going. Well, the good news is that THIS program is actually working! I’ve heard of several of these loans that are actually closing! So if you are upside-down, but you would stay in your home if your payment was lower, and you aren’t having any luck with a loan mod, you should look into a HARP II refinance. You can call your current lender, or another lender to do this for you.

There are some requirements that must be met to qualify. The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. This is NOT who you make your check out to. So don’t despair because your statement comes from BofA, or Chase, or someone else because they are just your SERVICER. To find out if your loan if Freddie of Fannie, call 800-7FANNIE and then 800-FREDDIE. However, you can have had no late mortgage payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in past twelve months. You also can’t have had another HARP refi in the past.

If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search theMLSfor free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty

Next Page »

Return to top of page

Contact Us

  • Sharp Realty
  • 320 Fairview Ave.
  • Brentwood CA 94513
  • P: 925.240.6683
  • F: 925.524.2302
  • E: info@SharpHomesOnline.com
  • DRE# 01858431