Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scam Artists Using Forged Letterhead To Con Californians

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. is warning consumers that scam artists are using the forged letterhead of major lenders to con worried Californians into paying thousands of dollars for non-existent loan modification services.

"Californians should be deeply skeptical of anyone who demands money up front and makes extravagant promises that they can save their home," Brown said.

Steps consumers can take to protect themselves from loan modification fraud are available at

Complaints may be filed with the Attorney General's Office at: Office of the Attorney General - Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244, or online at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

S.F. Real Estate Rebounding—A Channel 5 News Story

The lead story yesterday on the six o’clock news on Channel 5 (the local CBS affiliate station) was a report by Emmy Award-winning political editor Hank Plante on the rebound in real estate sales that has been noticed recently in San Francisco. The story cited the upsurge in sales that has occurred in the Excelsior district, the Sunnyside district, at the Infinity Towers and many other areas in the city. Plante explained that the driving factors are historically low interest rates, more rational asking prices, the availability of credit and the effects of pent-up demand. The Association which worked on the story with others provided statistical support for what had been observed in the field through Terradatum, the company which provides the Association with reports for publication in REALTOR® Advantage Online.

Click here to view the story.

Scam Alert - NAR is not involved in property rental

The National Association of REALTORS® has just learned that its good name is being used as part of a property rental scam. In this scam, rental property is offered to consumers, who are led to believe that NAR is functioning as an intermediary to receive rental deposits from prospective tenants and, upon receipt of the deposit, to deliver the keys to the property to the tenant. The tenant is instructed to send money via Western Union to NAR's purported agent, in the United Kingdom.

NAR is not involved in this business and believes it is a scam. NAR has contacted law enforcement officials to request that the matter be investigated.

If you have encountered this scam, be advised you may file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Read more and file a complaint.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Peninsula Cities Sales Statistics – February, 2009

Peninsula Cities Sales Statistics – January, 2009

How do I know if Fannie or Freddie owns my loan?

With all the discussions of the great refinancing options being offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, how do you find out if one of these enties own your loan?

It's amazingly easy. Just go to their respective website area devoted to this question and enter in your information.

Click here for Fannie Mae's website and here for Freddie Mac's.

One caution - Fannie Mae's site works great, user have reported more issues with Freddie Mac's.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Green Hills Country Club has re-opened

This blog is a departure from our regular topics but still related to real estate golf course style.

My Rotary Club just returned to our old venue for lunch - the Green Hills Country Club in Millbrae. The Club was shut down for almost two years for a from the studs up rebuild. Wow! They did an amazing job with the exterior and the interior. The room we meet in is called The Sunset Room with golf course views to die for. The only non-view wall is filled with wine selections.

The above picture shows the huge luncheon salad and the room quite well. I am on the far right. Our topic was traveling to Taiwan - very interesting.

Please consider this an open invitation to join The Rotary Club of Millbrae on any Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. for a $25 gourmet lunch and a great speaker. See the website for more details.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making Home Affordable Summary of Guidelines from the U.S. Dept. of Treasury

In conjunction with the release of the new guidelines, the Treasury Dept., the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and others have prepared a consumer-friendly Q&A and eligibility assessment tools for borrowers available at

Here's some great details on the newly passed housing stimulus laws:

March 4, 2009

Making Home Affordable Summary of Guidelines

Making Home Affordable will offer assistance to as many as 7 to 9 million homeowners, making their mortgages more affordable and helping to prevent the destructive impact of foreclosures on families, communities and the national economy.

The Home Affordable Refinance program will be available to 4 to 5 million homeowners who have a solid payment history on an existing mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Normally, these borrowers would be unable to refinance because their homes have lost value, pushing their current loan-to-value ratios above 80%. Under the Home Affordable Refinance program, many of them will now be eligible to refinance their loan to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates or to refinance an adjustable-rate mortgage into a more stable mortgage, such as a 30-year fixed rate loan.

GSE lenders and servicers already have much of the borrower’s information on file, so documentation requirements are not likely to be burdensome. In addition, in some cases an appraisal will not be necessary. This flexibility will make the refinance quicker and less costly for both borrowers and lenders. The Home Affordable Refinance program ends in June 2010.

The Home Affordable Modification program will help up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing monthly mortgage payments. Working with the banking and credit union regulators, the FHA, the VA, the USDA and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department today announced program guidelines that are expected to become standard industry practice in pursuing affordable and sustainable mortgage modifications. This program will work in tandem with an expanded and improved Hope for Homeowners program.

With the information now available, servicers can begin immediately to modify eligible mortgages under the Modification program so that at-risk borrowers can better afford their payments. The detailed guidelines (separate document at
provide information on the following:

Eligibility and Verification
• Loans originated on or before January 1, 2009.
• First-lien loans on owner-occupied properties with unpaid principal balance up to $729,750. Higher limits allowed for owner-occupied properties with 2-4 units.
• All borrowers must fully document income, including signed IRS 4506-T, two most recent pay stubs, and most recent tax return, and must sign an affidavit of financial hardship.
• Property owner occupancy status will be verified through borrower credit report and other documentation; no investor-owned, vacant, or condemned properties.
• Incentives to lenders and servicers to modify at risk borrowers who have not yet missed payments when the servicer determines that the borrower is at imminent risk of default.
• Modifications can start from now until December 31, 2012; loans can be modified only once under the program. Loan Modification Terms and Procedures
• Participating servicers are required to service all eligible loans under the rules of the program unless explicitly prohibited by contract; servicers are required to use reasonable efforts to obtain waivers of limits on participation.
• Participating loan servicers will be required to use a net present value (NPV) test on each loan that is at risk of imminent default or at least 60 days delinquent. The NPV test will compare the net present value of cash flows with modification and without modification. If the test is positive
– meaning that the net present value of expected cash flow is greater in the modification scenario – the servicer must modify absent fraud or a contract prohibition.
• Parameters of the NPV test are spelled out in the guidelines, including acceptable discount rates, property valuation methodologies, home price appreciation assumptions, foreclosure costs and timelines, and borrower cure and redefault rate assumptions.
• Servicers will follow a specified sequence of steps in order to reduce the monthly payment to no more than 31% of gross monthly income (DTI).
• The modification sequence requires first reducing the interest rate (subject to a rate floor of 2%), then if necessary extending the term or amortization of the loan up to a maximum of 40 years, and then if necessary forbearing principal. Principal forgiveness or a Hope for Homeowners refinancing are acceptable alternatives.
• The monthly payment includes principal, interest, taxes, insurance, flood insurance, homeowner’s association and/or condominium fees. Monthly income includes wages, salary, overtime, fees, commissions, tips, social security, pensions, and all other income.
• Servicers must enter into the program agreements with Treasury's financial agent on or before December 31, 2009.

Payments to Servicers, Lenders, and Responsible Borrowers
• The program will share with the lender/investor the cost of reductions in monthly payments from 38% DTI to 31% DTI.
• Servicers that modify loans according to the guidelines will receive an up-front fee of $1,000 for each modification, plus “pay for success” fees on still-performing loans of $1,000 per year.
• Homeowners who make their payments on time are eligible for up to $1,000 of principal reduction payments each year for up to five years.
• The program will provide one-time bonus incentive payments of $1,500 to lender/investors and $500 to servicers for modifications made while a borrower is still current on mortgage payments.
• The program will include incentives for extinguishing second liens on loans modified under this program.
• No payments will be made under the program to the lender/investor, servicer, or borrower unless and until the servicer has first entered into the program agreements with Treasury’s financial agent.
• Similar incentives will be paid for Hope for Homeowner refinances.

Transparency and Accountability
• Measures to prevent and detect fraud, such as documentation and audit requirements, will be central to the program.
• Servicers will be required to collect, maintain and transmit records for verification and compliance review, including borrower eligibility, underwriting, incentive payments, property verification, and other documentation.
• Freddie Mac will audit compliance.