Foreclosures Halted for the 2011 Holidays

Great news for struggling homeowners in foreclosure! Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and some other big mortgage lending companies have promised not to foreclose on delinquent mortgage borrowers during the 2011 Christmas season.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) have agreed to delay foreclosures from December 19th through January 2nd of 2012. All of the legal and administrative work required for the evictions will continue during this time. But, according to a statement made by Fannie Mae, the physical evictions will cease. This will allow these families to remain in their homes until after the new year.

“No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season,” said Terry Edwards, an executive vice president for Fannie Mae.

Big Mortgage Lending Banks

Chase and Wells Fargo, major banks that offer home loans, are also allowing delinquent borrowers to enjoy their holidays in peace. Chase Mortgage has vowed to hold off on all evictions between December 22nd and January 2nd.

Wells Fargo has also agreed to not evict during that same time frame. But, this rule only applies to properties within their own portfolio. For loans that Wells Fargo services for outside lenders, foreclosures may still happen. That’s because these smaller lenders have not made this 2011 holiday season vow.

Bank of America, another big leader in the mortgage lending industry, has made a vow that is slightly vague. They said that they will, “avoid foreclosure sales or displacement of homeowners or tenants around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.” Although this statement does not give specific dates, it may help to give BofA’s delinquent borrowers a little peace of mind during Christmas time. Just a little…

Holiday Miracles

Halting foreclosures during the holidays could have a major impact on tens of thousands of homeowners. According to RealtyTrac, an average of 89,000 foreclosure auctions per month were scheduled for 2011. This is the final step in the eviction process before actual eviction occurs.

When we think about Christmas, we think about movies like “Miracle on 34th Street.” This is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies because everyone wants to believe that miracles can happen. It’s the holidays. Miracles can happen. The foreclosure halts give homeowners a second chance to believe in miracles and the spirit of the holiday season.

You never know. You just may get the greatest Christmas gift ever, or scratch that perfect holiday lottery ticket. You just may get the miracle you need to save your home, because come January 2, 2012, the lenders will be getting back to business as usual.

The Secret of Real Estate Final Walk-Through Success

Before you close on the purchase of your home you have one more chance to view the interior of the house you are about to buy.  Don’t waste it.

This is the final walk-through and it is your chance to ensure that the house you are buying is the one you agreed to buy when you signed the offer to purchase.

I’ve noticed that how my clients approach the walk-through is a mixed bag. Some treat it with all the seriousness it deserves, while others offer nary a glance as they speed through the home.

So, what should a buyer be on the lookout for during the final walk-through?


First, you should attempt to conduct the final walk-through as close to the closing as possible.  The goal here is to reduce or eliminate the chance that something can change between the time you look at the property and when you sign the final HUD.  Aim for hours, not days, and ideally, the final walk-through should literally be done on the way to the closing table thereby eliminating the chance that the property can change.

If the seller agreed to make certain repairs, check first to ensure that those repairs were, in fact, made, to the specifications outlined in the purchase and sale agreement. If checking these repairs requires water, gas or electricity, and those services have been shut off, don’t close the escrow until the services are reinstated and you can perform your inspection.

Next, make sure that the rest of the house is in the same condition as when you made the offer. Go through each room and look for recent major damage, such as to walls, baseboards and flooring. Check the attic and basement to ensure the seller didn’t leave behind their unwanted junk. If appliances were included in the sale, check to ensure they are in working condition; run the dishwasher through an entire cycle, check that the icemaker in the freezer is in working order and that the refrigerator remains cold.

Check the plumbing by flushing toilets and running both cold and hot water through all of the faucets. Turn on the heater, then the air conditioner.

I once had a client that moved into her home only to find that the garbage disposer was missing. The sellers took it with them. So, tinker with everything you need to tinker with to assure yourself that all is as it should be.

The home should be at least swept clean – this is oftentimes called “broom clean” condition. If it’s not, request that the seller have it cleaned before you close escrow.

Don’t neglect the exterior of the home. Check that the sprinkler or other irrigation system is in working order. If there’s a timer, did the seller leave the instruction booklet? If not, ask your agent to get it from the listing agent or have the sellers buy you a new one.

Run pool and hot tub equipment, including heaters, lights and filters. Do you understand how to use the control panel for these items? If not, ask your agent to get this information from the seller.

After you’ve signed the closing papers, this house, and any problems, belongs to you. The time for due diligence will have come and gone and you may have little recourse for items you find after the sale. Take your time during the final walk-through, listen to your real estate agent’s advice and you can go to the closing table confident that you are getting what you’re paying for.

Do You Need A Tech Savvy Agent To Sell Your Home?

That is the question, right? So I guess it would be rude to answer a question with another question, but I just have to. Why would you NOT want a tech savvy agent to help sell your home? With the National Association of REALTORS® reporting that the number of people who begin their home search on-line is now upwards of 80% and climbing every year, it is not a matter of if a buyer is going to find your home on-line, it is a question of when and how.

When considering agents, there is definitely something to be said for those that have been around to see the neighborhood grow and change. The knowledge that they possess is priceless. But, have they kept up with the times? Even if they have not personally, do they hire somebody to take care of the ‘techy’ stuff for them? If you are getting pressured into interviewing your friend’s great aunt who has been in ‘the business’ for 30 years, make sure you ask specifically what the plan for your listing will be technology-wise. If she brings a booklet for her listing presentation or asks you to fax back your listing papers, she may not be the one.

Taking this a step further, my definition of tech savvy includes a wide variety of things. Having your home listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is really just scratching the surface. There are literally hundreds of real estate websites it could be syndicated to, but the highest priority ones are; Trulia, Zillow, and But I am getting slightly ahead of myself. Let’s back up and talk about the photography. It is so critically important. It stands to reason, if the web is where most people’s first impression of your home comes from, it needs to look good. So, either the photos need to be done by a professional, or at the very least a high quality camera. It is still appalling, in this day and age, to see dark, blurry, or shadowy photos of a house on-line.

Being tech savvy is also more than having tools or gadgets. It is the ability to connect with today’s consumers via several different means; text, e-mail, and social media. Some experts have said that increasingly, consumers are searching Facebook first to find information. With the depth of personal data Facebook records, it is typically able to offer more accurate search results to the searcher. In addition, e-mail blasts to other agents or target audiences (apartment dwellers), can prove to be highly effective in getting the word out about listings. It is all about getting your property in front of as many people as possible. For a REALTOR® with a good Twitter following, tweeting is another way to do that Think now about your sign. An empty flyer box and generic phone number will not satisfy today’s buyer. They are looking for instantaneous information. To that order, a real estate QR code or text-for-more-info number can answer that need.

In essence, the number of different ways to use all the available technology is almost limitless. This is absolutely a more-is-more scenario. So, when selecting an agent to list your home, remember that marketing is that agent’s number one responsibility. Make sure that they have at least a handful of ideas that involve more than the typical MLS, sign in yard, and faded flyers. It only takes one good buyer to accomplish your goal of selling your home, so the more people that know about it, the sooner you’ll be home free!