Archive for August, 2010

Programs Offer Short Sale Alternatives for Struggling Homeowners

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

As more home owners have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, foreclosures and short sales have become more of a common occurrence in the Greater Rochester region and across the nation. A short sale is a sale of a property where the sale price falls short of the balance owned on the loan. The lender must agree to and accept less than the total amount due. In some instances, a short sale may be a better alternative to foreclosure because it helps avoid hefty fees for the lender and has less of a dramatic impact on a borrower’s credit rating.

While there are loan modification and other programs that can assist homeowners, not everyone will qualify. For many who are at risk of losing their home through foreclosure, a new program from the United States Treasury Department may help.

In February 2009, the Obama Administration introduced the “Making Home Affordable Program.” The plan is intended to stabilize the housing market and help struggling homeowners remain in their homes. One option is to modify mortgages to make them more affordable through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). While many homeowners have received help through HAMP, far too many will not be able to keep their home even with a loan modification. For those homeowners, the Treasury Department has established a new short sales program called the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA). HAFA is designed to streamline short sales by providing a uniform process, standard forms, and incentives for families and their mortgage servicers to complete the process. It offers homeowners who sell their homes under HAFA, $3,000 to help cover their moving costs.

On June 1, 2010, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released guidelines for implementing the HAFA program. Servicers were required to implement these policies no later than August 1, 2010. While largely consistent with the HAFA guidelines for non-GSE mortgages, Fannie and Freddie have each made some important differences. To be eligible under the non-GSE HAFA program, the borrower must be delinquent or default must be reasonably foreseeable. Under Freddie’s requirements, a borrower must be more than 60 days delinquent and have cash reserves less than the greater of $5,000, or three times the current monthly mortgage payment. Fannie allows borrowers to be at imminent risk of default. Fannie also prohibits a borrower from participating in HAFA, if the borrower has the ability to continue making the mortgage payments but chooses not to do so (sometimes called strategic default); has substantial unencumbered assets or significant cash reserves equal to or exceeding three times the borrower’s total monthly mortgage payment or $5,000, whichever is greater; or has high surplus income. Fannie and Freddie allow for servicer incentives of $2,200 for a short sale and $1,500 for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (DIL). This is in contrast to the $1,500 servicer incentive for both a short sale and a DIL for non-GSE mortgages. For both Fannie and Freddie, each subordinate lien holder in order of priority may be paid no more than 6% of the unpaid principal balance of its loan, until the $6,000 cap is attained. This policy remains unchanged from the non-GSE HAFA program. Consistent with the non-GSE HAFA program, Fannie and Freddie guidelines do not permit subordinate lien holders to require contributions from the real estate agent or borrower as a condition for releasing its lien and releasing the borrower from personal liability. 2

The Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® recommends that anyone who is at risk of foreclosure or considering a short sale to first seek the advice of a real estate attorney or financial advisor who can discuss various options and alternatives to ensure that their best interests are protected.

*Some of the information contained in this article was provided by the National Association of REALTORS®

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Visit this website for more info…

Tree-Killing Beetle Makes It To Monroe County

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The green adult beetle lays its eggs on the bark of ash trees from May through July. Larvae hatch from the eggs then burrow into the bark of the tree. Those larvae feed on the interior tissue of the tree, growing and creating pathways under the bark. These damaged areas affect the tree’s ability to get water & nutrients needed from the soil. The larvae spend the winter inside the tree and mature into a beetle that emerges through a chewed hole in the spring to mate and lay a new set of eggs. The harm done by the larval feeding under the bark is hard to detect, and by the time tree damage is visible, it is generally too late to save the tree.

Learn how you can protect your trees from the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle on PSR, with Gary Raffel of Genesee Tree Service, Saturday at 9am.  950 ESPN.

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Genesee Tree Service – August 28, 2010

FHA Changes and How They Will Affect You

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

FHA Changes and How They Will Affect You

The Government continues to tighten regulations on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) implementing new legislation involving higher costs and stricter guidelines geared to keep FHA solvent.  While these new rules are still in a formulation process, these changes are expected to take effect as soon as next month.

FHA loans allow borrowers a more flexible avenue for Mortgage Lending, with lower credit score requirements and cash reserves needed to close.  As the economy is still reeling from bad mortgage loans, a sluggish housing market and high unemployment rates, FHA has become the primary source for first time homebuyers and for those who do not have the higher down payments and credit scores needed to go with Conventional Financing.

In order to cover the higher risk of these loans, FHA charges a one time upfront fee and a monthly fee to pool into one large insurance fund.  This fund is then used to secure and cover any default mortgages.  As of midyear of 2010, Capital Reserves for the FHA program are down to $3.5 Billion from $19.3 Billion in September of 2008.  Concerned with the loss of $15.5 Billion in available capital reserves, Congress has implemented new initiatives to prevent the need for taxpayer bailouts, as well as strengthening FHA’s overall credit portfolio.  While these new efforts by Congress are seen as the necessary direction needed to keep FHA solvent, many are concerned that these changes will stifle an already depressed housing market.

What does this mean for you?

Higher Monthly Fee’s:  FHA will raise the monthly MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) Fee from .55% to .9% initially; with plans to raise it as high as 1.5%.  The loan balance is multiplied by the MIP percentage and divided into 12 monthly payments.  On a $150,000 loan, this will potentially raise your monthly payment by $44 initially; $119 if or when Congress settles on 1.5%.

While the monthly MIP is increasing, Congress has decreased the Upfront MIP Fee from 2.25% to 1%.  This change will allow consumers to finance less money and thus lower their overall amortized payments.  Using the same example of a $150,000 purchase, consumers would finance $1875 less with this new change.  However, coupled with the monthly MIP increase, total overall payments will still increase.

These MIP initiatives project to generate $300 Million per month towards the FHA capital reserves, allowing it to replenish its funds much faster than under previous legislation.

Credit Score Requirements:  Since its inception, FHA has never placed a restriction on Credit Score Requirements, despite individual Lenders previously doing so.  New proposals require a minimum of a 500 credit score for FHA to insure the mortgage and a 580 to keep the Down Payment requirement at 3.5% of the Purchase Price.  Borrowers with credit scores under 580 will have to increase their Down Payment to at least 10%.

This change however, will not affect most consumers.  Lenders have long since placed their own credit score restrictions on top of FHA loans, usually requiring a 620-640 minimum.  Compared to Conventional requirements of 740 credit scores, FHA will still remain a flexible option for homebuyers.

Reducing Seller’s Concessions: Seller’s Concessions are a set percentage of the purchase price (represented in a dollar amount) that the seller agrees to contribute towards the closing costs.  These concessions will be financed into the mortgage and paid out of the Mortgage Proceeds to the Seller.  FHA currently allows 6% of the Purchase Price to be financed into the Mortgage and paid on behalf of the buyer.  New legislation will curtail Concessions to 3%, in an effort to avoid over inflation of home values in order to cover the contributions.

The reduction of Seller’s Concessions from 6% to 3% will affect homebuyers whose cash flow is tight to begin with.  In our example, the loss of 3% on a Purchase of $150,000 will yield $4500 less in Concessions available for the homebuyer.

While these changes will make it more difficult for the homebuyer, it should not affect too many consumers in their goal of homeownership.  However, higher monthly payments and less financial assistance for closing costs may place homeownership out of the reach of those buyers who just squeak by.  You should contact a Lender to see how these FHA initiatives will affect you, especially if you have already been Prequalified and have yet to put in a contract offer.

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Robert Everhart, First Rochester Mortgage Corp.  – August 21, 2010

Clam Boil-Wow your guests with this easy dish!!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Bag of Raw Shrimp

Bag of Clams

Bag of Mussles

Cooked Sausage

Corn on the Cob

Small Red Potatoes

Dry White Wine

Chicken Broth

2 TBS Old Bay Seasoning

Place all ingredients in Deep Foil Pan, Cover with Foil and place on hot grill for 30 mins.  Yum!!!

Make Your Own Beer at Home with Sunset Hydroponics and Home Brewing!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Home Brewing – Basically we like to say that if you can boil water you can make your own beer! With only a minimal investment on equipment (we recommend the Maestro K-1 Beer kit) that you will use over and over, it pays for itself in no time at all. It is a 2-week process from start to finish for most styles of beer, and with the kits we have in our store it’s almost fool-proof! The major thing we stress is STERILIZATION & CLEANLINESS! Contamination from not sterilizing equipment and bottles properly is usually the only major downfall of beginners.  If you’re a wine person, all you have to do is stir because there is no boiling involved! We recommend starting with the Gold Equipment kit K-2 or a K-5 (also a minimal investment that you will reuse for years), we always have a large selection of wine kits that include the yeast, chemicals & grape juice required to make a certain type of wine. Just pick your favorite and get started! All kits come with detailed instructions and as always our knowledgeable staff is here with any questions you may have.  Wine takes between 35 days and 3 months from start to finish depending on your selection.  In the end you will end up with a wine that has an award-winning taste for only a few dollars a bottle! You can make your own customized labels for the bottles and enjoy them anytime! Both the kits and finished bottles make great holiday gifts too!

Hydroponics -Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral solutions in water, without soil. There are several different techniques for delivering this solution to the plant.  Which technique you use will depend on what you want to grow, how much space you have, etc. Have a green thumb? Well living in Western NY and having four seasons is great for everything but gardeners! Why not enjoy those fresh vegetables, herbs & flowers you have in the summer all year long? You can if you set up a grow room indoors. Our staff can help you design & set up the perfect year-round grow room! Just come in with a few ideas, such as: what you want to grow, how much space you have to grow in and how much you want to spend! We can help you fit something into just about any budget, not to mention all the saving you will be doing at the grocery store & in the kitchen! You can grow indoors with soil or hydroponics, although hydroponics does have many advantages over soil growing. Hydroponics is:
Faster – Supplying the roots with constant access to water & nutrients makes for a faster growing plant;
More Economical – The water & nutrient solution is recycled & reused; and
More Precise – You get to control the water & nutrient solution that the plant has access to.
Indoor growing also requires the use of HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting or high-output fluorescent.

Join Pat and Brenna on Property Source Radio this Saturday at 9am to learn more about Hydroponics and Home Brewing with the experts from Sunset Hydroponics.  Call in with your questions 585-222-6397.

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Sunset Hydroponic & Home Brewing – August 14, 2010

Energy Basics: Understanding Your House

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

There are a number of factors that lead to energy use & loss from your house. In the building sciences, we tend to look at the exterior of the house (the ’shell’ or ‘envelope’ of the house) in terms of how well it blocks drafts into & out of the house (air flow) & how well it slows heat loss (commonly…insulation).

The first step in saving energy in your house is to keep your heat/cool in the house as long as possible…we airseal to stop the hemoraging of air you paid to condition & we insulate to reduce heat loss through the walls & ceilings.

The next step is to look at high energy USE appliances in the house: inefficient Heating & Cooling, hot water systems, electrical appliances, lighting, ect.

Click on the link below to see diagrams showing some of the principles of energy loss in YOUR house:

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Tony Karpovich, True Energy Solutions – August 8, 2010

Builder Confidence Builds Locally

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Although nationally builder confidence is at a 12 month low, Home Builders in the Rochester/Finger Lakes area are much more optimistic.

“Real estate and building is local.” said Craig Antonelli, President of Antonelli Construction, and 2010 Chairman of the Rochester Home Builders’ Association. ” Our job market is steady and we have a strong community that works together. We have seen the worst of the slow down in the home building industry and we are now moving forward again.” Antonelli added.

The Rochester Home Builders’ Association reported an increase in building permits the first half of 2010. Increases in Monroe, Ontario and Wayne County were over 20 %.

“Certain markets continue to build.” said Rick Herman, Chief Executive Officer of the Rochester Home Builders’ Association. “There was a tremendous amount of market movement in the first half of the year due to the tax credit. That helped pre-existing homes which then helped the new home market as well.” Herman said.

“Most builders agree that 2010 will be a slow re-building year and that in 2011 we will see more normal numbers.” said Antonelli.

Realtors® Charitable Foundation Awards Grant

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The REALTORS® Charitable Foundation (RCF), the philanthropic arm of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR), announced its most recent grant award of $5,000 to the Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation, Inc. (Sheen Housing). The money will be used specifically to fund the Emergency Home Repair program, which helps lower income families, seniors, and persons living with disabilities, in order to achieve safe, decent housing.

Representatives from both the RCF and Sheen Housing attended a check presentation ceremony at the offices of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® on June 8.

“We are pleased to support this very worthy program, which provides vital community services to people in need,” stated Cindy B-Rosato, chair of the RCF board of directors.

Sheen Housing Board President Patrick Cusato expressed his appreciation of the award on behalf of the organization. “Given today’s tough economic situation, lower income families are barely keeping their heads above water. They do not have the additional resources to make home repairs and still pay the mortgage, utilities, food, and other household costs.”

“I am particularly proud that this gift will assist so many by creating thriving, sustainable neighborhoods, jobs for local contractors, community revitalization support, and provide better housing in a stronger community,” added Kevin LoCicero, Bishop Sheen board of directors vice president.

Since its inception in 2001, the RCF has awarded over $430,000 in grants to 35 local non-profit agencies. The organization receives its support from area REALTORS®, the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®, proceeds received from the annual RCF Golf Classic held in July, and various other fundraisers.

To learn more about the REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and how you can support its efforts, visit

Local Real Estate Statistics Reflect 2nd Quarter Surge

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Real estate statistics released by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR) revealed an impressive second quarter.

GRAR officials reported a 43% increase in sales when compared to second quarter 2009, with a total of 3,512 homes sold. In addition, the overall median sale price of $120,000 reflected a 2% percent increase compared to last year. The increase in purchases was a result of home buyers who still had time to take advantage of the $8,000 First-time Home Buyers Tax Credit and the $6,500 Tax Credit for current home owners who purchased a new or existing home. The tax credit expired on April 30, 2010. Those who qualified for the tax credit had until June 30 to close on their purchase. Pending sales were down, as expected, as people were rushing to close on their homes before the closing deadline. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

Recently, both houses of Congress passed a bill that extended the deadline for home buyers to close on their purchases and still claim the tax credit. President Obama signed the bill into law on July 2. Under the measure, buyers now have until September 30, 2010 to close on homes that went into contract by April 30. 2010.

“The tax credit was a critical factor in generating home sales and maintaining the momentum of the real estate market into the second quarter,” stated Carolyn Stiffler, GRAR board president. “The program definitely had a positive impact on our local market and was an enormous benefit to homeowners.”

Stiffler stated that she anticipates sales to be steady and brisk through the third quarter.

“Although the tax credit incentive has expired, this is still a great time to buy a home,” remarked Stiffler. Mortgage rates are still at an all-time low and this is a wonderful opportunity for people to take advantage of our very affordable and stable real estate market.”

There were some impressive sales results in several towns within Monroe County. Notable increases were realized in Brighton, Pittsford, Henrietta, Webster, Perinton, Ogden, Parma, and Sweden/Brockport.

GRAR will continue to support the local residential real estate industry through its TIME2BUY marketing campaign, which focuses on the benefits of owning a home and using the services of a REALTOR® when buying and selling a home.