December, 2008:

I am being evicted from a rental house because the house is being foreclosed. What can we do?

Typically, the bank will offer you what is called “Cash-for-Keys”. If you agree to leave within a few weeks or so, they will actually pay you for leaving the property in good condition. The amount of the offer may vary from one lender to another, and we have seen everything from $500 to $2,000.

Different states and municipalities may have certain regulations pertaining to evictions which may (or may not) provide you with additional rights, so it may be advisable to check with a local attorney or Legal Aid office for details. But bear in mind that if the lender has to forcibly evict you, they will be much less likely to offer you any money to leave.

How will the financial bailout make it easier for me to buy a house?

At this writing, it has not helped at all. All the gibberish that we are hearing from the banks is just that … gibberish.  We’ve heard them say that some of the funds will be used to help them offset or mitigate future losses, shore up their poirtfolios, acquire more banks, etc. But not once have we heard any of them say that the TARP funds will be used to ease credit or to make it easier for consumers to borrow.

The fact that the banks were given this money without strings attached is absurd. The intent and expectation is certainly a far different cry than reality. Let’s face it – Parents will hardly give their children a weekly allowance without some general guidelines.  

In sum, most of our politicians in Washington are far more concerned with padding their own beds, which means to do and say only that which sounds politically advantageous. This TARP program, at least at this point, is nothing but a sham. “We the people” are the dupes.

How is the credit crunch affecting real estate? My credit is not great but I would like to consider buying a house.

The underwriting approvals are tougher today than we’ve ever seen before. On the other hand, we just closed on a property this week that only took 12 days from sales contract to closing. The lender was experienced and knew up front what the underwriters would be looking for. That made a big difference!

If you can go VA or FHA, your odds of success will be greater. Those programs allow for greater debt-to-income ratios and will permit you to close with little or no money down. The conventional markets are much tougher. Plus if you are putting less than 20% down, you will have to qualify for Mortgage Insurance (MI) in addition to your loan. MI approval can actually be worse!

Like everybody else, I want to know if now is a good time to buy?

Yes, that is one of the most frequent questions that we are asked. The answer may surprise you, because it all really depends upon your personal situation.

Prices are VERY affordable today. Also, interest rates are at one of the lowest levels that we have seen in nearly 22 years in this market. In just about every other buyer’s market through recorded history, interest rates have been high. Low rates and low asking prices at the same time? Unprecedented! So, in most cases,  yes, now is an excellent time to buy!

About the only exception that we can think of would be in a case in which you may need to re-sell within the next 18 months or so. Appreciation may or may not not be sufficient to break you even in the short term. Although, in the past month we have seen several instances wherein buyers purchased at way below market values and flipped the properties for some hefty little profits.

Is a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure better on your credit score than a regular foreclosure?


Not really. According to local mortgage originators, your credit score will be lowered by approximately 280 points either way. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure can be a better option because the agreement will typically stipulate that the bank will not seek a deficiency judgment against you. That is not true of a “regular” foreclosure, in which case a judgment can be obtained against you. According to our attorney, a default judgment against you in Florida can be kept alive forup to 20 years!