March, 2009:

The Weather Channel Features Destin

The Weather Channel – Why I Love Spring
ATLANTA – March 20, 2009 – The Weather Channel will usher in spring with a seasonal theme week that combines on-air and online content to match the public’s springtime frame of mind.  Among the special programming will be a new 30-minute special of “best of spring” moments hosted by Stephanie Abrams, who is seen on The Weather Channel weeknights on WeatherCenter.  The “Why I Love Spring” program will premiere Sunday, March 22, at 2 p.m. ET and will reair at various times throughout the week including Tuesday, March 24, at 2 p.m. ET.  In addition, The Weather Channel will feature many other on-air programming elements related to spring. 
Highlights during “Why I Love Spring” Week March 22-28 will include special segments from the popular Epic Conditions and Weather Ventures outdoor series where weather conditions are perfect for sports people enjoy in the spring.  Reporting from the field will be Mike Bettes on-location at Lake Tahoe on Monday and at Sedona, AZ, on Wednesday and Julie Martin at the Sandestin Resort on the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday and at the Callaway Gardens Flower Show in Georgia on Thursday.  Topics will include gardening and planting tips, travel ideas, outdoor grilling pointers and season-related health matters such as allergies.  Spring season topical packages and live reports will be featured frequently during the network’s live programming — Your Weather Today, WeatherCenter, and Weekend View.   
“Why I Love Spring” theme week will also feature exciting, multi-platform content about spring break destinations, picnic tips, golfing advice and all things related to the season of renewal – spring.   Visitors to will find content featuring important spring subjects, such as surviving allergy season and top 10 spring break destinations, as well as OCM blogs and personality pages addressing the theme of spring.    
New “Best of Spring” Special and Other Themed Programming Help Viewers Embrace New Season during “Why I Love Spring” Week March 22 through March 28

If a home is offered as a “short sale”, is the listing agent required to set a price that the bank will accept?

We recently made a full price offer on a short sale home in Florida. We knew that the final selling price would be subject to bank approval. We recently were told that the bank would not accept our full listing price offer. We were told that an additional $42,000.00 would be required in order for us to purchase this house. We have received nothing in writing. Is this a legal “bait and switch” tactic? Any suggestions on how to proceed?
Yes, listing agents should try to list a property at a price that would be acceptable to the lender. Unfortunately, many agents do not have a clear understanding of how the short sale process works. First, each lender has their own “loss severity rate”. This is a numerical reflection of how much a given lender is writing off on deals gone bad. Today, it is not out of the question to see a lender with a LSR of as high as 60%. This means that they are only recouping 40% of the mortgage balance at closing. Each different lender has their own loss tolerance level. This is important to know because if you can keep their loss below that threshold, your odds of success are much greater.
Additionally, each individual lender has their own “sale to market ratio”. This is the lender’s in-house guideline indicating what percentage of fair market value will be acceptable. Most lenders want 90% of fair market value. Some 85%.  We have worked with one lender that can go all the way down to 75% if the property is in Florida. Knowing this number is likewise important. Again, your odds of success are much greater if your offer falls within these parameters.
Often, the lender will respond with a counter such as you described. Sometimes they want the seller to sign a promissory note, sometimes they want cash. Sometimes, they want to attach a mortgage on another property owned by the seller. Remember that the first counter is not likely the last.  You can always go back with another one. Submit additional comps to help justify the price that your offered. Sometimes, it is helpful to submit a new appraisal. Ask the negotiator before spending the money on one though.
The other wild card is the seller’s financial condition, which you will not likely be privy to. If the lender believes that the seller is much better off than he is reporting, the lender will take a much tougher stand.
You rarely get anything in writing when it comes to counters from the bank. Short sale negotiation is not a regulated process. It is not something that the bank has to engage in at all. There are no hard fast rules, only general guidelines. And the guidelines change weekly.
Hope this helps, and good luck to you!



Good Economic News?

Fresh look finds hope

By Jeff Harrington, Times Staff Writer

Published Friday, March 6, 2009

Ticking off reasons to be in a dour economic mood is picking low-hanging fruit: The stock market is near 12-year lows; about one-third of bay area homeowners hold a bigger mortgage than their house is worth; more small businesses are losing their credit lines while more Floridians are losing their jobs.

No wonder consumer confidence is kicking around at all-time lows.

Enough with the gloom already.

In the spirit of hope and our perpetually optimistic governor, we prefer to seize on a handful of positive economic snippets that set the stage for a turnaround. After all, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who more often than not moves the market downward with a bluntness alien to his predecessors, is among those predicting the recession will end in the second half of this year.

So raise your half-full glass for a semitoast to the upside of our economic condition.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES have been dramatically pared down, leaving many small companies lean enough to weather a prolonged slump and flexible enough to adjust their products to a shifting marketplace.

THERE ARE GREAT DEALS to be had in buying a house (substitute: stock, car or marked-down consumer good of your choosing). Yes, there may be a further slump in real estate and stock prices, but history dictates they’ll eventually rise above current levels, and discounts and incentives abound.

THE FEDERAL STIMULUS PACKAGE may be assailed for lingering long-term effects on the deficit. But in the short term, Gov. Crist is counting on it to help Florida balance its budget and avoid government layoffs.

CONSUMER SPENDING rose in January after falling for a record six straight months. The better-than-expected numbers were pushed higher by purchases of food and other nondurable items.

INCOMES ALSO ROSE unexpectedly in January. The jump was helped by higher Social Security checks kicking in; nevertheless, take heart that the 0.4 percent increase was the biggest jump since May.

NEW JOBLESS CLAIMS and the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits both dropped more than expected a week ago.

A HUGE DROP IN HOUSING STARTS has helped shrink the inventory of homes on the market. When homes sales eventually stabilize, home prices should appreciate at a quicker pace because there are fewer houses out there.

How will this new Fannie Mae home refinance program work?

Unfortunately, the program referred to as “Making Home Affordable” (MHA) will not benefit many homeowners in this market. Call me a cynic, but I believe that the scope of this program is so narrowly focused that very few homeowners will be able to qualify. 


The reason is that area depreciation (like so many others) has been severe. This program will not allow you to refi more than 5% above the current value of your home. As an example – Say you had put 10% down on a home in 2005. If that home has now depreciated by 25%, you would be 15% “upside down”, or 10% above the qualification threshold. 


Look at it another way:


$300,000   –  Purchase price in 2005


$  30,000   –  Down Payment


$270,000   –  Mortgage Balance


$225,000   –  Current Value (25% less than original purchase price)


$236,250   –  Maximum MHA refi loan amount (5% above current value)


As you can see, there is a difference (deficit) of $33,750 between the existing mortgage balance and the amount that could qualify for a MHA refi.


This program equates to typical government fuzzy math.  It’s like putting lipstick on a pig – It sounds cute but it does not accomplish much 🙂