Friday, June 26, 2020

Real Estate: Fannie Mae revises eligibility for refinancing and home purchasing loans for those impacted by COVID-19

By Ed Pierce

Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored enterprise that makes mortgages available to low- and moderate-income borrowers, has taken steps to help homeowners and those seeking to purchase a home affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by adjusting some guidelines temporarily.

Homeowners who have taken a forbearance, or a temporary postponement of mortgage payments, because of a COVID-19 financial hardship are eligible to refinance their mortgage or buy a new home. Additionally, Fannie Mae is granting a month extension that will enable lenders to sell to Fannie Mae single-family loans currently in forbearance.

“We are listening to and prioritizing our customers’ needs, helping them serve homeowners efficiently and responsibly. Today’s updates provide clarity and support to both lenders and borrowers in a manner that fosters sustainable homeownership, prudently manages enterprise and taxpayer risk, and maintains safety and soundness in the housing finance system,” said Malloy Evans, Fannie Mae’s Senior Vice President and Single-Family Chief Credit Risk Officer.
Under the these new temporary eligibility directives, homeowners who missed payments and have entered into a loss mitigation solution, whether it be a repayment plan, payment deferral, or a loan modification, find themselves now eligible for a new refinance or able to purchase mortgage after making three payments on time.
Evans said that there is no waiting period for borrowers who missed payments due to a COVID-19 financial hardship, but who have since completed reinstatement by repaying the full amount of the outstanding payments missed during the forbearance period.
There also is no waiting period for borrowers who requested forbearance due to a COVID-19 financial hardship but ultimately were able to make all their payments in full and on time, Evans said.
Additionally, Fannie Mae’s ability to purchase single-family mortgages in forbearance have been extended in an effort to provide additional financing options to single-family mortgage lenders. Loans dated on or before June 30, 2020 are extended provided that they loans are delivered by Aug. 31, 2020 and only one mortgage payment has been missed.
Using terms of a COVID-19 forbearance plan, homeowners are required to repay the missed payments, but the new change does not require them to repay the forbearance all at once. When an individual’s plan is up, mortgage servicers must work with the homeowner to determine how they will repay missed payments.

Homeowners and renters are encouraged to can visit Fannie Mae’s KnowYourOptions.com website for an overview of the various options available to those who might need help resulting from COVID-19 hardships.

Just since March of this year, Fannie Mae has undertaken a number of significant actions to help homeowners and renters facing COVID-19 financial hardships.

According to a press release issued by Fannie Mae, it has moved to suspend foreclosures and evictions affect ting homeowners, extended and strengthened eviction procedures for multi-family renters when the property owner or landlord received a forbearance, modified schedules for forbearance repayments, created a new COVID-19 payment deferral option to assist homeowners resuming their monthly mortgage payments following a forbearance, and launched “Here to Help,” an educational effort to connect homeowners and renters with tools and resources to navigate available options if they sustain a COVID-19 financial hardship.

"Fannie Mae is committed to providing sustainable housing options to help keep people in their homes," said Hugh R. Frater, Chief Executive Officer for Fannie Mae. "We hope ‘Here to Help’ will bring some clarity, transparency, and assurance to homeowners and renters who are facing job loss, reduction in work hours, illness, or other issues related to COVID-19."
The "Here to Help" online portal at KnowYourOptions.com features informative videos, fact sheets, mortgage loan and apartment rental lookup tools,and various other handy resources to equip homeowners and renters with the information they need to successfully navigate their options. The portal also provides mortgage servicers and lenders with tools to better assist their customers.

Some of these new options include a clear explanations of forbearance, repayment options after forbearance, and training videos for loan servicers.

Through "Here to Help," homeowners and residents of multifamily rental properties with a Fannie Mae-backed mortgage can access HUD-approved housing counselors via the Disaster Response Network. Fannie Mae finances about one-in-four homes and one-in-five multifamily mortgage loans in the United States.
"We are committed to putting people first, helping Americans stay in their homes, helping customers stay in business, and ensuring that the nation's mortgage and housing markets remain strong," said Frater. 
Fannie Mae partners with lenders and families across the country and strives to make 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and affordable rental housing possible for millions of Americans. <

Friday, June 19, 2020

Real Estate: Has your home been tested for radon?


Testing your home for radon helps ensure the health of loved ones inside. Radon testing your home is easy to overlook, but the air quality inside a home is a direct link to the well-being of your family.  Radon build-up causes thousands of lung cancer deaths throughout the country every year. Protecting you and your family’s health starts by having your home professionally tested for radon. Pillar To Post offers continuous monitoring technology to conduct these tests, provide reliable results, and will recommend steps to mitigate unsafe radon levels if found.

What is radon?
Radon gas is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas. It is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater.

What is the threat of radon?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In the United States, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon related.

How does radon get into a home?
When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted into low concentrations and is not a concern. Within homes, it typically moves up through the flooring system into other openings and moves between the ground and living spaces. Your home can also trap radon inside, where it then builds up over time. Any home may have a radon problem – this means new and old homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, even homes with or without basements. This means you can live in an area with fairly low environmental radon, but you could still have significant levels in your home.

Here are the most common ways that radon can enter your home:
  • Construction joints
  • Crack in the solid floors
  • Crack in the walls
  • Cavities inside walls
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Water supply
  • Basement sump pumps
  • Fireplaces
  • Pipe entrances

Radon inspections for your home

The primary defense against the dangers that radon poses to your home is having a home inspector test it to detect unsafe or elevated radon levels. Pillar To Post home inspectors will help you protect against these dangers by detecting Radon gas building up in your home. By employing state-of-the-art testing equipment Pillar To Post home inspectors can accurately measure radon levels in your house. Gathering the data and helping you to understand this phenomenon will provide peace of mind as you look to make your home healthy for your family. Radon testing is the crucial first step in mitigating this potential danger.

Who should have their home tested for radon?

Testing for radon is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk. The EPA and Surgeon General recommend all homes be tested below the third floor. It is estimated that one in every 15 homes in the United States has elevated levels of radon. While some areas of the county are at higher risk than others the EPA warns that any home could have an issue with radon levels that only testing will make clear.
https://www.egcu.org/rec

The Natural Dangers and Health Risks of Radon

Radon is a by-product of uranium as it breaks down presenting itself as a naturally occurring gas. There is no way to stop the decay of uranium, and no way to prevent this in nature. The only defense against radon gas build up is mitigation, which begins with testing for unsafe levels of radon by a Pillar To Post home inspector. Our professional inspectors will perform a radon inspection or a “Healthy Home Inspection” in your home at any time whether you already own or are considering the purchase of a new house.
Radon is dangerous, and not a hazard you want to leave to chance. Carcinogens are categorized based on their individual risk factors to people. Radon is a Class 1 or 1A gas, this categorization is reserved for all agents, compounds or mixtures known to cause cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country and responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Prolonged exposure to radon gas causes cancer. Your Pillar To Post home inspector has the equipment and training necessary to accurately detect unsafe radon levels.

If you would like more information on Radon visit:
www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/env/radon/en/ <

This article was submitted by Pillar To Post Home Inspectors – Lussier Team in Windham.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Real Estate: What is fair housing?

By Nicole Foster
Broker/REALTOR

Homeownership plays an important role in building long term wealth and helps to provide resources for retirement. Many reports state home owners tend to be not just happier and healthier, but are also more involved in their communities and their children have a higher high school graduation rate.

History

The history of property rights date back to a clause included in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution in 1789, recognizing real private property rights in several ways. In 1848, The Married Women Property Act provided limited property rights to married women.

Following the end of the Civil War the 14th Amendment to the Constitution extended rights to those born in the US who are US citizens in the Civil Rights Act of 1886, stating “all citizens shall have the same rights to real property as whites.”

In 1917, the Supreme Court rules against practices of zoning by race then later in 1948 the court outlaws the use of deed restrictions based on race, religion and national origin. In the 1950’s some of the first fair housing laws are passed in New York City and Chicago. After studying the riots happening in the late 1960s the Kerner Commission wrote in 1967 that “our nation is moving towards two societies’: one black and one white, separate and unequal.“

http://locationsinmaine.com/Seven days following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. President Johnson signed the “Fair Housing Act” into law on April 11, 1968 stating that “it is the policy of the US to provide, within constitutional limitations for Fair Housing through the US.” (The Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin (amended to prohibit discrimination based on sex in 1974, in 1988 to include familial status, handicap or disability and in 2016 adding sexual orientation and gender identity).

In 1975, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) adopted a Voluntary Marketing  Agreement
with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to promote fair housing, educate members of their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act, develop and recommend fair housing procedures for members as well as to participate in community based fair housing activities.

During the month of April each year NAR members observe Fair Housing month by engaging in outreach and educational offerings and all members must adhere to Article 10 in the Code of Ethics which echoes this agreement.

It is critically important to understand what federal, state and local laws apply to you as a home buyer or seller. When you work with a REALTOR they will be able to carefully review what your obligations and responsibilities are. All parties in the real estate transaction including the buyer, seller, REALTOR, lender and appraiser must comply with all federal, state and local laws.

Sellers and Landlords

Sellers and landlords may not discriminate against any protected class in the sale, rental or financing of a property and cannot direct their agent or salesperson to convey limitations in the sale or rental of property.   Landlords and sellers are prohibited from establishing discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental, misrepresent the availability of a property or advertise its availability only to certain people.

Buyers

Home buyers can expect to view a broad range of housing choices with no limit to the location or communities which are made available to them in their price range without discrimination of any protected class. Buyers are to be free from harassment or intimidation of exercising their fair housing rights, expect reasonable rules, regulations and accommodations for those with handicap and no discrimination in the financing, appraising or insuring of the property.

If you feel that you have experienced a violation of the Fair Housing Act you may report directly to HUD or your local chapter of REALTORS.  <

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate and is a Windham parent and resident who loves real estate and people.





Friday, June 5, 2020

Real Estate: Using an experienced agent can make a significant difference in home buying


By Lisa DiBiase

When you are in the market to buy a house, or need to sell your current home, that is the time to use an experienced Realtor®. An inexperienced agent can cost you time and money, and unfortunately maybe even put you at risk of losing out on your dream home.
Searching home listings and scheduling viewings is something anyone can do on the internet. An experienced Realtor® works in local markets on a day-to-day basis and can provide the kinds of nuanced information and advice unlikely to be found through online real estate searches.
  • Rapport with Other Agents: Experienced Realtors® know other agents in the community, which can expedite home sales. By this, they can get a heads up on homes for sale or interested buyers ahead of time. 
  • Pulse on the Market: Experienced Realtors® can efficiently identify and even predict trends. They can tell you which neighborhoods are trending up or down and why. They can advise you when you should act and when you should wait.
  • Negotiation Experience: Negotiating the best price is an art form best honed by doing it frequently. Knowing who you're dealing with also helps. An experienced Realtor® often has insight into people’s motivation and can negotiate accordingly.
  • Knowledgeable Referrals Buying or selling a home typically requires working vendors such as mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, and general contractors. Experienced Realtors® know who to trust and who to avoid.
  • Community Connections: Experienced agents have contacts at City Hall and in the local industry. If someone's pushing a zoning amendment that will impact specific neighborhoods, they often can let you know before it's even in the news.
  • Having the right Realtor® means having an agent who is committed to helping you buy or sell your home with the highest level of expertise in your local market. This means also to help you in understanding the complex steps of the buying or selling process.
Having the right Realtor® means having an agent who is committed to helping you buy or sell your home with the highest level of expertise in your local market. This meals also to help help you in understanding the complex steps of the buying and selling process.
One last thing to consider, what exactly is the difference between a Realtor® and a real estate agent? A Realtor® can be a real estate agent, a broker-associate, a managing broker, or an exclusive buyer's agent, and this is just the beginning of the list.  A Realtor® must subscribe to the Realtor® Code of Ethics for membership, which includes 17 articles. The 17 Articles of the Code of Ethics contain various underlying Standards of Practice.  This raises the level of service required for Realtors® beyond that of a licensed real estate agent. Make sure to ask if you are working with a Realtor®!

This article provided by Lisa DiBiase, Owner of Landing Real Estate located in Portland and Windham  207-653-0823. <


Friday, May 22, 2020

Windham Economic Development Corporation extends Covid-19 Disaster Business Loan Program

The deadline to apply for a special disaster business loan program offered by the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has been extended.
According to WEDC executive director Tom Bartell, the COVID-19 Disaster Business Loan Fund is designed to provide business continuation and recovery funds to existing Windham-based business to assist businesses through these times of economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants can file for loans starting June 1 and the program will be available through the end of the pandemic.  
“WEDC recognizes the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will continue to have on local businesses. We came together with a plan to help local business owners. Local business owners chose Windham as their community and now the community is here to help those businesses.
“I want to thank the Windham Economic Development Board for their hard work on putting this plan together,” he said. “We also want to thank the Windham Town Council and Barry Tibbetts, Town Manager, for providing additional funding for the COVID-19 Disaster Business Loan Fund.”
Bartell said that there are basically two types of COVID-19 Disaster Business Loans available, including a Business Continuation loan, and a Business Restart loan.
There is no minimum or maximum loan amounts and it is expected that the loan amounts will range from $5,000 to $20,000, Bartell said.
According to Bartell, the Business Continuation Loan is intended for existing businesses which have remained open during the pandemic, but whose operations have been reduced because of Federal, state, or local restrictions as a result of the pandemic.
http://buttscommercialbrokers.com/He said that the Business Restart Loan is intended for applicants whose existing businesses which have ceased operations due to Federal, State, or local restrictions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and have committed to restarting the business when the mandates are lifted.
The completed application and supporting documentation can be emailed to thbartell@windhammaine.us

“Again, our goal is to help Windham business owners with financial assistance to keep their business afloat. Whether you are a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC., or a corporation, please reach out if your business needs financial assistance,” Bartell said. <

Friday, May 15, 2020

A better understanding: Demystifying homeowner’s insurance

By Jonathan Priest

Let’s face it. No one wants to pay for insurance. The odds are, nothing bad is going to happen to your home, right? It feels like you’re throwing money away for nothing. You can’t touch your policy (except for the paper it’s printed on), or pull it out of the garage and put a coat of wax on it, and if you do ever need to use it, it will be because something bad happened! 

What insurance can do for you is give you peace of mind; knowing that if something bad DOES happen, you have protection to make you whole again, and bring things back to normal.  There are many terms that can be confusing in an insurance policy contract, and lots of myths that I will review to help you understand what your coverage DOES and DOES NOT do!

Your DECLARATION PAGE contains the “bullet points” of the policy that covers your home.  It states WHO is covered on the policy, the DATES that coverage is effective, the LOCATION of the insured premises, and the MOST the company is legally obligated to pay to bring your home back to the condition it was in prior to a covered loss.  It also lists any lender who holds a lien against the property.

Myth: “My policy doesn’t cover anything.  Every time I call to make a claim, it is denied.”
Fact:  In order to be a covered claim, the damage to your home must meet at least two criteria.  It 
needs to be a “sudden” (sudden = it cannot be damage that happened over a period of time, like pipes rusting out in your bathroom, or carpenter ants nesting in the wood structures of your home, or a deck rotting off the house due to being improperly flashed) and “accidental” loss (the company will not pay if you decide to deliberately set your home on fire).  Finally, it needs to be a loss that your policy affords coverage for.  This is where it can get tricky… NOT ALL POLICIES ARE THE SAME.  Some policies cover more causes of loss, and some cover less. 

Myth: “My neighbor’s tree fell on my house, so their policy will pay for the damages.”

Fact: Your house, your damaged property, your policy.  As long as the tree was healthy, odds are very slim that your neighbor would be found liable.  There are rare occasions where a sick or dead tree falls and damages a neighboring home and it can be verified that the neighbor is negligent by not removing the tree sooner, but by and large, the policy that pays out will be the one that belongs to the damaged home.

Myth: “My house insurance needs to cover my loan amount.” 

Fact: Your insurance coverage needs to be able to pay to rebuild the home, as it stands, from top to bottom. Your loan includes the value of at least two additional things… the land the home sits on, and the relative desirability of the location of that land. 

Helpful tips to improve your protection and maximize savings:
https://www.egcu.org/moneyALWAYS use the same company to insure your home and cars; not just for the savings, which can be significant, but also to build a stronger relationship with the company.  If you have a series of home claims over a short period of time, and you insure your cars elsewhere, the home insurer is much more likely to “non-renew” (cancel at renewal) your home policy than if you have the home and auto together!  It is VERY expensive for a company to get a new client, and the more policies you have as a customer, the less likely you are to leave your company.

If you have JEWELRY, FIREARMS, ANTIQUES or SPORTING GOODS (or other items) of significant value, make sure you have SCHEDULED COVERAGE for them.  That means you have provided a bill of sale, appraisal or other document to verify the item’s value, and that those items are much more broadly covered than if they were NOT scheduled.  It is a small extra cost in most cases and usually avoids having to absorb a large deductible in the case of a loss.

Make sure you have adequate LIABILITY COVERAGE, WATER BACK-UP COVERAGE, and watch out for high deductibles!

Please reach out to me if you have more questions about insurance in general, or your policy in particular!  <

Friday, May 8, 2020

Adapting and overcoming challenges when buying or selling

By Matt Trudel

The news seems like Groundhog Day these days, repeat of the same thing, just the numbers change a little or the items change, from the shortage of toilet paper to now hamburger. All of this has many buyers and sellers on edge about the safety of their family. Several sellers have opted to pull their houses off the market and wait until the dust settles. Buyers on the other hand want to take advantage of historically low interest rates. Inventory is low at this point, and even though construction was deemed an essential business, getting materials, cabinets, windows and other items has been an issue.

Many plants and factories shut down for 6 to 8 weeks and have an enormous backlog. This has slowed down many new home builders from completing projects on time.

https://www.egcu.org/moneySo, the question is when should a seller put their house back on the market? That is going to be different for each seller. It is a personal comfort level, and no one answer is right. You can be confident that as REALTORS® we do everything we can to be respectful and cautious when showing a home. I have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes that I use on all doorknobs and other areas that might be touched.  Buyers are also aware and generally remain as hands off as possible. Everyone is aware of the situation and does their best to protect themselves and others.

The month of May has always been a great time to list your home. Buyers have their tax refunds (and maybe stimulus checks), kids would normally be getting out of school, and the grass is greening with warmer temps.  This gets buyers excited and ready to pull the trigger. Prices are holding strong in this seller’s market. However, many buyers have been laid off or furloughed for many weeks and that affects their ability to purchase a home. 

A buyer must have a job in order to buy a house, right?  Not exactly the case in these crazy times. If a buyer has been laid off due to the COVID-19 situation and their employer intends to rehire them once they are allowed to open, the buyer can still purchase the property. 

https://www.portresources.org/There are many new loan programs that have opened over the past three months, some with interest rates below 3%. This allows a buyer to afford more house and make a higher offer than they would at the old 3.5% FHA program.  There are also 5% down construction loans and 3% down conventional insured loans. The buyers in today’s market have many options to better their position when making an offer.  This generally translates into better offers for sellers. 

So, when you are ready and feel comfortable about getting your house on the market, find an experienced broker and have a conversation about your concerns. I am confident together you can come up with an appropriate plan that works for you and your family. As REALTORS® it is one of our specialties, coming up with creative ideas and solutions to make things work for everyone.  

This article provided by Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty Windham 207-939-6971