Team Empowerment Mortgage Chatter: July 8; Open House Flyer; Today’s Rates; 7 Out of 10 Renters Say Owning A Home Is Top Priority; Seller Credit and How It’s Applied; Latest Bill Calls For Fannie, Freddie Merger; 10 Steps To A Safe Open House; Which Banks Are Pursuing the Most Short Sales?

“As a man grows older it is harder and harder to frighten him.” -Jean Paul Richter


Coming into the weekend, we’d like to create an open house flyer for you. Simply send an email to my assistant Sherrell at Provide your property address and list price and we’ll create an open house flyer for you. Please provide this request before 4:00 pm today. See an example below.





Most Americans still believe that owning a home is a solid financial decision, and a majority of renters aspire to home ownership as a long-term goal. According to the 2011 National Housing Pulse Survey released today by the National Association of REALTORS®, 72 percent of renters surveyed said owning a home is a top priority for their future, up from 63 percent in 2010.

Seven in 10 Americans also agreed that buying a home is a good financial decision while almost two-thirds said now is a good time to purchase a home. The annual survey, which measures how affordable housing issues affect consumers, also found that more than three quarters of renters (77 percent) said they would be less likely to buy a home if they were required to put down a 20 percent down payment on the home, and a strong majority (71 percent) believe a 20 percent down payment requirement could have a negative impact on the housing market.

“Despite the economic setbacks Americans have experienced in today’s current climate, it is clear that a strong majority still believe in home ownership and aspire to own a home,” said NAR President Ron Phipps. “However, achieving the dream of home ownership will become increasingly difficult for buyers if they are required to make a 20 percent down payment, which may be a reality for many of tomorrow’s buyers if a proposed

Qualified Residential Mortgage rule is adopted. That is why REALTORS® are strongly urging regulators to go back to the drawing board on the proposed rule.”

Defining the QRM rule is important because it will determine the types of mortgages that will generally be available to borrowers in the future. As currently proposed, borrowers with less than 20 percent down will have to choose between higher fees and rates today – up to 3 percentage points more – or a delay of between nine and 14 years while they save up the necessary down payment.

More than half – 51 percent – of self-described “working class” home owners as well as younger non-college graduates (51 percent), African Americans (57 percent), and Hispanic Americans (50 percent) who currently own their homes reported that a 20 percent down payment would have prevented them from becoming home owners.

Pulse surveys for the past eight years have consistently reported that having enough money for a down payment and closing costs are top obstacles that make housing unaffordable for Americans. Eighty-two percent of respondents cited these as the top obstacle, followed by having confidence in one’s job security.

The survey also found respondents were adamantly against eliminating the mortgage interest deduction (MID). Two-thirds of Americans oppose eliminating the tax benefit, while 73 percent believe eliminating the MID will have a negative impact on the housing market as well as the overall economy.

“The MID facilitates home ownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home, and it makes a real difference to hard-working American families,” Phipps said. “Home ownership offers not only social benefits, but also long-term value for families, communities and the nation’s economy. We need to make sure that any changes to current programs or incentives don’t jeopardize our collective futures.”

When asked why home ownership matters to them, respondents cited stability and safety as the top reason. Long-term economic reasons such as building equity followed closely behind. On a local level, respondents said neighbors falling behind on their mortgages and the drop in home values were top concerns. Foreclosures also continue to remain a large concern, with almost half of those surveyed citing the issue as a problem in their area.



A bill is expected to be introduced today in the House of Representatives that calls for a merger between government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., who is introducing the bill and who is also a real estate developer and former home builder, proposes that the newly merged firm also be restructured in how it operates. It would purchase mortgages and sell them to investors as securities that are backed by the government.

Unlike other bills that have called for winding down of the GSEs and privatizing them, Miller’s bill would not seek private owners for the new entity. However, the new firm would be privately capitalized.

Banks would pay a ‘guarantee’ fee on loans that would fund the firm’s operations and maintain adequate capital. Investors would pay an additional fee to finance an insurance fund that would cover catastrophic losses,” The Wall Street Journal explains.

The new firm would be regulated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The FHFA would ensure the firm’s market share never exceeds 50 percent of the mortgage market.

Lawmakers continue to wrestle over the fate of the GSEs, which have cost taxpayers $138 billion since the government took them over in 2008. Earlier this year, the White House called for winding them down. A series of bills currently in Congress are attempting to shrink Fannie and Freddie’s role and privatize them.

Miller’s bill is expected to garner bipartisan support.



In February, a real estate agent in Ottumwa, Iowa was assaulted and tied up when she arrived at a home for a scheduled showing appointment. Her attackers robbed the home, according to news reports. In response to the attacks, the Iowa Association of Realtors invited safety instructor Andrew Wooten to conduct safety seminars throughout the state earlier this month.

Wooten is a certified crime prevention practitioner and president of workplace safety firm Safety Awareness Firearms Education (SAFE). He has worked with real estate professionals for 25 years and has partnered with the National Association of Realtors as a safety trainer.

These tips are presented in a safety video offered in a Realtor Safety section of the website:

1. Park where you cannot get blocked in. Agents are most afraid when they are walking back to their car after an open house, Wooten said. Therefore, take a few minutes to make sure you have a clear line of sight to your vehicle.

“Before you exit your car, look around. Can you see the front door? Are there trees or shrubbery within 10 feet that can serve as a hiding place? When getting out of the car, keep looking around. When you get to the front door, turn around and walk back — are there places where someone could surprise you?” Wooten said.

2. Meet the neighbors. There’s safety in numbers. Introduce yourself, point out your car, and invite the neighbors over to the open house.

“Meeting the neighbors will drive people to the home and is a great source of referrals,” Wooten said.

3. Advise clients about valuables. Thefts often result in lawsuits against agents, Wooten said. To forestall this, develop a list of valuables clients should put away before an open house, including mail, jewelry, prescription drugs, extra sets of keys, and financial statements, among others.

Then, because clients likely “won’t listen” otherwise, get to the property an hour before the open house is scheduled to start and do a walk-through with the clients to point out what they need to secure, Wooten said.

4. Be aware and work in teams. The No. 1 place where agents are attacked during an open house is the front door, partly because lockboxes take time to open, Wooten said. If you are alone, turn your back against a wall to avoid being attacked from behind.

Company is better, however. Sign up your affiliates, such as a home inspector or title officer, to sit the open house with you.

“Not only will they jump at the opportunity, they will bring goodies and giveaways,” Wooten said.

5. Establish your escape routes. Walk around the house and notice how to get in and out of rooms. If there is a fence in the backyard with a gate, unlock the gate for easy exit. As another escape route, open the garage door but lock the door leading to the inside from the garage. Direct clients to the front door with signs.

6. Set up for safety. Hang decorative bells behind every outside door that you have unlocked. These will alert you whenever someone enters the house. Do not bring your laptop to an open house. Not only can it be easily stolen, but signing on to someone’s unsecured wireless network can open you up to identity theft.

Carry only what you need — purses go in the trunk of your car before you leave your house, not when you arrive at the open house. Finally, when picking a room to wait in during the open house, pick the one with the most cell service and with escape routes.

7. Check out your guests as they arrive. As soon as someone comes in, jump up, introduce yourself, and direct guests to a sign-in sheet.

“This is your time to do a ‘checkup from the neck up,’ ” Wooten said.

“Ask yourself, ‘Is this someone I’m comfortable with? Do I want to be alone with this person?’ If not, enlist your support team. Make sure there are others around you as you work with this person.”

8. Never, ever turn your back on a prospect. Let prospects walk in front of you. If a man says, “Ladies first,” to a female agent, the agent should say something like, “You are such a gentleman, thank you. But I really want you to see this home, and if I can direct you where to go, I think you’ll gain a further appreciation for this home.”

Both men and women can be violent, so this advice applies regardless of the visitor’s gender, Wooten said.

9. Never go into certain rooms. When showing visitors around, never go into rooms with no escape routes. These include walk-in closets, bathrooms and laundry rooms, among others. Instead, direct visitors to those rooms.

10. Close up in teams. Openings and closings are the most dangerous times during an open house, Wooten said. Often, there is another agent down the street also doing an open house. If you’re alone, lock up your house, go over to the other agent, and offer to walk through his or her house and close it up with him or her and then both of you can go over to your house to do the same.

Working in teams applies to both men and women, Wooten said.

Wooten said that inmates who have attacked agents have said, “Regardless if they’re male or female, if there’s one agent in the open house working (alone) I know I’ve got (that agent). But if there are two or more, I’m out of there.”

Crimes happen to men as much as they happen to women, Wooten said, though there are some differences. Women are more often stalked than men are, and stalkers tend to get violent at the intended victim’s home. Therefore, Wooten advises agents to heed his “three L’s for home safety”: locks, lighting and landscaping.

1. Locks: Install anti-bumping deadbolt locks on all doors. (Lock bumping is a lock-picking technique.)

2. Lighting: Install motion-detector lighting outside all four sides of the home, and install timers for interior lights so that the home appears occupied even when it is not.

3. Landscaping: To prevent criminals from using them as hiding places, trim shrubs to a maximum height of 3 feet and cut trees so they hang no lower than 10 feet from the ground.



JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo accounted for 60 percent of the some 17,781 short sale and deed-in-lieu agreements loan servicers completed through May under the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, reports Inman News in its analysis of the latest figures provided by the Treasury Department.

The two banks emerged as the front-runners in completing short sales and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure agreements when compared up against other loan servicers, all participating in the HAFA program.

On the other hand, Bank of America entered into less than half as many HAFA short sales or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure agreements than either JPMorgan Chase or Wells Fargo.

The government’s HAFA program provides incentives for completing short sales. For example, home owners participating in a HAFA short sale receive $3,000 in relocation assistance.

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