Thinking of just “walking away” from your house?


A recent study estimates that 36% of Americans think walking away is a viable option when they owe more on their home than what it is worth. But few are aware of the severe financial consequences of these actions, and even fewer know the options available to avoid these consequences.

If you are at the crossroads of deciding whether or not to walk away (or “strategically default,”) you will find that there is nothing strategic about foreclosure, especially when there are options that can help you to avoid it.

Destroying your credit is NOT “Strategic”! Walking away from your mortgage can be incredibly dangerous and damaging to your financial future.

In a “strategic default,” homeowners simply choose to walk away from their mortgages—in other words, move out, stop paying and just “”let the bank take it”. Generally, this is done when a homeowner owes more on the home than it’s worth or is “underwater.” Most homeowners do not understand that walking away will expose them to foreclosure, which carries credit issues, current and future employment challenges, issues with security clearances, and the potential for non-stop debt collections.

In a Florida foreclosure, generally, the bank gets the home back at a courthouse auction…actually held as an online auction here in Palm Beach County. At some point in the future, the bank will re-sell the foreclosed property. The difference between what the bank finally ‘nets’ after the sale and what you owed (penalties/interest/legal fees/taxes/hoa fees, etc. added) is the deficiency. The bank can then get a judgment for this amount and attempt to collect, either directly, by giving it to the collection arm of the bank or, they sell it to a collection agency. And these collections efforts can haunt you for 20 years!

One of the first things we strongly recommend to anyone we speak with who is faced with a foreclosure action by their lender is for them to contact an expert foreclosure defense attorney…Be forewarned: Many Lenders have persuaded borrowers to represent themselves when facing foreclosure. Remember, the Lender’s first priority is collecting payments, not to gain a full understanding of your financial hardship. Don’t wait too long to seek help. Foreclosure Defense results are often best achieved with borrowers who seek help as soon as there is a problem.

Also, you don’t have to abandon your home…Borrowers need to understand that they are the legal titleholder to the home until a Judge declares otherwise. Although the Lender may hold a Mortgage Note, this does not mean that they can tell you to leave your home when you miss mortgage payments. Do not take the word of your Lender; seek counsel to advise you of your rights to remain in the property while searching for alternatives to foreclosure.

What about bankruptcy? Although bankruptcy can be a valuable tool when faced with an immediate sale of the property, it will rarely save your home from foreclosure. Many times, bankruptcy should be used as a last resort and only in combination with other large debts (i.e. immense credit card debt).

Do Not Ignore paperwork sent to you by the bank…Upon missing payments, most Lenders will send various documents and require a response. Many times these documents are discarded or there is no response. Save everything your lender has mailed or delivered to you and bring it to your attorney.

A foreclosure will be seen on your credit report for years…it will most likely impact you when trying to rent a home, trying to buy (or lease) anything on credit, applying for jobs, applying for various security clearances, and more! 

You have options…one of the best ones right now is a Short Sale. This is where the lender agrees to let you sell the home for less than the amount owed.

We have recently been utilizing a little-known strategy that can: 1) speed up the process, 2) relieve the seller of deficiencies, 3) is FREE to the seller, 4) Get the seller a $3000 ‘relocation’ payment from the lender! You can click right HERE to see if you may qualify to work with us using this strategy.

Now, remember, I am NOT an attorney and this article is NOT intended to be legal advice…for that, please contact a competent legal professional.

But if you’d like to discuss your situation, see how we can help you out of a jam, and see how we’ve helped many, many people in your same predicament…call me on my private line right now: 561-602-1258

And thanks for reading my blog!

Steve Jackson


Nearly 20% of Florida homes are vacant - Mar. 18, 2011


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's not always easy to feel sorry for sunny Florida. But they just got hit with another blow.

On Thursday, the Census Bureau revealed that 18% -- or 1.6 million -- of the Sunshine State's homes are sitting vacant. That's a rise of more than 63% over the past 10 years.

Vacancy Rates

Having this amount of oversupply on the market will keep home prices depressed and slow any recovery.

The vacancy problem is more dire in Florida than in any other bubble market: In California, only 8% of units were vacant, while Nevada, the state with the nation's highest foreclosure rate, had about 14% sitting empty. Arizona had a vacancy rate of about 16%.

In Florida, the worst-hit county is Collier -- home of Naples -- with a whopping 32% of homes empty. In Sarasota County, 23% of the housing stock sits vacant, while Lee County (Cape Coral) has a 30% vacancy rate. PALM BEACH COUNTY has a vacancy rate of about 18%!

The housing recovery will take years, perhaps many years, to complete, according to Ingo Winzer, a housing market analyst and founder of Local Market Monitor.

Not helping is the the fact that the state's rate of population growth slowed in the second half of the last decade to just 5.7%. Still, the 2000s saw the state population grow overall by nearly 18%, the Census Bureau reported. I


"It will take about eight years just to put the vacancy numbers back into the single digits," said DeKaser.

The inventory overhang has sent home prices plunging. The median price for homes sold in January was just $122,000, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. That was down 7% from 12 months earlier and less than half the price at the peak of the market.

Winzer thinks prices in Florida will drop even more, another 5% in 2011 and 3% in 2012. "Even after that, they're not going to rebound, they'll just sit on the bottom," he said.

Celia Chen, a housing market analyst for Moody's Analytics, is also downbeat in her forecasts for Florida. Not only will prices fall another 11%, she said, but the bottom won't hit until mid-2012, about a year later than the nation as a whole. Some metro areas won't get back to their pre-recession peaks until long after the present owners are old and gray.

She doesn't expect Naples, for example, to come all the way back until the late 2030s. Other Florida metro areas with a 20-year wait or longer include Punta Gorda, Palm Bay and North Port.

"If you're buying in Florida for retirement," said Winzer, "maybe you buy next year when prices will be near the bottom. If you're buying for investment -- don't." To top of page


90 Day Guaranteed Sale Program? There’s NO free lunch!

Once again, I have started to see this being promoted by mail and on the radio.
"If we don't sell your house in 90 days...WE'LL BUY IT!"

Sounds great...especially in this market. Worth checking out? That's what the agent is hoping you'll think. Get their phone to ring...but they'll most likely never discuss the details over the phone..."much to complicated and need to see your home to see if it qualifies"...get the foot in the door.  But there is NEVER a free lunch; there is always a cost associated. But, particularly in this type of market, it would be "good business" if the agent NEVER bought any homes, or if they did, that they were purchased at such a drastic discount that the seller could do better selling the home themselves. 

I have gone to several seminars where they promoted this (tactic/gimmick) and the client pitch starts out sounding something like this: " Mr./Mrs. homeowner, a big dilemma when making your move is deciding whether to buy 1st or sell 1st. Either way is risky as you could end up with 2 homes (or no home). Our unique/innovative/etc Guaranteed Sale Program solves this dilemma...you get our personal guarantee that if we don't sell your home in 90/120/180 days, we will buy it at a price acceptable to you. Now, WE take all the risk from you and you can immediately place a confident offer on another home". The hidden details usually follow some or all of these general guidelines:

  • Must purchase one of the agents listings...or at least buy a 'full commission' home with them
  • Seller must still pay a full commission on the 'guaranteed' sale
  • Quite often an 'upfront' fee or guaranteed sale program fee of anywhere from $295 to fees in the thousands
  • "Agreed upon" price well below appraisal/market value...could be as low as the 80% range, then subtract commissions, fees, closing costs etc.
  • Original list price 5% below comparables
  • Seller is REQUIRED to continually lower the asking price during the 90 day (or whatever the guarantee period is)...for example: 100%  for 1st 30 days, 90% day 30-60, 80% day 60-90, at which point they have reached their 'guarantee' point (but minus a full commission, etc.)
  • Sign the listing agreement first...then the guaranteed purchase details come later
  • May be a maximum allowable program price
  • Restrictions on home condition
  • Use the language "I'll buy it for 'list' price", but fail to say that the 'list' price is the 80% ENDING list price
If they'll buy it for the full price that they agree to list it for...then that's putting their money where their dog and pony show is.
Think about these few points:
  • With as difficult as it is to get a mortgage now, COULD your agent actually perform on their guarantee? Ask to speak with their mortgage lender...do your due diligence the same as you would with any other buyer.
  • If they don't need a mortgage and have a few $$million sitting around to buy homes that don't sell in 90 days, why are they a real estate agent?
  • Are they "flipping" the purchase option to an investor? Are they going to list the home for the investor once they buy it? Then why don't they get the investor to buy it from you...without the middle-man ans with you getting the higher price?
  • Can they assign the guaranteed sale price (as in a wholesaler)? Again...you're losing out.
Good, solid, cutting-edge marketing, a detailed understanding of the local and national economic factors affecting home values, subdivision level market knowledge, ability to analyze trends...trust and mutual respect...THIS is what is needed today...not a worn-out gimic. Thanks for reading

Smith Farm, Lake Worth Florida...Foreclosure tracker

Smith Farm, Lake Worth Florida...Foreclosure tracker
As of 4/1/10 the are 94 Smith Farm homes in some stage of foreclosure.
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