Archives for May 2013

Priced Right @ $154,000

Located directly across the street from Bellevue’s Memorial Park this cute home has many desirable features only found in newer homes, i.e. high vaulted ceilings, etc.. While the home needs a good cleaning and some repair, the basic features of the home  makes it worth a hard look. Private fenced yard plus rear alley access. 

The wonderful city park offers natural beauty galore and plenty of shade for picnicking. Relax and enjoy sitting on your covered front porch a wide range of summer events, including free Friday Night Movies throughout July and August.

Affordability Remains High, Despite Price Gains

Low mortgage rates and stabilizing incomes are keeping home affordability high and giving home buyers “ample buying power,” according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

You only need an income of $36,500 to buy a house at the median price

Hailey Idaho Real Estate Listing Search @ Hallmark Idaho PropertiesThe Wall Street Journal highlights the following example on just how affordable housing has become: “Assuming a 5 percent down payment, a 3.5 percent mortgage rate, and 25 percent of a gross income devoted to mortgage payments, a buyer would only need an income of $36,500 to buy a house at the median price. With a 10 percent down payment, the required salary falls to $34,600, and with a 20 percent down payment, it falls to $30,700.”

In the first quarter, the median family income nationwide was $62,200.

Housing affordability remains high despite recent reports that show home prices in 150 U.S. cities saw their biggest year-over-year gains in more than seven years, according to NAR’s most recent report, reflecting data from the first quarter of 2013. The median price of a single-family, existing home was $176,600 in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 11.3 percent from year ago levels, NAR notes.

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When “High Bid” Isn’t Enough

In a housing market starved for inventory, buyers are stepping over one another to bid on desirable properties. But a high bid may not be enough — sellers are also seeking offers without mortgage contingencies.

 Usually included in a sales contract, a mortgage contingency gives buyers the option of backing out if they can’t obtain financing within a specified period. And if they do back out, they can take their down payment with them.

Knowing how to structure your offer is very important when buying real estate in Hailey IdahoBut the combination of a competitive market and a difficult lending climate has made sellers in New York less amenable to such conditions. The same can be said for the greater Sun Valley Idaho real estate market. They want noncontingent or all-cash offers.

“When you have a market that’s heating up,” said Marc Israel, the executive vice president of Kensington Vanguard National Land Services, a title insurer, “sellers feel emboldened to say to buyers, ‘I’m not going to give you this clause because I don’t want to take the risk that you can’t get your mortgage.’ ”

The stance makes perfect sense from a seller’s viewpoint. When the market is hot, added Mr. Israel, a continuing education instructor for real estate lawyers, “the last thing sellers want to do is tie themselves up with a buyer for some extended period of time just to have the buyer cancel the contract.”

For buyers, however, signing a contract without a mortgage contingency is risky. If their financing was delayed or denied, they could forfeit their down payment.

Given the typical 10 percent down payment in New York, “you’re talking about a very significant amount of money at risk,” Mr. Israel noted.

In such a competitive market, buyers who need financing may find themselves up against those able to pay in cash or put at least 50 percent down, said Peggy Aguayo, an executive vice president of Halstead Property. It is not uncommon for high bids to be passed up for slightly lower bids that are noncontingent or all cash.

“A typical buyer with 25 or 30 percent to put down” Ms. Aguayo said, “if they don’t waive that contingency, the seller will go with someone else.”

The problem can be discouraging. Some of her buyers have decided to pull out of the market altogether until inventory loosens up.

Gea Elika, the founder and a principal broker at Elika Associates, an exclusive buyers’ brokerage, says that “almost every transaction that we’ve encountered recently has become a bidding war.” Properties that have struggled to sell may offer buyers more flexible terms, he said, but “the ones that have the momentum are the ones that just say, sorry.”

His agency never advises clients to go ahead without a mortgage contingency. For the few who decide that the property is worth taking the chance, the agency tries to minimize it by first ensuring that the building involved is warrantable — that is, that banks are willing to lend there.

“We’ll try to go to a major lender that’s preapproved the building in the last three months,” Mr. Elika said, noting that Wells Fargo and Chase have the largest preapproval lists in the city. “Then we may try to find a portfolio lender as a backup.”

Is going ahead without a contingency ever a good idea? Only if the buyer can afford it, Mr. Israel said. “The advice that I would give is, so long as you’re comfortable knowing that, if worse comes to worst, you may have to buy this property all cash, then it’s up to you whether you want to go forward,” he said. “The truth is, when you have bidding wars and people feel they’re going to miss out on an opportunity, it’s not the worst thing to go ahead without a clause — if you have the cash.”

SOURCE: New York Times

Announcing the “Early Bird Special”

ComingThisWeekAs the saying goes, “The Early Bird Gets The Worm”

The same can be said for savvy buyers digging for the latest information regarding new listings, prices changes, etc., when searching for that perfect property.

We are proud to announce a brand new program that will give buyers that “Early Bird Advantage” using their own computer, tablet or smart phone to access detailed listing information in “Real Time”.

Real Time Real Estate Listing Updates for Sun Valley Idaho

Currently working with an agent that’s not a Hallmark agent?


Providing reliable listing information to the general public with no strings attached also creates additional market exposure for Seller’s we represent.

Of course if your not currently working with an agent, please consider using our professional services.

Check back for details  . . . as always, we’re here to help

Borrowers See Glitches as Big Banks Sell Off Mortgage Rights

Millions of homeowners around the country have received an unexpected message from their banks: Goodbye.

After years of collecting mortgage payments from as many people as they could, big U.S. banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo are scaling back. As servicing mortgages grows less lucrative, they’re selling the rights to do so in deals measured by the billions.

Banking ProblemsThe buyers are specialty companies much less known to the public. And as the massive transfers take place, regulators have signaled they are concerned about a small but growing fraction of homeowners who report falling through the cracks.

Some have found their online accounts unavailable. Others have reported delays in receiving account numbers. The details of some promised loan modifications haven’t been carried through with the new servicer.

In Charlotte, one man said his short sale, arranged with Bank of America, wasn’t honored after the mortgage was transferred. The home is now in foreclosure.

Tales like these have led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Conference of State Bank Supervisors to warn the industry they’ll be paying close attention to how the handoffs work.

Mortgage servicers aren’t bracing for fines and penalties, industry watchers say, but they are investing more energy in making sure their data technology is up to speed.

“It’s something everybody in the business is paying serious attention to,” said Don Lampe, an attorney with the Dykema law firm who represents financial institutions.

Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo said they’re working carefully with customers to make sure their accounts are handled correctly.

The loans’ new owners, too, have beefed up teams to respond to consumer complaints. But they say they have a track record of handling the vast majority of loans successfully.

“We’ll have 2.5 million consumers that we service loans for,” said Executive Vice President Marshall Murphy of Texas-based Nationstar Mortgage Holdings, which earlier this year bought the rights to service $215 billion in loans from Bank of America. “Of course you’re going to have some instances where the consumer has not had a great experience. We’re trying to do all we can – one, to minimize that, and two, to address the problems that do arise.”


Servicing large mortgage portfolios has become less attractive for big banks for several reasons. Proposed capital rules count mortgage servicing rights as riskier than they were before, meaning banks have to keep a greater cash cushion against losses on those loans.

At the same time, the cost of servicing has increased significantly. Five big banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, now have to abide by a slate of several hundred rules mandated by a massive state and federal settlement. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has more stringent servicing standards going into effect next year.

“Servicers have a tremendous amount of obligations now,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage industry publication HSH.com. “It’s become a more burdensome opportunity.”

But that way of doing business isn’t new to the three primary companies doing the buying – Nationstar, Ocwen Financial Corp. and Walter Investment Management Corp., which services under the name of its subsidiary, Green Tree.

Unlike the big banks, which set up their mortgage servicing operations to handle large numbers of people with minimal involvement, the specialty servicers were designed for just the opposite, with more one-on-one service, Sterne Agee analyst Henry Coffey said.

Bank of America has sold the top three companies at least $316 billion of its mortgage servicing portfolio since last June. Wells Fargo sold about $12 billion in a reverse mortgage portfolio, and executives have signaled that it might consider more. J.P Morgan Chase, Ally Financial, MetLife and others have done the same.

The shift is huge. Nearly $500 billion in mortgages have moved over the past few months, and one company estimates that as much as one-fifth of the $10 trillion U.S. mortgage market could ultimately change hands.

The specialty servicers taking on these mortgages are growing rapidly and stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars. The three primary companies increased their earnings more than $170 million last year as the sales began, and analysts following the industry are bullish on their prospects.

Nationstar doubled its servicing portfolio with just one Bank of America transaction.

“Bank of America’s actions alone are creating a major shift in the market,” Michael Drayne, senior vice president of government-owned mortgage bond backer Ginnie Mae, said in a Q&A distributed to stakeholders in April. “We don’t see this trend slowing down any time soon.”


But regulators have grown concerned that customers’ information is being lost through all the technological transfers. All three of the specialty servicers rank in the top 10 of a database of mortgage complaints maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the number has been accelerating. “While I don’t think there have been considerable problems, there have been problems,” said John Prendergast, vice president of supervision at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. “We’re trying to talk to the industry now, and clearly lay out our expectations on what they need to do.”

He said he couldn’t comment on legal actions that might be taken. But regulators have been cautioned by botched transfers in the past, he said.

A Charlotte man, who asked not to be named because he was embarrassed by the situation, said he had a short sale arranged with Bank of America on a rental property.

His loan was then transferred to Nationstar, which re-started the short sale verification process. He said it ultimately was denied, and the house is now in foreclosure.

George Erdle of Charlotte said it took several months after he learned his mortgage was being sold by Bank of America to Green Tree for his account to be set up with the new servicer.

He said he still can’t access his account online, and repeated calls to Green Tree haven’t borne fruit.

“It’s really been a pain,” he said. “Service, I give it an F.”

J.D. Power and Associates ranked Nationstar and Ocwen at the bottom of its mortgage servicer ratings last year. Green Tree wasn’t polled.

“Expertise in business and excellence in customer service don’t necessarily go hand in hand,” Gumbinger said. “The point of the servicer is to handle the loan for the investor. Does that necessarily mean you’re going to get fantastic customer service or a sympathetic ear? No.”

Ocwen, in particular, is known for heavy use of overseas employees, which can frustrate customers who have trouble communicating with those workers. About 40 percent of its office space is in overseas facilities, securities filings show.

Fitch Ratings has also expressed concerns about the company’s “offshore staffing approach,” Ocwen disclosed earlier this year.

Similarly, Nationstar is seeking to quadruple its overseas workforce, from about 250 to 1,000, Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a research note.

Murphy, the executive vice president, said customers’ personal contacts will remain in the U.S.

Still, industry defenders say their negative reputation comes from the fact that they handle some of the country’s most troubled mortgages. The big banks in the business don’t have stellar reputations in this regard, either.

“Anytime you mention the word mortgage, or touch the word mortgage, there’s risk, particularly in this environment,” Coffey said. “The open question has to be who’s good at managing that risk and how much substance is there to the complaints.

“I think the specialty servicers have proven that they know what they’re doing.”


June 2012: Bank of America sells $10.1 billion in Freddie Mac loans to Ocwen Financial Corp.

Oct. 24, 2012: Ocwen and Walter Investment Management Corp. announce they will buy a $374 billion servicing portfolio from a subsidiary of Ally Financial.

Jan. 7, 2013: Bank of America announced the sale of 2 million home loans, with a balance of $306 billion. Nationstar Mortgage Holdings disclosed that it purchased $215 billion of that. Walter Investment Management Corp. took the rest. Walter Investment services accounts under the name of its subsidiary, Green Tree.

Jan. 7, 2013: Walter Investment Management takes on MetLife Bank’s servicing platform, including $70 billion in home loans.

April 9, 2013: Wells Fargo sells $12.2 billion in unpaid balance on 76,000 reverse mortgages to Walter Investment Management.

SOURCE: The Bellingham Herald

15-Year Rates Sink to New Low of 2.65%

Fixed-rate mortgages pushed lower for the fifth-consecutive week, with low mortgage rates further driving the housing recovery over the near term, says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered near its all-time record low, while 15-year rates set a new record.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending May 2, 2013:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.35 percent, with an average 0.7 point, just shy of its 3.31 percent record set during the week of Nov. 21, 2012. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.84 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: sank to an all-time record low of 2.56 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s previous record of 2.61 percent. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.07 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.56 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.58 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.85 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.56 percent, with an average 0.3 point, dropping from last week’s 2.62 percent average. A year ago at this time, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.70 percent.

Cabela’s “Fish for Millions” Derby Starts May 4


Grand Prize: One Lucky (and skilled) fisherman could win $2,000,000!

Cabela’s is hosting its Fish for Millions derby where anglers can win up to $2 million in cash and about $275,000 in prizes by catching tagged fish in select lakes in Idaho and 22 other states.

The derby starts on Saturday. Cabela’s, Ranger Boats and Chevy are tagging fish in Idaho, and more than 100 lakes throughout the U.S.

To register, go to Cabelas.com, and on Saturday you can find out where the prize fish are released.

In 2012, 118 out of 1,000 winning fish were caught in the derby. The number of tagged fish will be 1,500 this year. It’s pretty cool to fish for millions, and definitely more fun than buying lottery tickets.

The Grand Prize is worth:

  • $1,000,000 – If the Grand Prize Fish is caught and logged in the first ten fish by any participant in the contest – subject to verification, see Official Rules for complete details
    • $2,000,000 – If the Grand Prize winner meets the above criteria and qualifies for the Cabela’s Grand Prize Doubler
  • $100,000 – If the Grand Prize Fish is caught and logged 11th through 100th by any participant in the contest – subject to verification, see Official Rules for complete details
    • $200,000 – If the Grand Prize winner meets the above $100,000 criteria and qualifies for the Cabela’s Grand Prize Doubler
  • $10,000 – If the Grand Prize Fish is caught and logged 101st through 1,500th by any participant in the contest – subject to verification, see Official Rules for complete details
    • $20,000 – If the Grand Prize winner meets the above $10,000 criteria and qualifies for the Cabela’s Grand Prize Doubler

Sponsor Prizes: (Prizes may not be exact model shown)

Participants catching verified eligible fish will win one of the following, based on randomly preselected fish logging order.

Ranger: TWO (2) WINNERS: A 520Z Bass Series Comanche boat; including trailer and Ranger Standard Features with 250HP Evinrude Outboard. Approximate retail value of each = $60,000.


Chevy: ONE (1) WINNER: The all-new dependable, long-lasting 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab: Winners may select the vehicle options of their choice for up to a total manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $55,000.


Cabela’s Ultimate Shopping Spree: FIVE (5) WINNERS: A $5,000 Cabela’s shopping spree. Approximate retail value of
each = $5,000.

Cabela’s Ultimate Fishing Gear Packages: TEN (10) WINNERS: A $2,595 Cabela’s Ultimate Gear Package. Approximate retail value of each = $2,595.

Cabela’s Tournament ZX/Tourney Trail Split-Grip Casting Combo: FIFTY (50) WINNERS: A Cabela’s Tournament ZX/Tourney Trail Split-Grip Casting Combo. Approximate retail value of each = $100.

Cabela’s Tournament ZX/Tourney Trail Split-Grip Spinning Combo: FIFTY (50) WINNERS: A Cabela’s Tournament ZX/Tourney Trail Split-Grip Spinning Combo. Approximate retail value of each = $100.

Costa: FIFTY (50) WINNERS: A certificate for a pair of Costa sunglasses. Approximate retail value of each = up to $250.

Cabela’s Gift Certificates: UP TO ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED THIRTY TWO (1,332): A $100 Cabela’s gift certificate.



U.S. Mortgage Applications Up 1.8%

The total number of mortgage applications filed in the U.S. last week rose 2% from the prior week as several interest rates slipped, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

The market composite index increased 1.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended April 26 from the previous week, according to MBA’s weekly survey, which covers more than three-quarters of all U.S. residential-mortgage applications. The refinance index increased 3% to reach its highest level since January. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the purchasing index decreased 1.4% from a week earlier.

Low interest rates have attracted new buyers and persuaded many homeowners to refinance their mortgages. However, tightened credit restrictions still bar many borrowers from filing loan applications.

The share of applications filed to refinance an existing mortgage was unchanged from the prior week at 75%. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, was also unchanged from a week earlier at 4% of total activity.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program share of refinance applications increased to 34% from 32% a week earlier, the highest level since MBA began tracking HARP applications in February 2012.

The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell to 3.6%, the lowest rate since December, from 3.65% in the prior week. Rates on similar mortgages with jumbo-loan balances rose to 3.8% from the previous week’s 3.75%. The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration slipped to 3.34% from the prior week’s 3.37%.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.84%, the lowest rate since December, from 2.89% a week earlier. The 5/1 ARM average rate, meanwhile, slipped to 2.55% from 2.62% a week earlier.

SOURCE: Dow Jones Newswire

Lead Generation

Market Statistics

  • 12.54,12.74,11.73,10.7,9.6,9.29,9.02,8.54,8.22,7.85,7.76,8.74

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