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Tipping the Scales Toward Foreclosure? January 31, 2012

Posted by bobgauger in Distressed Homes, Foreclosures, Resources, Short Sales.
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Millions of homeowners in this country are unable to afford the payments on a home that’s worth less than the amount they owe on their mortgage.

These are people who have played by the rules, made good decisions, and had every reason to believe that the American Dream of homeownership was in their hands. Unemployment, underemployment and real estate market upheaval has derailed a lot of those dreams. Since 2007, 8.9 million homes have been lost to foreclosure.

My mission is to keep you and anyone you care about from adding to that statistic. The fact is, there are options to foreclosure-better options now than ever before.

As a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), I have the training and expertise to help financially distressed homeowners to make a positive fresh start. If you or anyone you care about is faced with an unmanageable mortgage, I can help.

I invite you to visit my website www.HomeLoanRx.com for a copy of my recent report entitled, “Tipping the Scales Toward Foreclosure?” Contact me today and let’s get started on a positive start to 2012!

Bob Gauger, REALTOR NRBA, CDPE, CDRS
EXiT Landmark Realty
4550 Crain Hwy
White Plains, MD 20695
301-934-2022 ext 118
240-286-4447 cell
www.HomeLoanRx.com

Solutions for Your Mortgage Crisis – Distressed Homeowners Series, Post 1 of 5 November 30, 2011

Posted by bobgauger in Distressed Homes, Foreclosures, General, Resources, Short Sales.
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In the next few weeks, I’ll be dedicating posts to the subject of distressed homeowners, options, short sales, common mistakes, deficiency judgments and more.

Distressed Homeowners Series,
Post 1 of 5

Solutions for Your Mortgage Crisis

Distressed HomeownerAre you in financial distress because of your mortgage? Do you need to get out from under a payment that has become too hard to manage – but can´t sell your house because it is no longer worth enough to cover the mortgage balance? 

If so, you are certainly not alone. Hundreds of thousands of other Americans are in that leaky boat with you, and there´s no easy way out. But you do have choices, and you should take a look at all of them before deciding what to do.

You can:

  • Hope for a loan modification
  • Ask for forbearance
  • File bankruptcy
  • Let the bank foreclose
  • Attempt a short sale.

A loan modification sounds the best, but the rules the banks are playing by are both confusing and conflicting. Some say you must not be behind on payments. Others say they won´t consider helping you unless you´re in default.

And some asset managers, sadly, are working hard not to modify loans because it´s more profitable for them to foreclose.

It certainly can´t hurt to contact your lender and see if you are eligible, but please don´t fall for any of the scams that are circulating right now. There are far too many dishonest people willing to collect anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars from you on the promise of getting your loan modified. In truth, they can´t and won´t do anything you can´t do yourself. If you want help, contact an attorney you trust.

If your problems stem from unemployment, and you have an FHA loan, you can ask for forbearance. Under a law effective August 1, 2011, banks can extend forbearance for 12 months. During that time you may be required to make minimal payments, and the unpaid payments and interest will still be due later, but the bank cannot impose late fees or fines, and cannot start foreclosure. This law may be extended to conventional loans, so do check with your lender.

Another bit of good news about forbearance is that you are allowed to offer your house for sale during this time. This, combined with a sale or a short sale, could provide the relief you need to get back on strong financial footing.   

Bankruptcy has helped some consumers. The courts now have the authority to let you keep your home and either forgive a portion of your debt or modify the terms so you can make the payments. If you´re also buried in medical bills, credit card debt, or other obligations you simply can´t meet, this might be the best solution.

But3; bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years and could keep you from moving forward in life. In addition, it places some restrictions on your life that you might find very unpleasant. It might not be the best choice for you.

Foreclosure is another option. You can simply quit making the payments and stay there until they knock on the door and tell you the bank now owns your home. For some this is a chance to live rent and payment free for several months and put away some money for a deposit on a rental home. But again � the effect on your credit rating is dire.

In addition, you run the risk of a huge financial obligation that will follow you around forever. When the bank sells your house at a loss because the market has fallen, they might be able to come back on you to make up the “deficiency” between your mortgage balance and the dollars they collected from the sale of the house.

Creditors can continue trying to collect on a deficiency judgment for 20 years, so this isn´t something to take lightly. This is another area where the rules keep changing, so check this before you act.

If done correctly, a Short Sale could be the best option for you. You list and sell the house for the current fair market value and walk away with no money, but a fresh start. At least, that´s what will happen if you list the house with an agent who is experienced in handling successful short sales.

The truth is, your lender can also come back to you for a deficiency in a short sale. It´s one of those details that must be negotiated with the asset manager and the lender before you sign the closing papers.

Unfortunately, many real estate agents today are listing short sale properties without knowing how to conduct the necessary negotiations, and their sellers are paying the price for that lack of knowledge.

In other cases, listings that begin as short sales end up going into foreclosure.

Why? Again – because the agent lacked experience and knowledge.

Success in a short sale relies on 3 primary areas of expertise, and before you list with any agent you need to know that he or she is skilled in all three areas. Otherwise, you could end up in foreclosure despite your best efforts.

To learn the 3 secrets to short sale success, simply call me at (240) 286-4447, write me at info@HomeLoanRx.com or go to www.HomeLoanRx.com. (I promise, you won´t receive high-pressure messages and I won´t share your address with anyone.)

I look forward to helping you.

Best wishes,

Bob

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bob Gauger, REALTOR
NRBA, CDRS
EXiT Landmark Realty
4550 Crain Hwy
White Plains, MD  20695
(240) 286-4447 cell
(301) 934-2022 ext 118 ofc
(888) 932-3948 fax
info@HomeLoanRx.com
www.HomeLoanRx.com  

Home for the Holidays October 13, 2011

Posted by bobgauger in Uncategorized.
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They say “there is no place like home for the holidays,” and what could be more picturesque than a house dolled up in all its Hallmark card, Macy’s catalog glory?  Despite this sentiment, it is a common belief among sellers and REALTORS alike that selling a house and the holiday season don’t mix.  I say “Bah!  Humbug!”  People are infatuated with the season and making your property look like the ideal home will have buyers falling in love right under the mistletoe.  Many sellers get cold feet during this time and take their property off the market.  This improves the odds of the individual seller by limiting the number of competiting properties.   Selling during the holidays can also demonstrate the sincerity of the buyer.  Anyone willing to give up time celebrating to look for a new home is a serious buyer and deserves to have properties available for viewing. 

Because this region is so up-and-coming, there is no reason to put selling your home on hold just because of the season.  Southern Maryland is a transient area offering lucrative employment opportunities in Washington D.C. and surrounding military bases.  The result is a booming quasi-cosmopolitan, yet family friendly, community rich with amenities.  A quality home and the promise of the area are factors too great to ignore for festive nostalgia.  In order to make selling during the holidays easier you will need to have a knowledgeable REALTOR by your side that shares your enthusiasm.

Before getting started, sit down with your agent and make sure you are both familiar with each other’s holiday plans.  Part of the hassle of selling homes in the holiday season is synchronizing schedules so it’s best to lay everything out on the table in advance.  This allows your agent to maximize on consumers’ down time to schedule showings while they have more time off work.  This is also a wonderful opportunity to assess the quality of your agent.  A REALTOR that is hardworking and reliable during the holiday season is one worth having any time of the year. 

Finally, if you are going to keep your house on the market you need to make sure it’s ready for viewing.  During most of the year it’s advised that sellers depersonalize and declutter their homes.  There is a lot to be said for giving your space the universal appeal of the show room look.  People have an easier time imagining themselves living in your house if they aren’t reminded that it is your house.  However, the holiday season is different.  Seeing a home that appears warm and cheerful will entice buyers to make happy memories here as well.  Please note I’m not giving carte blanche to fill every nook and cranny with dancing Santas.  Tasteful, seasonal decor with one or two professional, family photographs is best.  This keeps the clean, streamline effect buyers like while maintaining the personal flair we cherish during the holidays.

Keeping these aspects in mind, I hope you have a new found confidence with keeping your home on the market during this season.  This can be an opportune time to showcase your property to truly interested buyers giving them the chance to have a new home for the holidays!

Home Staging — Is it Really Worth the Expense? December 20, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in General, home staging, Resources, Seller Tips, Uncategorized.
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Quality home staging significantly improves a seller’s chance to affect a quick sale at the highest possible price.  This is why we have a home stager on our team. While my expertise is marketing, pricing in today’s market, contract negotiations and seeing a transaction through the settlement process, Jill Oliver, our staff Home Stager, provides the expertise in organizing and home staging. When applicable, we have Jill consult with our clients to prepare their home for the market.

Here is a recent Q&A with Jill:

  • What would you say are the top three things that sellers should do to their house before putting it up for sale?  
    De-Clutter, organize and clean, make necessary repairs, update.
  • Is it important to ‘depersonalize’ a house before showing it? Are there any exceptions? 
    Yes, it is very important to depersonalize a home before putting it on the market.  People want to envision themselves living in the house, but if there are personal pictures hanging on the walls and on every surface, they will not be able to see themselves in the home — they will just see the pictures.  If my clients are adamant about their pictures, I tell them to leave a couple, and leave them in the more private spaces of the home: upstairs, bedrooms, etc.
  • Can a house that is too personalized hurt its chances of being sold? 
    Yes.  You want to make the home as neutral as possible.  You want to market your home to as many different people as possible.  So neutralize the color scheme, the decorating and the furniture.
  • Should rooms with unique or outdated features be changed or does it depend? (those painted in bold colors, have unique wall murals, pink shaggy carpeting, etc…..)
    Yes!!!  In Southern Maryland alone there are over 1700 homes on the market.  You need to have your home stand out amongst the competition.  So, yes, if you have turquoise Formica countertops, pink carpeting or black walls – they have to go.  As I said before, you need to neutralize the home.  Bold colors need to be replaced with a softer neutral color, but that doesn’t mean it has to be white.  We can usually find a neutral color in the same family as the bold color — the client is happy and the house is neutralized.
  • What are some of the common mistakes sellers make when preparing their house to go on the market? 
    Not preparing the house for market.  Most clients think their house is wonderful and there is nothing wrong with it.  When Bob gives me a listing, I do a complete walk-through on the home and tell the clients what needs to be completed in the home before it goes on the market.  Most times, rooms will have too much clutter or too much furniture, especially if there are kids in the home. 

    Closets need to be cleaned out, as well as kitchen pantries, because a potential buyer will look in the closets.  I tell the client that if the closets are packed full, they are essentially telling potential buyers there isn’t enough storage in the home. 

    You need to purge and clean before putting your house on the market.  Our goal is to make every home look like a show house before it goes on the market. 

REALTORS – It’s All About You! Or … is it? November 29, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in Uncategorized.
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Who would agree that it’s all about you?  Take a look at some of the ads in any issue of the REALTOR Magazine and the message is clear.  Companies are advertising, “It’s about you.”  Agents are stating, “It’s about me.”  As I was writing this post, sitting at a traffic light, (don’t worry, my wife was driving) a big bright red SUV pulled up with license plates that read, “2ME 4ME”.

Who is it really about?  Zig Ziglar tells us in his “Little Book of Big Quotes”, “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.”  In the Bible, Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

I don’t know how you feel, but when I complete a settlement with a buyer or seller client, knowing that my focus was on them and their needs, rather than mine, and they express a sincere appreciation for my concern and efforts on their behalf, that’s my reward.  The money comes in due time, but in my mind the money is secondary.  Sure, the money is important.  Zig Ziglar says it comes in second place, right after the air we breathe. 

The fact of the matter is, when we take care of others, our needs are met, oftentimes more than we could have imagined.  In the case of the satisfied client, we gain a friend, repeat business and referrals.  All of which represents an opportunity to conduct a repeat performance.  Then, there are the other blessings we receive that seem to come out of nowhere that some consider a coincidence.  I believe they’re heaven sent. 

I believe it’s not all about me.


Joc & Rosemary Ferruzza               

10-19-07

Dear Bob,

Thank you so much for the effective and efficient way in which you sold our house of 25 years. The fact that you sold it and helped us get the condo we wanted in a slow home market is testimony to your skill and concern for our needs. We would readily recommend you to anyone wishing to sell or buy property. You are a true professional.

Thank Karen for her wonderful fish and keep Sarah at the piano.

We are glad you and your company, EXIT First Realty, came into our lives. We are quite happy in the condo and hear good things from the buyer of our home. Come by and see us sometime.

Best wishes to all and many thanks,
Joc & Rosemary Ferruzza


Monique and James Tyger                  

9-23-07

We just wanted to write to say Thank You for all your patience and guidance. It was a long journey. I got in contact with Bob in November because I was moving to the Maryland area and my new husband and I would be looking for a house. The nightmare began when the house my husband was selling fell out of contract on four different occassions with another Realtor and a court appointed trustee, but Bob was always helpful and positive. Bob kept us going and made us laugh even at our darkest hour.

My husband and I could not have made it through this stressful and disappointing time without Bob and Mike Mazzola working so hard getting us into the perfect house. The other house sold and we moved into our house August 2007. WE FINALLY DID IT!!!!

We highly recommend Bob and Exit First Realty because it is the only company that we have dealt with that is true, honest and professional. We never had a problem getting a hold of Bob. He was always available to answer all of our questions. Our whole family has grown very fond of Bob. We are proud to call Bob our dearest friend and we will always be greatful. We can’t thank you enough, Bob.

Sincerely,
Monique and James Tyger


Gordy & Kathy Stinson

Bob,

We have dealt with Realtors and agencies many times in the past. I don’t remember ever having had a bad experience with any of them. None however has come close to equalling you and your Team. Friends of ours suggested you when they learned we were being transferred on very short notice.

Let me just say that the service you provided us has been unmatched by any agent, anywhere. We had less than two weeks before we had to actually move and were very nervous when we initially met with you and Angie. You already had a plan and a strategy for marketing our home the first time we met. You did all of the things we had come to expect from real estate agencies:
Signs in the yard, fliers and such. It was the rest of the package that was amazing.

Here’s just a few:

  1. A phone number on the sign in the yard to call and listen to professionally scripted message describing our home.
  2. A website to go into and actually take a virtual tour of our home. It was professionally done and was amazing.
  3. The “Settlement Room” on the WEB wasn’t just a settlement room as you may think of it. It was a site that we could visit anytime and see what was going on with our house. More on that in a moment.
  4. Placing our home on realtor.com. If you’ve been looking for a new home you’ve probably been there. Of course this linked directly to a virtual tour of our home.
  5. Here’s the best one, “You sold our house”!!!! We had a buyer in a matter of days. Not weeks, not months….days. During a time when my wife and I felt the market was really slowing. We listed it in mid September and closed on the Sale in Early November. We never sat and wondered what was going on with the house. In the “Settlement Room” everything was right there for us to look at. We saw the home inspection report, the termite inspection report, when they were scheduled and when they were actually conducted. Every time a piece of paper was generated concerning our house we reviewed a copy online in the “Settlement Room”. It kept us informed as to what had already beeen accomplished, what needed to be done and when it was going to be done.

Everything went exactly as you assured us it would, Bob, and for that we are truly grateful. Thanks to each one of you on the “Team”.

We are well beyond satisfied clients, Bob. Honesty and integrity are all so often seen as obstacles in doing excellent work. In your case they are practiced in everything you do. God bless you and the “Team”.

Gordy and Kathy Stinson


More testimonials here


Just Listed 3BR Townhome in Clinton October 24, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in Maryland Homes for Sale, Maryland Real Estate For Sale, Prince George's County.
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We just listed this fabulous 3BR, 2.5 BA townhouse located in the Temple Plaza community of Clinton. This home is in model home condition. To view photos, virtual tour, images, details, area links, community demographics and more, visit:

www.7710LuckyLure.com

7710 Lucky Lure

New Listing in Waldorf October 16, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in Charles County, Maryland Homes for Sale, Maryland Real Estate For Sale.
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420 Trefoil Pl., Waldorf, MD 20601

$235,000

Experience pure perfection from the moment you arrive to the time you reluctantly leave.

For a virtual tour, click here:

Click Here to see the Virtual Tour

Enter the foyer and you’ll find the spic-and-span eat-in kitchen that offers a pass-through to the living room and a view of the outdoors to the rear of the home.

Make your way down the hall, pass the powder room and you’ll find the large living room with a slider to the manicured fenced-in rear lawn, complete with a deck for BBQ’s and an attached storage shed.

The upper level features three bedrooms and a full hall bath.

For additional information or to hear a pre-recorded audio tour, please call our 24-Hour Information Line at 800-557-4533 x2308.

 For full details, see www.420Trefoil.com.

$5,000 in Closing Help Available! September 24, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in General, Maryland Homes for Sale, Maryland Real Estate For Sale, Prince George's County.
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Our seller at 908 Strausberg just reduced his list price to $499,900

AND

is now offering $5,000 in closing help!

See all the listing details at www.908Strausberg.com

AmeriDream Under Attack September 13, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in AmeriDream, General, Real Estate Agents, Resources.
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I was recently introduced to AmeriDream, a non-profit organization that helps people purchase homes by way of an innovative down payment program called “down payment gifts”. This is a program helping people since 1999, and as of today, has helped 224,897 individuals and families reach the American Dream of homeownership. To put this in perspective, on average, every 22 minutes there is a new homeowner because of AmeriDream. Basically, a seller “gifts” part of the purchase price back to the buyer to help with down payment assistance.

However, recently, AmeriDream and other non-profits in the down payment gift industry, have come under attack by HUD. See here (from blog entry: http://blog.ahaanow.org/ahaa/2007/08/affordable-hous.html):

Affordable Housing Program in Jeopardy

An effective, affordable housing down payment assistance program, administered by nonprofit organizations that have helped nearly one million low-and-moderate-income families become homeowners, would be eliminated under a federal proposal submitted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Nonprofits such as AmeriDream, Inc. of Gaithersburg, MD and Nehemiah Corp. of America, of Sacramento, CA would be banned from providing down payment help to homebuyers who qualify for a FHA-insured mortgage, but lack the money they need for down payment and closing costs.

HUD has proposed the new rule in response to its concerns that the contract sale price is “often increased to ensure that the seller’s net proceeds are not diminished” in transactions involving nonprofits that provide downpayment assistance.

Currently, nonprofit organizations that provide down payment assistance account for nearly 40% of all FHA-insured loans.

The National Association of Homebuilders has already publicly voiced it support for nonprofit organizations like AmeriDream. In addition, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) has gone to bat for seller-funded down-payment assistance.

“Down payment assistance is a key to expanding homeownership,” David Ledford, a vice president of the National Association of Homebuilders, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg News. “We think guidelines can be developed to keep prices down.”

If you are concerned about the negative impact that this rule will have on mortgage lending or if you are a home buyer that could now be locked out of an opportunity for homeownership, your local representative needs to hear from you. Please go to the Take Action page of AHAA to take action.

My thoughts are … a home won’t be financed if the sale price isn’t substantiated by the lender’s appraisal. Therefore, if a buyer and seller come to an agreement for the sale price (which is confirmed by the lender’s appraisal), it’s between the seller and the buyer if the seller would like to “gift” some of the purchase price back to the buyer in the form of a down payment. Whether using a service such as AmeriDream, this practice occurs regularly, especially in today’s buyer’s market. Many sellers assist the buyer with closing costs, credits and down payment assistance. Why should HUD interfere between a seller and buyer’s contract when both parties agree and benefit in the transaction?

What do you think?  Share you thoughts here.

Just Listed! Beechtree Golf Community, Luxury Home August 24, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in General, Maryland Homes for Sale, Maryland Real Estate For Sale, Prince George's County.
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2700 Galeshead Dr., Upper Marlboro

Located in the sought after luxury golf course community of Beechtree, sited on a premium lot and built by NV Homes, one of the nation’s top luxury home builders, this popular Falconcrest model is simply a statement of distinction.

To preview a virtual tour of this property, please click here:

Click Here to see the Virtual Tour 

To view a complete list of the upgraded features totaling $180,000, click here.

From the foyer to your right is the library, which offers plenty of room for your executive style desk, computer desk and chairs for guests. Open to the left of the foyer is a gracious formal dining room, complete with elegant appointments such as wall sconces, a tray ceiling and chandelier.

As you make your way towards the rear of the home from the foyer, you enter a great room like no other you’ve seen before. The sky-high cathedral ceilings make way for a 19’ palladium window, where hours can be spent watching the clouds float by or taking-in the golf course views. Above the marble surround gas log fireplace is the perfect location for your flat panel TV, and the surround sound wiring is already in place. To the right and left of the fireplace are deep custom bookcases.

Open from the great room and accessed by the dining room hall is a true gourmet kitchen. The many countertops are granite, and abundant 42” cabinetry is maple with a cherry finish. There are double wall ovens, a side-by-side refrigerator with water and ice, a built-in microwave, a walk-in pantry and of course a center island.

Open to the rear of the kitchen is a magnificent sunroom where palladium window views and every meal could be enjoyed. The sunroom provides access to the custom brick paver patio where bar-b-que meals are prepared as there is an installed natural gas line for your grill.

Another highlight of the main level is the spacious owner’s suite featuring a tray ceiling where a lighted ceiling fan is hung. The bath suite is luxurious with a cultured marble double vanity, brass shower surround, and a jetted tub with smoked glass above for your privacy. And yes, there is a large walk in closet that is fitted with California closet organizers.

The main level also features a powder room for the convenience of your guests, a laundry/mud room and access to the finished two-car garage with openers.

A beautiful oak turned staircase and hand rail lead to the upper level where you’ll find three very roomy bedrooms with lighted ceiling fans and California closets. There is also an upgraded full hall bath. The real highlight of this level might be the overlook onto the foyer, and better yet, the great room with the views.

The walk-out lower level is finished with appointments and an openness that offers endless possibilities to satisfy your preferences. Currently, there is a family room that is complete with surround sound; yet, there is still space enough for a game room and a pool table next to the built-in wet bar, complete with cabinetry, a refrigerator and a dishwasher. Additionally, there is a fifth bedroom, full bath, and a bonus room, which could serve as the sixth bedroom. Were you wondering about storage areas? Well, there are two sizeable areas for your storage items.

Suffice to say, everything imaginable has been upgraded, added or improved making this the deal of the century at this price. To see for yourself the beauty of this home and to help you better understand all of the many appointments, amenities and upgrades this spectacular home has to offer that will benefit you for years to come, view the virtual tour. If you’re already working with a REALTOR, call them immediately to schedule a visit. If you’re not working with a REALTOR, we would love to help you. Simply call, email or use any of our handy contact links. Thank you for viewing and may your search for a home be a pleasant and productive experience.