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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 Gauger, REALTOR
EXiT Landmark Realty
4550 Crain Hwy
White Plains, MD  20695
(240) 286-4447 cell
(301) 934-2022 ext 118 ofc
(888) 932-3948 fax

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. 

$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


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.

Hello world! June 9, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in General.
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To begin ….

      a tidbit about me … Bob … 

I’ve been a licensed Maryland REALTOR® since 1990 and love what I do!  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family … a wife and two daughters … and I work with a great group of people.  I’m currently the Office Manager of the EXiT First Realty office in Waldorf, Maryland, which is part of the EXiT Mid-Atlantic Region offices (proudly named EXiT’s International Region of the Year in 2005).

Hopefully, you’ll find my blog helpful, educational and filled with tons of useful tidbids about Maryland real estate, the various areas of the region I support, and plenty of real estate buyers and sellers tips and resources. I love helping people throughout Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Howard, Montgomery, Prince Georges and St Marys counties with buying and selling their homes. Over the years, I’ve seen the seller’s markets and the buyer’s markets — several times over — and through both, have closed around 400 real estate transactions now.  With that, I’m hoping to share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way to help others have the same pleasant and productive home buying and selling experience as some of my other clients.

Additionally, I have another resource at http://www.marylandhomemarket.com/, and I invite you to check it out …. we’ve been packing it full of resources, property searches, automated listing notifications and a ton more for years now.

Oh … and if you’ve been thinking about becoming a licensed Maryland real estate agent, or are looking into new opportunities as a current agent, check out these agent resources as well.