Wednesday, October 21, 2009

REMAX Launches Short Sale Plan

Short Sale Plan Will Help Families

A major joint venture for Short Sales was announced late Tuesday (Oct. 20). RE/MAX International issued this press release:

Real Estate Leaders Unite to Reduce Foreclosures New Short Sale Strategy Designed to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

RE/MAX International of Denver, Colorado and HEART Financial Services of Northbrook, Illinois have agreed to work together to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The real estate franchisor and loan modification leaders have created a unique pre-foreclosure or "Short Sale" strategy that will make it easier for families to sell their homes and avoid the trauma of a foreclosure. "It's unfortunate that the Short Sale process has been so difficult to navigate in this marketplace," says Dave Liniger, Chairman and Co-Founder of RE/MAX International. "We've been working hard to promote streamlined Short Sales to provide both significant benefits to lenders, and a welcomed opportunity for homeowners to get a fresh start."

At-risk homeowners who do not qualify for a loan modification will now have a viable alternative, and will not be forced into foreclosure. Lenders that offer loan modifications to their at-risk borrowers will be invited to participate in this new Short Sale program.

Trained customer service representatives will provide detailed Short Sale information to all homeowners who cannot obtain a loan modification or do not wish to retain their property. If a homeowner believes that a Short Sale might be appropriate, they are directed to a secure Internet website where they can obtain more information, and select a real estate agent in their community who has received comprehensive training on the Short Sale process. RE/MAX has designed this unique online database to assist homeowners with Short Sale information and easy agent referrals, and will use the closing management services Integrated Asset Services of Denver, Colorado.

"It's been our experience that many homeowners aren't even aware that Short Sales are a reasonable alternative to foreclosure," says Jerry Alt, President and Chief Executive Officer of HEART Financial Services. "Each month we speak with thousands of homeowners who can't qualify for or don't want a loan modification. For the most part, when we refer them back to the servicer for a potential Short Sale, we lose the opportunity to help the borrower while we have them on the phone. Now, we can offer these homeowners some hope and a more efficient process to list and sell their home."

The number of homeowners who could rely upon a Short Sale may be in the millions. According to, July, August and September had the highest foreclosure numbers on record and some analysts say there is a "shadow" inventory of foreclosed properties as high as 7 million, which could start hitting the market in a few months. Out of all the applications reviewed for a loan modification, less than 50% are successful. And a high percentage of successful loan modifications eventually re-default.

"We have been talking to numerous industry leaders, legislators and Administration officials trying to draw attention to the Short Sale situation," says Liniger. "It's just not possible for the housing market to recover fully until the inventory of foreclosed properties is significantly reduced, and Short Sales offers one practical way to help do this.

"There are over 11,000 real estate agents in the United States who have received the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) professional designation. Over 60% of those are affiliated with RE/MAX. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS also offers a similar Short Sale, Foreclosure and REO (SFR) designation. Agents who have received special Short Sale training like these designations could be selected to participate in this new Short Sale program.

Short Sales can occur when a lender agrees to accept a sales price for a home that is lower than what the homeowner owes on the mortgage. The Short Sale transaction is more complicated than the average real estate sale and consumers are urged to deal with agents who have specific training in the process. HEART Financial Services will begin offering the newly developed Short Sale process to the loan modification applicants of their clients within the next few weeks.

# # # About HEART Financial ServicesHEART Financial Services, LLC is headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois and has over 200 professional customer service representatives and loss mitigation negotiators dedicated to assisting mortgage borrowers. Since mid-2008 HEART Financial has worked with over 800,000 consumer mortgage borrowers and has achieved closing rates in excess of 40%. No fees are charged to the consumer for working out a suitable plan for home retention. As one of the largest loan modification facilitators in the country, HEART Financial has a proven record of reaching the problematic "no contact" borrowers before a decision to foreclose has been made and achieves higher resolution rates than industry averages. HEART Financial is dedicated to developing successful outreach programs for our servicing clients to engage their customers in a meaningful manner to work out a suitable solution to avoid foreclosure.
Posted 10/21/09

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weekly Notices Of Default for Contra Costa County

Notices of Default are filed with the County Recorder's Office when a borrower has defaulted on their loan. You will now have access to the Notices Of Default (NODs) filed within Contra Costa County by visiting Notices of Default for Contra Costa courtesy Mark Darfler, Realtor .

This information can give the viewer a good feel for how the foreclosure market is developing over time. This report will be updated weekly.

If you'd like to receive a current list of Notices of Default, please contact me directly at 925-330-7507.

Regards, Mark Darfler, Realtor, REMAX CC Connection, Inc.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prices Dropping on Lamorinda & Walnut Creek High-End Homes

Sellers are cutting prices on the million-dollar homes in the communities of Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga (Lamorinda) & Walnut Creek.

According to the Contra Costa Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as of April 1, 2009 there are 467 residential properties listed for sale in the communities of Lamorinda & Walnut Creek. Of these properties, 180 units (38%) are priced above $1,000,000. Since January 1, 2009 only 35 of these million-dollar plus homes have entered into a purchase contract (gone pending) or closed escrow (sold) . That's an average of about 12 homes sold per month. At this rate, that means there's over 15 months supply currently on the market (a balanced real estate market typically carries about 3-5 months of inventory).

Although we're in the prime season for selling real estate, "move up" buyers who typically purchase high-end homes have seen the equity in their current homes & their stock portfolios crushed. Adding insult to injury, lenders have all but shut the doors on large real estate loans.

To get their homes sold, seller's are taking a page right out of the giant retailer's play book - they are cutting prices. So far this year, of the 17 homes in the million-plus price range which have closed escrow (Sold), the average discount from the seller's asking price has been 7% . On a percentage basis this may not sound like much, but it adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And with only 20% of the existing inventory selling so far this year, and more units expected to hit the market, more price discounting is sure to come.

To search for homes in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and Walnut Creek visit my web site at

Friday, March 27, 2009

Brentwood, CA Foreclosed Homes Look Sweet!

Recently, I took a client on a tour of "bank owned" foreclosed properties (REOs) currently for sale in Brentwood, California. Much to my client's surprise, the houses we toured were in very good condition and were located in well maintained neighborhoods. Almost all of the homes we looked at were in "move in" condition - a few needed fresh paint and/or carpet; but for rental properties it was a dream come true, especially after touring much older homes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NOTE: Since we were looking for rental properties, we set the following search parameters: Detached homes, built on or after 1999, priced below $250,000 with 3+ bedrooms. Our target rents were in the $1,400 - $1,700 per month range.

With interest rates in the 4.75-5.75% range a real estate investor can put 20% down and generate positive cash flow on almost every home we looked at. It's no wonder that since Jan. 1, 2009 over 250 homes have either sold or gone "pending" in Brentwood. Other real estate investors see the opportunity as well. If you are considering a real estate investment, I'd highly recommend Brentwood, California.

And with the stimulus bill allocating money for improving the Vasco road corridor & the construction of the high-speed train system an investment in Brentwood could be a very smart move.

If you'd like to learn more about this incredible opportunity, give me a call at 925-330-7507 or e-mail me at You can also search homes in this market, and other Bay Area markets, by visiting my web site at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Foreclosure Overview

In California, when a borrower takes out a loan to finance the purchase of real property, the real property will almost always be used as collateral, through a Trust Deed. If the borrower doesn’t make the payments on the loan, after a predetermined amount of time, the lender has the right to foreclose. When the foreclosure process is complete, the property becomes a bank-owned property; also referred to as Real Estate Owned (REO).

Lenders are in the business of lending money, and are not interested in managing the underlying asset that was pledged against the loan (in this case a home). When a home has been foreclosed, the lender wants the asset liquidated ASAP! Asset liquidations are done through a sale of the property.

The majority of bank-owned property sales are conducted through real estate brokers, who usually list the property within their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and market the property using traditional real estate marketing strategies – open houses, direct mail, newspaper advertisements, etc.

Since many of the recently foreclosed homes are listed on local Realtor® MLS systems there’s a good chance you can find a great deal without resorting to some get-rich-quick scheme. Bank-owned / REOs represent a tremendous opportunity; however, not all Bank Owned / REO properties are bargains. You need to consider the location, condition of the property, recent comparable sales versus list price, market trends, interest rates, rental market conditions, and other factors when making a purchase decision. Armed with the right information, you can profit from this incredible opportunity.

Working with a knowledgeable, experienced real estate agent is critical when evaluating an REO property. You want to work with an agent who knows the local market, understands REO transactions and is familiar with presenting and negotiating an offer to a bank on a REO property.

A few things to consider when purchasing a Bank Owned / REO:

Most REO property is sold in “as-is” condition. Banks tend not to negotiate for repairs on the property once it’s in contract. Therefore, your purchase price should reflect your anticipated costs of repairs. It’s highly recommended to inspect the property prior to submitting an offer.

When a lender takes the property back through the foreclosure process, junior liens such as secondary loans, home equity lines, etc. usually are cleared from the property’s title. Most, but not all, lenders will also pay delinquent taxes. It’s extremely important to understand what other encumbrances may remain on the property’s title. When you are buying a foreclosed property your lender will help scrutinize the property’s title. If you are purchasing the property without a lender, make sure you seek legal advice on interpreting the title report. Also, make sure you purchase a title insurance policy.

Although there are hundreds of foreclosed properties on the market, there are other astute investors hunting for bargains as well. Don’t be surprised to see multiple offers on a property that’s priced substantially below market.

Foreclosed properties are also sold through auctions and “private-party” transactions which may, or may not, be found on my Weekly Foreclosure List.

My Weekly List focuses on foreclosed properties in select markets of the S.F. East Bay. These are markets in which I actively work as a full-time Realtor®. All properties on my Weekly List are Bank-Owned / REOs listed for sale on the Contra Costa MLS.

When you find a property on my Weekly List that looks like it might be what you’re looking for, give me a call or drop me an e-mail. I’d be pleased to show you the property or answer any questions you might have about how to buy a Bank-Owned / REO property.

Mark Darfler, Realtor - Your Bridge to a Successful Move.

Mark Darfler's Real Estate Web Site:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rough Ride Ahead

Short term (2-3 years) it looks like we're in for a rough ride. Even if the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates further, there's still the issue of much tighter lending requirements, which effectively takes many prospective buyers out of the market. If this were the only issue, we'd probably be o.k., but, adding insult to injury we're right in the middle of ARMs adjusting to their fully indexed rates. As rates increase, many borrowers can't make their mortgage nut, and with little or possibly negative equity, they're walking (or running) away from their homes in droves. Increasing supply combined with lower demand got it...lower prices.

What's a seller to do? If you buy my argument above,...price ahead of the declining market, have a rock solid marketing plan with an emphasis in online marketing & consider financing part of the sale.

In this case, "pricing ahead" means pricing below comparable homes that have VERY RECENTLY SOLD. No, not homes that sold 3 months ago... you'll need to find comparable homes that have closed escrow in the past 30 days! FYI - SOLD means homes that have CLOSED ESCROW, not homes that have recently been listed for sale. Price 3% below the most recent comparable sale and make sure you have your home in tip top shape.

According to the National Association of Home Builders & the National Association of Realtors approximately 80% of home buyers start their search using the internet. So use internet search engines to get the word out. A good Marketing Plan focuses on getting your home listed on the following web sites (at a minimum) Google, Yahoo, MSN, Zillow,,,, Trulia. Although listing your property on the MLS does help get your property online, your Realtor will need to link, post & advertise directly with the major online engines to maximize your online exposure.

Point the search engines to a dedicated Property Specific Web Site, so you can measure the traffic patterns. Make sure the Property Specific Web Site you select offers a graphical traffic analyzer. Have your Realtor make adjustments to the online campaign for optimal performance.

More to come...

For Seller Financing, check out this link:

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