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Purchase Assistance Programs

For most first-time homebuyers, the greatest obstacle to owning a home is the down payment.

Fortunately, to help fill this need, homebuyers throughout the State of California can access different assistance programs that enable them to reach the dream of homeownership. The federal, state and local government, and non-profit organizations have designed programs to help very low-, low- and moderate-income buyers attain homeownership that wouldn t be otherwise possible.

Some of the programs offered are available on a statewide basis, while others are available only locally, since they have been specially designed for residents of a particular community or for individuals with a special set of housing constraints. It is always recommended to approach the originating housing entity to find about the particular requirements and scope of any given program.

Purchase assistance programs, whether down payment, closing costs, pre-paids or rate-buy-downs take the form of loans or grants. These financial delivery mechanisms are designed to help households reach the dream of homeownership.

Loans usually are deferred, low-to-zero-interest and require back payment at the time of sale or transfer of property. Loans are sometimes referred as Soft or Silent Seconds, depending upon whether the loan is to be paid at a low interest rate or it is forgiven after a certain conditions are met. The loan originator can be the state, a regional, local or non-profit housing agency.

The most common conditions attached to any loan program are:

  • First time buyers must not have home ownership in any property within the last 3 years.
  • Purchase price and income level limits are based on area medians for family size, usually to HUD standards.
  • Assistance with 0 20 percent of purchase price or a fixed quantity, whichever is less.
  • Below market interest rate deferred until sale or transfer of the home.
  • Balloon payment of loan at the time of transfer or selling of property.

Grants are money gifts where the no back payment by the buyer is required, but where a fee-for-use is required as well as a contribution from the seller. Grant providers are usually more flexible than loan providers in the set of conditions attached to the funding process. Grant originators typically are non-profit organizations.

Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) and redevelopment agency affordable housing set-asides revenue provide assistance to first-time homebuyers in the form of deferred loans. For a local government to have access to CDBG funds, it must have an approved Consolidated Plan. With the money obtained from these funds, the local government can create a financial assistance program for first time homebuyers with income restrictions. The final aid might come in the form of grants or down payment deferred loans. In addition, there might be cooperation with non-profit organizations to provide them with funds for homeownership education programs.

CalHFA Down Payment Assistance Programs has available several down payment programs designed for homebuyers facing different needs, such as living in a high cost area or no down payment funds.

The programs are:

  • Affordable Housing Partnership Program (AHPP) Contains information on AHPP list of approved subordinate localities and programs, property and income requirements, interest rates and sales price limits.
  • California Homebuyer’s Down payment Assistance Program (CHDAP)
  • CalHFA Housing Assistance Program (CHAP)
  • Extra Credit Teachers Home Purchase Assistance Program (ECTP)
  • High-Cost Area Home Purchase Assistance Program (HiCAP)
  • Homeownership In Revitalization Areas Program (HIRAP)
  • Oakland Teacher Program
  • Home Choice Downpayment Assistance Program
  • School Facility Fee Down Payment Assistance Program (SFF)

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The agency maintains several homeownership assistance links. Please consult:

  • California programs sorted by city
  • Clearinghouse for Affordable Housing and Community Finance Resources: Over 200 housing programs, government, private lenders and foundation grants. Each program listing identifies the goals, eligible activities and type of funding, as well as such critical and timely information as application deadlines and current funding availability.
  • FHA Bridal Registry: A special interest-bearing account set up for down payment is available with any participating lender.
  • Local Down Payment Programs: Programs listed by locality.
  • Homeownership Vouchers: Part of the  Housing choice voucher program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Homeownership vouchers assist public housing residents that are first-time homeowners with their monthly homeownership expenses. The home must pass an initial housing quality standards inspection conducted by the Public Housing Authority (PHA) and an independent home inspection before the local PHA may approve the purchase by the family.Fannie Mae s Homebuyer Funds Finder. Fannie has very useful web tools to help housing professionals in finding financial funds for borrowers. Homebuyer Funds Finder helps locate down payment and closing costs. A generic search works best.

Individual Development Account Network. Maintains information on how and where to start matched saving accounts for down payment assistance and other purposes.

Non-profit organizations (NPOs) are the main providers of grants that can be used to cover down payment, closing costs, pre-paids, rate buy-downs and automatic Mortgage Payment Protection. NPOs ultimate goal is to help people access homeownership and help buyers keep some financial reserves. The flexibility of the programs is also reflected in the fact that most of them allow for repeat buyers, have no income limits or sales price limits. They actively encourage builders and real estate professionals to participate, and they offer training assistance.

Inquire with local non-profits about the availability of such programs in your area.

  • American Family Funds
  • AmeriDream Downpayment Gift Program
  • California Cares
  • Clearinghouse for Affordable Housing and Community Finance Resources
  • Consumer Debt Solutions Inc. (CDS)
  • Fair Housing Assistance Ken Ray Inc.
  • Family Home Providers
  • Fannie Mae s Homebuyer Funds Finder
  • Homeownership Alliance of Non-Profit Downpayment Providers
  • Homes for All Program
  • Housing Action Resource Trust (HART)
  • Local housing authority or economic agency can provide information on local NPOs offering assistance.
  • Neighborhood Gold
  • Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation A prominent organization with several chapters in California.
  • Partners in Charity
  • The Genesis Program
  • The Nehemiah Program.


Forms You ll Need to Sell Your Home

1. Property disclosure form. This form requires you to reveal all known defects to your property. Check with your state government to see if there is a special form required in your state.

2. Purchasers access to premises agreement. This agreement sets conditions for permitting the buyer to enter your home for activities such as measuring for draperies before you move.

3. Sales contract. The agreement between you and the seller on terms and conditions of sale. Again, check with your state real estate department to see if there is a required form.

4. Sales contract contingency clauses. In addition to the contract, you may need to add one or more attachments to the contract to address special contingencies  such as the buyer s need to sell a home before purchasing yours.

5. Pre- and post-occupancy agreements. Unless you re planning on moving out and the buyer moving in on the day of closing, you ll need an agreement on the terms and costs of occupancy once the sale closes.

6. Lead-based paint disclosure pamphlet. If your home was built before 1978, you must provide the pamphlet to all sellers. You must also have buyers sign a statement indicating they received the pamphlet.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Seven Selling Mistakes You Don’T Want To Make!


Mistake #1 — Pricing Your Property Too High

Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her product. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your product at an excessively high price! A high listing price will cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price.

Mistake #2 — Mistaking Re-finance Appraisals for the Market Value

Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be lower.

Your best bet is to ask your REALTOR® for the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.

Mistake #3 — Forgetting to “Showcase Your Home”

In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price of your property and will even turn away some buyers.

Mistake #4 — Trying to “Hard Sell” While Showing

Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Don’t try haggling or forcefully selling.

Instead, be friendly and hospitable. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.

Mistake #5 — Trying to Sell to “Looky-Loos”

A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a “for sale” sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a REALTOR® are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate.

Your REALTOR® should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. REALTOR®s should usually find out a prospective buyer’s savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your REALTOR® fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new REALTOR®.

Mistake #6 — Not Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities

It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details in your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing.

Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands for repairs and inspections. Know what you are responsible for before signing the contract. Can the property be sold “as is”? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these kinds of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.

Mistake #7 — Limiting the Marketing and Advertising of the Property

Your REALTOR® should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your REALTOR® should also be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your REALTOR® is working on selling your home during these hours. Chances are that you have a job, too, so you may not be able to get in touch with many potential buyers.

Well, Take a Look at This!

Getting a home inspection during your sale pending period is a vital  and many times required  part of the process. Your real estate agent should have a list of home inspectors in the area with good reputations. You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau or similar organizations to insure you re getting a qualified inspector.

A good home inspector will check out the  operating ability of your prospective purchase. Some things they ll check include: functional electrical system; plumbing; heating and air conditioning operation; window and door seals; appliance operation; garage door closer/opener; sprinkler systems; roof quality; water damage (dry rot); structural and foundation stability; and more. Be sure to carefully review the inspection report. Red flags raised may require further inspection by a specific expert.

In addition to a home inspection, most purchases require a pest inspection to insure you aren t confronted with termite infestation or other pest problems.

So, to take a huge amount of risk out of your purchase, getting a good home inspection is vital. Lots of expensive and damaging problems can be found in the inspection process. The good news is, the seller may be required to pay for the fixes before you close the sale!

Real Property Report – California, January 2015

Normal Seasonal Forces Push California Real Estate Sales Lower January Sales Down 23.4 Percent from December Median Price Falls 2.6 Percent January 2015 California single-family home and condominium sales fell 23.4 percent to 22,850 from 29,821 in December 2014. On a year-over-year basis, sales were down 6.1 percent. Regionally, year-over-year sales were down 8.4 percent across the nine Bay Area counties, 4.1 percent in Southern California, and 10.1 percent in Central California. “Seasonal forces typically depress January sales,” said Madeline Schnapp, Director of Economic Research for PropertyRadar. “Still, January 2015 sales are the lowest January sales since 2008, despite near...

The post Real Property Report – California, January 2015 appeared first on PropertyRadar - previously ForeclosureRadar.

Mortgage Credit Certificates and Mortgage Revenue Bonds

State and local governmental agencies and joint powers authorities can issue tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) or mortgage credit certificates (MCCs) to assist first-time homebuyers purchase homes.

MCCs are designed to reduce homebuyers federal tax liability by applying the credit to their net tax due and can be used with conventional, fixed-rate, FHA, VA and privately insured loans for single family and condominiums homes. Program participants must meet program income limits, depending on the issuing locality, and live in the home for at least three years. MCCs that are issued in Federal Target areas usually have less restrictive limits than other areas. Target areas are locations where 50% of the households earn less than that area s median income.


MRBs are tax-exempt bonds that state and local governments issue through housing finance agencies (HFAs) to help fund below-market-interest-rate mortgages for first-time qualifying homebuyers. Eligible borrowers are first-time homebuyers with low to moderate incomes below 115 percent of median family income. MRB loans are offered at a 30-year below-market interest rate. Price limits and interest rates may vary within each area. Only qualified lenders can offer MRBs.

To access a current allocation award list of Counties and Cities using MCCs and MRBs, visit the California State Treasury s Office website at Make sure to consult all the Rounds in order to obtain the complete Single Family Programs allocation information. Once you have confirmation of which program the City or County is offering, contact the local Housing authority or the Planning Department or the Economic Development Agency, depending on your locality s organizational structure. Government staff should be able to provide you with the program administrator contact information and additional details. Some MCC and MRB administrators have web sites where they post their information.

Remember, if the financial resources allocated for a particular program are not used, then they are lost. In the next funding cycle, the local government should make new requests for money and a new allocation is designated. In some cases, local funds for down payment are not being used to its full capacity leaving thousands of dollars unused in city coffers.

If a buyer has a 30-year mortgage of $130,000 with a 6.25% fixed interest rate; the interest rate amount would be approximately $ 8,081.85 during the first year. With a 20% credit, $1,616.37 of the payment would be given back to the buyer, allowing him more purchasing capabilities by allowing a lower annual household income to qualify for the mortgage.


Save 25% on Your Proposition 8 Property Tax Relief

For everyone occupying LA. If you want to try and get a break on your property taxes, maybe a refund check! In Los Angeles County, you have to submit your application before November 30 and you can submit it online! or you can mail an application by the end of this month. There are companies that charge you for this service (I’ve seen some charge 25% of the refund which sounds great) but you can do it yourself for FREE and the Assessor’s Office can help for FREE and I might help for FREE

  • What is it?

Proposition 8 allows for a temporary reduction in assessed value when a property suffers a “decline-in-value.” That’s most of Los Angeles. A decline-in-value occurs when the current market value of your property is less than the current assessed value as of January 1.

In Los Angeles County and all over California, if the current market value of your property is less than its current assessed value, you may qualify for tax relief under Proposition 8. There are people that get a property tax refund check every year.

  • What do you need to do to get tax relief?
  1. Find the current assessed value of your property from your current property tax bill or from the Assessor’s website
  2. Find comparable sales that sold as close to January 1 as possible, but no later than March 31
  3. If your home’s current assessed value is less than the comparable sales you may get a refund!
    The application is available at the Assessor’s website and you can do it online, if you found your tax bill (you need a secret code from your tax bill) there’s a big red button that says CLICK HERE on their site. If you can’t find your tax bill, your taxes are on the Assessor’s website and you can mail in the application
  4. Go to the tax meeting (sounds better than a tax hearing) it’s not a big deal but it takes a half day
  • Where do you get those Comparable Sales?

The easiest way to find comparable sales is Call Me “Your Realtor” and ask for help. I can find Comparable Sales and I do not charge for this service AND I can do it over the phone in a few minutes AND that’s all you need to do for step 2. I can pull comparable sales that sold close to January 1, but no later than March 31. The no later than March 31 is the biggest reason for being denied a refund, so check that date

You can try to do it by yourself online, some websites offer some sales information free of charge; enter your address and get a free report of the current value of your home and a list of comparable home sales that sold near yours. Just look for those January 1, but no later than March 31 sales.

  1. – the Assessor’s website offers sales information for properties that have sold within the last two years. The same information is available from any Assessor District Office.
  2. – this is the easiest site to use, it gives you a nice little report of what your home is worth and there’s a full list of comparable sales with dates
  3. – I used to like this site but it’s hard to find addresses and the site is very buggy. It will give you a value for your home but the comparables have no dates, not useful for the taxes

Please understand that the values you get from these online sites are usually wrong and sometimes way way off. It’s a computer making a guess, based on some weird math. Here’s more info about the Zillow Estimate note that for LA, only 40% of the time are they closer than 5% of the final Sales Price, the rest of the time, they are way off, sometimes by more than 20%

If you can cut your property taxes by making a phone call, great. I want to see you get a refund check so if you want help, call me at 323-215-9836

Also, I know real estate and values. Paying less property taxes may affect your personal tax liability so contact your tax advisor for tax advise

Changes to the HAFA Short Sale

Beginning June 15, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will require mortgage servicers to make decisions on short sales under new guidelines, specifically:

  • acknowledge the documentation was received within three business days;
  • notify the borrower within five days if more paperwork is needed;
  • review and respond to a borrower within 30 days of receiving all documentation for short sale properties (the servicer can take up to 60 days on a decision if negotiations with mortgage insurers or other stakeholders linger); and
  • provide weekly status updates to the borrower if a short sale decision lingers past the 30 days.

The new Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) guidelines are designed to assist the most inventory-constrained markets in the United States with inventory levels by moving properties through the short sale process more efficiently.

Click Me! To Find Out Everything
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Moving Checklist for Sellers.

___Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks ahead of the move.

___Notify your credit card companies, magazine subscriptions, and bank of your change of address.

___Create a list of friends, relatives, and business colleagues who need to be notified about your move.

___Arrange to disconnect utilities and have them connected at your new home.

___Cancel the newspaper, or change the address so it will arrive at your new home.

___Check insurance coverage for the items you re moving. Usually movers only cover what they pack.

___Clean out appliances and prepare them for moving, if applicable.

___Note the weight of the goods you ll have moved, since long-distance moves are usually billed according to weight. Watch for movers that use excessive padding to add weight.

___Check with your condo or co-op about any restrictions on using the elevator or particular exits for moving.

___Have a  first open box with the things you ll need most, such as toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors, hammer, screwdriver, pencils and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, and toothpaste.

Plus, if you re moving out of town, be sure to:

___Get copies of medical and dental records and prescriptions for your family and your pets.

___Get copies of children s school records for transfer.

___Ask friends for introductions to anyone they know in your new neighborhood.

___Consider special car needs for pets when traveling.

___Let a friend or relative know your route.

___Empty your safety deposit box.

Put plants in boxes with holes for air circulation if you re moving in cold weather.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Short Sale Highlights

We are aggressively and successfully performing short sales thus helping hundreds of people to avoid foreclosure in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. No worries if your property is not located in these areas. These highlights hold true nationwide. However, you should always consult your tax professional and attorney for your specific situation. With that said Here are some short sale highlights!!

    • A short sale can have a much less negative effect on your credit than a foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure
    • A short sale acts as a traditional closing with specified close date once we get an approval
    • In most cases a short sale approval will have the language for a waiver of deficiency.
    • If you maintain your credit you may be able to purchase a home in 24 months or less.
    • We have other affiliates who have sold homes to people who have short sold their home 90 days from the short sale date. They kept current on their payment all the way to close and bought 3 months later!!
    • Banks are more willing to do a short sale than foreclose on you. The time is now when things are so lenient and the government encourages it.
    • Banks are making the short sale process even easier!
    • It is estimated that there will be another 3,000,000 short sales, deed in lieu of foreclosure and foreclosures combined nationwide before we see this slow down. Why foreclose when you do not have to?
    • A short sale will cost you NOTHING! If anyone is charging you money to do a short sale, RUN!
    • A short sale is a means to a quicker recovery for you and your family.
    • This can be time to relieve a bad asset for you! IE negative every month b/c the rental market is so low!
    • The short sale process is fairly easy for you There are certain documents that are required. Once we get them from you, it is all up to us!
    • We do not guarantee a short sale but we have a strong closing percentage
    • Short sales can be done with 2 mortgages on the property.
    • A short sale will clean up all past liens Back taxes, HOA fees, etc All are paid by your lender at closing.
    • We average 7 days on the market for short sales.
    • You do not have to be delinquent on your mortgage to do a short sale. It is a personal decision.
    • Depending on how the property is held, you may not be taxed on the deficient amount! Speak with your accountant.
    • Timelines for short sale approval are becoming quicker and quicker.

I am sure I am forgetting some other things, but these should answer some of the most common questions homeowners have about short sales.

Article Source:

About the Author:
Steve Daria is the Broker / Owner at Maxim Realtors, LLC in Fort Myers, Fl.

Maxim Realtors, LLC is short sale servicing all of Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties That is Punta Gorda, North Fort Myers, Pine Island, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers Beach, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, Marco.

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