REMAX 440/Central Blog

FHFA Proposes Rule on Private Transfer Fee Covenants

February 3, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 3, 2011--FHFA today sent a proposed rule to the Federal Register to begin formal rulemaking on private transfer fees. This rulemaking, which addresses comments received on a previously proposed guidance, would limit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks from dealing in mortgages on properties encumbered by certain types of private transfer fee covenants and in certain related securities. Transfer fees are contractual arrangements where an owner pays a fixed amount or a percentage of the sales price at the time of transferring the property.

The proposed rule would exclude private transfer fees paid to homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and certain tax-exempt organizations that use private transfer fee proceeds to benefit the property. Fees that do not directly benefit the property would be barred.

With limited exceptions, the rule would apply only prospectively to private transfer fee covenants created on or after the date of publication of the proposed rule. With this formal rulemaking, comments are again being solicited and are due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. Regulated entities are required to comply with the final rule within 120 days after its publication.

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7 Tips for Ridding Your Roof of Snow

February 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 2, 2011With winter blasting the country with feet upon feet of snow, some homeowners may be experiencing various forms of water or roof damage to their home. While its enough work to keep up with shoveling and driveway maintenance, some may want to consider cleaning snow off of their roofs to prevent any further damage, or worst case scenario, prevent a complete roof collapse. Before tackling this mission alone, here are some tips to abide by when attempting to clear off some snow.

1) Dress the part. Wearing enough warm layers is important when tackling such a large outdoor winter project. Dont wear clothing that will affect your movement or coordination, but do make sure youre warm and comfortable. Consider wearing sunglasses, depending on the day. You cant be too careful when at the top of a long ladder.

2) Choose the right tool. You want to avoid using something that will damage the roof accidentally. A snow rake (aka, a roof rake) is a good tool to start with. Brooms can work for lighter snow. If the snow is exceptionally deep, a plastic shovel may do the part, but be careful not to scrape the roof too hard. Try to leave a thin layer of snow on the roof so that any tool you use will not scratch whats underneath.

3) Make sure to have the sturdiest of ladders. Given the bad weather and wet conditions, climbing up to the roof without a ladder is obviously not recommended. Make sure the ladder you use has secure attachments to prevent it from collapsing. Also, make sure the ladder is dry and free of any ice or moisture. If possible, make sure someone else is around to hold the ladder in place or lend you a helping hand if necessary. Be sure to place the ladder in a spot where snow will not hit once you begin clearing.

4) Pull snow toward the roofs edge. Your main objective is to clear the snow off from the middle of the roof. This is where it can do the most damage if it weighs too heavily. Pull down whatever you can, and then clear off all the snow possible.

5) Its not necessary to get it all. If you find a spot or two hard to reach, let it be. Its difficult to hit it all, but any amount you can get off will help alleviate the weight factor on the roof.

6) If you feel dizzy or tired, stop what youre doing. Safety should be your number one priority. If you feel faint or tired, climb down and take a break. A fall from a high ladder could be potentially fatal.

7) If you are uneasy or uncertain of your ability to complete the task, hire some help. For the elderly or those with medical concerns, hire somebody else to help you out. If a family member or friend isnt around, there are professionals you can hire to handle the job. It may cost a bit of money, but at least the job will be completed safely and efficiently.

For homeowners worried about the status of their roof, clearing it off after heavy storms is the best bet. With the end of winter not quite in sight, properly monitoring and taking care of your roof is the best way to prevent any type of water damage from happening to your home.


Fannie Mae Introduces Multifamily MBS GeMS

February 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 2, 2011--Fannie Mae announced the introduction of Fannie Mae Guaranteed Multifamily Structures, or Fannie Mae GeMS, an expanded multifamily mortgage-backed securities (MBS) execution that will include DUS Megas, DUS REMICs and syndicated DUS Megas. Syndicated Mega deals will be managed by broker-dealers and offered in issuance sizes similar to DUS REMIC transactions. This expansion builds on Fannie Mae's successful DUS REMIC issuances, providing additional Fannie Mae GeMS products with similar features and liquidity. Fannie Mae's suite of multifamily MBS products helps to provide a continuous source of stable funding to support the nation's rental housing market.

"Fannie Mae is a leading provider of capital and liquidity for affordable workforce rental housing, and our role is more important now than ever," said Kenneth J. Bacon, executive vice president, Multifamily Mortgage Business. "When many financial institutions pulled out of the multifamily financing market during the financial crisis, we stayed and increased our participation to help keep credit flowing."

"The introduction of Fannie Mae GeMS syndicated Mega offerings supports our commitment to provide transparency, consistency and liquidity to multifamily investors in the fixed-income markets," said Kimberly H. Johnson, vice president, Capital Markets.

Fannie Mae GeMS securities expand the MBS products already offered within Fannie Mae's Multifamily DUS program. Fannie Mae revitalized its multifamily MBS program in 2009, increasing issuance and using the company's portfolio to enhance liquidity for multifamily MBS products.

In addition to $16.4 billion of DUS MBS, Fannie Mae also issued $4.8 billion of DUS structured securities in 2010. The structured products offerings continue to expand under the Fannie Mae GeMS umbrella. There were two Floater/Inverse Interest-Only REMIC structures issued in 2010, a first for Fannie Mae multifamily collateral. Other new structures are expected to join the roster of multifamily structured product offerings in 2011.

Syndicated DUS Megas and DUS REMIC structures are customized to meet investor demand, creating opportunities for participation in larger, regularly issued deals while enjoying the benefits of block size and collateral diversity. The Fannie Mae GeMS execution is designed to be more nimble than conduit-style deals, and provide the flexibility to enable Fannie Mae to quickly address reverse inquiries.

Fannie Mae GeMS executions will be managed by broker-dealers from a syndicate group. DUS REMICs issued in 2009 and 2010 have been managed by dealers from the following syndicate group: Amherst Securities Group, L.P.; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Citi; Credit Suisse; Deutsche Bank Securities; Jefferies, and J.P. Morgan.

Fannie Mae's DUS program was initiated in 1988, allowing DUS lenders to underwrite, close, service and sell multifamily mortgage loans to the company. The issuance of DUS mortgage-backed securities (MBS) began in 1994. As of September 30, 2010, the DUS market consisted of $44.6 billion in outstanding DUS MBS. In 2010, DUS MBS production reached $16.4 billion, and "Fannie Mae is committed to continue pursuing multifamily MBS production opportunities going forward," added Bacon.

The majority of DUS MBS are backed by a single loan on a multifamily property. Typical deal terms are:

* $5-10 million loan size * 10-year balloon term with 9.5 years of call protection * 30-year amortization * 80% loan-to-value ratio * 1.25x debt service coverage ratio

DUS products provide investment opportunities in high credit quality, prepayment-protected multifamily mortgage-backed securities that possess attractive features.

Additional information is available on Fannie Mae's Basics of Multifamily MBS web page at

HUD, VA and USICH Officials Volunteer during Nations Homeless Count

February 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 2, 2011--On Thursday, January 27, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Gould, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Barbara Poppe joined volunteers around the nation as they participated in a national count of homeless persons and families as part of HUDs national Lets Make Everybody Count! campaign.

For a single night during the last week in January, providers in virtually every community across the country collect Point in Time data on the number and demographics of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. A crucial component of Opening Doorsthe federal plan to end homelessnessHUDs Lets Make Everybody Count! campaign is intended to document trends in homelessness and help local, state and federal partners make effective use of taxpayer resources.

Each year, we ask volunteers in nearly 4,000 cities and counties across the nation to dedicate one day during the last week of January to count how many men, women and families are confronted with homelessness on a single night, said Donovan. Through these efforts, we will have the data needed to understand the scope and breadth of homelessness in America. And this yearfor the first timewe can apply that data as part of a coordinated federal plan to end homelessness.

Secretary Donovan, Deputy Secretary Gould and Director Poppe gave brief remarks to more than 80 volunteers at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., which served as the District of Columbias Point in Time count volunteer staging location. After the remarks, Donovan, Gould and Poppe served as volunteers in downtown Washington, D.C.

Secretary Shinseki and I are committed to ending homelessness amongst Veterans by 2015 and this week has been an important step toward achieving this goal, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Gould said. VA is proud to be partnering with HUD and USICH in this important initiative and we look forward to utilizing this data nationwide to pursue opportunities to reach out to homeless Veterans.

Data gathered from the Point in Time counts will be used to effectively allocate funding to HUDs programs and grantees, as well as measure the nations progress on Opening Doorsthe federal plan to end homelessness. In June, the Obama Administration announced the nations first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, titled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020.

We have had unprecedented collaboration across federal agencies for this years Count to be the most comprehensive ever, said United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Barbara Poppe. It is critically important that we have the most complete data possible for all populations in order to effectively target resources and programs.

HUD is currently directing more than $2.9 billion in homeless funding towards those goals through the recently announced Continuum of Care grants which awarded $1.41 billion to nearly 7,000 local homeless assistance programs operating in the coming year, and $1.5 billion from the new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HPRP grants have prevented or ended homelessness for more than three quarters of a million people.

HUDs homeless assistance grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Departments latest homeless assessment, chronic homelessness has dropped by nearly 30% since 2006 due to significant investments to produce thousands of units of permanent supportive housing for those who had been living on the streets. While the total number of homeless persons in America dropped slightly between 2008 and 2009, the number of homeless families increased for the second consecutive year, almost certainly due to the ongoing effects of the recession.

Based on HUDs 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), volunteers throughout the nation counted 643,000 homeless people during a given night in January 2009. In addition, HUD found that during 2009, 1.54 million people used emergency or transitional housing programs in 2009.

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How to Design Your Own Personal Home Office

February 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 1, 2011--For those who work on the run, a home office is a perfect asset to consider. When designed carefully, a home office can offer you flexibility, convenience and saved time as you crunch to meet deadlines or carry on your business day. If you are thinking about creating your own home office, take these tips into consideration.

Always remember that privacy is important. Choose a location in your house that is far from the living room, kitchen, television areas and childrens bedrooms or play areas. Your house most likely will not shut down simply because you are working there. Family activity is to be expected, so carefully choose your home office location with these things in mind.

Is proximity to the front door important? It is if you are expecting to receive clients at home or have home office meetings with fellow co-workers. If either of these is the case, make sure your home office is only a short distance from the main door of your house. Avoid having clients, prospects or co-workers walk up stairs or past bedrooms. Even though you are at home, you can still provide and ensure a level of professionalism, organization and accommodation.

How much space you need will also determine the location of your office. Measure desks, cabinets, bookshelves and any other furniture you want to move in before doing so. Make a tentative plan of where you want to put things, and keep in mind youll need electrical outlets for many of your electronics. If your chosen location seems too small, you may want to think again.

Getting electrical assistance is highly recommended. Your home office will probably need more outlets than it had before it was an office. Power strips can be unreliable and sometimes can lead to power outages. Get expert advice and assistance. Have a professional add more outlets if you require them. Electrical issues are always better left for the pros.

Adding some soundproofing can certainly be a source of sanity. By replacing the drywall with a special soundproofing variety, you can be well on your way to minimizing auditory distractions. If that isnt good enough, you can also replace the door with a new solid-core one. Both of these efforts will ensure that you hear less of your family or any other possible distraction. Concentration is key.

Dont forget to decorate. If you are going to be spending lots of time there, and especially is you are planning to have clients or co-workers drop by, take the time to choose a nice dcor. A little bit of decorating goes a long way, and by adding color to the room, it will provide a cozy feela nice blend of work and home.

Your home office could be a fantastic personal decision for you, so do it right. By spending the time planning and setting up, you can be assured that your office will be a positive haven and work environment.

Source: Gannett News Service

Tips to Efficiently Unpack After a Move

February 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 1, 2011--When people usually think about the moving process, planning and packing are often high on the to-do list. Once they arrive at the new location, some movers don't place as high of an importance on the other side of the spectrum: unpacking.

Although unpacking always unravels over time, it's important to be organized during this stage of the process as well. Unpacking essentials is a key first step. If a moving company was hired to complete the move, chances are these essentials are items you moved yourself. Find the right spot for them, or designate a spot in the house to temporarily keep them.

Unpacking items and placing them in the right spot is also important. Don't simply take things out of boxes and figure on finding a spot for them later. Unpack boxes when you know where you want to place the items. By finding the right spot the first time, you'll save yourself a lot of shuffling around in the future.

Don't feel pressured to unpack everything in one single day. Once the essentials are taken care of, you can take your time with the rest. The process could unravel on an as-needed basis, or organize your unpacking on a room-to-room basis. Whichever you decide, a solid plan will help split the job into pieces and keep the process flowing.

After your important items are spoken for, the kitchen is a great place to start working on the rest. Your family is going to need to eat, so properly placing dishes, utensils, pots and pans in the right place is of the utmost importance. If you traveled with any perishables, unpack those first. Once the kitchen is complete, you can start eating regular meals and have a great break room for times when you feel overwhelmed.

Fill up closets as soon as possible. Any items you can store away will greatly benefit you by providing you with more space to work in. Vacuum cleaners, jackets, dust pans or any other miscellaneous items can easily be stored here, decreasing the amount of clutter lying around in rooms and hallways.

Slowly but surely, your new home will truly become your own. Set daily goals for yourself in order to break down the work load, and assign tasks to other family members. By tackling the work piece by piece, you will come closer and closer to completing your unpacking and making brand new memories in your home.

Source: Blog

Remodelers Expect Market Gains During 2011

February 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 1, 2011--The latest National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) edged up to 41.5 in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to 40.8 in the third quarter. An RMI below 50 indicates that more remodelers say market activity is lower compared to the prior quarter than report it is higher. The RMI has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005.

The overall RMI combines ratings of current remodeling activity with indicators of future activity like calls for bids. In the fourth quarter, the RMI component measuring current market conditions stayed flat at 43.3 from 43.4 in the previous quarter. The RMI component measuring future indicators of remodeling business increased, to 39.7 from 38.1 in the previous quarter.

"Remodelers are starting to see an uptick in interest from consumers who are considering future remodeling projects," says NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson, CGR, CAPS, CGP, a remodeler from Ft. Collins, Colo. "Homeowners are also showing more willingness to undertake larger remodeling projects."

All but one index for future market conditions improved during the fourth quarter. Calls for bids jumped to 47.2 (from 42.9), along with a backlog of remodeling jobs at 42.6 (from 37.2), and appointments for proposals at 43.1 (from 41.9).

"Remodeling activity has been rising slowly since the first quarter of 2010. Expected improvements in the job market and the overall economy are beginning to increase homeowners' confidence and remodelers are seeing indications that business will pick up," says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "More remodeling jobs will unfold as consumers in more secure financial positions enter the remodeling market. A more robust recovery in residential remodeling will depend upon future improvements in labor and credit markets."

Current conditions indices for remodeling improved in two regions: Midwest 54.3 (from 44.9 in the third quarter) and South 45.8 (from 42.3). Future market indicators grew significantly in nearly all regions: Northeast 49.5 (from 34.0); Midwest 56.1 (from 39.4); and South 47.0 (from 37.9). Major additions also expanded to 48.6 (from 45.8), but minor additions dipped slightly to 43.9 (from 46.4), while maintenance and repair stayed flat at 37.0 (from 37.1).

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Tips for Selling a Home in Todays Market

January 31, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, January 31, 2011--For homeowners contemplating selling their homes in the current market, there are ways to maximize the final sale price and get the home sold quickly so that you can move on to a new home. While many factors come into play with finding the right buyer at the right time, there are many things sellers can do to help put the odds in their favor.

1. Do not overprice the home. Buyers today are looking for a bargain, and the seller in the end will likely have to bring the price down to meet market demands. The longer the home sits on the market, the stronger the negotiating position buyers have.

2. Select Internet-friendly pricing. More than 80% of home buyers begin their real estate searches online. Most real estate sites filter the prices in $25,000 to $50,000 increments. So while a creative price of $555,777 may grab attention, buyers who set their search maximum filter at $550,000 will exclude it. Additionally, prices ending in 000 (such as $500,000) tend to sell at a larger discount than homes ending in 500 (such as $524,500).

3. List the home on a Friday. Most buyers are checking out new listings on Fridays so they can see what is new for the weekend.

4. Occupy or stage the home. Buyers appreciate a home that is well attended. A vacant home typically feels cold and empty, while one that is still occupied has a warm, cozy feel, attracting more buyers. However, keep the personalization minimal; having neutral decor and paint colors will make it easier for a buyer to visualize their own style in the home. If a seller moves to a new residence before selling the old residence, it is a good idea to have the home professionally staged as if someone still lives in it.

5. Monitor local foreclosures. Foreclosures are costing sellers money and have become very aggressive opponents in todays market. If the sellers neighborhood has a lot of foreclosures, wait until they are sold before listing the home, if at all possible. Most banks are extremely eager to sell, thus creating an underpriced competitor. If the seller cannot wait to list the home, it will need to be priced competitively with the foreclosures, which can dig significantly into the homes equity.

6. Keep the home neat and clean. With so many foreclosures on the market today, buyers are seeing homes at their worst. If the home is presented in the best possible way, it will attract more positive attention.

7. Keep records. Foreclosures do not come with any disclosures. Sellers who keep updated records, photos and permits handy for the buyer to review will make them feel much more confident about buying the home, giving the seller a competitive advantage over foreclosed properties in the neighborhood.

Though you cant control market conditions, there are certain aspects of selling your home that you can grab a hold of. By following these tips, you can be one step closer to selling your home at a reasonable price.


Steps to Take to Improve Your Credit Score

January 31, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, January 31, 2011--Your credit score can affect many aspects of your life. The biggest, perhaps, is the ability to secure a mortgage when youre in the market for a home. The better the score you have, the less your debt will cost you in the long run. It's important to take control of your credit score before beginning the buying process. If you want to boost your score, here are a few tips to get that number heading in the right direction.

If you don't know what your score is or you are worried it might have errors, don't hesitate to contact one of the big three credit bureaus and request a report. Each bureau is required to give every requesting consumer one free report once a year. Check your report over for errors and get them corrected as soon as possible. Send the credit agency a certified letter explaining what is wrong and include any documents that may support your claim. You don't want your score to suffer due to inaccurate records.

If you have missed any payments in the past, catch up as soon as you can. Within a few months, your score will improve if you get current and stay current. The negative weight on your score will lessen over time, erasing the negative marks from your record for good. Once you are current, do everything you can to ensure that payments are on time.

Going forward, keep your balances below your limit. Just because you have a certain credit limit doesn't mean you have to use it all. The less available credit you use, the better. Some credit card companies have been lowering credit amounts without telling consumers. If this happens to you, it could negatively affect your credit score because your utilization ratio will increase. The bureaus recommend using 33% below your available credit. Remember, a small amount of debt on multiple cards is better than having just one or two cards with a large bulk of debt. Spread out your spending, and keep those balances low.

Keep old accounts open...even if you don't use them often. Part of your score is based on how old your accounts are. Closing your older accounts erases the credit history that was accumulated through those accounts. To prevent a credit card company from closing your account, use it every now and then to keep it active. Even miniscule charges will suffice and protect your account and history.

Don't be afraid to check your score as often as you want. Checking your own score is seen as a "soft inquiry" by the credit bureaus. By checking often and properly managing your debt, you can be well on your way to raising your credit score.

Source: WalletPop

Organization is Key when Finding a New Home

January 31, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, January 31, 2011--When trying to find a new home, a well-thought out strategy is always beneficial to have. By being organized, you can save yourself lots of valuable time and narrow your search as you cruise through the buying process. To help you get prepared, here are a few things to think about before going to that first showing.

Know exactly what you want. What type of home will suit you and your family? Are you looking to buy new or buy an existing home? What style do you want, and how handy are you to fix things up? All of these questions are important to ask yourself. Don't forget to consider commuting time, school districts, price ranges, and recreation and entertainment as well. With a little introspection, you can communicate to your REALTOR exactly what you're looking for and you can save yourself and your agent lots of time. The quicker you declare your wants and needs, the quicker you'll be living in your new home.

Figure out the finances. It's imperative that you know exactly what you can afford. Most lenders claim that you can afford a home priced two or three times your gross income, depending on location. Create an estimated budget beforehand so you can know which homes are within your price range. Also, be sure to meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter. This letter will tell you exactly how much you are eligible to borrow. Waiting until after you've found your "dream home" to do so may turn out to be a devastating mistake.

Determine when you want to spring into action. Having a timelime is a surefire way to achieve your buying goals. If you already own, you'll need to incorporate selling as a factor. If you are building your credit, that may take additional time as well. Although it may be difficult to juggle buying, selling and multiple closings at the same time, a solid game plan will be the key to your success.

Try to remain realistic about your decisions. Refrain from being closed-minded about new possibilities. It's good to be loyal to your wants and expectations, but entertaining some new ideas may help you in the long run. There's no such thing as the "perfect" home, so try not to let "wow"-factors make the decision for you.

Planning for your future is the best way to guarantee that you'll find a home that will make you happy. By thinking long-term and mapping out your buying strategy, you will save time and facilitate the process considerably.

Source: HouseLogic

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