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Maryland Homestead Tax Credit Application Deadline Approaching

Attention Maryland homeowners, you will lose your Homestead Property Tax Credit if you don’t reapply and that could cost you big. Even if you have received the tax credit for years, a 2007 law requires all homeowners to submit a one time application to establish eligibility for the credit.  Your credit will expire if you don’t renew by years end.  Maryland SDAT reports more than 100,000 Maryland homeowners that still have not replied to notices and reminders.

The Homestead Tax Credit is not mean guaranteed savings for everyone but it does put a cap on the amount your property taxes can increase annually on owner occupied residential property.  Homeowners who do not apply by year’s end will lose eligibility for the credit and will be stuck with a full value tax bill for 2013 even if you reapply for the following year.

You can find out if you have already filed your application by looking up your property here: http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/  Enter your county, click on the Street link then enter your street number and street name.  You do not need to enter street type (street, avenue, lane, etc).  Once you find your property, scroll to the bottom of the page to see the status of your Homestead Application.  If it says “approved” with a date you are good to go.

If you still need to file, you can request the state to email a Homestead application to you with an access number to file electronically by sending an email request to hcredit@dat.state.md.us.

More information from the Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation is available here: http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/homestead.html

Mortgage Market Guide – Labor Day Week

Mortgage Market Guide

This week’s Mortgage Market Guide has been posted and can be viewed here:


Federal Housing Finance Agency Reports Mortgage Interest Rates

FHFA LogoWashington, DC – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today reported that the National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders, used as an index in some ARM contracts, was 3.90 percent based on loans closed in March. Beginning in March, FHFA is calculating interest rates using un-weighted survey data. There was a decrease of 0.18 percent from the previous month. The complete Contract Rate series can be found at http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=251.


The full press release is available here: http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/23913/Apr%20MIRS%20Apr%202012%20final.pdf

Fannie Mae Survey says Americans’ Expect Home Prices, Rents and Mortgage Rates to Rise

Americans’ Expectations Align to Encourage Home Buying

Respondents Expect Significant Rental Price Rise

WASHINGTON, DC – More consumers may be looking to purchase homes with a shift in several key housing market indicators, according to Fannie Mae’s March 2012 consumer attitudinal National Housing Survey.  More Americans now expect both home rental and home purchase prices to increase over the next year.  Nearly half of consumers expect higher rental prices, the highest number recorded since monthly tracking began in June 2010.  Thirty-three percent expect home prices to increase, up 5 percentage points since last month, and the highest percentage recorded in over a year.  In addition, confidence in consumers’ views of their own finances is stabilizing—for three straight months—44 percent believe their personal finances will get better over the next year.  These trends may be providing Americans with an increased sense of urgency to buy a home as 73 percent of Americans now believe it is a good time to buy a home, up from seventy percent in February.

Read the release in its entirety here: http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/corporate-news/2012/5690.html

Reverse Mortgages turn 50yrs old. Why no party?

What… no party?

This year the Reverse Mortgage celebrates its 50th birthday, but it is unlikely there will be any public celebrations on its behalf and that’s a real shame.

What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage also known as a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) plain and simple is a loan that allows senior homeowners 62 or older to borrow or gain access to a portion of the equity in their home.  When the homeowner passes away or moves his/her estate sells the property the loan is repaid.  Any remaining equity goes back to the borrower or his/her estate.  There are no income or credit qualifications and during the term of the loan the borrower is not required to make any monthly payments to principal and interest.  Borrowers can choose to receive funds in a lump sum, monthly payments or they can access funds on an as needed basis through a line of credit. Continue reading

HUD leaves loan limits unchanged for remainder of 2011

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today in mortgagee letter 11-29 that current FHA maximum loan limits will remain for the remainder of 2011.

HECM / Reverse mortgage limits will also remain at $625,500 for the remainder of the calendar year.

The full text of the mortgagee letter is available here:  http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=11-29ml.pdf

VA Loan Limits Extended through December 31 2011

VA has extended the loan guaranty limits for VA guaranteed loans through 12/31/2011.

In Maryland the loan limit for the remainder of 2011 will remain $500,000 in Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne counties.  The limit in Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties will remain $818,000.

The announcement from VA can be found here:  http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/docs/2011_Oct_thru_Dec_Max_Guaranty.pdf

The 2011 Loan Limits can be found here:  http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/docs/2011_county_loan_limits.pdf

Study Shows Home Owners in Denial About Price

As Mark Twain said… “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”

A recent study by home site Zillow found that homeowners who purchased homes in 2007 or later are on average overpricing their homes by 14%.    Those would be sellers are basing the asking price on what they paid rather than current market.  Other sellers are also overpricing homes but not by as wide a margin.   Read the press release HERE (will open new window).

How would a government shutdown impact mortgage and real estate closings?

The last time we went through a government shutdown in 1995, it was a pain, but not a panic. I can assure you my company has prepared all loans in our pipeline and are looking at new contracts not yet acquired for a worst case scenario, so the disruption will be minimal. If a shutdown would occur, these would be the top six areas that can affect us during a government shutdown:

  • FHA Case Numbers: For each FHA loan, we are required to order a FHA case number. This number is generated before an appraisal can even be ordered. With a shutdown, we may not be able to order case numbers. Because of this, it is critical to let us know if there is a contract executed on any loan, so that our office can go ahead and order a case number without risking the loan being on hold during a shutdown. Note: with the new FHA guidelines, a contract must be executed before a case number can be ordered.
    The ability to close FHA loans is questionable, depending if HUD keeps its website running to obtain FHA case numbers and CAIVRS (During the November 1995 shutdown, case numbers could not be obtained, but this was prior to the internet and was a manual process). The shutdown in 1995 mainly caused a delay rather than a drop in FHA loan origination, but if lenders decide to stop accepting FHA applications, it could be a problem. I think we will see delays but not a complete shutdown of the FHA.
  • 4506 IRS Transcripts: Each loan (not including reverse mortgages) requires the verification of at least one tax return by the IRS to verify the numbers that each customer presents us on their tax returns. During a shutdown, this process would be delayed as the IRS wouldn’t be at work to verify the transcripts.
  • Verifying Employment of a Government Employee: We are required to verify the employment of each customer. If the customer is a federal government employee, we would be unable to verify his or her employment during a shutdown.
  • FEMA: Homes in a Flood Zone: Homes that are determined to be in a flood zone would not be able to close as flood insurance could not be obtained.
  • USDA: During a shutdown, the USDA office would be closed because they have government underwriters that insure behind the lender.  With a shutdown, we would see delays with all USDA loans.
  • VA: Like the FHA, the disruption is possible — but not absolute — during a shutdown. This would all depend on if they continued to allow their website to function. A disruption would cause delays in VA appraisals and the issuing of certificates of eligibility.  If the website was closed during a shutdown, we would see delays in all VA loans.

Hopefully, our representatives in Washington will come to terms and a shutdown will be avoided.  In case they don’t, you know what to expect.

Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (ELHP) offers aid to struggling homeowners

EHLP spells HELP for nearly four million homeowners behind on their mortgage payments.  The billion dollar program offers loans of up to $50,000 that do not need to be repaid if applicants meet certain qualifications.

Application information is available from the NeighborWorks America website: http://ehlp.nw.org/

Read the SmartMoney.com story here: http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/real-estate/more-money-for-struggling-homeowners-1309312646029/

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