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A Possible Bargain: Foreclosed Properties

In the superheated San Francisco Bay Area property market, foreclosed properties are available at as much as 40% below market value, writes Srini Saripalli.The last few months of a calendar year are considered sluggish for transacting real estate, but Silicon Valley seems to be an exception to this. Properties are appreciating rapidly at this time of the year and this year has been one of the best years for selling real estate.

Understanding the marketplace and rationalizing the escalating prices has become difficult for investors and homebuyers . At a time when real estate prices are soaring there are still many opportunities to buy properties that are 30 percent to 40 percent below market value. Foreclosures are one of the best ways to find great bargains.

So what is a foreclosure?

A foreclosure is a legal process that a lender initiates after the borrower fails to repay the loan as per the terms of the contract. The lender initiates the foreclosure process to reclaim the possession and ownership of the property. For example, let’s say a borrower has a mortgage of $1 million on his property that is worth $1.5 million. Let’s assume monthly payments on a $1million mortgage are about $9,000. If the borrower misses three consecutive monthly payments, then at the end of the 90th day or third month the lender will file a “Notice of Default” at the county recorder’s office. This is the notice that indicates pending foreclosure proceedings. It also indicates the auction date. At this time the borrower will have the following options:

Pay off all the back payments, penalties and legal fees if any and make the loan current

As the borrower in the example has equity of $500,000 he can convert a part of that to cash by re-financing the property. Re-financing a property in foreclosure is usually difficult.

Sell the property and payoff the mortgage, provided the proceeds from the sale equal or higher than the mortgage amount.

The opportunity to buy a pre-foreclosure property opens the day the “Notice of Default” is filed. The opportunity ends on the day the property is sold at the auction. The time between these two events enables a buyer to work with the homeowner and the lender to negotiate and structure a deal that could be extremely profitable. This is the only time in the entire foreclosure process where the buyer can use conventional mortgage, hard moneylenders or creative financing techniques to buy the property.

Once a “Notice of Default” is filed it becomes public information, and usually there is a lot of competition from other investors due to this filing. Hence to avoid competition experienced investors use various farming techniques to spot owners before the “Notice of Default” is filed.
Properties can also be bought in auctions at bargain prices too, but one would need cash for the purchase. Bidding in an auction sale is extremely risky and one needs lot of experience and skill.

What is the motivation of the seller?

Once a borrower defaults on a loan his credit is at serious risk. A foreclosure stays on the credit report for a minimum of seven years. This is the prime reason why people who have defaulted their payments are extremely motivated to avoid a foreclosure proceeding.

Borrowers in foreclosure are sometimes difficult to deal with, as they are confused and scared. Their self-esteem is low and they are in need of support from someone who understands the process. As a buyer your motive should always be to help them in their tough times. If any time during the transaction a seller perceives that you are taking advantage of his or her situation, he/she always walk away from the deal.

Debt Collectors: Men or Mice?

Who are these people anyway? They viciously harass you and call you bad names. They embarrass you beyond belief by leaving detailed messages with your neighbors and at your workplace. In extreme cases, they have been known to stalk you!

Debt collection agencies are hired by your creditors to do their dirty work. If they get you to pay, the debt collector usually gets a percentage of what you owe, plus added fees. Some debt collection agencies buy your debt from the creditor for a low fee and attempt to collect double and sometimes triple what you owe on your original debt by attaching high penalties, interest and other processing fees.

Basically, debt collectors make a living trying to scare and intimidate you into paying your bills. They don’t care that your finances are in limbo because you have recently divorced or that your employer informed you in the eleventh hour that you were being laid-off. All debt collectors care about is that they will get a slice of the pie—if you pay.

Debt collectors convince themselves that you are a deadbeat, sitting on a stack of cash and refusing to pay. By painting a negative mental picture of you in their mind, they feel justified harassing you into paying a delinquent bill. Most debt collectors are just downright mean, nasty, heartless individuals who make a living scaring “the pants off” of people who are simply broke and trying to survive.

One lady reported that after she vehemently tried to explain to an unrelenting debt collector that she was recently divorced, underemployed and didn’t have the money to pay the $12,000 credit card bill her ex-husband left her, the debt collector replied, “Look, fat lady, it’s obvious that you could stand to skip a few meals. Just send me your food bill for one week to wipe out this debt!” The lady was horrified—not so much by his remarks because she was accustomed to the debt collector being rude to her on the phone—but by his comment regarding her size. How did he know she was overweight? Had he been stalking her?

Debt collectors use many tactics to research you, especially if you owe a large debt. Remember, their livelihood depends on how many people they can get to pay overdue bills—the bigger the debt, the bigger their payoff.

Despite what debt collectors believe, most people are not faced with buying a ticket to Tahiti versus paying their credit card bill. People who are broke find themselves faced with real-life problems like putting food on the table versus paying a credit card bill!

Encouraging Debt

Most of us don’t talk about money, finances, credit, debt….Young people especially go into the real world blind about these issues. They have had it easy or difficult growing up financially. Some kids use their parents credit cards or are even issued one. Some don’t have anything above the necessities. Then some “EARN” an allowance and are taught to spend conservatively. I think all of us have a responsibility to steer them in the right direction.

It is necessary to establish credit. Choose, for example a reputable credit card company. Often this can be obtained through the credit union or bank where an account has been active. Carefully read all of the disclosure. Pay close attention to the interest, grace periods and penalties. Most importantly, spend the way you always have and absolutely no more. Charge one or two of the usual expenses and be sure to pay the bill on time. This creates the needed credit and good score to buy bigger things.

Credit is a good thing in some ways. But as we all know it is more often a problem. One problem is people lose control of spending. I think there’s something psychological that makes it easier to sign a piece of paper than to write a check or whip out the cash. One is your money, the other doesn’t seem to be. The worst part of being up to your eyeballs in debt is that it snowballs quickly and usually hopelessly. There are debt reduction programs and free consultation services and unfortunately bancruptcy. But it’s easier not to get there. Another problem is bad credit on the report that’s incorrect. Amazingly this happens very often and consumers aren’t usually aware of it until they apply for something. It pays to check about once a year. If something is in error it’s usually not difficult to get it corrected.

I had a young man (19) come to see me yesterday. He said he wanted to buy a house and no one would pay attention to him. What a sad statement. He has belonged to his credit union for years. He has rented a house for a year and paid the utilities. He’s a certified mechanic who took first place in the state. He has worked in the same field for several years. That’s more stability than I’ve seen in some forty year old people. John went to the credit union and spoke to someone in the mortgage department. I’m fairly confident it went well and I will find him a good property and a good deal because I know him and I’m proud of him. I think he was hesitant to talk to me because his mom and I are best friends. I wish the other people had treated him with the respect this young man deserves.

Bankruptcy Tips and Advice For Bear Stearns Employees

The collapse of the Investment Banking Firm, Bear Stearns will cause massive lay-offs. How many is not yet known, but it could well be into the neighborhood of 12,000 or more, currently it appears they have somewhere just over 14,000 employees, but of course, they will no longer be needed, and looks as if their 401Ks may be completely depleted. Many of the Bear Stearns employees, will be laid off or terminated and that means a huge hit to the dismal job figures for the next quarter in the US economy, however the real pain will be to those employees who lose their jobs and will most likely be forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy.

What tips can we give those laid off Bear Stearns Employees who will be forced into bankruptcy? Well, first they need to get the proper paper work secured by a competent New York Attorney, and perhaps they can get a group discount as so many will be in the very same boat. Some of these employees will be left in a similar situation as those who were left in the wake Enron, as those at the top continued to water ski, while they treaded water. A New York style bankruptcy for a high-paid Bear Stearns employee could run as high as $8,000 to $30,000 and they will most likely need the best possible lawyer to help them through this troubling time.

Since, 30% of Bear Stearns stock is owned by its employees, and since that stock is now worthless, some of these employees are literally wiped out completely and will have no choice but personal bankruptcy. It is therefore important that they take immediate stock of all their personal assets, tax paper work, property assessments at the time of the collapse and what is left if anything of their 401K or stock portfolios. That is the advice that Wall Street Lawyers are giving today in the New York Times and that sounds about right to me.

Bankruptcy Legal Advice – Read This Or Lose Your Hard Earned Money

Bankruptcy is not an easy process, and especially when you are going through all those problems of debt, you always would appreciate a helping hand that would guide you through all the legalities and everything you don’t know about that process. This is where you should get bankruptcy legal advice from many sources out there so your decision of going for bankruptcy is a wise and well informed one.

Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney

This is the best thing you could do for yourself when you are trying to file bankruptcy; hiring a bankruptcy attorney. They are very well informed about all the legal issues and are the best ones to give you bankruptcy legal advice. The laws concerning the bankruptcy and the legalities involved in the process have changed a lot in the last few years. That is the reason why a bankruptcy attorney would be the best place for you to get all the information and help. They will be able to review your case in a professional manner and will be able to give you advice and help that whether you should even go along with bankruptcy or not.

Peruse the Internet to Gather Initial Information

Those of you who cannot find a bankruptcy attorney who would give you free first consultation; you should try getting yourself some initial information on the process and its pros and cons. The World Wide Web is full of information and articles by experts in order to tell you what the bankruptcy procedure is all about, and how you can go along with filing for the procedure even when you can’t afford an attorney. But most of the times it’s just important to increase your know-how on the main issue through the internet initially and then just go through with an attorney on the main process. This will give you the first hand knowledge about the whole procedure, and you would know if the attorney is good or not because of the type of work they do for you.

Financial Books Will Also Provide Bankruptcy Information

There are many financial books written by well known authors which are easily available in many book stores around you. They will give you a lot of insight into this matter and useful tips that will help you go long ways with your problem at hand. It’s also good for novices who don’t know anything about the procedure.

Friends or Relatives Who Have Previously Filed for Bankruptcy

This can be the friendliest resource you can find out there to help you with your bankruptcy problems and issues. Your friends and relatives that have gone through the same procedure will help you a long way to get through this as painlessly as possible, because they know the worst. They will give you first hand advice. Above mentioned were some resources from where you can easily find some bankruptcy legal advice.

Bankruptcy Tips – How Consumer Debt Settlements Are Surpassing Bankruptcy

If you are deep in debt and are getting worried and looking for bankruptcy tips then I have some advice for you. Bankruptcy is getting harder to get and will damage your credit score very much. However nowadays consumer debt settlements are surpassing bankruptcy due to some new laws.

Previously it was easier to file for chapter 7. A lot of people went bankrupt. However the financial institutions were not happy with this and this was hurting the economy. Eventually a new legislation was passed which is stricter. So now it is harder to get chapter 7. What is being focused now on is chapter 13 which is debt restructuring. In it you still have to pay back your loans but the law will decide what to do with you and how to force you to pay back your dues. You will either get 3 years or 5 years to pay it back depending on your income and some other conditions.

These legislation have led to lesser bailouts. However since there are still people having problems paying back their debts and can no longer file for bankruptcy or get it they are going towards debt settlements. The reason debt settlements are surpassing bankruptcy is that they are becoming a better option that bankruptcy.
Getting a debt settlement means you will still have to pay back some part of your debt. In debt settlement what happens is that you negotiate with your creditor. You tell them that you will not be able to pay your dues. Since you filing for bankruptcy would be a complete loss for them they agree to cut it down to something more manageable for you because they want to minimize their losses. So they may agree to reduce your debt. Sometimes they may even reduce it up to 70%. It all depends on some factors such as your financial health, income and others.

The hit your credit score will get from a debt settlement will also be lower than what you would have gotten from a bankruptcy filing. And once you pay the amount due the bank will consider your account settled. For this growing need there are many companies who will help you get a debt settlement for a fee. These companies will use their expertise to get the best deal for you. There are also some good debt relief networks which keep a check on these companies and you should contact these networks if you are thinking about getting a settlement.

If you have over $10k in unsecured credit debt there is legitimate help out there. Instead of going right to a debt settlement company you might have heard on the radio or television, it would be wise to use a debt relief network. This way you can be assured that you find a legitimate company in your state. Check out the following link for a list of legitimate debt settlement services in your state: