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Why Does A Short Sale Take So Long?

Contrary to what the name implies, a short sale is usually a very lengthy process. A short sale is the sale of a home for less than the amount owed on the mortgage, and the lender agrees to give clear title to the new buyer. This means that the lender is forgiving the additional debt owed by the borrower and releasing their lien on the property. A short sale is generally less damaging to the sellerís credit than a foreclosure, but it will still have a negative effect on your credit score. If you own a home thatís market value is less than your mortgage balance and you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments, a short sale maybe the answer. The first thing you need to do is contact your lender. Since the housing crisis of 2006, most banks now have loss mitigation or short sale departments. You will need to fill out a short sale packet which your lender can send you. As part of that package, you will need to write a ìhardship letterî explaining why you are unable to make your mortgage payments and that the situation is unlikely to improve in the future. This is the most important step in obtaining short sale approval because the lender needs to believe that you are unable to meet your financial obligation to repay the loan. You will also need to provide financial records showing proof of income and assets to demonstrate that you do not have the ability to repay the loan. They will also want a preliminary net sheet that shows the sale price you... read more

Which Home Improvements Really Pay Off?

If you are thinking about tackling a home improvement project this summer, you might be wondering which up-dates will give you the highest return on your investment. Contrary to what you may see on HGTV, you can generally recoup the most value on projects that improve your curb appeal. Remodeling your kitchen and adding granite countertops and stainless steel appliances can improve the salability of your home but the percentage of return on your investment is relatively low. According to Remodeling Magazines 2014 Cost vs. Value report the best return on your investment dollars is replacing your front door. Installing a steel entry door with a glass panel and new hardware can yield up to a 96% return on your investment. Other projects that increase your curb appeal and have a high return on investment include adding a deck, replacing windows and siding and installing a new garage door. At the bottom of the list for projects that have the least return on your investment are roof replacements and back up generators. Obviously, if your home needs a new roof you will have to replace it but buyers look at this as a maintenance issue and you only recoup a small percentage of your expense when it comes time to sell. Similarly, a generator can provide necessary piece of mind for the owners, but most buyers do not consider this to add significant value to the price of a home. Somewhere in the middle are interior improvements such as kitchen and bathroom remodels. Both generally yield about a 67% return on your investment. Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes so... read more

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

If you watch TV, you have probably seen one of the recent commercials featuring a celebrity touting the benefits of reverse mortgages for senior citizens. It sounds too good to be true, right? Actually, it can be a valuable tool for senior homeowners struggling financially, if used properly. A reverse mortgage, called a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), originated in 1988 and is a special type of home loan that lets seniors convert a portion of the equity in their home into cash. Unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, payments are made directly to you. No repayment is required until the last surviving homeowner permanently moves out of the property or passes away. These payments do not interfere with Social Security or Medicare benefits and are tax-free until you sell the property. In order to eligible for a reverse mortgage, all homeowners must be at least 62 years of age and the home must be free and clear of all liens. If there is a mortgage balance, it must be paid off completely with the proceeds from the loan. There are generally no income or credit score requirements, unlike traditional mortgages or home equity loans. Title remains in the homeownerís name but the bank adds a lien to the property for the amount of the debt. Almost all types of homes are eligible for a reverse mortgage including FHA approved condominium units. The amount you can borrow is based on the homeownerís age, current interest rates and the propertyís appraised value. You can receive a lump sum payment, monthly payments or a line of credit. Prior... read more

Preparing your home for sale

It only takes 15 seconds for a prospective buyer to decide how they feel about your house. That is how long your house has to make a good impression and capture that buyer. If you are getting ready to list your house, here are some tips to make yours stand out from the crowd. The first thing a potential buyer notices is your home’s exterior or “curb appeal.” If the outside of your home looks unappealing you will never get that buyer in the door. Make sure the lawn is mowed, the bushes are trimmed and all the “stuff” — kids toys, garden equipment and junk — is put away. Landscaping is important in the spring and summer months. Plant some colorful flowers and hang a few baskets with flowers and a new welcome mat by the front entrance. Make sure there is no peeling or faded paint on the exterior of your home. Paint your front door a stand-out color to make your entry pop. Moving on to the interior, the front entryway is the first impression buyers will have of the inside of your home. Again, de-clutter, you don’t want prospective buyers tripping over 10 pairs of shoes when they walk in the front door. Pack up unnecessary knickknacks and personal family photos. You want buyers to be able to picture their family living there. Make sure every room is clutter free. You may love your collections displayed throughout the house, but to a potential buyer they are distracting so pack them away to take to your new home. Most buyers are looking for a move-in ready... read more

Anne Sadler: Should my home be tested for radon?

If you have bought or sold a house in the last several years, you were probably asked if you wanted the home tested for radon. The first thing you need to know is what radon is. Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas which comes from uranium in the soil. It is classified as a Class A carcinogen by American Medical Association, American Lung Association and other health organizations. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Northwestern Illinois has elevated levels of radon in the soil according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The only way you can know for sure if there are elevated levels of radon in your home is to have it tested. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends that the indoor radon level be below 4.0 Pico Curies per liter of air. Any measurement above this amount would require steps to be taken to mitigate, which would reduce the level of radon present in the home. If you would like to test your own home, you can obtain a test kit at the county health department, or home improvement stores. You can get more information about home test kits and radon at radon.illinois.gov. If you are purchasing a home and you would like a radon test done, you will need to hire a licensed professional tester. The actual test takes 48 hours, and the monitor is set up in the lowest level of the home. For 12 hours before the test and the 48 hours during the test, closed house conditions must be followed. This means doors and windows must be... read more

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