HAFA shortens time for short sales

Famly law, appeals, elder abuse, civil litigation

HAFA DAY ONE
The government launched a new effort on Monday to speed up the time-consuming, often-frustrating process of selling your home if you owe more than it’s worth.

The Obama administration will give $3,000 for moving expenses to homeowners who complete such a sale — known as a short sale — or agree to turn over the deed of the property to the lender. It’s designed for homeowners who are in financial trouble but don’t qualify for the administration’s $75 billion mortgage modification program.

In Las Vegas, the 2,390 sales of single-family homes in February — the last month that data were available — fell 8 percent from January. January’s sales fell 24 percent from December, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, which tracks homes sold using the Multiple Listing Service.

The decline in sales could be attributed to a decline in inventory, analysts said. The 20,262 homes listed at the end of February was 8.5 percent fewer than a year ago and the number of available units with no pending offers fell nearly 2 percent from January to 7,974.

The GLVAR reported that 53 percent of the homes sold in February were foreclosures, down from 57.4 percent in January. A year ago, foreclosures accounted for about two-thirds of sales.

The percentage of short sales increased to 22 percent in February, up from 21 percent in January. Short sales are cases in which the lender allows the homeowner to sell the property for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

Investors continued their dominate presence in February with 48.7 percent of sales being all-cash deals. That was up from 45.5 percent in January. Nearly 47 percent of the homes were on the market for fewer than 30 days compared to 39.4 percent in February 2009.

With the declining inventory, the price of single-family homes rose slightly in February to $135,694, a 0.6 percent increase over January’s price of $134,925, according to the GLVAR. The February price is 12.8 percent lower than February 2009.

However, there are plenty of restrictions. To qualify, the home needs to be a borrower’s primary residence. Homeowners either have to be behind on their mortgages or on the verge of becoming delinquent.

Currently, the program is not available for mortgages owned or guaranteed by mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, though the two government-controlled companies will soon follow suit, said the Treasury’s Maggiano.

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