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Everyone’s An Expert, Really?

Everyone’s An Expert, Really?

I’m currently trying to sell my house, and one thing I’ve noticed is that EVERYONE wants to give me advice. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do. When it comes to real estate, everyone’s an expert. Not really, but it seems that way! Everywhere I turn someone is telling me “this is a tough market” or “people aren’t buying houses right now” or “this is a buyer’s market.” I even had my neighbor tell me that I’m going to “lose my rear” (he used the A-word.) Thanks, neighbor! I constantly have to tell myself that people are just trying to sound knowledgeable, and not trying to be hurtful.

The truth is, with the right REALTOR®, and the right price, houses are selling like crazy (over half of our short sale houses have buyers lined up) and we close on over 80% of them!

If you’re trying to sell your house, I understand your frustrations. And if you’re having a hard time because your house isn’t worth as much as you owe on it (and you have a financial hardship), we may be able to help you with a short sale. It won’t cost you a penny, and we promise that we won’t give you any advice to put you in a worse situation. Give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss your options with you!

Holly

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Short Sale Q&A’s from My Friends& Family

Short Sale Q&A’s from My Friends& Family

The other day my Mom asked me a strange question: “So, how exactly does a short sale work?” I guess the question wasn’t that strange, since most people don’t know the answer. But the thing is, I’ve been working here for over a year now, and I’ve explained the process to her about a dozen times.

I explained it when my cousin and her fiancé tried (unsuccessfully) to buy a short sale property. I explained it when my Uncle was contemplating a short sale on his house (he’s underwater, like so many other Michigan sellers). I also explained it when my grandparent’s neighbor sold her house on a short sale. I guess the thing about short sales is that THEY’RE CONFUSING, and unless you spend every day dealing with short sales, you’re probably going to have lots of questions throughout the entire process.

One of the best things about us here at Great Lakes Home Solutions, Inc. is that we have answers, and lots of them! Joel (our President) is the only state certified short sale instructor in the entire state who negotiates short sales full time. This sort of makes him the short sale guru around these parts. You rarely hear anyone say “I don’t know” around here (and when you do, it’s followed by “and I’ll find out!”).

You’ve got questions? We’re more than happy to share our answers with you. If you have a hardship, are facing a Michigan foreclosure, and would like some friendly answers, give Emily a call. She’s a wealth of information about all things foreclosure and short sale!

Holly

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This Bailout Is For Families (Not Banks)!

This Bailout Is For Families (Not Banks)!

There is a slight upside to living in a state with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Michigan was one of ten states chosen to receive part of $2.1 billion in order to combat rising foreclosure rates. Our hefty $154.5 million (chump change compared to California’s $699 million and Florida’s $418 million) portion will ideally help about 16,000 struggling families in three different ways according to this article.

1. The state plans to use some of these funds to help unemployed families make their house payments, giving them a subsidy of up to $750 a month for up to a year.

2. For those families who are lucky enough to find a new job, and are able to once again make their payments, they state will dole out up to $5,000 to help them with their back payments.

3. If the lending bank agrees to match the payment, up to $10,000 could go to paying down your mortgage principle.

The downside to this is that while some people facing a Michigan Foreclosure will get the help they need, there will inevitably be many families left struggling to stay afloat. We here at Great Lakes Home Solutions can’t offer you a government bail out, but we may be able to help in other, more permanent ways. If you have a hardship and can no longer afford your payments, give Emily a call. She’ll help you choose the right option for you.

Holly

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Michigan Loan Modifications

Michigan Loan Modifications

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you’re facing a Michigan foreclosure. Hopefully you’ve talked to your bank to find out what your options are, and if you have, they might have tried to get you to apply for a loan modification. If you want to keep this house, this can be a great option – that is, if you can get one. These loan modifications have proven to be very tough to secure, and now statistics are showing that they might be even harder to keep.

I just learned that about 51% of homeowners who are given a loan modification go back into default with their lender for some reason or another. Perhaps even though the payments are now more manageable than they previously were, families still aren’t able to keep up with their mortgage and their other financial obligations. Most families are put into this situation because of a hardship, such as job loss or an illness in the family, and just can’t seem to get ahead. There’s also a chance that they owe back payments, and even if they can handle their new payments, they may not be able to make up that difference.

We want you to explore all of your options and decide what’s best for you. If you’ve decided that you can no longer afford your payments due to a hardship, owe more than the house is worth, and are ready to move on with your life, a short sale might be a good option for you. If this is the case, give Emily a call. She’d be happy to discuss the process with you and answer any questions you may have!

Holly

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The Longer You Hold It, The More It Hurts

The Longer You Hold It, The More It Hurts

If you have a hardship that is causing you to face a Michigan foreclosure, you’re probably under a lot of stress. Recently one of the great Elite REALTORS® we work with sent over this little piece of inspiration:

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience,
Raised a glass of water and asked;
‘How heavy is this glass of water?’

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, ‘The absolute weight doesn’t matter.
It depends on how long you try to hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.
In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.’

He continued,
‘And that’s the way it is with stress management.
If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,
As the burden becomes increasingly heavy,
We won’t be able to carry on. ‘

‘As with the glass of water,
You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.
When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.’
‘So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you’re carrying now,
Let them down for a moment if you can.’
So, my friend, Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don’t pick it up again until after you’ve rested a while.

If you’re house has become a burden and you need to rest from carrying it alone, give Emily a call. She’ll explain to you how we might be able to permanently relieve your of your stressful situation. There is never a charge, we keep everything confidential and we won’t put you in a worse situation. Let us help you with the burden of your distressed house and get you back to less stressful times.

Holly

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How To Price Your Short Sale To Sell

How To Price Your Short Sale To Sell

When doing a short sale, one of the most important things to do is get the house priced right – that is, priced to sell. In order to ensure houses we do short sales with are accurately priced, we usually rely on the expertise of not one, but two REALTORS®. The reason this step is so important is because if the house is priced too high, no one will want to buy it. And if no one wants to buy it, we can’t complete the short sale! Luckily, we have 5 great “Elite REALTORS®” and almost 50 “Inner Circle REALTORS®” that we trust and rely on to get the house sold.

These REALTORS® are scattered all across Michigan. Even though we are based in Plainwell (on the west side of the state), our REALTORS® make it possible for us (and them) to help people across Michigan. We are currently working with sellers as far east as St. Clair County, and all the way north to Mecosta County.

Already have a REALTOR®? If we think we can help you, and your REALTOR® is willing to work with us (and they should, since we have an extremely high success rate and make sure they get paid full commissions!) then this won’t be a problem. To take the first step on doing a short sale to avoid foreclosure, give Emily a call (or have your REALTOR® call her) so that she can discuss your hardship and options, and figure out what is best for you!

Holly

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What Really Happens at a Michigan Foreclosure Sale/Auction?

What Really Happens at a Michigan Foreclosure Sale/Auction?

A few months ago I wrote a blog about the Simpson’s house getting foreclosed on. In the episode, the auction took place in their front yard. If you are facing a Michigan foreclosure, and have received a foreclosure notice, I offer you a small bit of good news. I’m not sure how they’re conducted in other states, but here in Michigan, foreclosure auctions (aka Sheriff Sales) are held at the county courthouse, which will definitely save you some neighborly gossip. They usually happen once a week (sometimes every other week) at the same time each week. It’s not a very exciting auction – no one brings out beautiful pieces of art, antiques, or farm animals, and I doubt many Sheriff Departments employ fast talking auctioneers. More often than not, there are no bidders, and the house goes back to the bank that holds your mortgage. There are many reasons for the lack of bidder:

  • The minimum bid (set by the bank) is higher than what investors or individuals are willing to pay. The minimum bid is usually what you owe on the house.
  • The winning bidder must show up with cash within one hour. Many people don’t have that much cash on hand, and need to finance the purchase by obtaining a mortgage.
  • People are unfamiliar with the auction process, and brush it off completely.
  • The purchaser will have to wait out the redemption period (usually 6 months)and will not get the house if the borrower is able to redeem (which is done by paying off the entire balance/the highest bid amount) plus interest.
  • There is a surplus of foreclosed houses – more homes than people want
  • The winner is buying the house as-is, usually sight unseen. It could be damaged, either from the start, or by the time the redemption period runs out.

If you have a financial hardship and your house is headed for auction, we may be able to help you avoid that Michigan foreclosure. And if the house has already been to auction, we still may be able to help you. Either way, time is NOT on your side, so call Emily, and she’d be happy to discuss your options with you.

Holly

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Married And Never Lived With Spouse

Married And Never Lived With Spouse

A few days ago I was driving in my car, flipping through the radio stations, and stopped on a talk radio show which caught my attention. The woman on the line was asking the show’s host, Dave Ramsey, for some financial advice. She had been married almost a year, but had never lived with her husband, who had to relocate to a different city, because she could not sell her house. She had purchased the house back in 2007, right before she met her soon-to-be husband, and right before the housing bubble burst. She now found herself to be underwater – her house was worth less than she owed on it. She wanted to know if he thought that she was better off doing a short sale, or trying to get a $10,000 loan to make up for the difference when she sold the house. I found Dave Ramsey’s advice to be obnoxious. “Who cares!” he exclaimed. He went on to hassle the woman about having lost a year of marriage “which you can’t put a price on…” His advice was to do anything, whatever it took, to get rid of the house and move in with her husband.

I really wish that instead of going off on a rant, he would have asked the woman more specific questions about her circumstance. Was the couple able to continue making two house payments (or a house payment and a rent payment)? Would she even qualify for a (more than likely) unsecured loan for the $10,000 difference? Had she consulted REALTORS® to be sure that she was only $10,000 underwater, and not more?

Yes, in certain circumstances, it may be your best option to take out a loan to pay off the difference in the house value and your mortgage amount. In other situations, especially where there is a financial hardship, you may want to explore other options. If you would like to avoid a Michigan foreclosure, give Emily a call. She’s been through this before, and can let you know what your options are. And, if your best option is a short sale, the good news is that we can help!

Holly

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Celebrity Foreclosure

Celebrity Foreclosure

I always stress in my blog posts that if you’re going through a Michigan foreclosure, you’re not alone. I’ve realized that saying that doesn’t really help, though, if you don’t actually know anyone else in your shoes. So this post is for those of you who still feel alone in their Michigan foreclosure situation. Foreclosure can happen to anyone – even the rich and famous.

You might think that if you have all the money in the world you could do just about anything – including stopping the bank from foreclosing. This is not always true, though, because the same things that cause you, the average person, to default on your mortgage also happen to celebrities.

Divorce: Victoria Gotti, daughter of mobster John Gotti, purchased her Long Island house in 1989 for $175,000. She now owes $650,000 and reports say that she hasn’t made a payment in quite a while. Apparently, she has not been able to afford the house since her divorce. This is quite common. Two people can afford a mortgage, but when they split, it is often unreasonable for one person to keep the house. The logical answer would be to sell the house, but when you owe more than it’s worth, you’ll have to bring cash to closing (which most people can’t do.)

Gotti Mansion

Gotti Mansion

Job Loss: Adam “Pacman” Jones of NFL fame went into mortgage default when he was suspended from playing without pay. When you bought your house, you probably weren’t expecting a recession (I know I wasn’t!) which means you probably weren’t thinking about job security. Unfortunately, the economic climate got stormy and many people are left without employment.

Adam "Pacman" Jones Humble Abode

Adam "Pacman" Jones Humble Abode

Failed Businesses: In 2005, ABC built a brand new, $450,000 house for the Harper Family on their show “Extreme Home Makeover.” The house was given to them at no cost. The family, however, took out all of the equity to fund a construction business that ultimately failed. They were unable to pay back the equity loan, and the house went into foreclosure. We turn again to the financial crisis, which is making it hard for many businesses to stay afloat.

Harper Family’s Extreme Makeover House

Harper Family’s Extreme Makeover House

Death: Veronica Hearst defaulted on the mortgage of her 52 room mansion after the death of her husband, Randolph Hearst (successor of publishing giant Hearst Corporation.) The death of a loved one is hard enough to deal with without also having to deal with foreclosure.

Villa Venezio – Veronica Hearst’s House

Villa Venezio – Veronica Hearst’s House

Disability: Ed McMahon defaulted on the loan of his $4.8 million dollar house in 2006, when the 85 year old fell and broke his neck. He was unable to work, and therefore could not come up with the princely payments.

Ed McMahon’s House

Ed McMahon’s House

If you are facing a hardship, such as the ones listed above, and have realized that you can no longer afford to keep the house, give Emily a call at (269) 685-5921. We help people facing difficult times every day, and are well versed in letting you know what your options are. If your best option is a short sale, we’ll do everything in our power to make it as painless as possible.

Holly

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Bank Burgles Bird While Current On Payments

Bank Burgles Bird While Current On Payments

I just read an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a woman who had her home foreclosed on by Bank of America. No big surprises there, since foreclosure rates are through the roof – but this story has a twist. Angela Ianelli of Hampton, PA wasn’t late on her payments. Oops!

The article says that Ms. Ianelli came home one day to find herself locked out of the house by Snyder Property Services, a “property preservation” company. When she finally got in, what she found was not pretty. Her carpets and furniture had been damaged, her water and electrical lines had been cut, and her home had been winterized. Worst of all, her parrot, Luke, was M.I.A. Now, this one hits close to home. I have two birds of my own, and would be devastated if they were taken from me! (Though, I can image the culprit would be trying to give them back pretty quickly – not everyone can handle the incessant squawking.)

When Ms. Ianelli tried to contact Bank of America, they did what they do best – gave her the ‘ol runaround. It wasn’t until a week later that they admitted their mistake. Only then did they tell her where she could find her parrot – a mere two hours away. Ms. Ianelli has since hired a lawyer, and I’m sure this story is far from over.

Unfortunately, this is an often occurrence, only it usually isn’t a mistake. Millions of families are behind on their mortgages, and the banks are taking action. They want their money, and they’re ruthless about it. If you’ve realized that you can no longer afford to stay in your house and are facing a Michigan foreclosure, give Emily a call. You have better options than letting the bank’s henchman raid your home!

Holly

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