Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Broke? 5 ways to turn your finances around

Yes, it is possible to take total financial control even when you're in the worst economic straits. Here's how the Women in Red are taking charge of their financial lives.
By Mp Dunleavey

1. Get to know your money
Being good with money doesn't require a Ph.D. in physics. But you do have to get a certain amount of good, basic personal finance knowledge under your belt to recover from past mistakes, ditch bad money habits and make real financial progress.
2. Get to know your financial self
One of the hardest tasks in taking financial control has nothing to do with money but with getting to know yourself financially.
This is one of the primary goals for women who join the ranks of the Women in Red. You can't fix those numbers until you have some idea of where your weak spots lurk, what your financial demons look like, and how and why they manage to trip you up.
3. Slash expenses
Sometimes you need to take a meat cleaver to your expenses, as new Women in Red member Jane has discovered.
4. Save, save, save
Few people recognize that saving doesn't just mean having an account. It's a habit you have to teach yourself, starting with dimes, nickels and quarters, if that's all that's possible.
The routine of saving is more important than the amount saved. This saving is separate from retirement. It's the financial cushion that helps you keep an even keel.
5. Be brave
Above all, what many of the Women in Red learn as they change their financial lives is that it's a "no guts, no glory" scenario.
Does it take time (and sometimes feeling like a fool) to read and learn and ask basic questions in order to find the answers you need? Yes.
Is it painful to examine your past mistakes and be humble enough to learn from them? You bet.
Is it tough to reorganize your priorities so you can live on what you make? Of course.
These steps are hard for everyone, but they can feel nearly impossible when you have so little money to start with, when you're behind on the bills, and no matter how hard you yank those two ends they never seem to meet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Faced with foreclosure?? Consider this:

Housing experts say people faced with possible foreclosure, or a big upward reset in what they owe on an ARM, might consider this advice:

Know the value of your home. Selling probably isn't your first choice, but it's important to know whether the house could be sold for enough to pay off the loan, plus closing costs. Ask a real-estate agent for a free estimate, while mentioning that you have no immediate plans to put the house on the market. Also check out, an online real-estate information Web site that provides home-value estimates.

Consider refinancing. If your credit is poor, refinancing may not be possible or will carry big fees, but if a deal sounds good, get an estimate in writing. You can consider whether the offer is worthwhile by using an online calculator such as Financial Calculators (look under "Home & Mortgage").

Talk to your lender. Troubled homeowners may want to run and hide, and lenders may seem unresponsive, but "the longer you wait, the fewer options you have for a workout," says Ren Essene of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Keep records of when you called and whom you talked to.

Seek a loan-modification deal. If you're heading into default, ask to speak with someone in your mortgage lender's "loss mitigation" department. This individual generally has the authority to set new terms for your loan to avoid foreclosure. "Lenders will often ask for good-faith money toward a modification," so hoard cash if you can, says Michele Rodriguez Taylor of NTIC.

Get help. Some nonprofit groups can serve as a go-between with the lender or can offer advice about your options. A nationwide HOPE Hotline (888-995-4673), run by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, offers counseling. Through the group Neighborworks, it provides referrals to local organizations that can act on your behalf. Some states have set up rescue funds for homeowners. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development offers links to community groups, among other aids, on its Web site.

Beware of "rescue" scams. If someone calls out of the blue and offers to repay your loan if you sign the deed to them or asks for lots of money to help you stay in your home, hang up.
Selling may be best. "Consumers will do everything to keep their home, even if it's irrational," Essene says. Some refinance multiple times, draining their equity in the home, and still can't afford to keep it. They would have been better off selling sooner, she says.

Choose the lesser of evils. Foreclosure is generally the worst outcome for homeowners, blackening their creditworthiness for years to come. For families on the brink, some alternatives include a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" transfer of ownership to the lender. In other cases, the lender may let you sell the home for a value that won't fully pay off the loan.

Amid these troubles, it's important to keep the challenge in perspective. The current housing market, financial experts say, is tough for just about everyone.

"It's become tighter across the board" for borrowers, says Celia Chen, who tracks housing issues at Moody's in West Chester, Pa. "There are few subprime loans being written. [But] for someone who has built up equity and is a prime borrower, they'll still be able to refinance."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Home Prices Still Rising in Some Markets

Home prices have risen in five major markets, while continuing to fall in the rest of the country, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for August, released Tuesday.

The largest price declines are in rust belt cities, although Tampa came out as the big loser as speculators abandoned properties.

“The fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround," says Robert J. Shiller, co-creator of the index and chief economist for MacroMarkets LLC.

The Case-Shiller indexes track multiple sales of the same homes in an attempt to screen out price differences caused by shifts in the size and type of houses being sold. Some housing economists consider these indexes the best gauge of national and metro real-estate values.

Here are the changes in the August price level from a year earlier for single-family homes.

5 Cities Where Prices Rose
Seattle: 5.7
Charlotte: 5.6
Portland: 2.8
Atlanta: 0.8
Dallas: 0.5

15 Cities Where Prices Fell
Tampa: -10.1
Detroit: -9.3
San Diego: -8.3
Phoenix: -8.0
Miami: -7.8
Las Vegas: -7.6
Washington, D.C.: -7.2
Los Angeles: -5.7
San Francisco: -4.2
Cleveland: -4.1
Minneapolis: -4.0
New York: -3.8
Boston: -3.6
Chicago: -1.3
Denver: -0.4

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Rex Nutting, and S&P Case-Shiller Index (10/31/07)

What does this mean in the Eugene Market? Well we wrote a blog back in October that showed our local market was still averaging at least a 5% appreciation for this year. Check it out at: Oregon Market Still Appreciating. Guess what we are in the rising markets!!

Steve & Sally Jo Wickham


Guest Blogger Terry Johnson, of OMT Mortgage writes.....

In the early 1970's the then Governor of Ore. Tom McCall created the LCDC (Land Conservation and Development Commission). City growth had to fit within a County and State plan. The Municipalities were required to create an urban growth boundary that allowed for planned growth for 20 years.

The UGB here was an area circling Eugene & Springfield called "The Metro Plan". Originally it was a large area, and as growth filled it up, it was also to grow to retain a 20 year supply of land.

Then some local anti-growth politicians (read Eugene) hijacked it and imposed their vision for the future. That vision is an inflexible boundary that becomes denser and denser as time goes by. Allowable lot sizes were reduced to 4500 sq. ft. Streets became narrower.

There was a newspaper (guess which one) with an article a couple of years ago that predicted new neighborhoods built at a density of 20 homes per acre. (It was around 6).

It is happening. You've seen it.

Land is becoming scarcer and prices are skyrocketing, taking new home prices with it. New houses are being crammed into every nook and cranny almost on top of each other.

This is NOT because of greedy developers. Springfield planners have long wanted to allow the boundaries to grow, but they have been dominated and restricted by Eugene, because it is one Metro Plan.


Senate Bill 3337 has passed into law!

Eugene and Springfield are now separated. This is monumental for the area. The stranglehold that some Eugene politicians have had on growth is broken. The Bill requires each city to create their independent 20 year plan within 2 years. Springfield has theirs already a year in planning.

Some Eugene politicians say that they don't interpret it that way, and don't intend to do anything until FORCED to. (Duh!-what a surprise).

I’ll keep you posted.
November 1, 2007 10:56 AM

How To Make a Comment on the Blog

I have noticed that some people are having trouble commenting on the blog. Well Here is a step-by-step instruction on how to add a comment.

1- This blog does not allow anonymous blogging. It is sponsered by Google so the very first thing you need (assuming you have a computer because you are able to read this) is a gmail account (Google email account). It is quick, easy and FREE! All you have to do is go to . Once at google mail you will be given step by step instructions to complete your Free gmail Account.
2- After that all you have to do is go to the blog, click on the comments Link below (the # will change depending on how many comments there are)
3- Type your comments in the box under the label "Leave Your Comments"
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5- Your comment is not posted until you press the "PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT" button. you can choose to preview your comment before you publish your comment by pressing the "PREVIEW" button.

We look Forward to your many Comments. :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Need To Get A Good Foreclosure Deal?

In the market lately, foreclosure rates have been spiking and brewing up a hot market for investors and buyers. To get the best deal possible you should follow these 5 simple steps.

1) Timing is everything, meaning when the borrowers are in their grace period of paying back the amount they owe this is the best time to strike up a deal.

2) Look in the right places, online services, such as RealtyTrac provide national information on foreclosures, broken down into such categories as bank-owned, auction, and pre-foreclosure. The Hudson & Marshall Web site has auction schedules and even lets you make bids online.

3) Know when to walk away, meaning check the property, make sure its not vandalized, plumbing work, any other problems?

4) Do your research. Before buying a foreclosed property, your clients should have the home appraised to get an accurate estimate of value.

5) Buckle your seatbelt. Foreclosure deals often move fast and require constant monitoring as properties wind their way through the process.