LeFrancis Arnold
Dear Member, Last month, at the Board of Directors’ meetings in Indian Wells, many of you expressed concern over a proposal by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Dept. of Treasury, and HUD to sell large blocks of Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-owned foreclosed homes to large investors. A pilot program is expected to be announced, and Southern California is an area being considered. While the program may be beneficial in some parts of the country where REO inventory is high, it would not be favorable in California, where housing inventory is extremely low and demand is high, even in the state’s hardest hit areas. REOs in California are getting multiple offers at top dollar and usually closing within 60 days on average. We have expressed our concern with California Congressional members and have been working with NAR to ensure that our voice is heard. We will be meeting with the FHFA and FHA in Washington, D.C., at the end of this month to determine how we can assist the housing regulators in the disposition of REOs. I will keep you informed on this important issue as it unfolds. Read C.A.R.’s letter to California Congressional members. California’s housing market may get some much needed relief with last week’s announcement of the national mortgage settlement reached with the country’s five largest loan servicers. In the deal, 49 states, including California, agreed to a $25 billion settlement on abusive foreclosure practices. California will receive a large share of that amount to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages or assist those facing foreclosure. Those who have already lost their homes could also benefit. Relief will go to areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis within the first year of the settlement. Read C.A.R.’s Realegal for more details on this settlement and find links to the California Attorney General and National Mortgage Settlement websites. Early this month, President Obama proposed a plan to help struggling homeowners and eligible, underwater homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments to take advantage of historically low interest rates and refinance or modify their loans into safer, more affordable mortgages. Additionally, homeowners whose homes are not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eligible to refinance their mortgages. Currently, only Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-owned loans are eligible for refinance. The president’s proposal must first pass Congress. On the subject of programs that provide aid to distressed homeowners, Keep Your Home California, the $2 billion federally-funded effort to help struggling California homeowners, is now connecting with homeowners whether they call, click, text or tweet. Keep Your Home California also recently redesigned its English (www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org) and Spanish (www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org ) web sites and expanded social media efforts, using Facebook and a regularly updated blog. The redesigned web site, text service and social media efforts greatly expand the reach of Keep Your Home California to homeowners. Fannie Mae recently announced new procedures for its HomePath program. Effective Feb. 2, 2012, all offers made on Fannie Mae HomePath REO homes must be submitted using the HomePath Online Offers Program. Agents and brokers representing buyers are now required to submit offers exclusively on HomePath.com. The HomePath Online Offers Program is designed to ease use and improve communication between the selling agent and the listing agent regarding offers on properties listed on HomePath.com. For more information. Finally, the new Your Membership, Your Way booklet was recently mailed with your January/February California Real Estate magazine. This comprehensive reference guide highlights the many services, products, and courses that are available to you as a C.A.R. member. Included within the booklet is The 2012 Big List, a compilation of 150 C.A.R. member benefits. This year, we’ve added a few new benefits including tools to help you navigate short sales: www.shortsalescalifornia.org (#90) and Short Sale Soundoff (#84). Also new are REALTOR® Badge (#137), REALTOR® Rating Program (#138), Sucasa.net (#139), and C.A.R. Agent and Broker Mentoring Program (#97), among others. Get pdf versions of the booklet and The Big List here. Have a great weekend. I’ll check in with you next month. Sincerely, LeFrancis Arnold 2012 President CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®