Dealing with Debt: Which Debt Should You Pay off First? – Manage Your Life on Shine

January 27, 2010

One of the most common questions first time homebuyers ask me as a Real Estate Professional is  ‘Should I spend all of my tax refund on paying off my car loan to improve my credit? ” or something close to that.

With tax time approaching, what to do with your refund, if your getting one, is a huge question. Add to that the credit crunch  and how hard it is for the average American to qualify for a home loan and it becomes a very important decision.

Putting money on the wrong debt could set you back months or years if you are trying to repair your credit for the purpose of buying a home.

I urge you to investigate thoroughly before you decide what debt to pay down. You need to talk to a professional, whether its a Realtor, Lawyer,CPA or a Mortgage Broker, someone who understands how to look at your credit report and guide  you in the proper direction, based on your objective. If your trying to repair your credit or improve your credit for the purpose of getting a mortgage, talk to a Mortgage Broker or a Mortgage Banker or Realtor.

Below is a link to a good article on the topic.

via Dealing with Debt: Which Debt Should You Pay off First? – Manage Your Life on Shine.

Cal Williams

SHORT SALES 101-The Basics

January 18, 2010


The Basics: Short Sales

Due to current economic conditions, the number of short sale properties on the market is rising. The increasing number of short sales on the market presents challenges for REALTORS®. Below you’ll find more information on: short sales and their challenges, the government’s efforts to address these challenges, and tools to help you navigate the short sale process. 

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)

On November 30, 2009, the Treasury Department released guidelines and forms for its new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), part of the  Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

What is a short sale?A short sale is a transaction in which the lender, or lenders, agree to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner. In some cases, the difference is forgiven by the lender, and in others the homeowner must make arrangements with the lender to settle the remainder of the debt.

Why is the number of short sales rising?

Due to the recent economic crisis, including rising unemployment, and drops in home prices in communities across the nation, the number of short sales is increasing. Since a short sale generally costs the lender less than a foreclosure, it can be a viable way for a lender to minimize its losses.

A short sale can also be the best option for a homeowners who are “upside down” on mortgages because a short sale may not hurt their credit history as much as a foreclosure. As a result, homeowners may qualify for another mortgage sooner once they get back on their feet financially.

What challenges have short sales presented for REALTORS®?

The rapid increase in the number of short sales, and the short sales process itself present a number of challenges for REALTORS®. Major challenges include:

  1. Limited experience
    Many REALTORS® are new to the short sales process; a difficulty which is compounded by many lenders’ lack of sufficient and experienced staff to process short sales. Even if the REALTORS® are experienced, most servicers are under-staffed and still not adequately trained, making negotiating a short sale particularly difficult.
  2. Absence of a uniform process and application
    Currently, both short-sales documents and processes are lender-specific, making it very difficult and time-consuming for REALTORS® to become knowledgeable and efficient in facilitating these transactions. 
  3. Multiple lenders
    When more than one lender is involved, the negotiations are much more difficult. Second lien holders often hold up the transaction to exert the largest possible payment, in exchange for releasing their lien, even though in foreclosure they will get nothing.

As a result of these challenges our members have reported difficulties with: unresponsive lenders; lost documents that require multiple submissions, inaccurate or unrealistic home value assessments, and long processing delays, which cause buyers to walk away.

What is being done to address or eliminate these challenges?

On May 14, 2009, the Obama Administration announced its upcoming Foreclosure Alternatives Program. Among other things, the new program:

  • Establishes financial incentives for servicers, sellers, and second lien holders to encourage the completion of short-sale transactions.
  • Requires that a timeline, of no fewer than 90 days, be set to allow a homeowner to sell a home, without threat of foreclosure action.
  • Requires the short sale agreement to specify reasonable and customary real estate commissions and costs to be deducted from the sales prices. (The servicer must agree not to negotiate a lower commission after receiving an offer.)
  • Will provide standardized documents, including short-sale agreements and offer acceptance letters.

More Information on Short Sales 

Foreclosure Alternative Program Fact Sheet

This article was reprinted from the NAR ( national Association of Realtors) Website .

For More information please visit my website at

Real Estate- The Foundation of the American Economy : What’s in Store?

January 11, 2010

The slide began on 2007.  Prices were  rising, inventories were low and interest rates were low. The market was hot and real estate was the primary wealth building tool for Americans. But the slide was already beginning. A closer look at transaction reports would have made industry experts realize that there had already started a fundamental change in the markets. Most consumers and most real estate experts did not see the changes until it was too late. I’m sure there were signs but I didn’t see them. Credit has dried up and problems in the real estate industry still dominate the headlines.

Now , as we head into 2010, if real estate is to remain the foundation of the American economy, what needs to be done and who needs to do it?

The first thing is to get the blame out-of-the-way. We always need to place blame before we can move on.

There is plenty of blame to go around as to why the collapse occurred at all. Lenders, consumers, appraisers and the business cycle have all been blamed. And don’t forget the media, which loves to make everything seem worse than it is.  Its time to forget about who to blame and start paying attention to moving forward. 2010 is shaping up to be the year that the real estate industry  must  get back on course, for the good of our national economy.

Moving forward, the most widely publicised and brightest star in the real estate industry is, of course, the First Time Buyer Tax Credit, which we all know has been extended and expanded ( see previous blogs ).  Along with the tax credit providing an  unbelievable lift to the markets, I think consumer confidence needs to come back and it slowly will. There is ALWAYS a need for housing. There ALWAYS will be a need for housing.  Consumer confidence will return  and I think there are many signs that it already has begun to bounce back. The tax credit helps, but the simple fact that homeownership has been a part of the American Dream is what always helps to bring real estate back. This has all happened before and will again!

The benefits of homeownership are so great in this country that eventually the consumers will push the market back to where it should be.  One of the criticisms of our government, in regard to the collapse, was that they have made it too easy to buy a home.  But the reality of the situation, as every Econ 101 student knows, is that markets are cyclical. There will always be ups and downs. How high and for how long, and how low and for how long are the only variables.

Consumer confidence will return, if it has not already. On top of that, the government needs to continue to get credit flowing again and help existing homeowners keep their homes. There are many programs in place to help do this. Banks seem to be working with homeowners, through modifications and repayment plans, to help them keep their homes for the most part.

There is no denying that homeownership has many benefits and has a positive effect our national economy. I believe the people in position to help us through this understand this and are doing the right things. The market will always have its ups and downs. The severity of the business cycle, in either direction, is what we must control and prepare for.

Our economy and the world economy will benefit from getting the real estate industry back on track in 2010. I believe that the support and programs being initiated by the industry and the government will make this happen, and 2010 will be the year that noticable improvements in the real estate market are realized by the consumer.

Cal Williams

Mechanicsburg Realtor completes Technololgy Real Estate Training

January 4, 2010


For Immediate Release 

 Jan 2, 2010 As more and more consumers begin their search for real estate-related information on the Internet, it is critical that real estate professionals stay on top of the latest technology for the benefit of consumers and real estate practitioners alike. The e-PROÒ Technology Certification Program fills that need.

Realizing the importance of technology training, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) created a comprehensive Technology Certification course in 2000. And now that course, e-PROÒ, has been completely updated to include information on Social Media and Web 2.0 aspects that is, and will continue, to change the real estate business.

“The real estate industry has undergone a fundamental change over the past five years,” Calvin W Williams said. “Today, more than 85% of all buyers and sellers begin their search online. As an e-PROÒ certified agent, I have knowledge and tools needed to provide my clients with the information they need and the customer service they demand. It’s both hi-tech and hi-touch.”

The all new e-PROÒ certification course — the only technology certification program offered by NAR — is designed to prepare real estate professionals to make the most of Internet technology and to identify, evaluate, and implement new Internet business models. The elite group of course graduates represents only four percent of all REALTORSÒ in the country including Cal Williams of Straub and Associates Real EstateGroup.

The PROÒ certification course is an educational program unlike any other professional certification or designation course available, comprehensive and interactive. It is specifically designed to provide real estate professionals with the technology tools needed to assist consumers in the purchase or sale of a home.

The exclusive e-PROÒ certification course is presented entirely online and certifies real estate agents and brokers as Internet professionals. The course is designed to help REALTORSÒ stay at the leading edge of technology and identify, evaluate and implement new Internet business models.

Once completed, the e-PRO certified real estate professional joins the ranks of a special community of highly skilled and continuously trained professionals who provide high quality and innovative online-based real estate services.  Consumers can identify the e-PRO through the exclusive e-PRO  Internet Professional logo.

Both the content and the delivery platform were created by the San Diego-based technology company InternetCrusade®. Graduates use the skills they’ve acquired to provide clients information on properties for sale, local communities, and the local real estate market.

For more information, e-mail Cal Williams at or call 717-612-9901

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