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Colleen Gular


Colleen Gular
423 North Main Street | Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone: 215-348-7100 | Office Phone: 215-348-7100 | Toll Free: 800-360-7100 | Fax: 267-354-6836
Cell: 267-266-2084 | email: cgular@remax.net

My Blog

New Timelines for Short Sales to Help Add Transparency, Expedite Decisions

April 23, 2012 5:12 am

In an effort to make the short sale process more transparent, Freddie Mac is updating its timelines and also requiring servicers to provide weekly updates when decisions take more than 30 days after the receipt of a complete application for a short sale under the Obama Administration's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) initiative or Freddie Mac's traditional requirements. All decisions must be made within 60-days. 

This announcement marks the newest part of the Servicing Alignment Initiative (SAI) Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae launched in 2011 at the direction of their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to set consistent servicing and delinquency management requirements. Last year Freddie Mac completed 45,623 short sales, a 140 percent increase since the housing crisis began. 

Details of the program include:
• Freddie Mac's new short sale timelines require servicers to make a decision within 30 days of receiving either 1) an offer on a property under Freddie Mac's traditional short sale program or 2) a completed Borrower Response Package (BRP) requesting consideration for a short sale under HAFA or Freddie Mac's traditional short sale program. (BRPs are standardized assistance applications developed as part of the Servicing Alignment Initiative.)
• If more than 30 days are needed, borrowers must receive weekly status updates and a decision no later than 60 days from the date the complete BRP is received. This will help servicers who may need more time to obtain a broker price opinion or a private mortgage insurer's approval on a BRP or property offer.
• In the event a servicer makes a counteroffer, the borrower is expected to respond within five business days. The servicer must then respond within 10 business days of receiving the borrower's response.
• Freddie Mac will use the new timelines to evaluate servicer compliance with the SAI and its own servicing requirements.
• Freddie Mac completed 45,623 short sales in 2011, a 140 percent increase since 2009. Overall, Freddie Mac has also helped more than 615,000 distressed borrowers avoid foreclosure since the housing crisis began.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Fixed Mortgage Rates Edge Slightly Higher

April 23, 2012 5:12 am

Last week, Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates holding relatively stable this week amid signs that inflation remains in check with the 30-year fixed up slightly at 3.90 percent and 15-year fixed at 3.13 percent. Meanwhile, the average 5-year ARM hit a new all-time low of 2.78 percent, from its previously low of 2.80 percent set the first week of February, 2012. 

Details include:
 
• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.90 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending April 19, 2012, up from last week when it averaged 3.88 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.80 percent.
• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.13 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.11 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.02 percent.
• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.78 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.85 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.61 percent.
• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.80 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 3.16 percent.
According to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac, "Fixed mortgage rates held relatively stable this week amid signs that inflation remains in check. Industrial production was flat in March, a reading below the market consensus forecast. Meanwhile, both headline inflation gauges (the consumer and producer price indexes) for March were in line with market expectations."

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Leading Economic Index for U.S. Increases

April 23, 2012 5:12 am

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in March to 95.7 (2004 = 100), following a 0.7 percent increase in February, and a 0.2 percent increase in January.
 
Says Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at The Conference Board: "The LEI increased for the sixth consecutive month, pointing to a more positive outlook despite subdued consumer expectations and weakness in manufacturing new orders. Moreover, the six-month growth rate of the LEI continues to improve. The CEI, a measure of current economic conditions, has also increased in five of the last six months, with broad based gains in all components." 

Says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board: "Despite relatively weak data on jobs, home building and output in the past month or two, the indicators signal continued economic momentum. We expect a gradual improvement in growth past the summer months." 

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in March to 104.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in February, and a 0.1 percent increase in January.
The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) increased 0.3 percent in March to 114.4 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in February, and a 0.6 percent increase in January.

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Stay Safe at the ATM

April 20, 2012 5:08 am

A quick trip to the ATM has become a routine part of the average American’s daily activities. However, the American Bankers Association reminds ATM users to put safety first in order to avoid becoming the victim of a crime.

To ensure customer safety at ATMs, most banks place ATMs in areas that are visible by passers-by, trimming landscape to prevent potential criminals from hiding, and installing or upgrading lighting that is bright enough for use at night. Some banks have also installed cameras, rear-view mirrors, panic buttons and special signs. And most banks limit the amount of cash that can be withdrawn on a daily basis.

According to the ABA, bank customers should always use common sense when using an ATM. These tips are a start, but the best advice is simply not to use an ATM if you feel at all uncomfortable doing so. ATMs provide convenience, buy they haven't replaced the bank teller. If you prefer, conduct your business in the bank lobby.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
  • Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don't wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.
  • Be careful that no one can see you enter your PIN at the ATM. Use your body to "shield" the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN into the ATM.
  • To keep your account information confidential, always take your receipts or transaction records with you.
  • Do not count or visually display any money you received from the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later.
  • If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car.
When using an ATM at night:
  • Park close to the ATM in a well-lighted area.
  • Take another person with you, if at all possible.
  • If the lights at the ATM are not working, don't use it.
  • If shrubbery has overgrown or a tree blocks the view, select another ATM and notify your bank.
Source: ABA Education Foundation

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Put Painting Your Home at the Top of Your Spring To-Do List

April 20, 2012 5:08 am

As the springtime weather shifts from messy to mild, every homeowner's attention turns to the out of doors. It's time to clean things up, tend to the garden, and make needed repairs to both the home and its surroundings. Where to start? Assuming that your exterior paint is failing, it's best to focus on that first, says Debbie Zimmer, director of Communications and Alliances for the Paint Quality Institute.

There are plenty of good reasons to start spring chores with exterior painting. First, spring is a very comfortable time to do outdoor painting. Second, it's smart to paint before putting down mulch, which along with your plants, will just get trampled if you paint later on. Third, why not get your painting done before more pleasant distractions like gardening, sports, and barbecues begin?

If your house paint is near the end of its life expectancy, you're taking a chance by postponing repainting. It doesn't take long for exposed wood to begin to rot, and other types of exteriors also suffer when the paint wears off. Wait too long and you may have to make repairs before starting to paint.

Another reason to get to your painting first: Exterior latex paint forms the most durable, protective finish when the weather is mild. It's always best to do exterior painting when the temperature is above 50 degrees F., but not too hot. Very hot days can cause the paint to dry too quickly and impair good paint film formation. By painting in moderate weather, you'll likely get a longer-lasting paint job.

Zimmer recommends hiring a professional painter who knows the best times to paint and what types of weather conditions to avoid. A professional painting contractor also has the industry knowledge to know how to prep the work surface properly and is educated on the type of products to use. Relying on an educated, professional painting contractor helps eliminate surprises and ensures you have a finished product you can be proud of.

Once you've finished your exterior painting project, you can turn your attention to the other things on your to-do list. What's more, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you've "invested" in your biggest investment – your home.

Source: blog.paintquality.com

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Guidelines for First-Time Investors

April 20, 2012 5:08 am

Whether it’s for a down payment for a home, college tuition or a retirement nest egg, investing in the future is a wise financial decision. The two most pressing questions are, understandably, “How much can I afford to save?” and “What is the best way to make my money grow?”

Financial experts agree that long-term investing is the surest way to build savings—and also that you do not need a lot of money to get started. What is critically important, however, is that you save on a consistent basis.

There are classes you can take, books you can read, and experts you can consult in order to learn the finer points of investing. To begin with, however, there are three fundamental steps you must take:
  1. Determine your savings goals. You need to know what your savings goals are in order to figure out how to get there. Let’s say you want to retire at age 65 with the same standard of living you have now. You can find retirement calculators online to help you determine how much money you will need in order to reach that goal.
  2. Evaluate the stock market. Guaranteed investments and savings bonds are great for reaching short-term goals. They generally return about 2-5 percent at best. But if you have some time to reach your goal, investing in the market will likely be your best approach. Averaged out over the last 25 years, despite some trying times, DOW returns have paid around 9 percent or 10 percent. Here’s the difference: Over 25 years, a $10,000 investment at a 3 percent rate of return will grow to $26,000. A 9 percent return will give you $86,000.
  3. Understand that time is money and plan accordingly. For saving money to be successful, it must be approached as a long-term plan—there are no get-rich-quick plans that really work. Therefore, it makes sense that the earlier you start to save, the more money you will have at retirement. In these scenarios, assume a 10 percent rate of return compounded annually:
    • Begin investing $100 per month at age 30 until you reach age 65. At that point, you will have about $345,000 in investments. You will have put in $42,000 over the 35 year span. The other $303,000 is from the growth of your money over time.
    • Begin the same $100-per-month saving plan at age 20. At age 65, you will have about $916,000. You will have invested $54,000. The other $862,000 is from the growth of your money over time.

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REALTORS Raise Fair Housing Awareness in Local Communities

April 19, 2012 5:06 am

As the leading advocate for homeownership and housing issues, the National Association of REALTORS® joined the nation in honoring Fair Housing Month this April.

This year marks the 44th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. NAR also supports equal opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation, incorporating that support into the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

NAR’s Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity program offers REALTORS® education, grants, programs and events related to fair housing and diversity. Various grants help REALTOR® associations play leadership roles in their communities through three initiatives; diversity, smart growth and housing opportunity grants. These grants help associations and their members reach out to and better serve today’s diverse clientele.

NAR also offers several training courses for REALTORS® and REALTOR® associations. The At Home with Diversity® course addresses the topics of diversity, fair housing and business planning development in a full-day certification course. NAR’s Employer-Assisted Housing Class gives REALTORS® tools to work with local employers, helping them implement employer-assisted housing benefits to help employees become homeowners. Leading with Diversity is a workshop for local REALTOR® associations that helps bring more diversity to the leadership of the REALTOR® community.

Other courses touch on affordable housing opportunities, as well as the benefits of smart growth communities and how to help communities adopt a smart growth strategy.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What is your Digital Personality?

April 19, 2012 5:06 am

When it comes to your online habits, are you a Content King or a Social Butterfly? The difference matters to businesses who want to capture your attention on digital devices.

A new IBM study of the media and entertainment market reveals that as consumers adopt an increasing number of digital devices, four distinct new "digital personalities" are emerging. This shift is compelling companies to adopt more innovative business models that deliver personalized experiences.

The "Beyond Digital" study paints a portrait of a rapidly changing audience that is adopting a wide range of digital devices at a dizzying pace. And, contrary to popular belief, most are not college students. For example, 65 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 report surfing the Web and texting with friends while watching TV. Of those over age 65 watching TV, 49 percent surf the Web and 30 percent are texting. Eighty-two percent of surveyed global consumers aged 18 to 64 are embracing connected digital devices.

Today’s connected consumers demand instant access to personalized content on their own terms. With the growth of digital devices, one-way communication and distribution of content is no longer feasible. According to the IBM study, most users fall into one of four emerging personality categories:
  • Efficiency Experts: With 41 percent in this category, these respondents use digital devices and services to simplify day-to-day activities. Efficiency experts send emails rather than letters, use Facebook to communicate with others, access the Internet via mobile phones, and shop online.
  • Content Kings: Are generally male consumers, who frequently play online games, download movies and music, and watch TV online. This audience represents 9 percent of the global sample.
  • Social Butterflies: Place emphasis on social interaction – they require instant access to friends, regardless of time or place. Fifteen percent of consumers surveyed reported they frequently maintain and update social networking sites, add labels or tags to online photos, and view videos from other users.
  • Connected Maestros: 35 percent of those surveyed take a more advanced approach to media consumption by using mobile devices and smartphone applications to access games, music, and video or to check news, weather, sports, etc.
According to the IBM study, media and entertainment companies' payment infrastructures need to be flexible and scalable to allow a variety of innovative pricing approaches to attract consumers with different preferences to their content. The need for payment option flexibility, even for the same set of consumers, is apparent by looking at those most active in adopting new devices. This group's preferred mode of payment to watch a movie on a website is by viewing advertising that is included with the movie (39 percent of this segment chose this option), while they prefer to see movies on a tablet by purchasing a subscription (chosen by 36 percent). But to watch movies on a smartphone, they prefer to pay per use (the payment choice of 36 percent).

IBM surveyed 3,800 consumers in six countries – China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States for this study, and also met with global representatives in broadcasting, publishing, as well as media service agencies, and telecommunication providers, to evaluate digital consumption behaviors.

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5 Ways to Take Control of Your Spending Habits

April 19, 2012 5:06 am

You might be among the many who head out on a routine shopping trip and come home with purchases you never intended to buy… and bills you never wanted to pay. Needless to say, such impulse buying is a fast way to derail a savings plan.

M&I Financial offers the following five tips for getting your spending under control:
  1. Start by developing a budget based on your income. To create financial stability, it's crucial that your spending not outpace earnings. To do this, track your spending for a few months and write down where your money is going. From there, you can make any necessary adjustments to spending in order to bring spending in line with income. Once your budget is written, don't forget to check back periodically and ensure plans are still on track.
  2. Learn to distinguish between wants and needs. While it's nice to treat yourself, it's most important to live within your means. Wants are things that are nice to have, while needs are things that are really necessary to survive. Nearly half of Americans consider a cellphone a necessity and about a quarter say the same about cable, but whether those are really necessities is debatable.
  3. Control seasonal spending. Holidays, birthdays, and back-to-school spending can all put a dent in a savings account. To keep spending at a reasonable level, set budgets and priorities before the holidays hit. To gauge how much you'll spend in the coming year – and how much you'll need to save for it – review your previous year's expenses for holidays, wedding gifts, etc., and be sure that spending is accounted for in your budget.
  4. Don't give in to social spending. The scenarios are familiar, where a friend encourages spending on an expensive non-necessity, or friends regularly wanting to meet for dinner and drinks. While it can be fun to occasionally splurge, these social spending habits can really break the bank. To avoid overspending, create a fixed budget to cover discretionary spending on things like clothes and unexpected social outings.
  5. Raise your kids to be responsible spenders. Talk to them about your family budget and give them opportunities for real-life learning. Explain where the money comes from when you visit the ATM or write a check, along with the importance of paying bills on time.

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New Bully Deterrent System Free to Schools

April 18, 2012 5:04 am

Providing schools with the right technology and free promotional materials to report and deter bullying, uTip Bully Busters from e2Campus® is a cloud-based platform that utilizes standard text messaging and can be implemented in less than five minutes.

The news from e2Campus comes on the heels of an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the re-launch of their website www.StopBullying.gov.

Already in place at schools around the country, uTip Bully Buster combines technology with psychology to decrease bullying and crime at school. SMS text messaging technology puts the power in the palm of students' hands – enabling them to discreetly and anonymously report a situation immediately, so schools can respond quickly.

Free promotional materials show students how to anonymously send a tip while simultaneously sending a warning to would-be bullies. When posters are displayed in a prominent area, they acts as a constant reminder to bullies that hundreds of eyes are watching and that anyone – even a friend – can now anonymously report an incidence of bullying.

The company is offering free one-year pilot programs to schools that sign up for uTip before August 31, 2012.

For more information, visit www.Bully-Buster.com.

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