Real Estate News
Fannie bares her teeth
Published Thursday, 23-Sep-2010 in issue 1187
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the hillbilly kissin’ cousins of the nation’s secondary mortgage market - instituted a long-needed reform to the sale process of its REO (foreclosed) properties. The “First Look” program gives buyers purchasing a primary residence for their own use, a 15-day head-start before investors can submit offers on the same property.
Nearly 18 months ago I met with the field staff of Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office on this matter and I was glad to see both Fannie and Freddie get on board. The problem in a nutshell is this: Investors, including large syndicators began snapping up foreclosures at an astonishing rate converting large percentages of owner-occupied housing into rental stock.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, if you’re a condominium owner or an HOA and your complex goes from 15% absentee-owner to 75%, the effects are immediate and profound. Wear and tear on the building goes up as the average length of occupancy plummets. Absentee-owners tend to vote against assessments and improvements looking strictly for profits. Similarly, they may have fewer concerns about adhering to notions of ownership pride and upkeep.
Making matters worse, banks usually nix loan applications where the investors outnumber owner-occupants by any majority whatsoever, according to Drew Greene of Steward Home Loans Fewer loan options for buyers drive values down and freeze out would be owner-occupants. If you’re a buyer or an agent facing this issue, I strongly suggest you contact Drew. She has a great track record funding transactions otherwise denied by Big Bad Banking.
For July 2010, LPS (Lender Processing Services) reported 2.02 million homes nationwide were in foreclosure and over 5 million homeowners were behind on mortgage payments. Big Bad Banking stands accused of foot-dragging the disposition of these properties at every level including loan modifications, short sales, foreclosures and REO sales. What might the motives be from the evil overlords of our economy? Banks aren’t just messing with homeowners. They’re treating their investor clients just as poorly. With monthly “servicing” fees assessed against all delinquents’ accounts, Big Bad Banking is raking in bundles and the longer the process takes, the better for them. Hoarding properties against a rising market may be a sure bet for them as well. Last month, however, our girl Fannie Mae said, “HELL, NO!” to these delays and announced “compensatory fees” (read: fines) for lenders who fail to resolve defaults in a timely manner based on a state by state calculation.
Councilmember Todd Gloria announced the Community Plan updates to several San Diego neighborhoods. Councilman Gloria said, “Community plans govern the look and feel of our neighborhoods for decades. I encourage residents in Uptown, North Park and Golden Hill to participate in the ongoing community plan update process so the neighborhoods we love continue to grow strong and yet retain their unique character.”
Inman News reported this week that a July 2010 poll showed 70% of Americans believe now is a good time to buy a house. 78% thought housing values would be stable or rise. The bad news (and no surprise) is that only 67% feel housing to be a safe investment. We look to this type of data to gauge consumer confidence and the National Association of REALTORS is forecasting an 8.3% increase in the number of existing home sales for 2011. This confirms industry data showing values gradually starting to increase, however, great bargains are aplenty. Predictably, economists from the securities industry warn of more trouble for housing. Like the X-files, the truth is out there.....somewhere.
During a lunchtime discussion of the San Diego real estate market my friend and Super-broker Gary Kent of Re/MAX queried, “Did you know that 97.1% of all statistics are made up?” Think about it.
If you followed the saga of Lorie Zapf and her now-canceled political endorsement by the San Diego Association of’s some inside info: While SDAR received ample evidence of Zapf’s sketchy real estate dealings and her unsuitability for office; the decision to suspend the endorsement was primarily made on her hate-based comments against the GLBT community. I understand the vote in support of our community swamped the opposition by a 3 to 1 margin.
SDAR President Mark Marquez and CEO Mike Mercurio will accompany me on an outreach program to Metro area Realtors to encourage more GLBT members to serve on SDAR committees and its board of directors, where our voices are genuinely needed. Big thanks again to SDAR Director Karla Cohn, Broker
ARG’s Dan Larson has the quintessential Talmadge property coming to market in time to stuff a turkey or a holiday stocking. 4 bedrooms, on a shaded and regally-elevated lot, tremendous new upgrades and a flirtatious nod to 1940’s Hollywood. Priced in the high-$600’s
Jim Abbott is the President/Managing Broker of ARG Abbott Realty Group DRE LIC 1843472. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Natl Assn of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. He is a former board member at EQCA, SDAR, CAR and a past Library Commissioner for the City of San Diego. He can be reached at or at his downtown office where his adult children pretend to let him run the company.

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