Tagged: staten island real estate lawyer

Staten Island Home Sales: What to Do if Your Home Is Worth Less Than the Mortgage

Many people who purchased a home prior to the economic downturn may be in a situation currently where their home is now worth less than the mortgage is on it.  When a mortgage is higher than what a home is worth it is called negative equity.  Currently a lot of homes appraise for much less than what their homes used to be worth because of the recession leaving many people with mortgages that are higher than what their home is worth.

Negative equity can affect people in many different ways.  Some people may find themselves able to still pay their mortgage and may not be affected by the negative equity situation and may eventually be able to recover from the negative equity in the long run if the worth of their home goes up. Other people may find themselves unable to pay for their mortgage anymore and may want to either try to make their monthly mortgage payments more affordable or may want to sell their home so that they do not need to make such expensive mortgage payments anymore.

When a homeowner is left with a negative equity home loan and they are unable to pay their monthly mortgage payments there may seem like there is no way out and no options to recover from the damage that has been done.  They may also feel like there is no way around this problem and may seem like you are on the bottom of a huge mountain looking up at nothing but an impossible situation.  Luckily there are options for you if you are one of these homeowners.

If you cant afford to live in your home anymore you have a couple of options that you can consider before ending up in foreclosure:

  • Loan Modification – A loan modification is when the bank agrees to modify the terms of the loan outside of the original terms of the contract.  In this option you will remain living in your home but will just have the terms of the mortgage changed to help reduce your monthly payments.
  • Short Sale – A short sale is when the bank agrees to take a lower amount for the sale of your house than what the loan has left on it.  For example if you have a mortgage with $245,000 left but you can only sell your house for $220,000 the bank will decide if the amount is acceptable if so they will release you of your lien once the sale takes place.  The bank will be loosing $25,000 but they will still be making more off of the house than if the house went into foreclosure. This process starts off similar to a regular home sale where the homeowner puts the house up for sale and finds a buyer. Once a buyer is found and a contract of sale is signed certain paperwork has to be submitted to your bank so the bank can decide if the offer for the house is acceptable to them.  If so the short sale process will continue and the house will be sold at closing.

These two choices are the best way route to go if you are unable to make your montly payments anymore and have a negative equity home loan.

For more information on loan modifications or short sales in Staten Island or Brooklyn, New York or New Jersey call 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4904 to speak with a Staten Island real estate lawyer.

First Time Homebuyers Were Very Active In Purchasing Homes in New Jersey in 2009 According to Survey

By now you probably know about the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit that has been available to first time homebuyers and homebuyers who have not owned a  home in the past three years and you may have even heard that the first time homebuyers tax credit has been extended until spring of 2010.  But is this tax credit really working?  Well in New Jersey it seems to be.

According to the New Jersey Association of Realtors (NJAR) the number of first time home buyers rose in 2009 to account for 52% of the total real estate purchases that took place in the state of New Jersey.  In 2008 first time homebuyers accounted for 49% and in 2007 they accounted for only 36%.

Many people are saying that now is the perfect time to buy a home especially in the northeast area such as New York or New Jersey.  When compared with other national real estate market statistics the northeast seems to be experiencing an overall better housing market than the rest of America in many aspects such as house value along with the amount of equity earned in from the house.

When the first time homebuyers who bought homes in New Jersey recently what was the biggest reason for the move it was because of the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit and because of low mortgage rates.

Currently if you are a first time homebuyer purchasing a home in New York, New Jersey or anywhere else in the United States you may be eligible to receive up to $8,000 back for the purchase of your first home.

If you would like to know more about the purchase process and are currently residing or wish to reside in New York or New Jersey you can contact our real estate law office for any questions you may have regarding the legal aspect of purchasing a home.  Steven T. Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer can be reached at 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4909.


The Most Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make when Having their Home Inspected

Purchasing a home is usually the most expensive purchase you will ever make in your life and you will not want to skimp on necessary things during your purchase process such as a home inspect or a real estate attorney. Making sure you included important precautionany steps during the home purchasing process will be key to you ultimately being happy with your new home.

One important aspect of purchasing a home is making sure that there are no hidden defects in the home’s structure or large appliances such as the hot water heater.  A home inspection report (also known as an engineers report) will reveal any problems with the house and will allow you to make an educated decision with your home purchase.  Having a home inspection done costs a few hundred dollars but if not done can potentially cost you tens of thousands in the long run.

Eventhough you have a home inspection done doesn’t mean that you are completely in the clear there are some guidelines that you will want to follow when choosing a home inspector and when the home inspection is taking place that will help ensure you get the most out of your home inspection and that you won’t get any unexpected unpleasant suprises a few months or years down the road after you move into your new home.

Some guidelines you will want to follow when having your home inspection done are as follows:

  • Make sure you get a home inspection done even if the property is newly constructed
  • Choose a home inspector based on the experience and knowledge of the person not by the cheapest price
  • Be present for the home inspection
  • Follow your home inspector’s recommendations (after all they are the expert in this field)

Following these steps will help ensure that you get the most out of your home inspection.

If you would like more information on purchasing a home you can contact us to receive a free copy of “5 Myths that Can Ruin the Purchase of Your Home“.  We are currently offering this real estate book written by Staten Island real estate lawyer Steven Decker at no cost to those purchasing a home in New York or New Jersey.


Low Mortgage Rates are Enticing Potential Homebuyers

For many people who have been recently considering purchasing a home they are just one step closer to making a decision to purchase a home because of another recent drop in mortgage rates.  Low mortgage rates are driving potential homebuyers to purchase the homes that they have been considering and with the housing tax credit this may just be the thing to push a lot of people who were undecided off of the fence.

Making a decision to purchase a home is something that many people are considering with the home prices as low as they are, foreclosures and short sales as high as they are and mortgage rates as low as they are.  Currently 30 year fixed mortgages have dropped for the 5th straight week in a row to 4.71% (Freddie Mac).

The cause for the recent drop of mortgage rates is two fold.

  • The Federal Reserve has indicated their intents to extend the period of time that they will be offering short-term interest rates.
  • Strong demand for government issued funds

If you would like more information about purchasing a home or have legal questions concerning purchasing a home your best move is to contact a real estate attorney.  A real estate attorney will be able to explain the process you need to go through to purchase a home from beginning to end.  Understanding the importance of a contact of sale, getting your mortgage committment, having a clear title and closing title are all things that can be explained by an experienced real estate attorney.

If you would like to speak with a real estate attorney regarding the purchase of a home in New York or New Jersey contact Steven T. Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer.  Steven T. Decker will be able to assist you with understanding the legal side of purchasing a home and will also be able to represent you throughout the entire real estate purchasing process.  To speak with Steven Decker you can either call 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4904 or fill out our web form.

Also, if you are considering using our Staten Island real estate law firm for your real estate transaction and closing of title we recommend that you read Steven T. Decker’s book “5 Myths that Can Ruin the Purchase of Your Home“.  If you would like a copy we are currently offering this real estate book at no cost and no obligation to those considering purchasing property in New York or New Jersey.

Staten Island and Brooklyn Lawmaker Speak Out on the Housing Tax Credit Extension

As you may have heard the time you have to purchase a house and take advantage of the housing tax credit was extended officially and went into effect yesterday.  The extension will be a four month extension which will being the extension to April 30, 2009.

Michael McMahon, Congressional representative for the 13th district of New York which includes Staten Island and Brooklyn, said that he “encourages all who are able to take advantage of this extension”.  The extension was not only extended as far as a time extension is concerned but is also being extended to current homeowners who have have owned their home and been residents of it for five years or more.  Current homeowners taking advantage of the tax credit will receive a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price up to $6,500 and first time homeowners will be given a credit of 10% up to $8,000.

For many Staten Island and Brooklyn residents this is a great time to purchase a home and the new housing tax credit may be just the thing to cause them to make a move to purchase a new or first home.

If you are interested in buying a home in Staten Island or Brooklyn there are five things that you may want to consider to avoid ruining your home purchase.  If you are interested in finding out how to avoid these five things request a free copy of Steven Decker Staten Island real estate lawyer’s book “5 Myths that Can Ruin the Purchase of Your Home“.

Also if you would like to speak with a real estate lawyer regarding a possible Staten Island or Brooklyn home purchase or if you just have real estate legal questions that you would like answered before you decide to purchase a Staten Island or Brooklyn home contact us at 718.979.4300 or 800.976.4904 for assistance.

NY & NJ Real Estate Transactions: Top Reasons to Buy a Home in New York or New Jersey

Deciding to purchase a home for the first time or purchasing a new home if you are an existing home owner is a big decision to make in this market.  You may be wondering if it is safe to buy a home or if it is in your best interest to buy a home with the economy not fully back to normal.  While these are all valid concerns the market may actually be the reason you should buy a home.  First, before we get into the reasons you should buy a home, I want to start by saying you should never feel pressured into purchasing a home.  Always make sure that when purchasing a home you feel comfortable with your purchase.  Keep in mind that you will be in this house probably for many years to come and you want to be happy with your house purchase.   You will also want to make sure you are able to afford a mortgage payment if you will be considering getting a loan for your home purchase and you will also want to make sure you get a home inspection.

Now that we have established some ground rules for purchasing a house here are some things to may help you decide to stop just thinking about buying a home and actually go do it within the next few months:

  • Reason #1Housing Tax Credit – If the extension of the housing tax credit is approved (which more than likely it will be approved by the end of the week) not only will the provisions of the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit be extended until the end of April 2010 but it will also be extended in the sense that a reduced credit will now be available to certain existing homeowners.   The new tax credit would consist of a tax credit that is 10% of the house’s purchase price up to $8,000 if they have a sales agreement in hand by April 30 and close title on the house by June 30, 2010.  This credit would be available to first time home buyers of those interested in buying a house that have not owned property in the past three years.  The limit for the household income if single will be $125,000 or $250,000 for a couple.  The next credit is a new incentive to take advantage of the housing tax credit which offers a reduced tax credit of up to $6,500 to certain existing homeowners.
  • Reason #2 – Prices are Low – Because the economy is not stable enough to say it has fully recovered or come close to fully recovering yet housing prices are still low.  In fact, sellers in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan Queens, most areas of New Jersey and nationwide are faced with having to list their houses at a low price and are sometimes forced to lower that price even more to sell their house.   For buyers this is a great thing because they are able to get a house that a few years ago would have cost tens of thousands more than what they are selling for now.
  • Reason #3 – Foreclosures and Short Sales are at Record Highs – Distressed homes accounted for a significant number of houses sold this year.  Distressed homes include foreclosure’s being sold and short sales which usually sell for anywhere between 15 -20% less of market value.  Taking advantage of these types of homes can potentially benefit you as a buyer but buyers should also beware of the possible risks associated with short sales and foreclosures.
  • Reason #4 – Low Mortgage Rates – Rates for mortgages currently run around the 5% APR range for a 30-year fixed mortgage.  This is much lower than previous years and the rate of a mortgage that you are eligible for is a huge factor in deciding factor in whether or not you will purchase a house and how much you are willing to spend on it.  The lowered mortgage rates are a big incentive for many people who are deciding to purchase homes right now.
  • Reason #5 (applicable if you are purchasing a home in New York) – Mortgage Tax Credit – A mortgage tax credit is available if you are purchasing a home in New York City.  The tax credit can be used if you are a first time homebuyer and can be combined with the federal First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit.   If you do a real estate transaction in New York for a New York City home and obtain a new fixed rate mortgage through certain types of loans you will be eligible to receive up to 20% off of your mortgage tax for the entire life of the loan.
  • Reason #6 (applicable if you are purchasing a home in New Jersey) – State Housing Grants – There are many New Jersey state housing grants available to first time home buyers looking to complete a real estate transaction for a New Jersey home.  There are many different types of New Jersey housing grants and the terms to each vary.


Extension for First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit in Process and Extension of Increased Loan Amounts: Why it May be the Right Time to Buy a House, Especially in New York and New Jersey

If you are interested in possibly purchasing a house there is some good news in store for you whether it is your first time purchasing a home or whether you are an experienced home buyer.  The extension of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA loans to be set at higher loan limits was announced yesterday as the National Association of Realtors thanked Congress for their speedy action to extend the higher loan limits.  The increased loan limits were set to expire at the end of this year but Congress decided that it is in the best interest of buyers, sellers and the economy to extend the increased loan limits through 2010.   FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans will be increased to 125 percent of local median home prices and will have a limit of $729,750 in high-cost areas.   Congress and the National Association of Realtors are hoping that by extending the first time home buyers tax credit and extending the period of time to apply for an increased loan amount the real estate market will be able to fully rebound.

Congress decided on the decision to extend the increased loan limit for FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans earlier this week and the Senate plans on deciding on extending the first time home buyers tax credit and its provisions by the end of this week.   The proposed provisions for the extension of the tax credit includes an expansion of who can apply for the credit which will now include single filing individuals who make $125,000 or less and couples who make $225,000 or less and will be extended until April of 2010.

Those looking to take advantage of the first time home buyers tax credit once the extension is made and are interested in investing in a home may also be interested in applying for state grants (New York state grants for homebuyers | New Jersey state grants for homebuyers) if they are considering buying a home in New York or New Jersey.  Those considering purchasing a home in New York or New Jersey can now receive a free copy of our book “5 Myth that Can Ruin the Purchase of your Home”.  To request a copy of this no cost, no obligation real estate book click here.   This book was written by an experienced Staten Island real estate lawyer and looks out for the buyers interest in a real estate transaction.

Buying a Short Sale in New York or New Jersey

In the past couple of years foreclosures have hit a record high and short sales became more popular for homeowners trying to avoid a mortgage default going on their credit report.  Prior to short sales becoming more popular most people did not even know what a short sale is.  A short sale is when a seller can no longer afford their mortgage payments and are risking a mortgage default and the lender agrees to accept funds less than what the mortgage is worth.  Short sales can be a great thing for both the seller and the buyer but it may not be an easy road getting there.

Here is a brief description of the process of a short sale:

  1. Purchaser will want to have an engineers inspection or a home inspection done
  2. Contract of Sale must be signed by the purchaser and the seller
  3. Short sale documents requested by the lender must be submitted by the seller
  4. Lender has to approve the short sale and the price the house is being sold to the buyer for – if the bank does not agree on the price they may request that the sales price be raised or they may not approve the short sale.
  5. Purchaser, as with any other real estate transaction, must get approved for a mortgage if they do not plan on paying cash for the house.
  6. Title must be cleared of any violations and liens.
  7. Closing of title must take place at which time the deed is signed over to the purchaser.

Short sales are great for the seller because they do not have to have a foreclosure listed on their credit report; they are great for the lender because it allows them to not lose as much money on the loan as they would if the house was to be foreclosed on; and they are very attractive to the prospective purchaser because they sell for less than a regular sale would be listed for but they have to opportunity to treat the process as more of a home purchase rather than a foreclosure purchase.  Although this may sound appealing to the potential homebuyer, and may turn out to be a great and well worth experience, there are a few things that the buyer should be aware of regarding the short sale process such as the length of time it may take to get the short sale approved, the risk of putting money out for legal fees, appraisal fees, mortgage application fees and the cost of an engineers inspection report.

A recent announcement by the Treasury Department said that they are looking to approve a widened incentive program for short sales that would entice lenders to be more likely to consider the approval of a short sale instead of allowing the property to be foreclosed on.  If approved, the program, which is part of the Obama Administrations Home Affordable Modification Program, would offer $1,000 to the lender for going through with the short sale, up to $1,000 if there is a second lien holder and would offer the borrow $1,500 towards closing costs.

Here are a few things you may want to consider before purchasing a short sale in New York or New Jersey:

  • Hire an experienced real estate agent.  Hiring an experienced real estate broker for your purchase will help
  • Check public records. You can check the public records for the property to see if there was a foreclosure notice filed yet and to see how many loans the seller has open.
  • Be aware and open minded. If you decide that you are willing to take the chance associated with a short sale purchase be aware that the seller is awaiting bank approval keep and open mind to the fact that the seller may not end up getting approved for the short sale and if they do you could possibly be asked to pay an additional amount of money for the purchase price.
  • Be sure to have a home inspection done. When you are purchasing a short sale you are purchasing the home as is so it is important to have a home inspection (engineers inspection) done to determine if there are any major property defects in the home.
  • Hire a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey or New York real estate attorney.  Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced real estate attorney is a critical asset to your home buying process, especially if you are purchasing a short sale.  Whether you are purchasing a short sale in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, New York or New Jersey you will want to make sure you select a lawyer who has experience in short sales.


Purchasing a Condo in New York is Becoming More Popular

In recent months you may have hear a lot about the increase of sales of newly constructed homes but a report released by Miller Samuel Inc., a New York appraisal firm, recently shows that New York condo sales are up 45.6% from last quarter.  While this number is still down 16% from a year ago this is still a significant jump in for condo sales.

The report released by Miller Samuel Inc. also showed that more people selling a condominium in New York had to drop their sales prices by 5.7% compared to last quarter and 16.5% from last year.

With prices at such a dramatic low it is time for those considering to purchase a condo in New York to make a move.

Many people, especially if they are single, a young couple, or elderly, may consider purchasing a condominium unit.  Condo’s have become increasingly popular over the past few years because they allow the buyer to purchase a home of their own without having to have the complete responsibility of certain things.  Some of the advantages to buying a condominium are:

  • Most condominiums include amenities that you normally may not be able to afford.  Certain condo’s the extras you may be looking for such as swimming pools, a gym, volleyball court, tennis courts or basketball courts.
  • The cost is less than a detached home.  Condo’s normally sell for anywhere between 20-30% less than a single detached home so you are getting the experience of owning your own home and you are able to do it for less than purchasing a detached house.
  • Costs are shared. In a condominium the cost of repairs are shared with the other owners of the condominium so instead of having to pay for something yourself, while the cost for materials may be more than for a detached home, the final cost to you will probably be much less because it is being shared with everyone else in your condo.

To find out more information about purchasing a condominium in New York or if you currently own a condo in New York and are looking to sell it contact Steven T. Decker, Staten Island and Brooklyn real estate lawyer.

First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit Bill for Service Members | Military Personnel Purchasing a Home in New York and New Jersey

Late last week the House Way and Means Committee unveiled the a bipartisan bill that is currently being taken into consideration by the House of Representitives.

The Service Members Home Ownership Act of 2009 would correct a problem that was previously occuring for military members with the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit.  Many military members were not taking part in purchasing their first home and taking advantage of the $8,000 first time homebuyers credit because of the concern that they would have to pay back the money they receive from the tax credit if they get transferred to a different station before they have owned and resided in the home for 36 months.

The first time homebuyers tax credit has a clause in it that prevents first time homeowners from selling their house or renting out their house before the initial 36 months has passed.  If you choose to move out prior to the 36-months or are not using the home as your primary residence you must pay back any tax credit that you received from the program.  The Service Members Home Ownership Act of 2009 would change the requirements for military personnel.

The main benefits that service members will see if the bill is passed are:

  •  Certain service members would be exempt from paying taxes if they are forced to sell their home at a depressed price. Among those eligible for the tax exemption would be wounded service members and service members who had to sell their home because they were permanately assigned to a new duty station.
  • Service members and certain federal workers who buy a home before December 1, 2009 will not have to repay the $8,000 tax credit if they sell their home or stop using it as their primary residence within the first three years if they are forced to sell or rent out their house because of government orders.
  • Service members, foreign service officers and members of the intelligence community who were deployed outside of the U.S. for 90 days or more between January 1 and December 1, 2009 will have be able to close on a house after December 1, 2009 and still be able to take advantage of the first time homebuyers tax credit.

This bill  is passing throught the Senate quickly and will possibly be signed and put into place within the next two weeks.

If you are a military member purchasing a home in New York or New Jersey and need a real estate lawyer in Staten Island, New York contact Steven T. Decker at 718.979.4300.