Louisville Real Estate Blog | Brad Long Real Estate Group | Keller Williams Louisville East

LOCAL REALTORS HAPPY WITH LOUISVILLE INCREASE IN HOME SALES

Flash-Local real estate professionals are elated over latest stats showing how hot the Jefferson County real estate market and sales have become.  According to Metro Search Inc. statistics, 37% of the homes on the market in Jefferson County have been selling in 20 days or less. That includes the peak period of the real estate bubble in 2005 when 26% of the homes on the market sold in 20 days or less. Some experts are saying that some homes are actually selling in the first few days on the market. Home sales in Jefferson County for the first five months of this year are up 17% over the same period last year. Sales are pending on about 29% of the homes on the market in Jefferson County and other surrounding Kentucky counties, according to  the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors.

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Always Check the Permit History of Your New Kentucky Home

When purchasing a new home, you want to always protect yourself from unwanted surprises. Yes we think we do everything possible like a home inspection, title searches, etc., but few of us ever think about going into the building department and asking about old permits that may have been taken out on the property that we are looking at to buy. You always want to find out as much as you can about the property before the closing.

I always suggest that the offer should include an inspection contingency even if you're making an offer in any kind of competition. The contingency wording should be broad enough for you to inspect whatever you deem necessary, so you will have the confidence that the home will satisfy your housing needs within a budget you can afford. You should always have the option to withdraw from the contract and have your deposit returned if the seller wont correct the problem(s) or at least participate in a mutual solution of the problem(s).

An important item that is often overlooked during buyers' inspections is the permit history on the house. It can be a hassle dealing with the city bureaucracy, and few buyers have time to go to the city building and planning department. If you can't do the investigation yourself, you should pay someone to do it for you because overlooking it could come back to haunt you for years to come. Many times previous owners have taken out permits and either not finished the work, or not called for the final inspection of whatever work they were supposed to do. Some times the previous owners just forgot to call the city for final buyoff and many times the previous owner did more than what the permit called for and sometimes the work was done incorrectly or not to code.  While you're checking on old permits, be sure to find out if any back fees are owed. You may need to check directly with the cashier at the building and planning department.

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Facts About Buying Your Louisville Home

If you are like most people, when you decide to buy a new home, you will make a down payment and get a mortgage loan on the balance.  If that amount falls short of 20% of the homes value, and you are going to get a conventional loan, be aware that you will most likely have to pay for 'private mortgage insurance' (PMI). Most lenders go by the old rule that the more a person puts into the purchase then the lower is the risk.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a policy that protects the lender against financial loss if you should default on your loan. Lenders always will seek to minimize their risk by asking for a substantial down payment, usually 20% or more, or will want insurance that will guarantee them the principal amount if they have to foreclose.

The lender benefits from the PMI insurance but the borrower has to pay for it. The premiums will vary.  Factors that affect the cost of the insurance include the type of mortgage, loan amount, and the amount of your down payment.  Generally, you can expect PMI to be about 0.5 percent of the loan amount.  

Is there a way to avoid having to pay for PMI? Some lenders will waive the PMI requirements if you pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage loan. In this option, they actually build the PMI cost into the loan and make the premium payments for you.  There are other options available that vary from lender to lender and it's best to discuss this with your lender when deciding on what type of PMI loan you want.

If you have had your loan for awhile and been paying the PMI, the PMI portion will eventually end.  When you have at least 20 percent equity in your home (home value minus loan balance), you can ask your lender to have PMI cancelled. Most lenders will require a good payment history, be up to date and current with the payments, and have no liens against the home.  Some mortgage loans will have a minimum wait time before PMI can be eliminated. The lender will require a new appraisal of the home and the homeowner will have to pay for that.
PMI is not tax deductible. You pay the fee and never see any benefit from it.
It is wise to keep abreast of your homes value at all times and then notify your lender when your loan to value has gone below 80%.

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BANKS AND CREDIT UNIONS..WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE

I am often asked by my customers about what the difference is between a bank and a credit union especially when one of my Louisville buyers is looking for a mortgage loan source. I am probably asked the same question several times in a month.

To be as brief as possible:
Bank and Credit Unions are more alike than they are different. The key philosophy behind them are different in that banks operate with the goal of generating profits and credit unions are community based institutions that are non profit. In credit unions, you must have a membership and it requires that you have an account with minimum deposits, and each member is a part owner in the credit union. The higher the deposits, or shares, the higher the share of profits.

The credit union has a Board of Directors who makes the major financial decisions. A bank is owned by a private company or corporation. Most credit unions usually finance small projects related to community development and try to keep money within the community. Banks, on the other hand, tend to finance larger projects and they may or may not be in the community where the bank is located.  Usually the interest rate charged by banks is a little higher than what credit unions charge.

Credit unions are exempt from paying most state and federal taxes and therefore usually able to offer higher savings account rates and usually lower rates on loans. Banks also tend to have larger variety of products and services that  allow you to centralize your banking needs. One of the biggest disadvantages in joining a credit union is their relative inconvenience as they typically have less ATMs and branches and usually lack variety in investment products and services.

Choosing a bank or credit union is all about what's suitable for your own particular needs. There can be differences in rates and services in different credit unions. It is best to check out the credit unions that you may be eligible to join and your bank to see what type of mortgage loans are offered and their going rates.

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Credit Reports Do Not Tell Everything About You

To most of us, it seems like the credit reporting agencies are constantly spying on everything we do and every move we make. Our names, address and social security number along with our birthdate appears on our credit reports. There are some things though that don't appear on credit reports, and the lenders, or banks, can't see when they run a credit report on any of us.  Here are 7 secrets that your credit report won't reveal:

1    YOUR SALARY
Salaries stopped being on credit reports in the early 1990s. They had been up to then but it was decided that there were too many variables involved for them to be accurate. Other reasons are that income really isn't a measure of credit worthiness, it is just a measure of capacity. A credit report and your credit scores are meant to tell a creditor whether or not you are going to make a payment, not whether you can make a payment.
Unemployment benefits, alimony, child support and public assistance  does not appear on credit reports.

2    EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Your job information is not shown on your credit report. If you lose your job, no one will know. Employment information, though, could be there and will vary slightly depending on which of the three credit bureau reports a lender pulls. Names of your employer or past employers could be on the report if you applied for credit and listed them on any of the applications you might have filled out. Most agencies wont list your job title or dates of employment. Employment information reported varies with the three agencies.

3    SPOUSES CREDIT HISTORY
Contrary to popular belief, when someone runs a credit report on you, that is all he or she will see. If you are a co signer on certain accounts, the other names or relationship to you will not be shown. One thing you might notice no matter where you live: When you pull your own credit report, some versions will include your spouse's name, says Ulzheimer. But the reports lenders and others view won't have that.

4    ANY CRIMINAL PAST HISTORY
Credit bureaus don't include criminal conduct on credit reports.
Three exceptions: First, if you have a financial situation that also involves the court system, such as a judgment or lien, it will show up on your credit report. Second, child support payments can also show up as a regular debt on your credit report. If you receive a fine or ticket, don't pay it and it goes to collection, then that collection activity could show up on your report. But it would appear as a debtor trying to collect an overdue debt. There wouldn't be any details on the initial infraction.

5    MEDICAL BILLS AND DEBT
The Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits listing information on your report that jeopardizes your medical privacy. Often, this means medical debt doesn't appear unless it goes to collections. One possible exception: Pay with a credit card or through a third-party lender and the balance could show as a regular debt, minus any medical information.

6    NONTRADITIONAL TYPE LOANS
Pawned some valuables? Taken out a payday loan? Signed for a car title loan?  Those transactions don't show up on your credit report. But if you default and the lender enlists a collection agency to come after you for the balance, that action likely will go on your report. Usually utility payments for gas, lights, telephone, etc., wont show up on your credit report, however some do report late pays. If a bill is not paid and goes to collection, then that may end up on your report.

7    YOUR NET WORTH
A credit report is basically a list of all your current and recent past debts and obligations. That is all.
There's nothing on a credit report that talks about how much money you have in the bank, the money you have in a brokerage account, your stock options or any other assets you might have. Also not on the report: the worth of your home or home equity. The only related item that you could see: your mortgage, plus any loans or liens you have on the property.

Some other things that usually wont show up on your credit report:
*Not paying your rent.
*Late payments of taxes.
*Late payments to small vendors.
*Anything your creditor agrees not to report.
*Not carrying a balance on a credit card account.

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SOME MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING CREDIT

Almost every day I somehow get involved with having to explain to customers and potential customers, the importance of having and maintaining a good credit rating.  In recent years, most of us have gone through some sort of situation where our credit rating (good or bad) was threatened or jeopardized in some way. Most of us are pretty well informed about credit ratings and how they work. Many times a day, we hear about identity theft and how it can hurt your credit rating. With all of this said, I thought maybe I could clarify some misconceptions regarding credit and credit reports. The subject is important to me as it affects my business and my customers and potential customers.

If you are about to purchase a home, refinance your present home, rent an apartment or home, then you know how important your credit rating can become. Relatively small credit score differences can keep you from getting into that apartment or from buying that home you have dreamed about.
Here are 5 myths regarding credit:
      1    MYTH: Having a lot of cash, or savings in the bank, or having a good job and good income, or even lots of equity in your home will make your FICO score less relevant when you apply for a new loan for a purchase or for refinance purposes.
    FACT: No matter how much cash or savings you might have, or how much money you make, if you want a real estate mortgage loan, you must meet the mortgage lender’s FICO score guidelines, and those guidelines are getting tougher and tougher all the time.
       2    MYTH: If you have no debt, or no late payments, then your credit rating or score should be good.
    FACT:  Don't confuse financial responsibility and good credit, they are two different things. Having no credit accounts or debts doesn't give you good credit - it only gives you no credit.
      3    MYTH: If you check your own FICO score prior to filling out a loan application, it will help you because you won't have any negative surprises.
    FACT:  The originator of your real estate mortgage loan, whether it is a Mortgage Broker or a banker, must pull a credit report on you from their own credit score provider and the score maybe different from the one you saw when you checked your FICO score, and it may even have different detailed line items than the one you saw.    
      4    MYTH: If you have had a foreclosure or a short sale on your credit record, your credit report will be damaged for at least 7 years, making it almost impossible to get any credit, especially for a mortgage loan.
    FACT:  Derogatory or negative credit items, like late mortgage payments, foreclosures and short sales, appear on your credit report for 7 years, however,  your credit score can be rehabilitated enough to be able to buy a home or obtain other credit in less time, depending on your particular circumstances.
     5    MYTH: Having a short sale that shows up on your credit report is better than having a foreclosure show up on it.
    FACT: According to the Credit Reporting Agencies, short sales and foreclosures will have the same impact on your credit score. Of course, like everything else there are exceptions and your own particular circumstances will determine which way the agencies will rate you.
In summary, it is best to have a few good open accounts, and to keep the payments up and current at all times.

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Anchorage Homes For Sale

The beautiful town of Anchorage is located  in Eastern Jefferson County. The town boasts an abundance of beautiful oak and magnolia trees, parks with great walking and bike paths. Real estate is a little above average with the 2012 median home price for Anchorage KY is $475,000.


 

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Home Maintenance Tips For All Year Long

As responsible homeowners, we all know that there are certain things that must be done routinely with regards to the proper maintenance of our most prized possession, our home. 

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or the monetary resources to do the job correctly or even address some of the types of preventative maintenance that's required. Most of us don’t know the most important items that need to be checked routinely, so we wait until something goes out, or doesn’t work anymore, then we do something about it. Sometimes, that isn’t even an incentive to act, or react. This is not a good way to maintain your most expensive possession, and it is a good way to get your homeowners insurance policy cancelled if you ever try to make an insurance claim on repair costs after the fact. Regular attention to key areas will save money over the life of the home and help to preserve the integrity of the home insurance policy.

 This isn't a big list, but there are some key areas to pay attention to:

  • CHECK THE ROOF AND ROOF DRAINAGE
    Besides the roof itself, the gutters are probably most important to good water drainage all year long. Most people never look or check the gutters on their homes or garages. What happens to the water once the gutters take it from the roof and deposit the water on the ground is also important. All of the gutters should be checked for leaks, and buildup of leaves, branches and dirt  at least once a month in the winter and at least every few weeks during the summer. Accumulated moisture due to a build-up of leaves, dirt and debris can lead to damage on the roof, in the attic insulation, soffits, and behind any siding, and can affect both inside the home as well as the outside. Also make sure that the water is draining away from the foundation where very serious issues can develop, affecting the stability of the entire structure of the house or garage. Check your roofs on a regular basis. Roofs sometimes take a long time to reveal a leak or any problem. Go into the attic and look for tell-tell signs of leaking, like staining of the roof boards, or damage to the insulation in the attic. This is one area that you might want to call in an expert if you have no idea what to look for. It could save you thousands of dollars in roof repairs or replacement.
  • SEALING - WEATHER STRIPPING - CAULKING
    We all could lower our energy bills by spending a couple of hours every few months to make sure that our windows, doors and other house openings are properly sealed off from the outside weather. Over time, caulking will dry out and crack and sometimes it is not obvious that moisture is leaking into the house through these cracks. The caulking will start to let in outside air and eventually cause mold or mildew problems inside the house. If the doors and windows don’t have weather stripping, you should invest a few dollars and put the stripping on all windows and doors so they do not leak air and moisture into the house. This also prevents insects and other pests from entering the home. You should routinely check for any damage from termites throughout the entire building,  including under the house too if the house. This is important.
  • CHECK KITCHEN & BATHROOM PLUMBING FIXTURES - APPLIANCES
    All appliances in the home should be carefully checked to see if they are operating  safely and properly. Gas appliances can be checked by calling the gas company on a routine basis. They will come out and check for any leaks in the appliances as well as in the gas lines and check for carbon monoxide leaks coming from the water heater or heating system. Check all plumbing fixtures like leaky faucets, sinks, garbage disposals, toilets, etc. Save yourself a lot of time and money and headaches by fixing plumbing leads as soon as they are discovered. Check the furnace and air conditioning filters every other month or so and replace them often for best results.
  • MISC ITEMS TO BE CHECKED ON ROUTINE BASIS
    Routinely check the condition of your garage (s) and any other outbuildings you have on the property. We tend to take our garages for granted and hardly ever clean them. This too is dangerous and could cost you your insurance  policy through a cancellation due to a fire, or even a flood caused by a faulty washer, or sink or plumbing problems in the garage. Check and clean the floor once in a while, including the driveway. Check for concrete cracking, or broken glass in any of the windows in the garage. Do you have a work bench or work shop within the garage?  Clean it up once in a while and be sure that any saws, drills, table saws, etc., are always unplugged when you are finished with them. If you have storage in the garage, make sure it is clean and neat and not a fire hazard. Patio enclosures should also be checked out to be sure there are no roof or patio cover leakage. The trees and shrubs around the house and garage should be trimmed regularly with any overhanging limbs from large trees cut off or cut back so if they fall they won't damage the roof or side of the building, or crack concrete areas.

IN SUMMARY:Neglecting to routinely inspect your home for needed repairs or replacement of certain items is not just a gamble with your  budget, but a serious risk in the event of a homeowners insurance claim. Standard policies include disclaimers for damage caused by neglect of the policy holder, and guess who that is You!! In Louisville we are fortunate to have many trained and experienced home repair people that you can depend on for any type of construction service or repair. Look in the Yellow Pages for the type of service you need. You can also go online and type in the appropriate service at Google.com, or use Yahoo search, Bing or which ever search you like. But don’t put off checking out these important maintenance issues.

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The Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

More and more seniors are opting for the reverse mortgage to help offset retirement expenses and healthcare costs. I hope to answer some questions regarding reverse mortgages as best I can but advise those who may be interested in a reverse mortgage to seek the counseling of an attorney before making any decision on taking out a reverse mortgage.


                          A good family meeting to talk about the subject is also advised.

What is a reverse mortgage? A reverse mortgage is basically a loan that is available to people who are generally over the age of 62 that enables a borrower to be able to convert part of the equity in their home into cash. Reverse mortgages were originally conceived as a means to help people who were nearing their retirement, and had limited income, to be able to use the money they have put into their home to help pay off debts and/or help cover their basic living expenses, or help pay for their health care, etc. There are no restrictions on how the money is used. The reverse mortgage money does not have to be paid back to the lender until the home is either sold or is vacated for some reason. As long as borrower lives in the home, they are not required to make any monthly payments towards the loan balance, but must remain current on any property tax and insurance payments.

There are qualifications that the borrower must meet such as the age requirement is  62 years old. These qualifications are subject to change.

  • The reverse mortgage must also be the primary lien on the property.
  • Any prior mortgages must be paid off in full.
  • The borrower can us reverse mortgage funds to help pay off any existing mortgages.
  • The property must be the borrower’s primary residence.
  • The borrower is required to remain current on any real estate taxes, home insurance, and, if applicable, condo fees or the borrower will be susceptible to default.
  • The borrower is also responsible for maintaining the property in good order and for making any and all necessary repairs.
  • The borrower always retains title and ownership of the home.
  • The amount of funds that the borrower can receive depends on the age of the youngest borrower, the value of the home, the interest rate and upfront costs. The funds can be delivered to the borrower as a lump sum, as a line of credit or as fixed monthly payments, either for a fixed amount of time or for as long as the borrower remains in the home. Sometimes the borrower can opt for a combination of ways to receive the funds. There are very little fees involved with getting a reverse mortgage and usually the fees can be paid out of the funds received.
  • The only up front fee us usually the appraisal fee. Usually counseling is required by most lenders and there might be a counseling fee over and above the appraisal fee, but both usually are not much more than $200.00 to $250.00 total. 

There are various types of reverse mortgages being offered today and it is advisable to talk to several lenders who specialize in reverse mortgages about the different requirements and guidelines that are involved.

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Know More About Mortgage Financing Before Buying

The housing market in Louisville has certainly heated up in the last few months and if the experts are right, this upturn will continue.  This is good news for buyers, sellers and for all the real estate professionals.

With more and more people looking to buy a new home, possibly their first home or even a commercial property, it has become clear that a good number of people really do not understand real estate financing. In face in a recent survey involving over 1000 current and potential homeowners, run by the Zillow Real Estate website, over 1/3 of the participants gave wrong answers regarding basic real estate mortgage and financing including information regarding banks and  lenders and other important related questions.



Here are some of the results of the Zillow website survey:

  • 31% of buyers in the survey, didn't think that it was possible to get any kind of mortgage loan with less than 5% down.  This is incorrect..there are loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration that can require as little as 3.5% down. 
  • 34% didn't know what the term 'annual percentage rate' (APR) means.  Terms like 'APR', 'points', 'origination fees', 'underwriting fees' 'appraisal fees', 'escrow' and 'title fees' and all other costs involved with getting a mortgage loan are important so you can figure out what the overall cost of the loan is going to be.
  • Many of those surveyed thought that they could get the best deal by going through the bank where their checking and savings accounts were held. Competing banks and lenders can often undercut other banks by large margins.
  • 25% of those surveyed thought that you were obligated to close with the lender that has already pre approved your mortgage. In reality, there's no obligation. If buyers see better terms available they should take them.
  • Many in the survey indicated that they thought that lenders were required by law to charge the same fees to all clients for credit reports, appraisals, etc. This is incorrect..Fees vary from bank to bank and can often be negotiated.
  • In the survey, over 26% of the people said that once pre approved they thought they were obligated to go with the lender that pre approved them. This is not true, you are not obligated and if you find a better rate, go with that lender.
  • Many homeowners in the survey thought that if their mortgages were underwater, or if they owed more than the property was worth, they could not refinance their existing loans into lower interest rate loans.  This is incorrect. There are many lender who deal specifically with underwater loans and refinancing those loans.
  • Nearly a third of the survey participants thought that if they had gone through a foreclosure or short sale, they would have to wait seven years for their credit scores to recover so they could buy a home again.  This depends on each situation and many who experience a foreclosure or short sale can get financing in as little as a couple of years.

So often the buyers focus on getting a lower home price and totally ignore the importance of finding the right loan for their situation. I always recommend that buyers shop around to multiple lenders and compare rates and fees to get the best deal. Working with a good mortgage broker can go a long way to help simplify the application process and get you the best interest rates and lowest fees. If you don't know what APR means then it's going to be difficult to compare rates of the different lenders.

If a home buyer can lower their interest rate by just half a percentage point, they can not only increase their purchasing power, but save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. For every $100,000 borrowed, a half percentage point lower rate will lower your monthly payments by about $28 per month on a 30 year fixed rate loan, and that adds up to more than $10,000  over the 30 year life of the loan.

In next week’s blog posts I will outline the many different types of mortgage loans that are available.

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Meet The Brad Long Group

Meet Louisville's finest Realtors from the Brad Long Group of Keller Williams Realty Louisville East. Our Realtors know and believe strongly in our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients and we treat their decisions, assets and time as if it were our own.

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Foreclosures, Short Sales, and REOs Oh My!


With so many Americans facing foreclosure today, it is important to know what the process is and all of the details relevant to the subject. This article is for the purpose of explaining, in detail, the foreclosure process and short sales and the process and procedures that must be followed for both subjects.  We will address how sellers end up in foreclosure, ways to avoid foreclosure, alternatives to foreclosure and anything else that is pertinent to foreclosure. SHort sales in rela estate are an alternative for foreclosure and the positive side of short sales is the fact that many people, including astute investors, make a lot of money investing in homes about to go into foreclosure. Another subject in this article is REO investing as it is closely related to the other subjects and people should know about the money making opportunities that are available with REO homes.

What is the difference between Foreclosures, Short Sales, REOs


1    Foreclosures & Short Sales:  When a homeowner fails to make the mortgage payments for 3 months, the lender will mail out a notice of default asking for payment by a certain date. If no payments are received by that date, the lender authorizes their attorney’s to start foreclosure proceedings. In the following months, the homeowner will be under much stress and strain, as the process can last as long as 12 months or more. The homeowners credit score is going to be affected negatively and it will remain on your credit report 7-10 years. You will not be able to purchase a home for at least 5 years or more. On top of that, the IRS considers a foreclosure as a home sale and the income is taxable.
 Avoiding Foreclosure or Foreclosure Alternatives:  
Each state has its own laws regarding the foreclosure process so some of the alternatives listed may not be appropriate for all cases. Some options are:
Repayment Plan: This usually involves establishing a schedule with your Lender to make a full regular monthly payment plus a little extra each month, to repay the delinquent amount over a specified period of time.
Special Forbearance Plan: This option may provide for a temporary reduction or suspension of payments, that will be increased at a later point to repay the delinquent amount over a specified period of time.
Mortgage Modification: This option may allow you to refinance the debt and / or extend the term of your existing mortgage loan.
HUD Partial Claim: If your loan is an FHA insured loan, your lender may be able to obtain a one time payment from the FHA-Insurance Fund to bring your mortgage loan current with payments.
Refinance: This option may allow you to use the equity that you have established in your home to pay the delinquent amount. Depending on the interest rate of your new loan, your monthly payments might be reduced. You can explore refinancing with your existing Lender as well as with any Lender of your choice.
Sell the house:  If there is sufficient equity in the property, you may be able to receive more for your property than what is due on the mortgage loan.
Assumption: With this option, you would sign over the property to another person. That person would then take possession of your home, and take over making the payments.
Bankruptcy: Many people believe that by filing for Bankruptcy, it will allow the homeowner to keep a home, and will prevent it from going to foreclosure. Eventually the home will be taken by the lender and all bankruptcy will do is delay or put off the time until you loose your house. An attorney should be consulted before anyone considers any type of bankruptcy.
Pre-Foreclosure Sale: This option may allow you to sell your property for an amount less than what is necessary to pay off your mortgage loan.
Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure: This option may allow you to voluntarily "give back" the property to your Lender without further damaging your credit.
Short Sale: A short sale is when the lender agrees to accept a mortgage payoff that doesn't cover the entire amount of the outstanding loan. This is a complicated process and can take up to 12 months or longer.  The seller, or homeowner, must prove that they are having severe financial hardship, and then present to the lender a variety of documents and paperwork that goes on and on. The homeowner must list and sell the home. There is much stress involved as the homeowner is under the gun with time restraints dictated by the lender.  Once you sell the property, you have to supply additional documentation. When the property is listed, your real estate agent prepares a comparative market analysis. You're going to need that and you will need to supply a copy to the lender, along with your hardship letter, and a variety of documents needed by the lender. The lender will need a copy of the purchase agreement, and a "net sheet" showing how much you will net (or lose) from the sale of the home.  If there is PMI on the home loan, then the PMI insurance company also has to give their approval for any sale.

If the lender feels that the deal is good, and the lender accepts you hardship letter, most likely the sale will be approved. If the lender approves the sale, thus forgiving the debt, the IRS considers forgiveness of debt the same as taxable income and you will have to pay taxes on that income. The Short Sale Process is a long one and is complicated and there are certain procedures to be followed. The homeowner will have to hire a real estate agent, broker or Realtor to do much of the paperwork and leg work involved.

An Important Note to Buyers and Brokers Regarding Short Sales
A short sale is a situation where a property seller(homeowner) needs to sell fast and the sale proceeds are not sufficient to pay off the existing mortgage. It is an alternative to foreclosure. The term short sale or short pay refers to a process whereby the mortgage company must agree to a reduced payoff in order for the sale to take place. All sale costs must also be included and the seller receives nothing, except debt relief and not having a foreclosure on their credit record.

If you're a prospective buyer on such a property, beware! The seller may accept your offer; you may invest $1000 in an appraisal and a property inspection, but you may not get the property because the mortgage company may not agree to reduce their payoff. The mortgage company is a third entity that is not a party to your contract, yet their decision will affect the outcome of the transaction. The mortgage company will review the short sale proposal and closing the sale will depend on their response.  Many short sales fail because the mortgage company representative is unfamiliar with the local real estate market and responds with an unrealistic proposal.

When buying a short sale property, don't expect a quick answer and don't expect the mortgage company to respond logically. They will seek any additional assets the homeowner may have and they will demand that the real estate agents or brokers reduce their commissions. They may demand the seller to sign a personal note to pay back the shortfall. Remember, the mortgage company wants to recover as much of the loan as possible. 

Additionally, many loans have PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) that will cover a portion of their loss so the mortgager's motivation to reach an agreement may be less because they're covered regardless. You may have to start negotiating with the PMI company, adding additional time to the sale process. Unless...

Tips to Avoid Foreclosure

Many are facing a situation that has become the “norm” in the last few years and that is the potential of having our homes foreclosed upon at any time. You purchased a home a few years back, refinanced when you thought the time was right, and now you can’t keep up with the payments, and, the property has dropped in value putting you “underwater.” You might be one of the millions of at-risk people with a sub prime adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) whose interest rates will soon reset to much higher percentages in a short time, or you have a different more un-conventional type of loan. You may even have your mortgage payments up to date but are worried about getting layed off soon.  “A good portion of the people we see are folks who received loans they never should have gotten in the first place,” say many credit counselors. Many states have also posted advice for distressed homeowners on their attorney general, banking department, or housing finance agency websites.

GET ALL THE FACTS BEFORE YOU TAKE ANY ACTION
Don’t get into any more problems due to the lack of knowledge. The reason many Louisville homeowners end up in problem loans is that they either did not understand the terms of their loans or were duped by predatory lenders, or did not actually qualify for any mortgage loan to begin with.

CONTACT YOUR LENDER
Call your lender while your head is still above water. If your credit is already in the tank, you will have no negotiating power and most of the new programs that help to head off foreclosure are for those with decent credit ratings.

CHECK YOUR MAIL
Lenders are saying that they are sending out notices to those with sub prime mortgages to offer assistance.

IT’S GOING TO TAKE TIME
You cannot get this resolved with one phone call. Too many people are expecting to be able to solve their mortgage problem with a “quick fix.” Don’t forget that it is to the benefit of the lender also to help solve the problem.

GET SOME COUNSELING FAST
Locate a free or low-cost housing counselor. Go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website to find HUD-certified counselors. Neighbor-Works America, a national nonprofit created by Congress, supports a well-publicized national hotline, 888-995-HOPE; it promises to connect you to a live counselor. Get a qualified expert to help you navigate through this problem. You may want to take action on several fronts by contacting a lawyer as well. Don’t go to places that advertise a fix on TV, the Internet, or telephone poles. Check to see if you’re eligible for special assistance, because if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage and a good credit rating there are many options available.

FORGET BANKRUPTCY
Bankruptcy can slow or halt foreclosure in some cases, but you need to seek legal advice from a trusted source, like a credit counselor, before you proceed. Bankruptcy judges are not permitted to restructure debt owed on a mortgage covering a primary residence. Many of the so called “Mortgage help programs” will only apply to those with good credit.

KEEP YOUR PAYMENTS CURRENT IF POSSIBLE
When you're behind on your mortgage payments, you don't hear from your lender until you are 60, even 90 days late. With credit cards, as soon as you miss a payment, they will call and harass you day and night so most people will tend to let the mortgage payment go and pay their credit card bills. Credit counselors will advise homeowners to put off the credit card companies and pay their mortgage payment first.

TIGHTEN UP YOUR BELT
Try getting rid of some luxuries you now have and when you sit down with your lender, they will see that you have done everything you can to help your situation. Get rid of your cable, cash in some assets like expensive jewelry and cars.

GET YOUR PAPERWORK TOGETHER
Draw up a detailed accounting of your expenses and organize your pay stubs, benefit statements, and tax returns. You will need these records when you talk to the bank. Get familiar with the different lender programs that your lender offers and go for a long term, low interest loan at a low rate. The problem is that if your credit score has dropped or you now don’t qualify, you will not be able to save the house. All lenders have tightened up their requirements to get a mortgage loan of any kind. Be careful about accepting any repayment plan put forth by your lender. Sometimes they only forestall the inevitable. Try to get a loan modification if possible.

LAST RESORT
If all else fails, giving up your house may be the only thing you can do. If you are underwater, ask your lender about allowing you to try to sell the house for what is owed on it. They may or may not agree to this. This will also save the lender some costs and it might help to save your credit. You can also bail out of the situation by surrendering your deed to the bank before your lender actually files for foreclosure. If your lender accepts your offer of a “deed in lieu of foreclosure,” as this option is known, you voluntarily transfer title, move out of the house, and on with your life. You avoid the foreclosure, avoid a sheriff's sale of your home, and then your eviction. Your credit rating will still take a hit, but you will dodge the foreclosure bullet and all of the tension that a foreclosure puts on you and your family.

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Home Styles in Louisville

 Homes in Louisville run from modern construction to the most historical like those originally built in Crescent Hill in the 1850s.

 It might be interesting to point out some of the many styles of houses in the area. Each style will have a link to a current listing for sale of its type.

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Avoid Dated Decor

The beautiful paint color on the walls. That perfect accent chair in the corner. The window treatments that pull the whole room together. Each of these is part of our decorating style, and few things are more satisfying than knowing that every room in your house is decorated in style. But no matter how great and fresh our style may seem today, the décor of Louisville homes is sure to become dated if we don’t freshen things up a bit from time to time. By definition, “style” doesn’t last forever.

An outdated look may not trouble you too much if interior design just isn’t an interest or yours. But a dated décor becomes a serious real estate liability if you’re putting your house on the market. Potential buyers who visit need to be able to envision themselves living in your home in the very near future, and they aren’t able to do that when its rooms appears stuck in the past.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a major financial investment or a great deal of decorating skill to update your home’s look. By simply getting rid of some outdated decorating touches like these, you’ll be able to bring your home into the 21st century.

Move Over, Mauve – In the 80s and early 90s, light rose colored walls and upholstery were all the rage. But mauve’s 15 minutes of fame is long gone, so if this color is in your house, you’ll want it to be gone from there too. Not sure what color to use in its place? Just take an accent pillow or wall hanging that you want to match to a paint store and ask the experts there. That way you’re sure to have a color that is not only fresh and up to date but also perfect for your particular room.

Light With Lamps – When it comes to lighting a room, track lighting used to be the ultimate in vogue style. But today, breaking up a lovely ceiling with track or can lights seems to take away rather than add to a room’s ambiance. Floor and table lamps are now the preferred way to light up a room, and with the millions of designs and colors available for both the lamp itself and its decorative shades, the design possibilities are truly endless.

Bring Down Borders – The stylish wall covering must-have in the 80s was the wallpaper border. Whether your walls were painted or covered floor to ceiling in wall paper, a border in a complimentary color and style was thought to be a decorating dream. But this dream is one that it’s time to wake up from. Borders are definitely out.

Free the Flowers – If the iconic 1985 home had mauve-colored walls with a matching wall paper border accented with track lighting, then it also had a sofa or chair upholstered in a fabric with huge, bright flowers. This kind of floral pattern was thought to be a great way to add a dramatic color to even the most drab room. But these floral pieces are now considered too loud. Today’s designers prefer to cover major furniture pieces in soft neutral fabrics and instead bring in color in smaller doses with decorative accents like pillows, vases or art pieces.

Interior design doesn’t have to be your top priority most of the time, but if you want to sell your house, it becomes a necessary strategy for enticing prospective buyers into making an offer. By simply getting rid of these types of dated décor, you can bring your Louisville home into the 21st century.

For all of your real estate needs in the Louisivlle, KY area, please visit Louisville, KY Real Estate.
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Louisville Apps


The common form of communication in today’s day and age is far more than a simple device to relay messages. The modern telephone is not only a tool for making phone calls but is a computer, television, camera, and complete link to the World’s information. “Smart Phones” as they are called, give owners the opportunity to gain information anywhere at anytime.

Aside from the internet, applications, or apps as they are better know, provide the owner the most specialized and greatest wealth of information. There are apps for everything available, but my favorite apps are the ones personal to my hometown. Believe it or not, there are over one-hundred apps, varying in sub-topic, and most of them are free. These apps give travelers an easy way to gain inside local knowledge on their own, and give locals unlimited access to every view of their city. I tested several different types of free Louisville apps, some I have found to be helpful, others not so much.

There are several free Louisville sports apps available, each designed with their team or school in mind. Although each app is slightly different, most have the same purpose; to keep you up-to-date with sports news and give you game times. My two favorite Louisville sports apps are WHAS11‘s Louisville College Sports app and (because I am a UofL fan) the “LouisvilleCards Mobile” app. Both apps are easy to use and lay out all the important information. “LouisvilleCards Mobile” covers the news, schedules, scores, and displays videos of all UofL athletics, while the WHAS11 app covers all college sports in the State.

If you are looking for Louisville apps that will help you decide what to do, there are plenty. I reported a while ago on the “Louisville Lush” app, and it is still one of my favorites. “Louisville Lush” lays out all the happy hours and restaurants with specials in your area. The app tells you what places are having deals right now and what you can look forward to. “Louisville Lush” has helped me make the tough decision of where to go for dinner several times. The “Louisville Mobile” app is an essential app for every Louisvillian to have. This app spells out everything from Louisville parks to restaurants, and news to events. This app even allows you to sign up for emergency alerts. “Louisville CitySave” is another must-have app. After entering your neighborhood into the app, dozens of coupons will show up on your screen. Louisville CitySaver gives deals on restaurants, attractions, and retail. The app always has coupons for a night at the theatre, a day of golfing, or discounts at your favorite stores. Right now Playthings Toy Shoppe is offering $5 off $25, and Louisville Stoneware is offering 10% off.

There are endless apps available to Louisvillians. Oldham County, Churchill Downs, and the Urban Bourbon Trail even have their own helpful apps. All the major news stations, radio stations, and traffic centers have apps, keeping you linked in to local media wherever you go.

After trying out dozens of apps all about Louisville, only a few extremely helpful Louisville apps remain on my phone today. “Louisville Lush”, “Louisville Mobile”, and “Louisville CitySaver” are must-haves. These apps help on rainy days, when you’re the only one at the party who didn’t watch the news that day, and can help you save some serious money. Go download these apps now...must I remind you, they are free?

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Louisville Free Public Libraries are not just for Reading Anymore

Louisville is filled with excellent resources for families and community members that are often taken for granted. I myself, am guilty of not taking advantage of some of Louisville’s greatest amenities.

Just one block from my street is Mid City Mall, which houses one of the Louisville Free Public Library branches. It is not the biggest, newest, or most beautiful library in Louisville, but like the other LFPL branches, it offers tremendous value to the neighborhood. The library offers extensive resources for families with children varying from infancy to high-school age. My toddler and pre-schooler love the free story time and the occasional musical guest that follows.

There are eighteen Louisville Free Public Library locations scattered throughout the city, each offering wonderful learning opportunities to it’s members. For young library members, the library has put together several programs to help parents and kids enjoy reading together. Each branch puts on a story time for various age ranges at various times during the week. Children love to be read to, especially by a professional librarian. The Read With Me Program and Summer Reading Program are designed to encourage young children to read at a young age. These programs are also designed to teach children to enjoy reading and to read for fun rather than to read because they have to. For the parent who wants to go a step further, all library branches have “Family Fun Backpacks” available to check-out. These backpacks are packed full of material to help your child develop good reading skills.

For teen-age library members studying for middle school to college entry level exams, the LFPL branches have you covered. Each branch is equipped with computers containing a program called the “Learning Express Library.” This program gives members a chance to study and take practice exams for free. The Learning Express Library helps students pass such tests as the SAT, ACT, and even the GED. Writing a paper, or researching a foreign country for geography class is simple when you come to the LFPL. Free access to online journals, an online encyclopedia, and endless online reference books are available at each branch.

All adult Louisvillians who aren’t aware of the amount of interesting and helpful resources that are available at our local Louisville Free Public Libraries are absolutely missing out. The library offers dozens of programs to help you become a more successful and well-rounded person. At the library you can do everything from listen to a guest author speak about their book to learn how to use a computer on a free program. Adults can even become part of the Mayor’s Book Club. Meeting every third Wednesday of the Month from noon to 1:00pm at the Main Library, the club discusses 50 books throughout the year, all with international themes.

Our Free Public Libraries are incredible resources for our community and incredibly overlooked. I encourage everyone to use them more often. For more information on our Louisville Free Public Libraries or to find the closest branch to you, go to www.lfpl.org

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Louisville Steakhouses

One thing that Louisville has no shortage of is good places to celebrate a special occasion dinner.  Just in the past week, my family celebrated four birthdays and each birthday was spent at a different restaurant around town.  Not every member of my family wanted to spend their special day eating at a high-end restaurant, but everyone got exactly what they wanted.  My dad had a small get together at his favorite pizza joint, Luigi’s Pizza on Main Street, my sister and her husband spent the night in Nulu with a meal at La Coop and drinks at Meat, and my mom spent her 60th birthday filling the “Pope Room” at Buca Di Beppo with family and friends.  My husband however, is a little more high maintenance and the two of us always look for any excuse to dine out in style.
 
If there is one thing my husband wants for his birthday every year it is a properly cooked, melt in your mouth, steak and Louisville is filled with excellent steakhouses that never fail to deliver exactly what he wants. Over the eight years of celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with my husband, we have sampled almost every steak in Louisville and have our opinions of which steakhouses rank the best.

With local steakhouses and chains both thriving in Louisville it’s hard to choose where to go for your special night. I always prefer to support our local steakhouses over the chains. Jack Fry’s, Pat’s Steakhouse, and Rivue at the top of the Galt House are all some of our favorite places to go for a great meal.

Jack Fry’s has a comfortable, quaint atmosphere  with one of the best steaks in the city.

Although many people find Pat’s Steakhouse a romantic setting, I never have.  The steak at Pat’s is delicious, but the atmosphere is more homey than romantic.

Rivue screams romance. With sweeping views of the river and modern decor, Rivue not only has wonderful steak, but a menu filled with entrees to please any diner.

The chain steakhouses in Louisville never disappoint.  Morton's, Ruth Chris, and Jeff Ruby’s are all steakhouses we have thoroughly enjoyed for our special occasions. Morton’s has a wonderful ambiance, delicious drinks, and top notch service, just what you would expect from any Morton’s. Louisville Morton's is one of my favorites however because of it’s small size and basement feel. It is intimate and cozy. 

As long as you are okay with heights Ruth Chris is a great place to go. The butter crackling on your steak as it comes to your table makes your mouth water before you can even see your steak. The steak at Ruth Chris truly melts in your mouth. 

Jeff Ruby’s is by far my favorite steakhouse in the city. Serving my favorite steak in the city as well as fresh sushi, Jeff Ruby’s serves the best of both worlds. The atmosphere in Jeff Ruby’s is always lively and sophisticated at the same time and puts you in the mood to have a good time. I have eaten at Jeff Ruby’s over ten times and have never had one complaint about service.

Of course steak isn't the only way to go if you want to have a nice dinner. Louisville has amazing options in vegetarian and vegan food as well as food from most cultures. If you really want to go all out, 610 Magnolia is one of the hottest restaurants for special occasions, but make sure you make a reservation at least a week in advance.

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Appetizer and Drink Date Night

With so many great dining options in Louisville I often find myself having trouble deciding where to go for a night out on the town. My favorite solution to this problem is the “appetizer and drink date night.” This past weekend my husband and I decided to try out several different places that we had never been before. At each stop we limited ourselves to appetizers and one cocktail a piece. This was a great way to become familiar with the restaurants while being able to visit several in one night.

The first stop of the night was Wiltshire on Market. The quaint restaurant took us in right away without reservations at the bar. We decided to order two bourbon cocktails off of the menu, that kicked off our night with a bang. Our first appetizer was a warm kale, feta, and artichoke dip that was served with homemade pita chips. The dish came out piping hot and was made with the freshest ingredients. The star of our “light meal” was what came next; the potato, leek, and truffle soup. Each bite sent a powerful punch of flavor over my taste buds causing my husband and I to fight over each bite. Wiltshire on Market’s menu changes weekly based on seasonal ingredients and the full menu reflected this farm to table approach. I will definitely be revisiting Wiltshire on Market soon for a full meal.

Our next stop was a restaurant we had both been wanting to try for a while, Basa, a modern Vietnamese restaurant on Frankfort Avenue. Basa was packed, but there were two seats at the bar with our names on them. This time we stuck with cocktails we knew well, simple bourbon and cokes. Basa has an extensive bourbon list that we were happy to choose from. This restaurant is an excellent place to go if you are looking for a place for appetizers and drinks because of their small plates menu. We decided to choose four out of seven of the options on the small plates menu, and let me tell you it was not an easy task. All of the options on the menu looked delicious and before I tasted one dish I was planning my return trip to try the options I did not get to order. The appetizers we decided on were the grilled beef scewers, garlic noodles, shrimp spring rolls, and crab tempura. The portion sizes were generous and the flavors were spot on. I wouldn’t order the noodles again because although the taste was delicious, the angel hair pasta was hard to eat and underwhelming. A big negative of Basa was the long wait for the food. I had a clear view of the kitchen from my seat and it was a mess. Servers, managers, and bartenders were lined up in the kitchen waiting for their orders to come out, only causing more disarray. Hopefully Basa can get there stuff together.

Our last stop was just down the street at Sweet Surrender. After all these wonderful savory dishes I was ready for something sweet. Even at Sweet Surrender, where my piece of red velvet cake was bigger then my head, I wouldn’t let my husband have a bite (I did take half of it home though where I think he snuck some). My husband got a piece of cheesecake, and of course he finished the whole thing. I have no complaints whatsoever about Sweet Surrender. Delicious cake served in a cute little house turned restaurant, whats not to like?

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Louisville Parks’ Best Sledding Hills

Every time the snow starts to fall outside I turn into a young child again and get excited about playing in the impending winter wonderland. Some of my best childhood memories were made after waking up in the early morning for school only to find out it was a snow day. After climbing back into my warm bed and getting a few extra hours of sleep, I was always eager to get outside and spend the day in the snow. Dressing up in countless layers of snow gear, building igloos in my front yard, and warming my freezing hands with a cup of hot cocoa after hours dredging through knee deep snow are some of my fondest memories of Winter. Above all my favorite snow day rituals however, is getting together with my best friends and spending hours sledding down some of Louisville’s best hills.

No matter what your age, sledding is always a good time. For the beginner sledder a simple slide down a hill is enough to stir up a day of giggles, but the more experienced sledder may turn things up a notch with ramps or “creative” sledding materials (one of my favorite things to sled on is a blow up mattress). Whatever your sledding level there is no shortage of sledding hills to choose from in Louisville.

My favorite place to sled in Louisville is Cherokee Park. When the weather permits, and the snow is deep, Dog Hill is the place to be not only for sledders but for watching sledders. Dog Hill is not for the faint of heart, it is steep and long and you will be in for a wild ride. There are surrounding hills in Cherokee Park that are less intense and are more appropriate for children and beginners. Cherokee Park is also one of my favorite places to take a winter walk through the snow. The walking paths are beautiful when snow covered and you can get views of the sledders from many of the paths.

Now that I have children, Cherokee Park’s Dog Hill is often too crowded and too wild to bring them, so I prefer Tyler Park. The hill at Tyler Park is still a nice size and has two levels so you can choose how far you want to ride. The Park is smaller so you don’t have as many hill choices but it is generally not as crowded at Cherokee Park.

Some of the best sledding can be found in your back yard or right in your neighborhood. If you feel more comfortable going to a designated Louisville Metro Park sled hill, there are six of them in the city. When the weather permits, the hills are maintained for safety by the city. Two of the hills are at Cherokee and Tyler Parks while the others are located at George Rogers Clark Park, Joe Creason Park, Charlie Vettiner Park, and McNeely Lake Park. These hills were chosen as the best and safest hills in our parks and will always be marked open or closed in snowy weather. Park staff will also light bonfires when appropriate. For more information on our parks’ sledding hills go to http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/outdoors/sledding.htm.

Sledding is always a fun adventure but can be dangerous if you aren't careful. Have fun this Winter and take advantage of our excellent sledding hills, but be smart about it!

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