Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Featured Article - September 2010: Favorable Financing on Fannie, Freddie

By Daren Blomquist, Staff Writer

A growing number of delinquencies and foreclosures on government-backed loans - combined with generous incentives for purchasing foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD - means buyers and investors will have plenty of opportunities in the coming months to pick up properties at bargain prices with low down payments and preferred financing.

The two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) - Fannie and Freddie - are acquiring real estate owned (REO) properties through foreclosure at a significantly faster pace than overall growth in REO activity based on RealtyTrac data from the second quarter.  Fannie Mae took ownership of 68,838 REO properties in the second quarter, an increase of 114 percent from the second quarter of 2009, while Freddie Mac took ownership of 34,662, a 58 percent increase from the previous year.

Overall, REO activity was up 38 percent over the same time period, according to RealtyTrac, and the two GSEs together accounted for 38 percent of the total 269,962 REOs reported by RealtyTrac in the second quarter.  Throw in the 23,435 foreclosed properties acquired by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through Federal Housing Administration-backed loans gone bad, and the three "Fs" accounted for 47 percent of all REO activity in the second quarter.

That's good news for homebuyers and residential real estate investors.

Indeed, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have acknowledged that these delayed foreclosures will increase in the months ahead. Moreover, Fannie, Freddie and the FHA all reported spiking pre-foreclosure sales, or short sales, over the past year - although the numbers of sales are still relatively low.  FHA reported a 161 percent increase, Fannie a 171 percent increase and Freddie a 179 percent increase.

Favorable Financing

Both the FHA and Fannie Mae have favorable financing for homebuyers and investors.

FHA financing is available on the HUD properties, including programs that benefit borrowers with less- than-ideal credit and require only a 3.5 percent down payment.  In addition, buyers may be able to take advantage of the FHA 203(k) rehab loan program, which allows an owner-occupant borrower to get one loan that covers both the acquisition and rehabilitation of a foreclosed property that is need of repair.

Fannie Mae offers special financing for both buyers and investors for many properties it lists for sale.  The special financing includes down payments as low as 3 percent, no mortgage insurance and no appraisal requirements.

And Fannie Mae and FHA have programs in place to encourage buyers and renters using a local Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), a federally funded initiative that provides grants to state and local governments, as well as non-profit developers, to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosure properties and offer down payment and closing cost assistance to low- to middle-income homebuyers.

Fannie Mae waives the 5 percent earnest money deposit requirement for individual homebuyers using public funds to purchase a Fannie-Mae owned property. Deposits can be as low as $500. In addition, buyers using NSP programs have 15 extra days for closing and the ability to renegotiate their offer after obtaining an NSP-required appraisal.

**More Articles could be found in our "News and Opinion" section at RealtyTrac.com & also be sure to check out our channel on YouTube, where you'll find many more videos, including "How-To's" & Interviews and Specials:

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Origin of Halloween Costumes

Remember as kids having had a great time donning Halloween costumes we either have made or our parents have bought or rented for us? We got together with the rest of the neighborhood kids and went door to door screaming “trick-or-treat!” like there was no tomorrow, leaving our voices hoarse the next day. Well, we have basically experienced it and now we let our kids practice it, but do we really know the origin of wearing Halloween costumes in the first place? Some of us may already know, but for those who don’t, here’s the story.

The origin of the celebration can be traced back to ancient Celts and the feast called Samhain. This was a festival held during the end of the harvest season and at the start of the Celtic New Year.

According to Celtic beliefs, this was the time of year when the spirits of the dead would go to the surface world and try to posses the bodies of the living for the coming year. To prevent there bodies from being possessed, Celts would light bonfires and dress up in all sorts of morbid costumes to try to discourage the spirits of the dead from entering their bodies.

However, the practice of donning costumes in America can only be traced to as recent as the 1900s. It was only in the 1930s that Halloween costumes began to be mass produced. The usual costumes that people rent or make are those of different monsters including but not limited to vampires, ghosts, ghouls, demons, witches, and skeletons.

Even if it is the night that evil is supposed to surface, “good” costumes are also a common choice among children and adults alike. In fact, princess, fairy, and angel costumes often times make it to the top ten of top Halloween costumes.

Also popular are pop culture costumes which mimicked famous personalities, fictional characters, celebrities including Lady Gaga or even Snookie, and even politicians have an equal share in exposure during Halloween. Women, no thanks to commercial advertising, have also found this a good time to wear sexy outfits to show off their bodies and sexual prowess, but that is another story.

Other costumes that seem to have a following include clowns, nurses (including provocatively portrayed), cats, and that lowly Halloween symbol, the pumpkin. Superhero characters are also fast becoming popular costumes no thanks to the comics and movie fever that have hit the silver screen in recent years. The demand for new and modern costumes have made costume makers busy and costume rentals fully booked.

The fact that Halloween costumes have become so diverse has caused the modern tradition to overshadow the earlier tradition that makes wearing costumes during Halloween different from other dressing up for the originating Celtic feast. That is where the concept of dressing up during Halloween has come to mimic the supernatural, the ghoulish being, or basically the scary stuff.

Nevertheless, who are we to keep traditions from adapting to the modern times? Things will always evolve. That’s just how things naturally work. We can’t simply insist on wearing only scary stuff during Halloween as creativity will play a role in this aspect and people will always crave new things.

So not withstanding the darker origins of wearing Halloween costumes, we and our children and their children will continue to celebrate this day for as long as there are goodies to share and creativity to spare.

With that what would you like to be for Halloween? Adults as well as children can wear costumes for this special day, and if you don’t have the creativity to make a costume, you can still be creative as far a dressing up.

Star Costumes has a variety of costumes available to don the character you or you child would like to be. Check them out here to see what you can be.