Recipe for a Successful Real Estate Investment

There are a few wants that home buyers perceive as needs when shopping around for a home. As you’re shopping for your next home, you may not have any idea how long you will live there as you may need to sell at some point. With that in mind, consider some practical features potential home buyers look for when buying their next home. That way yours will be positioned for quick sale if or when you decide to put it on the market in the future.

Basic Functions

When you bought your first home, things like central air, a newer roof and a fenced in yard may not have been tie-breakers or even something you thought were important. As you progressed to other homes, however, it probably became more evident that certain offerings in a home are basic to your family’s needs. Functions like air conditioning, a basement, a back yard/fenced yard are now often aspects that buyers shopping for their next home require. Other basics you’ll want included in your next home purchase are a newer roof and central heat and air system. Bypass a home with any system over 15 years old, unless it’s a bargain and you can afford to upgrade. Although ten years will do, five years or less is the ideal, which will help mitigate negotiations in the future sale of your home.

Stellar Storage

Don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but buyers like their storage space. That includes a double- or triple-car garage, walk-in master closets and additional storage areas – the more storage the better. If your next home doesn’t have an abundance of storage space, but fulfills the other needs of your family, build a large shed in the backyard. That may suffice for extra storage needed by the next buyers of your home; although, attics can also be transformed into living space and storage.

Green Living

If you’ll be building your next home, instead of buying an existing one, consider home builders that build green. Eco-friendly trends receive high marks from almost half of the nation’s consumers shopping for their next home. There are green products that can be used to build the structure of the home. Central air and heat units come in conservative models that limit emissions. Solar panels absorb energy and translate it into energy for use in the home. Energy efficiency is the order of the day, and the trend seems to be taking off.

Location, Location, Location

Sorry, someone had to say it. Although living next to a railroad tracks may not bother you, it is not the ideal for many of today’s home buyers. Does the home sit on a four-lane busy city street or back up against businesses? Does the neighborhood consist mostly of retirees, or are there predominantly younger families living there? Are there huge power lines or airports in the immediate area? These are a few of the questions you’ll want to ask when shopping for your next home. Consider safety, neighborhood amenities and close proximity to schools and neighborhood parks. A family often has different needs than seniors or a single person when it comes to services available in the immediate location of a home.

Ask your realtor questions about available services, the demographic of the neighborhood and neighborhood amenities. Find out from your realtor what the most sought-after features are in the real estate market in which you are shopping. Always consider resale when buying your next home, and diligently research the area. Do it effectively, and you’ll set the stage for a recipe for a successful real estate investment.

Ki maintains a website, which works as a clearinghouse of information on Austin Texas real estate. There, future homeowners can search available Austin homes. Ki has worked with Austin buyers for over three years. He also maintains a blog for people that want to keep up with the market and activity for Austin real estate.

Mortgage Rates Drop to All Time Low

Rates have been relatively low over the last month. This week, they are in the news by falling to a new all time historical low.

The 30 year rate fell from 4.75 to 4.69 this week. Two weeks ago the 30 year rate was sitting at 4.72. What’s interesting is that over the last month, when a lot of people have been talking about how rates are about to start rising, we are instead breaking records with mortgage rate lows. We mostly concentrate on the 30 year rate because it is the most widely used mortgage product. But in addition to the 30 year rate hitting an all time low the 3 other major mortgage products all reached new all time lows as well. The 15 year dropped from 4.20 to 4.13. The 5 and 1 year arms dropped from 3.89 to 3.84 (5 year arm) and 3.82 to 3.77 (1 year arm). Below are rates from the weeks from May 27, 2010 to Jun 24, 2010

Jun 24, 2010

30-fixed 4.69 15-fixed 4.13 5 ARM 3.84 1 ARM 3.77

Jun 17, 2010

30-fixed 4.75 15-fixed 4.20 5 ARM 3.89 1 ARM 3.82

Jun 10, 2010

30-fixed 4.72 15-fixed 4.17 5 ARM 3.92 1 ARM 3.91

Jun 03, 2010

30-fixed 4.79 15-fixed 4.20 5 ARM 3.94 1 ARM 3.95

May 13, 2010

30-fixed 4.93 15-fixed 4.30 5 ARM 3.95 1 ARM 4.02

So in addition to looking at mortgage rates it’s also helpful to look at mortgage payments. We took today’s rates and translated them into a mortgage payment for a 200k loan. We also did the same things with rates from May 13th.

Jun 24

30-year $1036.07

15-year $1492.43

5-year ARM $936.47

1-year ARM $928.5

May 13

30-year $1065.1

15-year $1509.62

5-year ARM $949.07

1-year ARM $957.13

So although rates were already pretty low on May 13th today a payment on a 200k loan is about $30 less a month for a drop of a little less than 3 percent.

So what is going to happen over the next few months? Its certainly possible rates could fall a little more and we could break some new records with mortgage rates. I would be surprised if rates fell below 4.25 unless the economy went into a significant tailspin. On the other hand once the economy recovers rates should increase rapidly. And in inflation spirals out of control I could see rates jumping into the double digits.

Ki is a broker working in the Austin Texas real estate market. His site has information on mortgage trends from a mortgage rate widget to a free mortgage calculator. He also provides a search for Austin tx real estate.

Mortgage Rates Fall To .01 Points Above All Time Historic Low

The 30 year rate fell from 4.79 to 4.72 this week. This is the lowest point this year. The previous low was 4.78 reached two weeks ago. What is more interesting is that the all time low is 4.71 so just .01 points lower than current rates.

Looking at other rates the 15 year dropped from 4.20 to 4.17. The 5 and 1 year arms dropped from 3.94 to 3.92 (5 year arm) and 3.95 to 3.91 (1 year arm). These are all time lows since we have good tracking data for these mortgage products.

So would it make sense to look at some of these other mortgage products since they are at all time lows? Personally I would still avoid the 5 and 1 year arm. Since mortgage rates in general are so low it makes sense to lock in for as long as possible. Below are rates from the weeks from May 13, 2010 to Jun 10, 2010.

Jun 10, 2010
30-fixed 4.72 15-fixed 4.17 5 ARM 3.92 1 ARM 3.91

Jun 03, 2010
30-fixed 4.79 15-fixed 4.20 5 ARM 3.94 1 ARM 3.95

May 27, 2010
30-fixed 4.78 15-fixed 4.21 5 ARM 3.97 1 ARM 3.95

May 20, 2010
30-fixed 4.84 15-fixed 4.24 5 ARM 3.91 1 ARM 4.00

May 13, 2010
30-fixed 4.93 15-fixed 4.30 5 ARM 3.95 1 ARM 4.02

Nov 26, 2009
30-fixed 4.78 15-fixed 4.29 5 ARM 4.18 1 ARM 4.35

So rates are one thing but it’s also informative to calculate mortgage payments. We took today’s rates and calculated a mortgage payment on a 200k house. We also did the same thing with rates from May, 13 2010 and rates from November, 26 2009.

Jun 10
30-year $1039.68
15-year $1496.47
5-year ARM $945.62
1-year ARM $944.48

May 13
30-year $1065.1
15-year $1509.62
5-year ARM $949.07
1-year ARM $957.13

Nov 26
30-year $1046.91
15-year $1508.6
5-year ARM $975.7
1-year ARM $995.62

So compared to a month ago a mortgage payment is $25.42 less a month for a drop of 2.45 percent. While that is not a huge drop it is considering rates from last week were already pretty low.

So what is going to happen moving forward? As always it’s hard to tell. If the economy continues to have a rocky recovery I would expect that rates will stay at current levels and possibly break down to new all time lows in the next few months. If the economy starts to rebound we should see mortgage rates move higher perhaps much higher. Over the next 6 months while it’s hard to know which way mortgage rates will move if they move up they could move up substantially while if they drop they do not have much room to fall.

Ki works, and lives, in Austin, Texas. His website has information for future purchases of Austin Tx real estate. It also has mortgage rates widgets and free mortgage calculators. It also has a Austin Tx real estate blog with news and information.

Jobs in the Mortgage Industry

Foreclosures and short sales dominate the real estate market in many U.S. cities; although, the numbers seem to be evening out in certain areas. It takes manpower to process the increased workload for the mortgage industry and many companies are hiring. Not only does the lending industry need people to handle the new workload, there are various levels of employment required to run companies in the mortgage industry.

It is impressive how many different types of businesses are involved in the mortgage trade. Several related venues include banking and finance, mortgage and lending, credit unions, escrow companies and real estate agencies. Property appraisers, home inspectors and title companies are also involved in the mortgage industry. Survey and insurance companies play a part in the mortgage approval process.

Mortgage Process

If you want to logically figure out the different jobs that work in mortgage, it would be helpful to understand the mortgage process. In many circumstances, a mortgage begins when someone wants to buy a home. In a typical home buying situation, a buyer contacts a real estate agent to buy a home. The agent often will have the buyer become pre-approved for a home loan through a mortgage company, bank, credit union or some other lending institution prior to hunting for a home. After the pre-approval letter is received, the agent helps the buyer find a home.

When the buyer finds a home he wants to purchase, usually the next step is for the buyer to choose an escrow company that will secure the down payment until closing. Sometimes the title company is also the escrow company. The buyer is, then, responsible for selecting a title company to conduct closing on the home, a home insurance provider, home inspector and any other inspectors required by the lender. The chosen lender will initiate an appraisal and survey on the home, inspections will transpire and the buyer will eventually close on the home.

Job Requirements and Qualifications

As you can see from the process, there are a variety of groups that conduct work in the mortgage industry. Regardless of the area in which you choose to work, you need to find out what qualifications are necessary to apply. A certain level of education may be mandated or a specific certification. Real estate agents, brokers and professionals are almost always required to obtain a license to operate in a specific state. To obtain a state license, they must take and pass specific type classes and pay for a license and access to a multi-listing service, along with maintaining a certain amount and type of continuing education credits.

If you decide to work in a bank as a loan officer, you may have to start as a bank teller and work your way up. Title company managers may have a degree, some higher education or training in financial or legal matters. Assistants that work for title companies don’t always have to have specific education. It all depends on the requirements set forth by the title company. Home inspectors, surveyors and appraisers often have to have a license from the state in which they work, which may include taking specific trade classes and serving a certain number of years as an apprentice.

Determine the job(s) in which you are interested in the mortgage industry, and make inquiries at specific businesses for which you are interested in working. Ask the businesses what the requirements are for the positions you are interested in. Tailor your education and future experience based on the information you are provided, and you will be well on your way to obtaining a job in the mortgage industry.

Ki lives in the Austin area, where he enjoys biking the hill country. His website compiles information on available Austin Texas real estate. His site has a interactive search of the Austin MLS along with a blog with analysis of Austin real estate with frequentely updated information.

Community Reinvestment Act – Impact to Housing Loans

Many of those in the media feel that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is the culprit for the recent real estate market bust. Politicians have even echoed this sentiment from the Congressional podium. What is the Community Reinvestment Act, though, and did it actually contribute to or cause the U.S. housing market demise?

First, it is good to understand the origination of the Act, the planned purpose of the Act and its intended benefits. The CRA followed three other enacted laws that addressed housing discrimination and equal opportunities for housing for all peoples; however, the CRA took it a step further. Previously, banks that had a presence in low income neighborhoods and communities would not lend to their patrons making a low income due to strict lending standards.

The CRA changed all that and made it a requirement to make loans to low income individuals in the low income neighborhoods in which the banks had a presence. Community activists pushed the use of the CRA to banks and banks succumbed under the pressure. Lending standards were lowered and more loans were made to those with low- to medium-income levels. The subprime lending market was birthed.

Banks were being pressured by large groups of community activists to make more loans to the lower income borrowers but were unable, since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would not buy them. Eventually, lobbyists successfully pressured officials under the Clinton Administration to lower Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending standards to enable even more underprivileged and disadvantaged borrowers to obtain mortgages. Subprime lending grew to astronomical proportions.

By 2000, almost half of all major businesses had an investment portfolio that mirrored risky, subprime mortgages. Simultaneously, home values were climbing and continued to skyrocket until late 2006. Other factors were at play, though, that contributed to the real estate crisis. Corporations were laying off in large numbers. Borrowers were buying homes they couldn’t afford. Homeowners were refinancing to include the equity in their homes to pay for kids’ college, remodeling and vacations. Other borrowers were buying homes at inflated values that would later fall dramatically.

Additional activity that played a role in the mortgage crisis was the predatory lending that arrived on the loan landscape. Stated income loans, sometimes referred to as “liar loans,” became accepted in the home lending industry. All a borrower had to do was state his income and he received a home loan based on the stated income. No documentation was required to verify the applicant’s income; however, after the U.S. Treasury Department took over Fannie and Freddie in 2008, stated income loans were no longer allowable.

As a result of many factors, some that include corporate layoffs, underwater home loans and buyers who were in over their heads in their mortgages, foreclosure signs became the norm in many neighborhoods. They grew like wildfires that couldn’t be extinguished. Home values continue to decline in most states due to the number of foreclosures; although, some are leveling out.

Since Fannie and Freddie securities, which consisted mostly of subprime packages, were traded on the open stock market, the stock market took a huge blow when lenders had to initiate foreclosure proceedings against borrowers who were not paying their mortgages. Securities investors were losing money, big time.

What does all this have to do with the CRA? The initiators of the act had good intentions, to enable those who previously were restricted from obtaining loans to achieve the American dream. It appears that lower lending standards established in 1999; however, further exposed the nation’s overall economy and caused it to become vulnerable. This led to a major meltdown in U.S. economic condition.

Was the CRA to blame? Did it cause all these problems and result in the recent real estate crisis? According to many of its critics, it did. In fact, various CRA opponents say that it has led the nation into the greatest financial crisis since 1929, the start of the Great Depression. Proponents of the law vehemently disagree. They stand by the intent of the law, and insist that it has helped many who would never have owned a home to obtain a mortgage.

Ki’s works as a realtor in the Austin real estate market. His website provides future home buyers with a free searchable database of homes in the Austin MLS. Buyers can obtain comprehensive information on Austin real estate, along with graphs showing historical interest rates.

Bargain Markets for Homebuyers and Investors

Since 2007, foreclosures and short sales have littered the real estate market and drove down the price of property and home values. The upside to the down housing market is that homebuyers and investors can find sweet deals in some of the nation’s most sought after cities.

If cities like Milwaukee, Memphis, Baltimore and the Big D interest you, then you’ll find a honey of a home in any of these metro areas. Though the initial listing price may begin at what properties are currently valued, they are often reduced from 26 to 33 percent. The top ten U.S. cities with the listings discounted the most include the following:

* Milwaukee, WI – 33 percent
* Phoenix, AZ – 31 percent
* Mesa, AZ – 31 percent
* Memphis, TN – 31 percent
* Baltimore, MD – 30 percent
* Jacksonville, FL – 30 percent
* Dallas, TX – 29 percent
* Minneapolis, MN – 29 percent
* Tucson, AZ – 27 percent
* Columbus, OH – 26 percent

Falling in the first quarter by 4.3 percent, Milwaukee home values continue to lose ground, but the number of home listings is huge. In fact, Milwaukee has the most real estate listings of any city in the state. As of April 2010, the average home in Milwaukee was valued at $144,609, which is making buying real estate in this city much more affordable. Add to it a 31 percent reduction on the listing, and you could buy a home there for only $99,780.

Phoenix was on a top ten list in 2008 for being one of the cities hardest hit by the real estate bust. In the first quarter of 2009, property values were still going down, tumbling by almost 20 percent. Economists predict that the city has a looming shadow inventory getting ready to hit the market soon and will drive values down even further. Standard & Poor’s Case Schiller Study showed Mesa home values were on the ever-so-slight rise by last quarter 2009 and into first quarter of 2010. As of April, the average estimated value of Mesa homes is around $133,664.

According to the most recent Clear Capitol market report, the River City was noted with the most sales in the nation of foreclosed property by lenders in the first quarter of 2010. It resulted in an 18.1 percent drop in Memphis home values from year-end 2009. Baltimore and Jacksonville tie for having a 30 percent reduction in the listing price. The median listing prices are $250,000 and $189,900, respectively.

In earlier 2010, foreclosures were still climbing in Dallas; although, at a slower pace than in the recent past. By May, foreclosure filings dropped for the second straight month. That’s good news for Dallas real estate value and could indicate the beginning of a recovery. Minneapolis showed a 24.7 decrease in inventory compared to the same time in mid-April 2009. It looks like the housing market in the Twin City might be leveling out, since new listings are still on the decline. What that means for buyers is that home listing prices could soon be on the rise, so now would be the time to buy.

Median home values for Tucson continue to decline and currently sit at around $192,000. That’s almost a 4 percent drop since January 2010. Housing inventory is about the same as it was this time the previous year. Columbus appears to be leveling out somewhat in median home values staying steady at $159,900 since the beginning of year. That’s still a decline of 5.9 percent from the same time last year, but the inventory is decreasing, so these may be indicators that the market is beginning to level off. The dream of buying a quality, affordable home has become much more attainable. Falling home values, along with reductions in listing prices, lowers the cost to a more manageable price point.

Meanwhile, there are four other markets that did not experience a decline in home values in 2010 that were among those hardest hit nationwide by the housing bust. San Diego and Detroit both showed an increase, along with Los Angeles and San Diego. These cities, along with previously mentioned Phoenix, are now at the top of the list for cities recovering in the housing market.

Ki lives in Austin and helps buyers interested in Austin real estate. There is a lot of information on Austin homes on Ki’s website. His website also has detailed information on Austin real estate. It also provides a mortgage widget to breakdown monthly payments.

Mortgage Rates Near Record Lows

The 30 year rate fell from 4.84 to 4.78 this week. This is the 5th week in a row where rates have fallen. Rates are now flirting with the all time historic low of 4.71 reached in 2009. If it were not for 2 weeks in 2009 today’s rates would be seeing a lot more headlines than they are currently getting. Suffice it to say that rates are very very low right now.

The 15 year dropped from 4.24 to 4.21. The 5 year arm rose from 3.91 to 3.97 while the 1 year arm fell from 4.00 to 3.95. Below are rates from the weeks from Apr 29, 2010 to May 27, 2010

May 27, 2010
30-fixed 4.78 15-fixed 4.21 5 ARM 3.97 1 ARM 3.95

May 20, 2010
30-fixed 4.84 15-fixed 4.24 5 ARM 3.91 1 ARM 4.00

May 13, 2010
30-fixed 4.93 15-fixed 4.30 5 ARM 3.95 1 ARM 4.02

May 06, 2010
30-fixed 5.00 15-fixed 4.36 5 ARM 3.97 1 ARM 4.07

Apr 29, 2010
30-fixed 5.06 15-fixed 4.39 5 ARM 4.00 1 ARM 4.25

Nov 12, 2009
30-fixed 4.91 15-fixed 4.36 5 ARM 4.29 1 ARM 4.46

As we can see rates have steadily being falling through the month of May going from 5.06 to 4.78 since April 29, 2010. So while rates are one thing it’s also helpful to look at actual mortgage payments. We took today’s rates and used a mortgage calculator to translate them into a mortgage payment for a 200k loan. We also did the same thing with rates from May 13th and November 12th 2009.

May 27
30-year $1046.91
15-year $1500.51
5-year ARM $951.37
1-year ARM $949.07

May 13
30-year $1065.1
15-year $1509.62
5-year ARM $949.07
1-year ARM $957.13

Nov 12
30-year $1062.66
15-year $1515.71
5-year ARM $988.56
1-year ARM $1008.62

So in the last two weeks a mortgage payment has fallen 1.7 percent or $18.19 a month for a 200k loan.

So what do we expect for the rest of 2010? Rates can’t continue to fall forever. In fact I think it is highly unlikely rates will fall below 4.5 percent. So in the short term rates are somewhat unpredictable. If the economy improves rates should increase. If the economy encounters more set backs I would expect rates to fall slightly. Long term though I would expect rates to increase. The general consensus is that 6 months from now rates should be somewhat higher than what we are seeing today.

Ki caters to buyers interested in Austin Tx real estate. He writes about mortgage rates and his site has a free mortgage calculator and a mortgage rate widget.

Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Crackdown

Every aspect of the real estate industry has experienced fraud at one time or another. From homeowners, homebuyers and real estate professionals to lenders, appraisers and title companies, every step of the home buying process has been tainted by fraudulent activity. A greater abundance of it came to light more recently due to the housing market bust. Most once booming markets either diminished significantly or came to a screeching halt as foreclosures began to overshadow the home sales scene.

Subsequently, the flowing streams of wealth enjoyed by many during the housing bubble slowed to a trickle or dried up altogether. The lure of quick money gained through fraudulent activity enticed a number of those still reeling from the market’s blows, who felt compelled to maintain their previous standard of living. Not only has fraud increased in the mortgage process, but debt management companies under the guise of foreclosure rescue have come out of the woodwork to reap the revenues. Fed up by the cases filed in the State’s Attorney General (AG) offices, AGs are fighting back with the help of motivated law makers.

Florida is a prime example of legislation passed due to urging by the state’s attorney general. Some highlights of the Foreclosure Prevention Fraud Rescue Act of 2008 includes a requirement that documentation be provided to the homeowner explaining in detail what will transpire, the homeowner is provided a cooling off period, unfair terms and misrepresentation is prohibited and the homeowner doesn’t pay a dime until the services specified in the contract are fulfilled. All businesses operating in the state and businesses that service Florida residents are subject to the fraud prevention statute. More stipulations regulate anyone performing rescue transactions related to foreclosure.

Referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Foreclosure and Rescue Fraud Act of 2009, H.R. 1231, would stipulate similar law only at the federal level. It has yet to be released from the committee whose responsibility is to refine, revise and determine if it is worthy of debate before the House of Representatives. Similarly, the Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue and Loan Modification Services Fraud Prevention Act of 2009, H.R. 2666, expanded to cover loan modifications fraud of those facing foreclosure.

Delaware signed its Mortgage Rescue Fraud Protection Act into law on January 1, 2009. In June of 2009, Pennsylvania signed similar bills into law prohibiting unscrupulous foreclosure rescue tactics. Among other things, the laws require full disclosure to homeowners using services for foreclosure rescue and mandate no payment be made to companies providing services until such time that all services agreed-upon in the contract are fulfilled.

New Jersey’s foreclosure rescue bill was released from the Assembly Committee in March 2010. The Texas Attorney General partnered with a state representative for like legislation regarding foreclosure rescue scams in Texas. Illinois’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act was passed in January 2007 and was another initiative of a state’s attorney general.

Ki is a real estate broker helping clients interested in the Austin real estate market. There site provides a map based search of homes in the Austin MLS. It also has statistics and homes in the Austin real estate and Cedar Park real estate markets. In addition it provides statistics broken down by the different Austin MLS areas.

The Hard Facts About Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans have been around for quite a while, but just not so much in the forefront as are more traditional loans. There are a variety of uses for hard money loans, and they have evolved in the past several years as to how they are used and what is now required to obtain one. Although they have their advantages, hard money loans also have their limitations. Before applying for one, make sure that you cannot be approved for a more traditional loan. A hard money loan should be your last resort.

What is a Hard Money Loan?

When investors discuss money as it relates to lending, they use two terms to differentiate it – soft money and hard money. Soft money typically refers to a loan with flexible terms. Traditional and government home loans offer a variety of options for a real estate loan. A hard money loan, on the other hand, has rigid, very specific terms. It is loaned for a relatively short timeframe with a specific interest rate not necessarily determined by your credit score. Hard money is also called “private money,” because it often originates from individual investors who possess a lot of money to invest.

Some characteristics that set a hard money loan apart from a more traditional one are high interest rates, a brief approval timeframe and the loan is most often for a short period of time. Low loan to value ratios are also typical of hard money loans. Often no more than 60 percent is approved for the loan. High interest rates are the hallmark of hard money loans, up to 21 percent and higher if the property goes into default. Hard money loans are borrowed for very short periods of time, and can often be obtained within a few days, as opposed to weeks for a more traditional property loan.

Uses for a Hard Money Loan

Hard money loans are most often used for flipping a home, bridge loans and construction loans where the money would only be borrowed for a short amount of time, until the property is sold or refinanced. An investor may find a home that is in need of repair at a very good price. Obtaining a hard money loan may be a way for the borrower to buy the home, repair it and make a lot of money when the property is sold.

A hard money loan is usually not used to finance property over a period of years. Homeowners who have no credit history or experienced a default in homeownership often cannot obtain approval for a traditional loan with a lower interest rate. They will sometimes borrow hard money until their credit score raises enough to be approved to refinance using a traditional loan with a much lower interest rate.

How to Get a Hard Money Loan

If you’ve tried the traditional route to obtain a home loan and failed, you might want to try for a hard money loan. Obtaining approval for one is not as easy as it used to be in some cases. In the past, hard money lenders based the loan strictly on the value of the property. Now, however, many of them require borrowers to fill out credit applications and provide pay stubs and income tax statements. Before applying for a hard money loan, make sure you have access to any income statements the lender may require.

The best way to access a hard money lender is to contact local lending institutions and mortgage companies. Ask them for names of reputable hard money lenders. Most loan servicers are familiar with ones they’ve known over a period of years.

Ki is a realtor operating in the Austin Texas real estate market. He writes about mortgage issues and his site provides a mortgage calculator widget along with several mortgage rate widgets.

Lessons from Greece

Greece, one of the oldest countries on the planet, suffers from one of the oldest problems on the planet: debt. The Greek debt debacle is playing significant havoc on the world’s financial markets. As Carmen M. Reinhart, author of a book on 800 years of world debt crises said on The New York Times Economix blog recently, “Greece casts a long shadow on the European continent because 15 other countries share a common currency with it, the euro.”

What does the euro and Greece’s debt problems have to with the American economy? Far more than we would like, as was indicated by the meltdown in the world financial markets in the first week of May. The “Crash of 2:45” is what the May 6 market plummet is being called and it was a vivid reminder that the finances of the world are intricately connected.

The week following the market meltdowns, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are bailing out Greece to the tune of $1 trillion. According to the Associated Press, the huge rescue package was more generous than expected and spurred a rebound in the financial markets. But like America’s bank bailout two years, it has been met with as much skepticism as praise.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, believes Greece is headed for a deep recession. He believes that the European Union is basing the bailout on numbers that are more rosy than realistic. Not to mention, Greece is hardly the only European country in debt. According to Johnson, Greece owes Germany and France, but Portugal owes Spain. Spain owes Germany and France, and apparently no one wants to think about who or how much Italy owes. This explains why the word “contagion” was so ubiquitous in recent discussions on the European economy.

Whether the E.U. package will contain the debt crisis from spreading across Europe is something that only time can prove. It does, however, indicate Europe’s commitment to back the euro and stabilize the markets. Just the announcement of the rescue package caused the Dow Jones industrial to make its biggest comeback in a year.

The world certainly felt the repercussions of U.S. recession, so it’s no surprise that Americans should suffer some from Europe’s financial crisis. Perhaps this recent market scare was a healthy reminder to Americans that the economy is still fragile. For those with investments, believes this is a good time to review those investments with Europe’s likely long-term troubles in mind. If recent improvement in the economy was bringing back some bad personal spending habits, then Greece’s debt problems are a good reminder to stay out of debt.

Escapeso real estate helps people interested in investing in the Austin real estate market. Their site provides a search (without registration) of the Austin MLS. One can search for properties in the general Austin real estate market or drill down to search for West Lake Hills homes or other neighborhoods.