Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Savvy Investors Profit from Rise in Foreclosure Rates

by Ryan Myers

Foreclosures experienced a startling rise this year--up 72 percent since the beginning of 2005, according to RealtyTrac. The increasing foreclosure rate is unveiling a different breed of real estate "flipper" looking to turn a profit on investment property purchased up to 20 percent below market value.

"In the midst of a slowing real estate market, rising interest rates and salaries that are not keeping pace with standard of living increases, we have seen a dramatic increase in foreclosures nationwide," said David Nilssen, CEO of Guidant Financial GroupTM. "This is not great news; however it does create opportunities for savvy investors looking to obtain properties at below market value." Nilssen cautioned that the foreclosure-investing process can be risky. "A great deal of research should be done to ensure that the investment is sound and clear of additional encumbrances that could affect the deal." Information about foreclosure properties is found in many places including foreclosure websites, legitimate third-party foreclosure listings, educational websites, private banks, auction houses, and local tax-collection agencies. The number of foreclosure listings increases every day, with the rise forecasted to continue. Foreclosures are non-traditional investment options that can provide profitable rewards when proper research is conducted.

More foreclosures emerge as interest rates climb and the 30 percent of loans that were originated with adjustable-rate mortgages significantly increase. Those faced with increasing mortgage payments are attempting to liquidate in a market where housing inventory is increasing and the buyer pool is shrinking. The softening market and the rise in interest rates and accompanying payments may spell disaster for many people who could be forced to sell at a loss out of necessity. Yet, as with most cases in investing, one individual's loss is another's gain. As homes become available at up to 20 percent below market value, large profits can be realized by savvy investors. As the real estate market shifts gears, a growing number of investors are learning that they can utilize their IRA or 401(k) funds to make these types of investments. Based on IRS law [IRC § 401 (M)] it is perfectly legal to use retirement dollars for these and many other types of investments within an IRA - all that is needed is someone to setup the structure to do so. Once the structure is established, investors can gain checkbook control of their retirement funds and begin making investments that yield higher and more secure returns than those typically yielded within the stock market.

For more information contact Guidant at 888.472.4455 or

About Guidant Financial Group

Guidant Financial Group, Inc. is a non-traditional financial services company focused on delivering unique solutions to the investment community. Using customized and conforming structures, Guidant helps investors convert their existing retirement plans to a self-directed IRA or self-directed 401(k), which gives them the freedom to make non-traditional investments in real estate, franchises, businesses, tax liens and much more.

A seasoned marketing professional, Ryan has spent the last 10 years developing strategies, best practices and setting strategies to make companies reach their markets more effectively. Having worked in both non-profit and for profit industries, Ryan consistently strives to meet the needs of consumers by setting higher standards for excellence, and positioning companies as the industry leaders.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dreaming of buying property abroad?

by Neil Cooper

Property in Spain, Ah yes, you remember the dream people had years ago about owning property in Spain, most discounted the notion, it was only for the wealthy, well time marches on, our attitudes change and most of us are a bit wealthier.

It is a fact that those who bought 20 years or even less ago are smiling and rightly so, overseas property values have soared, enabling many to purchase additional properties even in other countries, those who procrastinated must surely rue the day they hesitated and pulled back from the brink of opportunity and overseas property ownership.

Many people helped by rising property values in the UK have taken the plunge and invested in property in many parts of the world, and no wonder, with emerging countries showing property values rising almost daily. The eastern bloc countries show great promise as do more familiar countries such as, Morocco, Montenegro, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Bulgaria and the not so well known, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Belize etc.

The world these days seems a lot smaller than 20 or so years ago, what then seemed a dream is now everyday reality for many and more join daily. Statistics show that Britons purchase 1,000 homes a week overseas, with the old favourite Spain accounting for about 80% of sales, it's not hard to see why, with 300 days of sunshine a year, good infrastructure, excellent health service, lower cost of living, superb beaches, outstanding golf courses, restaurants to suit every taste and a quality of life style all contribute to make the country what it is.

But what of the other countries? Brazil offers some of the best beaches in the world and is only now being discovered by investors, Bulgaria offers excellent property for very little money, Latvia with price increases of 3-5% per month in some areas. Investors with say £50,000 could buy several opportunities and £100,000 could buy you an impressive portfolio of property investments worldwide.

Perhaps people disappointed with the UK pension fiasco in recent years should look no further than overseas property to provide financial independence in the future. Ah yes and back to the future, and dreams, are you going to just think about buying property abroad or will your dreams become a reality? Astrid Alauda said 'Dreams are free, so free your dreams' I couldn't have said it better.

For more information about property in Spain, overseas developments or buying property abroad please visit

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Mortgage Refinancing

by Dennis Estrada

Mortgage Refinancing refers to switch from one mortgage to another to obtain substantial benefits. We are surrounded with huge number of mortgage lenders. Each mortgage lender promotes special mortgage options on a regular basis. To be able to know which works best for you, you need to understand how Mortgage Refinancing works.

The main reason to switch a mortgage is to lower the monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage Lenders offer special low interest rate, when you switch or transfer your mortgage to them. The market also determines the interest rate. When the interest rate goes low, it may be a good chance to switch to a better mortgage.

The life of the mortgage is divided into a number of terms. For example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 year term are common. When the term of the mortgage matures, the borrower seeks Mortgage Refinancing. The borrower has no choice to refinance the mortgage in this situation.

The borrower can even switch from monthly mortgage payments to biweekly mortgage payments. There are more pay periods on bi weekly mortgage payment than monthly mortgage payment. The borrower pays off the principal twice faster with bi weekly mortgage payment. By the way, the principal is the total amount of mortgage.

The borrower can also switch from fixed mortgage rate to adjustable mortgage rate, or vice versa. Using the fixed mortgage rate, the borrower enjoys the stability of the same mortgage payment on each pay period. For example, the interest rate is low more than usual. To take advantage, the borrower refinances the mortgage with a low interest rate, and locks the mortgage with long mortgage term. The borrower pays less mortgage payment even though the interest rate goes up over the life of mortgage term.

Using the adjustable mortgage rate, the borrower pays a lower than prime interest rate. However, the interest rate goes up or down. The borrower experiences negative amortization when the mortgage payment is not enough to pay off the interest. At this point, the borrower loses equity. To combat negative amortization, the borrower pays higher mortgage payment on the rise of the interest rate.

To reduce the principal and increase the equity, the borrower can elect to pay additional on top of the current mortgage payment. So, the principal gets paid even sooner. At the same time, the borrower pays off the mortgage earlier.

The borrower pays the application fee, title search fee, and appraisal fee on mortgage refinancing. The application fee is the cost of processing the mortgage application. And, the title search fee makes sure that mortgage applicant is really the owner of the property. Finally, the appraisal fee tells the fair market value of the property.

Mortgage Lenders give the borrower many mortgage options. With the proper use of mortgage options, the mortgage options reduce the interest over time, increase the equity, and decrease the mortgage payment. Always, be on the lookout for a better mortgage. There may be a better mortgage that you can take advantage.

Dennis Estrada is a webmaster of mortgage calculators and mortgage dictionary website that gives access to many resources, and calculators for mortgage.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

A Step by Step Guide to Buying Land in Mexico

by Christine Harrell

If you're considering getting away from the madness of the 9 to 5 and buying land in Mexico for a taste of the good life, you're not alone. Thousands of Americans have made Mexico their home and are now enjoying the relaxed pace of the "manana" lifestyle. Not only is the climate ideal, the price of real estate is only a fraction of comparable real estate in the United States. As an added bonus, buying land in Mexico and particularly the area of the Caribbean Costa Maya along the Caribbean Sea is considered by investors to be one of the hottest real estate investment opportunities in the world today.

Though living in Mexico seems fantastic in theory, what may seem challenging are the steps between dreaming about buying land in Mexico and actually holding the title in your hand. However, buying land in Mexico is actually fairly simple and the journey toward making it your own can be as exciting as spending the first night in your new tropical beachside casa. This article will take you step by step through the process of buying land in Mexico so that you can plan your move to the lifestyle you desire.

Apply for a passport: As soon as you begin entertaining the idea of buying land in Mexico, apply for a passport. In the past, a passport wasn't required for entering many parts of Mexico but today you'll want to make sure you have one to prevent being turned back when it's time to take a scouting trip. Whether or not you end up buying land in Mexico, you'll have a reason to take a great vacation.

Identify your general areas of interest: Mexico has a wide variety of beautiful landscapes and ambiances. You'll need to decide if the right place for you is a quiet slice of Caribbean beachfront like in the Costa Maya, a condo in the midst of a tourist hotspot like Cancun, an ancient yet modern city like Merida, or a place were there are no ex-pats for miles around where you can truly immerse yourself in the Mexican culture.

Choose a real estate agent: In the US you might browse through property listings online, find one you love, and then contact the real estate agent representing the property. However, when buying land in Mexico it's important to find a reputable real estate agent before you fall in love with a property. There is no such thing as a real estate license in Mexico, meaning that anyone, regardless of their intent or their knowledge of real estate, can conduct real estate transactions. The first step to buying land in Mexico is to identify a real estate agency with a solid reputation and a lot of experience selling real estate to non-Mexican nationals.

Visit the area: Though you may be tempted to purchase a property site-unseen, it's best to go and visit the property and scope out the surrounding area before buying land in Mexico. If you're buying land in Mexico in a remote area, make sure that the area is zoned for housing and that there are solutions for water, power, and phone. Ideally, you should spend at least a week or more in the area to get an idea of what life will be like while you're staying in your new vacation home.

Hire an attorney: Once you decide on a property, there are a number of paper work items that need to be handled. A good real estate agent will work with you to complete each of these steps. The most important of these steps is securing the title to the home. Even if the real estate agency has its own lawyer, it doesn't hurt to have a second review the paperwork. If you're buying land within 50 miles of the coast or 100 miles of a national border line, you'll need to set up either a Fideicomiso or a Mexican corporation in which to own the property. You'll also need the lawyer to double and triple check that the title is clear and that the area is zoned properly. Even if you're an expert on Mexican law and buying land in Mexico, it's important to have a lawyer from Mexico scrutinize the documents carefully.

Obtain a Visa: If you'll be living in Mexico for 6 months or more at a time or will be bringing a foreign plated car, you'll need to apply for an FM3 visa. These visas are very easy to obtain and will grant you non-immigrant status in Mexico. Don't confuse the FM3 Visa with the FM2 Visa. The FM3 Visa allows you to keep a foreign plated car in the Mexico indefinitely while the FM2 requires that you sell the car out of the country after 5 years. Also, with the FM3 you can come and go as you please unlike the FM2 where you can only leave Mexico for a total of 18 months during a 5 year period.

The Mexican government welcomes foreigners buying land in Mexico and has made the process fairly simple and straightforward to encourage foreign investment. Mexico is growing rapidly and property values are climbing sharply. For now anyway, buying land in Mexico is still unusually affordable and thus a smart choice for an investment opportunity as well as a relaxing vacation home.

Author is a writer for Caribbean Trust Real Estate who specialize in offering available land in Mexico. For more information you can visit

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

In A Rush To Buy? Don't Skip The Home Inspection

by The House Team of Mortgage Intelligence

What a ride! We've had one of the longest, hottest housing markets in memory - with keen competition for homes in all price brackets. Everyone has a story about a home that has sold for considerably more than the original asking price. It's a seller's market. And anxious buyers - worried about losing a bidding war on a property that seems perfect - may feel pressured to make an unconditional offer - which often means skipping the professional house inspection.

Traditionally, home inspection was one of the common, accepted "conditions" on any offer. Home buyers had a specified period of time to conduct a home inspection, and the deal was dependent on a satisfactory outcome. But in a seller's market like the one we're experiencing, many vendors have the luxury of insisting on unconditional offers. Those who want to pause long enough for a house inspection can be left behind. But a professional house inspection is an important step in the purchase process. Serious buyers will sometimes hire a "pre-offer inspection" to check the condition of a home.

Armed with that knowledge, the buyer may have the confidence to make an informed, Unconditional offer. Most house inspectors will encourage you to accompany them on their visual inspection of the home. Do it! It will be the most valuable house tour you'll ever take.

Every inspection, of course, should also include a written report. In general, inspections are visual and look at the house both inside and out: a great reason why the inspection should take place in daylight. Outdoors, expect a close examination of exterior features like roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts,decks, walls, and foundations - including grading and drainage away from the house. Inside, the inspector will be looking at all the house systems, including electrical, heating and cooling systems, ventilation and plumbing.

The inspection should also include a close examination of structural features, floors, ceiling and wall finishes, and the condition of windows and doors. If the home has a swimming pool, a septic system, or significant landscaping features, you may want to either look for an inspector with specific expertise, or bring in an additional specialist. Also, if you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, look for a house inspector who is certified by WETT (Wood Energy Technology Training).

A professional house inspector will be formally trained, experienced and impartial: that is, he or she will not have a stake in the outcome of the inspection. For example, under their professional code of ethics, home inspectors are not allowed to be associated with any other construction or house related trade. Many inspectors, of course, have valuable backgrounds in civil engineering, the construction trades, or even specialized areas like heating systems.

How do you find a good house inspector? Referrals are a great way to begin. Or, you can look up an accredited member of the new Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors at The initials "RHI" denote the highest accreditation of the Association.

When the inspection goes well - as they generally do - you get some important information about your home, and you can feel assured that you're moving into a home that's in good condition. In the worst cases, buyers may want to re-negotiate or back out of the deal based on the inspection's findings. Follow your instincts; if you're worried about the condition of the roof, for example, be wary about making an unconditional offer without a prior house inspection.

Though prices vary, a typical house inspection will set you back about $300 - $500 and three hours. If that sounds like a lot, remember that your home may be the most expensive and most important purchase you will ever make. And there's no money-back guarantee.

The House Team is commited to providing quality information to help people make informed decisions about their mortgage financing needs.

The source for your Ontario Mortgage

Looking for a free mortgage calculator? Click Here Mortgage Calculator Ontario

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Did Your Real Estate Agent and Mortgage Company Dupe You Into Committing Loan Fraud?

by Rob K. Blake

Have you ever wondered if your agent and loan officer are doing something that could get you into trouble?

You should!

Buying a house is a complicated process and many times your lack of insider knowledge can get you in hot water.

Shouldn't the agent and loan officer be putting your best interest first?

Of Course!.....but unfortunately, it does not work out that way. The deal/transaction gets put first.....the part where the agent and loan officer both get paid. Once the agent and loan officer have started working on a transaction, they don't want anything to get in the way of the commission when it closes. It may be in your best interest to get out of the contract and not buy that home but the agents and loan officers are lazy and don't want to do the right thing. They want to do the easy thing. In this case, the easy thing is fraudulent and unethical.

I know while you are out looking at houses you have a million things to think about. In my experience, the inspection is something that can really be confusing if you don't know how to handle it. More importantly, you will be committing loan fraud without the proper counsel.

Usually, after you write a contract on a home and it has been accepted, you as the buyer have a home inspection done. The inspection is different than the appraisal. The appraisal is done to establish the value of the home. Appraisers will inspect the home also. The appraiser will measure rooms to verify square footage and note the condition of the home while they are in there. If they find any major problems that affect the soundness of the home, they will report that in the appraisal. The appraisal is submitted with the other loan documents to the lender.

Even though the inspection is not a requirement for the loan, every buyer should get an inspection. You as the buyer need to know if the property is in satisfactory condition and therefore worth what you are going to pay for it. You also want to make sure the seller isn't hiding anything from you. Buying a house and then having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars fixing things the seller didn't want you to know about is not the dream of home ownership most people think of.

So, if the inspection report is not a part of the loan could you commit loan fraud?

If there are problems identified from the inspection the buyers can either decide they do not want the property in that condition or request the sellers fix the problems before closing. The agents must have the buyer and seller agree in writing on any repairs inside the contract. Unfortunately, the agents like to have what is called "side agreements". A side agreement is an agreement that is not part of the real estate contract. The contract should be agreed upon by all parties and should have all information true and correct. With a side agreement, there is information that is withheld from some of the people involved in the transaction. The lender who is loaning you the money to buy the home and the title company who is supposed to be the gatekeeper for all the documents to transfer title correctly are the one left out.

Let's say there was a problem with the furnace on the home you were under contract to buy. You tell your agent you want the furnace to be replaced because the inspection report says it is unsafe. Your agent already knows the seller does not have the money to fix the furnace until after they get the proceeds from selling the house. How does your agent know that? Agents talk to each other all the time without you knowing it. Most agents technically work for the seller. That means they share information with the seller's agent all the time. They work together to get the deal done and if it is not in your best interest, then so be it.

The seller does not have the money to make the repairs before the close. The agents will have the you and the seller sign a side agreement stating either:

1. the seller will write you a check after the close for the repairs or 2. the seller will hire a contractor for the repairs after the close

The problem with these side agreements is they always favor the seller and more importantly, they are loan fraud.

For example, the inspection states the furnace needs replacing. Your agent is supposed to present the seller's agent with a contract amendment stating the seller will have a licensed contractor install a new furnace before closing. The seller will either agree to that and sign the contract amendment so it becomes part of the contract or not agree to that and you now have a decision to make. Do you want to buy a house that it supposed to be in good working order at that price when you know now from the inspection it isn't?

But like we discussed earlier, the agents both know the seller does not have the money to pay for the furnace. The agents are looking at losing their commissions and the seller is looking at losing the proceeds from the sale. So, they have you sign a side agreement. The seller supposedly will give you a check after close for the furnace or have someone replace it after the close.

This happens all the time. The agents and loan officer involved in the transaction would sooner cut off their right arm then lose a commission because of a faulty furnace. Here is what could happen to you ,the buyer, when a side agreement goes wrong. 1. The seller never gives you any money for the furnace or they give you a check that bounces.

2. The furnace is installed after the close by the seller's choice of contractors. Of course they will want to get the cheapest contractor they can find because it isn't their house anymore. The furnace get installed incorrectly or during installation something else in your new home gets destroyed and you have to pay for that since it is your house now.

3. The lender finds out about the side agreement and now calls the note due and payable.

If running the risk of depending on the seller and the agents for money isn't bad enough, think of it from the lender's side. They are the ones lending the money for your new home. They have a right to know that the collateral is not what is represented in the contract. Even though the inspection is not a part of the mortgage process, the lender doesn't contract to lend on a house that needs expensive repairs. Not only did you overpay but the lender get cheated is called loan fraud.

Just because I mention the agents most of the time does not mean the loan officer is off the hook. They are supposed to protect the lender from any fraud and in the case of side agreements. What they are basically saying to the agents is, "I don't want to know about what you are doing just get it done so we all can get paid". The loan officers are just as guilty as the agents.

The Maine Creditor Update which is the newsletter for the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation has an article in it from its September 2004 issue.

It states, "Buyers and sellers of residential real estate will sometimes agree to "side deals" in which money changes hands to cover the cost of needed repairs or defects discovered on the property. However, if these adjustments are substantial enough to affect the value of the residences being used as security for loans to the buyers, and if the side deals are not reflected in the HUD-1 closing statement, then all parties to the transactions (including the settlement agents and the real estate agents) should carefully review their participation to determine whether legal or ethical principles are being violated.

In any FHA-insured loan, the buyer, seller and settlement agent each sign statements attesting to the accuracy of the figures being used. Knowledge of a substantial side agreement not reflected in the HUD-1 would almost certainly violate these representations. Maine law does not contain specific provisions prohibiting undocumented side agreements, such as the one enacted in Alabama which states that a real estate agent may lose his or her license for "misrepresenting or failing to disclose...the true terms of a sale of real estate" (Ala. Code, sec. 34-27-36(a)(21). However, parties to Maine transactions should not assume that the absence of a state law here means that such deals are permitted on mortgages headed for the secondary market, especially when the loans will be held or guaranteed by government or quasi-government entities."

If you are going to agree to anything you always do it in writing in the contract. That is what contract amendments are for. Real estate is all about the contract. You can't un-ring a bell. Even though the only thing the lender saw was the appraisal and it didn't uncover a faulty furnace, the problem is now out in the open and you have to deal with it. You are ultimately going to pay for the home and keeping a level head about right and wrong is important.

Do not let anyone talk you into signing a side agreement. You now know that it is not in your best interest and it is unethical and fraudulent.


1. Always get your inspection done early. Make it one of the first things you do after your contract has been accepted. The agents usually try to push this one until the end because they are already afraid something will be wrong and they figure the farther you are down the road, the more you will agree to things that are not in your best interest. Get it done as fast as you can. 2. Don't use the agent's inspection company or anyone they suggest. Find one on your own. If you now know that agents will use side agreements not in your best interest, then you also should know that they will use inspection companies that won't deliver a true picture of the problems with the home just get the deal done.

Good Luck in your House Hunting!

Rob K. Blake, author of the book Mortgage Secrets Exposed! and host of The Mortgage Insiders Show, has been teaching folks for the last 15 years all the tips and tactics to save $1,000s when shopping for a mortgage. For more home loan tips, Visit his website .