Posted by: Catherine | June 27, 2011

Short Sales in Contra Costa, then and now . . .

Yes, Short Sales will be here to stay for quite some time.  Almost 5 years ago, I started my first short sale for a friend who had a horrible family tragedy.  They had just bought their first home together, and she just couldn’t fathom all that they worked for was going to foreclose.  But, unfortunately, they bought high – you know, the multiple offers, 10% over list price high – and got a “pick a payment” type loan which would enable them to pay less on months their self employment income was less.  But in the end, without the main income earner anymore, the house foreclosed.  Back then, the banks didn’t even have a system in place for a short sale.

Back then, the house foreclosed for a couple of reasons.  One is attorneys were scared to death of short sales in that market.  I was warned that anything a client told me was not protected by attorney client privilege.  I was told that many “liar loans” were taken out by well meaning people, who just did as their loan broker said and signed off on fraudulent loan applications and documents based on income that didn’t exist.  That wasn’t the case in my friend’s situation, but it was still a concern at that time in the market.

Fast forward to the flood of short sales that started coming across my desk.  Imagine if you did “fib” on your loan application, on your income, and you signed off on documents you knew showed you made more income than you really did?  Back then, the 2 years of tax returns, and all the bank statements and pay stubs requested by the banks quite frankly may have been handing a lender evidence of fraud on a silver platter.  Attorneys still, were unsure of how to handle these deals, except to say FORECLOSE so one didn’t have to give the lender evidence of any fraud.

Now, of course, fraud was not all that was going on.  Some moved to California after being relocated for their jobs, and now were being relocated again, but this time, being completely underwater on their mortgage.  Luckily, for some , some corporations (the big ones) would provide loss of value incentives and pay the difference on the mortgages to avoid them being short.

Some did everything right, but fell into the trap of the attractiveness of the short term adjustable ARMs, minimum payment loans, neg am loans, pick a payment loans… they were the “designer loans” after all and often the people selling them knew little.  The perfect storm….
So where are we today?  Today, in short sales, we see hard working people, who have done everything right.  People who had money down, people who did fully stated, fully documented loans, people who were so happy to finally experience home ownership.  Things change, life changes, jobs are lost, marriages dissolve, families have emergencies, loans adjust, jobs move, families grow, income goes down – any number of things are impacting families today.

Short sales are easier.  Not saying shorter or any more fun.  But most banks have a process, many are online with Equator (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Nationstar, ASC, BSI Financial Services) which enable us to manage the short sale transaction online.  The government has gotten involved with the introduction of HAMP and HAFA designed to streamline loan modifications and short sales – admittedly though, neither works as well as it should . . . There have been laws passed to protect home sellers.  In California, most notably, SB931, protects borrowers from further recourse after a short sale.  Nationally, the Federal Mortgage Debt Forgiveness program went into effect in 2007 and may protect some borrowers/sellers from tax hits.  The State of California has followed suit for some borrowers.

Some banks are even resorting to MONEY incentives to borrowers to short sale vs a walk away foreclosure.  Chase for instance has been offering “some” borrowers upwards of $30,000 for a successfully closed short sale.  HAFA short sales offers a $3,000 relocation incentive and even FHA / HUD loans offer monetary incentives one can use for relocation or toward the pay off of secondary liens.

Should you do a short sale?  Maybe.  You must always talk with an attorney or CPA about your individual circumstances. Especially if you are looking to short sale an investment property (yes, I’ve done dozens for investors), or have a recourse second loan (home equity line, refinanced second, etc).   Some considerations, some clients are looking at in the question of short sale, or not are:

  1. Can they afford to hang on and pay on time?
  2. If they can afford to stay, what about the future, how long will they stay before they can sell with equity? or break even?
  3. Knowing some of the federal and state protections are temporary, does it make sense to do a short sale now?
  4. Is it ok to short sale when there isn’t a financial hardship?  (Answer: it depends…)
  5. Will they owe taxes on the loss?
  6. Will they be exposed to recourse with a second lender?
  7. Is it better to walk away and foreclose, or short sale?  (Answer: there are pros and cons to both)
  8. What will the emotional toll be of either option?  (many feel embarrassed)
  9. In a short sale, who pays commission?  What about repair work? What are there obligations (I explain all that)
  10. What is their liability in a foreclosure?

There are short sales in every single area of Contra Costa now.  No town, no city is immune.  Of course some cities like Concord, San Ramon, Martinez, Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, etc. have MANY short sales.  Whereas Walnut Creek, Clayton, Pleasant Hill have maybe slightly fewer.   Still fewer are towns like Danville, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda, etc.  Hit hard were new construction areas, first time buyer areas.

So, if you are contemplating these questions.  If you need an experienced short sale agent to work with you to decide the best route, please call me for a free, confidential consultation.  If you want to save your home, investigate a loan modification or a deed in lieu, I can get you information and resources for those options too.  Need an attorney or CPA referral, I’m happy to provide those.

You can reach me:

Catherine Myers
DRE 01337828
Windermere Bay Area Properties
Walnut Creek, CA


Contra Costa homes for sale, search homes for sale, short sales

Keep checking back to this short sale blog as I focus exclusively on day to day issues of short sales in our Contra Costa areas.  I have hundreds of satisfied clients, and dozens and dozens of successful short sales.

Remember the following important disclaimer:

I do NOT charge any fee if you decide at any point not to proceed with the short sale, but as noted, you may have a liability to a buyer if you cancel too late in the transaction.  You can always cancel an agreement with me with no penalty or fee.  Neither Windermere Bay Area Properties, nor Catherine Myers, broker associate, are associated with the government or any lender.  See the full MARS disclosure here.

So you were dismayed to find the trustee sale letter taped to your front door… maybe you’ve been trying to work with your lender on a loan modification, maybe you’re in the middle of a short sale – or maybe, you’ve done nothing hoping it will all just go away.  We are starting to see these misleading letters all over Contra Costa.  I’ve had clients in Concord, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg receive them recently.

But alas, here comes some HELP! A nifty, official looking letter comes in the mail telling you your trustee/foreclosure sale is coming up next week and eviction will start right away if you don’t call them.  That they are the trustee verification service company and they can validate your sale with the trustee company and in fact, challenge the trustee with lots of mumbo jumbo so they will have to stall the sale.  All this and you can pay them around 900-1,000 a month for the service to stop your foreclosure sale.

What they don’t tell you is that in California, and in standard practice that we’re seeing, the bank doesn’t just show up on your door on the day of sale and evict you onto the streets.  It doesn’t happen that way.  Typically, once the dust settles after the sale, an agent or property preservation company will approach you and try to work with you for a planned and organized move.  The bank doesn’t want you to trash the property, strip the fixtures or force court assisted eviction proceedings.  They want to help you move… they will often offer you “cash for keys” which means you leave the home on the date you say you will, and in good condition, and they will pay you cash…. typically up to $5,000.  (Keep in mind, they can start eviction proceedings right away for an owner of a defaulted/foreclosed property, but it is a complicated and expensive court proceeding for a bank to take on, this is why they’d rather find an amicable solution.)  Remember, if you are the owner of a rental property, your tenants may be eligible for this cash for keys too, and in fact, tenants have MORE rights in a foreclosure than owners often do… think about it… the law assumes that you as an owner, KNEW about the foreclosure, whereas sometimes tenants are kept in the dark until mere days before a foreclosure.  Here is some information about tenant rights in foreclosure:

If you are in the middle of a short sale, or loan modification and you still get a trustee sale notice telling you your foreclosure sale date is set at the court house steps, call your LENDER immediately.  Often, during either a short sale or loan mod, the foreclosure process continues…. very often their foreclosure department is NOT communicating with their loss mitigation or loan modification units – so often it only takes a phone call to stop the sale.   If you are in the middle of a short sale, your agent should be keeping tabs on the sale dates, notice dates and YOU should be telling the agent the minute you get a certified letter or a notice taped to your door.

But be very careful.  While these companies may be adhering to the “letter of the law” by not charging advanced fees, and having all the proper disclosures – they are still a company preying on public notices, and preying on those in peril.  They go after those who are about to lose their homes, and they DO try to scare you by insinuating an eviction is coming.

When in doubt, you can always call the State of California Attorney General office – I did recently when one of my clients received one of these misleading letters.  They have a website set up for loan and foreclosure fraud: .

You do not have to pay anyone to help you stop your foreclosure, you can do this yourself by cooperating with your lender, communicating with your lender and when necessary enlisting the services of a professional realtor to sell your home if a short sale is your goal.  ALWAYS seek the counsel of an attorney and CPA before proceeding with any loan modification, short sale or other “foreclosure rescue” solution.  Remember, a real estate broker (like me) is not affiliated with the government, and not affiliated with your lender.  If you choose to do business with me, or any realtor/brokerage, you can cancel the agreement at any time and not owe any money.  You should NEVER, EVER be charged money up front for any service.
Here are some tips to stay safe from the California State Attorney General:

5 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

  1. Don’t pay up-front fees. Foreclosure consultants are prohibited by law from collecting money before services are performed.
  2. Don’t ignore letters from your lender or loan servicer. Responding to those letters is your best bet for saving your house.
  3. Don’t transfer title or sell your house to a “foreclosure rescuer.” Beware! This is a scam to convince homeowners they can stay in the home as renters and buy their home back later. It might also be part of a fraudulent bankruptcy filing. Either way, a scammer can then evict the victim and take the home.
  4. Don’t pay your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender or loan servicer. Mortgage consultants often keep the money for themselves.
  5. Never sign any documents without reading them first. Many homeowners think that they are signing documents for a loan modification or for a new loan to pay off the mortgage they are behind on. Later, they discover that they actually transferred ownership of their home to someone who is now trying to evict them.

Share it here!

The California Association of Realtors has launched a new site “California Short Sales” and they want real estate agents to submit  short sale horror stories (and the good stories too).  Boy have I got a few – of both!  Honestly, most of my short sales do close.  The processing headaches when dealing with the major lenders though, seem to be ongoing.  Just when you think “you’ve got it,” the bank goes and “improves” their system, “enhances” the process or changes platforms, employees, etc.  The one thing I’ve learned about short sales is that things never stay “status quo.”  Even when things are going well, the banks seem to find a way to mess with the system that was working in order to “fix” something we all didn’t know was broken!

So, send this to your agents, submit your stories – good and bad – and perhaps CAR can help impact change in the industry.

Check it out and submit your stories:

We Want to Hear Your Short Sale Stories!

With fewer than three of five short sales closing in California, C.A.R. is well aware of the difficulties REALTORS® and their clients face when navigating lenders’ and servicers’ short-sale procedures.

The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® wants to hear about consumers’ experiences during short sale transactions – good and bad. Therefore, we are asking REALTORS® to collect their clients’ stories and submit them to C.A.R.

We want to know more about what is happening in the field, and how the short sale process is being viewed by consumers- drama and frustrations welcome.  If you and your client want your story heard, sound off – we are here to listen.

Please send your clients’ stories to and include your clients’ names and locations.  You must ask your clients for permission to share their story prior to submission.  Anonymous entries will not be accepted. “

If you need to get information about doing a short sale in Contra Costa, including Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Clayton, Danville, San Ramon, Lafayette, Orinda, Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood – and surrounding towns – call me.  I am your short sale specialist, a Bay Area real estate broker dedicated to helping you in a short sale situation.  If you’re delinquent on your mortgage, or think you might be, call me – I’ll help you identify resources to either save your home if possible, or walk you down the short sale path as needed. I have references to attorneys and tax professionals.  I am not associated with any lender, but I’ve worked with most all the major national lenders and many of the local ones too.

Call me,

Catherine Myers

Contra Costa Short Sales, Walnut Creek Real Estate
Windermere Bay Area Properties
DRE 01337828


Contra Costa Real Estate, homes for sale, short sales

New resource for consumers looking for short sale and foreclosure information.

Check it out:

Posted by: Catherine | March 23, 2011

Save your home from foreclosure, help from California

I wrote a couple of months ago about a new website and wanted to just revisit this and be sure the word is still out there that for some, there is help to save your homes.

I’ve received calls from two homeowners this week looking to short sell their homes, but it’s unfortunate as both desperately have tried everything to save them.  They have jobs, they’ve applied for loan modifications, they’ve attended seminars and consulted with non profit HUD counselors.  For some, without a meaningful principle reduction, a loan modification is just delaying the ultimate reality that it will be years before they can ever get out from under being “short” and the reality that if they have to short sell in 3, 5 or even 10 years, they may not have the protections currently offered to short selling borrowers now i.e. Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, income tax/cancelled debt income tax.

No one knows the future, but in some areas where prices have dropped 50% or more from their height, just when can people think about being able to even break even?  It’s mind boggling.

So here are 4 programs available through the “Keep Your Home California” program website:

Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMA) – Intended to assist homeowners who have experienced involuntary job loss. UMA will provide temporary financial assistance in the form of a mortgage payment subsidy of varying size and term to unemployed homeowners who wish to remain in their homes but are in imminent danger of foreclosure due to short-term financial problems. These funds can provide up to six months of benefits with a monthly benefit of up to $3,000 or 100% of the existing total monthly mortgage, whichever is less.

Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program (MRAP) – Intended to assist homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to a temporary change in a household circumstance. MRAP will provide limited financial assistance in the form of funds to reinstate mortgage loans that are in arrears in order to prevent potential foreclosures. These funds can provide benefits of up to $15,000 per household.

Principal Reduction Program (PRP) – Intended to assist homeowners at risk of default because of an economic hardship coupled with a severe decline in the home’s value. PRP will provide capital to reduce outstanding principal balances of qualifying borrowers with negative equity. Principal balances will be reduced in an effort to prevent avoidable foreclosures and promote sustainable homeownership. The principal reduction program will most likely be a prelude to loan modification. (Servicers that contribute through matching funds increase the benefit for homeowners).

Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – Intended to promote community stabilization by providing homeowners with relocation assistance when it is determined that they can no longer afford their home. TAP will be used in conjunction with a servicer-approved short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure program in order to help homeowners transition into stable and affordable housing. Homeowners will be responsible to occupy and maintain the property until the home is sold or returned to the servicer as negotiated. Funds will be available on a one-time only basis.

Posted by: Catherine | February 23, 2011

Clayton and Concord Foreclosure Activity February 2011

Concord CA foreclosure activity

Concord, CA  foreclosure activity

It is really unbelievable how bad the foreclosure activity is getting.  If you thought things were getting better, I think you will find 2011 to be just as bad, or worse than the bottom we hit back in 2009. 

Currently there are almost 1100 homes in Concord heading toward foreclosure with either a Notice of Default or a Notice of Trustee Sale. Over 500 properties in Concord have the Trustee Sale notices which means a foreclosure auction date has been set.

Now, it is true that these trustee sale dates can be postponed (usually), and at times they’ve already been postponed several times but calling a realtor for help with a short sale after the notice has been taped to your door, may be too late.


Now in Clayton, comparatively it’s almost as bad. Over 80 homes aClayton CA foreclosure activityre on the foreclosure track, and 40+/- have their foreclosure auction (trustee sale) dates set.  This really shows we’re still a market very much in flux. 

We have to remember, that the temporary “decrease” in foreclosure filings the news raved about last month were mostly a result of the STOPS on foreclosures many banks instituted due to the scrutiny over their foreclosure practices.  California, was largely unaffected by the so called “robo signing” problems, as most of the issues were in “deficiency states.”  Did you know that in California, if a bank forecloses upon a home using the commonly seen “trustee sale” technique, they have exhausted all efforts against you?  Their only action was to take the property back.  In other states, they use a process akin to a “judicial foreclosure” and CAN both take your property AND sue you for the deficiency.

California has many protections for homeowners in default.  Later, I will provide more information about each of the protections available.  If a short sale is inevitable for you, now is the best time – with state protections on income tax and deficiency – now is the time you have help.  These laws (specifically) the tax laws may change in the coming years.

Are you a home buyer looking for homes for sale in Contra Costa?

Feel free to use my FREE home search tools.  Search all homes in the MLS, search with the criteria important to you. It’s easy, and free.

And, no obligation – feel free for the VIP home search and you’ll get full access, and can sign up for daily emails of homes that meet your needs.
Visit :  Walnut Creek, Concord, Clayton – Contra Costa Homes for Sale – I serve all Central, Eastern and Southern Contra Costa areas and can help you in some areas of Alameda too.  Visit Diablo Valley real estate at


Catherine Myers
Windermere Bay Area Properties
DRE 01337828
Real Estate search online free
Walnut Creek, CA

Posted by: Catherine | January 20, 2011

Bank of America Short Sales in Contra Costa, now streamlined!

Bank of America has announced new processing guidelines and ways to streamline the short sale process.  Ask me how you can get into this innovative new short sale program with Bank of America if you have a B of A loan in default, or at risk of default.

We can get you qualified for the right kind of short sale.  There are three options of short sale with B of A:

1.  Traditional short sale

2.  Cooperative short sale (NEW)

3.  HAFA short sale

In a webinar today, Bank of America’s short sale senior executive let us know that there may be ways to streamline the process and not even have to submit the mountains of financials that used to be required.  Bank of America is also acknowledging now (finally!) that there are different kinds of hardships.  Sometimes it’s not financial – have you been transferred for a job?  Family change?  They will look at it on a case by case basis.  Do you have a traditional hardship?  Yup.  How about doing a short sales with your payments current?  Yes – it’s possible.

In the new cooperative short sale with Bank of America, we can now contact B of A at the time we list the home for sale, and even before a buyer comes in.  Bank of America can then review the file, the homeowner, and order the valuation (appraisal) right up front.  Then when an offer is received we can (theoretically) have a short sale approval within a couple of weeks.

Remember, a HAFA short sale does go through a different process and requires different paperwork up front.  B of A is now reviewing all sellers for HAFA up front and will enter you into that program if you qualify.

Interestingly, this B of A executive said that they DO NOT like working with third parties.  She noted, third party negotiators can sometimes be a trigger for fraud and may add a layer of review.  They also say there is no advantage a third party would have.  Agents can do these short sales, and B of A is working to make the process as streamlined as possible.  They will most likely NOT approve any additional third party fees – so beware of WHO has to pay for that third party to negotiate the short sale.  By the way, are they negotiating for you?  Or are they just “processing?”  Just something you NEED to know.

Both HAFA and Cooperative short sales can result in a moving incentive; 3000.00 and 2500.00 respectfully.

B of A likes the homes to go from homeowner to homeowner – they don’t want REO’s, they don’t want to take the properties back as a foreclosure.  They want to work with homeowners to avoid foreclosure – and the #1 priority would be to try to keep the homeowner in their home if possible.  Contact B of A as soon as you think default is imminent.  Do not delay, there may be help for you.

So let’s be pro-active on your Bank of America short sale.  Do you have a B of A loan?  Need to look into a short sale?  Call me now, as I’ve said above, Bank of America is making it easier – we can contact the bank now and get the process started even before the house is on the market, even before we have an offer.  This is good news.

Remember homeowners, Bank of America has a terrific resource center to see if a short sale is right for them:

Bank of America Short Sale Resource Center

One point the B of A executive noted when asked about the difference between a short sale and foreclosure is that (beyond the credit and future impact) is that a short sale is something that is done cooperatively, with you retaining control of closing dates, moving, and the process in general.  A foreclosure is something that is done TO you, where you lose much control of when and how things happen.  So take control, if a short sale IS your option, call me now.

If you need to call Bank of America, call their Loss Mitigation (liquidations) phone number for customer service:  1-866-880-1232.  The reps at this number can help you get started down the right road.  Also remember, all short sale work, documentation and communication is done online through their Equator system.  So be sure to engage your realtor in the process early to be sure all the documentation is uploaded appropriately.

Catherine Myers
Broker Assoc
DRE Lic 01337828

Windermere Bay Area Properties
Walnut Creek, CA
Concord, CA
Clayton, CA
Pleasant Hill, CA
Martinez, CA

Serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties – helping homeowners seeking information about short sales, and the options right for them.  Attorney, and tax professional resources available.

Call a realtor in Walnut Creek – 925-683-2125 (Catherine Myers)

Posted by: Catherine | January 16, 2011

Facing foreclosure? Know your options with this new website

A new website has been launched this past week by Fannie Mae as a way to educate homeowners on their options if they are facing s foreclosure of their home, or hardship resulting in missed payments, delinquent payments or inability to sell and cover the loan.

The website features some interactivity including a video, tons of information, the Fannie Mae loan look up tool and printable contact logs and worksheets.

There are options explained to stay in your home (loan modification, refinancing, forbearance, etc) and options to leave your home (short sale, deed in lieu), plus information about scams to watch out for, resources and ways to take action.

Take a look at at this new resource.

In Contra Costa county I can help you resources to HUD approved counselors, mortgage professionals, attorneys or tax professionals. I am located in Walnut Creek and serve almost the entire central and eastern areas of Contra Costa including some areas of Alameda.

Walnut Creek, Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Pittsburg, Bay Point.

Your Contra Costa short sale option professional and resource center.

Posted by: Catherine | January 13, 2011

Foreclosure statistics for Contra Costa County

Check out the latest foreclosure statistics, courtesy of Foreclosure Radar.  The following page offers a ton of information related to foreclosure statistics, top foreclosure zip codes in Contra Costa, trends, filings, and all kinds of interesting information about what kinds of homes are foreclosing (i.e. number of bedrooms, price, loan balances and more).  There is also a chart showing the process of foreclosure in California.

Check it out.  If you wish to avoid foreclosure, please find a HUD counselor, you’ll find links to help to save your home here on this site, or contact me for resources.  Always consult a real estate/foreclosure and/or tax attorney or CPA before making the decision of foreclosure vs. short sale.  Each has their own benefits and risks to a borrower.  Know your rights, and know the possible consequences of any outcome.

Contra Costa County Foreclosures, bank owned, short sales

Also, don’t forget my post from yesterday regarding California’s new plan to help the unemployed bridge gap during a  period of involuntary unemployment.  Hopefully such a program can help many avoid foreclosure. If you check the CalHFA website you’ll see they have tabs across the top with program information, eligibility (including a questionnaire) and FAQ’s about the “Keep Your Home California” plans. or see my post yesterday here on this short sale site:  Mortgage Help for Unemployed Californians

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