For years, first-time home buyers in Sacramento were getting the short end of the stick, and in many ways, they still are. That’s because sellers and listing agents tend to prefer the so-called stronger buyers, which would be the home buyers with cash or those obtaining conventional loans with substantial down payments of 20% or more. Me? I don’t really care as long as the buyer can close escrow, and therein lies some of the problem.
Can the buyer close escrow? I’ve had some CalHFA buyers flake out at the last minute, due to some sort of snafu or tiny change in their financial situation. These are buyers who might not have a down payment and need down payment assistance and, if they don’t have money for a down payment, they might not have any money for closing costs either. Is that a crime? No, Sacramento home buyers can still get 100% financed loans and sellers can agree to subsidize their closing costs.
But the rules to qualify are still stringent for Sacramento home buyers with marginal assets. Then there are problems that could arise if the lender calls for repairs. If the seller doesn’t want to make those repairs, it can fall to the buyer to complete them. If the buyer doesn’t have any money, that’s kind of a tough situation. It doesn’t mean the CalHFA buyer can’t buy a home, but it could be a long road, with many rejected offers before finding a seller who will cooperate.
VA buyers fare slightly better because they aren’t receiving secondary financing to fund a down payment, the twist is they are just not required to make a down payment. Some see VA buyers as better credit risks because the bar seems to be set higher. Again, though, there are sellers who are reluctant to sell to a VA buyer, but that’s generally due to being misinformed. They think it will cost more or some crazy notion. I love to be in escrow with VA buyers on my listings because I’ve never had any of them fall out, and they all close escrow.
Can’t say that about CalHFA Sacramento home buyers buyers. But that doesn’t mean I would ever advise a seller not to take an offer simply because the buyer was obtaining down payment assistance. Everybody deserves to achieve the American Dream.
We are fortunate in Sacramento to have a wealth of information at our fingertips by our sheer location as the state of California’s capital. There are also a lot of really excellent real estate agents in Sacramento whom this agent over the last 10 years has had the distinct pleasure of working with, as well as your usual run-of-the-mill whack jobs. We won’t talk about the latter because they don’t deserve chatter, except to acknowledge the occasional irritant will pop up in this business and it’s best to just step over them and get on with the business of buying and selling homes in Sacramento. Keep a positive attitude, that’s my motto!
One of the highlights of lending in Sacramento is the California Housing and Finance Agency, aka CalHFA. They assist first-time home buyers buy a home by securing a small second loan to the home. For a brief time last week CalHFA had pulled all funding and threw the homebuying market into a further panic. But then something happened and suddenly I received a notice that the funding was restored. Not that it will help buyers in most markets because those buyers are finding they are getting clobbered by the cash and conventional buyers.
There is another problem some homeowners in Sacramento are facing with CalHFA, though. The problem that arises is when a seller needs to do a short sale and discovers that CalHFA loan that they forget about. Those CalHFA loans need to be paid or a small portion needs to be paid in order for the short sale to be approved. With CalHFA being a government agency, it involves red tape and the agency is backlogged. It cannot possibly deal with the number of short sales it is trying to approve within a reasonable time frame.
You basically have two choices nowadays with a CalHFA short sale. You either wait the 90 or so days for CalHFA to respond to your request for a short sale — at which point the first lender might close the file on you — or you pay it off. Last winter, I closed a CalHFA short sale in Natomas under unusual circumstances.
I told the buyer it would be at least a 90-day wait for CalHFA. The second loan was pretty small, less than $10,000. The way prices are moving in Sacramento, 90 days could mean the home would sell for another $10,000. It might be smarter just to offer to pay off the second, providing the first lender will allow it, and close. That’s exactly what the buyer did. Paid off CalHFA. Makes you wonder if the delay for this processing is meant to induce payoffs, but I doubt CalHFA is that together. I don’t give a government agency that much intelligence.
But on another CalHFA short sale, we’ve been waiting since the first week in November for short sale approval from CalHFA. Since yesterday marked the 90-day point that is allowed before escalation, I asked CalHFA to escalate. The first is Bank of America, which said it will not extend past the end of February. Low and behold a miracle happened. I heard goldfinches singing in the yard. The sun came out from behind the clouds. My cats stopped puking. Was that the first robin of spring hopping about?
The negotiator at CalHFA picked up the file and asked for a few documents. Be still, my heart. I’ll get right on that. I like to take care of requests immediately. So do most of my short sale sellers. The seller emailed the documents the negotiator asked for, I put together the reports needed and sent her the package. Within an hour, the short sale was approved. In one day! CalHFA approved it, and we’re closing in 2 weeks. This is the fastest turnaround ever. And naysayers believe a positive attitude doesn’t pay off. Spittooey.