What to do after a disaster hits your home, mortgage


, , , , ,

We hope you won’t need it, but if you need a contractor or other help after the storm, please contact our team and we are happy to be of assistance –


how-prepare-hurricane-last-minute-4NEW YORK – Sept. 6, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and put countless families into a financial tailspin. If you’re affected by a natural disaster, what does it mean for your mortgage? Here are frequently asked questions and answers.

What should I do first?

Get in touch with the following entities:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can register with FEMA online, in person at a disaster recovery center or by calling 800-621-3362.
  • Your homeowners insurance company, plus your flood or earthquake insurance company, if either applies to your situation.
  • Your mortgage servicer. That’s the company that you send your monthly payments to; it might not be your original mortgage lender.

I can’t pay my mortgage. What are my options?

If the disaster makes it impossible to make your monthly house payments, ask your servicer for mortgage forbearance. A forbearance ‘allows you to stop making your payments for an agreed-upon time,’ says Lisa Tibbitts, director of public relations for Freddie Mac.

In a forbearance agreement, you might make partial payments or stop making payments for a specific time. Generally, a forbearance lasts up to six months and can be extended up to another six months. Interest still accrues during the time you aren’t making full monthly payments. But under a forbearance agreement, the lender won’t charge late fees or report you to credit bureaus.

The lender will want you to catch up on your missed payments after the forbearance period is over. That might involve paying extra every month for a few years, modifying the loan or reaching some other negotiated agreement.

To talk with a Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor before agreeing to forbearance, call 800-569-4287.

What aid is available?

Direct federal aid consists mostly of loans from the Small Business Administration. As odd as that may seem, the SBA is in charge of delivering disaster-related loans to individuals and families.

The SBA extends loans at favorable interest rates to replace or repair primary residences. You can borrow up to $200,000 to cover renovation or construction costs. Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, the SBA will lend you up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.

FEMA offers grants to fill in gaps between insurance payouts and SBA loans. The maximum grant is $33,300 per household for disasters that happen in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2017. Grants can be used for expenses such as basic home repairs that aren’t covered by insurance, temporary rent and disaster-caused medical and child care.

The Federal Housing Administration has a program that’s designed to help disaster survivors rebuild or buy replacement homes. Under the Section 203(h) program, the FHA insures mortgages for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in disasters. Borrowers don’t have to make a downpayment.

My house was destroyed. Should I keep paying the mortgage?

You should do your best to maintain your credit score. That means paying the home loan if you can afford it until you have talked with the servicer and have reached a settlement with the insurance company.

The way lenders look at it: You promised to repay your loan when you signed your mortgage documents at closing. “The borrower is liable for the loan debt, and making their payment is part of the borrower’s contractual obligation,” Alicia Jones, Fannie Mae spokeswoman, said in an email.

Note: If you apply for a loan from the SBA, it runs a credit check before inspecting your property. That’s one reason to preserve your credit score by paying your bills on time as best you can.

What happens if I stop mortgage payments without telling my servicer?

If you stop making payments without permission from your mortgage servicer, you could be charged late fees and your credit score could fall.

Homeowners “should call their lender,” says Brian Sullivan, supervisory public affairs specialist for HUD. “Don’t stop answering the phone. Don’t stop opening your mail.”

Talk with your mortgage servicer before you miss a payment. The servicer might offer forbearance.

What if I can’t contact my mortgage servicer?

Whether your loan is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the servicer is expected to reach out to you.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Freddie Mac is allowing servicers to “verbally grant” 90-day forbearances, and Fannie Mae is letting servicers grant 90-day forbearances ‘even if they cannot contact the impacted homeowner immediately.’

Even so, you should call the servicer or answer the mortgage company’s calls.

What happens if I’m in foreclosure?

Mortgage servicers receive foreclosure guidance from federal agencies, and the recommendations vary depending on the disaster.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the VA and the FHA have suspended foreclosures for 90 days in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area.

The house I was buying was destroyed or damaged. What happens now?

If a disaster happens between appraisal and closing, “the lender is expected to take prudent and reasonable actions to determine whether the condition of the property may have materially changed since the effective date of the appraisal report,” according to Fannie Mae’s guide to lenders.

If the damage is relatively minor and covered by insurance, the mortgage can be closed. But if the damage is uninsured, or if it’s major, then the house must be repaired before the mortgage can go through.

Copyright © 2017 The Steuben Courier Advocate, Holden Lewis. All rights reserved. The article “What to Do After a Disaster Hits Your Home, Mortgage,” originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Hiring a Property Manager


, , , , , , ,

Prop Mgt

One of the most important decisions you can make as a real estate investor is hiring the right property manage for your investment property. The difference between a cash-flow positive property and a drag on your finances can be an experienced, professional property manager.

You should always interview more than one property management company when you’re evaluating property managers, but do you know what to look for in a property manager? If not, these tips will help put you on the right path.

1. Find certified property managers first. Consult the National Association of Residential Property Managers (http://www.narpm.org/) to seek out property managers with certifications and designations.

2. Look for property managers with ten to fifteen miles of your property. You need managers who are willing to be hands-on and local when it comes to managing emergencies and conducting inspections.

3. Make sure your manager conducts monthly inspections. Just because they’re local doesn’t mean they’re up on inspections, so get a guarantee they’ll inspect the property each month.

4. Inquire as to how many properties the property manager currently manages. You want to be sure they’re not taking on more properties than they can handle. It’s important your property remain a priority.

5. Ask what sort of technology they use to help them manage properties. PropertyWare, Yardi, HERO, and Appfolio are some of the leading software packages on the market. Also be sure to check out their website and any social media presence they may have.

6. Be clear about fees. Make sure you understand every detail about the manager’s fee structure.

7. Ask them to detail their screening process for tenants. Don’t be shy about asking them what sort of modifications they’re willing to make based on your preferences.

If you’re new to real estate investing, I’d be happy to start you on the path to diversifying your holdings with real property. Curious what’s on the market now? Get in touch:

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


Open House Checklist


, , , , ,

2 (1024x679)The run-up to an open house is as important as the event itself. Preparing yourself and others for the event is crucial to not only showcasing a property, but also building relationships with neighbors, future buyers, and people who may just provide that essential referral. One of the best ways to ensure success every time? Make a checklist of what must be done, and set up alerts on your calendar to remind you to do the tasks on your checklist.

Below is a sample checklist of a successful open house plan:

1 week before: Create flyers with date, time, and contact info for the open house, and home/mortgage info on the house. Create a Facebook Event and invite friends, fans, and prospects.

6 days before: Call all your buyers to let them know about the open house. Hang 25 flyers and 25 door-knockers around the neighborhood.

5 days before: Check on the status of the flyers. If you run into people in the neighborhood while you’re there, introduce yourself and let them know about the open house.

2 days before: Be sure you’ve memorized the house and its details, and know its floor plan well enough to give effective tours that showcase the property. Create an attractive sign-in sheet, featuring your photo and contact info, and offering a line for their own contact info (including email address!) and space for them to share where they heard about the open house.

30 minutes before: Make sure the house is clean, and smells clean (many home sprays are clean and pleasant; avoid overtly floral or scented scents, as many people are allergic or sensitive to strong scents). Place at least 4 directional signs, each with eye-catching accessories, such as balloons to grab people’s attention and pull traffic from main intersections (don’t forget the sign license as they are required in some parts of the county).

10 minutes before: Open house and front door. Put at least two signs and 4 attention-getters out front, and an “Open” rider on the sign. Play background music, preferably something instrumental and subtle, at low volume.

Within 24-hours after: Follow up with all contacts by phone or email.

From open house to open house, you’ll refine your plan. Take notes. Write down what seemed to work, and what bombed. Over time, you’ll have a custom checklist which will help you efficiently and effectively prepare for blockbuster open houses.

Open houses are a lot more work than you might think!  Need someone to help you with your open house? Get in touch! The Hanley Home Team – expert real estate agents (and open house agents!)  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTOR – Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


What is an MLS?


, , , ,

Front-2Do you understand what an MLS is? If you’re searching for a home, an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is absolutely crucial for discovering homes and marketing homes to agents and potential buyers. Get a clear understanding of the benefits of an MLS!

Odds are you’ve spent a little time online searching for homes. After all, most home searches begin online. You may have even used a broker’s website or a site like Trulia or Zillow to help you browse listings.

But where does listing information come from?

Way back in the day, prior to the Information Age revolution, brokers used to gather and exchange information about their properties. The idea was fairly straightforward: I’ll help you sell your properties if you help me sell mine. It’s a “private offer of cooperation and compensation.” Cooperation meant the real estate industry could thrive and buyers and sellers could enjoy smoother transactions.

This spirit of cooperation gave rise to Multiple Listing Service(s) (MLS). By consolidating information about housing inventory in an MLS, listing brokers and buyers’ brokers can easily share up-to-date information about homes on the market. Though an MLS is typically a private database available to brokers, much of the information is syndicated to outside sites in the interest of casting wider net for buyers and sellers.

As an MLS is the primary source of information about a property, it tends to be the most accurate. It may also contain private information for use by brokers only, such as times the home is available for showings and seller contact information.

There are upwards of 850 MLS databases in the U.S. alone, and to a certain extent, there is market pressure to centralize these into a national MLS database. We’re sure to see changes in how Multiple Listing Services are used in the future, but the core benefits to home sellers and buyers is sure to remain.

Ready to put the power of an MLS to work for you? Search with me today for homes on the market right now.  You can search like us at http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com or call us at 904-515-2479 – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside


Study: In Fla., owning beats renting

Jacksonville neighbors…this applies to our great city, too!  Do something great for yourself and your current and future finances.  If you are renting, let us walk you through the steps of home ownership.  Contact us today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS 904-515-2479 http://www.TheHanleyHomeTeam.com – The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside


LOS ANGELES – July 27, 2017 – Arizona, Nevada and Washington, D.C. are among the 11 states where it’s more affordable to rent than it is to buy a home. But owning a home still beats renting in Florida, according to a study by website GOBankingRates.

GoBankingRates surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and identified which states are best for buying a home and which are better suited for renting. The study, based on rental data on Zillow, was sourced to June 28, 2017. For the cost of owning, the study assumed a 20-percent downpayment on a 30-year fixed loan.

In Florida, homeowners have the advantage. They GOBankingRates study found that the average monthly rent of $1,543 is $167 higher than the cost of an average monthly mortgage of $1,376. The difference amounts to about $2,000 per year that the average Florida family would save by owning rather than renting, though actual savings would differ by metro area and other variables.

The 11 states where renting a home is less expensive than buying one include Arizona, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

© 2017 Florida Realtors  Source: Study: In Fla., owning beats renting

Pool Safety


, , , , , , ,

POOL SAFETY FINAL PRINTED – reprinted with permission

The Hanley Home Team wants our customers, and future customers, to remain happy and healthy this summer.  Please find the following important pool safety tips.  Of course, if you are looking for a pool home in the Jacksonville, FL area, please count on us!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, http://www.TheHanleyHomeTeam.com, Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside, 904-515-2479

Rent vs Buy – Now vs Later


, , , , , , , ,

Front-2If affordability is a concern and you are unsure were you’d like to live in the near future, you may find this article on the hidden long-term cost of renting compelling.  It’s called “The $700,000+ mistake nearly 6 in 10 millennials may make.” You can check out the article here:


Renting in the short-term may be your best option, but waiting to buy can have a high cost. For example: “At current rates of appreciation, in 10 years the average home (now priced at $190,000) would be selling for about $249,000. If interest rates return to their historical norm (from over the past 15 years) of 5.6%, a monthly house payment (including mortgage, taxes and insurance) on a $249,000 home would be $1,574 a month, a 52% increase over the $1,037 house payment for a median priced home now.”

If you ever have any questions about home ownership, we are more than happy to help you plan for your future. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS TheHanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479

Tips for Tree Removal


, , , , , , , ,

images-8If you have a troublesome tree on your property, dealing with it responsibly, economically, and safely is important. While you may own a chainsaw, tackling the project yourself can be extremely risky. Here are some questions to ask and tips for tree removal:

1. Make sure you need to remove it. Mature trees are good for property value. Before you go clear-cutting your property, be absolutely sure removing it is the right move. A certified arborist can help you make the decision between removal or sensible trimming.

2. Don’t do it yourself. What if the tree falls on your house? What if it lands on your neighbor’s car? What if you get crushed? Are you experienced enough with a chainsaw to handle it without injuring yourself? Hire a pro.

3. Hire a certified company. This means someone certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Tree Care Industry Association Accredited business. If the tree is near power lines, they’ll also need to be “Approved Line-Clearance” arborists.

4. Can you legally remove the tree? Be absolutely sure the tree is legally on your property before you take action. If you determine it is, find out if any permits are required to remove or trim the tree. Some communities have strict guidelines pertaining to tree removal.

5. Ask about trimming methodology. If the company handling your tree recommends “topping” the tree or uses spikes on their boots for routine tree trimming, find another company. Both can expose the tree to disease and result in serious wounds.

6. Get a detailed estimate from three companies. Nail down what they’ll do, how long it will take, and what equipment they plan to use. You need an apples-to-apples comparison to make your decision, and you might just find out one company takes greater precautions when it comes to safety.

7. Get references. Don’t rely on Yelp alone for a review of your arborist. Ask them for references you can speak to independently.

Trees are beautiful and essential to our ecosystem, but there are times when steps must be taken to deal with dead wood and other incursions. Do yourself a favor and treat your property with the respect it deserves.

Need a good referral for tree work? Get in touch: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479


How to Make Your Home Baby-Friendly


, , , , , ,

You may not have kids right now, but chances are you may be entertaining guests one day who do. You can put your guests at ease and do your best to protect their little ones from harm by investing in some modest pre-visit baby proofing. Here are some sound strategies to make their visit low-stress and safe:

Mind the Power and Appliances
Outlets are enemy #1. Baby fingers are like magnets for electricity, so splurge on some plastic outlet covers which fit snugly into those empty sockets. If you have any multi-socket power strips around, be sure to cover those as well (or elevate them out of harm’s reach). Depending on the age of your youngest visitors, some may be able to reach knobs and buttons on appliances like your stove. Exploring hands can accidentally turn on the gas, so if you think your kitchen will be vulnerable, invest around $10 on stove knob covers.

Make Some Rooms Off-Limits
It may not be practical to baby proof every inch of your house, so make certain zones baby-free by using gates. Sturdy, simple, pressure-mounted gates will protect certain passages and prevent you from making any permanent holes in your wall. Alternately, use door knob covers to make even unlocked rooms less likely to be prone to an infant invasion.

Fight Falling Objects
Babies are all about testing gravity, and as they try to bring themselves upright, they’re liable to tug on anything within arm’s reach. This might include your entertainment center, bookshelf, floor lamps, or other furniture. Are there any precarious pieces which might tumble down and seriously injure a child? Consider pieces on top of shelves (like decorative glassware) which could be shaken down through modest force.

Curtail the Cords
Power cords and curtain (or blind) cords can cause falls, entanglement, or even strangulation. Tie these up out of the way or too high for a baby to reach from the floor.

Get Down and Look Around
A baby will put anything in its mouth. That will include choking hazards, dropped medications, or stray chemicals such as rat poison or cleaners. Shift your perspective to the floor and look for anything suspicious.

Some homes are more kid-friendly than others. If you’re looking for a great home for little ones, we can help you find one today!: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside – 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com