Monday, April 27, 2009

Hittin' the Links (3 Interesting Web Links to Start Your Week)

I came across 3 interesting articles/web pages today that I wanted to share. Sorry, they have nothing to do with golf, but hopefully the good local and national real estate information will suffice!

1. According to The Daily Record, Maryland's home sales are showing some signs of life. Decreasing inventory and an increase in the number of houses under contract (but not yet sold) in March are some pretty good indicators of a market that may have reached bottom and is improving.

2. The National Association of REALTORS just put up a new page on which explains the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. This is a straightforward and simple explanation of a very important development in the real estate world. Thanks to Todd Carpenter (@tcar on Twitter) for sharing this link.

3. Lastly, Marc Pina (@MarcTheRealtor on Twitter) from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage shared this NY Times article (A New Website Helps Borrowers) and website link ( Mortgage modification help is out there for those who need it, and this should help cut through the noise and determine if modification is right for borrowers/homeowners.

Friday, April 24, 2009

We're Hiring!

Due to a refreshing increase in purchase and refinance business, we have two unique opportunities:

Title Specialist

This is a contract position for a project that is expected to last anywhere from 8 to 18 months. We need a bunch of folks. Information and posting instructions can be found here. Please note you can ONLY apply for this contract position through the Aerotek link I provided above.

Title Service Representative (TSR)

This is a full-time permanent position, and is essentially a sales/settlement officer role in the Carroll and Frederick County, Maryland areas. HR is still working on getting the final paperwork together and the job description posted, but I don't want to delay a request for resumes. If you or someone you know is interested, please send a resume to Meredith[dot] or Daniel[dot] More information to come on this position.

One more thing: At Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services, we only hire truly remarkable people for truly remarkable settlements!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Issues with Short Sale Approval Letters

(This post is an update to our earlier entry located here regarding problematic short sale approval letters. Obviously, it's a dynamic and oft changing topic!)

So you get your short sale approval letter and you get that euphoric feeling as if it’s your last day of school or the boy or girl you have a crush on just asked you out!! Then, you may see it or you may not, but there in black and white, provisions inserted in that approval letter that essentially just killed! the same deal the lender just approved. What happened?

Well let’s start by looking at a couple of these strange problematic provisions, they can look like this:

“There are to be no transfers of property within 30 days of the closing of this transaction. Escrow instructions must contain a clause that if such a transaction takes place then the title/escrow company must notify __________(lender)

So let’s understand this, the lender just approved the short sale but says that the property cannot be re-sold within 30 days from the date of the short sale transaction. Ok, so far so good, but now the lender wants to hold the settlement agent responsible for notifying them if that takes place!! As you could imagine, not many title insurance companies would be interested in insuring this transaction. So unless your buyer is paying cash and does not want an owner’s policy (yikes) your deal is dead.

Another provision:

“If the property was acquired by any means of fraud, _____________(lender) reserves the right to pursue any and all actions available to it to pursue any and all actions available to it to offset its losses. If it is determined that Sellers and/or Buyers participated in any way to the fraud, this short sale will be void, and the Note and Security Instrument will remain in full force and effect.”

Just so we are clear, what the lender is saying here is that if the seller committed fraud either at the origination, acquisition or selling stage, the lender may come back and undo the sale that just took place. Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Buyers, you’re out of luck!! Once again, not too many underwriters will be interested in that deal.

These are just two examples, there are many more. So what are we to do? Simply read the letter very carefully, if you see any language in there where the lender says they can come back and “undo” the transaction for any reason, that is a problem.

Fortunately this issue is isolated to just two or three lenders and it is my understanding that discussions are taking place between title insurance companies and lenders to address the issue. So just when you thought short sales could not get any more complicated, here we are. The saga continues….more to come soon!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Facebook, Twitter or

Harry Yazbek

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Making it a Long Weekend

We have decided to close our offices on Friday, April 10th to give our team players a start on the holiday weekend. We will, however, have staff available to handle settlements closing today. Should you need assistance, please call our toll free number at (800) 530-9372. If you know your party's extension, you may enter it. If you would like to use the names directory, dial 2 at the menu. You will also have the option of leaving a message in the general mail box.

Three leaders will also be on site for most of the day, so any issues that require immediate attention can be handled. Feel free to email us at info[at] and someone will get back to you shortly.

Thanks, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Monday, April 6, 2009

You are not too old for Facebook! (Social Media is not defined by age)

Did you know that the largest growing demographic in social media is the “34- to 49 years of age? Women aged 55 and older are the largest growing group among bloggers. According to a recent study completed by Nielsen's Social Media and Blogging is now the fourth most popular activity on the internet. The reason this is happening is because Social Media is less about technology than it is about a new way to create and build relationships. Technology tends to be a barrier for a lot of people, but the reality is that if you can send an email you can be part of the Social Media phenomenon. How many times have you had a great story that you wanted to share? Social media has created instant publishing and consumption for stories. For example, I was traveling a major road on my way to an appointment and listening to the radio for the latest news, traffic, etc. when I received a traffic alert from a friend via Twitter. This allowed me to alter my course and stay on time for my appointment. The entire time the local radio station never mentioned this complete road closure. Everyone has been caught in unexpected traffic from time to time, which caused you to be late, right? The person you are meeting with will say they understand, but do they really?

People are investing a lot more time on the internet these days. According to Nielsen's people are averaging 3 hours 10 minutes per person on Facebook alone. That is up 566% from the same time last year. [ I am not certain that I spend that much time on Facebook, but I can tell you that I find myself investing more time on Facebook and less time watching TV. Could Social Media replace traditional forms of media like TV? My behavior has been changed. Interacting with friends and family members is always better than the TV. I have reconnected with friends from elementary school to college and it is like we never missed a beat. When it comes to social media you can be as engaged as you want to be and it is at no cost. Business-minded folks have said for years "that you can't make money by watching TV reruns." Professionally, I have made great connections with past colleagues and I have been introduced to some of my best new customers by using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Web 2.0 is changing our lives by building and rekindling relationships. This is just the beginning...


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Current Short Sale Trends (VIDEO)

In this video, Harry Yazbek discusses current trends in short sales. What's the biggest change from 6 months ago? Are short sales getting approved more quickly now or are they taking longer? What's the #1 delay in getting short sales approved?

Should you have any additional questions regarding short sales, Harry can be reached via phone (703-946-4470), email (Harry[dot]Yazbek[at]MASettlement[dot]com) or Twitter (@HarryYazbek).

Legal: We are not a law firm nor a CPA firm. This particular post was created to aid real estate agents on the mechanics of short sales, not to provide buyers or sellers with any advice as to whether to buy or sell a property involving a short sale. Please seek the advice of an attorney or an accountant for those questions.