Inspire the Fire!

The fire within you will be inspired by more than 200 performers in the upcoming 25th Anniversary Celebration, including Inspire the Fire, who appeared on “America’s Got Talent” Monday night and received a standing ovation from the audience and the judges (Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne) for their performance of Lean on Me.

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This nonprofit transforms the lives of at-risk youth through the arts, faith and personal development, and you can see them for free on Tuesday, June 5 at Mecklenburg Ministries’ 25th Anniversary Celebration! And that is just the tip of the iceberg. This free family friendly event is a wonderful way to begin your summer!

Reserve and print your free tickets and find directions and parking information. If you are having trouble reserving tickets, call the Belk Theater Box Office at 704-372-1000.

Parking information: $5 parking vouchers are available for the following garages: 7th Street Station, Fifth Third Center, Bank of America Corporate Center, Hearst Tower and International Trade Center. Pick them up in the lobby or at the box office.

David Tang of Carolina Voices and Artistic Chairperson of 25th Anniversary Committee said,“With more than 200 performers from all walks of life, faiths, races and backgrounds, ‘From Common Ground to Higher Ground’ hopes to capture the powerful spirit and work for good that is Mecklenburg Ministries. All of the artists are proud and honored to support Mecklenburg Ministries as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary.”

Five Frequent Questions About Buying “HUD” Homes

Question: I want to buy a home, but I don’t have much money. Can HUD help me?

Answer: Helping people become homeowners is one of the most important thing HUD does. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Start by reading the “homebuyer’s kit“- particularly the part about the federal mortgage programs that can help people buy homes. HUD’s FHA has many mortgage insurance programs that can help first-time homebuyers. Also, be sure to read about buying a HUD home – they can be very good deals!
  2. Contact one of the HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. They can help you sort through your options.
  3. Call your local office of housing and community development or your mayor’s office to see if there are any local homebuying programs that could help you.

Question 2: I’m interested in an FHA mortgage. Who do I see?

Answer: You’ll need to go see a HUD-approved lender.

Question 3: I’m thinking about buying a home, but I don’t really know if it’s a good idea for me. Who can I talk to?

Answer: There are HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that can help you decide whether buying a home is right for you. Contact one in your area.

Question 4: How do I know if I qualify for a mortgage?

Answer: There are many different kinds of mortgages available, and qualification requirements vary. The best thing for you to do is shop around – talk to two or three local lenders to find out what kinds of mortgages they have available that could fit your situation. There are a number of mortgagecalculators online that can give you some idea about your ability to qualify for a mortgage. HUD offers a good calculator, in our “homebuyers kit.” You also might want to contact a housing counseling agency. They may be able to direct you to the kinds of mortgage programs that might fit your needs.

Question 5: I’ve heard of the Officer Next Door and Teacher Next Door programs. How can I find out more?

Answer: Teacher Next Door and Officer Next Door have been combined into Good Neighbor Next Door.

Contact me for more guidance about buying homes from HUD. Email me at RochaRealEstate@Gmail.com

4 Steps to Deciding How Much to Offer – or Ask – for Your Home

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One of the hardest, most important decisions homebuyers face is how much to offer for their home.  And the glut of information on the web about real estate only makes buyers even crazier than the decision itself does.  Supply, demand, foreclosure rates, mortgage rates – buyers think they need to run spreadsheets and do fancy math to make a smart offer.  And THAT can be super intimidating.

But the fact is, there is a pretty short list of steps you need to take to make a smart offer – one that gets you a great value, but is also likely to be successful at getting the property. (A low offer does not make for a great deal if you don’t get the house!)  And most of the same steps apply to sellers trying to set the list price that will lure the most buyers (and net them the most cash)!

Step 1: What do the “comps” say?  First things first. When it comes to pricing a home, or making an offer to buy one, the ‘first thing” is the home’s fair market value. Both buyers and sellers should work with an experienced, local agent to understand what the home’s value is. Most agents will do this by offering you a look back at similar properties that have recently sold in the neighborhood – i.e., the  comparable sales, or comps.

Ideally, look for comparables that are very recent sales (3 months or less before you’re listing or buying), very similar properties (i.e., same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage; and similar style, condition and amenities). If you do get into contract, these may be the same comparables which will be considered by the appraiser, so looking at them before making an offer can:

(a) provide factual support for a lower-than-asking offer or for the asking price, in a negotiation, and

(b) result in a sale price at which the property will actually appraise, later on – avoiding the common glitch of the deal falling through because the appraisal comes in way below the agreed-upon price.

Also, looking at comps is the first step for locating a home’s seller and prospective buyer in the reality-based universe of current home values.  The fact that you bought or refinanced the place at a given value 5 or 6 years ago is entirely irrelevant to what it’s worth today, as is the buyer’s belief that the place was worth $100K less at the trough of the market, in 2009.

Step 2:  What can you afford?  This step is much more critical for buyers than for sellers. (Unfortunately, sellers, the facts that you need to net a particular amount to buy your next home or pay your existing mortgages or credit card bills off has no relationship whatsoever to the price at which you should list or will sell your home.)

Buyers – it’s a must to make sure that your offer price for any given home falls within the range of what is affordable for you.  This includes offering a price within the range for which your mortgage was preapproved, but also includes making sure that the monthly payment and cash you’ll need to close the deal (down payment + closing costs) are affordable in light of the particular house. If, for example, the property will require repairs for which you’ll need to conserve cash, or has HOA dues you hadn’t planned on, you may need to rejigger your offer accordingly.

Step 3: What’s your competition? (And what’s theirs?)  This is another step at which it’s critical to check in with your agent. You need to know what level of competition you’ll face – whether you are a buyer, or a seller.  As a seller, you can find this out by looking at things like how many comparable homes are listed in your town or your neighborhood in your general price range (your agent will brief you on this).  Sellers should also consider what type of transactions their home will be up against – the more distressed properties (foreclosed homes and short sales) with which your home must compete, the more aggressive you must be with your pricing to get your home sold.

The more competition you have, as a seller, the lower you should tweak your list price to attract buyers to come see your home. (And the more buyers come to see your home, the more likely you are to get an offer!)

Buyers should also be aware of the competition level they will face for homes.  Believe it or not, even on today’s market there are properties and neighborhoods in which multiple offers are the name of the game. Work with your agent to understand the list price-to-sale price (LP:SP) ratio , which lets you know how much under or over the asking price properties are selling for in your target home’s neighborhood; the higher the LP:SP ratio, generally speaking, the less competition there is among buyers.

Your agent can also brief you on:

(1)   The offers – if any – that have been presented on “your” property (which the listing agent will usually, gladly tell).  If there are other offers, you’ll want to make a higher offer to compete successfully against them; and

(2)    The number of days the home has been on the market, about how long an average home stays on the market before it sells – the longer it has, the more pressure is on the seller, price-wise, and the less competition the buyer is likely to have.  (One exception is the sweet spot scenario, when a property that has been on the market for a long time has a price reduction and gets a bunch of offers as a result! )

4.  How much do they need to sell (or buy) it?  Buyers: Has the listing in which you’re interested been reduced at all?  By how much?  Has the listing agent informed you that her clients are highly motivated, flexible or have an urgent need to sell?

Sellers – most buyers are not in a high state of urgency to buy these days, given the long-term, high affordability of homes and interest rates, except when they have an urgent personal reason for moving, e.g., buyers who are relocating for work.  Of course, all of real estate is hyper local, so it’s important to understand how motivated buyers are in your local market, generally speaking, before you set your list price.

A Couple of Secrets To Always Be Happy

We can choose to be happy at any moment.

1. Be grateful for all. Some of the happiest people are those who have comparatively few belongings to be happy about. When you feel gratitude, you cannot feel fear or worry at the same time. Gratitude washes it all away.

2. DImageo something to make someone else happy. The person who bestows happiness always gets much more of it in return.

Avoiding Foreclosure

ImageThe Obama Administration has implemented a number of programs to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and otherwise struggling with their monthly mortgage payments. The majority of these programs are administered through the U.S. Treasury Department and HUD. This page provides a summary of these various programs. Please continue reading in order to decide which program can best help you.

Distressed homeowners are encouraged to contact their lenders and loan servicers directly to ask about foreclosure prevention options that are available. If you are experiencing difficulty communicating with your mortgage lender or servicer about your need for mortgage relief, click here for information about organizations that can help contact lenders and servicers on your behalf.

Making Home Affordable

The Making Home Affordable © (MHA) Program is a critical part of the Obama Administration’s broad strategy to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, stabilize the country’s housing market, and improve the nation’s economy.

Homeowners can lower their monthly mortgage payments and get into more stable loans at today’s low rates. And for those homeowners for whom homeownership is no longer affordable or desirable, the program can give a way out which avoids foreclosure. Additionally, in an effort to be responsive to the needs of today’s homeowners, there are also options for unemployed homeowners and homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth. Please read the following program summaries to find which program options may be best suited for your particular circumstances.

Modify or Refinance Your Loan for Lower Payments

  • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): HAMP lowers your monthly mortgage payment to 31 percent of your verified monthly gross (pre-tax) income to make your payments more affordable. The typical HAMP modification results in a 40 percent drop in a monthly mortgage payment. Eighteen percent of HAMP homeowners cut their payments by $1,000 or more.Click Here for more information.
  • Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA): PRA was designed to help homeowners whose homes are worth significantly less than they owe by encouraging servicers and investors to cut the amount you owe on your home. Click Here for more information.
  • Second Lien Modification Program (2MP): If your first mortgage was permanently modified under HAMP SM and you have a second mortgage on the same property, you may be eligible for a modification or principal reduction on your second mortgage under 2MP. Likewise, If you have a home equity loan, HELOC, or some other second lien that is making it difficult for you to keep up with your mortgage payments, learn more about this MHA program. Click Here for more information.
  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): If you are current on your mortgage and have been unable to get a traditional refinance because the value of your home has declined, you may be eligible to refinance through HARP. HARP is designed to help you refinance into a new affordable, more stable mortgage. Click Here for more information.

“Underwater” Mortgages

In today’s housing market, many homeowners have experienced a decrease in their home’s value. Learn about these MHA programs to address this concern for homeowners.

  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)If you are current on your mortgage and have been unable to get a traditional refinance because the value of your home has declined, you may be eligible to refinance through HARP. HARP is designed to help you refinance into a new affordable, more stable mortgage. Click Here for more information.
  • Principal Reduction Alternative: PRA was designed to help homeowners whose homes are worth much less than they owe by encouraging servicers and investors to cut the amount you owe on your home. Click Here for more information.
  • Treasury/FHA Second Lien Program (FHA2LP): If you have a second mortgage and the mortgage servicer of your first mortgage agrees to take part in FHA Short Refinance, you may qualify to have your second mortgage on the same home reduced or eliminated through FHA2LP. If the servicer of your second mortgage agrees to take part, the total amount of your mortgage debt after the refinance cannot exceed 115% of your home’s current value. Click Here for more information.

Assistance for Unemployed Homeowners

  • Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP): If you are having a tough time making your mortgage payments because you are unemployed, you may be eligible for UP. UP provides a temporary reduction or suspension of mortgage payments for at least twelve months while you seek re-employment. Click Here for more information.
  • Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP), Substantially Similar States: If you live inConnecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, or PennsylvaniaClick Here for more information about EHLP assistance provided in your state.
  • FHA Forbearance for Unemployed Homeowners: Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requirements now require servicers to extend the forbearance period for unemployed homeowners to 12 months. The changes to FHA’s Special Forbearance Program announced in July 2011 require servicers to extend the forbearance period for FHA borrowers who qualify for the program from four months to 12 months and remove upfront hurdles to make it easier for unemployed borrowers to qualify. Click Here for more information.

Managed Exit for Borrowers

  • Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA): If your mortgage payment is unaffordable and you are interested in transitioning to more affordable housing, you may be eligible for a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure through HAFA SM. Click Here for more information.
  • “Redemption”is a period after your home has already been sold at a foreclosure sale when you can still reclaim your home. You will need to pay the outstanding mortgage balance and all costs incurred during the foreclosure process. Click Here for more information.

FHA-Insured Mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is working aggressively to halt and reverse the losses represented by foreclosure. Through its National Servicing Center (NSC), FHA offers a number of various loss mitigation programs and informational resources to assist FHA-insured homeowners and home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) borrowersfacing financial hardship or unemployment and whose mortgage is either in default or at risk of default.

  • Click Here to log onto the NSC Loss Mitigation Programs home page.
  • Click Here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about FHA’s loss mitigation programs.

CONTACT FHA

FHA staff are available to help answer your questions and help you to better understand your options as an FHA borrower under these loss mitigation programs. There are several ways you can contact FHA for more information, including:

  • Call the NSC at (877) 622-8525
  • Call the FHA Outreach Center at 1-800-CALL FHA (800-225-5342)
  • Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.
  • Email the FHA Resource Center
  • The Online FHA Resource Center

Azúcar

Come and experience it for yourself! For one night only NoDa will escape from its Southern roots and turn itself into a Caribbean fiesta, complete with salsa, Cuban son, Dominican merengue, and authentic Caribbean food and crafts.

The Latin American Coalition presents the 3rd annual ¡Image! A Caribbean Celebration at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte on Friday, June 1, 2012. Doors open at 7:00 pm followed a FREE salsa class 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day of show.

The event showcases top local talent whose origins and influences span the Spanish Caribbean.Orquesta Formula Latina will showcase the golden and contemporary age of salsa by playing classics and current tunes from the immortal salsa catalogue. Representing Puerto Rico with traditional jibara folk music is Los Coquies de Charlotte, led by folk singer Judith Burgos-Pinzon. Dance over to the Dominican Republic for Batchata Flow, one of Charlotte’s hottest Latin bands whose live performance brings out the best of the country’s merengue and bachata tunes. Throughout it all, Alma de la Luna, a local dance group, is sure to delight with their mambo, salsa, and merengue moves.

Sip on a mojito, eat a Cuban sandwich, and feel the tropical energy for yourself. You won’t want to miss the most authentic Caribbean celebration outside of the islands!

Home Interiors and Decor

Home Interiors and Decor

Most beautiful shots of amazing interior decorations. Great ideas to make your home look terrific.