Sharing is a pure form of intent and passion
November 30, 2013
A new program to help seniors (Age 60 and older) and individuals with disabilities was launched today by the Christie Administration. The Home Repair and Advocacy program which focuses on primary homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy offers those eligible up to $5,000 and will be funded by an $8.2 million federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), and will be administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) through Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs).
This program distinguishes itself from most other Sandy programs by including an advocacy component to help people who qualify, every step of the way. There also will be home repair coordinators in every county that will review, organize and approve the work with vendors, as necessary.
Eligible items under the program include
If you are a Monmouth County resident you can apply for this program at the following location:
Monmouth County Division of Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Services (21 Main and Court CenterFreehold, NJ 07728) (732-431-7450)
For a list of other Area Agency on Aging in New Jersey click here
The program is designed to assist households in the nine most impacted counties, but because many people were displaced by the storm, individuals statewide can apply. Funding was distributed to the 21 AAAs based on a formula that includes the county population of individuals age 60 and older, and the number of housing units with major to severe damage.
Individuals in need of assistance should call 1-877-222-3737 or apply at their local AAA. The program is expected to begin repair work in the coming weeks and continue until funding is exhausted.
DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez commented on the program, stating, “We know that many primary homeowners impacted by Superstorm Sandy are still struggling to recover, particularly as it relates to completing repairs and negotiating with insurance companies.” She continued, “The recovery process can be even more problematic for seniors and people with disabilities who have fixed incomes and may not have the ability to fulfill or comply with onerous insurance claim requirements.”
The year ahead holds the promise of positive change for markets where housing inventory has been stagnant. Rising home prices are serving to lift the market – and homeowners – above the low-equity tide. That's a good thing for several reasons.
Increasing home prices = possible inventory boom
Over the next 15 or so months, 8.3 million homeowners (that's 18% of homeowners with mortgages), are expected to gain enough equity in their homes to be able to sell them without being forced into a short sale, according to a recent report by RealtyTrac.1 This assumes that home prices continue to increase at the rate they have since March 2012 – 1.33% per month.
The report shows that this segment of homeowners' equity currently ranges anywhere from 10% negative equity to 10% positive equity. As their equity improves, so does their ability to sell their homes. Another bright spot in the report: 1 in 4 homeowners in foreclosure has positive equity, meaning they stand a better chance to sell their homes before foreclosure proceedings are completed.
The "big boost"
More home inventory is good news for the housing market overall, with buyers having a greater number of choices as the spring season approaches. Rising home prices also contribute to an overall sense of security and optimism. People who feel more financially stable are more likely to spend. "Fewer underwater homeowners is a big plus for the economy," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "The home is still the most important asset most Americans have."2
1 More than 8 million homeowners are 'resurfacing' by Teke Wiggin
2 Rising home prices lift underwater homeowners by Julie Schmit
The new Qualified Mortgage Rule goes into effect in January: What buyers need to know
January 2014 will usher in new, more stringent mortgage regulations, designed to protect consumers from risky mortgage practices and to stabilize the mortgage market. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will implement these regulatory changes that are part of the Dodd-Frank Act – and they will impact most homebuyers.
Here are some things you should know.
Qualified mortgages – the basics A key element of the new regulations is the "qualified mortgage." A qualified mortgage is a home loan that meets certain standards set by the federal government and will be monitored and enforced by the CFPB. Per the CFPB, the qualified mortgage rule is designed to create lower-risk loans by prohibiting or limiting certain high-risk products and features. These regulations:
|•||Current income and/or assets||•||Current employment status|
|•||Debt-to-income ratio / residual income||•||Debt obligations / alimony / child support|
|•||Monthly payment on new mortgage||•||Monthly payment(s) on any other loan|
|•||Monthly payment for mortgage-related expenses||•||Credit history|
A mixed bag for buyers Buyers should be aware that, along with the benefits of better terms and greater protections, the new rules may mean stricter borrowing requirements for obtaining a qualified mortgage, including:
There are benefits for buyers to look forward to:
Setting expectations for a better mortgage experience It's helpful for buyers to understand how the new regulations can affect them. The loan process may take longer due to the increased documentation required, and it may be more challenging to obtain a loan in the future due to increased down payments and stricter underwriting guidelines. The good news is that your buyers don't have to go it alone.
Encourage your buyers to speak with a knowledgeable mortgage representative early in their home search process. As your Mortgage Advisor, I can help buyers understand how and when the new regulations may impact them, and provide tips and guidance to get through the mortgage process as smoothly as possible.