Foreclosure Homes in Orlando FL

Searching for a foreclosure property in Orlando, FL

The home buying process can be as exciting as it can be scary… Especially when buying a foreclosure home in Orlando. Depending on if you plan on living in the home, selling it, or renting it out, you should be a critical buyer. There are several things you should consider before making your decision.

Finding the right Orlando neighborhood.

If you plan on living in the home, you should find a neighborhood that meets your family’s needs. Being in a good school district or being close to your job could help you decide. But, if you plan on renting it out, you’ll want to be in an area where it will rent out fast like near a college or university. Your real Orlando estate agent can advise you on finding the best area to meet your needs.

Determine how much you can afford to pay

It’s important to know how much you can afford to pay for a house before you begin your search. Keep in mind that when you’re buying an Orlando short sale home or foreclosure, you’re buying it in as-is condition. Chances are you’ll have to make a few repairs to make it livable. Unless you’re an experienced investor, I would suggest avoiding homes needing major repairs. By adding the cost of repairs to the sale price you’ll know how much the house will cost you.

Finding a Realtor that specializes in Orlando foreclosure properties

Not all Realtors in Orlando have experience with foreclosure properties or short sales. You must find an agent that specializes in foreclosure homes and short sales. By hiring the right agent, you will greatly increase your chances of finding the right property.

Facing Foreclosure in Orlando?

If you or someone you know have an approaching foreclosure sale date, you must take action! Whether you speak with us or some other Orlando foreclosure specialist, don’t wait. Time is against you and the faster you take action the better your chances of avoiding foreclosure.

Know your options…

Just because the bank has begun the foreclosure process or has threatened to, don’t panic! You have options… Depending on your situation there are some different options available to you.

Short Sale

A short sale is when your mortgage lender agrees to let you sell the home for less than what’s owed on the mortgage. They will only do this if the home is currently valued for more than what it’s worth or “market value”. You must also prove to the bank that you can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to submit a complete short sale package to your bank. The package consists of a hardship letter, 2 years of tax returns, and your financials.

Loan Modification

If you’re looking to keep the home and continue living in it a loan modification may be an option. This is when the lender adjusts the terms of your mortgage making the payment more affordable. In my experience, the modified terms are often worse than the original mortgage terms. The truth is you won’t know until you try.

Deed in Lieu

A deed in lieu is when you sign the deed over to the bank and they agree to stop the foreclosure. Having a deed in lieu of your credit is still far better than foreclosure.


File for Bankruptcy

As a last resort, you can always file for bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure. Consult with a local bankruptcy attorney to see if it could be an option for you.

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What You Should Know About Mortgage Forbearance

Like many Americans right now, you might be worried about making your next mortgage payment. Don’t panic just yet… Forbearance may be a good option for you! It means working together with your mortgage company to help you avoid any late penalties and eliminate any risk of being foreclosed on. You may also consider seeking the advice of an experienced real estate agent before contacting your lender.  

If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, here are some things you need to know about mortgage forbearance agreements.

What’s mortgage forbearance?

Mortgage forbearance is a program designed to provide temporary relief from your mortgage payment by either lowering your monthly payment or pausing your payments completely for a pre-determined amount of time. This is generally requested by homeowners who are going through some type of financial hardship affecting their ability to make their mortgage payments, like loss of employment, divorce, or illness.

Mortgage forbearance is not free money; you still owe the full amount of those reduced or missed payments.   

Does mortgage forbearance affect my credit?

Under normal circumstances [not during a global pandemic], it would be up to your lender whether or not to report your forbearance to any credit bureaus. However, right now mortgage lenders are providing struggling homeowners with an automatic, no documents required 3-month forbearance plan because of the coronavirus. They will not be reporting this forbearance plan to any of the credit bureaus either.  

Under normal circumstances, however, a forbearance would still be much less damaging to your credit than a few missed payments or foreclosure.

How does a mortgage forbearance work?

First of all, you have to make contact with 6your lender to see if they will approve you for a forbearance agreement. Don’t ever just stop making payments without speaking to your lender first. Normally, lender qualifications will vary slightly between different mortgage companies. The type of loan you have will also be a determining factor in what options you will be offered, or you will qualify for.

If you qualify for mortgage forbearance, your lender will work together with you to set up the terms of your agreement. Terms of forbearance may include:

  • Length of time for the forbearance period
  • Reduced payment amount required during the forbearance period.
  • Whether or not your lender will report the forbearance to credit agencies.
  • After the forbearance period ends how will you pay your mortgage moving forward, including skipped or reduced payments.

Once the forbearance period ends, you will have to pay your mortgage company back according to the terms you agreed on. Here are some typical options for paying back the missed amount:

  • Lump sum bringing the loan current in 1 single payment.
  • Adding an additional amount to your normal monthly payment until your current.
  • Normal payments will resume and missed payments will be added to your mortgage lengthening the terms of your mortgage.
  • Loan modification; when the terms of your mortgage are permanently adjusted by either a reduced payment, reduced principal or both.

How long will a mortgage forbearance last?

Mortgage forbearance is designed to provide temporary relief from your mortgage payment while you are going through a financial problem. Typically forbearance agreements do not last more than 3 months to 1 year.

Most mortgage companies will require you to provide them with regular updates during the forbearance period. If you need an extension, your lender will explain your options at that point.

Can a forbearance plan hurt my financial future?

A forbearance will usually be reported to the credit bureaus unless your lender has agreed to not report it. Right now, because of the coronavirus outbreak, almost all lenders have agreed to not report a forbearance to any of the credit bureaus. Having a forbearance on your credit history still looks much better than a foreclosure, short sale, and even a few missed payments.

Before you buy a new home in the future, you would need to re-establish yourself as a credible borrower. As long as you’ve already gone through the forbearance without missing any payments, the impact on your credit should be minimal and you may even consider applying for a new home loan from the same lender that granted you the forbearance.

How can I qualify for a mortgage forbearance?

The qualifications for mortgage forbearance are similar to that of a short sale. You start by applying. Most lenders will let you start the process online but I suggest you begin by calling your lender and take notes on every phone call… who did you speak to?… what happened on the call? etc. You can get started by gathering the following items.

  • Most recent mortgage statement.
  • List of your monthly income.
  • List of your monthly expenses.
  • Hardship letter, an explanation of why you cannot continue to make the mortgage payment (include any supporting documentation if possible).

Just like when I do a short sale in Orlando, it’s best to start communicating with your lender way before you miss any payments. If you already missed a payment before reaching out, it will show up on your credit report and stay until the loan has been made current again.

Keep in mind, if you’re filing because of a natural disaster or even a global pandemic like we’re facing currently, there’s usually a time limit in which you can file your claim.

If your request is denied, you then have an option to appeal the decision with your mortgage company. Then your application will be reviewed by a newly assigned loan officer, and they will reach out to you with an updated decision.

How do I get mortgage forbearance?

You should contact your mortgage servicer to apply for a mortgage forbearance agreement. Call the number on your monthly statement and ask for the mortgage forbearance dept to get started.

If you want unbiased advice about your financial situation, consider speaking to a housing counselor from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. You can make an appointment with a HUD counselor near you by going to their website. They will advise you on whether forbearance is a good choice for you in your current situation. They will also explain how different repayment plans would work.

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A wave of Short Sales could be headed for Orlando due to COVID-19

While stay-at-home orders are keeping people at home, many Floridians could be falling behind on mortgage and rent payments due to loss of employment and an economy on a downward spiral.

The real estate data-service provider, Attom Data Solutions, reported that 10 of Florida’s 67 counties are in the top 50 most vulnerable counties in the U.S. to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these counties are in either North or Central Florida, including Osceola, Hernando, Flagler, Clay, Lake. Surprisingly, Broward county was the most vulnerable of the South Florida counties.

The only state that ranked higher than Florida in this study was New Jersey with 14 counties in the top 50 most at risk in the nation. Also ranked near the top were New York, Connecticut, and California. Real estate markets in the Midwest and West are considered to be less likely to see big numbers of people losing their homes because of the virus outbreak.

483 counties throughout the US were studied to determine what percentage of homes we can expect that will be receiving foreclosure notices by the end of 2020 and what percentage of the local wages are needed to pay for homeownership. The study used data from the last quarter of 2019 to calculate the averages.

Central Florida has one of the lowest median incomes in the U.S. The local economy is largely dependent on tourism and convention revenue which could mean big trouble for homeowners. Many landlords are suffering right now… especially if they depend on rental incomes to pay the mortgages.

Central Floridian homeowners could be facing rough waters ahead

Realtors in Orlando are also starting to feel the pain. Activity has slowed for both buyers and sellers with only people who have no choice but to buy or sell eager to close. Home sales in Orlando are reaching the levels that we saw back in 2008 after the market crash. Orlando Realtors are losing almost $700,000 in daily commissions from the pandemic.

Right now it’s too early to say how this will all play out because we don’t know how effective the Federal stimulus will be in helping people through this financial rough patch. Banks are granting temporary mortgage forbearance to many homeowners and businesses will hopefully get enough help to pay employees through the crisis.

I believe lenders will have to step up and provide some major help to prevent foreclosures in Orlando and other Florida cities. In my opinion, it’s the only way to avoid large numbers of foreclosures and short sales in Orlando.

Potential for Mass Short Sales in Orlando

Like I said before, it’s too early to tell what will happen to Orlando real estate market as a result of coronavirus. However, I do think that if people don’t get back to work in the next couple of months, short sale Realtors in Orlando will be extremely busy by the end of 2020 and well into 2021.

Even lenders aren’t sure how everything will end up playing out because they don’t know how much time it will take for Floridians to get back to work. Short sales and loan modifications are used as an alternative to avoid foreclosure. The problem with loan modifications is that the homeowner will still be on the hook for the entire amount of the loan but with lower payments.

I’ve been a short sale Realtor in Orlando since 2004 and 9 out of 10 times when I present my clients with the terms of both a short sale and a loan modification, they choose short sale.

Doing a short sale, however, will allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than what’s owed on the mortgage. By doing this, the lender gets at least most of their money back and avoids a lengthy and expensive foreclosure process. The homeowner also benefits from a short because they can avoid having a foreclosure on their record and won’t be responsible for the difference between what they owed and what the home sold for.

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How To Submit A Short Sale Package

Submitting The Short Sale Package

Back in the early 2000s when short sales were scarce and uncommon, short sale agents were forced to deliver completed short sale packages via FedEx, UPS, or sometimes even in person, depending on where the short sale lender was located concerning the home. As a short sale agent in Orlando, I did this to ensure the lenders would receive the package because banks would routinely lose or would claim they “never received it”, probably because they were outsourcing their short sales to 3rd party short sale processors. It was very frustrating, to say the least…

Although Bank of America was the first one to have the ability to receive shorts ales via upload, many of their competitors still required us to fax them over, and over… and over. As the years went on, through the implementation of online software and loss mitigation departments becoming more familiar with short sales, the short sale process became more streamlined and where being processed a lot faster.

These days some lenders will only accept documents if you upload them to their online processing platform. You must speak to someone before submitting the package so you know exactly what they need and how they need it. If there’s only one document missing, it will hold up the entire process.

Documents Needed for A Short Sale Package

Nowadays most lenders will have their short sale package with their company logo. It’s best to just follow along and submit the docs exactly how they ask for them.

This is a list of documents required by all lenders to be considered for a short sale:

Listing Agreement: The short sale lender will need proof the property is listed by a licensed real estate agent at the current market value. The listing agreement must be signed and list the terms of the listing, the name of the brokerage and the amount of commission to be paid. It’s never a good idea to lowball the bank so make sure the offer price is close to the listing price, they aren’t stupid and it could cause them to reject the file altogether.

Purchase Contract: Note: Not every lender will accept a contract that’s been signed electronically. They may require you to have “wet signatures” on the contract so find out the requirements beforehand. Make sure the property address is written correctly and every line has initials and signatures where needed so there aren’t any delays.

Hardship Letter: Writing an effective hardship letter is probably the most important part of the short sale package. It should tell a detailed story about how the homeowners got into their current situation and why they can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. Whether it’s because of loss of employment health problems or divorce, leave nothing out. The hardship letter must have the loan number on it, signed and dated by the homeowner.

Letter of Authorization: This is the letter in which the seller authorizes the agent to speak with the lender on the seller’s behalf.  As a short sale realtor in Orlando since 2004, I prefer to send in the authorization letter as soon as I get the listing agreement so I can establish communicate easily with the short sale lender before sending in the package. However, for some unknown reason, many short-sale agents will wait to send it together with the complete package.

Bank Statements: Every short sale lender will want to see your last 2 bank statements for every account you have and don’t leave out any pages as this will delay your file. If there is any unusual activity on the account like large deposits or withdrawals, I suggest you make a note to the short sale processor explaining why. Put out the fire before it starts…

Last 2 Years Tax returns: The short sale lender will also want to see your past 2 years of federal tax returns, dated and signed, on every single page. If for some reason you haven’t failed, you should write a letter explaining why.

Last 2 W-2s or Profit and Loss Statement: The lender will require you to send in the past two years of w-2s disclosing your salary. However, if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to send in a profit and loss statement. If you’re not self-employed, you should also send in your payroll stubs supporting the w-2s. Explain any bonuses or other pay increases if applicable.

Preliminary HUD Statement: The preliminary HUD statement should be prepared by the title company that will do the closing. It contains all the details of the property such as a legal address, seller’s names, buyer’s names, and the estimated closing costs. It will break down all the costs of the transaction including the sale price, mortgage payoffs, real estate commissions, taxes, insurance, etc.

The CMA [comparative market analysis]: Your short sale agent should also prepare a comparative market analysis to be included with the short sale package. It’s a report of comparable homes sold in the same area. A CMA report should justify the offer price and should be included if the offer price is less than the listing price.

Contractors Estimate: If the home requires some repairs to make it livable or even minor repairs, it’s always a good idea to include a contractor’s estimate of how much it will cost to make the repairs. If you want to be thorough, you should get 3 estimates from different contractors.

Short Sales Aren’t Guaranteed

Keep in mind that there is never a guarantee when it comes to short sales. Just because you followed all the steps and did everything the lender asked of you, there’s still a chance that your short sale will be denied by the lender. If this happens, don’t give up!

If you have an experienced short sale agent in your corner, they won’t give up either. Sometimes it takes some negotiating and jumping through a few more hoops to get it done.

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What Do Real Estate Agents Charge?

If you need to hire a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, keep in mind these real estate professionals get paid through a real estate commission. So how much does it cost and why? Can this be negotiated?

As a real estate agent in Orlando, FL since 2004, please let me explain everything you’ll need to know about real estate commissions.

How much are real estate commissions?

Instead of getting paid by the hour or weekly salary, real estate agents only get paid if the real estate transaction goes through.

Some brokerages will charge a flat rate for their services, most agents work off a percentage of the sale once the sale has gone through. The exact percentage can vary however, most real estate commissions are usually between 5 and 6% of the sale price. So on a $100,000 home, a 5% commission would be $5,000.

This might seem like a lot of money, but keep in mind that the real estate commission gets split between the listing agent and buyer’s agent. Also, real estate agents don’t receive a penny until the deal has gone through… a process that can take weeks and even months of work depending on the deal.

Who pays the real estate commission?

Usually, the seller of the home pays the entire amount of the commission for the service of both the listing agent as well as the buyer’s agent… unless the agent is representing both buyer and seller.

The two agents typically split the real estate commission 50/50. If a home sells for $100,000 at a 5% commission, each real estate agent will walk away with $2,500. However, this can also vary in certain situations such as if the listing agent was only offering 1% to the buyer’s agent. Everything in real estate is usually negotiable.

Dual Agency Explained

If the same real estate agent is representing both the buyer and the seller, the agent then becomes a “dual agent” and receives the entire amount of the real estate commission. That’s why listing agents love it when they also find the buyer in addition to representing the seller. [Talk about a huge payday!]

As an Orlando real estate agent, this has happened to me countless times. However, many real estate agents don’t like representing both parties because it puts them in the awkward situation of having to work for both the buyer which could at times become a conflict of interest.

What Exactly does real estate agent commission cover?

Homeowners certainly have the option of selling or buying their home “For Sale By Owner”, but when they find out the tremendous amount of time and work that it requires, they usually end up hiring a real estate agent. Real estate agents provide a whole wide range of services like; pricing the home correctly, marketing the home [on the Multiple Listing Service, social media, etc.] negotiations, and even guiding homeowners through the closing.

An experienced real estate agent can help you get top dollar for your home while handling all the stress that comes with selling a home. I can tell you from experience… good real estate agents earn their money!

Need proof? Check out these numbers… A recent National survey done in 2019 found that a typical FSBO home sold for $195,000 compared to $245,000 with the assistance of a real estate agent, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

That means that homes listed for sale with a realtor sold for $50,000 more than without an agent. Maybe that’s why a whopping 92% of homeowners used a real estate agent to sell their home.

Are real estate agent commissions negotiable?

As my first ever real estate teacher used to say all of the time “everything in real estate is negotiable”. Although a 5% to 6% commission is the norm here in Florida, there aren’t any state or even federal laws that set commission rates.

This means that if you want to sell your home, you can certainly ask your real estate agent to reduce their commission however, they aren’t obligated to do so.

One thing to consider is this: Your listing agent must pay for marketing your home from the commission they receive after the closing, less commission could mean a lower marketing budget for your home which could mean more time on the market.

With that being said, it won’t hurt to ask your agent to lower their commission. Most real estate agents won’t be offended [who cares if they are?] and the worst they can tell you is no. If you are tight on the numbers, you may ask them to charge you a flat fee for helping you list the home, communicate with buyers, and write the contract, but you won’t get a full service from the agent or brokerage with a flat fee. Most agents don’t offer a flat fee listing agreement, so you’ll have to shop around a bit, and be prepared to do some of the heavy lifting yourself.

Buying or selling a home will probably be one of the largest financial transactions of your lifetime, so make sure to find an experienced real estate agent that you can trust to do a great job. This isn’t the time to hire your nephew who just got his license 3 weeks ago…

Other Things You Should Know About Real Estate Commissions

Every detail about an agent’s real estate commission must be outlined in the listing agreement [contract] that you signed when you hired the agent. A typical listing agreement should also state how long the agent will represent you. Usually, a listing agreement in Florida lasts between 90 to 120 days.

As the home seller, you want a real estate agent who will fetch you the highest and best sales price and the terms you want, but the best real estate agents aren’t cheap. Like the old saying goes with most things in life… you get what you pay for.

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