Mortgage Debt Relief. Wassup?

Another question hanging about our heads this year-end involves extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, that measure that allows lenders not to 1099 you for the mortgage debt relief sellers who have gone through a short sale or foreclosure receive.

At this point with all eyes focused on the fiscal cliff, it is unlikely anything specific to this measure will be passed this year. If there is a continuing resolution (kick the can down the road for 90 days and let the new Congress deal with it), debt forgiveness could/would likely be a part of that. Otherwise we just get to wait until after the first of the year. NAR is pushing very hard for this – it was the subject of a recent call to action for Realtors nationwide, and we are moderately optimistic it will be extended by the new congress but by no means assured. Join the club with all the other individuals, businesses, charities, military members and others awaiting their fate at the whim of the administration and the able hands of Congress.

I know this is very nerve wracking for people involved in short sales or foreclosures right now who don’t know if their phantom income (debt relief) will be taxed or not. Imagine shortselling your home at a loss of $100,000 to your lender. If you close prior to December 31st, you have no tax liability on that money. If you close after January 1, that $100,000 could be added to your regular income and taxed at your increased rate – a potential difference of $20,000+. And right now nobody knows what’s going to happen. Merry Christmas. I’ll provide any updates as they become available.

You can let Congress know how you feel about this by clicking here:

 Do No Harm To Housing

Get Out Of Bed And Go To Work In The Morning, Even If OIt's Just Down The Hall

Any of you on the ActiveRain real estate network are familiar with Lenn Harley. Lenn is a Broker in Maryland & Virginia who runs a very successful business largely out of her computer. Nearly every blog Lenn writes is geared toward making her phone ring whether it’s from a referring agent or from a prospective client. She is an expert on SEO and ways to do more business for less money. I am re-posting this recent blog of hers because many of us today are trying to ‘get back to the basics’ to weather this current housing situation. In case you’ve forgotten some of the basics, Lenn lays them out for you in just a few simple steps.


John MacArthur, a gentleman and a scholar, who uses grace and finesse to inspire agents in the office he manages, inspired me to render a bit of HARD CORE REAL ESTATE ADVICE.

GET BUSY. Do a business plan where you determine your market and your resources and and and work it hard.  If the market changes, be nimble and ready to change focus with the market.

THINK ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS EVERY DAY. Remember that being a real estate salesperson is a full time job and get up in the morning and go to work, even if it’s down the hall.  Put in as much time as you would on a salaried job including travel time, that’s about 10 hours a day at least 5 days a week.

PUT IN SOME OVERTIME. If you work 6 days a week, you’ll sell more real estate and just consider that Real estate agentsovertime pay.  If you work 7 days a week, you’ll soon have more business than you can handle and more money because you’ll be closing more sales with satisfied clients.

NETWORK WITH FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. There is business there, but only if you project a professional and successful persona.

LEARN THE MARKET AND WHAT PRICE RANGES ARE SELLING. Don’t pooh-pooh the small sales these days, one settlement will pay your rent or mortgage payment for a month.

LEARN TO USE YOUR COMPUTER PROGRAMS FOR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS so you don’t have to buy them from your broker.  Keep your virus protection current.  If your computer is down you not only have computer repair costs, you may also have to rely on office support, which can be time consuming and costly.

BUDGET YOUR MONEY. If you have spousal income until your business is profitable, you are very fortunate indeed.

SAVE WHAT YOU CAN. If you have no other source of income, stay out of the mall.


DON’T SCRIMP ON AUTO MAINTENANCE. Automobile trouble will take you right out of business.  Agents need not only a clean and comfortable vehicle, the dang thing must operate safely and reliably.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH. Real estate practice is far easier if you can climb those town home steps, walk that country lot, drive all day showing homes and not be tired.  Good diet and regular exercise will pay off in stamina and that will pay off in buyers and sellers knowing that they can count on you.

The above doesn’t sound like fun, does it?  It isn’t meant to.  HARD CORE REAL ESTATE ADVICE means working hard, planning your activities and follow through, day after day after day.

ENJOY THE WORK YOU DO AND YOU’LL BE REWARDED. If you have planned your work schedule, just completing the tasks on your daily list will be rewarding and you’ll realize a successful day.

Success leads to more success.

New RESPA Rules – Find Out What They Mean To You


New and (?) improved RESPA rules are scheduled to go into effect the b beginning of next year. The new rules apply to Realtors, lenders, title companies and almost everybody involved in a real estate transaction. You can follow the link below to find out what it means to you.

NAR Holds Webinar on New RESPA Rule

NAR held a webinar on Wednesday February 4, 2009 with RESPA Attorney Phil Schulman covering the major provisions of the new RESPA rule set to go into effect January 1, 2010. Schulman discussed the new Good Faith Estimate, the new HUD-1, and a number of other provisions important to real estate agents, brokers, and others in the broader real estate industry. Schulman also gave his perspective on the likely prospects of lawsuits by the NAHB and NAMB dealing with “required use” and yield spread premium respectively. The webinar is now posted on the web at the link below.

Listen to the Webinar
Good Faith Estimate

Temecula Abandoned Property Registration Info


Abandoned Residential Property Registration Form

The City of Temecula enacted Ordinance No. 08-04 which takes effect on August 8, 2008. The new Ordinance adds Chapter 8.44 to the Municipal Code. The ordinance presents the description of abandoned properties and the requirements for foreclosed property owners to register the property with the Riverside County Recorder’s Office within 30 days. Additionally, in 30 days the beneficiary or trustee of the property must fill out the Abandoned Residential Property Registration Form available from the City of Temecula.

This form gives the City of Temecula both the current owner’s information and the property management company’s information. The property owner is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property as outlined in Section 8.44.050:

  • All Properties within the City shall be kept free of weeds, dry brush, dead vegetation, trash, junk, debris, building materials, any accumulation of papers or documents, except those required by federal, state or local law, and discarded personal items, including but not limited to, furniture, clothing, appliances, printed materials or any other items that contribute to the appearance that the property is abandoned.
  • All properties within the City shall be maintained free of graffiti, tagging or similar markings by removing or painting over the graffiti with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior of the structure.
  • Visible front and side yards shall be landscaped and maintained according to the standards set forth in the Temecula Municipal Code and applicable land use approvals for the property in question. Maintenance required for visible front and side yards also includes, but is not limited to, regular watering, cutting, pruning and mowing of landscape and removal of all yard trimmings.
  • Pools and spas shall be secured with approved fences and devices as required by the California Building Code (a fence around the yard or pool at a height of 5 feet with a self-latching gate: gate locks are not required) Pools and spas shall be drained and kept dry or kept in working order so that the water remains clear and free of pollutants and debris. Public Works info on how to drain pools properly
  • All properties within the City shall be maintained in such a manner so as not to constitute a public nuisance pursuant to Section 8.12.020 of the Temecula Municipal Code.

You may fill out the form on line and submit it electronically (Online Form), or you may come in to city hall and pick up a copy to turn in. Additionally, you can send by mail, or fax to (951) 302-4189. Any changes in the information on the form must be updated within 30 days and also renewed annually, one year from the registration date.

If you have questions about the form, please call Code Enforcement at 951-302-4144, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m to 5:00p.m.

Q & A: IRS Trying to Expedite Help to Homeowners

Got a homeowner who would like to sell or refi but they have a little issue with the IRS in the form of a tax lien? Well there might be some good news in this latest announcement from the IRS. Not only might they be willing to subordinate their lien for purposes of a refi, but they might even be willing to discharge a lien for purposes of a sale. And if that’s not enough, they’re trying to reduce the current 30+ day processing time for help homeowners.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced it will expedite its process of providing relief from federal tax liens for distressed homeowners. With over one million current federal tax liens against real and personal property, the IRS announcement should help REALTORS® and their clients resolve federal tax lien issues in their sale and loan transactions.

As background, a homeowner seeking to sell or refinance a property must generally pay off an existing federal tax lien. However, during the current economic downturn, many homeowners don’t have the cash or equity to do so. Hence, for a refinance, the homeowner may request that the IRS makes its tax lien subordinate or secondary to the lien of the refinancing lender. For a sale, the homeowner may, under certain circumstances, request that the IRS discharge its claim. The IRS’s processing time for subordination or discharge requests has been about 30 days. The IRS is currently working to expedite that time frame to help distressed homeowners. For IRS instructions on requesting relief from federal tax liens, go to the IRS Publication 783 for discharges and Publication 784 for subordinations at

C.A.R. provides REALTORS® with many legal articles covering a wide range of topics of interest. Some of the new or newly revised legal articles available at are as follows:

Legal Q & A: New Rules & Regs for 2009

During the last legislative cycle, a number of bills were passed that have some direct or indirect impact on real estate and the way we conduct our business. There are new disclosure requirements, including displaying your DRE license #; a number of housing relief, refinance and IRS regulations were implemented; changes were made to the way FIRPTA information is disclosed; and of course we can no longer chatter along with our cell phones up to our ears nor can we text while driving. Here’s just a few:


2009 New Federal and State Statutes and 2008 Voter-Passed Initiatives
including statutes passed the end of 2008


  • SB 1461  DRE License Number on Ads (eff. 7/1/09)  
  • AB 2881  Proximity to Farm or Ranch (eff. 1/1/09) 
  • SB 1595  Owner/Tenant Responsibilities in State Responsibility Area;¦lt;br /> Changes Criteria of High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (eff. 1/1/09) 
  • Proposition 99  Restriction on Eminent Domain in reaction to Kelo v. City of New London (passed 6/3/08) 
  • SB 1137  Notices to Tenants & Owner-Occupants; REO Lender/Trustee’s Sale Purchaser Obligations (eff. 7/8/08 and 9/9/08) 
  • SB 1511  HOAs Request/Notification of NOD  (eff. 1/1/09)
  • H.R. 3221  Housing and Economic Recovery Act/ HOPE for Homeowners Program (eff. 7/30/08)  
  • H.R. 1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (eff. 10/3/08) 
  • SB 1065  Cities/Counties May Use Revenue Bonds to Make/Purchase Home Mortgages (eff. 1/1/09 thru 1/1/12) 
  • AB 2052  Victim of Domestic Violence & Termination of Tenancy (eff. 9/27/08 thru 1/1/12) 
  • AB 2949  Landlords/REO Lenders and Abandoned Animals  (eff. 1/1/09)
  • SB 28  No Text Messaging When Driving (eff. 1/1/09)  
  • H.R. 3221  “FIRPTA Fix” (eff. 7/30/08) 
  • SB 1055  Conforms California income tax law with federal law as to mortgage debt forgiveness (eff. 9/25/08)


For a complete rundown of ALL the new rules and regs please visit:


Copyright© 2008 CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Permission is granted to C.A.R. members only to reprint and use this material for non-commercial purposes provided credit is given to the C.A.R. Legal Department. Other reproduction or use is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of the C.A.R. Legal Department. All rights reserved.

Legal Q & A: Abandoned Personal Property

As our market continues to be dominated by REO properties, and will likely be for some time to come, frequent questions arise as to the appropriate way to dispose of Personal Property found on an abandoned property either by a landlord or by an REO agent . This issue is the subject of a legal Q & A on the website along with many other legal issues.


Abandoned Personal Property After Termination of a Tenancy


Table of Contents





Residential Tenancies 



A.  Landlord Request’s that Tenant Retrieve Property (Questions 1 – 18) 



B.  Tenant’s Request for Return of Property (Questions 19 – 23)



C.  Lost Property (Questions 24 – 25)



Commercial Tenancies (Questions 26 – 37)



Abandoned Vehicles (Questions 38 – 41)



Additional Information (Question 42) 


I.  Introduction

After the termination of a tenancy, a landlord may find items of personal property left on the premises by either a former tenant or other persons. This legal article discusses California law regarding the disposition of abandoned property after the end of a tenancy.

II.  Residential Tenancies

The rules that apply for personal property left behind in a residential tenancy do not apply to manufactured homes or mobilehomes (Cal. Civ. Code § 1981).

For a complete summary of Q & A’s on this topic – please visit:


Copyright© 2008 CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Permission is granted to C.A.R. members only to reprint and use this material for non-commercial purposes provided credit is given to the C.A.R. Legal Department. Other reproduction or use is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of the C.A.R. Legal Department. All rights reserved.