foreclosure process 2013 MAY BE THE BEST YEAR TO BUY A HOME

Aside from mortgage interest rates being at the lowest in almost 30 years, and home prices still well below what they were 6 years ago (although positively climbing…good for sellers, bad for investors) numerous elements of the fiscal cliff bill favor buyers and sellers alike.  This may mean 2013 is the best time to buy a home.

After consistent declines last year in interest rates, the start of 2013 marked another drastic dip in rates, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.  The average 30-year fixed rates in January 2013 was 3.34, down form 3.35 at the end of 2012, and well below 3.90 at the beginning of 2012.  15-year fixed averages slid below 2.65, down from 3.23 exactly a year ago.

Lenders have also finally faced the  cold hard facts (it took them long enough)!  They have finally realized that it is much more profitable to accept a short sale then take a harder hit through a foreclosure.  Bank statistics show they lose about 20 percent in a foreclosure sale compared to 14 percent in a short sale, according to the National Association of Realtors data.

For this reasons, banks are not only approving short sales in record time (my firm is seeing between 45 to 50 day approvals) but are giving homeowners, buyers and even tenants money incentives to sell and close the short sale.  Attorney Jacqueline Salcines states “As recently as December 2012, my client received a $26,000.00 incentive, $20,000 from his lender and $6,000 from the HAFA program, AND, wrote off his mortgage balance.  This translates into an overwhelming incentive and gift to the borrower that is selling.”  This is good news for sellers selling and the buyer/investors still looking for a good deal.

While experts such as predict that home prices will increase about 3.1 percent in 2013, which is great for sellers and their realtors, there is still lots and lots of good news for buyers.  New home buyer incentives have been reinitiated giving first time home buyers credits to buy again.

All in all, whether you are buying or selling, it makes no sense to go it alone.  Consult with an attorney who is qualified to provide solid advice in the field of real estate home purchases and investments.




Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new rules, known as the Qualified Mortgage (or QM for short), for mortgage financing. This new regulation, while creating a safer harbor for the lenders, reducing their risks, drastically impacts homebuyers and their ability to obtain loans.

At the start of 2013, lenders will face stricter guidelines in getting their loans approved. This translates into additional safeguards, additional manpower, additional fees and costs to borrowers. The rules will require tighter qualify control requirements for lenders including full documentation of applicant’s income, assets, employment, credit history, etc.

Plus, the Dodd-Frank Law in effect, limits points for qualified mortgages at 3 percent of the loan. This could heavily impact large lenders and home builders who provide incentives for home owners and use affiliated companies for their services, such as appraisers, title and surveyors.
Also affected are jumbo mortgages, which could affect higher end home sales in Counties and Cities with higher sales figures such as Coral Gables, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. Jumbo loan limits in Florida counties are classified as follows:

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Under the new regulations, to achieve safe harbor status, a loan must not have a debt-to-income ratio in excess of 43%. David Stevens, Chairman and President of the Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that “between 22 and 25 percent of all jumbo loans that exceed those limits, have DTI’s beyone that cap” thereby they will be affected.

To read more on this go to:

So, a few tips to make financing your home easier and allowing you to escape this bureacacy:

● Preserve your credit and keep your credit scores high
● Put down at least a 20% down payment on your purchase
● Avoid PMI mortgage insurance
● Use a qualified mortgage banker or broker to find the best possible programs and loans
out there for you based on your particular situation.

And the best advice of all… don’t go it alone.

Hire a qualified attorney to handle your closing! By hiring an attorney and accountant, you pay no more than a title company would charge BUT get additional services from a qualified professional including

● Review of Good Faith Estimates provided by mortgage brokers to check fees and costs

● Review and examination of title on the home you are purchasing to make sure title is free and clear of all encumbrances
● Preparation of the Closing Statement HUD-1 to make sure all charges are accurate
● Attendance at closing and review of all lender documents including mortgage and note

Contact me for more information on our real estate closing services.

Jacqueline A. Salcines, Esq. 305|669|5280

Or email me directly at



Sellers of property over a million dollars should be aware of changes to the Estate-Tax Exemption in 2013.

The Federal Estate-tax Exclusion amount for estates of property owners who die in 2013 increased to $5,250,000 in 2013, up from $5,120,000 in 2012, as per the Internal Revenue Service.

The federal estate-tax exclusion is now permanently set at $5 million and will be indexed for inflation. Due to inflation, however, the amount for 2013 works out to $5,250,000.

The federal gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption continues to be the same as the estate-tax exclusion amount. The top federal estate-tax rate on the largest estates is now 40%, up from 35% in 2012. Transfers from one spouse to the other generally and typically tax-free. Under the new law, portability also became permanent.

Portability effectively makes the federal estate-tax exclusion amount “portable” between a husband and wife. When one spouse dies, the other typically can get the deceased spouse’s unused exemption amount without having to set up trusts or other tax-saving maneuvers.

Even if your estate falls below the federal threshold, don’t automatically ignore the subject. With increasing federal estate-tax exclusions, there is an increased focus on state estate taxes, in all states that impose an estate tax.

As both a Real Estate Lawyer and Accountant, Jacqueline A. Salcines, Esq. is equipped to assist you with all your real estate needs. Contact us for legal and tax advice, sound guidance and peace of mind. Located in Coral Gables. 305|669|5280

On Friday, January 18, 2013, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced changes to their servicing requirements for short sales. These changes apply to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sales, with an offer and without an offer.

• Title Transfer requirement change:

o The buyer is prohibited from selling the property for any sales price for a period of 30 days from the date of the deed.

o After a 30 day period, and until 90 days from the date of the deed, the buyer is further prohibited from selling the property for a sales price greater than 120% of the short sale price.

This restriction runs with the land, meaning that it is not personal to the seller and will transfer to the new buyer.

Below is an example on how to calculate the 120%:

o Purchase Price is $100,000.00
o 120% of the purchase price would be $100,000.00 X 1.2 = $120,000.00

• Relocation Assistance:

o The borrower may be entitled to an incentive payment of $3,000 from Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac to assist with relocation expenses following successful completion of a short sale unless:

1. The borrower is required to contribute funds or execute a promissory note.

2. The borrower has Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and receives a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) or other government relocation assistance.

3. The servicer has knowledge that the borrower is receiving relocation assistance from another source other than the servicer.

Note: If the borrower receives relocation assistance from a source other than Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac or the Servicer, the difference in the relocation assistance amount up to the $3,000 incentive maximum may be provided. If the borrower will receive relocation assistance from a source other than Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac or the Servicer and the amount is equal to or greater than $3,000, no relocation incentive will be provided.

With all these changes, now more than ever, it is crucial to have an attorney negotiate and close your short sale. THE LAW OFFICES OF JACQUELINE A. SALCINES, P.A. is dedicated to negotiating short sales, and providing both title work and title closing services for all closings. Call us for a free consultation. Tel: 305.669.5280. or visit us on the web WWW.SALCINESLAW.COM


It’s Fast, Easy, and Secure

Miami-Dade County’s new Property Appraiser, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is proud to announce and put into service a 100% online homestead application process. Miami-Dade Homeowners can now go online to complete the entire application process for Florida’s Homestead Exemption and for the Homestead Assessment Difference, commonly referred to as Portability.

The Homestead Exemption (HEX) provides for a $50,000 reduction in the assessed value of a homeowners’ primary residence, saving property owners thousands of dollars in property taxes annually. Portability allows a homeowner to transfer a part or all of their HEX savings, when they move from one home to another. Homeowners can now visit, where they can fully complete and submit their application directly to the Property Appraiser’s Office.

Applications for 2013 property tax exemptions are due by March 1, 2013

For more information, you can call the real estate Law Firm of Jacqueline A. Salcines, P.A. at (305) 669-5280 or contact the Property Appraiser’s Office at (305) 375-4789 or (305) 607-6905.


Finally, Congress came to its senses, and extended the debt forgiveness benefits for qualified homeowners. Through the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, qualified distressed homeowners who have any debt forgiven as a result of a short sale, foreclosure or loan modification principal reduction, will not have to pay taxes on any debt forgiven. This protection is now extended through December 31, 2013. Homeowners will still receive a 1099-C form that will need to be reported to the IRS, but will not be liable for any amounts owed to the IRS for such cancellation of debt.

Under the Federal Tax Code, all types of forgiven debt are treated as income, and is subject to taxes. Because of the recently passed Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, homeowners who get their mortgage debt forgiven through either a short sale or loan modification, will not face a tax on the amount forgiven, up to $2 million dollars. “Forgiven Debt” refers to the difference between the amount the homeowner owes on his or her mortgage and the amount the mortgage company receives at closing.

The law had short sellers scrambling to close by December 31, 2012, because had it not been extended, any forgiven debt would be considered taxable income. But now, with this new law, distressed homeowners are free to continue their short sales without having to worry about paying Uncle Sam any amounts after the closing.

Attorney Jacqueline Salcines states “In the advent of the housing market recuperating and so many homes in South Florida being in foreclosure and short sale, there was a dire need for the extension of this protection to homeowners. Many clients were coming into the office, wanting to walk away and face judgments or bankruptcy because they truly had no means of paying any amounts to the IRS. Now, with the protection extended, we can once again freely negotiate these short sale to completion without the homeowner worrying whether they will incur additional costs.”

“It certainly should not have taken so long to have this law extended. And it should be extended beyond December 31, 2013 because with so many homes in South Florida in distress, there will be principal reductions and short sales requiring forgiveness for years to come. This is not going to be cleaned up in one year.” Aida Pacheco, Loss Mitigation Manager at Jacqueline A. Salcines, P.A.

For now, we will have until December 31, 2013 to close existing short sales and modify loans. With our rapid team of short sale processors, we, at the Law Offices of Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA can get the job done.