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  • Tue, Aug 2 2011
  • 5:31 PM » Changes Ahead for Mortgage Servicing
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 5:31 PM by CNBC
    Robo-signing, lost paperwork and wrongful evictions have put mortgage servicers under the gun. To address the problem, lawmakers are considering a national standard for mortgage servicers.
  • 4:12 PM » FHA sells record number of REO in June
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 4:12 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Note: I'll post on vehicle sales soon. Earlier this year, Tom Lawler noted that the FHA was having , and the FHA's REO inventory increased in Q1. It now appears the FHA REO problem has been solved. The FHA sold a record number of REO in April, more in May, and another new record in June. According to HUD, the FHA acquired 7,667 REO in June and sold a record 13,609 properties (breaking the record of 12,671 properties sold in May). The FHA REO inventory has declined from 69,958 at the end of Q1 2011, to 54,645 at the end of Q2. Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery. Fannie and Freddie are expected to release results including REO aquisitions and inventory later this week. From Diana Golobay at HousingWire: Freddie Mac spokesperson Michael Cosgrove noted the company could release its Q210 earnings later this week but may wait until close of business Monday. Fannie Mae spokesperson Jason Vasquez also said earnings are anticipated "sometime this week," ... it is believed that Fannie will release Thursday, with Freddie to follow after, sources say. I expect Fannie and Freddie to report declines in REO inventory in Q2 too.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 3:26 PM » ‘Entourage’ House Sells for $4.2 Million
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 3:26 PM by Google News
    Next Previous Picture 1 of 21 | Toggle Loading entourage_exterior Source: Access Hollywood The A-list antics of Vinny Chase and his crew on HBO’s hit series “” are loved by millions around the globe. The infamous bromance has, however, signed on for its eighth and final season this year, with the season’s premier airing just last week. As it turns out, someone gets to follow in E, Turtle, Drama, and, of course, Vinny’s footsteps… literally. Who? The recent buyer of the massive mansion used as home-sweet-entourage in the series’ seventh season, that’s who. Originally listed back in 2008 for $6,895,000, the received a series of price cuts over the past three years, the final one going from $5,958,000 to $4,200,000 — the price the home finally sold for on June 1. Despite the heavily reduced sale price, the new owner will be facing a monthly of almost $16,500/month! This prime piece of is coincidentally staying in Hollywood hands and has been Located on a .85-acre, gated lot, this home boasts over 9,000-sq ft of living space with a total of 7 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms. Fans of the show know the movie-star amenities don’t stop there. This king-size house also features a media room, office, 7 fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen (Drama’s cooking service unfortunately not included), and a large backyard perfect for entertaining. What fans perhaps didn’t know is there’s also a “fabulous attached Casita for guests.” This feature is presumably within close proximity to the outdoor swimming pool the four friends are frequently filmed relaxing around after hard days work of reading scripts and making deals.
  • 2:56 PM » Realtors Help Rebuild Joplin, Mo., Community
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 2:56 PM by Google News
    As the citizens of Joplin rebuild in the aftermath of the May tornados, the connection between home ownership, strong families and resilient communities has never been more salient. On Thursday, August 4, the National Association of Realtors® will join Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston in recognizing the efforts of Realtors® and others in restoring the homes and heart of the city.
  • 11:44 AM » Personal Income less Transfer Payments Revised Down Sharply
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 11:44 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    On Friday, the BEA released revisions for GDP that showed the recession was significantly worse than originally estimated. This morning the BEA released revisions for Personal Income and Outlays. One of the key measures of the economy is personal income less transfer payments, in real terms. This is also one of the measures the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in business cycle dating: The committee places particular emphasis on two monthly measures of activity across the entire economy: (1) personal income less transfer payments, in real terms and (2) employment. The following graph shows personal income less transfer payments as a percent of the previous peak. Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery. Prior to the revisions, the BEA reported this measure was off close to 7% from the previous peak at the trough of the recession. With the revisions, this measure was off almost 11% at the trough - a significant downward revision and shows the recession was much worse than originally thought. Real personal income less transfer payments is still 5.1% below the previous peak.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 11:34 AM » A "Run to the Bank"
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 11:34 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Over the last couple of weeks, we saw extreme caution by businesses and consumers. CEOs were warning about a sharp slowdown. Lawyers were telling their clients to wait before signing contracts. Corporations were stockpiling cash ... and there was even a "run to the banks"! From Francesco Guerrera at the WSJ: U.S. companies large and small also chose an extraordinary playbook, stashing cash in the corporate equivalent of mattresses—bank accounts that yield no interest ... Banks, for their part, looked at the influx of deposits with mixed feelings. On one hand, the unexpected bounty provides them with cheap funding that can be put to work in the form of loans. At the same time, the new deposits swelled their liabilities ... One executive even suggested that if this "run to the bank" continues, lenders might consider introducing negative interest rates on deposits (savers would have to pay a fee to park the money in the bank) to keep money out. Some of this move to cash is due to the European financial crisis (the Italy to Germany hit another record high today). But most of the move was probably due to the political uncertainty. A key question is how quickly consumer and business confidence returns to the already low pre-debt ceiling debate levels.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:58 AM » Construction Spending increased in June
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:58 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Catching up ... this morning from the Census Bureau that overall construction spending increased slightly in June: onstruction spending during June 2011 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $772.3 billion, 0.2 percent (±1.8%)* above the revised May estimate of $770.5 billion. Private construction spending increased in June: Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $493.4 billion, 0.8 percent (±1.3%)* above the revised May estimate of $489.6 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $235.8 billion in June, 0.3 percent (±1.3%)* below the revised May estimate of $236.5 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $257.7 billion in June, 1.8 percent (±1.3%) above the revised May estimate of $253.1 billion. Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery. This graph shows private residential and nonresidential construction spending, and public spending, since 1993. Note: nominal dollars, not inflation adjusted. Private residential spending is 65% below the peak in early 2006, and non-residential spending is 38% below the peak in January 2008. Private construction spending is mostly moving sideways, and it is public construction spending that is now declining. The second graph shows the year-over-year change in construction spending. On a year-over-year basis, private residential construction spending will probably turn positive in August, but public spending is now falling sharply as the stimulus spending ends.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 9:57 AM » Reactions to the Debt Deal
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:57 AM by WSJ
    Some people love the, some people say it goes too far, and some people say it doesn’t do enough. Here’s a roundup of reactions. -This agreement would cut spending by more than the increase in the debt ceiling , provide a workable, enforceable mechanism to ensure that the cuts actually take place, allow for a vote on significant reform to the budget process, and avoid a default by the U.S. government that would create enormous economic harm and destroy jobs. - Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce -Maybe Warren Buffett had the right idea when he said, “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than three percent of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.” As for the Nation’s AAA rating status, I think we are in for a downgrade no matter what happens inside the “Beltway” as the pendulum always swings too far in each direction. - Jeff Saut, Raymond James & Associates -We believe that the potential for a relief rally in risky assets should be limited and relatively short-lived. We doubt that the US dollar would display any notable strength of the back of this deal. Moreover, investor concerns regarding the sustainability of US fiscal policies and related uncertainties about the rating outlook for the US sovereign would be, if at all, only partially addressed by this deal. -Ajay Rajadhyaksha, Anshul Pradhan, Frank Engels and Julian Callow, Barclays Capital -With the economy deeply depressed, 25 million people in need of full time work, the raw deal will impede any recovery. It precludes any serious action on jobs from the federal government. It will cost jobs as spending is cut. Instead of getting serious about a plan to revive this economy and put people back to work, Washington will remain fixated on what and how much to cut. From the President to the Tea Party zealots, politicians will tell Americans that this agreement is `important to our economy...
  • 9:56 AM » Economists React: Very Weak, Very Disappointing
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:56 AM by WSJ
    The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of manufacturing activity . Economists and others weigh in. - This is exceptionally weak and I am struggling to find any silver lining as the underlying components were, with the exception of export orders, lower across the board. Very weak, very disappointing. -Eric Green, TD Securities -The key issue looking forward… is why orders dropped back after rising slightly in June? It might be a response to debt ceiling fears, or a reflection of weak consumption. Either way, it makes it hard to be a Q3 bull. Growth nearer 2% than 3%? -Ian Shepherdson, High Frequency Economics -Anecdotal reports were more mixed than implied by the numerical ISM . A respondent from the computer products sector indicated that: “Europe is weak, US soft and Asia strong.” But, a respondent from the fabricated metals industry indicated that “demand from auto producers continues to improve.” Also, it appears that some respondents were concerned about a looming debt ceiling crisis and noted some government contracts might be jeopardized. -David Greenlaw, Morgan Stanley -Uncertainty about the debt ceiling negotiations may have been a factor constraining activity. That said, considering the easing of PMI surveys globally, this is unlikely to be the whole story. The softness of domestic demand in Q2 is also likely to have hit production and orders at the start of the current quarter, and while we continue to expect a boost from auto output, today’s survey suggests a weak starting point for growth in Q3. -Peter Newland, Barclays Capital -Although the ISM report is gloomy, we expect manufacturing activity to improve. Motor vehicle production schedules are increasing as parts are more available and inventories remain low. In addition, business equipment spending has been, and is expected to remain, relatively strong. Profits are high and firms are willing to invest to upgrade their operations to take advantage of accelerated depreciation. -Daniel J. Meckstroth...
  • 9:55 AM » Office Tenants Move Up in Class
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:55 AM by Google News
    . For our latest version of , Developments asked Chris Macke, a senior real estate strategist at CoStar, for his commentary. By Chris Macke Much like prize fighters who move up in weight class, tenants are moving up in class from class B buildings to class A buildings. And who can blame them? Fancy offices that were out-of-reach back during boom times are now possible for mid-range firms. At the same time that class A landlords are fighting to fill their buildings, class B buildings are fighting to retain their tenants. This is because while office leasing activity now stands above the 2003-08 average, the amount of net occupied square footage hasn’t increased at a significant rate. There is more churn than actual growth resulting in aggressive tactics by all involved. The problem for owners of class B buildings is that while class A landlords can lower rents to near class B rent levels, class B landlords cannot increase their buildings classification without a substantial investment of capital, if at all. As a result, the first half of 2011 saw positive national office net absorption of 17 million square feet, of which 90%, or 15.3 million square feet, occurred in class A buildings. Class A landlords are seeking warm bodies to lower their elevated vacancy rates and are willing to deal in their pursuit of class B tenants. CoStar Group CoStar Group’s June “” list reflects this trend. On a square foot basis, more than 95% of the top 10 notable leases occurred in class A buildings. Class A landlords are clearly having success in the fight between class B buildings and class A buildings, nearly knocking class B buildings out of the top 10.
  • 9:55 AM » Treasury Department Proposes Foreclosure Prevention Program
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:55 AM by
    The U.S. Treasury Department joined the campaign to keep homeowners from foreclosure by promoting a new loan modification proposal, Bloomberg reported on July 20. The department said the proposal would prevent at least 1 million Americans from losing their homes. This initiative coincides with efforts made by the Obama administration to step up aid to homeowners and revive the housing market. President Obama announced the Making Homes Affordable program in 2009, setting a goal of 3 million to 4 million loan modifications by the end of 2012.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 9:55 AM » Realtors® to Regulators: Narrow QRM Definition Not Necessary to Assure Safe, Sound Mortgage Lending
    Published Tue, Aug 02 2011 9:55 AM by Google News
    A proposed rule by federal regulators to impose a minimum 20 percent down payment, stringent debt-to-income ratio requirements and rigid credit standards will deny millions of Americans access to safe, low-cost mortgages, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
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