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  • Thu, Jan 30 2014
  • 9:22 PM » Mortgage Volumes Hit Five Year Low
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:22 PM by WSJ
    The volume of home mortgages originated during the fourth quarter fell to its lowest level in five years, according to an analysis published Thursday by Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry newsletter.
  • 9:21 PM » Mortgage Modifications Must Be Written and Signed
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:21 PM by The Huffington Post
    The popularly named "Statute of Frauds" was enacted by the English Parliament in 1677 to reduce perjury in judicial proceedings. Its complete title was "An Act for the Prevention of Frauds and Perjuries." It required certain agreements be written and signed in order to provide definite evidence. One of these agreements was an "interest in land." U.S. states have enacted statutes based upon this English precedent with some additions and variations. Mortgage agreements and mortgage modification agreements must be written and signed by all parties, including the lender. The housing crisis produced significant litigation in which borrowers asserted a lender's unfairness or illegality. One asserted claim, among many, has been that a lender's representative verbally promised to modify the terms of the mortgage agreement. These lawsuits are typically dismissed because of the state's Statute of Frauds legislation. A recent and unpublished U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decision involved the unusual situation of an unsigned "trial period plan" (TPP) that was understood by the borrower to be a mortgage modification agreement ( Gross v. ABN AMRO Mortgage Group ). When the borrower was laid off and fell behind on his mortgage payments, he requested and signed a TTP agreement offered by the lender. However, the lender never signed the TPP and after receiving 22 subsequent payments, decided to initiate a mortgage foreclosure. The borrower challenged the foreclosure on numerous grounds including breach of contract, breach of good faith, and defrauding the court. The Sixth Circuit cited Michigan state law that requires mortgage modifications be signed by both the borrower and lender. The fact of an unsigned agreement indicated that there was no "meeting of the minds" as viewed objectively by the conduct of the parties. This TTP additionally stated that the lender would provide the borrower with a signed copy...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Huffington Post
  • 9:15 PM » Treasury's Four Note Auctions Attract Highest Demand Since 2012 - Bloomberg
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:15 PM by Bloomberg
    Treasury's Four Note Auctions Attract Highest Demand Since 2012 Bloomberg The Treasury drew the highest auction demand since 2012 this week as it sold $111 billion in four note offerings as investors sought the haven of U.S. government debt amid turmoil in emerging markets, even as the Federal Reserve cut its monthly  ... and more »
  • 3:47 PM » Charts: Putting U.S. Economic Growth in Perspective
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 3:47 PM by WSJ
    The economy had its best second half in a decade, indicating that the U.S. is on firmer footing. But the current expansion remains slow, and the pace of growth still is weak historically.
  • 3:41 PM » The State of the Union is Getting Better for Homeownership
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 3:41 PM by Google News
    WASHINGTON (January 28, 2014) – The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown: “NAR commends President Obama for highlighting two key policy reforms during his State of the Union address tonight that support the future of homeownership and the business of real estate. “Realtors® welcome the President’s call for legislation to keep the dream of homeownership alive for all Americans while protecting taxpayers from the risk of costly bailouts. NAR supports bipartisan legislation in the... Read More
  • 3:40 PM » NAHB Applauds Passage of Senate Flood Insurance Bill
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 3:40 PM by NAHB
    Press Release
  • 3:27 PM » GAO-14-179, Homeowners Insurance: Multiple Challenges Make Expanding Private Coverage Difficult, January 30, 2014
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 3:27 PM by US GAO
    Homeowners insurance policies typically protect homes, garages and other structures, and personal belongings from damage caused by perils such as fire, hail, lightning, explosion, and theft, among others. The insurance industry considers these perils insurable because they are accidental, predictable, and do not involve catastrophic losses. These policies also typically exclude losses from a number of perils, including disasters caused by floods, earthquakes, and war. Industry officials said that such events are difficult to predict and involve extensive losses that are a challenge for private insurers to cover. Insurers also exclude losses from defective products, which industry participants said could be addressed by manufacturer warranties and commercial general liability insurance. Intentional losses; damage from wear, tear, or neglect; and losses caused simultaneously by covered and uncovered perils, such as wind (covered) and flood (uncovered) during a hurricane are also generally excluded.Policy exclusions can impact homeowners, communities, and state and federal governments. When excluded losses occur, they can create significant costs for homeowners to repair homes and replace possessions. Wide-scale catastrophes can also cause shortages of building materials and contractors that delay reconstruction and substantially increase the costs of repairing homes. When damage to properties caused by excluded losses is not repaired, affected communities may experience blight and face reduced tax revenue. When federal and state governments have stepped in to cover what private insurers exclude, taxpayers may face a significant expense. In addition to federal disaster assistance, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid more than $7 billion in claims after Superstorm Sandy. In Florida, insurers and policyholders can be assessed extra charges to help pay for state efforts to cover wind damage where it is not covered by insurers. Industry participants suggested that...
  • 1:54 PM » How Were Fed Forecasts? Too High, Too Low and Just Right
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 1:54 PM by WSJ
    In December 2012, Federal Reserve officials predicted where GDP, unemployment and inflation would be in 2013. Here's a report card on how the Fed did in its predictions.
  • 1:53 PM » 5 Takeaways From the GDP Report
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 1:53 PM by WSJ
    The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the final three months of the year, the Commerce Department said. The figures could be revised in coming months, but here are five takeaways from the initial reading:
  • 1:53 PM » Central Station: No Bottom in Sight For Emerging Markets
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 1:53 PM by WSJ
    The Wall Street Journal's Daily Report on Global Central Banks for Thursday, Jan. 30 HIGHLIGHTS 1) Fed Tapers Bond Buys By Another $10 Billion; 2) Turkey, South Africa Rate Hikes Fail to Stem Currency Slide; 3) Turkish Central Banker Plays High-Stakes Game; 4) New Zealand Holds Rates, To Hike Soon; 5) Rate Rise Not in Sight, Says BOE's Carney; 6) Inflation Puts Tightening on Bank of Mexico Agenda; 7) Hungary Hints at Rate Cuts Despite Sliding Forint; 8) Russia Won't Defend Ruble With Rate Hikes: 9) Scotland Must Give Up Some Controls for Currency Union: BOE's Carney; 10) Irish Central Bank Sees Start of Recovery; 11) EU Unveils Plan to Ban Proprietary Trading by Biggest Banks; 12) ECB's Nowotny Takes Swipe at Hungarian PM HILSENRATH'S TAKE Investors will get a reminder Thursday morning of why the Federal Reserve decided to pull back on its bond-buying program again. The Commerce Department releases its preliminary estimate of fourth quarter economic growth Thursday and it's lining up to be a strong number. Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm, estimates the economy grew at a 3.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter. J.P. Morgan puts it at 3.2%. Deutsche Bank puts it at 4%. When taken together with a 4.1% growth rate in the third quarter, that amounts to the second best six-month growth stretch during this recovery, behind the period that went from October 2011 to March 2012.
  • 1:53 PM » 2013 California Million Dollar Plus Home Sales Press Release
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 1:53 PM by DataQuick
    Million-Dollar Home Sales Jump in the Golden State January 30, 2014 La Jolla, CA.----The number of California homes that sold for a million dollars or more rose last year to the highest level in six years, the result of rising home prices and an improving economy, among other factors. The strongest sales gains were at the luxury market's high end, with record sales above the $2 million mark, a real estate information service reported. A total of 39,175 homes sold for a million dollars or more in 2013, up 45.1 percent from 26,993 in 2012. It was the highest number sold since 42,506 in 2007, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The all-time high was in 2005, when 54,773 homes sold for $1 million or more. Last year's 45.1 percent year-over-year increase in $1 million-plus sales easily eclipsed the state's housing market as a whole: Overall home sales totaled 446,319 last year, down 0.6 percent from 449,059 in 2012. Last year's increase in luxury home sales reflects the combination of rising demand and sharp price appreciation that pushed many homes up over the million-dollar threshold. "The luxury home market is unique, always has been. It responds to its own set of economic factors. Things like job growth, mortgage interest rates and migration patterns do not play the same role as IPOs, stock market performance or how well one type of investment does compared to another, and where one wants to park one's excess money. The $2 million threshold seems to be a more interesting cutoff point. Homes selling below that level do seem more responsive to the more traditional market factors," said John Walsh, DataQuick president. Price appreciation tugged many more homes up over the $1 million mark last year, but it was the multi-million-dollar home sales that set records. Statewide, 840 homes sold for more than $5 million last year, an all-time high and up 20.3 percent from the previous high of 698 in 2012. In the $4-$5 million range a record 596...
  • 12:40 PM » Economix Blog: Why the Homeownership Rate Is Misleading
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 12:40 PM by economix.blogs.nytimes.com
    At this stage of the housing recovery, the falling homeownership rate might be misleading, masking a possible increase in household formation because of young renters, an economist writes.        
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: economix.blogs.nytimes.com
  • 12:33 PM » DC Housing Authority programs assist new homebuyers
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 12:33 PM by National Housing Conference
    News from NHC's family of members by Radiah Shabazz, National Housing Conference   Last month, NHC member District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) celebrated 15 of its clients becoming new homeowners. The clients are graduates of DCHA's three assistance programs: Family Self-Sufficiency, Workforce Development and Homeowners Assistance, which provide, among other things, job training and counseling, credit counseling and financial management and meetings with financial institutions about lending and mortgage processes. The Family Self-Sufficiency program is provided as part of DCHA's Housing Choice Voucher program (HCVP). Many clients begin in this program before enrolling in the Homeownership Assistance Program, a multi-year commitment that has seen more than 80 families purchase homes in the District since its inception. To ensure the success of these programs, DCHA developed a new Homeownership Coordinating Committee that includes Bank of America, Habitat for Humanity and the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization to support new homebuyers before, during and after the home buying process is completed. The advancement of innovative housing strategies like those employed by DCHA is a pillar of NHC's federal housing policy agenda. We also work to build awareness among affordable housing developers and managers and service providers of the programs available to help low income residents build assets and achieve their goals. A plethora of resources on homeownership assistance and counseling, including down payment assistance can be found at Housingpolicy.org . NHC hosted a webinar last month that focused partly on our publication More than a Roof , which examined initiatives to increase the economic security of residents. The webinar also touched on the benefits of homeownership vouchers and how they can be used to mortgage homes. HCVP Director Ronald McCoy said in a statement that DCHA clients "took advantage of [the] program...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Housing Conference
  • 10:59 AM » Bond Report: Treasurys weaken ahead of $64 billion in auctions
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:59 AM by Market Watch
    Treasury prices fall Thursday, reversing some of the strong gains that have characterized the month of January, ahead of two debt sales totaling $64 billion.
  • 10:15 AM » Home-Selling Speed Declines in December, But Signs Point to Faster Spring Ahead
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:15 AM by blog.redfin.com
    Median Time on Market Climbs from 32 to 35 Days in December; Big Year-Over-Year Speed Gains for Some Metros. When Redfin measures the speed of the housing market, we focus on two numbers: median days on market, and the percentage of homes going under contract in two weeks or less. Read More The post Home-Selling Speed Declines in December, But Signs Point to Faster Spring Ahead appeared first on Redfin Real Estate Blog .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: blog.redfin.com
  • 10:14 AM » Economists React: Fourth Quarter GDP ‘Pretty Impressive'
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:14 AM by WSJ
    Economists and others weigh in on the 3.2% growth in gross domestic product at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.
  • 10:10 AM » NAR: December Pending Home Sales Fall 8.7%
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:10 AM by Google News
    WASHINGTON (January 30, 2014) – Pending home sales measurably dropped in December, with abnormal weather partly inhibiting home shopping in much of the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors® . Declines were experienced in all four major regions. The Pending Home Sales Index ,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 8.7 percent to 92.4 in December from a downwardly revised 101.2 in November, and is 8.8 percent below December 2012... Read More
  • 10:09 AM » Freddie Mac: Fixed Mortgage Rates Move Lower Again
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:09 AM by freddiemac.mwnewsroom.com
    Fixed Mortgage Rates Move Lower Again
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: freddiemac.mwnewsroom.com
  • 10:09 AM » OCC Survey Shows Banks' Underwriting Standards Continuing to Ease
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 10:09 AM by OCC
    The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's 19th Annual Survey of Credit Underwriting, released today, shows that underwriting standards are continuing to ease, with easing noted within both commercial and retail products.
  • 9:15 AM » Foreclosure Industry Says It'll Do A Better Job Of Screening Its Workers After Widespread Break-Ins
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:15 AM by The Huffington Post
    After hundreds of lawsuits and thousands of complaints, banks are finally pushing for reform in one of the darkest corners of the housing market. Under new guidelines expected to be adopted this year by most of the industry, the workers that watch over millions of homes in default or foreclosure will be subject to heightened levels of background checks. The measures are meant to screen out people convicted of a criminal offense, such as theft or fraud. They follow widespread allegations, first reported by The Huffington Post , that the handymen and home inspectors that banks hire to look after vacant properties are breaking into still-occupied homes, and looting them of valuables. Some of these people, who work indirectly for the banks through a web of contracting companies, have lengthy criminal records. "The intent is to give communities a high level of confidence that the people walking around in homes are not going to cause problems," said Eric Miller, the executive director of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services, the trade association that helped design the new standards. The new screening requirements mark the most significant effort by the mortgage industry to date to crack down on abuses that have resulted in a wave of unflattering media coverage, hundreds of consumer lawsuits and a case brought by the Illinois attorney general against Safeguard Properties , the biggest player in the industry. HuffPost's investigation last year found that most of the break-in complaints involve homes that are in some stage of default or foreclosure, but still in legal possession of the occupants. In many instances, contractors stand accused of ignoring obvious signs of habitation, kicking down doors and crawling through basement windows in order to gain access, then changing the locks. In some cases, they are also accused of helping themselves to valuables found inside. One contractor working for Safeguard Properties in Arkansas is accused of looting...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Huffington Post
  • 9:15 AM » Rule Changes Tighten Reverse Mortgage Eligibility
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:15 AM by The Huffington Post
    NOTE: PLEASE ALSO POST ON THE FINANCIAL EDUCATION SITE. THANKS! Reverse mortgages have become increasingly popular in recent years, as cash-strapped seniors seek ways to keep pace with rising expenses -- not to mention cope with the pummeling their retirement savings took during the Great Recession. (Reverse mortgages allow homeowners age 62 or older to borrow against their home equity and needn't be repaid until they move out permanently, sell the property or die.) But the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), whose Federal Housing Administration (FHA) finances the vast majority of reverse mortgages, noticed that borrowers increasingly have been opting to withdraw most or all of their home equity at closing, leaving little or nothing for future needs. Consequently, by mid-2012 nearly 10 percent of reverse mortgage holders were in default and at risk of foreclosure because they couldn't pay their taxes and insurance. That's why last year Congress authorized HUD to tighten several FHA reverse mortgage requirements in order to: encourage homeowners to tap their equity more slowly; better ensure that borrowers can afford their loan's fees and other financial obligations; and strengthen the mortgage insurance fund from which loans are drawn. Here's a roundup of the key changes: First-year limit . Most reverse mortgage borrowers can now withdraw no more than 60 percent of their total loan during the first year. Under previous rules, borrowers could tap the entire amount on day one -- a recipe for future financial disaster for those with limited means. The first-year limit may be waived for certain homeowners whose "mandatory obligations" (e.g., upfront insurance premiums, loan origination fees, delinquent federal debt, etc.) exceed the 60 percent amount; but they'll have to pay a higher upfront mortgage insurance premium -- 2.5 percent of the home's appraised value instead of the normal 0.5 percent. In either case, the annual...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Huffington Post
  • 9:12 AM » U.S. seeks $2.1 billion from Bank of America in fraud case
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:12 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government has asked a judge to order Bank of America Corp to pay $2.1 billion, increasing its request for penalties stemming from a jury's finding that the bank was liable for fraud over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit.
  • 9:04 AM » Horribly Outdated Mortgage Rate Data From FHFA (from December but released today)
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 9:04 AM by FHFA
    January 30, 2014: FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Interest Rates Increase Slightly in December
  • 8:18 AM » Futures rebound after selloff on Fed decision; data due
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 8:18 AM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged up on Thursday, rebounding after a 1-percent drop in key indexes a day earlier, following the Federal Reserve's decision to continue paring stimulus despite a selloff in emerging markets.
  • 8:15 AM » House Approves Farm Bill, Ending a 2-Year Impasse
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 8:15 AM by www.nytimes.com
    The measure calls for cuts in food stamps, affecting more than 800,000 households, and in some subsidies for farmers.        
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: www.nytimes.com
  • 8:14 AM » Wall Street's new trillion-dollar housing scheme
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 8:14 AM by CNBC
    Banks have begun selling bonds backed by foreclosed homes turned into rentals in the U.S., bringing calls for Congress to look into the deals. The NYT reports.
  • 8:11 AM » US bonds fall ahead of fourth quarter GDP estimate
    Published Thu, Jan 30 2014 8:11 AM by CNBC
    U.S. bonds fell on Thursday, as markets awaited the official estimate of fourth quarter U.S. economic growth.
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