Extreme Modifications:¬† 2% Mortgages
By Les Christie
Homeowner Rodney¬†Wynn was drowning under his $1,800-per-month, 13.4% interest rate mortgage. But by 5 p.m., he had found some relief: a 4.7% loan with a $970 monthly payment.
Wynn, a program director for a youth home in North Carolina, is just one of a growing number of homeowners getting dream workouts on their mortgages. Some are even getting sweet 2% deals.
Nearly 80% of all loan modifications resulted in lower payments in the second quarter (the latest figures available), according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision. That’s up from just over 50% three months earlier. Still, just a paltry 4% of all homeowners¬†in need of workouts are receiving them.
When loans are
Citi’s Holiday Treat:¬†¬†No Foreclosures For a Month
By Hibah Yousuf
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Citigroup will suspend foreclosures and evictions for 30 days, giving 4,000 at-risk borrowers a break during the holiday season, the company said Thursday.
“We hope that with this suspension we can make the holidays a little less stressful for our customers who are going through a very difficult time,” said Sanjiv Das, chief executive of CitiMortgage, in a statement.
This article was posted¬†on www.cnnmoney.com
Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) also announced Thursday that it was suspending all foreclosure evictions from Dec. 19 through Jan. 3. All owners and tenants living in foreclosed properties that the mortgage financing company holds will not be subject to evictions during
Mortgage Rates Rise, 30-Year Near 5%
By Joan E. Solsman
Mortgage rates rose this week, with the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbing closer to 5%, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates.
The housing market has been lurching to recovery this year, as disappointing data one day seems to be followed by encouraging reports the next. Home construction rebounded more than expected in November but followed a surprising drop the previous month, according to the Commerce Department Wednesday. And despite the rise in building last month, the National Association of Home Builders trade group said Tuesday its housing market index slid slightly in December.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.94% for the week ended Thursday, up from last week’s 4.81% average but down
Down-Payment Standards Eased
By RUTH SIMON
Some mortgage insurers and lenders are beginning to relax their down-payment requirements, in a sign of increased confidence in the housing market.¬†
The changes, which are being done on a market-by-market basis, mean buyers in some parts of the country can now borrow 95% instead of 90% of a property’s value. Until recently, mortgage companies had tighter standards for these markets because of falling home prices.
Bloomberg A ‘Quick Move In’ sign sits outside a home for sale in Denver in October. The city was one of the 11 markets where mortgage insurer MGIC decided to loosen restrictions on down payments in September.
“We are feeling better about the economic condition of the marketplace,” said Michael Zimmerman, senior vice president of
Sweeping Bank Reform Bill Clears House
Measure, aimed at preventing another big financial crisis, imposes more oversight and creates consumer protection agency.
Posted on CNNMoney.com By Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney.com senior writer WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) — The House passed legislation Friday aimed at preventing the next big financial crisis, ushering in the most sweeping set of changes to the banking regulatory system since the New Deal.¬†¬†
The bill, which passed 223-202, imposes more oversight and stronger capital cushions for the largest banks and Wall Street firms. It forces them to pay a total of as much as $150 billion into an emergency fund that could be tapped when a troubled company needs to be taken over and broken up.
The legislation also calls for the regulation of some derivatives and creates a
House Flipping Makes a Comeback
by James R. Hagerty
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Four years after the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, flipping homes is back in fashion.¬†
Jon Mirmelli, a Phoenix real-estate investor, learned late in the morning of Sept. 28 that a never-occupied custom house on the northern fringes of this Phoenix suburb was going up for auction around noon the same day. The six-bedroom home, built on a three-acre desert plot, has a kitchen with two dishwashers, four ovens, “antibacterial” copper sinks, and a master “spa” bathroom with space for a flat-screen TV visible from the tub.¬†
Joshua Lott for The Wall Street Journal¬†
Avraham Azoulay, left, and Donna Valva looked over their list of foreclosed houses outside the Maricopa County Court building during
For a Better Reading, Try New-Home¬†Sales¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
U.S. existing-home sales have surged by about 25% from January through September of this year and probably hit a new 2009 high last month. Yet that doesn’t mean the housing market‚Äîor the broader economy‚Äîis following suit.
Forecasters expect sales of existing U.S. homes to rise another 2% to 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.7 million units when the National Association of Realtors reports the October figures on Monday.
October sales were likely driven by the looming Nov. 30 expiration of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which has since been extended through mid-2010, and bargain prices on “distressed” properties such as foreclosures.
But while Monday’s report is likely to garner headlines, sales of existing
Washington Report: $8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit
by Kenneth R. Harney
Quick passage by the House last week of a bill extending the $8,000 home buyer tax credit next year for military, diplomatic and intelligence personnel serving overseas increases the odds that Congress will agree to an extension, maybe even an expansion, of the entire credit program well into 2010.
The White House is also signaling that it sees the overall tax credit program — currently set to expire November 30 — as an important element in cutting the unemployment rolls and stimulating new jobs next year.
After an economic policy strategy meeting last week in the Oval Office involving President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, congressional aides said
The Lowdown on Home-Buyer Tax Credits
By LAURA SAUNDERS @ www.wsj.com
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a law that extends through next spring a temporary tax credit of up to $8,000 for some first-time home buyers, which was due to expire Nov. 30. The law also adds a new tax credit of up to $6,500 for certain repeat home buyers. The package, which the government estimates will cost a total of $11 billion, is intended to help spur housing sales, a critical part of the economy.
Here are some answers to common questions about the new rules.
WSJ tax columnist Laura Saunders answers questions from readers about looking ahead to tax time.
Q: What has stayed the same in the new law?
No Lending, No Recovery
Loans keep falling as banks tidy up their balance sheets. Can the economy grow without their help?
By Colin Barr, senior writer
NEW YORK (Fortune) — In an ominous sign for the recovery, bank loans are drying up faster than ever.
Loan balances at commercial banks fell at the fastest clip in at least 25 years in the third quarter, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday.
Outstanding loans have fallen every quarter since last fall, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other big financial firms turned a recession into a full-fledged financial crisis.
But the third quarter decline was the sharpest yet, leaving banks’ balance sheets 7% smaller than they were at this time a year ago.
The falloff in bank lending