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Builder Confidence Up for Q4 Single-Family Home Sales

Homebuilder confidence in the single-family market ended the fourth quarter last year on a climb uphill as the wider economy showed improvement. The National Association of Home Builders released a market index Tuesday that recorded a four-point increase year-over-year to 18 for homebuilders in the single-family sector. The index fielded improvements across the board year-over-year, with confidence about current sales ticking up four points to 17 and anticipated sales for the next six months up two points to 26.

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Fed President ‘Bullish’ on the U.S. Economy

The president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, James Bullard, made national headlines recently following his strong statements regarding the state of U.S. real estate. Among the revelations included in Bullard's February speech - the declaration that nation's housing markets have officially hit bottom. During his speaking engagement in Chicago, Bullard applied pressure to the Federal Open Market Committee, calling the group's decision to extend ultra-low interest rates until 2014 a looming disaster for the country. Bullard cited the decline in U.S. home prices and loss of wealth.

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Maverick Funding Expands Reverse Mortgage Network

In Maryland, Maverick Funding Corp. is rolling out a new branch of its subsidiary, Reverse Mortgage Network. Recently announcing the addition of 40 reverse mortgage loan officers from within Baltimore-based Great Oak Funding, Maverick will conduct its expansion during the first two quarters of 2012.

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BB&T Acquires Leading Insurance Company

Through its recent acquisition of property insurance company Crump Group Inc., BB&T Corporation has doubled its wholesale insurance business. Based in New Jersey, Crump is among the nation's leading providers of wholesale commercial insurance, as well as the largest independent wholesale distributor of life insurance in the U.S.

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Family, Hit Man Receive Hefty Sentences for Fraud

Fraud

A federal court sentenced three family members to prison Monday for their role in $11 million in mortgage fraud, just as another court upped the sentence for a onetime company executive-turned-hit man currently serving time. These stories made our mortgage fraud blotter Monday. MReport sourced the stories from several news outlets, finding in their pages a number of illicit activities by the likes of appraisers, Realtors, mortgage brokers, investors, and company executives. First up: One couple and their son help bring in $11 million with co-conspirators.

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Arbor Commercial Mortgage Promotes New COO

New York-based direct commercial real estate lender, Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC, has promoted John Caulfield to COO. Caulfield, previously EVP and director of operations, will now supervise Arbor├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós $5.8 billion multifamily loan servicing portfolio.

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Nearly Half of Refinancing Q4 Borrowers Reduced Payments

Nearly 85 percent of refinancing homeowners with first-lien loans maintained or reduced their current payments by paying in additional cash in the fourth quarter last year. Of these, according to recent analysis by mortgage giant Freddie Mac, 49 percent of borrowers slashed their principal payments by refinancing at current rates, compared with 37 percent who preserved their payments. So-called cash-out borrowers accounted for 15 percent of all refinance loans, the lowest percentage in the 26-year history of the GSE's analysis.

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Nearly 40 Republican Senators Vow to Derail Cordray Appointment

Thirty-nine Senate Republicans vowed Friday to challenge several recent recess appointments, including one that installed Richard Cordray as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director, by turning to the courts. An open letter signaled that the lawmakers will also contest appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Many of the signers released another open letter Thursday with questions for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his past role as a supporter of pro-forma sessions as a tactic to block recess appointments.

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Housing Plays Small Part as Economy Adds 243K Jobs

New

A still-brittle economic recovery picked up steam in January as the private sector added 243,000 jobs, driving unemployment figures to lows not seen in three years. The Labor Department said that the national unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, also signaling a fifth straight month for declines in the number of jobless Americans. Construction added 21,000 jobs from December, with gains for nonresidential construction and specialty trade contractors. Financial services lost some 5,000 jobs from last month by comparison.

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BB&T Honored with 17 Greenwich Excellence Awards

Regional bank BB&T is starting of the year with a slew of awards for its Small Business and Middle Market banking groups. Between the two company divisions, BB&T earned 17 Greenwich Excellence Awards from Greenwich Associates.

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