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Home Sales Rose 5.7% in November: RE/MAX

Home sales helped end the year on an upswing by rising 5.7 percent in November, real estate company RE/MAX said in a report Monday. The company also found that sales ticked up by 1.1 percent year-over-year in December, the sixth straight month to post an increase. Homes for sale declined for the eighteenth consecutive month, with a 25.7-percent loss year-over-year. Home prices aligned with figures for the same in November, down 0.35 percent month-over-month and year-over-year.

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Huntsman’s Departure Highlights Politics of Housing Finance

And then there were five. Republican presidential hopeful and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman threw his support Monday behind frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Not unlike his fellow candidates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô or the incumbent himself ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô Huntsman left out any mention of housing finance reform and homeowners as issues for voters in the 2012 general election. Recent polls suggest that the political will exists to make housing finance policy a platform issue. MReport speaks with the experts to better understand housing finance policy and politics.

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Duke: Fed Wants to Work With Smaller Banks

Federal Reserve Gov. Elizabeth Duke offered to reassure bank executives Friday that the central bank wants to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation and work with smaller financial institutions to ensure that new mortgage banking rules work effectively. Speaking before the California Bankers Association in Santa Barbara, the official, a former banker-turned-regulator, said that the Fed will strive to prepare examiners and work with banks ahead of stress tests and final rules. She said regulators will include statements before every rule for bankers.

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Redwood Alters Executive Roles, Adds New President

A new president has been appointed at Redwood Trust, with the company's announcement that Brett Nicholas would take on the executive role. Replacing CEO Martin Hughes in the position, Nicholas was previously Redwood's chief investment and chief operating officer.

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Consumer Sentiment Ticks Up in January

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index polls an estimated 500 households per month to calculate the consumer sentiment values, and the U.S. is rebounding off of low recordings seen as recently as August 2011, at which time consumer sentiment sat at only 55.

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Two Originators Face Prison, Fines Over Mortgage Fraud

A New Jersey man formerly in the employ of a lender pled guilty to mortgage fraud, as a onetime mortgage originator from Maryland received jail time for his role in bilking friends and family members out of millions, according to sources. Both made MReport's mortgage fraud blotter Friday. MReport sourced the stories from news outlets that found either of the originators acquiring their illicit funds by means of straw buyers, falsification schemes, and promises to homeowners in distress.

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Bank Shares Slide on S&P’s Eurozone Downgrades

Stocks and shares for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós four largest banks slid back Friday on news that ratings agency Standard & Poor's slashed credit ratings for several debt-saddled euro zone countries, including France, Italy, and Spain. A 0.4-percent dip led the Dow Jones Industrial Average to end the day at 12,422 points, a 48.96 loss from the day before. The S&P 500 went south in a 0.5-percent tizzy, losing 6.41 points to close at 1,298. S&P ignited an investor selloff in the markets earlier Friday by announcing credit changes for 16 European countries. S&P slashed U.S. sovereign credit last fall.

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Economy Will Improve With Home Sales, Starts: ABA

Eleven chief economists forecasted Friday that the U.S. economy will continue to improve modestly as job growth steadies, along with easing declines in home prices, sales, and starts. The 11 economists all from banks and members of the American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee said that GDP growth rose to 2.5 percent in 2011. The committee also said home sales and starts could catch an upward draft seen in 2011 that lasts this year, with home prices likely continuing to stagger.

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Home Sales, Housing Markets Will Lift in 2012: Fannie Mae

The economy will drift upward in 2012 as incremental changes take place in the housing market, with a divisive and uncertain policy environment the darkest cloud on the horizon, Fannie Mae said in an economic outlook Friday. Doug Duncan, VP and chief economist with Fannie, offered up the outlook from the GSE's Economics and Mortgage Analysis Group. Fannie Mae said that total home sales could hit 4.7 million in 2012, reflecting a 3.5-percent boost from total sales, new and existing, last year. The forecast said that home sales could reach as many as 5 million come 2013.

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Justice Department Memo Defends Cordray Appointment

The Justice Department issued a legal opinion Thursday in which it backed President Barack Obama's decision to recess appoint Richard Cordray director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week. The agency wrote that three-day pro forma sessions fail to constitute an actual session for the Senate. Obama riled the industry when he appointed Cordray and several others despite three-day sessions in which several lawmakers would meet without filing motions to consider nominees or legislation. Critics charge that the decision breaks with years of legal precedent under the agency.

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