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Mortgage Rates Fall Below 4% for Second Time: Freddie

Ongoing trouble in Europe meshed with low home prices to keep a heel on mortgage rates this week, with Freddie Mac offering up news that interest rates for loans fell below 4 percent for the second time this year. The GSE released a weekly survey alongside finance Web site Bankrate.com, which disagreed by reporting that mortgage rates climbed this week. For Freddie, rates for the benchmark 30-year loan fell to 3.99 percent, down one percentage point from last week. Bankrate.com said that the fixed-rate mortgage went up to 4.25 percent.

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HBI Names New President and CEO

The Home Builders Institute has named a new president and CEO, with the announcement that John A. Courson will take over leadership of the non-profit organization. Capitalizing on his extensive industry experience, HBI will utilize Courson to target new revenue opportunities and program development.

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Lawmakers Aim to Jumpstart U.S. Covered Bonds Market

If a new Senate bill becomes law, it could finally create a long-awaited covered bond market for the nation, effectively making mortgages easier to securitize and increasing their appeal for investors. Earlier Wednesday a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sens. Kay Hagan and Bob Corker, introduced the United States Covered Bond Act of 2011 in order to kick-start what some regard as necessary for a full-fledged housing recovery. European nations have long benefited from a covered bond market, with legal bodies in place for bonds.

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Attorney, Ex-Cop, 25 Others Make Fraud Blotter

Fraud

A Connecticut attorney, former police officer, and 25 people accused of reaping millions from mortgage fraud all made the mortgage fraud blotter for Wednesday. MReport sourced the stories from a number of news outlets that include the Associated Press, New London Patch, and The Sacramento Bee. The attorney and former police officer each pled guilty to their respective counts, while the ring of fraudsters, largely from a Russian-American community, pled not guilty.

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Mortgage Applications Surge Forward by 10.3%

More refinance loan applications inspired a 10.3-percent leap forward in mortgage applications last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA released a weekly survey responsible for tracking mortgage application volume. The surge in mortgage loan application volume follows a shortfall in contract interest rates on average for fixed-rate mortgages, with the 30-year loan seeing a drop from 4.31 percent the week before to 4.22 percent last week.

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Q3 Home Prices Fall While Some State Sales Rise

Existing-home prices sagged in most metropolitan areas over the third quarter, pointing to a soft spot in job security for people across the country as home affordability hovers around record highs. A quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors revealed that more than two-thirds of all metropolitan areas suffered plunges in home prices from last year. The NAR found state existing-home sales falling by 0.1 percent to crest at a seasonally adjusted 4.9 million over the third quarter. First-time buyers bought up 32 percent of homes.

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LoanSifter, Google Enter New Strategic Partnership

A new strategic partnership between LoanSifter, Inc., and Google will give consumers access to online mortgage lending and real-time pricing. Through Google's comparison ads, LoanSifter will facilitate the comparison of loan products among multiple providers using its technology platforms.

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Furor Mounts Over $13M in GSE Exec Bonuses

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain under scrutiny in the wake of large salaries and bonuses for their executives, as lawmakers from both major parties mount a rare joint effort to criticize the GSEs and their federal regulator. No less than 60 senators a total of 35 Republicans and 25 Democrats crossed the aisle to circulate a letter Friday that denounced the Federal Housing Finance Agency for signing off on $12.79 million in bonuses for ten executives with the GSEs. Furor over the bonuses follows a string of changes for Freddie Mac.

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Nearly 70% Want Housing Solutions from Candidates: Survey

Nearly three-quarters of Americans will look for positions on housing from presidential candidates for the 2012 election cycle, according to a recent survey. Move, Inc. released the findings in a survey that it facilitated in phone interviews with respondents in early October. According to the survey, some seven in 10 Americans, or roughly 70 percent, expect candidates for the presidency to address housing concerns. Of these, nearly 71 percent identified themselves as Millennials. About 82 percent called housing "critical" to the recovery.

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Freddie: Equity-to-Cash Conversions Lowest in 16 Years

Giving homeowners more reason to refinance their loans, third-quarter results show that a majority of borrowers who exchanged their fixed rates for today├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós low rates on first-lien mortgages either saved big on principal or kept their current payments. Of the 82 percent of borrowers who refinanced their first-lien mortgages, 37 percent of homeowners substantially reduced their principal balance by paying in. The GSE said 44 percent maintained their original monthly loan amounts by refinancing.

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