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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Home Sales Rise 3.4% in January: RE/MAX

Home sales climbed 3.4 percent year-over-year in January, hitting a stride for the seventh consecutive month, according to RE/MAX. The real estate company released a National Housing Report that shows a sudden sales jump by yearend 2011, with homes for sale down 19.3 percent month-over-month. The company attributed falling inventory numbers to a shortfall in foreclosed properties, with home prices declining by 0.8 percent in 53 metropolitan areas. Home prices leapt forward in 15 metro areas year-over-year, with figures increasing by 23.8 percent in Miami, among many other cities.

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Mortgage Rates Stay at Record Lows as Europe Fears Linger

The story for mortgage rates stayed the same Thursday, with the specter of sovereign default keeping investors close to Treasury debt and interest for home loans at all-time lows. Both GSE Freddie Mac and finance Web site Bankrate.com reported yet more troughs for fixed-rate mortgages, failing to break with more than two months of low interest rates for home loans. For Freddie, the 30-year loan remained unchanged from last week at 3.87 percent, even while Bankrate.com found new record-breaking lows for the same at 4.10 percent, down from 4.14 percent last week.

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Housing Starts, Permits Up in January as Completions Drop

Housing starts rose 1.5 percent in January to 699,000, compared with market expectations for a smaller increase to 675,000. Housing starts are 9.9 percent above their year ago level but still 69.2 percent below their January 2006 peak. Single-family housing starts fell 1.0 percent to 508,000. Starts fell month-month in the colder northeast and Midwest but increased in the south and west. Single-family starts are 16.2 percent above levels of a year ago but still 72.1 percent below their January 2006 peak. Single-family starts have averaged 491,000 per month.

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Mortgage Application Volume Ticks Down 1%: MBA

application

Mortgage application volume fell 1 percent from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Releasing the latest weekly figures, the trade group said that mortgage applications remained unchanged on a seasonally unadjusted basis.The Refinance Index went up by 0.8 percent to crest at the highest level since August last year, while the Purchase Index contracted by 8.4 percent from the week before. It fell by 3.3 percent on an unadjusted basis.

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Citi Admits Role in Bad Mortgage Claims, Settles for $158.3M

The mortgage subsidiary for Citigroup settled claims that it misrepresented government-backed loans Wednesday by agreeing to pay $158.3 million in damages. The payout means that CitiMortgage acknowledges that it qualified nearly 30,000 bad loans for government insurance, a move that bilked the Federal Housing Administration out of millions of dollars as more than 30 percent of the mortgages went into default. The settlement resolves a suit filed by the civil fraud unit at the office of Manhattan U.S. attorney.

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Report: HARP 2.0 Benefits Small Originators Most

Modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program will likely benefit small loan originators this year, even while refinance share of activity beats market expectations, FBR Capital Markets said in a note Wednesday. Paul Miller, an analyst with the research arm of the investment bank, attributed the information to D.C. insiders and government contacts, which hold that approximately 3.5 million to 4 million loans will enter the refinance program this year.

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Bernanke: Tight Credit Continues to Hamper Recovery

Fed

Negative equity, tight mortgage credit, and an overhang of foreclosed properties conspire to delay a full-fledged housing rebound and economic recovery, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday. He said that the inability ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô or unwillingness ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô of lenders to lend puts the brakes on much-needed activity by first-time and repeat homebuyers. He cited a contraction in mortgage credit outstanding for U.S. homes by about 13 percent, with mortgage originators reluctant to lend to otherwise eligible borrowers.

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State, Federal Officials Seal Historic $26B Servicer Settlement

More than a year's worth of rumors, negotiations, and reversals concluded Thursday with a $26-billion mega-settlement between government officials and the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós five largest mortgage servicers. The size and scope of the settlement makes it the largest endeavor by state and federal officials in U.S. history. Federal officials and 49 state attorneys general closed a deal with Ally Financial Corp., Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo that supplies homeowners in distress with new relief and establishes new servicing standards.

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Nearly 30% Believe Home Prices Will Rise in 2012: Fannie Mae

More Americans expect that home prices will recover over the course of 2012, just as they believe that mortgage rates will remain at all-time lows and more think the economy will enter an upswing. Mortgage giant Fannie Mae said in a January National Housing Survey that 28 percent of Americans believe that home prices will rise over the next year by 1 percent, up from 2 percent last month. Of the survey respondents, 8 percent said that interest rates for mortgage loans will decline in 2012, down 2 percent from December.

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Rule Requires Nonbank Lenders, Originators to Report Fraud

A financial fraud task force cleared a final rule Tuesday that requires nonbank mortgage lenders and originators to report suspicious activity related to mortgage fraud. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said that originators and lenders will need to report any suspected fraudulent activity to the organization on an annual and quarterly basis. The new rule reflects the scope of authority undertaken by the Obama administration as it pursues mortgage and financial fraud. The new rule will take effect in two months.

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