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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Obama Unveils New Refi Plan, Homeowner ‘Bill of Rights’

The Obama administration rolled out an ambitious package of benefits and structural changes Wednesday for homeowners who want to refinance their loans. The plan would cost anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion and pay for itself with fees exacted from financial institutions. If it makes it into law, the bill would significantly expand refinancing opportunities for underwater borrowers, shift appraisal responsibilities in distressed neighborhoods to an automated system under the GSEs, and offer new servicing reforms.

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Cordray Fends Off Continuing Concerns, Criticism at Hearing

Newly appointed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray fended off another round of concern and criticism at a congressional hearing Tuesday even as he portrayed Congress as an important check on the bureau├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós power. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stayed true to their parties├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó positions by alternately casting Cordray├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós recess appointment as a potentially dangerous abuse of presidential power and as a needed solution to congressional gridlock.

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Homeownership Rates Wallow at Nearly 15-Year Lows

Homeowners moved closer to the sidelines last year, buying fewer homes than in 2010 and edging homeownership toward lows not seen since the 1990s. The Commerce Department released figures Tuesday that posted 66 percent for homeownership rates last quarter, reflecting declines by 0.5 percent year-over-year and 0.3 percent on a quarterly basis. Homeownership vacancy rates hovered around 2.3 percent last quarter, 0.4 percentage points lower than in 2010.

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Home Prices Plunged 1.3% in November: Case-Shiller

Home prices fell by 1.3 percent in November last year, slashing figures in 19 of 20 metropolitan areas for the second straight month, according to the most recent Standard & Poor├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós/Case-Shiller index. The index showed that home prices declined by 3.6 percent year-over-year, with 13 of 20 areas suffering steep declines in annual returns. It showed the weakest annual return of several cities, even while Las Vegas, Tampa, and Seattle all settled near new lows for home prices in November.

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Home Prices Should Slide by 3.6% in 2012: Fiserv

The latest analysis from a Fiserv Case-Shiller index said Monday that home prices could slide back by 3.6 percent this year, and may not completely pick up until the first half of 2013. Fiserv, Inc. found a double-dip that began last summer stretching into last fall as home prices declined in 340 of 384 metropolitan areas surveyed by the technology provider. It said some 302 areas slammed into new lows, and projected that home prices will fall in southerly direction this year before climbing by 2.4 percent over the second quarter next year.

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New RMBS Working Group Pursues 11 Financial Institutions

A new federal task group set up to investigate residential mortgage-backed securities fraud made progress Friday when officials signed off on subpoenas for 11 undisclosed financial institutions. Numerous high-ranking federal officials joined New York Attorney General and co-chair Eric Schneiderman at a press conference to outline the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, which President Barack Obama announced he would form during his State of the Union address Thursday.

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Mortgage Rates See First Increase in 2012

Interest rates for mortgage loans went up for the first time in several months this week but remain near historic lows. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported modest increases for mortgage rates across the board. Freddie Mac found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rising from an all-time low of 3.88 percent last week to 3.98 percent this week, far below 4.80 percent seen for the loan at the same time last year. Bankrate.com posted a similar increase from 4.18 percent last week to 4.25 percent this week. Europe's debt crises have helped keep rates low.

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New-Home Sales Hit All-Time Lows in 2011

New-home sales crawled to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000 in December despite modest signs of recovery. The Commerce Department said Thursady that new-home sales fell 2.2 percent below expectations from November, which held that homebuyers would pick up a seasonally adjusted 314,000 homes annually. New homes from last month carried a median sales price around $210,300, with the average sales price hovering around $266,000. Experts suggest contract failures, foreclosures, short sales, and tight credit helped slow sales.

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Obama Proposes New Lending Oversight, Refi Modifications

President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address Wednesday to tout his accomplishments and propose several new housing ventures, including possible expansions to refinance programs, consumer financial protection, and new federal initiatives to combat abusive lending practices. The speech weighed in on risky lending practices in particular and went after Republicans for their opposition to his policies, including consumer financial protection. Experts remain on the sidelines about an expanded refinance program.

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Mortgage Rates Rise Slightly This Week: Zillow

After falling to new lows last week, interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 3.82 percent, real estate Web site Zillow said Tuesday. The Web site polled anonymous quotes from online users to release the latest Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, which it offers weekly. While the 30-year loan averaged 3.8 percent, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered around 3.12 percent. Mortgage rates have remained near all-time lows as investors continue to flee from European markets, which remain afflicted by concerns over their debt crises.

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