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Tag Archives: Investment

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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Refi Applications High as Overall Volume Drops 2.9%: MBA

Mortgage application volume contracted by 2.9 percent from the week before, even while refinance volume continued to soar amid signs that more homeowners are seeking to take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that mortgage loan application volume simultaneously went up 9 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The trade group├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Purchase Index climbed by 17.1 percent but remains 4.3 percent lower than figures seen during the same week last year.

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Debt Crises Send Mortgage Rates Plummeting: Zillow

Interest rates for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage plunged to 3.72 percent this week on new concerns about debt crises in Europe, according to real estate company Zillow. In releasing the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, the Web site found that interest rates for the 15-year loan also fell to 3.01 percent, alongside 2.63 percent for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages. Mortgage rates remain low despite uplifting news from the continent, where 25 eurozone nations signed off on a new fiscal pact Monday.

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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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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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Housing Finance Reform Mired in Primary Politics

Presidential hopefuls remain quiet on subjects related to housing finance reform ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô except when it comes to politics. With former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trumping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary Saturday, the latter went on the attack Monday by reportedly criticizing his opponent for a $1.6-million contract he signed with Freddie Mac to advise the GSE at one time. These rows touch offer the only debate for candidates over housing, signaling only peripheral discussion of a still-lagging sector.

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FHA Finalizes Rule, Toughens Lender Insurance Criteria

The Federal Housing Administration finalized a new rule Friday that makes it tougher to qualify for loans insured by the agency. To qualify for mortgage insurance, lenders must offer up evidence that their seriously delinquent and claim rates remain at or below 150 percent of aggregate rates in home states. The rule authorizes more extensive examination for lenders in order to ensure that they are able to meet the FHA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós new qualifications. It requires that certain lenders indemnify HUD in claims over loans. The move arrives amid criticism that diminishing capital for the FHA may necessitate its bailout.

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Housing Starts Fall 4.1% as Single-Family Starts Rise

Housing starts declined by 4.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, even while figures for single-family homes climbed year-over-year, offering signs that it may unseat multifamily construction after several months. Single-family housing starts went up 4.4 percent at a seasonally adjusted rate of 470,000, with the December rate for building construction with five units or more hovering around 147,000. Building permits crept forward to an annual rate of 679,000, a 7.8-percent increase year-over-year and 0.1-percent annual increase month-over-month.

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Witnesses Criticize, Call for Repeal of Volcker Rule

Witnesses testifying before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday warned lawmakers that the controversial Volcker Rule could tighten bank liquidity and make U.S. financial institutions less competitive with banks overseas. Once finalized by regulators, the rule ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô unless modified or repealed by lawmakers ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô will enact a provision under the Dodd-Frank Act that prohibits U.S. banks from engaging in short-term proprietary trading practices. Douglas Elliott, a fellow with the Brookings Institution, called for an outright repeal of the Volcker Rule.

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Fixed-Rate Mortgage Drops to Record 3.69%: Zillow

Mortgage rates slumped to record lows Tuesday. Again. Real estate Web site Zillow released the weekly Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, which it develops by pooling quotes for mortgage rates from online users. The Web site reported the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hitting 3.69 percent this week ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô rock bottom, and a new low for the third straight week. Interest rates for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered around 3.03 percent, all while the figures for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.63 percent.

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