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Recession to spur economy? - 07/31/08 08:42 PM
I do not often write about rates and economic reports, but today's Gross Domestic Product report is sparking talk of recession. Expectation for GDP was an increase over 2%, but the actual report was under 2%. Unemployment numbers for the week are also significantly higher than expected. For these reasons mortgage and other bond rates dropped today. These reports coupled with lower revisions to the reports in the two previous quarters raised the question of recession. The new figures for the last quarter in 2007 showed a contraction. Projections for the last quarter of 2008 are also not good. Economists suggested that the (10 comments)
Housing Bill is law - President signs massive housing bill in a quiet ceremony - 07/30/08 07:17 AM
The most sweeping mortgage bill in decades has just been signed in a brief ceremony, "without fanfare". This was reported this morning by NPR. An measure of how good this bill is can be made by the almost secretive signing ceremony. It was done early in the morning Eastern time. It sounds good in a news clip. "stabilizes volatile markets" "relief for struggling homeowners" "lifeline to troubled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac' I really think if it did all this well there would have been much more emphasis to the bill signing. I think our boys and girls in Washington (22 comments)
First time buyer credit - Housing Bill provides a tax credit for First Time Home Buyers - 07/29/08 12:31 PM
The $7500 tax credit for first time home buyers is a significant incentive to purchase. It is a major positive provision in the Housing Bill that passed Congress over this past weekend. This is a credit not a deduction, which means it directly reduces the taxes owed - dollar for dollar. This gives the new home owner directly as much as $7500 cash in the pocket at tax refund time. The credit incentive is retroactive back to April 9, 2008 and continues through June 30, 2009. The incentive is 10% of the purchase price up to a maximum of $7500. The (13 comments)
HUD on Housing Bill - Not real happy? - 07/28/08 03:06 PM
HUD Secretary Steve Preston in a press release hints that the Housing Bill will force FHA to "increase prices on all customers or eliminate its refinancing program for subprime borrowers at a time when they need it the most. " The press release regarding FHA provisions in the Housing Bill is available on HUD's website. The release is dated July 23, but I have not found any updated releases on the website. It seems to me that HUD received most of their requests with the Housing Bill. Certainly they were able to ban Down Payment Assistance. They increased the minimum investment requirement from (8 comments)
Originator registration and education - Housing Bill establishes national loan officer registry - 07/28/08 12:41 AM
Another feature of the Housing Bill is establishing a national registration for mortgage loan originators. Tennessee has required licensing for originators for the last couple years, and is now in the process of implementing continuing education requirements. According to the housing bill summary, this legislations "establishes a nationwide loan originator licensing and registration system that will set minimum standards for loan originator licensing substantially improving the oversight of mortgage brokers and bank loan officers." It will be interesting to see how this registration system works and how much the national licensing will cost. Also, it will be interesting to see what the (0 comments)
Are lenders really villains? - justifying the Housing Bill - 07/27/08 10:25 PM
Representative Maxine Waters, D-Ca, was interviewed by Fox TV Friday concerning the Housing Bill. In that interview she repeatedly referred to lenders as villains, who lured unsuspecting people into traps. I guess the villainous plot was to foreclose and kick the unwitting victims out of their homes. The immediate focus of these remarks was Countrywide, for the moment the kick 'em while they are down target. I am not a fan of Countrywide, but they are not villains because they offered neg am loans or subprime stated loans or even hybrid ARMS with prepayment penalties. There may be villains affiliated with Countrywide, (0 comments)
Housing Bill Local Impact - FHA changes - 07/27/08 06:59 PM
The local and national impacts of the new Housing Bill are significant and long term. The provisions of the bill will take some time to sort through. The bill was approved by the House earlier last week and by the Senate yesterday, after the President indicated on Thursday that he would sign the bill. The circumstances of recent mortgage and financial market crisis events forced quick passage of some response, and this bill was already in place. The Housing Bill brings many changes to the national and local real estate markets. The headline changes focus on foreclosure relief, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac support (4 comments)
Movies in the Park - sponsored by First Things First, Coolidge Park - 07/26/08 10:46 PM
For the last several years First Things First has sponsored a family friendly open movie show in Coolidge Park. The intent is to provide free, good quality entertainment for families. Shows start at dusk and have been very successful. It is a terrific combination with grounds at Coolidge Park and the extra fun of a family film. First Things First is a non profit organization whose goal is to strengthen families. They provide education, programming, and counseling. The programming is well respected and received in Chattanooga. The organization is just one fine example of local community initiative that help make Chattanooga such (3 comments)
Think like Einstein - 07/26/08 08:49 PM
One of the books I am going though is Scott Thorpe's "How to think like Einstein." Candis Hidalgo had a similar post recently about Thomas Edison. The general idea is to appreciate and search out ideas that are out of the box. The wilder the idea the better. Unrelated. Funny, Impossible. One of the chapter quotes is actually from Robert Oppenheimer, but effectively conveys this aspect of the thesis. " We need to hear some new, wilder ideas about this problem." At issue is how to solve the unsolvable. A first step is to rework the question, removing prejudices that are (6 comments)
New Bank Closures Announced - 07/26/08 02:10 PM
Reuters just reported that two more banks were closed today. Neither close to the size of IndyMac Bank. This is 7 bank failures this year. The two banks that were closed were immediately sold to Mutual of Omaha bank. The reported number of troubled banks, as of March 08, is 90. The Rueters article indicates that regulators are expecting additional insolvencies this year. The troubled bank list is expected to be updated next month. If I am reading the report correctly, this is the most bank failures since 2002, and equals the total number of failures in the 4 years from (12 comments)
Chattanooga Night Fall - community gathering downtown - 07/26/08 12:29 PM
Nightfall in Chattanooga is a summer series featuring a variety of musical acts. The series is sponsored by The Chattanooga Downtown Partnership. This is the 20th year of the series. The concerts are free, open to the public, and take place right in the middle of downtown Chattanooga at the BlueCross Stage at Miller Plaza. http://downtownchattanooga.org/nightfall This year so far I have only been able to attend last night, but the series continues through September. Even with the threat of rain last night the crowd was fairly large. Events like Nightfall have made the downtown area in Chattanooga vibrant - a great place (2 comments)
Baylor Swim Team First Nationally - 07/26/08 10:51 AM
The Baylor boys swim team is Class 9 national dual meet champion for the 2007-08, as reported in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The girls swim team finished third nationally. This is sometimes called a national championship in the event. The results are according to the Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association for class 9 - independent schools with enrollment of 900 and below for grades 9-12. Here is the article from Baylor School website. Baylor has received national recognition for excellence in athletics. Sports Illustrated named Baylor the top athletic program in Tennessee. In 2005 Sports Illustrated also named Baylor one of (0 comments)
Ethical Credit Repair - attorney assisted challenges to derogatory references - 07/22/08 03:38 AM
When does credit repair cross the ethical line and become falsification of a credit report? More and more applicants seem not to qualify because of credit issues. They come fully aware of their credit situation and even know their credit score. In the past many would have qualified for a subprime loan. Many would have qualified for FHA financing, but FHA has tightened credit standards and many lenders have further tightened their own standards for manual approval. These borrowers oftentimes can be helped with credit guidance. Correcting inaccurate references. Paying down some credit lines. Disputing errors. Adding non traditional references. This (83 comments)
Bad mortgages first cause or first sign? - Reserve Board's new home loan policy - 07/15/08 10:41 PM
Mortgage defaults and rising foreclosures are among many troubling headlines in our economy, but can subprime lending problems really be the cause behind all these trends. Amidst the clamor over mortgage and world financial markets, IndyMac failing, Fannie and Freddie woes, GMC layoffs, and the debate on the housing bill, the Federal Reserve Board approved the final rule for home mortgage regulations. The final rule establishes a category of high priced loans and offers consumer protection for loans in that category. •1. Must base lending decision on borrower income and assets •2. Income and assets used to qualify must be documented (6 comments)
We got it! Volkswagen selects Chattanooga - 07/15/08 09:41 AM
The Volkswagen plant decision has just been announced. Chattanooga is the choice. That news is good for Chattanooga and the surrounding area but also the entire state of Tennessee, and the nearby counties of Georgia. Projections are that the plant will bring 2,000 direct jobs. Anticipation of this announcement has been in everyone's mind for weeks. Enterprise South is a world class industrial park, in a world class city, and a big part of the reason Chattanooga was chosen for the new plant. Obtaining this land site, with the vision of creating a Class A development is just
Enterprise South in Chattanooga - Development Opportunity for Industry - 07/15/08 12:17 AM
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today that Volkswagen is close to announcing the location for its new UW automobile assembly plant. Chattanooga has been in contention for the plant because of the suitability of the 3000 acre industrial park, Enterprise South. Enterprise South was developed in 3 stages on the site of the former Army Ammunitions Plant. It provides good access to I75, and is near to the intersection on the Interstates connecting Atlanta, Nashville, and Knoxville. Chattanooga was also close to becoming the location for a Toyota plant last year. Even if Chattanooga loses the VW plant, Enterprise South industrial (4 comments)
FannieMae, FreddieMac, Federal Reserve - Mortgage lending changes coming? - 07/14/08 04:45 PM
Three separate events had significant impact on mortgage markets last week. The Home Protection bill is being debated. IndyMac Bank announced it was closing it wholesale operations. Then on Friday the bank was taken over by federal regulators. Finally Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae stock values dropped by nearly 50% amid concerns over the two companies ability to maintain their capitalization requirements necessary to meet their obligations. It was quite a week. Sunday the Treasury Department announced that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury department would step in with measures that would ease short term capital requirements. •1. The Federal Reserve opened (2 comments)
Federal support for Fannie and Freddie announced ahead of Monday's markets - 07/13/08 08:51 PM
Today NPR and other news services reported that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has announced a plan to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These proposals were made this Sunday in advance of the financial markets and specifically before Freddie opens a Monday morning auction of $3 billion in securities. Friday ended with significant concerns over the stability of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Stock prices have dropped by 75% for both companies since January, and almost 50% this past week. At issue are investor fears that these companies lack the capital reserves to fund their guarantee of mortgage securities, because of large (6 comments)
Dixie League Baseball Tournament - 50th Anniversary State Tournament in Chattanooga - 07/13/08 05:23 PM
The Dixie Youth Baseball tournament is being held this week in Chattanooga. The Times Free Press front page story today covered the start of the tournament. This is the 50th Anniversary of the Dixie Youth Baseball League. It is hard to find anything much better than youth sports. My son and daughter played baseball and softball in the Hixson Youth Athletic Association. My wife and I enjoyed every game and every trip. Lookout Mountain hosts the 11 and 12 year old tournament. Signal Mountain hosts the 9 and 10 year old tournament. Red Bank hosts the 5 to 8 year old tournaments. Three local teams (2 comments)
Chattanooga has a Zoo - 07/12/08 12:02 PM
The Chattanooga Zoo's website calls itself "Chattanooga's hidden jewel." The zoo is on over 6 acres right down town in Warner Park. The zoo has just completed renovations and reopened last month. This story linked here is from WRCBTV, Channel 3, the local NBC affiliate. Here is a good video interview from Channel 3 . The Zoo is small but a very nice visit, especially for families and small children. We first visited the zoo over 15 years ago, before we even moved to Chattanooga. The recent renovations have much improved the facility. The renovations are part of a larger plan to expand the zoo to over 10 (2 comments)
FannieMae, FreddieMac, IndyMac Troubles - A lot going on while I am focused on closing loans. - 07/12/08 08:36 AM
Troubles with FannieMae and FreddieMac and the rapid decline and ultimate federal take over of IndyMac Bank have headlined a very busy news week. There is a lot going on in the world and in the financial markets as I am concentrating on finding that next loan and trying to get it closed. The IndyMac failure and take over seem to me to be less significant to the mortgage markets. IndyMac is the largest savings and loan failure ever, and the second largest financial institution to close. In the 11 days after Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY made public a letter he wrote to (4 comments)
Chattanooga Fiber Optic Update - Suit dismissed in chancery court - 07/11/08 08:53 PM
I have written a couple times in support of EPB's plans to bring fiber optic cable to Chattanooga. It will certainly help business development and promote area growth in general. I truly believe that it will have an impact on the prospects of Chattanooga being selected for the home of the Volkwagen plant. Today it has been reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the most recent suit to stop plans for fiber optic cable has been dismissed. This follows fairly close in time the previous dismissal in Davidson County of a similar suit by the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association. (0 comments)
Restoring neighborhoods from foreclosure devastation - Who can we count on? - 07/11/08 05:07 PM
Who is going to pull us out of the foreclosure crisis? Not the lenders, not the government, not the regulators. It may need to be the local communities. Coming into work today NPR had a feature on Peachtree Hills in Charlotte, NC. The article seemed important for several reasons. Firstly, Charlotte is generally considered a strong housing market, and yet according to the article has some areas hard hit by foreclosure. Secondly, this is an account of what local neighborhoods can do to bring about their own recovery, without waiting for federal bailouts of lending institutions and GSE's. The radio recording has some gripping personal accounts, but provides hope that our neighborhoods can (10 comments)
Support Mortgage Broker Associations - Originators consider joining and becoming certified - 07/10/08 04:58 PM
A recent post, by Ed Nailor, complained about the work of National Association of Mortgage Brokers, that there is not enough being done in support of the industry. He made the point that he would not join the association because they were not doing enough to help our industry. There were several comments made to encourage him to join and to become active. I could not agree more that he and other mortgage originators need to step up and participate. Ed's point that the mortgage industry needs strong support to defend its place in providing access to home ownership to a great many (2 comments)
Informed consumers - Good? Bad? - 07/06/08 05:40 PM
Some questions have come to mind about transparency of transactions, and the availability of information to consumers. This seems to be a thread that is common to several different, unrelated discussions and events. Recently a post was written about Realtor.com. The discussion was whether real estate agents liked their clients having such access to the listings. Several complained that the site was not as good or as affordable as they would like. As far as preferring customers to have check the site for listings, the opinions seemed to be split. Another post also was written recently about Realtor.com, but I am not linking (9 comments)
Chattanooga ranked 2nd nationally by Outside Magazine - 07/05/08 12:58 PM
Chattanooga has been getting some good press lately. Recently we were listed in the MSN top 10 cities for active retirees. Now, as the mayor was happy to announce at the Pops on the River July 4 celebration, the city is listed as a top 10 city by Outside Magazine, in the August 2008 issue.
Here is a link to the actual article. The link is hosted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The newspaper article on the recognition was published on July 3. There is a brief (3 comments)
Pops on the River Chattanooga's July 4 Celebration - 07/04/08 10:29 AM
Happy July 4 to everyone. Chattanooga began its community celebration of July 4, Independence Day, last night with the Annual Pops on the River concert. There were thousands of people in Coolidge Park for the event, and almost that many red, white, and blue balloons. The concert is also known as Pops in the Park. The Pops on the River celebration is produced by the Chattanooga Dowtown Partnership. This group is part of the visionary leadership which is propelling Chattanooga into national prominence as a place to live. The mission is to promote the downtown area and to "enhance the quality and viability (4 comments)
Marketing a blog traditionally - How do you get the word out? - 07/01/08 09:41 PM
A blog is about internet marketing, using search engines to find you or me. We are all about SEO, SERP, links, keywords, H1-H6 titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, alt tags, HTML code. I was in an agent's office today and asked him to look at my blog - my outside AR blog to be exact. He was impressed first of all that I had one. Probably thought "Pretty surprising for an old guy." I hope secondly that he was impressed with the content and variety covered. I left him with the blog site saved and hope that he will return - to see (18 comments)
Open House marketing help - 07/01/08 08:37 PM
Agents generally request open house sheets fairly often. I am always glad to prepare them on request. When I follow up to see how things went, sometimes the report is good and sometimes it is bad. It is not clear to me what things can be done to help make an open house be successful. They are usually in the newspaper. Signs are used. Sometimes food and more are prepared. Today I was out visiting some offices and came across a poster advertising www.openhouse.com . None of the agents present had used it. When I visted the site, it was not really (2 comments)
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