real estate: Big money investors buying foreclosures in bulk - a caution flag? - 02/28/13 05:57 AM
The housing market continues to display signs of slowly shedding its recent bad reputation and is actually gaining real recovery traction. Prices in many areas are firming up and even rising, listing inventories are shrinking, permits for new homes show improvement and mortgage money is still quite affordable, so long as the applicant manages to qualify under today’s rigorous underwriting guidelines.
Life seems to be good in the real estate business. And predictably getting better.
At least that’s what large investors like equity shops and hedge funds, among them Blackstone Group, Apollo Global Management and Colony Capital, firmly … (33 comments)

real estate: More foreclosures in store for some metros in 2013 - 01/30/13 10:33 AM
The real estate market as a whole is making progress according to many recent statistics. What keeps housing experts on their toes is the uneven nature of the improvement. Take the Washington, D.C. metro region as an example. There are pockets in D.C. itself, in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland where buyers waving mortgage approval letters are conducting bidding wars for choice single family homes, townhouses and condominiums, driving prices up and up. Like in the good old days. Yet, in the same region the reverse of that scenario often plays out in many other neighborhoods. There real estate values … (2 comments)

real estate: Mortgage delinquency rate drifting down, but ... . - 12/26/12 11:43 AM
The national housing news are getting better, one step at a time. The direction is cautious to be frank but so long as it is going down the right path home loan and real estate industry participants can continue making strategic plans for the future. In fact, the entire economy needs a stable housing market to be able to emerge in full force from the funk it is desperately trying to escape from now.
TransUnion, one of the big three credit information boutiques around that also provides data for the FICO score, publishes a quarterly report on mortgage … (10 comments)

real estate: National Mortgage Database in the works to help monitor market trends - 11/21/12 08:04 AM
Many changes have been introduced to the mortgage marketplace over the past few years in the wake of the legendary housing crash. Existing government regulations have been massaged and in many cases completely new ones were legislated and the private home loan industry has with a heavy hand recalibrated its approach to underwriting mortgages. The recent real estate troubles made these adjustments necessary. More of the same – or even close to the same - was just unworkable and unacceptable.
Along these lines, a new program to help government policy making and better monitoring of the ebbs and flows … (1 comments)

real estate: Home affordability varies greatly across the country - 10/20/12 06:21 AM

The housing bust rearranged residential real estate values downward by percentages not seen since who knows when. On average prices plummeted 30% from the highs reached in 2006. One of the effects of that major shift would logically be that now homes were going to be more affordable, especially in the severely abused cities. Many would-be homeowners are salivating at the concept of being able to qualify for today’s inexpensive mortgages and then push over low-ball purchase offers to grab a home from foreclosure, short sale or even from a regular seller willing to compromise on price.
The reality … (2 comments)

real estate: Risk of mortgage default on new loans much lower today - 09/29/12 05:26 AM
As expected, the curve on home loans at risk of default in the gathering storm toward the now infamous housing meltdown was literally shooting through the roof. The rise was nearly as steep as that of a fireworks projectile zooming to the sky during a July 4th mayhem. Mortgage lenders those days issued loans on soft underwriting guidelines to begin with and when the incredible run-up of real estate values abruptly reversed course some time later, the stage was set for something many still cannot comprehend nor endure.
University Financial Associates – UFA – is a research boutique that … (2 comments)

real estate: Interest-Only mortgage program, surprisingly, still available - 09/14/12 10:16 AM
The word is that the recent housing tragedy supposedly swept away from the surface of the planet all the highly creative mortgage products that were roundly blamed for some of the ensuing trouble. At least one of them has survived, though, the Interest-Only one. In it, only the interest portion is paid, with nothing going to the principal. It is drawing only scant attention nowadays, but it’s still around, offered at least by Fannie Mae. Its guidelines in this post-crash real estate era are quite restrictive which obviously makes it out of reach and unattractive to most home loan borrowers. … (0 comments)

real estate: Housing market in Montgomery County MD finds traction - 08/30/12 07:02 AM
Without a doubt the Washington, D.C. metro area’s real estate market in general has weathered the epic economic downturn better than most other regions in U.S. Some zip codes here, however, have experienced home value declines even in double digits and mortgage foreclosures are a common topic around the smoking grills at backyard cookouts. Nothing, though, like what has swept over cities in states like Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida where homeowners were staring at price drops of unbelievable proportions and are now bravely trying to deal with the adverse consequences of that.
Montgomery County MD has for the … (2 comments)

real estate: Freddie Mac loan program for today's housing market - 08/16/12 07:53 AM
The residential real estate sector is painstakingly working its way out of the darkness where it was unceremoniously  shoved by the recent marketplace excesses. There is little doubt that things right now are looking up but the road to a solid, sustainable housing recovery is still in the early stages of gathering steam, traveling a bumpy road. Many who have dreamed of owning a home, and qualifying for a mortgage, have been slowed down for various reasons on that quest by the economic downturn.
Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprise or GSE, may just have the right mortgage loan … (2 comments)

real estate: Foreclosures turn up after steady decline - 07/28/12 04:46 AM

The besieged real estate market has recently displayed encouraging signs that it might be just about to turn the corner for a new and brighter day. In a meaningful way, too. Home sales are increasing in some areas, prices are firming, and even inching up a bit, consumer confidence in housing is improving and then of course mortgage rates continue sliding to new lows – week after week it seems - to everyone’s delight.
And then RealtyTrac published its Midyear 2012 Foreclosure Market Report to pour cold water on the incipient party. It isn’t over till the fat … (5 comments)

real estate: Housing market trending up, say consumers in Fannie Mae survey - 07/11/12 07:01 AM
June 2012 National Housing Survey run by Fannie Mae brings a decent dose of good news to the otherwise embattled real estate market. High levels of mortgage foreclosures are still in the headlines a lot, as are short sales, both of which continue to dominate housing market reports from a host of cities across the country, depicting the overall weakness. Throw in the bumpy economic ride and the persistently alarming behavior of some large banks after their near demise just a few years ago and the reasons to feel uncomfortable about it all is real.
Yet, the 1,001 consumers polled in the … (4 comments)

real estate: Refinancing through HARP on a roll - 06/04/12 01:22 PM
FHFA – Federal Housing Finance Agency – reported the other day that during the first quarter of 2012 HARP refinances came in at 180,185 closed deals, signifying a healthy jump from the 93,190 HARP refis that were done in the 4th quarter of 2011. If this trend continues it will in its small way help stabilize the entire housing market.  
HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program – was launched in 2009 to help mortgage borrowers who are unable to refinance because their property values had recently absorbed some serious damage. As the real estate market collapsed they found … (4 comments)

real estate: Mortgage financing within reach for many based on median income - 05/16/12 09:18 AM
NAR – the National Association of Realtors – recently put together a report that should spread some cheer on faces of everyone who is planning on purchasing a home. Actually, it also should quicken the heartbeat in the mortgage loan industry and among real estate agents. And the home building sector, too. And, for that matter, help stabilize the entire economy.
According to NAR, the national median income in the first quarter stood at $61,000, fair enough. So, if a mortgage applicant wanted to buy a property mirroring the national median price, the income to get the home loan approved … (0 comments)

real estate: Homeownership ratio drops, apartment demand grows - 05/05/12 05:51 AM
It’s hardly a surprise that the homeownership number continues to backpedal in today’s wobbly real estate market and tight mortgage milieu.
Foreclosures mercilessly push borrowers from their homes and this trend seemingly will continue for several more years as another 5-6 million homeowners could face the same fate. The recent $25 billion controversial settlement with mortgage loan servicers over alleged shady practices will predictably lead to home loan lenders accelerating court filings on delinquent borrowers. Mortgage money is very affordable but helps little when strict underwriting standards erode borrower approval chances. Inventory levels in many housing markets – like … (8 comments)

real estate: Satellite tool introduced to mortgage fraud prevention - 04/28/12 04:23 AM
Mortgage fraud of course will exist so long as mortgage loans are being issued. It’s just part of the business. Ever since the residential real estate market began nose-diving seven eight years ago specifically the property valuation fraud has steadily increased. The reason is rather clear; housing prices went chaotically over the edge, and still keep sinking in many areas. To get home loan applications approved by underwriters in a depressed market like today’s over-valuing property on appraisals or BPOs - broker price opinion – has become an issue for mortgage lenders. Usually when there is serious trouble with a file … (6 comments)

real estate: FHFA nudges Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into action on short sales - 04/23/12 02:01 AM
If there ever was a nightmare for Realtors in the last few years in the housing market it was the short sale. The psychology profession is still compiling data on how many man hours of sleep per night they lose during each short sale adventure but when the official figure comes out sometime soon it must be several. It has been that bad. The current real estate recession made the short sale famous, the talk of the micro brew pub crowd. It can take months for a real estate agent to navigate one of them through all the different-size hoops the nation’s mortgage … (14 comments)

real estate: Homeownership rate unchanged in 3rd quarter - 11/07/10 01:45 PM
According to Census Bureau statistics the U.S. homeownership rate remained at 66.9% in the 3rd quarter of this year. It is actually at the lowest point since the end of 1999, the decline predictably brought on by the severe real estate turbulence that continues to roil the market to this day. For the last year the drop has been 0.7%. Interestingly, the West had the lowest percentage at 61.3 while the Midwest exhibited the highest at 71.1%.  
It could lose more ground in the coming months since mortgage foreclosures seemingly are not abating, banks are still repossessing houses by the … (3 comments)

real estate: MERS in middle of new mortgage foreclosure mess - 10/18/10 11:28 AM
MERS is hardly a household name to many homeowners but the company now finds itself tossed right in the middle of the latest and rapidly-heating home loan challenge. It stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration System and the name pretty much says what it does. It records electronically, in proprietary software, mortgages that have been originated throughout the country, having currently over 65 million of them in its books, or better said in its servers.
The standard practice still is that local clerks record all mortgages and when ownership changes a new paper-based entry is created and notarized. Of course, all this … (10 comments)

real estate: Mortgage foreclosure errors could cloud titles for a long time - 10/02/10 08:25 AM
The wounded mortgage industry has been working as best it can to pick itself up from the canvas, with massive support and guidance from the government. It has instituted many internal policy changes, on one hand, to correct the grave underwriting, mortgage-backed security and other mistakes made in the not too distant past. On the other, Washington has come up with its own legislative cures to prevent another spectacular mortgage and real estate collapse from creeping up on the country again. Despite the continuing uncertainty and weakness in housing, cautious optimism is also entering into the mix. Maybe the worst is … (10 comments)

real estate: Mortgage lenders about to face 45-day short sale approval deadline - 09/27/10 08:14 AM
The current real estate meltdown has been a true testing ground for anyone involved in its devastating turbulence. Homeowners have watched helplessly as their property values have headed south with little resistance. Home loan providers have worked under pressure for years to stay afloat in choppy waters full of creepy icebergs and many other deadly maritime hazards. Real estate agents are fighting to secure deals in a marketplace shrunk to a flat pie on life support from a full-blown strawberry cheesecake. The support industries are in it as deep as anyone else.
Something intriguing that could be rather meaningful for many … (12 comments)

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