refinance: 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)

refinance: 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)

refinance: Mortgage borrower tidbits - Las Vegas home loan applicants beware - 05/14/10 10:06 AM
When a consumer fills out a mortgage application to purchase a home, or do a refinance, it means that obtaining his credit report will follow. It's part of the process and readily accepted. Something else may also happen, though, that can cause bewilderment in the home loan applicant, maybe even anger of various decibels.
This action actually permits credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion - to peddle the mortgage borrower's information to third party vendors, among which can be other home loan providers. The phone at the consumer's pad can start ringing with unwanted solicitations that probably were not … (10 comments)

refinance: Mortgage securities gaining acceptance again? - 08/17/09 12:50 PM
Mortgage-backed securities were some of the most-sought-after paper on Wall Street not so long ago, when the residential real estate market was still cruising along smoothly. The yields were solid and risk was seemingly minimal. Everybody and his nephew wanted at least some of them in their portfolios.
Then the mortgage securities business rolled right over the cliff, shoved there by the rapidly-deteriorating housing market. And the deep hurt was on, felt all across the industry. Now even well-qualified borrowers find it challenging to obtain a home loan, for refinance or purchase, as requirements have tightened considerably. The government had to … (36 comments)

refinance: FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage helps homeowners lower utility bills - 08/09/09 03:57 PM
Energy Efficient Mortgage, or EEM, by FHA has been around for quite some time but hasn't really caught on that well. Not yet anyway. The government is just now revving up a national campaign to highlight the importance of energy conservation in housing. It's putting a lot of resources into it. As a result the EEM is definitely going to get more media exposure and could even see some additional incentives added to its current program.
Here is how the FHA EEM basically works now. The borrower would purchase or refinance a principal residence, undergoing a regular FHA home loan approval … (2 comments)

refinance: Refinancing upside down mortgages under HARP could get wider range - 06/30/09 03:00 PM
Discussions are underway as we speak. The Federal Housing Finance Authority, or FHFA, is tossing the idea around since the original intent of HARP, or Home Affordable Refinance Program, isn't doing much good at all. Currently it can only refinance loans up to an LTV, or loan-to-value, of 105%.  In the areas that were mauled the worst during this housing nosedive, like Las Vegas and large regions in Arizona, California, Florida, that limit is far too strict, helping only a few borrowers. By the way, FHFA is overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
FHFA is actually toying with an LTV of … (2 comments)

refinance: Las Vegas near the top for most undervalued housing markets - 06/04/09 02:56 PM
Let's go right to it. In the 10 Most Undervalued cities Las Vegas placed third, according to IHS Global Insight. The firm put the report together by analyzing household incomes, historical prices and housing densities and then arrived at statistically normal home prices which were subsequently weighed against actual values of a city. The difference either placed the area in the overvalued or undervalued category.
In this study, Las Vegas median home price was determined to be $140,000, meaning it is 40.9% undervalued. That is a high number.
It's hard to say if this is good news or the other kind … (4 comments)

refinance: FHA struggling with climbing mortgage defaults - 04/05/09 05:49 AM
FHA, or the Federal Housing Administration, almost vanished from the home loan scene a few years ago when conventional mortgage lenders came up with their own attractive loan programs for subprime borrowers. In 2006 FHA's market share was a paltry 2%. Then the real estate market imploded, mauling the mortgage industry in the process into a bloody pulp. As a result banks were reluctant to make home loans unless they had a government insurance against possible defaults and all of a sudden FHA was back in the saddle, becoming for many the favorite go-to-guy. In the fourth quarter of 2008 FHA's … (19 comments)

refinance: Jumbo mortgage making a meaningful comeback - 04/01/09 09:16 AM
The current home loan landscape has been largely very unkind to those who were out to purchase a house using a jumbo vehicle or to homeowners who wanted to refinance an expensive property. In simple terms, when the loan amount goes above the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming limit it becomes a jumbo because the mandate of the above two agencies bans them from buying these high-priced loans on the secondary market. Generally the limit varies between $417,000, for areas considered general, and goes all the way up to $729,750 for high-cost regions. Las Vegas cut-off point today is $417,000.

refinance: New mortgage guidelines coming into focus - 03/16/09 05:12 PM
On the heels of the latest stimulus package, or whatever it was called this time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have provided the home loan industry more details about their new requirements. Some of the guidelines are actually more borrower-friendly than what was initially believed. Eligible homeowners must have a mortgage that is either held by these agencies in their portfolio or is part of a mortgage bond guaranteed by them. The crucial element is that homeowners seeking to refinance through them have to have a solid payment record, for instance no lates during the last 12 months. 
Among the more … (10 comments)

refinance: Mortgage cosigner approach worth looking into - 01/15/09 02:32 PM
It could make home buying, or even a refinance, a reality. Mortgage interest rates are bouncing around the low 5% mark that ought to draw consumers to the marketplace by the thousands, and it's doing that to some degree. What still keeps many from getting a loan approved, though, are the stringent underwriting guidelines lenders now employ. Weak credit standing can be a major hurdle to overcome, as is the lack of enough down payment.
The solution could be the use of a cosigner. Normally it would be a relative who is willing to come in and help. His/ her name … (4 comments)

refinance: Even the IRS is trying to help the pummeled real estate market - 12/17/08 03:48 PM
The letters IRS usually make the neck hair of people to stand up, often followed by a bad word or two. Now, however, at least a few citizens can find something positive to say about the much-reviled agency. The ones who might do that have a federal tax lien currently clouding their homes.
Normally it takes around 30 days to clear out a tax lien when a property is either sold or refinanced. Now IRS is promising to speed up the process although it won't say how long exactly it'll last under their new policy. Regardless, anything that will cut transaction … (6 comments)

refinance: Mortgage creativity reached too far - 09/16/08 03:36 PM
As the world today watches major, with a capital M, American financial institutions come apart at the seams because they were too carelessly and deeply involved in recently-issued mortgage securities, many experts are already starting to look for reasons to the obvious meltdown. There are many of them but it's hard to put the right weight on each. One of them, for sure, has to be the innovative programs the home loan industry produced over the last decade or so.
Bringing new, creative products to the mortgage marketplace is often invigorating and is normally accepted with open arms by all participants. … (10 comments)

refinance: Some mortgage loans still risky - 09/13/08 04:10 PM
Many areas in the nation are in the grip of a serious real estate price erosion and that presents all sorts of problems. Homeowners have seen their built-up equity being eaten up by it and in other cases it results in foreclosures when borrowers can't refinance out of their unattractive existing home loans because they have no equity. It also is rapidly becoming a challenge to lenders who have recently issued mortgages with low down payments.
Let's take a look at an example. Las Vegas single-family home prices have lost about 30% in the last twelve months, therefore averaging around 2.5% … (8 comments)

refinance: FHA boosting mortgage insurance premiums - 08/28/08 11:53 AM
FHA has made a remarkable comeback in the last several months. Many of the creative home loan products that fueled the recent boom, especially those under the banners subprime and Alt-A, are rapidly being swept into the dustbin. FHA has stepped into the vacuum, offering low down payment options to borrowers who are itching to buy a property while prices are still as attractive as they are. FHA's market share in 2006 was about 2%, rather trivial number, and now it's around 23% and is expected to climb to 30% by the year's end, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.
But FHA … (10 comments)

refinance: Real estate appraisers continue to feel the heat - 08/23/08 04:07 PM
Very little appears to have changed with appraisers over the last several months when it comes to the value they establish on a home that's up for sale or refinance. Many of them feel pressured by someone involved in the transaction to come up with the right price, or hit the number, usually meaning it should be inflated to satisfy their needs, says the Appraisal Institute. It could be a mortgage originator doing it, a real estate agent or even the nice lady whose flower beds are immaculate. Or another source. Anyone who could benefit from a higher valuation.
Inflated appraisals … (16 comments)

refinance: Las Vegas second home buying could be affected by new housing bill - 08/02/08 05:48 PM
The mammoth recent housing bill has gazillion provisions in it, covered in detail on about 600 plus pages of fine print. There is the potential mortgage refinance assistance for those in payment distress, there is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers who qualify and so on. Lots of material that when all of it is implemented and working in the months ahead it is expected to provide a helping layer of stability to the still wobbly mortgage and real estate markets.
One of the new stipulations touches on vacation properties and it can have an unknown effect on Las Vegas where … (10 comments)

refinance: Will mortgage lenders embrace the new housing bill? - 07/29/08 03:02 PM
The ink on the new housing rescue bill isn't dry yet, but Washington is already leaning hard on regulators and mortgage bankers to get their full attention focused on it and act as soon as it goes into effect on October 1, 2008. If all goes as planned, it would help some 400,000 homeowners refinance their existing costly home loans into more affordable FHA programs. 400,000 seems to be a large figure. In light of that, RealtyTrac just released a report according to which almost 740,000 homes were mailed foreclosure-related notices in the second quarter of this year alone and now, … (30 comments)

refinance: Housing rescue bill almost a reality - 07/24/08 04:59 PM
Washington has been hard at work for a while on this huge housing rescue legislation - it'll provide $300 billion to distressed homeowners who face a possible foreclosure - and it passed the House this week. Once it gets the blessings of the Senate and the White House, it'll become law, which it is expected to do soon. Besides coming to the aid of financially-hurting homeowners, it'll also extend a helping hand to the ailing mortgage heavyweights Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, something they both badly need.
The bill includes a lot of rules about all sorts of things, as it … (14 comments)

refinance: Are mortgage borrowers well informed? - 07/05/08 02:22 PM
At first look, the foreclosure epidemic that is currently roiling the home loan industry is clearly pointing in the direction that a good portion of buyers are relatively unconcerned about the mortgage program they signed for and that's why they are now in distress. The number of foreclosures, however, is only affecting about 4% of all mortgages outstanding, a very manageable percentage. Historically it's high, but in the big picture today it can still be considered minor.
It means then that most borrowers do actually understand relatively well what they are committing to. No one needs to be an expert in … (14 comments)

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