The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency missed
signs of the robo-signing scandal because its examiners underestimated
the risk and lacked enough guidance to find it, according to the
Treasury Department Inspector General.
In March, the five largest mortgage servicers settled
with federal regulators and the state attorneys for $25 billion in fees
and consumer relief for documentation problems and wide-scale
foreclosure abuses. The deal closed 18 months of negotiations began when
the scandal broke in 2010.
The 14 largest servicers entered into consent orders with the OCC and the Federal Reserve in 2011 and are reviewing filings taken over the past two years to reimburse any harmed borrowers.
The foreclosure process is still not rebooted in many areas of the country.
"OCC examination procedures during the period 2008 through 2010 were
not sufficient in scope or application to identify significant
weaknesses in national banks' foreclosure documentation and processing
functions," the Treasury IG said in a report
Friday. "During this time OCC did not consider foreclosure
documentation and processing to be an area of significant risk and, as a
result, did not focus examination resources on this function."
Agency examiners told the IG they relied on internal audits done by
the banks themselves, which never focused on how foreclosures were
According to a Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspector General report, Bank of America improperly signed up to 20,000 foreclosure affidavits per day without required notarizations.
Instead, the OCC was looking at loss mitigation techniques and
modifications processes. Its consumer warning procedures and examiner
handbook were never updated to catch the problems, according to the
Examiners were found to hold federal law safety and soundness
expertise, not state law, which largely governs how foreclosures are
conducted across the country.
In response to the report, the new Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said in a letter that some changes were underway.
"OCC management told us that they believed the underestimation of
risk in this area to be more an error in judgment than of
documentation," according to the IG report.
The stigma against buying a foreclosed property eroded in recent
years with buyer interest in foreclosure acquisitions tripling over the
past two and a half years, Realtor.com said Wednesday.
Ninety-two percent of potential foreclosure buyers surveyed by
Realtor.com plan to live in the foreclosure they purchase rather than
leverage it as an investment tool.
About 1.5 million foreclosures were backlogged leading up to the
signing of the mortgage servicer settlement, creating a situation where
there is now a significant supply of inventory for homebuyers to choose
from among distressed real estate.
Homebuyer interest in foreclosures from October 2009 to today grew by
159%. In the current market, more than 64% of homebuyers say they are
likely to acquire a foreclosure, up from only 25.3% two and a half years
About 6.9% of today's homebuyers are interested in acquiring a foreclosure as an investment, the report said.
"We see a combination of factors coming into play explaining the
unexpected interest in foreclosures," said Steve Berkowitz, chief
executive officer of Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com.
"Reductions in supply, expectations that home prices will rise, and
changing attitudes toward foreclosures are contributing to the increased
demand, especially among owner-occupants," he said.
At the same time, Realtor.com discovered that 55.7% of surveyed
Americans believe a backlog of 1.5 million foreclosured properties will
be released in the next year, lowering home values. Those most concerned
are homeowners in the Midwest with 62.2% saying they are concerned with
an onslaught of foreclosure sales lowering prices. Most of the
backlogged foreclosures are expected to be released in the nation's more
than 20 judicial foreclosure states as properties make their way
through the court-directed foreclosure process. Most of those states are
in the Midwest and Northeast.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Dozens of foreclosed homes are sold at auction
every week, some for a steal. But bidders beware, experts say the
online foreclosure process is a lot trickier than bidding on eBay!
Berry, an experienced real estate broker, purchased his first
foreclosure in 1984. And 300 purchases later, he knows all the ins and
“This is not a simple process, you just don't buy a house
that you see a picture of on a listing for $100,000 and that's it,"
Knowing how to navigate the online site keeps experienced bidders, such as Berry, from making bad investments.
seen people buy the wrong property, I've seen people buy the wrong
house, I've seen people buy the second mortgage, when they thought it
was the first,” Berry said.
Paul Krasker, a real estate lawyer, has clients who have made those costly mistakes.
One purchased a homeowner's association lien, not a home.
bid on a foreclosure sale and it was an HOA foreclosure sale, they
never checked the docket sheet to see that neither the first nor the
second lender we part of the foreclosure,” Krasker said.
He was served with a foreclosure notice shortly after moving in.
“The online nature of it and the ease and the access of the internet makes it easy for people to make mistakes,” Krasker said.
Online foreclosure auctions have been going on for about two and a half years in Palm Beach County.
The clerk's office says the site is set up so people have to do their own research.
Krasker has a check-list he runs down with his clients including a search of the title, tax records, liens, and outstanding HOA dues.
That's the kind of due diligence Barry goes through.
“I look at 25 homes, if I get one I'm happy. Sometimes you've gotta look at 50 to get one," Barry said.
A competitive field these days where thousands of bidders can bid from anywhere in the world.
The Federal Housing Administration, the
government insurer of home mortgages, is often credited with saving the
home finance market during the worst of the latest housing crash.
no one else would lend to lower-income borrowers, the FHA stepped in,
its share of mortgage originations rising from around 3 percent during
the height of the housing boom to close to 40 percent of the home
purchase market at the height of the crash.
That was not without a very high price.
percent of FHA loans were delinquent at the end of the first quarter of
2012, with an additional 4 percent already in the foreclosure process;
16 percent of FHA loans are in some form of distress. That is far higher
than the 11 percent of all loans nationally in distress, according to
the most recent data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher
delinquency is expected, given that FHA, historically, serves borrowers
with lower credit scores and lower down payments. A borrower needs just
3.5 percent down payment and a 580 credit score to qualify, according to
delinquencies are getting worse, and we attribute that mainly to the
age of book. Loans tend to default in the first 3-4 years that they are
out. Because so many of these FHA loans are fairly new, made since 2010,
with the big run-up in FHA originations, 2009 - 2010, these loans now
are running at their peak default period, which makes the FHA defaults
look really high,” says Jay Brinkmann, chief economist at the Mortgage
Bankers Association. But Brinkmann says loan quality is improving by
origination year, and he claims more recent years will offset the bad
sheer volume of FHA loans originated during the worst of the housing
crash could play against that hypothesis. When credit dried up in 2008,
volume at the FHA soared, even as home prices plummeted. Given the low
down payment structure at FHA, that inevitably put a significant share
of FHA borrowers underwater very quickly, that is, owing more on their
mortgages than their homes are worth. Of the 11 million underwater
mortgages in the U.S. today, 1.7 million are FHA-insured, according to
CoreLogic. Underwater borrowers are more prone to delinquency.
loan losses have put the FHA in a precarious position financially. By
law, it is supposed to maintain a 2 percent capital ratio, or assets
against risks, but its most recent measure put that ratio at .24
percent. That is why the FHA is changing the way it serves the current
mortgage market. It is now serving higher income borrowers to subsidize
its mounting losses, according to a new report from George Washington
University, which accuses the FHA of “mission creep.” In fiscal year
2011, 54 percent of FHA’s activity insured homes whose values were
greater than 125 percent of their area’s median home price, according to
the report. In high-cost markets, like Westchester, NY, 63 percent of
FHA borrowers had incomes greater than 150 percent of the average median
in an effort to redeem its mounting and highly publicized delinquencies,
it has expanded to a market – higher income borrowers – that it has not
traditionally served,” notes the reports co-author, Robert Van Order,
professor of finance at GW.
the loan limit at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA was raised to a
maximum $729,750 during the worst of the crash, they were all lowered to
$625,500 in the fall of last year. Barely two months later, Congress
reinstated FHA’s higher limit. “A rationale for the change was that it
might help replenish FHA’s capital by increasing the volume of
business,” according to the GW report.
FHA Acting Commissioner Carol Galante responded to the GW findings at the request of CNBC:
growth of borrowers with higher credit scores in FHA's portfolio is
really about the broader constriction of credit. Because the private
market has been so reluctant to lend -- and combined with loan limits
set by Congress that exceed those of the GSEs -- FHA is still playing a
critical, countercyclical role.
while we have not actively sought to expand our share of higher credit
score business, we absolutely agree that as the economy recovers and the
market normalizes, FHA's role should recede and its portfolio once
again be focused on the underserved families FHA was created to serve."
This spring, FHA raised its upfront insurance
premium to 1.75 percent of the loan from .75 percent for most loans and
its annual premium by 0.10 of a percentage point for loans under
$625,000. The increase was expected to bring in $125 billion through
September 2013. The average FICO score for new loans is now 700, despite
the minimum 580 allowed, but the lower down payments are still a
the FHA may well be serving more higher-income borrowers now, that group
is still less well-heeled than the group accessing Fannie/Freddie
mortgages or portfolio loans at banks,” notes Guy Cecala of Inside
Mortgage Finance, which in a recent survey found more than half of all
first time home buyers using FHA loans. “If you combine FHA’s lower
credit score with very high loan-to-value ratios, it’s not much of a
surprise that FHA would have more problem loans and be more vulnerable
to unemployment and other economic issues.”
higher income borrowers are a relatively recent phenomenon, while its
troubled book of business dates back more than five years. FHA officials
claim its new business will offset losses from the old book, but with
the economy and jobs market still in shaky recovery, the older loans
will still take their toll.
“That’s going to be a drag on the agency’s performance for the foreseeable future,” adds Cecala.
The median price of an existing home that sold in April of this year was $177,400,
an increase of just over ten percent from a year ago. That is the
biggest price jump since January of 2006. The difference between now and
then, though, is the 2006 price jump was real, this latest spike is
“This is a mix of home issue,” warned National Association of Realtors
chief economist Lawrence Yun, who usually tries to see the positives in
all housing numbers. “There is an acute inventory shortage in Phoenix,
Las Vegas, Ft. Myers,” Yun explains.
As we reported here on the Realty Check last month,
a lack of distressed supply, that is foreclosures and short sales, is
pushing overall home sales lower. That’s because the majority of the
sales action for the past few years has been on the low end of the
Now, as banks try
to modify more delinquent loans to comply with the recent $25 billion
mortgage servicing settlement, and as investors rush in to buy
distressed properties and take advantage of the hot rental market, the
distressed market is drying up.
The share of home
sales in the $0-250,000 price range made up over 73 percent of all sales
in February; that has already dropped to 67 percent in April.
So what does this
say about where we really are in terms of home prices nationally? The
Realtors still expect overall home prices to rise just 2-3 percent in
2012, which is one of the more bullish predictions. If the banks start
releasing more properties onto the market or push more delinquent loans
to foreclosure, overall home prices will come down again.
The lesson to take
from this report is that all home price changes now are more local and
more price-range specific than ever. The jump in sales of higher priced
homes is a good sign, as some had predicted that when the distress dried
up, there would be no sales.
inventories of homes for sale, while up for the month, are still way
down from a year ago, and that means sellers are still wary of this
market. Confidence and credit will be key going forward.
Have you heard of eWarehouseOne?
To view TBWSDaily's video on this alleged fraud click here
eWarehouseOne's website can be found at ewarehouseone.com
Interestingly, all of the names of their account executives have been
recently removed from the website. Reports suggest that over a quarter
of a million dollars in application money has been collected by
eWarehouseOne but they have failed to deliver anything in return.
Over the past two months National Mortgage News has been reporting on a mysterious warehouse lender called eWarehouseOne. Late this week we learned that Anthony J. Simich,
a division vice president for the firm – and one of few employees there
who actually returns phone calls and emails – resigned. Simich spoke
briefly with NMN and declined to say much about the firm and why he left. Needless to say, he's never actually met his boss, a man named Tom Reynolds,
face-to-face. Simich has been employed there at a base salary of $4,000
per month since November. Never met your boss? If that's not strange, I
don't know what is. Other eW1 warehouse account executives have bolted
as well, including Henry Brandt.
The Federal Housing Administration may ease restrictions on financing purchases of condominium units.
To protect a struggling emergency insurance fund, the FHA put rules
in place barring new loans on developments with more than 15% of the
units more than 30 delinquent on condo association dues. Also, at least
half of the units must be owner-occupied for projects built longer than a
year ago, and one investor can own no more than 10% of the units.
"While we are evaluating potential changes to our condo requirements
and expect to announce some of those soon, we cannot yet comment on
specific requirements that may be included in any potential changes," a
HUD spokesman said in a statement Monday.
One possible change could come on the condo association rule, which
has troubled many markets. Coming out of the crisis, these associations
began to suffer as foreclosures mounted. Mortgage servicers and the
associations often take months to sort out past due allotments before a
foreclosure can be completed, allowing the delinquency rate to rise on
"Community Associations Institute anticipates FHA will modify its
standard on assessment delinquencies to allow flexibility for
associations. CAI has argued the existing standard that no more than 15
percent of units may be 30 days past due on assessments is too strict.
Many condominiums are immediately disqualified from FHA approval by the
current standard," the trade group said in a note to its association
The Florida market managed to rebound from a low of 38,509 sales in 2008 to 87,581 last year, according to Florida Realtors data.
But much of that activity could be coming from new cash buyers, usually investors, as financing dried up.
The FHA insured 3,630 condo purchases in March, down nearly 15% from last year, according to its monthly report.
"You find that there are a boat load of projects with limited
marketability because they exceeded the 15% delinquency threshold, and
the only buyers were cash buyers," said Brent Stokes, senior vice
president of Sperlonga Data & Analytics. "What we further found was that the purchase price truly suffered, because the cash buyer realizes he has leverage."
The House of Representatives voted 394-27 Friday approving an
amendment to widen foreclosure protections for military servicemembers.
Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Bob Filner, D-Calif., and Adam Smith, D-Wash., introduced the amendment
this week to a military spending bill. It expands the Servicemembers
Civil Relief Act to include more borrowers under the umbrella
The amendment will stay a foreclosure against a servicemember for 12
months, an increase from the current nine-month period. If current
protections are allowed to expire at the end of the year, a foreclosure
can only be delayed 90 days under SCRA.
An expanded SCRA will also include more disabled veterans, spouses of
fallen servicmembers, and doubles penalties on lenders found in
The House will vote on the overall spending bill later Friday. A
sister bill is winding through the Senate, but it is unclear if the SCRA
protections will survive a merger of the two pieces of legislation if
Still, the amendment has enjoyed a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation.
"It's really an achievement considering we're in the minority," said a
Democrat spokesperson for the House oversight and government reform
WASHINGTON – May 21, 2012 – Months after the first invitations were
mailed, only a small percentage of eligible borrowers have accepted a
chance to have their foreclosure cases checked for errors and maybe win
By April 30, fewer than 165,000 people had applied to have their
foreclosures checked for mistakes – about 4 percent of the 4.1 million
who received letters about the free reviews late last year, according to
the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The reviews were agreed
to by 14 major mortgage servicers and federal banking regulators in a
settlement last year over alleged foreclosure abuses.
So few people have responded that another mailing to almost 4 million
households will go out in early June, reminding them of the July 31
deadline to request a review, OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard says.
If errors occurred, restitution could run from several hundred dollars to more than $100,000.
The reviews are separate from the $25 billion mortgage-servicing settlement that state and federal officials reached this year.
Anyone who requests a review will get one if they meet certain criteria.
Mortgages had to be in the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010, on a
primary residence, and serviced by one of the 14 servicers or their
affiliates, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and
More information is at independentforeclosurereview.com
Even though letters went to more than 4 million households, consumer
advocates say follow-up advertising has been ineffective, leading to the
low response rate. Many consumers have also grown wary of foreclosure
scams and government foreclosure programs, says Deborah Goldberg of the
National Fair Housing Alliance.
“The effort is being made” to reach people, says Paul Leonard, the
mortgage servicers’ representative at the Financial Services Roundtable,
a trade group. “It’s hard to say why people aren’t responding.”
With this settlement, foreclosure cases will be reviewed one by one by
consultants hired by the servicers but monitored by regulators.
With the $25 billion mortgage settlement, borrowers who lost homes to
foreclosure will be eligible for payouts from a $1.5 billion fund.
That could mean 750,000 borrowers getting about $2,000 each, federal officials have said.
For more information on that, go to my website
Rental households comprise 34% of the housing stock and are growing
at the incredible rate of 1.6 million per year, while owned households
are actually declining in number, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which called the increase an “incredible surge” in demand.
Only 20% of renters live in large buildings of 20 or more units, and
the remaining 80% of renters live in alternative types of housing.
The single-family rental business, which is already larger than the
institutional apartment business, is booming. About 55% of new renters
are leasing single-family homes, while the remaining 45% are renting
apartments. Never before seen levels of distressed home sales, which sit
at the lowest home price/rent ratios in decades, are driving the boom,
the consultancy said.
Burns said intelligent investors should take advantage of the “temporary disconnect in the market.”
Eventually, most of these renters will become homeowners.
While the rest of the county buzzed Friday about Facebook’s first day as a public company, real estate agent Brian Chancellor saw the effect months earlier.
Chancellor put a client’s house on the market in February for roughly
$1.2 million — a bit underpriced, he said. The home in Palo Alto,
Calif., sits adjacent to Menlo Park, the home of the social-media
Twenty days and 38 offers later, the house sold for $1.65 million.
“It’s not uncommon that even when somebody goes well over the asking
price … they may not get the home,” Chancellor said. “There are people
who are putting in phenomenal offers and still not prevailing.”
As Facebook and its social media and tech brethren boom, so, too,
does the housing market in Silicon Valley and surrounding areas. In San
Mateo and Santa Clara counties, home sales rose 34% and 13% in April
from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. San Francisco Bay Area sales as a whole grew 13%.
The Silicon Valley market picked up visibly starting in late January,
said local real estate agent Francis Rolland. Reports surfaced around
that time of an imminent Facebook IPO.
There just might be a little too much excitement, Rolland said. Some
waited for the IPO to get into the market, and he said they might later
find out it won’t change much.
“It’s a real effect, but it’s too hyped in a way,” Rolland said.
It’s not just about Facebook, Chancellor said, with tech-world newbies Yelp, Twitter, LinkedIn and Zynga along with standbys Apple and Google all based in Silicon Valley or San Francisco.
“Facebook is leading the pack, but there’s money here from tech companies,” Chancellor said.
It’s storyline already known by Chancellor, an area agent for nearly
two decades. Now-defunct companies like Pets.com disappeared almost as
quickly as they appeared on the scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s
during the dot-com bubble.
“The difference is that the techies of today are a little bit more
self-aware,” Chancellor said. “The dot-com boom really was just greedy
to say the least. I think this generation is more thought out.”
Prices, no matter how outrageous, aren’t rising quite as quickly this time around, said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.
The median price remained flat from April 2011 at $550,000 in San Mateo
County, though rose 9.3% to $513,500 in Santa Clara County, according
Yost said appraisals are more stringent now than previous boom times, though there’s also awareness on the part of buyers.
“What we saw then was a much more rapid increase in prices,” Yost said. “We’re not seeing that yet here.”
A sparse amount of new construction is also limiting options for
buyers, Yost said. The area’s geographic mix of hills and ocean makes
for few empty patches of land.
Properties are moving fast, with reasonably priced homes spending just two or three weeks on market, Yost said.
Those looking to rent don’t have much of an option, with just 76 new
units completed in the San Francisco metro since the second quarter
2011, according to research firm Marcus & Millichap.
Some prospective tenants, Chancellor said, will offer to pay more than the asking price or give six months’ rent upfront.
“It’s not to say we don’t have our issues, but as far as bright places to go in the world, we’re it,” Chancellor said.
Even the housing market has experienced a FB frenzy!
Foreclosure activity in April fell nationally
to the lowest level since the summer of 2007, but government
intervention and the recent $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement
are now changing the face of the crisis.
filings, which include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank
repossessions, fell 5 percent in April from March, according to a new
report from RealtyTrac, and are down 14 percent from April of 2011. One
in every 698 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing during the
foreclosure activity in many state and local markets in April was masked
at the national level by sizable decreases in hard-hit foreclosure
states like California, Arizona and Nevada,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of
RealtyTrac in a release. “Those three states, and several other
non-judicial foreclosure states like them, more efficiently processed
foreclosures last year, resulting in fewer catch-up foreclosures this
banks are also suspending foreclosure actions, as they comply with the
mortgage servicing settlement that was the result of so-called
“robo-signing” in foreclosure document processing. Bank of America recently announced that it was beginning a summer-long campaign to contact 200,000 borrowers, and offer them principal reduction,
as part of the settlement; foreclosure actions, bank representatives
said, would be suspended until the bank had reached them all and
determined if they were eligible for new loan modifications.
Lenders are also responding more efficiently to
requests for short sales, which is when the home is sold for less than
the value of the mortgage. New financial incentives from the government
and new streamlined programs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are behind
much of that.
preliminary first quarter sales data show that pre-foreclosure sales,
typically short sales, are on pace to outnumber sales of bank-owned
properties during the quarter in California, Arizona and 10 other
states,” adds Moore.
also reported today by the Mortgage Bankers Association, there is a big
discrepancy between foreclosure activity in states that require a judge
in the process (judicial) and states that do not (non-judicial). The
MBA reported a rising number of loans in the foreclosure process in
judicial states, but a falling number in non-judicial states during the
first three months of the year. For April, RealtyTrac reports
foreclosure activity down 7 percent from March and down 29 percent from a
year ago. In judicial states, activity was down just 3 percent month to
month but still up 15 percent from a year ago.
judicial/non-judicial split is pushing the foreclosure crisis east, as
some of the worst-hit states like California, Arizona and Nevada are
able to clear through the backlog more quickly. The 11 cities with
annual increases in foreclosure activity were all in the Midwest, South
or on the East Coast, while six of the nine cities with annual decreases
were out West in California, Arizona and Washington, according to
RealtyTrac. California and Nevada, however, still post the top
foreclosure rates, along with judicial Florida.
supply of bank-owned properties in non-judicial states is also falling,
as a growing cadre of investors sweeps in to buy distressed properties
at the courthouse steps. One California Realtor speaking at the National
Association of Realtors’ midyear conference this week told the
conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “We don’t need a bulk REO
sale program, we have no inventory!”
repossessions (REO) are down for the third straight month, according to
RealtyTrac. Lenders took back 51,415 properties in April.
Bank of America said Tuesday it’s launching a nationwide program that
pays homeowners as much as $30,000 to complete short sales.
The lending giant tested a similar program in Florida last year from
Sept. 26 through Nov. 30, and nearly 11,000 Florida borrowers verbally
agreed to complete their short sales by August of this year. So far, 847
of the deals have closed.
The average payment as part of the Florida pilot is $12,000, the bank said.
To qualify for the national program, a seller must work with Bank of
America to obtain a preapproved price prior to submitting an offer from a
prospective buyer. The short sale must be started by the end of 2012
and close by Sept. 26, 2013. Also, Bank of America must own and service
Homeowners who now are in the process of a short sale with Bank of America may be eligible for the program.
The amount of money homeowners receive “will be determined on a
case-by-case basis using a calculation that includes the value of the
home, amount owed and other considerations,” Bank of America said in a
For more information about the program, call (877) 459-2852.
In a short sale, a lender allows a borrower with a financial hardship
to unload the property for less than the mortgage amount. The
transactions are faster than foreclosures, helping banks get troubled
loans off their books.
In recent years, some banks have given a few thousand dollars to
borrowers who leave their foreclosed homes in good condition. Last year,
lenders started giving cash to homeowners who complete short sales as an incentive to cooperate.
Bank of America says it expects the national program to get the
greatest response from homeowners in Florida, California, Nevada,
Arizona and other states hammered by the housing crash.
BOA says the incentive is to help homeowners transition out of their homes when nothing else has helped.
WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates
for 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages fell to fresh record lows this
week. Cheap mortgage rates have made home-buying and refinancing more
affordable than ever for those who can qualify.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate
on the 30-year loan ticked down to 3.83 percent. That's the lowest
since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s. And it's below the
previous record rate of 3.84 percent reached last week.
15-year mortgage, a popular option for refinancing, dropped to 3.05
percent, also a record. That's down from last week's previous record of
Low mortgage rates haven't done much to boost home
sales. Rates have been below 4 percent for all but one week since early
December. Yet sales of both previously occupied homes and new homes fell
There have been some positive signs in recent months. January and
February made up the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes
in five years. And builders are laying plans to construct more homes in
2012 than at any other point in past 3 1/2 years. That suggests some see
the housing market slowly starting to turn around.
would-be buyers can't qualify for loans or afford higher down payments
required by banks. Home prices in many cities continue to fall. That has
made those who can afford to buy uneasy about entering the market. And
for those who are willing to brave the troubled market, many have
already taken advantage of lower rates — mortgage rates have been below 5
percent for more than a year now.
Mortgage rates are lower
because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.
Slower U.S. job growth and uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its
debt crisis have led investors to buy more Treasurys, which are
considered safe investments. As demand for Treasurys increases, the yield falls.
To calculate the average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.
average rage does not include extra fees, known as points, which most
borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent
of the loan amount.
The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.7 last
week, down from 0.8 the previous week. The fee on 15-year loans also
was 0.7, unchanged from the previous week.
The average on one-year
adjustable rate was 2.73 percent last week, down from 2.7 percent the
previous week. The fee on one-year adjustable rate mortgages was 0.5,
down from 0.6.
How many homeowners have the banks been able to help following the
National Mortgage Settlement? According to this West Palm Beach news
report, apparently, not many... yet.
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - It's been three months since the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement was announced.
The news was exciting for millions of
homeowners struggling to make ends meet: if your mortgage is through
Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Ally or Bank of America, you could be
But not everyone will qualify and it could take up to three years before you see any kind of reduced payments.
Darish Still, the president of Consumer
Credit Managing Services, a local non-profit housing counseling agency,
says your best bet is to start doing your research.
“Go to nationalmortgagesettlement.com,
There you're going to get info about the settlement itself, the
timeline associated with settlement, and what kind of assistance those
eligible homeowners can expect to receive through the settlement,” Still
This week we asked all five banks how
many customers they've been able to help since the settlement was
announced. None had specific numbers.
Bank of America did tell us that it's
mailed letters just this week to more than 200,000 potential candidates
for this assistance.
Wells Fargo told us it expanded the
modification program March 1st and is targeting homeowners who are
facing payment challenges.
Chase says it also expanded its modification program March 1 st.
And Citi says it's developing programs that will be rolled out in the next couple of months.
While the wait may be tedious you need to be careful.
“Beware of scammers, loan modification
scammers, national mortgage settlement scammers, beware of scammers. If
they're asking you for personal information, they don't know who you
are. They should know this information already. Don't give it to them,”
Sound advice when there are still so many uncertainties about this settlement.
Ally/GMAC says it has already reached out
to 15 percent of its eligible borrowers and hopes to contact everyone
by the end of the summer.
To learn more about the National Mortgage Settlement, click here. You can find contact information for your bank there as well.