A top U.S. housing regulator failed to implement a plan to cut loan principal balances for millions of underwater homeowners even though a pilot program showed two years ago it could save taxpayers money, two House Democrats said Tuesday. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giant Fannie Mae, ”apparently ha(s) been withholding from Congress” documents showing the potential benefits of the program to taxpayers and homeowners, according to Reps. Elijah Cummins of Maryland and John Tierney of Massachusetts. The two Democrats, in a letter to DeMarco that was released to msnbc.com, said they obtained the documents from an independent source.
The 65.4% homeownership rate in the first quarter is down from 66.4% a year earlier, according to the Census Bureau. But recent data suggest the housing market’s outlook is promising.
World Property Channel: Fixed Rate Mortgages in U.S. Hit All-Time Record Lows
According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), average fixed mortgage rates are finding new all-time record lows continuing to help keep homebuyer affordability high. The 30-year fixed averaged 3.84 percent, down from its previous all-time record low of 3.87 percent last registered on February 9, 2012. The 15-year fixed averaged 3.07 percent, also dropping below its previous all-time record low of 3.11 percent set April 12 of this year. The 1-year ARM also averaged a new all-time record low in the PMMS at 2.70 percent.
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty announced today a partnership with ZipRealty. The partnership brings 17 former Zip Realty agents to BHG Rand Realty. Rand’s new agents will continue to service their clients utilizing ZipRealty’s proprietary technology platform, which has proven to be the premiere client engagement and communication platform in online real estate.
What matters most to clients is constantly evolving and has changed exponentially over the last several years. In order to keep up and avoid being viewed as a commodity, real estate professionals must create differentiation. Rising above the competition requires a deep understanding of today’s consumer and an ability to satisfy their wants and needs.
In the simplest sense, developed land has been fully prepared for home building while undeveloped land has not. Each has advantages and disadvantages. If you’re thinking about building
One of the biggest mistakes an agent can make is restricting the flow of energy to their business with the following mindset: “The economy is so slow and I don’t even know where my next sale is coming from.” How often have you heard someone say that when business is down and the economy is questionable? It seems logical, doesn’t it, to tighten your purse strings? Even though it seems logical to tighten up and constrict spending, this is actually based on a “scarcity” mindset you focus on lack in your business, and on lack in economy.
Chicago Tribune: Setting the stage for a home sale
Spring arrived very early this year in much of the country, bringing what traditionally is the best time to buy and sell real estate, even though the downturn. Issues of tight credit linger and median home prices continue to decline, though more slowly. Yet there appear to be enough positive indicators to push once-reluctant sellers into the market.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury has released the March edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data in the March Housing Scorecard show some promising signs of stability, though the overall outlook remains mixed.
CNNMoney: Underwater owners get promise of help
If falling prices have left you with a mortgage bigger than your home’s value, you may soon be able to refinance at a lower rate. To settle complaints of foreclosure abuses, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Ally have agreed to at least $3 billion worth of refis for customers current on underwater mortgages still held by the banks. Guidance about who might qualify is maddeningly scarce, but two banks have published some criteria they’ll use, and all the banks are fielding inquiries.
Bloomberg News: DeMarco Says Principal Writedowns May Save FHFA $1.7 Billion
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could save $1.7 billion if they forgave principal on some troubled mortgages, the companies’ regulator said today in Washington. The Federal Housing Finance Agency may make a decision “in the next few weeks” about whether to change its policy barring the two taxpayer-owned companies from performing such loan modifications, Edward J. DeMarco, the agency’s acting director, said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. DeMarco said he remains concerned that debt writedowns could be an incentive to default for some so-called underwater homeowners, who owe more than their properties are worth, offsetting any cost savings.
MSN Real Estate: More Americans think it’s time to buy a home
A convergence of factors is leading more Americans to believe that now is a good time to buy a home, according to the latest Fannie Mae Housing Survey. The belief that rents, home prices and mortgage rates all will rise this year contributed to that determination.
AOL Real Estate: 3 Things to Know About Appraisals
If you haven’t had your home appraised in a while, here are three important things you need to know because the process has changed — dramatically. And while appraisal qualifications haven’t changed over the past few years, the process has, says Ken Chitester, the Appraisal Institute’s spokesperson.
Home values may be down nationwide, but the majority of Americans surveyed by Fannie Maein the fourth quarter still prefer homeownership as opposed to renting. Fannie released its quarterly national housing survey Tuesday morning after interviewing 3,000 Americans between the months of October and December. Two-thirds of renters surveyed said they hope to buy a home in the future — a trend that subsists across all education levels and demographics.
Real Estate Blog & Blogging: Marketing Luxury Real Estate
Understanding the mindset of your high net worth clients is a high priority when you are marketing luxury real estate. The ability to temporarily step out of your own mode of thinking and see the world through they eyes is one of the keys to becoming a market leader. It is essential to maintaining any great relationship.
Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Rand Realty, a member of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), recently announced its annual awards for the highest-achieving sales associates. BHG Rand Realty recognized 116 sales associates at its March 16th annual company-wide meeting and honored three of the highest performers in each of five regions – Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, and Northern N.J.
It is not unusual for mortgage applications to increase during the spring season since more people begin to house hunt during that time. According to the U.S. Mortgage Market Index report from Mortech, Inc. and Mortgage Daily, activity for FHA loans increased 11 percent from the previous week. This increase comes ahead of the higher FHA costs which are scheduled to begin April 1st, with another increase scheduled for June, 2012 for FHA mortgages with higher loan limits.
Treasury Department officials are narrowing the range where they think principal reduction could work for the government-sponsored enterprises. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is analyzing how much principal reduction under a revamped Home Affordable Modification Program could cost or save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The results are expected in the next few weeks, according to several sources. Meanwhile, 11 million borrowers are underwater, and roughly 4 million of them hold Fannie or Freddie mortgages.
The U.S. economy needs to grow more quickly if it is to produce enough jobs to bring down the unemployment rate, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday, tamping down expectations of a quick reversal of monetary easing. Bernanke said the recent decline in the jobless rate, which dropped to 8.3 percent in February from 9.1 percent last summer, was “somewhat out of sync” with the rather modest pace of economic growth.
According to a new study1 by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University, consumers trust the opinions of social media contacts similarly to contacts in person like friends and family. The study notes, “As users increasingly access tweets through search, they have less information on which to base credibility judgments as compared to consuming content from direct social network connections. We present survey results regarding users’ perceptions of tweet credibility.”
Zillow: Tips for Living in a Staged Home
Model homes make us dream about living there, but living in your own home while it is being staged is tougher than it looks. The key is to easily contain and hide your personal items – not just to showcase your home better, but also to keep your personal life, well… personal! Below are a few tips for homeowners who are living in their staged home while it is on the market.
While the real estate market continues to struggle, there are hot spots of improvement in nearly every state across America - the National Association of Home Builders has teamed up with First American Improving Markets Index to study which markets are seeing overall improvement.
HousingWire: Fannie increases condo fees
Fannie Mae will charge higher fees to review condominium projects for financing. Condos accounted for roughly 9% of the government-sponsored enterprise’s conventional book of business in the first nine months of 2011, according to its financial filings. Since 2009, Fannie allowed lenders to submit a condo project to Fannie for review. Once a project is approved, a lender can send mortgages on individual units to the GSE for funding.
Fannie Mae will offer up nearly 2,500 distressed properties in eight locations to investors who are willing to buy them in bulk and rent them out for a set number of years. The properties, which are located in Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles/Riverside, and three Florida regions, include all types of housing units, from single-family homes to co-op apartment buildings.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 3.76 percent, up from 3.7 percent at this same time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 3.67 and 3.76 percent for the majority of the week, peaking at 3.79 percent on Friday before falling to the current rate this morning.
Realtor Magazine: Citigroup Agrees to Pay $158M for Misleading Mortgages
In another setback for the bank, Citigroup will have to pay $158.3 million over claims that it had misled the government into insuring risky mortgage loans over a six-year time span, resulting in millions of dollars in government losses. The announcement comes on the heels of a $25 billion settlement last week that will require major banks — including Citigroup — to settle allegations of foreclosure abuses. Citigroup’s share of the bill will be about $2.2 billion from that settlement alone.
AOL Real Estate: Foreclosure Fire Sale: Will Bulk ‘REO to Rental’ Program Fly?
With an estimated 3.6 million more foreclosures expected over the next two years, the government-backed mortgage giants have a proposition for you: How’d you like to take a couple (hundred) homes off their hands? In a recently announced program, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the quasi-government lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is offering qualified investors the opportunity to buy pools of foreclosed homes, provided they agree to rent the properties for a certain number of years.
Have you ever wished you could know what everyone has ever said about you as a business professional? Sure, you’ve received great client testimonials and feedback over the years, but maybe there are some disgruntled clients out there who have not been happy with something you’ve done or the services you’ve provided and are broadcasting their dissatisfaction publicly, without you knowing. After all, people love to go on Twitter or their favourite blog or forum to gripe and complain.
Clean Slate: Habits of Highly Productive Real Estate Agents
With so many distractions, it’s a wonder real estate agents are productive at all. Creating habits that produce consistent results allow you to achieve your maximum potential. Working to become a highly productive real estate agent is an ongoing process. Time management has always been a real challenge. Between phone calls, a barrage of emails, listing presentations, prospecting calls and buyers appointments, how do you stay productive?
Agent Genius: Realtor.com updates mobile app suite, adds new features
Realtor.com today announces major product updates to their iOS (Apple) apps to help users to discover and research price reduced, foreclosed, and recently sold properties, which the company tells AGBeat “lays the groundwork for an easier and faster iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch app.” The updates integrate the new Realtor.com Data API and offers better synchronization with Top Producer systems which was also recently upgraded and is one of the only real estate customer relationship management (CRM) systems utilizing HTML5. Realtor.com says their mobile apps offer the largest and most accurate collection of online property listings available with 85% of all property listings on Realtor.com updated every 15 minutes directly by an MLS whereas the rest are updated every one to 24 hours.