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April 15, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Consumer advocates have long battled with companies that offer high-interest "payday loans" over the lenders' proposals to increase the maximum amount a person can borrow. Now, a group of those advocates is taking the offensive, pushing a bill that would fix two fundamental problems with payday lending as it's practiced in California. The point isn't to end that form of lending - as the widespread use of the service shows, it responds to a real need - but to stop the loans from becoming a debt trap for desperate consumers.
May 12, 2010 | By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to ban certain bonus payments to mortgage brokers and loan officers, cutting off what experts have called one of the key causes of the nation's mortgage meltdown. The little-known bonuses were paid for home loans that could be sold at higher prices because they carried higher interest rates and other more onerous terms than those for which the borrowers were qualified. Amending financial reform legislation as it makes its way through Congress, the Senate also voted to outlaw stated-income mortgages — loans made without using tax documents, pay stubs or bank records to verify that borrowers actually earn as much as they say they do. These so-called liar loans and the bonus payments are widely regarded as key factors leading to the subprime lending debacle that snowballed into the deep recession.
September 6, 2008 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
The decline of housing markets in California and Florida has led to record numbers of foreclosures and is causing even good borrowers to pay more for loans, according to analysis and statistics released Friday. To add to the bleak picture, the government Friday reported the eighth straight month of declining employment, increasing pressure on borrowers burdened by tumbling home prices and loans with rising interest rates. The U.S. jobless rate jumped in August to a nearly five-year high of 6.1%, with nonfarm payrolls down 84,000.
May 16, 2010 | By Kenneth R. Harney
If you're thinking about applying for a home mortgage this year, here's some important news: Beginning June 1, your lender is likely to order a second full credit screening immediately before closing. The last-minute credit report will be designed to find out whether you've obtained — or even shopped for — new debt between the date of your loan application and the closing. If you've made applications for credit of any type — for furnishings and appliances for the new house, a car, landscaping, a home equity line, a new credit card — the closing could be put on hold pending additional research by the lender.
January 27, 2010 | By E. Scott Reckard
Agreeing to settle 29 class-action lawsuits alleging predatory lending, the Ameriquest group of subprime lenders has pledged $22 million to repay aggrieved borrowers and their lawyers -- a fraction of its payments in previous suits before it shut down as the mortgage meltdown set in. The agreement potentially affects 712,000 borrowers from what once was the nation's largest subprime lender, based in Orange County. Many of the loans were from Argent Mortgage Co., an arm that funded borrowers through mortgage brokers.
June 23, 2010 | By Gail MarksJarvis
For countless Americans struggling to make their mortgage payments, the problems have just begun. Although a loan modification or foreclosure might allow them to put their housing problems behind them, millions will be dogged for years by the aftermath — a credit score so tarnished by the housing debacle that lenders will avoid them. And if they are able to obtain loans, high interest rates are likely to strain their budgets. This is one remnant of the housing crisis that is sometimes ignored by economists, but the effects may well be a drag on the nation's consumption — and the economy as a whole — for a decade or more.
December 5, 2009 | By Renae Merle
About 25% of borrowers helped under the administration's massive foreclosure prevention plan have already fallen behind on their new mortgage payments, according to government data that raise new questions about the program's effectiveness. The delinquency figures reflect the latest troubles of the program, known as Making Home Affordable. Treasury Department officials this week announced a campaign to put new pressure on lenders to do more to move struggling homeowners into loans with easier terms.
November 26, 2009 | By Dina ElBoghdady
Fannie Mae, the giant mortgage finance company that helps shape lending guidelines, plans next month to raise minimum credit score requirements and limit the amount of overall debt that borrowers can carry relative to their incomes. The changes are the latest in a series of crackdowns by the mortgage industry and could surprise some prospective home buyers. The industry is tightening loose lending standards that led to the mortgage meltdown and the subsequent economic crisis.
April 10, 2010 | By E. Scott Reckard
The NAACP said it had dropped a lawsuit that accused Wells Fargo & Co. of unfairly steering African American borrowers into costly subprime mortgages while providing loans with lower fees and interest rates to white borrowers in similar financial circumstances. The civil rights group said it withdrew the suit after the bank agreed to work with it to develop programs to improve access to the best loans possible in minority neighborhoods and to ensure that borrowers don't get mortgages destined for failure.
June 20, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
Last year's $25-billion national mortgage settlement required five giant banks to assign a single employee to each borrower seeking a loan modification - a personal guide who could cut through the bureaucracy. The so-called single-point-of-contact rule sought to address the biggest complaint of borrowers trying to save their homes: Getting bounced around among random employees with conflicting answers. Great idea. Too bad it hasn't worked much. According to a report this week from the settlement's official monitor, Joseph A. Smith Jr., a third of the 60,000 serious complaints about the banks' handling of distressed loans from last October through March involved single points of contact.
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