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BUSINESS
November 3, 2013 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - Should you be concerned that the maximum loan amount you'll be able to obtain through the biggest players in the mortgage industry - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - might be cut sometime next spring? Maybe you should. That's because mortgage applicants who no longer qualify under the revised limits will be forced to shop in the so-called jumbo arena, where minimum credit scores and financial reserve requirements tend to be tougher and down payments heftier than in the conventional space dominated by Fannie and Freddie.
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BUSINESS
October 31, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- The nomination of Rep. Mel Watt to be the regulator for housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed a key procedural vote Thursday because of strong Republican opposition. President Obama nominated Watt, a veteran Democrat from North Carolina, in May to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. But attempts to bring his nomination to a vote by the full Senate failed Thursday as supporters were unable to muster the 60 votes needed to stop a threatened Republican filibuster.
BUSINESS
October 31, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard
Mortgage rates slipped lower this week, with Freddie Mac saying lenders were offering the 30-year fixed-rate home loan at an average 4.1%, compared with 4.13% last week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage was 3.2%, down from last week's 3.24%, Freddie Mac said in its weekly survey of lenders, released Thursday morning. Freddie Mac's chief economist, Frank Nothaft, said the low rates should continue for the immediate future because the Federal Reserve this week decided to leave its economic stimulus program unchanged.
BUSINESS
October 25, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel and E. Scott Reckard
NEW YORK - The widely expected $13-billion settlement between JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the federal government started to take shape with details in a key deal unveiled Friday. The New York bank agreed to pay $5.1 billion to the regulator overseeing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even as JPMorgan kept hashing out the broader pact with federal and state agencies. The Federal Housing Finance Agency had accused the bank and two others JPMorgan bought during the housing crisis of misleading Fannie and Freddie about mortgages and mortgage-backed securities it sold the companies from 2005 to 2007.
BUSINESS
October 23, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
The vacuum at the center of the few federal lawsuits brought against banks in connection with the 2008 financial crisis is that actual people seldom seem to be held responsible for the alleged wrongdoing. It's as if the fraud and misrepresentation charged in these cases fell upon the banks from the skies, like interstellar lichens attached to meteorites. Things were different Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, where a jury found Rebecca Mairone, a former executive at Countrywide Financial, liable for a fraudulent mortgage program that may have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $10 million.
BUSINESS
October 17, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard
Fixed mortgage rates rose early this week amid the debt crisis, Freddie Mac's latest survey showed, with lenders offering the 30-year home loan at an average of 4.28%, up from 4.23% a week earlier. The offering rate for 15-year fixed mortgages averaged 3.33%, according to the survey, up from 3.31% last week.  The survey was conducted Monday through Wednesday morning, a period when it was uncertain if Congress would lift the maximum amount of debt the government can shoulder.
BUSINESS
October 13, 2013 | By Lew Sichelman
Anyone thinking of skating on mortgages owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may want to think again. As a result of new government reports, the two companies say they are going to do a better job of going after so-called strategic defaulters. Fannie and Freddie can pursue judgments against borrowers who walk away from their loans even though they have the ability to make their payments. That's called a strategic default, and many borrowers are taking that step - typically throwing in the towel because their homes are no longer worth as much as they owe. But when their homes are sold at foreclosure and the proceeds are not enough to cover their outstanding loan balances, it creates a deficiency for which many defaulters either don't realize they are liable or don't care.
BUSINESS
October 10, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard
Mortgage interest rates have leveled off at their lowest levels since June, with 30-year fixed-rate loans averaging 4.23%, statistically unchanged from 4.22% last week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey . The home finance giant's widely watched poll of what lenders are offering to solid borrowers showed the average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage rising from 3.29% to 3.31%, also small enough to make no statistical difference. Freddie Mac pegged the 30-year average at 3.35% in early May. It shot up to 4.58% in August on widespread belief the Federal Reserve would taper off its efforts to keep interest rates low, then fell again when the Fed decided in September that the economy wasn't strong enough for it to do so.  QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the debt limit Borrowers would have paid lenders an average of 0.7% of the loan amount in fees and discount points to obtain the rate, according to the latest report, issued Thursday morning.
BUSINESS
September 28, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - The Federal Housing Administration dramatically expanded its role after the subprime market collapsed, but at the expense of its own finances. Now, the government agency will get a first-ever bailout of $1.7 billion. In a letter Friday to Congress, the agency's head said it needed money to stabilize its long-term finances and cover potential losses on the huge volume of low-down-payment mortgages it insured from 2007 to 2009. It's the first time the 79-year-old FHA - created during the Great Depression to keep home lending flowing - will require taxpayer funding.
BUSINESS
September 27, 2013 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - It's an issue that hasn't gotten much attention but should be a red alert for first-time buyers and others who supplement their incomes with part-time work: Though part-time earnings are playing an increasingly important role in the post-recession American economy, the income you earn part time may not count when you buy a house. Isn't income always income? If you make $42,000 from your regular full-time job and $18,000 more by working part time at a second job, isn't your gross income $60,000?
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