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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 21, 2013 | By Paloma Esquivel
From the looks of it, things were going pretty well for the Orange County singer known as Robb "TaLLLLL" University. His band, Lights Over Paris, was touring the country. Its album "Turn Off the Lights" appeared on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. The rapper Game recorded a verse of one of the group's songs and appeared in the music video. But earlier this year, the illusion began to crack. In January, Robert Mawhinney (the singer's real name) was charged in Los Angeles federal court with making false statements to obtain millions in loans in order to bankroll his musical career and a lavish lifestyle.
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OPINION
October 13, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Many unsavory ventures make their home in the seamy underbelly of the Internet, including some particularly unscrupulous payday lenders that use high fees and shady methods to drain borrowers' offline bank accounts. This month, the state Department of Business Oversight took an important step to protect Californians from such predators by warning banks and credit unions not to process transactions from unlicensed online lenders. It was the latest in a growing number of moves by state and federal regulators to weed out the worst purveyors of a risky form of credit.
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 11, 2013 | By Hugo Martín
The mild weather and cool temperatures of October make it one of the busiest months for rock climbing guides Seth Zaharias and his wife, Sabra Purdy. This time of year they're usually leading climbers up massive boulders and sheer canyons in Joshua Tree National Park. Then the government shutdown closed national parks Oct. 1. The couple now spend their day writing refund checks to dejected clients. In the first week of the shutdown, Zaharias estimates, he lost $2,500 in revenue.
BUSINESS
October 11, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton, Andrew Khouri and E. Scott Reckard
Jay Joerger was set to close a long-planned sale of his Palm Springs condominium this week until he was blindsided by an unexpected problem: the shutdown of the federal government. The condo sits on land owned by an Indian tribe, so the sale must be approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. But the bureau has ceased nonessential functions, delaying many home sales in Palm Springs and nearby areas. "It's stopped cold right now," said Joerger, a painting contractor from Fullerton.
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
October 7, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton
Is the government shutdown preventing you from buying or selling a home? The closure of many government agencies is threatening deals because people can't get loans or crucial documents. Are you one of them? Are you having trouble getting a loan from the Federal Housing Administration? Is your loan held up because lenders can't get paperwork from the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration? Are you a seller whose buyer is having problems? I want to hear from home buyers, sellers, Realtors, mortgage brokers or anybody else whose home deal is affected by the government shutdown.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 4, 2013 | By Richard Verrier
New York state isn't only providing generous tax breaks to film and TV productions.  Now it's offering low-interest loans to small-town cinemas. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that $400,000 in funding is being made available to help community theaters in upstate New York purchase digital projectors. Small-town theaters nationwide have been scrambling to convert their theaters to digital because studios are expected to stop delivering film prints in North America as early as this year.
BUSINESS
October 4, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard, Andrew Khouri and Alejandro Lazo
A prolonged government shutdown could deliver a substantial blow to an already softening housing recovery. If the political standoff lasts for weeks, it could stall sales because lenders can't use IRS documents to confirm borrower qualifications. The impasse could also threaten loans backed by agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration. "With each passing day, the anxiety in the marketplace is building," said Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA's Ziman Center for Real Estate.
BUSINESS
October 3, 2013 | By E. Scott Reckard
Mortgage rates have tumbled for the third straight week, with Freddie Mac pegging the 30-year fixed loan at an average of 4.22%, down from 4.32% last week to the lowest level since June. But what good is a low rate if a lender can't process your application? A protracted government shutdown would hamper the ability of lenders to confirm borrowers' incomes and identities, as well as threatening loans that are backed by agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration. “The federal government shutdown will have a growing impact on the housing market the longer it continues,” David H. Stevens, president and chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Assn., said in a statement Thursday.
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