February 9, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Got problems with the company that services your home mortgage - the one that collects your payments, keeps track of your escrow account and lets you know when you're late? So your monthly numbers don't look right? You got blown off by servicing personnel when you tried to get inaccuracies in your account corrected? Well, move over. You've got lots of grumpy company. As of Jan. 31, just under half of the 187,818 complaints filed with the federal watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concerned mortgage foul-ups, and the vast majority of these involved servicing, loan modification and foreclosure activities by servicers.
December 29, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - An important resource for first-time home buyers and others who find themselves in unfair competition with deep-pocket investors bearing cash just got better: The two biggest players in the mortgage market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are now giving non-investor shoppers 20-day exclusive rights to bid on and buy new listings they are selling. During the 20-day "first look" period, investors will be excluded from submitting bids. To qualify, non-investor buyers will need to commit to making the home their principal residence for at least a year.
December 15, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - For one of the least productive congressional sessions in modern history, the final word about tax overhaul was entirely in character: Nothing's happening. But is that good or bad news for homeowners, buyers and small-scale real estate investors? A bit of both. When House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently announced that not only will he not reveal the details of his long-awaited comprehensive tax overhaul bill this year but he also will not seek passage of a so-called extenders bill for expiring tax code benefits, it was a sweet and sour mix for real estate interests.
September 28, 2013 |
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.
September 13, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - For homeowners who were looking to the federal government's reverse mortgage program to supply lots of cash for their retirement years, here's a heads-up: The pipeline just got narrower. Pressed by Congress to slash losses, the Federal Housing Administration recently outlined a series of steps designed to limit the maximum amounts that seniors can draw down on their homes and to make qualifying for a reverse mortgage tougher. Starting in January, applicants for FHA-backed reverse mortgages for the first time will have to qualify under comprehensive new "financial assessments" - covering credit history, household cash flow and debt levels - to make sure they have the "capacity and willingness" to meet their financial obligations under the terms of the loan.
June 7, 2013 |
Are you ready to bet that the great housing recession is finally over and that values are rising again? If so, some of the nation's largest institutional investors are ready to roll the dice with you. Pension funds, endowment portfolios and the like don't typically invest in residential real estate, which is the world's largest asset class. But given their long-term horizons, housing is considered a natural fit. And now there's a new investment vehicle that aligns their stash of cash with creditworthy home buyers.