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Category Archive: ‘Mortgage News’

Mortgage Fraud

FBI-logoLast summer I met with an FBI agent to discuss a local realtor. I submitted 32 pages of conclusive evidence that implicated the realtor in committing 19 cases of short-sale fraud.

Though the agent said he would pursue it, I never heard from the FBI again.

Hat tip to daytrip for sending in this article from the nytimes.com:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/business/a-loan-fraud-war-thats-short-on-combat.html?ref=business&_r=0

Two excerpts:

“The I.G. report confirmed what’s been clear for quite a while — that the D.O.J. has never taken mortgage fraud seriously,” Professor Levitin said. “There is going to be no comeuppance for crimes committed during the financial crisis. This sets a really bad precedent for future crises because we’re seeing that there is going to be no deterrent effect of criminal law.”

“The report fits a pattern that is scary for a democracy, that there really are two levels of justice in this country, one for the people with power and money and one for everyone else. And that eats at the heart of what I think makes this country great.”

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Fraud, Market Conditions, Mortgage News, Scams | 7 comments

New Mortgage Rules/Pricing

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are too big, and changes are coming.

moneypitBeginning on January 10th, the new QM rules take effect – limiting the debt-to-income ratios to 43%, and capping points and fees charged by lenders to 3% of the loan amount.

Because lenders will be subject to repurchasing any mortgages that don’t comply, some lenders are talking about limiting the DTI to 39% to provide a margin of error.

In the past, borrowers with compensating factors have been able to stretch their D-T-I ratio as high as 50%.  Now they won’t.

Is it a big deal?

It is for lenders, but to home buyers and sellers all it means is that there will be fewer people in the buyer pool for each house for sale.  Buyers may need to lower their sights, which will make the cheaper homes in each market more competitive.

The other change is how Fannie/Freddie will add more fees depending on your down payment and credit score.  It is rather arbitrary too, where borrowers with 680-740 FICO scores get hit the worst.  They can look forward to a nasty choice; to pay 1/4% to 3/4% higher in rate, use a 30% down payment, or manipulate your credit score downward to pay less fees.

The gritty details can be found Here.

For home buyers who are looking for more to reasons to stay on the fence, this is a truckload of fun.  But for the highly motivated buyers (the ones making the market), all it means is being more determined to fight for the best deal you can find, and hope that home prices will reflect the new era.

For anyone selling a great house on a great street, these changes won’t mean a thing.  For those trying to sell an inferior home for retail-plus, don’t be surprised if 2014 brings a more-measured response.


Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Interest Rates/Loan Limits, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 10 comments

FHA Going Down

fha bandaid
Thanks to daytrip for sending in this story on FHA reducing loan limits:

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-fha-insurance-limits-20131207,0,3321748.story#axzz2moSfa0DJ

As of Jan. 1, the limits for FHA-insured loans in the nation’s most expensive areas will be $625,500 for a single-unit dwelling, down from $729,500.  The upper limits are for areas with the highest housing costs, including Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Barbara counties, the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

The limit varies for other areas. For example,  Riverside and San Bernardino counties will top out at $355,350, San Diego County at $546,250 and Ventura County at $598,000.

The FHA historically provided insurance on smaller loans so first-time  borrowers and people with modest incomes could get mortgages. Its role changed and Congress increased the limits in 2008 during the financial crisis, when home  loans not backed by the government dried up.

More recently, banks have been eager to write jumbo mortgages for well-heeled  borrowers without government support.

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The reduction from $697,500 to $546,250 is a welcome relief for San Diego buyers.  The FHA mortgage insurance is outrageous, and buyers are much better served getting a conventional or jumbo loan, even if it takes saving a while longer for a bigger down payment.

But what’s the current impact of FHA financing?

Here are the totals of FHA financed purchases of detached NSDCC homes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, compared to the overall sales:

Year
FHA-financed Sales
Total Sales
%%
2011
64
1,427
4%
2012
75
1,745
4%
2013
38
1,879
2%

What has become the nation’s subprime loan was only used in 2% of the NSDCC purchases this year. With prices going in the opposite direction of their loan-limit, FHA loans should become extinct around here.

Posted by on Dec 8, 2013 in Mortgage News | 5 comments

Debt-Relief Tax Exemption Expiring Again

Hat tip to daytrip for sending in this article from the latimes.com alerting us to the expiring The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, wrapped around the free cheese in the recent JP Morgan settlement:

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-homeowners-20131029,0,6953798.story#axzz2jD09ygWq

David Dayen spots a new blow for underwater homeowners that thus far has flown under the radar: the coming expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, scheduled for Dec. 31.

taxing refi proceedsThe act is a mouthful, but it’s been a crucial factor in helping countless families get out from under bad mortgages. Simply put, the act relieves homeowners from having to pay taxes on any loan forgiveness they receive in a mortgage restructuring. (The maximum exemption is $2 million for a couple.) The measure was originally set to expire last Dec. 31, but it was extended another year by the fiscal cliff deal.

The foreclosure crisis is ebbing, but the relief is still needed. Millions of families are still underwater and facing delinquency, default, and foreclosure. As Dayan notes, those who succeed in obtaining principal reductions will be getting a bill that’s almost certain to be unaffordable.

As an additional irony, the act’s expiration comes just as JPMorgan, one of the banks that contributed massively to the housing crisis, reaches a deal that gives it a tax break on its multibillion-dollar settlement of federal charges related to the disaster.

He suggests folding an extension of the homeowner relief act into the JPMorgan settlement, but the extension looks like something that would have to clear Congress all by its lonesome. What are the chances of that? Congress has a lot to do as the end of the year looms. Somehow the things that aren’t on its agenda are all needed to help the less advantaged of society — food stamp extensions and now mortgage relief. Come New Year’s Day, we’ll be asking once again: Who do the people on Capitol Hill work for?

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Foreclosures/REOs, Loan Mods, Mortgage News, Principal Reductions, Short Selling | 6 comments

Happy Anniversary

We’ve heard all the hubbub about higher mortgage rates having a negative effect on the real estate market.  But the non-taper has caused rates to come back a bit – we are now down around 4.375% for 30-year conforming rates.

For those who had their heart set on having payments lower than what you get with a 4.375%, 30-year mortgage rate, then there are options available:

  • Buyers can pay more points to lower their rate.
  • Buyers can have the sellers buy down their rate.
  • They can take an interest-only loan, instead of fixed-rate.
  • Buy a cheaper house.

Or, in this cash-happy environment, they can borrow less:

Microsoft PowerPoint - 2013 Florida Saltmarsh Conference [Compat

The stir-up from higher rates might cause some changes in the buyer psychology, but the baseline problem hasn’t changed – there aren’t any great buys available, and even the decent buys are loaded with compromise.

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We’ve wrapped up eight years of www.bubbleinfo.com!  Thanks for participating, and most of all, thank you to those have become clients. 

I do this to demonstrate my abilities, and want to help more people buy and sell homes.  If you, or someone you know, is thinking of moving, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in About the author, Ideas/Solutions, Interest Rates/Loan Limits, Mortgage News | 7 comments

Eminent Domain – Mortgages

Hat tip to daytrip for sending this in from nytimes.coman excerpt:

Robert and Patricia Castillo paid $420,000 for a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Richmond, Calif., in 2005. It is now worth $125,000.

The power of eminent domain has traditionally worked against homeowners, who can be forced to sell their property to make way for a new highway or shopping mall. But now the working-class city of Richmond, Calif., hopes to use the same legal tool to help people stay right where they are.

Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.

The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.

The banks have warned that such a move will bring down a hail of lawsuits and all but halt mortgage lending in any city with the temerity to try it.

But local officials, frustrated at the lack of large-scale relief from the Obama administration, relatively free of the influence that Wall Street wields in Washington, and faced with fraying neighborhoods and a depleted middle class, are beginning to shrug off those threats.

“We’re not willing to back down on this,” said Gayle McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond’s mayor. “They can put forward as much pressure as they would like but I’m very committed to this program and I’m very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods.”

The city is offering to buy the loans at what it considers the fair market value. In a hypothetical example, a home mortgaged for $400,000 is now worth $200,000. The city plans to buy the loan for $160,000, or about 80 percent of the value of the home, a discount that factors in the risk of default.

Then, the city would write down the debt to $190,000 and allow the homeowner to refinance at the new amount, probably through a government program. The $30,000 difference goes to the city, the investors who put up the money to buy the loan, closing costs and M.R.P. The homeowner would go from owing twice what the home is worth to having $10,000 in equity.

Read full article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/business/in-a-shift-eminent-domain-saves-homes.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=business&

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Loan Mods, Local Government, Mortgage News | 4 comments

$10 Million Loans

bstoneBlackstone Group LP, the private-equity firm that has spent $5 billion on more than 30,000 distressed houses, is preparing to expand its bet on the housing recovery by lending to other landlords.

The firm, which already owns more rental homes than any other investor, has set up B2R Finance LP to offer loans starting at $10 million, according to four people who reviewed the terms. B2R is reaching out to landlords with portfolios of properties seeking to grow in the burgeoning industry for single-family homes to rent, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

The world’s largest private-equity firm said last month that it was entering the later stages of its buying spree after leading a group of institutional investors who’ve spent at least $17 billion on more than 100,000 homes over two years, helping fuel the fastest price gains since 2006. By increasing its stake in the rebound through lending, New York-based Blackstone could benefit from smaller landlords already investing in what Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates to be a $2.8 trillion market.

Read the full article here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-08/blackstone-raises-5-billion-rental-bet-with-lending-arm.html

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Mortgage News | 0 comments

Cutting Appraisal Costs

From bloomberg.com:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-27/bank-of-america-said-to-send-property-reviews-to-india.html

bofa1Bank of America Corp. opened a unit in India to review home-valuation reports as it seeks to rebuild share in U.S. mortgages at a lower cost, said four people with knowledge of the move.

“One of the biggest problems in the mortgage business is all the paperwork involved, and how do you engineer it to reduce the bottlenecks,” said Bert Ely, an independent banking consultant in Alexandria, Virginia. “With offshoring, the potential for problems is always there, but it’s hard to be critical for trying to minimize costs.”

Read More

Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Mortgage News | 3 comments

Underwriting Change

This is a big shift in underwriting policy – from the latimes.com:

seniorqualifyingHere’s a heads-up for the growing ranks of seniors whose post-retirement monthly incomes aren’t sufficient to qualify for a mortgage under today’s tough underwriting standards: Thanks to a rule change by the largest players in the home loan business, you may be able to use imputed income from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement assets to qualify for the loan you want.

That, in turn, could open the door to a money-saving refinancing to a lower-rate loan or a downsizing purchase of a new house or condo.

Top credit officials at Freddie Mac, the giant federally controlled mortgage investment company, said recently that a little-known policy revision now allows seniors and others to use certain retirement account balances to supplement their incomes for underwriting purposes without actually tapping those balances or drawing down cash.

Read More

Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 3 comments

Subprime is Back

Some excerpts from the latimes.com - thanks daytrip!

Subprime loans are trickling back.

Michele and Russell Poland’s credit was shot, but they managed to buy their suburban dream home anyway.

After a business bankruptcy and a home foreclosure, they turned to a rare option in this era of tightfisted banking — a subprime loan.

The Polands paid nearly $10,000 in upfront fees for the privilege of securing a mortgage at 10.9% interest. And they had to raid their retirement account for a 35% down payment.

Most borrowers would balk at such stiff terms. But with prices rising, the Polands wanted to snag a four-bedroom home in Temecula near top-rated schools for their 5-year-old son. By later this year, they figure, they’ll be able to refinance into a standard loan.

“The mortgage is a bridge loan,” said Russ Poland, now working as an insurance investigator. “It was expensive, but we think it’s worth it.”

In the aftermath of the housing crash, there’s no shortage of Americans who, like the Polands, are eager to rebuild their shattered finances. In response, lenders are emerging to offer the classic subprime trade-off: high-priced loans for high-risk customers.

Today’s high-risk lenders differ from those during the housing boom in key ways. These lenders say the new subprime mortgages are actually old school — the kind of loans made in the 1980s and 1990s. In other words, a borrower’s collateral matters, down payments matter, income and ability to pay matter.

Among those hoping to reverse the trend is the Polands’ lender, Citadel Servicing Corp. of Orange County. Chief Executive Daniel L. Perl said he has tested the water by making a few dozen subprime loans since late 2011, mostly with his own money rather than investment capital.

The Polands, among the first to receive Citadel loans, are part of a success story, Perl said. None of the loans has gone bad; about a third have already been paid off. With that track record, Perl recently raised $200 million from private investors. He’s hiring 55 employees to help him make loans through mortgage brokers across most of the West, and he’s moving from Citadel’s Aliso Viejo location to larger offices in Irvine.

“We’re looking to build it up over the next 24 months to $30 million to $50 million a month,” Perl said. “It’s a decent business plan in a credit-barren world.”

Perl requires 25% to 40% down, depending on credit scores that can drop as low as 500 on an 850-point scale. His potential customers, who pay a minimum of 7.95% interest, include higher-income as well as lower-income borrowers.

“Quite a few” affluent borrowers are good credit risks, Perl said, even though they had recent short sales — they sold homes for less than they owed on their mortgages. Perl also writes mortgages that exceed the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac threshold for conventional loans, which varies but tops out at $625,500 in the most expensive areas.

“They come from all walks of life — doctors and lawyers as well as blue-collar workers,” Perl said. “As long as they have the ability to pay and equity in their homes, they are a candidate for one of our loans.”

John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, sees no reason that subprime mortgage bonds can’t reemerge in “plain vanilla” form, as opposed to the complex concoctions that ended up as “toxic assets” in the meltdown.

“I can’t understand why it hasn’t come back sooner,” he said, pointing out that there’s a strong market for bonds backed by subprime auto and credit-card loans.

“California has been famous for devising exotic mortgages,” Williams said. “But the reality is that they held up rather well until we started doing things like giving them to people with no jobs.”

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-subprime-mortgage-20130427,0,6498564.story

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying, Thinking of Buying? | 12 comments