Bernanke: Economic Recovery Will Be Slow Until Housing Market Picks Up

A full economic recovery will remain elusive until the U.S. housing market can turn around, said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a speech last week. "The economic recovery has been disappointing in part because U.S. housing markets remain out of balance," he said in prepared remarks at the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla, as quoted in a CNN Money article. Bernanke reported that will home prices falling an inflation-adjusted 40 percent from their peak, Americans have lost roughly Read more [...]

Existing Home Sales Post Third Monthly Gain

In a potentially hopeful sign for the U.S. housing market, sales of existing homes rose in December for the third straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total sales grew 5.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.61 million homes last month, from November's downwardly revised 4.39 million rate. Compared with December 2010, sales were up 3.6 percent. Sales as a whole in 2011 rose 1.7 percent to 4.26 million from 4.19 million in 2010. NAR chief economist Read more [...]

Existing Home Sales Grow in October

Sales of existing U.S. homes rose in October, according to the National Association of Realtors, as inventory and prices dropped. Sales figures increased 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million in October, up from a downwardly revised 4.90 million in September. The new level is 13.5 percent above sales from a year ago. Meanwhile, total inventory fell for the third straight month in October by 2.2 percent to 3.33 million homes on the market. At the current sales pace, Read more [...]

NAR Expects Gradual Housing Market Improvement in 2012

The National Association of Realtors is predicting a moderately healthier housing market next year, according to its projections announced at the 2011 Realtors Conference & Expo. "Tight mortgage credit conditions have been holding back home buyers all year, and consumer confidence has been shaky recently," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun as quoted in the press release. "Nonetheless, there is a sizable pent-up demand based on population growth, employment levels and a doubling-up phenomenon Read more [...]

Increasing Mortgage Fees May Lower Taxpayer Risk

In an effort to start weaning mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off of taxpayer funding, the two companies may need to start charging higher lender fees and require more mortgage insurance. According to Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the current regulator of Fannie and Freddie, these changes could reduce the risks of more housing-related losses for taxpayers. Any such changes would have to be phases in gradually, and would, "not happen Read more [...]

Genworth Fights 5% QRM Rule

With the enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, mortgage lenders, servicers, and insurers have been set on edge, wondering how it will affect their business. The new law is designed, in part, to reduce the chance for default on mortgage loans, making them safer for homeowners and investors. One detail in the new regulations will require mortgage lenders to retain a five percent equity in each loan they make, with the intent that if they have "skin in the game," banks will be less Read more [...]

Existing Home Sales Sip Slightly, But Prices Make Comeback

June sales of existing U.S. homes dipped down slightly, according to the National Association of Realtors, yet home prices around the country rose significantly, on a monthly basis. The NAR reports says total existing home sales fell 0.8 percent in June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million units, down from 4.81 million in May and down 8.8 percent from June 2010, the closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit. By region, small sales gains in the South and Midwest were offset Read more [...]

Feds Sue JPMorgan Chase and RBS for Housing Bust Losses

The National Credit Union Administration, the regulator for the country's credit unions, filed a lawsuit against two major banks today, accusing them of partly causing the failure of several U.S. credit unions. They claim the big banks deceitfully sold them risky mortgage-backed bonds. The NCUA is seeking more than $800 million from both companies. The NCUA has had to take on the debts from five failed credit unions since the mortgage meltdown, and now must deal with offloading $50 billion of Read more [...]

Second Mortgage-Borrowers Feel the Worst of the Housing Crisis

A new study from CoreLogic Inc, a real-estate data company, has found that homeowners who took out second mortgages during the housing boom are now suffering the most in the current housing bust. The report found that almost 40 percent of those who received second mortgages, including home-equity loans and lines of credit, are now underwater on their home loans. That's more than twice the rate for those who do not have a second mortgage, 18 percent of whom are underwater. During the housing market Read more [...]

The Newest Loan Fad: Shorter Mortgage Terms

As the mortgage market repents of its boom time sins, many homeowners are choosing to refinance into loans with terms as short as seven years. That is a major trend reversal from five years ago, when some mortgage lenders were even offering 40-year home loans. "In this tight economy, it's clear that many homeowners are seeking a little extra peace of mind when it comes to their finances," said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft in his most recent Executives Perspectives blog post. "By choosing Read more [...]