Saturday, May 2, 2009

Senate Defeats Mortgage Cramdown Bill

The proposed law allowing bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, known as the cramdown bill, was voted down Thursday by the U.S. Senate.The financial industry opposed the bill, arguing that the change would drive up interest rates and make the market less stable.

Some senators also were concerned that their constituents who pay their bills on time would resent this measure.Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the opposition, says the vote "ensures that homeowners who pay their bills and follow the rules won't see an interest-rate hike at the whim of a bankruptcy judge."The reform was a key part of President Obama’s foreclosure prevention plan, leaving some to question ultimate likelihood of its success."It won't render the loan modification program useless, but it removed an important ingredient that would have helped realign everybody's interests," says Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America.

Source:, Tami Lubby (04/30/2009)

Fight Inflation: Buy a Home

Some economic analysts say that the possibility that the economy will go into overdrive and inflation will skyrocket is a much more frightening possibility than the current recession.One inflation hedge nearly all of them point to is real estate.

Owning it outright is the best scenario, but if that’s not possible, a low-rate, 30-year fixed mortgage is the next best thing. As inflation drives up salaries, mortgage payments will stay the same, analysts point out.

Source: USA Today, John Waggoner (04/24/2009)

U.S. to Offer Incentives to Modify Seconds

U.S. to Offer Incentives to Modify Seconds The Obama administration is announcing incentives today for mortgages servicers to modify home equity loans and other second mortgages.

Servicers must agree to modify second mortgages when the first mortgage has been modified. They must extend the term of the second mortgage and match the rate of the first mortgage. Then the government will share the cost with the servicer of cutting the rate to 1 percent for amortizing loans and 2 percent for interest-only loans. Under the program, the government will pay mortgage servicers $500 upfront and $250 a year for three years for the modifications. Borrowers will receive payments of up to $250 a year for five years if they stay current on the modified loan.

There will also be a schedule of incentives for holders of second liens to drop their claims altogether. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Treasury will make the announcement jointly.Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase have already agreed to participate in the program.A separate announcement will include changes to the Hope for Homeowners program, which helps homeowners refinance into more affordable government-backed loans.

To get this program moving, the administration is announcing a $2,500 upfront payment to servicers. Lenders will receive $1,000 a year for three years if the loan stays current.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Jessica Holzer (04/28/2009)

Housing Analysts Predict the Bottom Is Near

Housing Analysts Predict the Bottom Is Near The bottom of the housing decline is near, predicted analysts and home builders attending the National Association of Home Builders’ semiannual Construction Forecast Conference last week.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, facetiously picked a date when home prices would stop falling: Dec. 15, 2009. Other observers weren’t so precise, but they did generally agree that the federal government’s efforts to shore up the market would take effect by the end of 2009 or early in 2010.

Analysts also predicted that consumers will spend less on remodeling. Eric Belsky, executive director at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, predicted that spending on remodeling would fall 12.3 percent by the end of this year compared to last.Analysts project that the credit crisis will loosen, although people with blemished credit records may continue to have trouble getting mortgage loans.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher (04/24/2009)

Homeownership at Lowest Level Since 2000

Homeownership at Lowest Level Since 2000 According to the Census Bureau, the rate of U.S. homeownership slipped in the 2009 first quarter to the lowest level since the start of the decade.

The U.S. homeownership rate dropped to 67.5 percent from 68 percent a year earlier, driven largely by a sharp decline among younger buyers as well as among African-American households. Loose credit pushed up national homeownership levels in recent years, but the trend is now being reversed by the recession and a foreclosure epidemic.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Conor Dougherty (04/28/09)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Fixed-Rates Hover Just Above All Time Low in Freddie Mac Weekly Survey
McLean, VA – Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.80 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending April 23, 2009, down from last week when it averaged 4.82 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.03 percent.
The 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.48 percent with an average 0.7 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 5.62 percent. This is tied with last week for the lowest the 15-year FRM has been since Freddie Mac began tracking it in August 1991.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 4.85 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.88 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.68 percent. This is the lowest the 5-year ARM has been since Freddie Mac began tracking it in January 2005.
One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.82 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.91 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.29 percent.
(Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total cost of obtaining the mortgage.)
"Although long-term mortgage rates eased slightly this week, ARM rates remain elevated relative to those fixed-rate mortgages," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "For instance, interest rates for 1-year ARMs exceeded those for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages over the last two weeks; this is the first time this has happened since Freddie Mac began collecting data for ARMs in January 1984.
"The housing market is showing further signs of possible improvement. House prices rose for the second consecutive month in February, the first back-to-back increase since April 2007, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Among the nine Census divisions, six experienced positive gains in February, led by a monthly increase of 3.8 percent in the Pacific Division."
Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and more than five million renters.