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What You Don’t Know About Mortgages

Thanks largely to new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, taking out a mortgage is not the risky business it was during the bubble. But it is still the largest and most complex financial transaction in the lives of most people.
Read more on: NY Times

Home Permits and Prices Rise, Despite Mortgage Rates

Permits for future home construction rose to their highest point in nearly five and a half years in October and prices for single-family homes posted big gains in September, suggesting that the run-up in mortgage interest rates since May has not derailed the housing recovery.
Read more on: NY Times

Rewarding Stellar Credit

Lending terms are easing up for borrowers who have superior credit. But mortgages are no easier to come by for applicants with unexceptional FICO scores. According to a recent analysis by Ellie Mae, a mortgage software company in Pleasanton, Calif., credit-score and down-payment requirements have eased.
Read more on: NY Times

Tighter Rules Will Make It Harder to Get a Reverse Mortgage

The spigot on reverse mortgages has been slowly tightened over the last several years. Borrowers can no longer tap as much of their home equity as they could before the housing crisis. Now the rules are about to change again.
Read more on: NY Times

Tax-Free Accounts for Homes

Tax-free savings accounts help Americans stow away money for health care and college tuition. Why not a tax-exempt account for yet another major expense: the down payment on a mortgage? A coalition that includes real estate developers and investors has been floating the idea as part of a package of reforms intended to overhaul federally funded real estate programs.
Read more on: NY Times

Tax-Free Accounts for Homes

Tax-free savings accounts help Americans stow away money for health care and college tuition. Why not a tax-exempt account for yet another major expense: the down payment on a mortgage? A coalition that includes real estate developers and investors has been floating the idea as part of a package of reforms intended to overhaul federally funded real estate programs.
Read more on: NY Times

Refinancing, Despite a Rate Rise

As of the end of June, refinancing activity represented 64 percent of all mortgage applications, the lowest volume since May 2011, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The next generation of potential home buyers prefer to live in developments with an array of housing types close to shops and mass transit, a recent survey shows. Is this bad news for the baby boomers who will eventually be looking to sell their big suburban houses?
Read more on: NY Times

Home Loans for Millennials

The next generation of potential home buyers prefer to live in developments with an array of housing types close to shops and mass transit, a recent survey shows. Is this bad news for the baby boomers who will eventually be looking to sell their big suburban houses?
Read more on: NY Times

Reducing Refinancing Expenses

The state charges a recording tax on new mortgage debt. The rate varies by county, with the minimum being 1.05 percent of the loan amount. The rate is highest in New York City, where borrowers pay 1.8 percent of the loan amount for mortgages under $500,000, and 1.925 percent above that amount.
Read more on: NY Times

Settlement to Benefit Borrowers

Banks and mortgage servicers often impose what is known as force- or lender-placed insurance on borrowers who allow their homeowners’ insurance to lapse. But a state investigation, and a resulting settlement, could rein in the outsize premiums that come with these policies, which are typically 2 to 10 times higher than standard plans, even though their coverage is more limited.
Read more on: NY Times

Why Borrowers Use Payday Loans

People use payday loans to avoid borrowing from family and friends, and to avoid cutting back further on expenses. But they often end up doing those things anyway to pay back the loan, a new report finds. The average payday loan — a short-term, high-interest-rate loan typically secured by a borrower’s future paycheck — requires a repayment of more than $400 in two weeks, according to a new report from an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Read more on: NY Times

A Look at Repayment Options for Private Student Loans

The federal government is looking into ways to help consumers burdened with private student loans — including potential ways to help them refinance their debt at lower interest rates. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently published a formal request for information from consumers, lenders and others involved in the student loan market, seeking “more detailed information on ways to encourage the development of more affordable loan repayment mechanisms for private student loan borrowers.”
Read more on: NY Times

Rushing Into a Mortgage Can Prove Costly

The housing market in the United States is starting to show signs of improvement. Mortgage rates remain low. New construction is picking up. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued guidelines last week aimed at protecting consumers from the types of mortgages — like the ones that offered deceptive teaser rates or required no documentation from borrowers — that contributed to the financial crash.
Read more on: NY Times

For Student Borrowers, Relief Now May Mean a Big Tax Bill Later

Those breathing a sigh of relief that their student loan payments are now in line with their income may want to re-examine the rules that set the payment in the first place. There could be a tax time bomb looming, slowly ticking away. And defusing it is not a big part of the policy discussion in Washington at the moment.
Read more on: NY Times

Average US Credit Card Debt Per Borrower Up in 3Q

Americans cranked up their use of credit cards in the third quarter, racking up more debt than a year ago, while also being less diligent about making payments on time, an analysis of consumer-credit data shows.
Read more on: NY Times

V.A. Loans Surge in Fiscal Year

MORTGAGES guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs surged by 50 percent in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, as tighter credit standards on conventional financing made these programs all the more attractive to current and former military members.
Read more on: NY Times

How to Find Weeds in a Mortgage Pool

IT sounds like the Domesday Book of the housing bust. In fact, it is a computerized compendium of millions of housing transactions — a decade’s worth from across the country — that could finally help us get to the bottom of troubled mortgage investments.

The system is an outgrowth of work done by a New York investment manager, Thomas Priore.
Read more on: NY Times

U.S. Consumer Bureau to Oversee Companies That Handle Credit Reports

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Monday that it would begin supervising the leading credit bureaus, the companies that collect financial details of everyone's life.

The bureau will oversee and make rules covering about 30 credit reporting companies, representing 94 percent of the $4 billion credit reporting market.
Read more on: NY Times

A Mortgage Rate Beginning With a 3

Mortgage rates have never looked this good. They are at about 3.81 percent for a second week, a record low. But who gets that rate? What does it actually take to secure a mortgage rate that begins with the enviable number 3?

One mortgage broker joked the other day that it required “a good mortgage broker and a prayer.”
Read more on: NY Times

The Advantages of Preapproval

With the housing market warming up in many areas, and multiple offers becoming more commonplace, buyers who want an advantage in the bidding process will need more than a mortgage prequalification. They will need a preapproval.

The difference is significant. Prequalifying for a mortgage is based solely on what you disclose to the loan officer or broker about your earnings, credit score and total assets, including what is available for a down payment.
Read more on: NY Times

When to Refinance Again

Those who refinanced their mortgages a year or so ago, when interest rates averaged just below 5 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, may be wondering whether it’s time to refinance yet again, now that rates are at least a full percentage point lower.

As of Thursday, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the average rate on a 30-year loan was 3.84 percent, down from 3.88 percent the previous week and 4.71 percent around the same time a year ago.
Read more on: NY Times

Rising Concerns Over Student Loans, Public and Private

College students and their advocates are increasingly concerned about student loans, both those administered by the federal government and those made by private lenders.

On Tuesday, students rallied on Capitol Hill to protest a pending interest rate increase in subsidized loans made to low- and moderate-income undergraduates under the federal Stafford program. The rate is scheduled to increase to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent for new loans made after June 30.
Read more on: NY Times

Bank of America Reaches Deal on Housing

Bank of America will provide deeper-than-anticipated principal reductions for about 200,000 homeowners under newly-disclosed terms of last month’s foreclosure settlement with state and federal authorities.

The cuts for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth could total more than $100,000 each under the deal with the government, according to Dan Frahm, a spokesman for Bank of America.
Read more on: NY Times

Standard Form Proposed for Monthly Mortgage Statements

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed a monthly mortgage statement aimed at making it easier for borrowers to understand their home loans and help them avoid unnecessary fees.

The proposed form shows how much of the monthly statement goes to the loan principal, interest and fees. Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, said in a statement that the information would help homeowners keep track of their payments and keep mortgage servicers — the companies that collect the payments and manage the loans — accountable for fixing any errors that occur.
Read more on: NY Times

A Good Rental History Can Help Borrowers

IF you’re planning to buy a home for the first time later this year, your chances of qualifying for a mortgage might be better if you’ve had a history of paying the rent on time.

Last year Experian, one of the three leading credit-reporting companies, added a section to millions of credit reports showing on-time rent payments, and raised the credit scores of many people. The company said that this year it would add in negative marks, including mentions of bounced checks or of tenants’ leaving before a lease was up.
Read more on: NY Times

Most European Leaders Agree on Fiscal Treaty

European leaders, meeting until the early hours of Friday, agreed to sign an intergovernmental treaty that would require them to enforce stricter fiscal and financial discipline in their future budgets. But efforts to get unanimity among the 27 members of the European Union, as desired by Germany, failed as Britain and Hungary refused to go along for now.

Read more on: NY Times

Nevada Says Bank Broke Mortgage Settlement

The attorney general of Nevada is accusing Bank of America of repeatedly violating a broad loan modification agreement it struck with state officials in October 2008 and is seeking to rip up the deal so that the state can proceed with a suit against the bank over allegations of deceptive lending, marketing and loan servicing practices.

Read more on: NY Times

Bank Fees

The news on Thursday that Bank of America is imposing a $5 monthly fee on people who have the nerve to use their debit card to buy things probably should not have come as much of a shock.

Wells Fargo, the other giant coast-to-coast bank, had already revealed its plans to test a $3 fee in the wake of new federal rules that made the cards less profitable for many banks.

Read more on: NY Times

Home loans rates drop again in Freddie Mac survey

Fixed-rate mortgages continued their descent into record territory early this week, but now may be poised to move higher again.

Lenders surveyed Monday through Wednesday were offering the 30-year loan at an average 4.09% and the 15-year mortgage at 3.30%, Freddie Mac said in its weekly report. Those were the lowest levels since the big mortgage-finance company started tracking the 30-year loan in 1971.

Read more on: LA Times

Delinquent loans on the rise again, a grim sign for housing

It's an ominous sign for housing. The percentage of homeowners who have missed at least one mortgage payment has risen for the second straight quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. says.

"It is clear that the downward trend we saw through most of 2010 has stopped," the Mortgage Bankers Assn.'s chief economist, Jay Brinkmann, said in a news release.

Read more on: LA Times

The nest-egg myth

As the debate over the federal deficit heats up, Americans are going to hear a great deal about "greedy geezers" who are supposedly bankrupting the nation with Social Security and Medicare.

Politicians will no doubt be more circumspect than former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, who, as the Republican co-chairman of the federal deficit commission, described Social Security as a "milk cow with 310 million tits."

Read more on: LA Times

30-year mortgage interest rates slide back below 5%

Freddie Mac's widely watched survey of the mortgage market provided homeowners and would-be home buyers with another round of good news Thursday: A third straight week of falling interest rates has taken the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans below 5% again.

According to Freddie Mac, the rate on that standard mortgage averaged 4.99% this week, down from 5.06% last week and 5.16% a year ago.

Read more on: LA Times

Will 2011 be a turning point for the economy?

The U.S. economy keeps climbing out of the deep hole left by the financial crash and the Great Recession that followed.

But the recovery's benefits have been dispensed unevenly, to say the least — which is why many Americans don't believe things have improved, and lack faith that 2011 will bring better times.

Those doubts, however, could have a silver lining: The bar is low for what might constitute good news that could feed on itself and give the economy significant momentum.

Read more on: LA Times

Credit scores to be revised amid soaring mortgage defaults

Changes in consumer behavior mean that borrowers who were once considered outstanding credit risks may no longer be so today.

Reporting from Washington: With foreclosures soaring - and homeowners with unblemished payment histories abruptly walking away from their houses with no warning to lenders — the two major producers of credit scores have begun changing how they evaluate consumers' risks of default. The revisions could affect you the next time you apply for a loan.

In late October, both Fair Isaac Corp., developer of the FICO score, which dominates the mortgage field, and VantageScore Solutions, a joint venture by the three national credit bureaus and marketer of the competing VantageScore, outlined modifications they were making to handle the vast credit disruptions caused by the housing bust, the recession, high unemployment and behavioral changes by consumers.

More information on: LA Times