Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

These thumbnails suggest some of the factors that helped make this a turnaround year for Real Estate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline is Monday

The program stems from orders issued by the Treasury to “14 large residential mortgage servicers and two third-party vendors,” according to a statement from the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency In April 2011, the government determined that 16 companies had used “unsafe and unsound practices related to residential mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing,” the statement said.

As a result of those determinations, the consent orders were issued. The orders require the servicers to pay for independent consultants to evaluate whether borrowers lost money because of the servicers’ bad behavior during foreclosure proceedings. If the independent reviewer finds errors in a particular case, the servicer is required to pay restitution to the harmed borrower or offer some other form of remediation — including the suspension or cancellation of a foreclosure.

But the opportunity for homeowners to apply for a no-cost review by a third-party consultant is coming to a close. Homeowners who “believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in foreclosure proceedings related to their primary residence between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010” must submit a request for the review of their foreclosure proceedings by Dec. 31, the Comptroller of the Currency’s Office said.

Examples of injuries that homeowners may have suffered because of errors include, but are not limited to: a foreclosure sale that occurred while the homeowner was waiting for a decision on a mortgage modification, a balance at the time of foreclosure that was higher than what was actually owed and a foreclosure that went forward although the homeowner was following a loan modification plan.

Monday, December 17, 2012

At Home With the Hobbits

Probably the real reason Tolkien put the hobbits in earth sheltered houses is that he knew them from Ireland and Iceland, two countries where people did it because it was much warmer in the winter. It so happens that it is also much cooler in the summer. has put together a grand tour of the latest in hobbit-friendly housing.
They point out that many of these home building techniques have been around for thousands of years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Harp 2 is Humming Along.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program was launched in early-2009. It was meant to give homeowners whose homes had lost value access to the same low rates as everyone else. The recession had started, mortgage rates had been dropping, and the government wanted to use HARP as economic stimulus.

As homeowners refinanced in California, Arizona, Florida and Michigan, among other states, monthly mortgage payments were reduced, helping households to save or spend to meet other financial needs.
The original HARP program, however, failed to gain much traction because of loan-to-value (LTV) restrictions and far-reaching default liability which was placed on banks making HARP loans.

So, to help broaden HARP's base, the program was re-written and relaunched in October 2011. "HARP 2", as the program is commonly called, was meant to expand the reach of the Home Affordable Refinance Program and it has. Prior to HARP 2, the refinance program was reaching fewer than 30,000 households monthly, tallying fewer than one million closed loans through its first 30 months. Since March 2012, the Home Affordable Refinance Program has nearly tripled its volume, closing 87,000 loans per month, on average.

More than 1,000,000 HARP loans are expected for 2012. While HARP 2 is considered a success, the program likely to fall short of its original goal to help 7,000,000 U.S. households. This is just one reason why Congress has considered launching HARP 3. More details can be found in Dan Green's Mortgage Report.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Fully Insured? Allstate's Not Sure....

Just posted on Facebook by Tori Cardinale, a Staten Islander friend of a friend:
HI Everyone, This is my house. We walked in through a HOLE in the front to the entire first floor COMPLETELY gone. We are fully insured. Allstate had just quoted us on the amount we are receiving. $165.38. Notice the RED tag on the door (WE ARE NOT ALLOWED IN) This is not acceptable, and basically a slap in the face. Please re-post this, Share or Whatever everyone does to make this Viral. To make Allstate know what its like to be jerked around, we are hanging the Banner in hopes of some Media Attention. Everyone who was helping from the storm, Just repost this! Thanks!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Unemployment Falls Along with Mortgage Rates

 Sandy blew a hole in not in the nation’s labor market but economists’ crystal balls as the economy added 146,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest level since December.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Half-way Back to Normall -- Almost

Each month, Trulia’s Housing Barometer charts how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal.” We summarize three key housing market indicators: construction starts (Census), existing-home sales (NAR), and the delinquency+ foreclosure rate (LPS First Look). For each indicator, we compare this month’s data to (1) how bad the numbers got at their worst and (2) their pre-bubble “normal” levels.

In October 2012, all three housing measures improved: construction starts increased again, existing-home sales rose, and the delinquency + foreclosure rate dropped considerably. Even though construction and sales declined month-over-month in the Northeast region, stronger activity in the rest of the country outweighed the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"Modern Family" is Becoming New Model for Modern Families

The multi-Emmy award winning sitcom Modern Family may have seemed to some viewers to be atypical, but recent economic and cultural changes have made it a new reality for a growing number of extended families.

"We've seen a 25 percent increase in demand for multigenerational housing structures over the past two years and expect to see more,"
said Luis Tusino, CEO of the GBI-Avis building group, which specializes in building custom modular homes.