Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NAR - "NAR Says Fed's Buying of Fannie, Freddie Debt Will Drive Down Interest Rates and Help to Stabilize Housing" (11-26-08)

"Great news for home buyers, home sellers and the U.S. economy is how the National Association of Realtors® greeted this morning’s announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will purchase housing-related debts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thus freeing up mortgage money on Main Street."

NAR - "New Home Sales Decline 5.3 Percent In October" (11-26-08)

"Regionally, new home sales declined 18 percent in the West and 6 percent in the South in October. Sales in the Northeast increased by 22.6 percent from an unusually low rate the previous month, and sales in the Midwest increased by 6 percent."

NAHB - "One In Four Boomers Plan Move, New Survey Reports" (11-25-08)

"One in four baby boom generation households (26%) expects to move from their current home in the future, with the majority looking for a single-level home that is more comfortable or convenient, according to a new survey prepared for AARP."

CBIA - "October Housing Production Drops Again – to Lowest Level on Record, CBIA Announces" (11-25-08)

"According to statistics compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board, just 4,140 permits were pulled throughout California during the month of October, down 49 percent when compared to the same month a year ago and down 9 percent from September. On a seasonally adjusted basis, October’s unit total was at an annual rate of 46,300, which CIRB said was the lowest month recorded since monthly rates began being tabulated in January 1976"

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase Slightly In Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (11-25-08)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 21, 2008. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 404.4, an increase of 1.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 398.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 1.0 percent compared with the previous week and was down 21.9 percent compared with the same week one year earlier. "

Mortgage Bankers Association - "
MBA Study Shows Government-Insured Share of Mortgage Applications Continues to Increase" (11-25-08)

The government-insured share of mortgage applications continues to grow relative to conventional mortgage applications, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. Of all mortgage applications taken during the month of October 2008, 32.9 percent were for government-insured loans (consisting mainly of FHA loans) compared to 10.3 percent in October 2007."

CAR - "
C.A.R. reports sales increased 117.1 percent in October" (11-25-08)

"Home sales increased 117.1 percent in October in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 39.9 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today."

Reuters - "Consumers cut spending" (11-25-08)

"Housing, consumer spending and business investment all weakened sharply last month as the dizzying downward spiral of the world's largest economy gathered speed, data showed on Wednesday. Economic reports also showed unemployment rolls remained swollen at recessionary levels in the latest week, providing further support to economists who think the U.S. economy has entered its worst downturn in decades."

Yahoo - "Housing Could Bottom Sooner Than You Think" (11-25-08)

a number of indicators suggest that the worst of the housing slump may have passed. For starters, the steady drop in home prices is beginning to moderate. Home prices had been slumping 2% sequentially for a good portion of 2007, but those drops are now in the 0.50% to 1.00% range. While home prices may fall a bit more over the next few months, they may finally flatten later this winter."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Banks May Write Down $44 Billion in Quarter" (11-25-08)

U.S. banks including Citigroup Inc. may post about $44 billion in writedowns and charges on bad loans in the fourth quarter, eroding the government's banking bailout plan, Oppenheimer & Co.'s Meredith Whitney said."

Yahoo - "DR Horton swings to $800 million loss" (11-25-08)

D.R. Horton Inc.'s chief executive said Tuesday he expects this fiscal year to be even more challenging than 2008, which ended with a nearly $800 million quarterly loss on slower home sales and more than $1 billion in charges."

Monday, November 24, 2008

NAR - "Existing-Home Sales Soften on Economic Volatility" (11-24-08)

"Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.98 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.14 million in September, and are 1.6 percent below the 5.06 million-unit level in October 2007."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit" (11-24-08)

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago."

Bloomberg - "Citigroup Faces More Losses, Dilution, Whitney Says" (11-24-08)

Citigroup, the fifth-largest U.S. bank by market value, received the guarantees from the U.S. government for troubled mortgages and toxic assets and will get a $20 billion cash injection from the Treasury Department. The New York-based bank had been facing a possible breakup or sale as it posted four straight quarterly losses totaling $20 billion, sending the stock tumbling 60 percent last week."

Bloomberg - "Goldman May Lead FDIC-Backed Bond Sales After Ruling" (11-24-08)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. may lead banks selling bonds guaranteed by the government as soon as this week, starting a wave of issuance that some analysts said will exceed $400 billion."

Bloomberg - "UBS Overvalued Property by $100 Million, Fired Executive Says" (11-24-08)

UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, charged inflated fees at an $11.7 billion U.S. real-estate fund by overvaluing some commercial properties, a former official alleges in his wrongful-termination lawsuit."

Wall Street Journal - "Construction Industry Is Poised for a Rebound" (11-24-08)

"The construction industry, beset by one of the biggest drops in employment in the current economic downturn, could be poised for a rebound under President-elect Barack Obama's expected stimulus package. Mr. Obama hasn't offered details, but anticipating a surge in public-works spending, investors bid up construction and engineering stocks. URS Corp., a San Francisco-based engineering and construction company, rose 34%, global giant Fluor Corp. rose nearly 17% and Granite Construction Inc., a domestic engineering company, rose 22%."

Orange County Register - "Downey Financial to file for bankruptcy after government seized assets" (11-24-08)

"Downey Financial in Newport Beach said it will file for bankruptcy by Wednesday, five days after federal regulators seized its savings and loan subsidiary amid mounting losses on delinquent home loans."

Orange County Register - "New funding for San Clemente development blocked" (11-24-08)

"A bankruptcy judge in New York has denied a motion by Irvine-based SunCal Cos. to pursue alternate funding for the stalled Marblehead Coastal housing project in San Clemente, plus 19 other developments elsewhere in California"

Inman News - "Online home listings don't tell whole story" (11-24-08)

"HOUSE HUNTING TIP: There is inconsistency in the quality of what you see and read about listings online. The Internet is not regulated, so you may find that some agents adhere less to trust-in-advertising guidelines than they do in print ads. However, many professional real estate companies scrutinize their Internet advertising for accuracy before it's uploaded to the Internet."

Friday, November 21, 2008


For the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today issued long-anticipated mortgage reforms that will help consumers to shop for the lowest cost mortgage and avoid costly and potentially harmful loan offers. HUD will require, for the first time ever, that lenders and mortgage brokers provide consumers with a standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that clearly discloses key loan terms and closing costs. HUD estimates its new regulation will save consumers nearly $700 at the closing table."

- "
FDIC May Exclude Shortest-Term Loans From Debt Plan" (11-21-08)

U.S. bank regulators may exclude the shortest-term loans from a $1.4 trillion debt-insurance program, helping the Federal Reserve avoid further unpredictable swings in the country's main interest rate."

Bloomberg - "Citigroup's Pandit Doesn't Plan to Break Up Company" (11-21-08)

Once the biggest U.S. bank, with a market value of $274 billion at the end of 2006, Citigroup has now slipped to No. 5 behind Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp. A plan by 51-year-old Pandit this week to cut costs by shedding 52,000 jobs and an endorsement by billionaire Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal didn't assuage shareholders' concern that bad loans and securities writedowns may extend a year-long run of net losses totaling $20 billion."

Bloomberg - "Commercial-Mortgage-Securities Holders Blame Paulson" (11-21-08)

Top-rated commercial-mortgage bonds tumbled 24 percent in November, almost triple the worst month ever, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson reversed a decision to buy mortgage assets to help stabilize the credit markets. Investor confidence slumped after Paulson said on Nov. 12 the U.S. won’t make the purchases a focus of the government’s $700 billion rescue program."

Bloomberg - "Target Says It Won’t Pursue Pershing REIT Proposal" (11-21-08)

Target Corp., the second-largest U.S. discount retailer, said it won’t pursue a 'highly speculative' plan for its real estate put forth by William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP."

Orange County Register - "Wells Fargo to cut mortgage jobs in Irvine" (11-21-08)

"Wells Fargo is cutting 80 percent to 90 percent of its wholesale mortgage jobs nationwide, according to the Web site the Mortgage Lending Implode-o-Meter, including cutting a lending division in Irvine."

Realty Times - "Successful Marketing in Strange Times" (11-21-08)

"if aggressive, assertive marketing won't sell our products/services, and a passive, low-keyed approach won't work either, then what will? The marketing methods that are most effective – especially when people are a bit edgy -- are those that don't cause people to 'push-back' or become defensive. These marketing methods, of course, are ones which are relationship-based. Relationship-based marketing is more personal, less pushy and more natural. Let's once again use my program as our example. Remember, as we go through these illustrations, to envision how these marketing methods apply to you and your business."

Realty Times - "Investor Report: Avoid Over-Improving" (11-21-08)

"Ed Rooney, a long-time investor based in northern Virginia -- who has his own construction crews of carpenters, plumbers and electricians to renovate houses he buys -- says the key to making money right now is to spend less on fix-ups -- no more fancy kitchens and bathrooms -- and get out quickly."

Realty Times - "Educated Homeowners Surviving Housing Crisis" (11-21-08)

"The foreclosure rate for low-income homeowners who attended homeownership education programs had a foreclosure rate that was 20 times less severe than that for subprime borrowers and three times better than that found in the prime mortgage market during the second quarter of 2008, according to data from NeighborWorks America, a staunch non-profit advocate for healthy communities"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NAR - "Commercial Real Estate Index Shows Slowing Activity Expected" (11-20-08)

"The CLI slowed 1.7 percent to an index of 116.5 in the third quarter from an upwardly revised reading of 118.5 in the second quarter, and is 3.1 percent lower than a level of 120.3 in the third quarter of 2007, which was the second highest index on record. NAR’s track of the commercial leading indicator dates back to 1990"

DQNews - "Bay Area median price tumbles to $375K; sales reach high for '08" (11-20-08)

"A total of 7,613 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the nine-county Bay Area in October. That was up 4.7 percent from 7,271 in September, and up 38.8 percent from 5,486 in October 2007, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Leading indicators fall in October" (11-20-08)

"The economy's health worsened in October as stocks, building permits and consumer expectations all fell, a private research group said Thursday. The New York-based Conference Board said its monthly forecast of economic activity declined 0.8 percent in October, worse than the 0.6 percent decrease expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters."

Yahoo - "Paulson: crisis happens once or twice in 100 years" (11-20-08)

"Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called the financial crisis now plaguing the world economy a 'once or twice' in a 100 years event, even as he warned Thursday against imposing too-strict regulations to prevent a repeat calamity"

Bloomberg - "Wachovia, Golden West Investigated by Prosecutors, Regulators" (11-20-08)

"Prosecutors are examining whether Golden West Financial, the lender Wachovia bought for $24 billion in 2006, fraudulently pushed borrowers into expensive loans or altered paperwork to get them approved, Russoniello said in an interview yesterday. His office and the SEC are scrutinizing statements the banks made to investors about Golden West's loans, he said."

Bloomberg - "GMAC Applies for Status as Bank, Begins Debt Swap" (11-20-08)

"GMAC LLC, the largest lender to General Motors Corp. car dealers, has applied for status as a bank holding company so it can get access to the Treasury's $700 billion rescue fund for the financial industry. The lender also began an exchange offer for $38 billion of notes issued by the company and its Residential Capital LLC home lending unit to reduce outstanding debt levels, Detroit-based GMAC said today in a statement."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Needs to Pump $1.2 Trillion Into Banks, FBR Says" (11-20-08)

"The U.S. may need to spend another $1.2 trillion to recapitalize the eight largest financial institutions and stabilize the markets because private investors won't take the risk, an FBR Capital Markets analyst said."

CNN - "Mortgage rescue or rip off?" (11-20-08)

"If mortgage lending was the Wild West during the boom years, foreclosure-prevention counseling is the lucrative new frontier of the bust. Nearly 1.6 million borrowers are in jeopardy of losing their homes this year, according to economist Mark Zandi of Moody's, and thousands of new foreclosure-rescue companies are rushing in to offer the troubled homeowners loan work-out assistance. For a price."

Bloomberg - "Commercial Mortgages With `Outlandish' Forecasts Roil Bonds" (11-20-08)

"Mortgages on offices, shopping malls and hotels that were based on projections of soaring income during the real estate boom are roiling the bond market."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NAHB - "Housing Starts And Permits Fall To Lowest Levels On Record In October" (11-19-08)

"In a month marked by extreme volatility and uncertainty on both Wall Street and Main Street, home builders responded to deteriorating conditions in the housing market by further reducing the pace of new construction and permit issuance in October to the lowest levels for any single month on record, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department today."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (11-19-08)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 14, 2008. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 398.6, a decrease of 6.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 425.0 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 7.2 percent compared with the previous week and was down 41.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Yahoo - "
US home construction sinks to new record low" (11-19-08)

"The Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes and apartments fell 4.5 percent in October, the fourth straight monthly decline. Construction sank to an annual rate of 791,000 units from an upwardly revised September rate of 828,000 units."

Yahoo - "Fed sharply lowers forecasts, hints of rate cut" (11-19-08)

"The Federal Reserve on Wednesday sharply lowered its projections for economic activity this year and next, and signaled that additional interest rate reductions may be needed to help combat the worst financial crisis to jolt the country in more than a half-century."

Bloomberg - "Citi to Wind Down SIVs After $3.3 Billion of Losses" (11-19-08)

Citigroup agreed to buy the remaining assets held by the structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, which have a current market value of $17.4 billion, the New York-based bank said today in a statement. That's down from $49 billion last December, when Pandit pledged to support the SIVs -- backed by bank debt and bonds linked to mortgages, student loans and credit cards -- to minimize investor losses."

Orange County Register - "Fire’s property damage surpasses $142 million" (11-19-08)

"Yorba Linda: Damage to homes run $125 million to $135 million. The city had 118 homes destroyed and 53 damaged. Anaheim: Property damage estimated at $17.4 million as 8 single-family homes and 48 apartments were destroyed; 13 houses and 48 apartments damaged."

Orange County Register - "Wachovia, Golden West under investigation" (11-19-08)

"Prosecutors are examining whether Golden West Financial, acquired by Wachovia in 2006, fraudulently lured borrowers into mortgages, such as by switching them into more expensive loans or falsifying financial information so they could qualify, Russoniello said. His office and SEC investigators in San Francisco are also scrutinizing whether the banks misled investors about the quality of Golden West’s loans, he said."
NAHB - "Builder Confidence Plummets; Congress Needs To Act" (11-18-08)

"Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes plunged in November as worsening problems in the financial markets, job market weakness and overwhelming uncertainty about the economy continued to negatively impact consumer behavior, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI sank five points to 9, the lowest level recorded since the series was created in January of 1985."

NAR - "Realtors® Tell Congress Increased Housing Demand Will Stabilize the Market" (11-18-08)

"'The only way to overcome today’s economic turmoil is to motivate and encourage worried or cautious housing consumers to enter the marketplace,' said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. 'Stabilizing the housing market will lead to a quicker and greater economic recovery. Our goal is to ensure there is a healthy market and sufficient capital to support mortgage lending to qualified borrowers.'"

NAR - "Home Prices Rise in Some Metros, Buyers More Active in Other Areas" (11-18-08)

"Four out of five metropolitan areas recorded lower home prices in the third quarter from a year earlier, while existing-home sales fell in 32 states from the second quarter, according to the latest quarterly survey by the National Association of Realtors®. In the third quarter, 28 out of 152 metropolitan statistical areas ¹ showed increases in median existing single-family home prices from the same quarter in 2007; four were unchanged and 120 metros experienced declines. NAR’s track of metro area home prices dates back to 1979."

DQNews - "Southland October home sales climb to highest level of the year" (11-18-08)

"A total of 21,532 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the six-county Southland in October - the highest for any month this year. Last month's sales rose 5.0 percent from 20,497 in September and jumped a record 66.7 percent from 12,913 in October 2007, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service."

CBIA - "Housing Affordability Increases Throughout California Amid Housing Downturn, CBIA Announces" (11-18-08)

"Housing affordability continued to increase during the third quarter throughout most of the state as a result of sharp price reductions fueled by waves of foreclosures, yet California is still home to five of the 10 least affordable markets in the nation, the California Building Industry Association said today."

Market Watch - "California Luxury Home Values Decrease" (11-18-08)

"California luxury home prices declined in the third quarter of 2008 from a year ago and from the second quarter of 2008, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index(TM) by First Republic Bank, a leading provider of private banking, private business banking and wealth management services."

Yahoo - "Lawmakers press Paulson on bailout plan changes" (11-18-08)

"Faced with exasperated lawmakers upset by shifts in bailout strategy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson launched a spirited defense Tuesday of his handling of the $700 billion program and expressed fresh reservations about tapping the pool for mortgage guarantees to relieve skyrocketing home foreclosures."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NAHB - "Housing Affordability Nationwide Rises To Highest Level In Four Years " (11-17-08)

"According to the third-quarter HOI readings, 56.1 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold were affordable to families earning the national median income of $61,500, far more than the 40.4 percent of families who could afford homes at the peak of the housing boom."

Bloomberg - "Citigroup Chief Pandit to Reduce Headcount by 50,000" (11-17-08)

"Citigroup Inc., the U.S. bank with the most employees, plans to eliminate more than 50,000 jobs and cut expenses by 20 percent from their peak as the global economy contracts."

Market Watch - "Housing starts expected to hit half-century low" (11-16-08)

"Few observers have ever seen anything like the economic data that will be released in the coming week, with the consumer price index and housing starts each expected to breach records dating back to the late 1940s. With the global economy descending into a nasty recession, the October data could send a chill down the spine of policymakers, who are pulling out all the tricks in their tool kit to prevent a wider meltdown."

Yahoo - "How Much Home You Can Buy for $500,000" (11-17-08)

"Half a million dollars is, by almost any standard, a lot of money. But during the past few years, when credit was easy and regulations were loose, to many Americans it didn't seem like all that much. That's because they were able to borrow huge amounts of money to buy new homes, often with little or nothing down. And while most homes sold in the U.S., even at the height of the housing bubble, were $500,000 or less, rising prices in most major cities and affluent suburbs around the country pushed the cost of a three-bedroom home well into seven figures or more."

Bloomberg - "AIG, GMAC Help Drive Up Bank Rates Amid ’Insanity’ for Deposits" (11-17-08)

"American International Group Inc. and GMAC LLC are among money-losing companies whose banking units are paying higher rates than larger rivals to lure depositors, pressuring bank profits needed to offset rising loan losses. AIG, the insurer bailed out by the U.S. government, and GMAC, the biggest lender to General Motors Corp. car dealers, are offering yields of more than 4 percent for one-year certificates of deposit. Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by deposits, is paying 2.75 percent, according to its Web site."

Bloomberg - "FDIC May Alter Guarantee Plan After Banks Complain" (11-17-08)

"The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may revise a $1.4 trillion debt-insurance program to address complaints that it would spur an exodus from the $250 billion market for overnight loans between banks."

Bloomberg - "ABCPMMMFLF Spells Fed Relief for JPMorgan, Citi Shadow Banking" (11-17-08)

"The U.S. Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs, intended to thaw commercial paper and money markets, are also helping banks limit losses from some of their $4 trillion in off-the-books guarantees and loan commitments."

Bloomberg - "Goldman Targeted by Investor Complaints of Naked Short-Selling" (11-17-08)

"Investors in the $591 billion high- yield, high-risk loan market are accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of naked short selling to profit from record price declines. At least two fund managers complained verbally to officials of the Loan Syndications and Trading Association, saying they believe Goldman helped drive down prices by using the technique, according to people with knowledge of the objections. New York- based Goldman is acting against its clients by trying to profit at their expense, the investors said."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inman News - "Survey: Home values trump for-sale listings" (11-12-08)

"The study, based on interviews conducted from Oct. 10-12 by research company GfK Custom Research America, concluded that 61.5 percent of consumers visit online real estate Web sites to find home values. Meanwhile, 60.9 percent use the sites to locate for-sale homes and 53.3 percent use them to view price trends."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Home values falling less sharply than prices" (11-12-08)

"The company found that values have fallen 17.9 percent in the past year in San Diego County, while the median price was off 27.2 percent over the same period, as measured by San Diego-based MDA DataQuick"

Yahoo - "Bailout Price Tag: $3.5T So Far, But 'Real' Cost May Be Much Higher" (11-12-08)

"While the government is clearly spending a lot of taxpayers' money to bail out financial firms, the tally is even bigger than most Americans (economists and pundits included) are probably aware or willing to admit. The bailout bonanza has gotten so big and happened so fast it's the true cost often gets lost in the discussion. Maybe Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke prefer it that way because the tally so far is nearly $3.5 trillion, and that's before a likely handout for the auto industry."

Yahoo - "Dems seek auto aid as treasury shifts rescue focus" (11-12-08)

"Urgently shifting course, the Bush administration is abandoning the centerpiece of its massive $700 billion economic rescue plan and exploring new ways to shore up not only banks but credit-card, auto-loan and other huge nonbank businesses. Democrats are pressing hard to include a multibillion-dollar bailout for faltering automakers, too -- over administration objections. Unimpressed by any of the talk on Wednesday, Wall Street dove ever lower."

Bloomberg - "One-Third Who Sold Homes in Past Year Lost Money, Zillow Says" (11-12-08)

"One-third of U.S. homeowners who sold their property in the 12 months through September lost money as foreclosures depressed prices and more Americans became unemployed in a weakening economy, reported. Home values fell 9.7 percent in the third quarter, the seventh consecutive decline, to a median $202,966, Seattle-based Zillow, a seller of real estate data, said in a report today. One in seven homeowners had negative equity, or owed more on their mortgages than their houses were worth."

Bloomberg - "Morgan Stanley to Fire More Workers as Economy Slows" (11-12-08)

"Morgan Stanley said it plans to fire 10 percent of its institutional securities staff and 9 percent of the firm's asset-management group as the economy contracts and client demand wanes."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase In Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (11-13-08)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 7, 2008. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 425.0, an increase of 11.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 379.9 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 10.5 percent compared with the previous week and was down 40.0 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Credit Crunch, Economic Concerns Drive Slower Commercial and Multifamily Lending" (11-13-08)

"Commercial and multifamily mortgage loan originations remained low in the third quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations. Third quarter originations were fifty-three percent lower than during the same period last year. The year-over-year decrease was seen across all property types and most investor groups."

CNN - "85,000 homes lost to foreclosure in October" (11-13-08)

"Last month 279,561 struggling borrowers received foreclosure filings, including default notices, notices of auction sales and bank repossessions, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures. That's a 5% increase from September, and up 25% from October 2007."

Bloomberg - "Paulson Credibility Takes Hit With Rescue-Plan Shift" (11-13-08)

"Henry Paulson became Treasury secretary 28 months ago, when he was at the top of the financial world: Wall Street's best-paid chief executive officer, capping his career with a high-profile sojourn in public service. Today, two months before he leaves office, some say Paulson is a reduced figure, damaged by the financial-market meltdown that happened on his watch and by the government's struggles to respond to it."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Homebuilders Fall to Lowest Since 2000 as Defaults Rise" (11-13-08)

"A Standard & Poor's measure of 15 builders declined as much as 6.7 percent to 163.62, the lowest since 2000, after first-time claims for unemployment insurance hit the highest since 2001 and RealtyTrac Inc. reported foreclosure filings rose 25 percent from a year earlier in October."

Bloomberg - "Downey, Community National Face Wrath of Regulators" (11-13-08)

"Downey Financial Corp. was told by U.S. regulators to raise capital by year-end or face seizure. GMAC Bank can't install an ATM on property controlled by its biggest owner without getting federal permission. Community National Bank was forced to fire its two top executives. They're among almost 50 lenders prodded to make changes as regulators try to contain the biggest wave of bank collapses since 1993. In some cases, failure to comply can trigger a government takeover, and some banks had deadlines as short as five days."

Orange County Register - "Bankruptcy sought for ocean-view homes in San Clemente" (11-13-08)

"Developers of the 308-home, ocean-view Marblehead Coastal project in San Clemente announced today that their partnership filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 'with the goal of obtaining new funding' for the master-planned community."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NAHB - "Economic Slowdown Stalls Remodeling Activity" (11-11-08)

"The residential remodeling market continued its slump during the third quarter of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The current market conditions indicator declined to 33.5, from 41.8 in the last quarter. Future expectations of remodeling work also slid to 27.7 (from 38.0 in the second quarter). Both these indices rest at historic lows since the start of the RMI in 2001."

Bloomberg - "Bonuses for Wall Street Should Go to Zero, U.S. Taxpayers Say" (11-11-08)

"U.S. taxpayers, who feel they own a stake in Wall Street after funding a $700 billion bailout for the industry, don't want executives' bonuses reduced. They want them eliminated."

Yahoo - "Toll Brothers sees drop in home-building revenue" (11-11-08)

"Toll Brothers Inc, the largest U.S. luxury home builder, said on Tuesday it expected to report a 41 percent drop in fourth-quarter home-building revenue, sending shares down about 5 percent in premarket trading."

CNN - "Citi to modify $20 billion in home loans" (11-11-08)

"Citigroup says it will expand its foreclosure prevention efforts and try to keep 130,000 troubled borrowers with $20 billion in mortgages in their homes."

CNN - "U.S. unveils mortgage plan" (11-11-08)

"The Bush administration on Tuesday unveiled a new program to modify mortgages and stabilize the battered real estate market, but the plan stops short of providing direct government financial help to at-risk homeowners. The plan centers on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which between them own or back about 31 million mortgages worth a combined $5 trillion. The federal government took over the firms in September due to mounting losses on their portfolios of mortgages."

Bloomberg - "Revised AIG Terms Begin Treasury Transfusions to 'Zombie' Firms" (11-11-08)

"The Federal Reserve, which saved the insurer from collapse two months ago with an $85 billion loan, yesterday reduced that loan and offered lower rates, while the Treasury chipped in $40 billion from its bank-rescue fund to buy preferred shares. The new terms represent a departure for Secretary Henry Paulson, who until now has said he only wants to invest Treasury funds in 'healthy' firms."

Bloomberg - "General Growth Falls on Talk of Bankruptcy Protection" (11-11-08)

"General Growth Properties Inc., the second-largest U.S. shopping mall owner, fell the most ever in New York trading after saying it may seek bankruptcy protection if plans to refinance $958 million in debt do not succeed."

Bloomberg - "CB Richard Ellis Drops on Abandoned Private Offering" (11-11-08)

"CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the world's largest provider of commercial real estate services, fell in New York trading after abandoning plans to raise up to $400 million in a private offering and saying it will instead sell more shares to the public."

Monday, November 10, 2008

KNX Radio - "California City Files For BK" (11-10-08)

"The city of Vallejo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday to deal with a ballooning budget deficit caused by soaring employee costs and declining tax revenue. The San Francisco Bay area suburb of about 120,000 residents became the largest California city to seek bankruptcy protection."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Bank of America assumes $16.6 billion Countrywide debt" (11-10-08)

"Bank of America Corp said Monday it had agreed to assume $16.6 billion of debt and guarantees of Countrywide Financial Corp, which it acquired in July. Bank of America, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, said the assumption was in connection with the transfer to it on Friday of substantially all assets and operations of Countrywide and its Countrywide Home Loans unit. It disclosed the matter in a regulatory filing."

Yahoo - "The Best Places to Raise Your Kids 2009" (11-10-08)

"Once again working with OnBoard Informatics, a New York-based provider of real estate analysis, we selected towns with at least 50,000 residents and a median family income between $40,000 and $100,000. We then narrowed the list of towns using the following weighted criteria: school performance; number of schools; household expenditures; crime rates; air quality; job growth; family income; museums, parks, theaters, and other amenities; and diversity"

Yahoo - "Fannie Mae posts $29B loss, may tap gov't funding" (11-10-08)

"Fannie Mae on Monday posted a $29 billion loss in the third quarter as it took a massive tax-related charge, and said it may have to tap the government's $100 billion lifeline in the coming months."

Bloomberg - "Housing Agency Freezes National Conforming Loan Limit" (11-10-08)

"The Federal Housing Finance Agency said it will lower the size of so-called jumbo conforming mortgages that can be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and freeze the national cap for standard conforming loans."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Treasury to Buy $40 Billion AIG Preferred Shares" (11-10-08)

"The U.S. Treasury will buy $40 billion in American International Group Inc. preferred shares, and the Federal Reserve will open two new emergency loan units to finance the company's securities, the government said today."

Bloomberg - "Developers, Kimco Drop After Circuit City Bankruptcy" (11-10-08)

"Developers Diversified Realty Corp., Kimco Realty Corp., General Growth Properties Inc. were among retail landlords that fell in New York trading after Circuit City Stores Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection."

Orange County Register - "September surprise … mortgage jobs increased" (11-10-08)

"National Mortgage News reported Friday that mortgage companies hired a net of 2,900 full-time workers in September, even as companies in all industries cut 284,000 workers."

Orange County Register - "O.C. home buyers tap FHA financing" (11-10-08)

"We should thank Uncle Sam, including its Federal Housing Administration insurance program, for the surge in recorded sales in September, deals that likely entered into escrow in July or August. DataQuick previously said sales of 2,667 houses and condos were recorded in September, up 62% from a year ago — the biggest year-over-year gain in DataQuick’s 20-year history."

Friday, November 07, 2008

NAR - "Diverse Neighborhoods and Schools Strengthen Communities, Say Realtors" (11-7-08)

"It’s no surprise that good schools are often at the top of buyers’ lists during the home search process. The 2007 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that the quality of the school district was a deciding factor for 28 percent of home buyers. While real estate professionals are always careful to avoid steering − defined as the illegal practice of directing home seekers to particular areas and limiting where they can live − providing an opinion on whether a school is good or bad could be construed as steering."

Bloomberg - "Pending Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Fell 4.6%" (11-7-08)

"Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in September, indicating the credit crisis will inflict more damage on the housing market. The index of signed purchase agreements, or pending home resales, fell 4.6 percent, more than forecast, to 89.2, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington."

CNN - "Mounting job losses fueling foreclosures" (11-7-08)

"For years, bad loans and their aftershocks have been sending homeowners into foreclosure. Now it's lost jobs that are putting troubled borrowers over the edge. As the economy tanks, unemployment is the major factor driving a much larger proportion of foreclosures now than in the earlier stages of the mortgage meltdown. In June, 45.5% of all delinquencies reported by Freddie Mac were due to unemployment or the loss of income, according to the company. That's an increase from 36.3% in 2006."

Yahoo - "AIG repays more of $85 billion Fed loan" (11-7-08)

"American International Group Inc. reduced the amount it owes the U.S. government by another $2.3 billion as the insurer continues to use the Federal Reserve's new commercial-paper-funding program."

Bloomberg - "GMAC Leaves Individuals Holding Car Lender's Junk" (11-7-08)

"GMAC LLC may leave thousands of individuals on the hook for about $15 billion of junk-rated debt unless the auto and home lender finds a way to pay its bills. GMAC, the largest lender to car dealers of General Motors Corp., issued more than $25 billion of debt called SmartNotes over the past decade to retail investors. While GMAC has paid off the debts as they matured, five straight unprofitable quarters raised doubt about GMAC's survival, and SmartNotes due in July 2020 have lost about three-quarters of their value."

Bloomberg - "CB Richard Ellis Jumps After Earnings Beat Estimates" (11-7-08)

"CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the world's largest commercial real estate broker, rose in New York trading after third-quarter earnings exceeded analysts' estimates and the company said it's considering raising capital. The shares jumped 25 percent after the company reported profit excluding items of 27 cents a share. The average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey was 23 cents."

Bloomberg - "Commercial-Mortgage Lending Comes to `Abrupt Halt,' RBS Says" (11-7-08)

"Commercial real estate borrowers are running out of options as asset-backed markets dry up and alternative financing comes to an 'abrupt halt,' RBS Greenwich Capital Markets Inc. analysts said. Regional banks and insurance companies, which had become the primary source of financing since credit markets seized up, have stopped lending, the RBS analysts wrote in a report. Sales of bonds backed by commercial mortgages slumped to $12.2 billion in 2008, compared with a record $237 billion last year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co."

Orange County Register - "1-in-3 O.C. ZIPs see homebuying doubling or better" (11-7-08)

"29 of 83 O.C. ZIP codes — roughly 1-in-3 — saw sales volume double or more in this period vs. a year ago. Best? Santa Ana’s 92703, up 575%! Oh, by the way it took pricing 53.3% below a year ago to get that sales pop. O.C. median selling price of $417,500. That is down 26.6% vs. a year ago and 35% below June 2007’s peak of $645,000. Ouch, a loss of $227,500!"

Orange County Register - "O.C.’s conforming loan limit drops 14%" (11-7-08)

"A government regulator said today the maximum size of a loan that mortgage giants Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can purchase will drop 14 percent to $625,500 on Jan. 1, 2009 in Orange County and other high-cost areas. Interest rates are lowest on loans that can be sold to Fannie and Freddie, known as conforming loans."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

MSNBC - "Just 3 ‘superbanks’ now dominate industry" (11-6-08)

"The financial crisis that has been sweeping the globe has reshaped nearly every corner of the economy, but no industry has been altered more radically than banking. Several of the nation's biggest banks have failed or been absorbed by healthier institutions, leaving three giant 'superbanks' with an unprecedented concentration of market power: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo."

CNN - "Mortgage rates fall" (11-6-08)

"Mortgage rates fell this week amid a pullback in consumer spending and a weaker job market. Mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.20% this week. That's down from 6.46% last week and below 6.24%, the rate at this time last year."

CNN - "Forecast 2009: Your home" (11-6-08)

"You know the drill - banks' troubles have made it harder for many home buyers to get mortgages, and those who do qualify have to pay more. A borrower with good credit and a 20% down payment recently got charged an interest rate of 6.7%, on average, according to HSH Associates. It's true that this rate is not historically high (rates often surpassed 9% in the early 1990s). But it's more than the 6.2% that the same borrower would have paid at the beginning of 2008."

CNN - "Mounting job losses fueling foreclosures" (11-6-08)

"For years, bad loans and their aftershocks have been sending homeowners into foreclosure. Now it's lost jobs that are putting troubled borrowers over the edge. As the economy tanks, unemployment is the major factor driving a much larger proportion of foreclosures now than in the earlier stages of the mortgage meltdown. In June, 45.5% of all delinquencies reported by Freddie Mac were due to unemployment or the loss of income, according to the company. That's a rise from a level of 36.3% in 2006."

Bloomberg - "Credit Swap Disclosure Obscures True Financial Risk" (11-6-08)

"A report by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp. doesn't include privately negotiated credit-default swaps that insurers such as AIG, MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. sold to guarantee securities known as collateralized debt obligations. It includes only a 'small fraction' of contracts linked to mortgage securities, according to Andrea Cicione at BNP Paribas SA in London."

Bloomberg - "Wells Fargo Raises $11 Billion to Fund Wachovia Deal" (11-6-08)

"Wells Fargo & Co., the biggest bank on the U.S. West Coast, raised $11 billion in a stock sale to help fund its purchase of Wachovia Corp., exceeding its estimate for the offering. The bank sold 407.5 million shares for $27 each, 6.2 percent below today's closing price of $28.77, according to a company statement. The company may sell an additional 61 million shares if demand warrants. The San Francisco-based lender had planned to raise $10 billion."

Orange County Register - "Higher-priced O.C. homesellers continue to discount" (11-6-08)

"The upper crust, measured as the 75th percentile or the median of the top half, was asking $791,000 for a residence last month. That is down 0.7% in a month — fifth straight month without a price hike. It leaves the upper crust’s asking price down 7.2% in a year."

Orange County Register - "We print money!" (11-6-08)

"The Federal Reserve, doing everything it can to alleviate the credit crisis, reported today a 75% increase in its assets to $2.076 trillion now, vs. $1.187 trillion a year ago."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA Originations Survey Shows Shift to Fixed Rate and Government Loan Products in First Half of 2008" (11-5-08)

"Borrowers who took out mortgages in the first half of 2008 showed a strong preference for fixed rate mortgage products due to a decrease in fixed mortgage rates and the continued tightening of lending standards, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA's) Mortgage Originations Survey released today"

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Decrease In Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (11-5-08)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 31, 2008. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 379.9, a decrease of 20.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 476.7 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 21.1 percent compared with the previous week and was down 43.4 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "No. 1 homebuilder expects big loss" (11-5-08)

"After the stock markets closed – with all eyes on the presidential election – homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. warned investors that it expected to lose up to $900 million in its fourth-quarter – about 18 times more than in the prior-year period. The nation's largest homebuilder projected the loss for the quarter ended Sept. 30 to range between $800 million and $900 million, including an expected tax benefit of $350 million. That works out to about $2.53 to $2.84 a share."

Reuters - "House seeks quick economic stimulus passage" (11-5-08)

"U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged passage of at least $61 billion in new economic stimulus funding this month, but said the future of the legislation requires cooperation from Republicans in the Senate and President George W. Bush."

Bloomberg - "MBIA, Ambac Losses Widen on Higher Claims Forecast" (11-5-08)

"MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc., the bond insurers crippled by credit-rating downgrades, posted wider losses than analysts anticipated after slumping credit markets forced them to increase reserves for claims."

Bloomberg - "Jones Lang Retools to Target Credit-Ravaged Customers" (11-5-08)

"Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., the commercial property broker that has lost more than half its market value this year, is reorganizing to help banks, insurers and local governments contend with the global credit crisis as the company's profit plunges."

Bloomberg - "General Growth, Kimco Fall After Cutting Forecasts" (11-5-08)

"General Growth, based in Chicago, cut its forecast for 2008 funds from operations, excluding items, saying it now expects to earn $2.85 to $2.95 a share. It had expected FFO of $3.42 a share. Kimco today forecast 2008 FFO of $2.20 to $2.45 a share, citing 'substantial dislocation in the credit markets and recent turmoil in the equity markets,' after earlier forecasting a range of $2.70 to $2.78 a share."

Bloomberg - "Schwarzenegger Seeks to Save Homeowners With Foreclosure Delay" (11-5-08)

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a 90-day stay on home foreclosures in California, one of the hardest hit U.S. states by the national housing-market collapse. Schwarzenegger said he will ask lawmakers to consider delaying foreclosures when he orders them into a special session tomorrow to deal with the state's ballooning budget deficit. The measure would exempt lenders if they can prove they have set up a program to help troubled homeowners modify their loans."

Orange County Register - "Home value down? Think twice about cutting your insurance" (11-5-08)

"A recent survey conducted for the non-profit Insurance Information Network showed that 26% of Californians think they should reduce their insurance coverage because the resale value of their home has gone down."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bloomberg - "Depository Trust to Provide Credit-Default Swaps Data" (10-4-08)

"The broadest set of data yet on the credit-default swaps market will be released today as traders in the market say concerns about potential losses from the more than $47 trillion in outstanding contracts are overblown."

Bloomberg - "JPMorgan, UBS, RBS Expect Difficult Financial Markets" (10-4-08)

"JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, three of the world's biggest banks, said they expect further pain from the global financial crisis."

Yahoo - "Lending rates fall to pre-Lehman levels" (10-4-08)

"Lending rates fell Tuesday to levels not seen since before Wall Street's credit crisis erupted in mid-September. The 3-month Libor rate dropped to 2.71% from 2.86% on Monday, marking its lowest point since June 9. This is also the first time the rate has sunk to pre-credit crisis levels before Lehman Brothers announced its bankruptcy on Sept. 15."

Bloomberg - "D.R. Horton Expects Loss of as Much as $900 Million" (10-4-08)

"D.R. Horton Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder, said it expects to report a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $800 million to $900 million as a rise in foreclosures deepened the housing recession. Home-sales revenue fell 50 percent to $1.5 billion in the quarter ended Sept. 30, Fort Worth, Texas-based D.R. Horton said today in a preliminary earnings statement. The company also expects to report a pretax expense of about $1.1 billion to write off land, deposits and inventory."

Bloomberg - "Vornado Rises After Exceeding Analyst Projections" (10-4-08)

"Vornado Realty Trust, the third- biggest U.S. real estate investment trust, rose 12 percent in New York after beating analysts' earnings projections on gains from the sale of real estate. Third-quarter net income excluding items was $1.26 a share, higher than the $1.22 projected by analysts. Revenue rose 6.3 percent to $677.1 million, New York-based Vornado said today in a statement."

Orange County Register - "Some can’t borrow as much on their plastic" (10-4-08)

"Roughly 60 percent of banks had lowered limits on existing credit card accounts of nonprime borrowers; no banks reported raising limits to those borrowers. About 95 percent of banks that had reduced limits cited a less favorable or more uncertain economic outlook and reduced tolerance for risk as reasons for the action. Large majorities of respondents also cited a decline in customer credit scores and missed payments by customers on credit card loans and other loans at their bank."

Orange County Register - "SoCal office owner skips payment on $1.5 billion loan" (10-4-08)

"In Janaury, KBS Real Estate Investment Trust, with $3.2 billion in assets, bought $175 million in short-term 'mezzanine loans' that were part of the $1.5 billion Cabi-Arden loan package. The KBS loans mature next August. KBS revealed the late payment in an SEC filing dated Oct. 23 that notes …"

Realty Times - "Condo Trends: Condo Dwellers' Social Conscience Drives Design" (10-4-08)

"Condo owners have four distinct trends that developers are watching as they build new condominium projects. That's according to, the online version of the monthly magazine for multi-family housing professionals. The number one trend is the work/live lifestyle, where more people are living and working at home (up 23.5 percent as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau)."

Realty Times - "Real Estate Outlook: Home Sales Rise" (10-4-08)

"In Sacramento, California, the inventory dropped by 32.1 percent during the past three months. In Orange County, California, inventory was down 21.6 percent, 21.5 percent in Boston, 21.1 percent in Denver, and nearly 21 percent in San Diego."