Friday, February 27, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA Raises Concern Over Limit on Mortgage Interest Deduction in Federal Budget" (2-27-09)

"The limitation on itemized deductions for those taxpayers earning over $250,000 (joint) and $200,000 (single) will reduce the itemized deductions related to home mortgage interest, real estate taxes on primary residence and mortgage insurance. Under the plan, taxpayers over the income limits will receive tax benefits from their itemized deductions at a maximum tax rate of 28 percent (instead of the higher incremental tax rate commensurate with their income tax bracket)."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Home builders expect boost from state tax credit" (2-27-09)

"A $10,000 state tax credit will benefit a projected 10,000 new-home buyers starting Sunday and, in turn, could help beleaguered home builders, the California Building Industry Association said yesterday. The measure, costing $100 million over the next three years, was included in the budget compromise passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week."

Yahoo - "FDIC raising fees on banks, adds emergency fee" (2-27-09)

"The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now expects that bank failures will cost the insurance fund around $65 billion through 2013, up from an earlier estimate of $40 billion. The bank failures, 14 already this year following 25 last year, reflect the ravages of rising unemployment and falling home prices that have sent loan defaults soaring."

The Washington Post - "Mortgage Rescue Eligibility Still Being Finalized" (2-27-09)

"A day after President Obama unveiled his $75 billion foreclosure prevention program, administration officials yesterday said they were still determining which homeowners should qualify. The administration is developing a standard for lenders to use in evaluating applicants that seeks to exclude homeowners who are not in real need or are too far behind in their payments to be saved. Officials have set some conditions for eligibility, including requiring that borrowers' mortgage payments consume more than 38 percent of their income and that the property be a primary residence."

CNN - "New home sales at all-time low" (2-27-09)

"Sales of newly constructed homes fell 10% in January, sinking to the lowest level on record, according to a government report released Thursday. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that new home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000 in January from a revised 344,000 in December. It was the lowest level since the Census Bureau began keeping records in 1963."

Bloomberg - "Low Mortgage Rates a Mirage as Fees Climb, Eligibility Tightens" (2-27-09)

"Bankers around the country say one reason the housing market hasn’t stabilized is that while mortgage rates have come down, hurdles have gone up. Rising default rates and bank losses have made lenders more risk-averse, leading to higher fees, increased insurance rates and difficulties refinancing loans."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Economy: GDP Shrinks 6.2%, More Than Previously Estimated" (2-27-09)

"The U.S. economic contraction in the fourth quarter was deeper than the government first estimated, with other reports today signaling little prospect of relief until at least the middle of 2009. Gross domestic product shrank at a 6.2 percent annual pace from October through December, the most since 1982, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Separate figures showed consumer sentiment and business activity dropped this month."

Yahoo - "Citigroup reaches aid deal with government" (2-27-09)

"The U.S. government will exchange up to $25 billion in emergency bailout money it provided Citigroup Inc. for as much as a 36 percent equity stake in the struggling bank, greatly increasing the risks to taxpayers as voter unhappiness about the broader bailout program rises."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NAR - "Realtors® Endorse Obama's Recovery Plan Including Housing Stability, Health Care" (2-25-09)

"'We fully agree with President Obama’s emphasis that housing is the backbone of our national economy,' said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. 'As he said, when a family buys a home, workers are hired to build it. Those workers spend money and open businesses. As a result, investors return. In short, housing is the key to revitalizing America and we pledge to work with him to help jumpstart our economy.'"

NAR - "January Existing-Home Sales Fall, Inventory Down" (2-25-09)

"Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 5.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.49 million units in January from a level of 4.74 million units in December, and are 8.6 percent lower the 4.91 million-unit pace in January 2008"

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (2-25-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 20, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 743.5, a decrease of 15.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 875.3 one week earlier. This week’s results included an adjustment to account for the shortened week due to the Presidents’ Day holiday. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 22.6 percent compared with the previous week and increased 9.8 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Wall Street Journal - "
Renters Lose Edge on Homeowners" (2-25-09)

"The relative cost of owning versus renting is swinging back in favor of homeownership in some U.S. markets, buoyed by several quarters of sharp declines in home prices. At the height of the housing boom, as home prices surged, demand for rentals started to rise as the gap between owning and renting widened significantly. Even after the housing market soured, apartment demand grew as former homeowners became renters, allowing landlords to push healthy rent increases."

Inman News - "IRS updates homebuyer tax credit form" (2-25-09)

"The IRS has updated the tax form used to claim the first-time homebuyer tax credit that's been increased to as much as $8,000 for buyers purchasing a home this year before Dec. 1. In 2008, nearly half of homebuyers were buying for the first time, and the expanded credit will make it easier for that group of buyers to enter the housing market this year, the Treasury Department said in an announcement publicizing its implementation"

Yahoo - "Big banks face 'stress tests' from regulators" (2-25-09)

"The Obama administration hopes to restore confidence in the nation's ailing financial sector by subjecting 19 of the largest banks to 'stress tests' that will gauge whether each institution has adequate capital to survive a severe downturn. Banks that need new funds will be given six months to obtain it from the private sector or, failing that, from the federal government's $700 billion bank rescue program, the Treasury Department said Wednesday."

Yahoo - "Bernanke confident can keep U.S. inflation at bay" (2-25-09)

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that he had an exit strategy from the U.S. central bank's recent massive monetary expansion that will keep inflation under control as the economy recovers."

Yahoo - "Home Prices Post Biggest Drop in 21 Years" (2-25-09)

"The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index plunged 18.2% during the final quarter of 2008, the biggest annual decline in the closely watched index's 21-year history. Separately, for the month of December alone the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index fell 18.5% compared with the previous December, also a record decline. The most severe declines were in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, which all dropped by more than 30% in December compared with December 2007."

Bloomberg - "Realogy Reports 2008 Loss of $1.91 Billion on Charges" (2-25-09)

Realogy Corp., the real estate broker acquired by Apollo Management LP at the peak of the housing market, said its 2008 net loss widened to $1.91 billion after writing down the value of assets. Realogy, owner of the Century 21 and Coldwell Banker real estate brands, said it continues to be in compliance with debt agreements and that Apollo will provide financial assistance to help the company continue to meet its obligations."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CBIA - "Housing Production Falls to Record Low in January, CBIA Announces" (2-24-09)

"Housing production in January posted the lowest annual rate on record, the California Building Industry Association announced today, but CBIA officials expressed hope that state and federal tax credits enacted in the past few weeks would soon begin to cause new-home sales to increase and thereby increase housing production."

Inman News - "Bernanke sees chance of recovery in 2010" (2-24-09)

"If measures to prop up banks, prevent foreclosures and stabilize the financial system succeed, there is a 'reasonable prospect' that the current recession will end this year and that 2010 will be a year of recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Tuesday."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "More economic gloom, but Wall Street gets a boost" (2-24-09)

Just when things were looking even worse in the economy - consumer confidence in free fall and home prices dropping faster - came some good news: Wall Street bolted higher on a regulator's prediction that the recession may end this year. The Dow Jones industrials finished up 236 points Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress 'there is a reasonable prospect' that 2010 will be a recovery year, provided credit flows normally and financial markets work."

Yahoo - "Mortgage Costs" (2-24-09)

"Mortgage rates are low, but getting them is going to cost you. New rules by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are upping the fees for borrowers with less than perfect credit, those in the mortgage industry say. Other increased costs reflect the uncertainty in the mortgage market, as lenders try to reduce their risk and anticipate rates."

CNN - "Home prices in record drop" (2-24-09)

"Home prices declined at a record pace around the nation in the final three months of 2008, according to an industry report released Tuesday. The S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index reported that prices sank a record 18.2% during the last three months of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007."

Bloomberg - "AIG’s Liddy May Shift Strategy as Asset Sales Stall" (2-24-09)

American International Group Inc. may scrap a plan to repay a $60 billion U.S. government loan by selling businesses, after failing to find enough promising bidders, said two people with knowledge of the matter."

Bloomberg - "U.S. to Get Bank Ownership Stakes Only as Losses Rise" (2-24-09)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke rejected the idea that officials plan to use reviews of banks’ balance sheets as a pretext for government takeovers of the nation’s largest lenders. The Treasury will buy convertible preferred stock in the 19 largest U.S. banks if stress tests determine they need more capital to weather a deeper-than-forecast recession, Bernanke told lawmakers in Washington today. The shares would be converted to common equity stakes only as extraordinary losses materialize, he said."

Yahoo - "Dr. Doom: Nationalizing Banks is 'Market Friendly'" (2-24-09)

"Nationalizing insolvent US banks is the best solution to avoid a Japan-like scenario in which 'zombie' financial institutions would eat up public resources while the US economy would teeter on the brink of depression, Nouriel Roubini, economics professor NYU and chairman at RGE Monitor told CNBC Tuesday."

Bloomberg - "Home Prices Fell 8.2 Percent in 2008 on Foreclosures" (2-24-09)

U.S. home prices fell a record 8.2 percent in 2008 as the recession and a surge of foreclosures caused the worst devaluation of real estate since the Great Depression. The fourth-quarter figure was 3.4 percent lower than the prior quarter, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a report. The decline is the largest on record, the Washington-based agency said."

Bloomberg - "Obama’s Mortgage Plan for Fannie, Freddie May Face Legal Snag" (2-24-09)

President Barack Obama’s plan to use mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance as many as 5 million loans may face legal challenges over whether the administration is overstepping its authority. The proposal may violate requirements that homeowners put up at least 20 percent of the appraised value of a home or carry mortgage insurance, said U.S. Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey, the ranking Republican on a panel that oversees the companies."

Monday, February 23, 2009

MSNBC - "Why do I have to pay my neighbor’s mortgage?" (2-23-09)

"You’re not alone in wondering why your taxes should be used to help your neighbor make their mortgage payment. The Obama administration’s plan to use $75 billion of tax dollars help some homeowners pay their mortgages touched off a huge backlash."

Bloomberg - "Geithner Bad Bank Alternative May Rely on Loans to Hedge Funds" (2-23-09)

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s financial-rescue plan may be doomed if he doesn’t offer low-cost loans to hedge funds and other investors to help them buy toxic assets weighing down bank balance sheets. Creating a so-called bad bank or aggregator bank that would use federal funds to acquire and warehouse the assets, as some have proposed, would be costly for taxpayers and require too much government interference, say two experts on distressed securities who have pitched an alternative plan to officials."

Bloomberg - "Fed May Need to Recast TALF on Commercial Real Estate" (2-23-09)

The Federal Reserve may need to loosen the terms of a new $1 trillion credit initiative aimed at averting a meltdown in commercial mortgage-backed securities, analysts and industry representatives said. The Fed would prop up the CMBS market by lending against the securities for a five-year term rather than three years, and taking as collateral existing debt rather than just new bonds, they said. The Fed hasn’t said when the program, the Term Asset- Backed Securities Loan Facility, will begin accepting the debt."

Orange County Register - "U.S. eyes big stake in Citigroup" (2-23-09)

"The Wall Street Journal reports ailing financial giant Citigroup has proposed the U.S. government take a large stake in the company. The Obama administration hasn’t said if it supports the plan. The proposal is for the government to convert a chunk of its $45 billion in Citi’s preferred shares to common shares, giving it ownership in the range of 25% to 40%."

Orange County Register - "O.C. home shoppers face tightest market in 3 years" (2-23-09)

"Demand — new pending sales within the prior month — rose in the past two weeks to 2,891 as of last Thursday vs. 1,820 a year ago and 2,463 pending sales in 2007 at this time. Homes on the market have been relatively flat this year, running 11,541 last week vs. 15,392 a year ago and 12,194 in ‘07."

Orange County Register - "O.C. distressed home sellers down 16%" (2-23-09)

"Number of distressed homes on the market as of last Thursday, both foreclosures and short sales, was off 190 from the previous two weeks. Since end of November, distressed properties for sale in O.C. are down 16% 19%. Distressed inventory is 42% of all homes for sale vs, 44% two weeks ago."
CNN - "Fannie, Freddie to fund part of plan" (2-21-09)

"The White House is using only $50 billion from the $700 billion financial industry bailout package to fund the foreclosure prevention program, a senior administration official clarified Friday. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will contribute more than $20 billion to the $75 billion loan modification program, which was unveiled Wednesday. The funds will be used mainly to subsidize interest rates so troubled borrowers' monthly payments can be lowered to affordable levels."

Orange County Register - "Mortgage bailout declared futile" (2-21-09)

"Bob Simpson, president of Imarc Investors Mortgage Asset Recovery Co., an Irvine firm that investigates why home loans go bad, says no federal mortgage rescue plan can save people from having gotten in too deep. Simpson says he’s seen thousands of people fail to pay mortgages for which they were not qualified. He anticipates seeing tens of thousands more this year, no matter what the government does."

Watching the Marcitz - "Obama HURTS 100 Million to Help 9 Million" (2-22-09)

"The net result is that you are charging renters, through the eventual taxes needed to pay for this, for the privledge of NOT being able to afford a house while also raising their current rents. This reminds me of the former Soviet practice of making soon-to-be-victims of execution pay for their own bullets and then charging their families for their burials."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Even Bay Area's high-end home market hurting" (2-22-09)

"While homes that cost $1 million and more haven't seen the same kind of fire sales as the lower end of the market, transactions have all but ground to a halt, according to some real estate agents. Last year 24,436 homes sold for more than $1 million statewide, down 42.5 percent from 2007, according to MDA DataQuick."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NAR - "Commercial Real Estate Activity Continuing To Decline" (2-19-09)

"The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity1 fell 6.0 percent to an index of 109.2 in the fourth quarter from a downwardly revised reading of 116.1 in the third quarter, and is 9.1 percent lower than an index of 120.1 in the fourth quarter of 2007. NAR’s track of the commercial leading indicator dates back to 1990"

NAHB - "Housing Affordability Surges At Year-End 2008" (2-19-09)

"The HOI indicated that 62.4 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold in the final quarter of 2008 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $61,500, up considerably from the 56.1 percent of homes that were affordable to such families in the previous quarter and the 46.6 percent of homes that were affordable to them at the end of 2007."

DQNews - "Bay Area home sales top last year again; median drops to $300K" (2-19-09)

"Bay Area home sales rose above a year ago for the fifth consecutive month in January. Home buying remained slow in pricier coastal markets but was robust in many inland areas where steep price declines have boosted affordability and, in some cases, driven sales of existing houses to record levels. The role of foreclosures in the housing market continued to grow, representing 54 percent of the Bay Area homes that resold last month, according to MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service."

The Sacramento Bee - "Budget plan goes to Schwarzenegger after Legislature's OK" (2-19-09)

"The California Legislature voted early today to approve a massive budget package of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing to close a $40 billion deficit after granting major concessions to one holdout Republican senator."

DQNews - "Southland home sales rise on inland surge; median price falls again" (2-19-09)

"Foreclosures continued to play a leading role in the market, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all homes that resold, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service. Sales of newly built homes were the lowest for a January in at least 21 years - partially a reflection of how difficult it is for builders to compete with discounted foreclosures in the inland growth areas."

Yahoo - "U.S. mortgage rates drop toward record low: Freddie" (2-19-09)

"Interest rates on standard U.S. 30-year mortgages dropped in the latest week to levels just shy of record lows as concerns of a deepening recession boosted the appeal of fixed-rate investments, Freddie Mac said on Thursday. The average fixed 30-year mortgage rate declined to 5.04 percent in the week ending Thursday, from 5.16 percent in the previous period, Freddie Mac said in a statement. That was close to the 4.96 percent reached in mid-January, which was the lowest rate since Freddie Mac began its survey in 1971."

Yahoo - "Mortgage Help: Do you qualify?" (2-19-09)

"Right now, if you're underwater on your mortgage, owing more than the home's market value, forget about qualifying for a refi. In fact, at least 20% equity in your home is now a must, unless you're using an FHA loan."

CNN - "Obama: Aid 9 million homeowners" (2-19-09)

"Obama, on the other hand, will make it easier for homeowners to afford their monthly payments either by refinancing the mortgages or having their loans modified. The president is vastly broadening the scope of the government rescue by focusing on homeowners who are still current in their payments but at risk of default. And he puts billions of federal funds into enticing servicers to modify the loans of those who've already stopped paying."

Bloomberg - "WL Homes Seeks Bankruptcy, Cites Market Collapse" (2-19-09)

"L Homes LLC, the 161-year-old homebuilder, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors with plans to focus on luxury developments in Southern California. The company blamed its filing on the collapse of the real estate market, saying its sales last year had fallen by about half from 2007. The company listed assets of more than $1 billion and debt of $500 million to $1 billion in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Plan Effect May Be Limited, Analysts Say" (2-19-09)

"The effect of the Obama administration’s housing plan on home-loan bonds and borrowers will be limited by restrictions on which mortgages are eligible, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NAHB - "Tax Credits Boost Incentive For Greening American Homes" (2-18-09)

"Expanded tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements in the new economic stimulus package puts more money in consumers’ pockets by providing financial incentive for home owners to go green on their renovation projects in 2009 and 2010. While more efficient homes save on water and energy bills, these tax credits will make such home upgrades even more affordable."

NAR - "Realtors® Support Aid to Troubled Homeowners" (2-18-09)

"President Obama’s $75 billion Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan would help struggling homeowners by providing incentives to lenders, servicers, mortgage holders and borrowers to help modify mortgage loans. The U.S. Treasury Department will be issuing uniform guidelines in two weeks. Consistent with NAR’s recommendations, financial institutions receiving assistance must agree to follow the guidelines."

NAHB - "Housing Starts Plummet In January" (2-18-09)

"Continuing an uninterrupted free-fall, U.S. housing starts and permits fell for a seventh consecutive month in January, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures reported today. New-home production fell by 16.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 466,000 units, while permits for new housing construction fell 4.8 percent to a rate of 521,000 units. Both of these numbers were new record lows."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (2-18-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 13, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 875.3, an increase of 45.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 600.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 47.7 percent compared with the previous week and 5.2 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

CAR - "
Entry-level housing affordability increases to 59 percent" (2-18-09)

"The percentage of households that could afford to buy an entry-level home in California stood at 59 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 33 percent for the same period a year ago, according to a report released today by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.)"

The Press Enterprise - "K-12 enrollment declines for Inland area school districts" (2-18-09)

Public school enrollment in Riverside and San Bernardino counties dropped by more than 8,700 students this year as the region suffered from a housing crisis and high unemployment rates, preliminary estimates show. The decline represents only about 1 percent of the K-12 enrollment in public schools in the two counties, which totals more than 840,000 students. But for Riverside County, which lost nearly 1,600 students, it was the first drop in enrollment in decades."

Bloomberg - "California Foreclosure Center Shows Obama Challenge" (2-18-09)

Merced, the epicenter of the U.S. foreclosure crisis, demonstrates the steep challenges President Barack Obama will face in trying to stem defaults. One in 59 housing units in the Merced metropolitan area received a foreclosure filing in January, the highest rate in the U.S., according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, California-based seller of default data. For- sale signs are everywhere and a building boom fueled by subprime mortgages has been brought to a standstill. Just 16 construction permits were issued last year. In 2005, there were 1,427."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Economy: Factory Output, Housing Starts Plunge" (2-18-09)

Manufacturing and housing in the U.S. collapsed in January, government reports showed, as the Obama administration unveiled new proposals to stem what may become the worst recession in the postwar era. The Federal Reserve’s industrial production index dropped 1.8 percent to 101.3, the lowest level in more than five years, the central bank reported today in Washington. Housing starts plunged 17 percent to an annual rate of 466,000, the fewest since records began in 1959, Commerce Department data showed."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Office Vacancy Rate to Climb to 16.7%, Reis Says" (2-18-09)

The vacancy rate at U.S. office buildings will rise to 16.7 percent this year and could reach an 18-year high next year as tenants cut jobs and try to sublet space, property research firm Reis Inc. said. "

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NAHB - "Builder Sentiment Remains At Historic Lows In February" (2-17-09)

"The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today, held in the single digits for a fourth consecutive month in February. The HMI rose a single point to 9 – virtually unchanged from an all-time record low in the previous month – indicating that home builders have seen essentially no improvement in the market for new, single-family homes."

CBIA - "California New-Home Market Ends 2008 with a Whimper, CBIA Announces" (2-17-09)

"The pace of home sales at California new-home communities continued to slow in December following deteriorating credit conditions in the closing months of 2008, the California Building Industry Association reported today. CBIA officials urged the Legislature to quickly enact stimulus legislation that the Association believes will help reverse the continued depression in the state’s homebuilding industry."

CNN - "Final score: $8,000 for homebuyers" (2-17-09)

"There's a nice windfall for some homebuyers in the economic stimulus bill awaiting President Obama's signature on Tuesday. First-time buyers can claim a credit worth $8,000 - or 10% of the home's value, whichever is less - on their 2008 or 2009 taxes."

Bloomberg - "Paulson, Bernanke Blamed for Economic Meltdown in PBS Special" (2-17-09)

"Looking for someone to blame for the economic crisis? Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is the designated goat in Frontline’s 'Inside the Meltdown,' which airs tonight on PBS at 9 p.m. New York time. Also taking heat are Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a few chief executive officers and a confederacy of right-wingers."

The Washington Post - "California to begin layoff proceedings today" (2-17-09)

"After a frustrating holiday weekend that failed to yield the one vote needed to end California's budget stalemate, the state is poised to begin layoff proceedings Tuesday for 20,000 government workers."

Bloomberg - "Commercial Mortgage Defaults Rise as Large Loans Sour, S&P Says" (2-17-09)

"Late payments on commercial mortgages reached 1.10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, and have been climbing since the low of 0.27 percent in March 2007, S&P said in a statement today. The commercial real estate market is in the early stages of a correction, and delinquencies may reach 3.5 percent this year, the New York-based ratings company said."

Bloomberg - "MGIC, PMI Lead Mortgage Insurers Lower After Moody’s Downgrade " (2-17-09)

"MGIC, the largest U.S. mortgage insurer, plunged 66 cents, or 19 percent, to $2.79 at 10 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. No. 2 PMI fell 26 cents, or 17 percent, to $1.30. Both companies declined more than 75 percent in the past 12 months."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Realty Times - "Washington Report: Non-Repayable Tax Credit" (2-16-09)

"First time buyers will get an improved, higher, nonrepayable version of last year's repayable $7,500 tax credit under Congress's massive $789 billion economic stimulus package."

Orange County Register - "$524 billion in losses forecast at biggest banks" (2-16-09)

"The future losses for some banks are staggering by CreditSights’ estimates: Wells Fargo, $119 billion; BofA, $99 billion; JPMorgan, $124 billion; Citi, $101 billion; Goldman Sachs: $47 billion; Morgan Stanley, $34 billion."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Inman News - "Bankers to new HUD chief: Axe RESPA changes" (2-13-09)

"Eight groups representing the banking and financial services industry are asking newly appointed Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to scrap the Bush administration's changes to rules governing loan disclosures and the provision of settlement services like title insurance."

Yahoo - "Why This Recession Seems Worse Than '70s and '80s" (2-13-09)

"If you think this recession is the worst since World War II, chances are you weren't born or working during the downturns of the 1970s and '80s, you're listening to President Obama too much or you're a white-collar worker in financial services."

Yahoo - "JPMorgan, Citigroup halting foreclosures" (2-13-09)

"JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are expanding their efforts to halt home foreclosures while the Obama administration develops its plans to help the U.S. housing market. JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the New York company plans to halt new foreclosures for owner-occupied home loans through March 6. Dimon made the pledge in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who released it on Friday."

Bloomberg - "State Farm Gets Approval to Leave Florida Home Market" (2-13-09)

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. home insurer, received permission to withdraw from Florida’s residential market after agreeing to transfer policyholders to other private companies."

Orange County Register - "Insurer cuts mortgage brokers loose" (2-13-09)

"More bad news for mortgage brokers: National Mortgage News reports the PMI Group of San Francisco will no longer insure mortgages brought to them by 'third-party originators' unless they have a warehouse line of credit. In other words, no brokers, but mortgage banks are OK."

Orange County Register - "O.C. condo prices at Dec. 2002 level" (2-13-09)

"Single family homes sell for 44% less than their peak pricing (June ‘07) while condos sell 45% below their peak in March 2006. Builder prices for new homes are 45% below their February ‘05 top."

Realty Times - "What's Ahead for Real Estate in 2009" (2-13-09)

"Mortgage rates will drop, then rise, and finally stabilize. Investors will come back into the market in 2009. Buyers will jump off the fence and come back into the market. Sellers will become creative with alternative ways to add value to their home sale with incentives."

Realty Times - "Investor Report: Four Unit Limit" (2-13-09)

"Starting March first, Fannie Mae will abandon its controversial policy of refusing to finance investor mortgages where the borrower already owns more than three other income properties that have mortgages on them. The National Association of Realtors complained about the four-unit limit last year -- and it looks like Fannie's top executives finally got the message: That prudent investors can play a big role in buying up some of the wreckage left after the boom - the excess inventory of foreclosures and bank R-E-O - BUT they've got to have financing to do so."

Realty Times - "Lower Mortgage Rates Translate into Large Volume of Refinancing" (2-13-09)

"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 5.16 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending February 12, 2009, down from last week when it averaged 5.25 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.72 percent."

Realty Times - "Why to Buy a Home Now" (2-13-09)

"The longer you rent, the longer it may take you to eventually get into homeownership. If the market conditions have scared you, perhaps you're not looking at the other side of the coin. Owning a home becomes part of your investment portfolio, provides tax benefits, allows you to build equity (it still exists), and, if you buy now, you may get an excellent deal."
Fannie Mae - "Updates to Multiple Mortgages to the Same Borrower Policy, Reserve
Requirements, Reserves Definition, and Form 3170"

"Fannie Mae is updating the policy that pertains to multiple mortgages to the same borrower.
Fannie Mae’s current policy limits the number of one- to four-unit financed properties in which the borrower may have an individual or joint ownership interest to four financed properties when the mortgage being delivered to Fannie Mae is secured by an investment property or second home. The limitation on the number of mortgages currently being financed applies to the total number of properties financed, not just the number of mortgages sold to Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae is modifying this policy to allow investor and second home borrowers to own five to ten financed properties if they meet certain eligibility and underwriting and delivery requirements as outlined in this Announcement."

NAR - "Housing Stimulus and Stabilization Will Help Economic Recovery" (2-12-09)

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is important for the U.S. economy and contains some important housing provisions. Eliminating the repayment provision in the $7,500 first-time home buyer tax credit will help bring buyers to the market and reduce housing inventory. NAR has been advocating that this provision be improved – the change will stimulate more than 200,000 additional home sales, which will help stabilize home values"

NAR - "4th Quarter Metro Area Home Prices Down as Buyers Purchase Distressed Property" (2-12-09)

"In the fourth quarter, 134 out of 153 metropolitan statistical areas 1 showed declines in median existing single-family home prices from the same period in 2007, pulled down by active sales at the lower end that were driven by foreclosures. One area was unchanged and 18 metros reported price gains. NAR’s track of metro area home prices dates back to 1979."

Inman News - " Detroit gets big boost in searches" (2-12-09)

", a real estate search site operated by Dominion Enterprises, this week launched a top-10 list of market areas with the largest growth in search activity at the site from January 2008 to January 2009. Search traffic grew the most in Detroit (up 52 percent); followed by Naples, Fla. (44.7 percent); Greensboro, N.C. (41.6 percent); Tulsa, Okla. (41 percent); El Paso, Texas (38.4 percent); Oceanside, Calif. (37 percent); Fort Myers, Fla. (34.7 percent); Columbia, S.C. (33.9 percent); and Murrieta, Calif. (33.3 percent)."

Yahoo - "Fed: Americans' net worth hammered by recession" (2-12-09)

"The recession has cut many Americans' net worth by about 20 percent as the value of homes, stock portfolios and businesses have plummeted, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. The Fed said the average net worth of American households plunged 22.7 percent since the recession began in December 2007 through October, when the report was prepared. The median net worth, or the midpoint between the wealthiest and poorest, fell 17.8 percent."

Yahoo - "Obama eyes home loan subsidies in rescue plan: sources" (2-12-09)

"The Obama administration is hammering out a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners who have gone through a standardized re-appraisal and affordability test, sources familiar with the plan said on Thursday. The program would be a major break from existing aid programs, which are triggered once homeowners fall into arrears."

Yah00 - "Mortgage rates slide on uncertainty" (2-12-09)

"Mortgage rates fell during the past week, pushed lower from the uncertainty stemming from the bank bailout plan unveiled Tuesday. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 5.34% from 5.70% for the week ended Feb. 11, according to"

Bloomberg - "Obama’s Stimulus Not Enough to Avert Biggest GDP Drop Since 1946" (2-12-09)

President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan will be insufficient to avert the biggest U.S. economic decline since 1946 as consumer spending posts its longest slide on record, according to a monthly Bloomberg News survey. The world’s largest economy will contract 2 percent this year, half a percentage point more than last month’s forecast, according to the median of 50 projections in the survey taken Feb. 2 to Feb. 10. Even as Obama aims to create 3.5 million jobs with a stimulus plan, economists foresee an unemployment rate exceeding 8 percent through next year."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NAHB - "Builder Confidence In Multifamily Market Remains Low" (2-11-09)

"The component of the MRMI that gauges supply conditions sank dramatically in the fourth quarter of 2008, down to 22.4 for affordable apartments and 18.6 for market rate apartments, compared to 45.3 and 40.00, respectively, from the same time a year ago. On condo side, the supply component fell 11 points from the fourth quarter of 2007, to hit a new record low of 7.8."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (2-11-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 6, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 600.6, a decrease of 24.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 795.4 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 23.5 percent compared with the previous week and 43.9 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The Sacramento Bee - "
Budget proposal raises income, sales, gas taxes, and car fees" (2-11-09)

"Californians' pocketbooks would be hit in at least four ways under a wide-ranging budget proposal that is being pushed toward a floor vote within days in the Senate and Assembly. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass declined to comment on the measure Tuesday, and they noted that they had yet to strike a final deal with Republicans. The plan remains in flux, but both leaders said they would hold floor votes this week."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Homeowners emerge from denial on falling values" (2-11-09)

"More than half (57 percent) of 1,573 homeowners surveyed now believe that their home lost value in 2008. That still lags the reality that 76 percent of all U.S. homes declined in value in 2008, according to Zillow's figures. A full quarter of homeowners had the sunny view that their home's value had increased; in reality, 20 percent of homes did increase in value during the year, according to Zillow's reckoning. Another 18 percent insisted their homes' value was the same, while only 4 percent of homes actually kept their value, Zillow said."

Bloomberg - "Congress Tells Bank Chiefs to Lend, Ease Public Anger" (2-11-09)

U.S. lawmakers prodded chief executive officers of Citigroup Inc. and seven banks that got government aid to increase the flow of credit and ease public anger over how the lenders used taxpayer funds."

Bloomberg - "Fannie to Expand Mortgage Rules for Realty Investors" (2-11-09)

Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance company under U.S. government control, will no longer bar real- estate investors from qualifying for its loans if they already own four properties as it seeks to increase housing demand. The company will expand its limit for investor and second- home loans to as many as 10 properties per borrower, according to a Feb. 6 notice to lenders on Washington-based Fannie’s Web site."

Bloomberg - "Bank of America’s Bernstein Says Bank-Rescue Plan Won’t Work" (2-11-09)

The U.S. Treasury’s bank-rescue plan won’t repair the financial system or revive credit markets, Bank of America Corp. strategist Richard Bernstein said as he recommended avoiding the industry’s shares. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pledged up to $2 trillion in government financing yesterday for programs aimed at spurring new lending and addressing mortgage assets that are difficult to value. The government’s prior measures to prop up financial institutions included backing $118 billion of Bank of America securities and injecting $45 billion into the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank after it bought Merrill Lynch & Co."

Bloomberg - "Property Investment to Fall Further as Buyers Search for Credit" (2-11-09)

Global real estate spending on office buildings, stores and apartments may fall another 5.3 percent this year to $412 billion as lenders keep a tight rein on credit, property broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc. said. Lack of credit pushed commercial property acquisitions down 59 percent to $435 billion last year, the lowest since 2004, New York-based Cushman said."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NAHB - "Home Buyer Tax Credit Will Create 255,000 Jobs, NAHB Study Shows" (2-10-09)

"The $15,000 home buyer tax credit, which is an integral part of the economic stimulus legislation adopted today by the Senate, will result in nearly 500,000 additional home sales and create 255,000 new jobs in the year ahead, according to research conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)."

NAR - "Senate Stimulus Bill, Treasury Stability Plan Good Start, Says NAR" (2-10-09)

"The National Association of Realtors® hailed the Senate for passing its stimulus bill that expands the homebuyer tax credit, an important housing component that will help shrink housing inventory, bring stability to home values and move the country closer to an economic recovery."

NAHB - "$15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit Will Get U.S. Economy Back On Track" (2-10-09)

"The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today applauded Senate passage of economic stimulus legislation that would help boost employment and tackle the housing and economic crisis head-on by expanding the home buyer tax credit."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Originations Down 80% from Q4 2007 in MBA Survey" (2-10-09)

Commercial and multifamily mortgage loan originations dropped in the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations. Fourth quarter originations were 80 percent lower than during the same period last year. The year-over-year decrease was seen across all property types and investor groups."

San Francisco Chronicle - "
Larger mortgages still carry higher rates" (2-10-09)

"'If you have a mortgage between $417,000 and $625,500 (the range for jumbo conforming loans), you can't get a decent rate on it except for approximately one-half day out of every three weeks,' said Dick Lepre, a loan agent at San Francisco's Residential Pacific Mortgage. 'The problem is that we see extreme volatility, where the rate on these jumbo conformings changes massively, by almost a full percent, from one day to the next.'"

Chicago Tribune - "Wholesale inventories plunge 1.4 percent in December, steepest drop in nearly 17 years" (2-10-09)

"Wholesalers cut back on their inventories in December by the largest amount in nearly 17 years, and economists say more reductions are likely amid the deepening recession."

Bloomberg - "Geithner Says Bank-Rescue Plans May Reach $2 Trillion" (2-10-09)

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pledged government financing for as much as $2 trillion of efforts to spur new lending and address banks’ toxic assets, seeking to end the credit crunch hobbling the economy."

Bloomberg - "Selling AIG to Scarce Buyers Is Mission Impossible for Reynolds " (2-10-09)

"Today, Reynolds, 52, is AIG’s chief restructuring officer and U.S. taxpayers’ best hope for recovering some of the $150 billion the government pumped into the company last fall in the biggest corporate bailout ever. Charged with dismantling as much as two-thirds of what was once the world’s largest insurer, she’s running simultaneous auctions of dozens of units around the world, including insurance companies, consumer lenders, asset managers and an aircraft-leasing business."

Bloomberg - "Property Investment to Fall Further as Buyers Search for Credit" (2-10-09)

Global real estate spending on office buildings, stores and apartments may fall another 5.3 percent this year to $412 billion as lenders keep a tight rein on credit, property broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc. said. Lack of credit pushed commercial property acquisitions down 59 percent to $435 billion last year, the lowest since 2004, New York-based Cushman said."

Orange County Register - "Laing Homes lays off 72 O.C. workers" (2-10-09)

"More evidence surfaced this week that all is not well with Newport Beach-based homebuilder John Laing Homes, which apparently has been all-but mothballed by its Dubai-based owner. Laing reported that it laid off 72 employees in Orange County on Jan. 15, according to a state Employment Development Department notice published Monday."

Monday, February 09, 2009

NAHB - "Two Out of Three Americans Support $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit, New Poll Finds" (2-9-09)

"Two-thirds of Americans support a $15,000 home buyer tax credit now being considered by Congress as part of its economic stimulus package and believe it will be effective in stimulating home sales, according to results from a new nationwide survey."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "$171 Billion of Non-bank Commercial/Multifamily Mortgages Maturing in 2009; Significant Differences by Investor Group" (2-9-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released the results of its new Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Survey of Loan Maturity Volumes that reports $171 billion of commercial/multifamily mortgages held by non-bank lenders and investors will mature in 2009. According to the survey, the volume of loans maturing varies considerably by the type of investor holding the loan."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "
Wachovia, PNC/Midland, Capmark and Wells Fargo Lead National Rankings of Commercial/Multifamily Servicing Volumes" (2-8-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its annual ranking of commercial and multifamily loan servicers as of the end of 2008 during MBA’s Commercial Real Estate (CREF) Convention. On top of the list of firms is Wachovia Securities with $412.9 billion in U.S. master and primary servicing, followed by PNC Real Estate/Midland Loan Services with $310.3 billion, Capmark Finance, Inc. with $260.9 billion and Wells Fargo with $182.6 billion."

Bloomberg - "
Geithner to Tell Democrats Banks Must Modify Loans" (2-8-09)

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has told Democratic lawmakers that banks tapping a U.S. rescue fund will be required to modify mortgages and help borrowers avoid foreclosure, according to a person at a briefing"

Yahoo - "Mortgage Rates Likely Headed to 4.5%: Pimco's Gross" (2-9-09)

"Government action to shore up the economy and improve the housing climate probably will send mortgage rates to 4.5 percent, Bill Gross, co-CEO at the Pimco bond fund, said Monday. In addition to driving down mortgage rates and stimulating home-buying, the government's efforts also could include a move to cap Treasurys rates to encourage investors to take more risk, Gross said during a live interview on CNBC."

Yahoo - "Official: Plan will buy some of banks' bad assets" (2-9-09)

"An administration official said Monday the overhaul of the government's $700 billion financial rescue program is likely to include a partnership with the private sector to buy troubled assets. The official said the plan would use government money to support private sector purchases of bad assets that are weighing on banks' balance sheets and keeping them from resuming more normal lending."

Reuters - "Fannie, Freddie to channel mortgage rescue: sources" (2-8-09)

"The Obama administration is crafting a mortgage-rescue program that would see Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ease payments for hundreds of thousands of borrowers and offer a model for Wall Street to do the same, sources familiar with the plan said. Late last week, officials from the Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development worked with the companies' regulator to agree on standards for who could get relief and how they might coax other finance companies to follow their lead, said two industry sources familiar with the deliberations."

Bloomberg - "Three U.S. Banks Shut by Regulators as Financial Crisis Deepens" (2-7-09)

"Three banks, two in California and one in Georgia, were seized by regulators, bringing this year’s tally of closings to nine as a recession and record foreclosures extend the biggest financial crisis in more than 70 years."

Bloomberg - "Senate’s Tax Credit Favors Higher-Income Homebuyers" (2-7-09)

"The U.S. Senate is working to boost home purchases among six-figure-income households, turning away from Bush administration policies that helped fuel a property bubble. By replacing a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers earning less than $150,000 with a $15,000 break for all income groups as part of the economic stimulus package, senators are encouraging purchases by higher-income households with a reduced risk of default."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Jobless Rate Soared in January and Payrolls Kept Plunging" (2-7-09)

"The jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.2 percent in December, the Labor Department reported yesterday in Washington. Payrolls fell by 598,000, the biggest monthly drop since December 1974. Losses spanned almost all industries, from construction and manufacturing to retailing, trucking, media and finance. "

Bloomberg - "U.S. Housing Market May Bottom in 2009, Zandi Says" (2-9-09)

"U.S. home prices will reach bottom by the end of the year, concluding a slide that will have cut values 36 percent, Moody’s said today."

Bloomberg - "JPMorgan Analysts Double Jumbo-Mortgage Loss Forecast" (2-9-09)

"JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts almost doubled their projections for losses on some prime-jumbo mortgages underlying securities, created at the start of the U.S. housing slump, because of soaring defaults."

Bloomberg - "Bank Failures May Reach 1,000 on Bad Loans, RBC Says" (2-9-09)

"As many as 1,000 U.S. banks may fail in the next three to five years, almost double the one-year tally at the height of the saving-and-loan collapse, as losses mount on commercial real-estate loans, RBC Capital Markets analysts said."

Friday, February 06, 2009

NAR - "More Liquidity Needed to Avoid Crisis in Commercial Real Estate" (2-6-09)

"A severe lack of credit threatens commercial real estate and poses significant risks for the whole economy, according to a National Association of Realtors® work group."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Aid will turn renters into owners" (2-6-09)

"As many as 300 low-and middle-income households in San Diego County will be the beneficiaries of more than $17 million in federal aid designed to clean up neighborhoods hard hit by foreclosures and to provide affordable housing opportunities."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Nearly 600K jobs lost in Jan.; more pain ahead" (2-6-09)

"The nation lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month, the worst showing in a third of a century, as a vicious cycle of cutbacks by consumers forced ever more layoffs by beleaguered employers. The unemployment rate catapulted to 7.6 percent, the highest in 16 years, and seems headed for double digits."

Reuters - "U.S. housing market bottom within sight" (2-6-09)

"U.S. housing markets from Florida to California have suffered price drops of 50 percent or more from their peak, but now, at long last, a bottom is within sight, likely in the fourth quarter nationally, according to a report from Moody's By the end of the housing downturn, nearly 62 percent of the nation's 381 metropolitan areas will have experienced double-digit-percent declines in house prices, peak-to-trough, says the report by chief economist Mark Zandi and a team that includes Celia Chen, senior director of housing economics."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Housing Slump Has ‘Just Begun,’ Says Forecaster Talbott" (2-6-09)

"Let’s say you own a $1 million home in Santa Barbara, California. The house seemed like a steal when you bought it with that adjustable-rate mortgage in 2005. You still love the white beaches and those yachts bobbing up and down in the harbor. Then you awaken early one morning, troubled that your monthly payments will soon double. You go out to pick up your newspaper and see for-sale signs on five houses on the street. One identical to yours just sold for $500,000."

CNN - "Ross to pay Citi $1.5B to service loans" (2-6-09)

"American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., owned by vulture investor Wilbur Ross, will pay Citigroup $1.5 billion for the rights to service 185,000 home loans, Ross said Thursday."

Bloomberg - "Wells Fargo May Cut Loans for Some Wachovia Customers" (2-6-09)

Wells Fargo & Co., the second-biggest U.S. home lender, offered to cut mortgage balances for some Wachovia Corp. customers by 20 percent as defaults rise and officials pressure banks to modify loans to avoid foreclosures."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Prepayments Rise as Rates Spur Refinancing" (2-6-09)

Prepayments on mortgages backing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae securities jumped last month as tumbling home-loan rates spurred refinancing. The speeds were slower than some analysts expected. The one-month constant prepayment rate for 30-year, fixed- rate securities rose 107 percent to 17 for Fannie Mae bonds, 108 percent to 18 for Freddie Mac securities and 45 percent to 23 for Ginnie Mae I debt, according to an FTN Financial Capital Markets report today. The report is based on data released yesterday."

Bloomberg - "General Growth, Macerich Lower Rents as Anchors Close" (2-6-09)

"U.S. mall owners General Growth Properties Inc., Kite Realty Group Trust and Macerich Co., faced with rising vacancy rates in the recession, are being forced to accept lower rents from their remaining tenants. Real estate investment trusts that own retail properties are getting snagged by co-tenancy clauses that allow merchants to pay less when anchors such as department stores shut down, according to Real Point LLC data based on loan-servicer reports."

Orange County Register - "Bank with O.C. office seized, $1 billion deposits sold" (2-6-09)

"Culver City-based Alliance Bank, which has an Irvine office, was seized by state and federal regulators today. The FDIC said California Bank & Trust in San Diego will assume Alliance’s nearly $1 billion in deposits."

Realty Times - "Market Conditions" (2-6-09)

", the online real estate marketplace, reported this week that home values fell 11.6 percent in 2008. This adds up to a painful $1.4 Trillion loss. Adding to this number, foreclosures made up 19.9 percent of all transactions last year. This was especially prevalent in hard hit areas, such as California."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (2-4-09)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 30, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 795.4, an increase of 8.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 732.1 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 28.1 percent compared with the previous week and decreased 26.9 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Washington Post - "Service sector declines less than expected in Jan." (2-4-09)

"The nation's service sector shrank for the fourth straight month in January, a trade group said Wednesday, but at a slower pace than the previous month. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade association of purchasing executives, said its service sector index rose to 42.9 last month, from December's downwardly revised reading of 40.1."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Refinancing Change Faces Hurdles, FHFA Says" (2-4-09)

"Homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages bigger than their property’s worth must wait for the companies and their regulator to assess the possible 'unintended consequences' of allowing them to refinance into lower payments and related 'hurdles,' Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart said."

Bloomberg - "Citigroup Expands Use of FDIC Mortgage-Relief Program" (2-4-09)

"Citigroup Inc., the U.S. bank forced to curb executive pay and slash stock dividends as a condition of its $346 billion bailout, now has to expand the use of a government mortgage-relief program to meet regulators’ demands."

Bloomberg - "Pulte Homes Reports Quarterly Loss as Prices Slump" (2-4-09)

"Pulte Homes Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder, reported its ninth consecutive quarterly loss as the recession and falling house prices drove away buyers. The fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to $338.2 million, or $1.33 a share, from $874.7 million, or $3.46, a year earlier, the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company said today in a statement. Revenue fell 43 percent to $1.65 billion and new orders plunged 61 percent to 1,763."

Bloomberg - "House Panel Approves Bill Retooling Lending Program" (2-4-09)

"A House of Representatives panel approved legislation today that eases some requirements for the $300 billion HOPE for Homeowners lending program that has refinanced just 25 loans since it began in October."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

NAR - "Realtors® Urge Congress to Help 'HOPE For Homeowners'" (2-3-09)

"The National Association of Realtors® today announced its support for new legislation introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., that is designed to ease loan modifications and improve refinancing options for America’s troubled homeowners by revamping the HOPE for Homeowners program."

NAR - "Pending Home Sales Show Healthy Gain" (2-3-09)

"The Pending Home Sales Index,1 a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in December, rose 6.3 percent to 87.7 from an upwardly revised reading of 82.5 in November, and is 2.1 percent higher than December 2007 when it was 85.9"

NAR - "Realtors® Welcome Renewed Efforts Toward Housing Stabilization" (2-3-09)

"Congress and the U.S. Department of the Treasury must enact legislative and regulatory priorities to stabilize the housing market and help stop the U.S. financial market’s rapid deterioration, and on Friday, five freshman U.S. senators took decisive action toward this goal."

DQNews - "Million-dollar home sales plummet in Golden State" (2-3-09)

"A total of 24,436 Golden State homes sold for a million dollars or more last year. That was down 42.5 percent from 42,506 in 2007. It was the lowest sales count since 20,595 were sold in 2003. In 2006 the $1 million-plus total was 50,010, in 2005 it was 54,773, and in 2004 it was 36,990, according to MDA DataQuick."

CBIA - "California Homebuilding Depression Expected to Deepen in 2009, CBIA Announces" (2-3-09)

"The Association is forecasting just 63,400 units will be produced in 2009, a 3 percent decrease from the record-low 65,380 units produced in 2008. In comparison, the low point of the homebuilding recession in the early 1990s was 84,656 units in 1993, while the worst year during the recession of the early 1980s was 85,656 in 1982. To meet the need for new housing generated by population growth, the state estimates builders should produce about 220,000 new homes and apartments annually."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Property Owners Lost $3.3 Trillion in Home Value" (2-3-09)

The U.S. housing market lost $3.3 trillion in value last year and almost one in six owners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth as the economy went into recession, said. The median estimated home price declined 11.6 percent in 2008 to $192,119 and homeowners lost $1.4 trillion in value in the fourth quarter alone, the Seattle-based real estate data service said in a report today."

Bloomberg - "Fed Extends Emergency-Loan Programs, Swaps to Oct. 30" (2-3-09)

The Federal Reserve extended its emergency-lending programs and foreign currency-swap lines by six months through Oct. 30, citing 'continuing substantial strains in many financial markets.'"

Bloomberg - "Obama’s Foreclosure Plan May Back Rewritten Loans" (2-3-09)

The Obama administration is considering government guarantees for home loans modified by their servicers, seeking to stem the record surge of foreclosures that’s hammering U.S. property values. The proposal, which may also have the taxpayer share in the cost of reducing mortgage payments, is aimed at shielding lenders from default after they loosen loan terms for struggling borrowers. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, who regulates national banks, said yesterday that 'working out the details of it is still something that’s ongoing.'"

Bloomberg - "D.R. Horton Leads Homebuilders Higher as Loss Narrows" (2-3-09)

D.R. Horton Inc., the third-largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, rose 21 percent after reporting its smallest loss in five quarters. The net loss for the fiscal first-quarter narrowed to $62.6 million, or 20 cents a share, from $128.8 million, or 41 cents, a year earlier, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company said today in a statement. The company beat the average analyst forecast for a net loss of 56 cents, according to 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey."

Bloomberg - "Record 19 Million U.S. Homes Stood Vacant in 2008" (2-3-09)

A record 19 million U.S. homes stood empty at the end of 2008 and homeownership fell to an eight-year low as banks seized homes faster than they could sell them. The number of vacant homes climbed 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report today. The share of empty homes that are for sale rose to 2.9 percent, the most in data that goes back to 1956. The homeownership rate fell to 67.5 percent, matching the rate in the first quarter of 2001."

Bloomberg - "CMBS Loans at Risk as U.S. Rents Decline, Reis Says" (2-3-09)

Securitized loans on U.S. offices, apartments and commercial properties are at greater risk of default after rents fell in 43 percent of buildings of all types in the fourth quarter, up from an average 25 percent in the first nine months of 2008, research firm Reis Inc. said."