Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Commercial/Multifamily Market Feels Economic Pressures" (3-31-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Quarterly Data Book for the fourth quarter of 2008. The analysis shows a further decline in origination volume while commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding remained relatively stable. Though economic pressures such as job losses and the decline in retail spending will continue to curtail originations and to raise the pressure on outstanding mortgages, expectations for the commercial mortgage market have been set so low that it may be hard to underperform them."

Sacramento Bee - "
Yuba County tops nation in 'underwater' loans" (3-31-09)

"There's nowhere tougher in America to be paying a mortgage than Yuba County, says a new lending industry study released Monday. Nearly 78 percent of the county's mortgage debt is tied to houses that have lost value and are worth less than what's owed on them, said New Jersey-based SMR Research in its yearly 'Giants of the Mortgage Industry' study."

Bloomberg - "Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Fell by a Record 19%" (3-31-09)

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell 19 percent in January from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as demand plummeted and foreclosures rose. The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s decrease was more than forecast and compares with an 18.6 percent decrease in December. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year- over-year records began in 2001."

Inman - "Dramatic increase in prime-loan foreclosures" (3-31-09)

"HOPE NOW put the number of foreclosure starts on prime loans during February at 157,000, a 25 percent increase from the month before. Foreclosure starts on subprime loans fell by 5 percent, to 86,000. The record 243,000 foreclosure starts recorded in February represented a 12 percent increase from the month before and a 36 percent increase from a year ago."

Bloomberg - "Lennar Reports Wider First-Quarter Loss; Orders Drop" (3-31-09)

Lennar Corp., the second-worst performer among U.S. homebuilding stocks last year, fell 14 percent after posting a wider first-quarter loss. The net loss was $155.9 million, or 98 cents a share, compared with $88.2 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier, the Miami-based company said in a statement. That exceeded the 78 cents projected by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Revenue for the period ended Feb. 28 fell 44 percent to $593.1 million."

Bloomberg - "Apollo, Colony May Start Funds for Geithner’s Toxic-Asset Plan" (3-31-09)

Apollo Global Management LLC, the private-equity firm run by Leon Black, and Colony Capital LLC may start funds to participate in the Obama administration’s program to buy distressed mortgage debt from U.S. banks. The firms are among buyout groups that are considering raising as much as $1 billion each to invest in government- backed deals, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Apollo and Colony may reduce their usual fees to lure investors who might otherwise be wary of betting on a recovery in real estate markets, the people said."

Orange County Register - "O.C. mortgage rates dip" (3-31-09)

"The best rates on fixed mortgages in Orange County today slid to the range of 4.5% to 4.6%, according to mortgage brokers. Jeff Altman, a partner with WestCal Mortgage Corp. in Orange, said lenders are offering as low as 4.625% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan with a one-point fee. That’s for loans up to the old conforming limit of $417,000."

Orange County Register - "Fannie, Freddie to the rescue?" (3-31-09)

"In any case, mortgage bankers are arguing they cannot meet demand for loans amid a refinance boom and so consumer rates are higher as competition is limited to big players like Wells Fargo and Bank of America that don’t rely on warehouse lines. There might be some truth to this."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Orange County Register - "Assessor says no comps needed for property tax reviews" (3-29-08)

"Property owners have until April 30 to request an informal review of their tax assessment and get their property taxes reduced. The one-page application includes a spot for owners to supply three recent sales of comparable homes that sold in their neighborhood between Oct. 1 and March 31. With home values down 42% in the past 18 months, properties purchased since 2002 are likely to be eligible for a tax break. But Guillory said that requested reviews still will be made even if that portion of the application isn’t filled out."

Orange County Register - "Could O.C. office rents fall by 10% or more?" (3-28-09)

"We have vacancies in buildings that have not had an opening in the last 8-9 years. In these cases, we are taking a conservative approach and advising investment partners that there will be (1) no leasing activity through 2009; (2) a 10%, or more, drop in rental rates; and (3) free rent associated with new leases. It is important to note that we use these same assumptions on properties we are buying!"

NAR - "2008 Second-Home Sales Decline; More Buyers Pay Cash" (3-30-09)

"The market share of homes purchased for investment was 21 percent last year, unchanged from 2007, while another 9 percent were vacation homes, compared with a 12 percent market share in 2007. The total share of second homes declined from 33 percent of all transactions in 2007. In 2005, the peak year for home speculation, 40 percent of sales were second homes."

The Wall Street Journal - "Defaults Rise on Home Mortgages Insured by FHA" (3-30-09)

"A spokesman for the FHA said 7.5% of FHA loans were 'seriously delinquent' at the end of February, up from 6.2% a year earlier. Seriously delinquent includes loans that are 90 days or more overdue, in the foreclosure process or in bankruptcy."

CNN - "Foreclosures spike - so do mortgage-help plans" (3-30-09)

"Lenders have helped an increasing number of mortgage borrowers to get current on payments and stay in their homes, but the tide of foreclosures is still rising. In February, nearly 250,000 homeowners received either mortgage modifications or repayment plans from their lenders, according to Hope Now, the coalition of lenders, investors and community advocacy groups put together to combat the foreclosure plague."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Home-Loan Bonds Climb on Geithner’s Toxic-Asset Program" (3-30-09)

"Home-loan bonds without government backing climbed off their lows or near records, after the U.S. announced plans to finance buying of the securities to bolster banks and markets. Typical prices for so-called super-senior securities backed by prime-jumbo mortgages rose 4 cents on the dollar last week to roughly 67 cents, according to a March 27 report from Barclays Capital. Similar bonds of 'option' adjustable-rate mortgages climbed 2 cents on the dollar to 35 cents, the report said."

Orange County Register - "Chase swaps all signs of Washington Mutual" (3-30-09)

"JPMorgan Chase today is expected to replace Washington Mutual signs with Chase signs at all 708 branches it acquired in California after the thrift failed last year. Chase said it’s investing $375 million in California in 2009 to refurbish and rebrand existing branches as well as open 20 new ones."

Orange County Register - "Rent or buy? O.C. cost gap sharply narrows" (3-30-09)

"Since everyone’s situation is different, it’s always tricky math in any climate. But my trusty spreadsheet — and data embedded in my Big Orange Index — tells me that the home payments generated by recent homes purchases when compared to a benchmark of local rents look as favorable for ownership as they have in the two decades of housing data I’ve collected"

Orange County Register - "This guy argues cutting property tax not so easy" (3-30-09)

"While real estate Web sites like Zillow.com, Trulia and Redfin can provide lists of recent sales in a home’s area, and while the county provides workshops and a PowerPoint on the tax appeals process, Beans maintains that some homeowners still need professional assistance. For $11 to $65, customers can get the data they need to complete applications for an informal review or an appeal themselves."

Orange County Register - "Subprime is dead, but not this lender’s program" (3-30-09)

"Subprime, the business of making home loans to folks with spotty credit, is dead. But there are still private and public programs for borrowers with lower incomes. For the past decade, Union Bank of California, a midsize San Francisco-based lender, has offered a special program for people who want to buy a home but whose income falls short for where they want to live."

Friday, March 27, 2009

NAR - "NAR Warns of Rental Property Scam" (3-27-09)

"The National Association of Realtors®’ name is being used as part of a property rental scam in which rental property is offered to consumers, who are led to believe that NAR is functioning as an intermediary to receive rental deposits from prospective tenants. The scam claims that on receipt of a deposit, NAR will deliver the keys to the property to the tenant. Prospective tenants are instructed to send money via Western Union to NAR’s purported agent in the United Kingdom."

Inman - "First-timers worry about jobs, credit" (3-27-09)

"Most prospective first-time homebuyers know interest rates are low and believe that homes are affordable. But nearly half don't know about the $8,000 tax credit available to first-time homebuyers through the end of November, and three in four say it's hard to get a loan. Those are some of the key findings of a survey of 1,000 prospective first-time homebuyers conducted in early March for Century 21 Real Estate LLC."

Bloomberg - "KB Home Jumps After First Rise in Orders Since 2005" (3-27-09)

KB Home, the third-best performing U.S. building stock this year, rose in New York trading after reporting a narrower first-quarter loss as orders increased for the first time in three years. The loss fell to $58.1 million, or 75 cents a share, and was the smallest for the Los Angeles-based company in six quarters. Net new-home orders rose 26 percent from a year earlier to 1,827, the first gain since the fourth quarter of 2005. The shares gained 6.3 percent."

Bloomberg - "Repayment Risk Shifts Back to Mortgage Lenders Under House Bill" (3-27-09)

"The legislation would prohibit lenders from 'directly or indirectly' hedging or transferring a minimum retained credit risk on most nontraditional mortgages, including some loans that have adjustable interest rates or require little documentation of a borrower’s income."

Bloomberg - "Subprime Swindlers Reconnect to Homeowners in Scams" (3-27-09)

Rescue scams are springing up across the U.S., says California Deputy Attorney General Angela Rosenau, exacerbating a housing crisis in its third year. The predators are persuading troubled borrowers they can intervene with their lenders and negotiate lower payments on their mortgages, law enforcement officials say. Instead, the players, often out-of-work real estate professionals who peddled subprime mortgages during the boom, pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance fees and disappear or bleed their victims by charging monthly payments"

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Originations May Double to $3.1 Trillion" (3-27-09)

Mortgage originations may double to $3.1 trillion this year as historically low interest rates and looser financing standards at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lure more borrowers, Bank of America Corp. analysts said."

Real Estate Journal - "Thirty-Year Mortgage Hits a Low of 4.85%" (3-27-09)

"The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home mortgages hit a record low this week, after the Federal Reserve announced it would purchase Treasury securities over the next six months, Freddie Mac's chief economist said on Thursday. The 30-year mortgage averaged 4.85% in the week ended March 26, the lowest point since Freddie Mac's weekly survey began in 1971. Last week, the mortgage averaged 4.98%; the mortgage averaged 5.85% a year ago."

Orange County Register - "O.C. banker sees bottom come November" (3-27-09)

"Ray Dellerba, chief executive of Pacific Mercantile Bank in Coast Mesa, is feeling better than many folks about the economic future. When I recently asked him if he saw an economic bottom, he didn’t flinch: 'November,' was uttered without hesitation."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Press Enterprise - "Mortgage rates drop to record low" (3-26-09)

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.85 percent this week, from 4.98 percent last week. It was the lowest in the history of Freddie Mac's survey, which dates back to 1971 and was down a full percentage point from a year ago."

Inman - "California housing production falls in February" (3-26-09)

"The California Building Industry Association reports that housing production in the state fell again in February, a decline that has been continuous since its peak in 2005 (see Inman News). According to CBIA statistics, single-family permits totaled 1,261, down 50 percent from last year, while multifamily permits totaled 1,037, down 76 percent from last year but up 41 percent from January."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Economy: GDP Slumps 6.3% Before ‘Turning Point’" (3-26-09)

The U.S. economy shrank at a 6.3 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, the worst performance since 1982, in what may be the depths of the recession. The contraction in gross domestic product was larger than the previously estimated 6.2 percent drop, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. A report from the Labor Department showed the number of people collecting jobless benefits this month climbed to a record 5.56 million."

Bloomberg - "Geithner Calls for ‘New Rules of the Game’ in Finance" (3-26-09)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said regulation of the U.S. financial system needs a broad overhaul to heal a crippling lack of confidence caused by the credit crisis."

Bloomberg - "Soros Says Commercial Property Values Will Fall 30%" (3-26-09)

Billionaire investor George Soros said U.S. commercial real estate will probably drop at least 30 percent in value, causing further strains on banks."

Orange County Register - "Rossmoor, Coto sellers cut home prices most often" (3-26-09)

"The local housing market’s theme in recent months has been this: Cheaper homes have been heaviliy discounted, leading to a boost of sales in the county’s more affordable communities. Owners of pricier homes have, to date, stuck to firmer pricing."

Orange County Register - "5 O.C. cities in state’s top 10 for home prices" (3-26-09)

"Orange County single-family home sales increased 44.6 percent last month compared with February 2008, the California Association of Realtors reports. The median sales price of existing single family homes in the county fell by 28.9 percent, to $433,690."

Realty Times - "Maximize Use of Internal Resources: Customer Retention Strategies to Enhance Profits" (3-26-09)

"In our most recent client satisfaction survey, our clients’ average 9.5 lower turnover rate than the National Apartment Association published national average. A 9.5 lower turnover, for a 5000 unit portfolio, means NOI (net operating income) is going to be $1.5 million higher and asset value is going to be, I’d have to do the calculation but about $20-30 million higher."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Federal Reserve’s Announcement Spurs Refinance Activity in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (3-25-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 20, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 1159.4, an increase of 32.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 876.9 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 31.4 percent compared with the previous week and 18.0 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

CAR - "
February sales and price report" (3-25-09)

"Existing, single-family home sales increased 83 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 620,410 on an annualized basis. The statewide median price of an existing single-family home decreased 40.8 percent in February to $247,590."

Bloomberg - "Bank Charges May Surge as Mortgages Marked to Market" (3-25-09)

One in five borrowers in the $10.5 trillion U.S. mortgage market owes more than their property is worth, according to First American CoreLogic Inc., a real estate data company based in Santa Ana, California. Just one in 10 have received the principal reductions that research demonstrates is more effective at preventing defaults than the temporary payment reductions promoted by banks and the federal government."

Voice of San Diego - "San Diego Home Prices Reasonable At Last" (3-25-09)

"Both graphs show that while prices became completely severed from economic reality during the boom, they are now solidly in the middle of the range that prevailed in the years before the world went mad. By these metrics, San Diego housing has still been cheaper in the past. The price-to-income ratio would have to fall 15 percent from this level to equal the all-time low it hit in 1997. And the price-to-rent ratio, which actually set its worst levels in 1986, would have fall 22 percent from here to hit its record low."

Bloomberg - "Fed to Start Purchasing Treasuries to Unfreeze Credit" (3-25-09)

The Federal Reserve starts purchasing long-term Treasuries today, aiming to bring down borrowing costs by employing tools last used in the 1960s. The first operation in the $300 billion effort is targeted on notes maturing from February 2016 to February 2019, the New York Fed Bank said in a statement yesterday. In the coming eight days, the central bank plans to buy debt maturing between March 2011 and February 2039, according to the tentative schedule."

Bloomberg - "New-Home Sales in U.S. Rose 4.7% to a 337,000 Pace" (3-25-09)

Purchases of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly rose in February from a record low as plummeting prices and cheaper mortgage rates lured some buyers. Sales increased 4.7 percent to an annual pace of 337,000 after a 322,000 rate in January, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median sales price fell 18 percent from February 2008, the biggest year-on-year drop since records began in 1964, and the glut of properties on the market dwindled."

Orange County Register - "O.C. lender getting back into home loan biz" (3-25-09)

"Costa Mesa-based Pacific Mercantile Bancorp reported a fourth-quarter loss of $12.5 million vs. a profit of $1.2 million a year earlier, but said things are looking up in housing and it plans to get back into the home lending business. It said demand for commercial loans should remain flat."

Orange County Register - "Do loan mod companies help or hurt?" (3-25-09)

"The California Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit consumer advocate, recently criticized the state Department of Real Estate for issuing approvals to private companies so they can collect advance fees from consumers seeking help getting a modification. The coalition argues the state is endorsing companies that will take advantage of homeowners by taking their money and not getting them a modification."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CBIA - "Housing Production Continues Decline in February, CBIA Announces" (3-24-09)

"According to statistics compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board, just 2,298 permits were pulled throughout California during the month of February, down 66 percent when compared to the same month a year ago, but up 15 percent from January."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA Boosts Originations Forecast By Over $800 Billion" (3-24-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association today increased its forecast of mortgage originations in 2009 by over $800 billion. MBA now expects originations to total $2.78 trillion, which would make 2009 the fourth highest originations year on record, behind only 2002, 2003, 2005."

Mercury News - "
Home prices post 6.3 percent annual decline in January" (3-24-09)

"A government report says U.S. home prices fell 6.3 percent in January from the same month last year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency says prices, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rose 1.7 percent from December to January. Changes in the geographic mix of sales explained the unexpected monthly increase. Home sales included in January's data were weighted toward areas that haven't borne as much of the brunt of the housing recession, the agency says."

Inman - "Most 2009 buyers may be first-timers" (3-24-09)

"Nearly 80 percent of Americans don't expect to buy a home in the next five years, but more than half of those that do plan to buy this year would be first-time homebuyers. That's according to a survey commissioned by Realtor.com operator Move Inc., which also found one in five homeowners with mortgages have contacted their lender hoping to restructure their loans. About half said they'd succeeded."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Fees Highest Since 2000 Will Buoy U.S. Banks" (3-24-09)

David Rapaport, a professor at the University of California San Diego Medical School, is paying an upfront fee of $3,500 to refinance his mortgage at 5.13 percent. A year ago, his rate was 6.25 percent and there were no fees. "

Bloomberg - "Wilbur Ross Defies Bruce Rose in Battle Over Housing Villains" (3-24-09)

Ross’s American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. and Rose’s Carrington Capital Management LLC are accusing each other of worsening the recession by devaluing homes and the mortgage bonds that sparked it. In a Stamford, Connecticut, lawsuit, Carrington says American Home hurt its hedge funds’ clients by dumping foreclosed homes tied to its subprime bonds at 'fire sale' prices. American Home, which countersued on March 20, says Carrington wants to grab bondholders’ money by blighting communities with vacant homes. "

Bloomberg - "Distressed Commercial Property Offerings Rising, Report Says" (3-24-09)

About $11 billion of defaulted or foreclosed commercial properties were being offered for sale last month as landlords struggled to refinance loans, Real Capital Analytics Inc. said.About $5.7 billion worth of properties defaulted, were foreclosed upon or entered bankruptcy in February, the New York- based research firm said in a report today."

Bloomberg - "Treasury Preserves Bank Payday With AIG Rescue Cash" (3-24-09)

The U.S. Treasury Department preserved a payday for five banks that was worth almost 200 times the bonuses handed out at American International Group Inc. through a government rescue."

Monday, March 23, 2009

NAR - "Existing-Home Sales Rise In February" (3-23-09)

"Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January, but are 4.6 percent below the 4.95 million-unit level in February 2008. Seasonal adjustment factors are more volatile in winter months, but sales rates over the past few months show dampened sales activity."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Debt Outstanding Increases During Fourth Quarter" (3-23-09)

The $3.5 trillion in commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding recorded by the Federal Reserve was an increase of $23 billion from the third quarter of 2008. Multifamily mortgage debt outstanding grew to $900 billion, an increase of $5.4 billion or 0.6 percent from the third quarter.' The level of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding grew by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, to $3.5 trillion, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) analysis of the Federal Reserve Board Flow of Funds data. The total was an increase of $166 billion, or 5 percent from the end of 2007."

Yahoo - "
Administration moves against bad bank assets" (3-23-09)

"The coordinated effort by the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. relies on a mix of government and private money -- mostly from institutional investors such as hedge funds -- to help banks rid their balance sheets of real-estate related securities that are now extremely difficult to value."

Bloomberg - "JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank Said to Press KKR’s Capmark" (3-23-09)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG, which hold $1.2 billion of Capmark Financial Group Inc. loans, are among banks demanding collateral in exchange for loosening terms that put it at risk of default, people familiar with the matter said."

Bloomberg - "Defaulting Commercial Properties Hit Banks on Vacancy-Rate Rise" (3-23-09)

U.S. banks, battered by record losses from the worst housing slump since the Great Depression, now must weather increasing loan delinquencies from owners of skyscrapers and shopping malls. The country’s 10 biggest banks have $327.6 billion in commercial mortgages, which face a wave of defaults as office vacancies grow and retailers and casinos go bankrupt. A projected tripling in the default rate would result in losses of about 7 percent of total unpaid balances, according to estimates from analysts at research firm Reis Inc."

Bloomberg - "General Growth Extends Deadline for Debt Consents" (3-23-09)

General Growth Properties Inc., the U.S. mall owner trying to avoid bankruptcy, extended the deadline for bondholders to agree to new terms for $2.25 billion in debt."

Orange County Register - "Economists mostly bullish on $500 billion toxic asset plan" (3-23-09)

"My gut reaction is that this is an excellent plan. This plan will go a long way toward getting banks in better position to lend more aggressively and break the deleveraging feedback loop that is now in place. It limits taxpayer involvement, leverages the funds available to purchase a substantial quantity of assets, and helps insure that the government gets a fair price on its investment given the public-private partnership. This plan will make an excellent addition to the measures and initiatives already implemented and announced by the Federal Reserve and Treasury. The mortgage modification program, the Fed buying long-term Treasury securities, the expanded TALF, etc. My only reservation at this time is, will we get enough private participation?"

Realty Times - "Market Conditions" (3-23-09)

"The U.S. Commerce Department is reporting that housing starts gained for the first time in 8 months. The gain was 22.2 percent. This was the first increase since June."
The Seattle Times - "Half of us have one month of cash cushion if laid off" (3-21-09)

"Americans are in a collective state of financial depression as many admit they could cover their bills for two months at most if suddenly jobless, a nightmare more and more worry may come true. A group of surveys found a growing number of consumers are a few paychecks away from a household collapse. Even as many scramble to shore up savings, rainy-day funds are being depleted to cover food and energy bills, mortgage and car payments."

Geldpress - "Fed Monetized Debt When Foreign Debt Holders Stop Buying" (3-20-09)

"What is a highly indebted nation to do when faced with the difficult task of managing over $11 trillion in 'reported' debt, while at the same time finding new foreign buyers for an expected $2 trillion yearly deficit? The answer has been discussed at length in the news over the last week, but you may have missed it. The current $11 trillion dollar national debt was financed by selling bonds. But as that debt burden grows to unsustainable levels, investors get nervous about the sanity of additional purchases. When that happens, the alternative is to MONETIZE THE DEBT."

Yahoo - "Administration wants to buy up banks' toxic assets" (3-20-09)

Some industry officials familiar with the details said Saturday they expected the approach would try to remove as much as $1 trillion from banks' books. An announcement from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could come as early as Monday."

Orange County Register - "Slump zaps Coto de Caza homes" (3-21-09)

"According to Planeta, there are 116 homes listed at prices higher than $750,000. Ten are in escrow and just eight sales closed in the last 30 days. 'At that rate, it will take a year to exhaust the inventory of listed homes,' Planeta said. On her blog, Planeta says the highest priced home currently in escrow is for $1.1 million. The highest sale in the last 30 days was for $1.6 million."

Orange County Register - "Washington Mutual sues FDIC for $13 billion" (3-21-09)

"Reuters said Washington Mutual, the part that’s still independent, has sued the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for more than $13 billion over how the agency handled the seizure of WaMu’s banking operations, which were sold to JPMorgan Chase."

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Wall Street Journal - "House Passes Bonus Tax Bill" (3-20-09)

"The House measure was approved on a 328-93 vote and would impose a 90% surtax on bonuses granted to employees who earn more than $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion from the government's financial rescue program. The bonus tax, if approved by the Senate and signed into law, would be retroactive to Dec. 31, 2008."

Yahoo - "Bernanke says must fix 'too big to fail' problem" (3-20-09)

"The United States needs a safer way to shut down large nonbank financial firms without destabilizing the entire financial system, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Friday. 'We have such a regime for insured depository institutions, but it is clear we need something similar for systemically important nonbank financial entities,' he said in prepared remarks to a community bankers convention in Phoenix."

Business Week - "How Banks Are Worsening the Foreclosure Crisis" (3-20-09)

"The bad mortgages that got the current financial crisis started have produced a terrifying wave of home foreclosures. Unless the foreclosure surge eases, even the most extravagant federal stimulus spending won't spur an economic recovery. The Obama Administration is expected within the next few weeks to announce an initiative of $50 billion or more to help strapped homeowners. But with 1 million residences having fallen into foreclosure since 2006, and an additional 5.9 million expected over the next four years, the Obama plan—whatever its details—can't possibly do the job by itself."

Bloomberg - "FTC to Draft New Curbs on Mortgage-Lending Abuse, Chairman Says" (3-20-09)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will use new authority to bar lending practices by mortgage brokers who have deceived and bilked borrowers, the agency’s chairman said. A $410 billion spending package passed by Congress this month authorizes the FTC to ban abusive practices such as deceptive advertising and servicing procedures, Chairman Jon Leibowitz said yesterday in his first interview since becoming the new head of the agency."

Bloomberg - "Frank Asks Regulator to Pull Fannie, Freddie Bonuses" (3-20-09)

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank asked the federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cancel retention bonuses for senior executives and recoup any money that’s already been paid."

Orange County Register - "Home sales slumping in O.C. beach ZIPs" (3-20-09)

"DataQuick identified 264 homes selling in beach cities’ ZIP codes last month, -10% from a year ago. Median selling price? $693,750 in these 17 ZIPs. Last month’s median price change was -22.1% vs. a year ago."

Orange County Register - "FDIC sells most assets of failed IndyMac" (3-20-09)

"The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said late Thursday it closed the sale of the deposits and branches of IndyMac Bank, which it seized last year, to newly formed OneWest Bank in Pasadena. OneWest is buying $6.4 billion in deposits and $20.7 billion in assets at a $4.7 billion discount. Total cost of the takeover to the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund is estimated at $10.7 billion."

Realty Times - "Investor Report: Small Scale Investing Challenge" (3-20-09)

"Small-scale investors who own condo units are facing tougher financing challenges as the biggest players in the market are imposing new restrictions -- worse, it seems, every month. Fannie Mae and private mortgage insurers don't say it this way officially, but their actions make it clear: They don't want to finance condos in large numbers any more, and they are making it increasingly difficult for developers, unit owners and potential investors."

Realty Times - "Bond Yields Pull Long-Term Mortgage Rates Down to Near Record Lows This Week" (3-20-09)

"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 4.98 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending March 19, 2009, down from last week when it averaged 5.03 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.87 percent. The 30-year FRM has not been lower since the week ending January 15, 2009, when it hit an all-time low of 4.96 percent in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey survey."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

DQNews - "Bay Area home sales climb above last year as median falls below $300K" (3-19-08)

"A total of 5,032 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the nine-county Bay Area last month. That was essentially unchanged from 5,050 in January but up 26.1 percent from 3,989 in February 2008, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego."

The Sacramento Bee - "Sacramento homebuyers rush to refinance at lower rates" (3-19-08)

"Lower borrowing costs triggered a new spike in U.S. mortgage applications last week as borrowers – including thousands in California and the Sacramento region – rushed to refinance home loans. Sacramento loan consultant Dennis Graves said most who refinanced locally had purchased houses in the past year with Federal Housing Administration loans at 6 percent interest and above."

Inman - "Partnership targets affordability, transportation" (3-19-08)

"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced a partnership that seeks to improve access to affordable housing while lowering transportation costs. According to HUD, housing and transportation costs together account for an average of 60 percent of American family spending, and a new task force will work to lower these costs by shortening travel times and improving environmental conditions in communities, among other goals."

Yahoo - "Mortgage rates sink; likely to fall further" (3-19-08)

"Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.98 percent this week, down from 5.03 percent last week. It was the lowest since the week of Jan. 15, when it was at 4.96 percent, the lowest point in the history of Freddie Mac's survey, which goes back to 1971."

Yahoo - "GE sees profitable finance unit in 1st qtr, '09" (3-19-08)

"General Electric Co. on Thursday forecast a profitable first quarter and full year for its struggling finance unit, aiming to soothe investor fears that factors like falling real estate values and unpaid credit cards could further damage GE Capital."

CNN - "Obama housing fix: Banks not ready" (3-19-08)

"The two-part Obama plan calls for servicers to reduce monthly payments to no more than 31% of eligible borrowers' pre-tax income or to refinance eligible mortgages even if the homeowner has little or no equity. It also provides thousands of dollars in incentives for servicers and borrowers to participate."

Bloomberg - "Loan Modification Plan Needs Changes, TCW Tells U.S." (3-19-08)

TCW Group Inc., the money manager overseeing more than $100 billion, lobbied the Treasury Department to change the U.S. mortgage-modification plan to include better protections for bond investors and taxpayers, Chief Investment Officer Jeffrey Gundlach said."

Orange County Register - "Early defaults rise on FHA loans" (3-19-08)

"The FHA is experiencing 'a large number of zero payment defaults' in which borrowers fail to make even one payment on their new government-insured mortgages, a Department of Housing and Urban Development official said at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual National Fraud Issues Conference in Las Vegas."

Orange County Register - "SoCal renters enjoy best pricing in 11 years" (3-19-08)

"All housing costs rose at a 1.3% annual rate, lowest since August 2003.Renters’ costs rose at a 3.2% annual rate, lowest since November 1998. Homeowners costs — odd math equal to what it might cost to rent your own home — rose at a 2.9% annual pace. That’s lowest since December 1999. Heating gas costs tumbled at a 29.4% annual rate. These volatile costs last fell at a faster rate in October 2006."

Reuters - "Moody's may cut $241 billion jumbo mortgage debt" (3-19-08)

"In a move reflecting widening stress in the U.S. housing market, Moody's Investors Service on Thursday said it may downgrade $240.7 billion of securities backed by prime-quality 'jumbo' U.S. residential mortgages because defaults will be higher than they expected."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inman - "Fannie, Freddie REO inventory swells" (3-18-09)

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac boosted loan modifications by 76 percent in the last three months of 2008, but nearly doubled their inventories of real estate-owned properties over the course of the year as the companies eschewed short sales and seized properties faster than they could sell them."

Wall Street Journal - "How Your Home May Qualify for Bailout Cash" (3-18-09)

"Potentially lucrative new and expanded tax incentives for energy-efficient and renewable-energy home improvements may offer some consolation to homeowners who feel they are falling between the cracks with the government's various economic stimulus efforts. They include up to $1,500 in tax credits for adding qualifying windows, doors, insulation, roofs, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters and even wood and pellet stoves to your house in 2009 and 2010. Perks for installing pricier solar technology, small wind-energy systems or a geothermal-well system include a tax credit of 30% of qualifying expenditures with no upper limit through 2016."

Wall Street Journal - "Cracking a Valuable Homebuyer Credit" (3-18-09)

"The recently enacted economic-stimulus law contains an unusually attractive new tax break for many homebuyers -- if they can only figure out how it works. The new law sweetens a provision known as the 'first-time homebuyer credit.' In essence, if you meet certain qualifications, such as buying a home from Jan. 1 through Nov. 30 this year, you may be eligible for a tax credit of as much as $8,000. You also have a choice of claiming the credit on your federal income-tax return for 2008 or 2009."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Bank opens 'homeownership centers' to help" (3-18-09)

"The center, located in a bank basement, is staffed with counselors who meet one-on-one with Chase, WaMu or EMC customers at risk for foreclosure, collect their financial information, send it to bank number-crunchers and notify the customers within 30 days if they qualify for modifications to make their loans more affordable. Chase is opening the centers in areas rife with delinquent mortgages. It plans to have two dozen nationwide by April, including one in Santa Clara and seven more elsewhere in California."

The Press Enterprise - "Inland counties' plans to use federal funds for housing relief put in place" (3-18-09)

Riverside County will spend almost $49 million and San Bernardino will use nearly $23 million for neighborhood stabilization programs. Both counties say they will immediately begin work and start accepting applications from qualified homebuyers seeking assistance."

CNN - "
Building in a bear market" (3-18-09)

"The pace of homebuilding stepped up in February, an unusual bit of good news in the devastated housing market. The number of housing permits issued and homes starting construction both rose at an annualized rate of 547,000 and 583,000, respectively. However, they were still off nearly 50% compared with February a year ago. Meanwhile, the inventory of existing homes for sale is at a 10-month supply, and sales of both new and existing homes are at their lowest levels in years. So why are homes still being built at all?"

Bloomberg - "GE Capital Loss Lurking in Moscow Loans, U.S. Cards" (3-18-09)

Sixteen months into a global recession triggered by a jump in defaults by U.S. home-loan borrowers, some investors doubt GE has a handle on GE Capital’s far-flung operations. Those include the world’s largest store-name credit card business and lending in Russia, where late mortgage payments to the company rose 28 percent in the fourth quarter. GE’s stock slumped 61 percent since Sept. 15. GE Capital, the world’s largest non-bank finance company with consolidated assets of $637 billion, accounted for $8.6 billion, or 48 percent, of the Fairfield, Connecticut-based parent’s $18.1 billion profit from continuing operations last year. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt has said he wants the division to contribute about 30 percent of annual profit."

Orange County Register - "Fed tosses billions more at housing" (3-18-09)

"To provide greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the Committee decided today to increase the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet further by purchasing up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities, bringing its total purchases of these securities to up to $1.25 trillion this year, and to increase its purchases of agency debt this year by up to $100 billion to a total of up to $200 billion."

Orange County Register - "Brokers’ O.C. home sales worth 5% more in 2009" (3-18-09)

"The Southern California Multiple Listing Service reports that revenue generated by home sales in the first two months of the year was up 5% from the first two months of 2008. If the trend holds, 2009 will be the first year since 2005 to see a year-over-year increase in revenue. February was the sixth straight month in which Orange County homebuyers collectively paid more than buyers did the year before. Although February sales revenue was up $14 million from February 2008, it was the smallest percentage gain since revenues began to increase in September."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NAHB - "Housing Starts Regain Some Ground In February" (3-17-09)

"Nationwide housing starts turned upward for the first time in eight months this February, posting a 22.2 percent gain that was due primarily to a big bump on the often-volatile multifamily side, according to numbers released from the U.S. Commerce Department today."

DQNews - "Southland home sales outpace last year again; median price steady" (3-17-09)

"A total of 15,231 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was essentially unchanged from 15,227 for January, and up 41.3 percent from 10,777 for February 2008, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego."

CNN - "Housing starts unexpectedly surge" (3-17-09)

"Initial construction of U.S. homes unexpectedly surged in February, after falling for eight months, according to a government report released Tuesday. Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 last month, up 22% from a revised 477,000 in January, according to the Commerce Department. It was the first time housing starts increased since June, when they rose 11%."

Inman - "Builder confidence remains near record low" (3-17-09)

"Builder confidence remained steady in March, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)-Wells Fargo Housing Market Index report released Monday. A rating below 50 signals builders view sales conditions as poor -- the index stood at 9 for March -- it was the fifth straight month the overall index has held steady. The index hit a record low at 8 in January."

Bloomberg - "Bernanke May Need to Ramp Up Fed’s Asset Purchases" (3-17-09)

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Federal Reserve policy makers may have to ramp up their purchases of mortgage securities and other assets after the economy and job market deteriorated further since they last met. The Federal Open Market Committee, gathering today and tomorrow in Washington, needs to redouble its efforts after the central bank’s balance sheet shrank 17 percent from a $2.3 trillion December peak, Fed watchers said. The retreat came even as Bernanke acknowledged the chance that the unemployment rate will exceed 10 percent for the first time in a quarter century"

Bloomberg - "U.S. Bailouts Add to Risk of Depression, Rogers Says" (3-17-09)

The U.S. risks sending the world into a depression as its bailouts of failed companies rob healthy businesses of capital, investor Jim Rogers said. 'The U.S. is taking assets from competent people and giving them to incompetent people,' said Rogers, chairman of Singapore-based Rogers Holdings"

Bloomberg - "Thornburg Considers Bankruptcy, MatlinPatterson Says" (3-17-09)

Thornburg Mortgage Inc., the jumbo mortgage lender trying to restructure its debt, is considering options that include bankruptcy, according to MatlinPatterson Global Advisers LLC, formerly the company’s biggest shareholder."

Inman - "MARI: Mortgage fraud at 'all-time high'" (3-17-09)

"Reported incidents of mortgage fraud rose 26 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to a new report by the industry group Mortgage Asset Research Institute, or MARI. Application fraud was the most commonly reported type of fraud, representing 61 percent of all cases. Fraud related to tax returns and financial statements was up 60 percent from 2007, representing about one in four reported cases."

Monday, March 16, 2009

NAHB - "Builder Sentiment Unchanged In March" (3-16-09)

"Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes remained unchanged in March as economic woes continued to take their toll on potential buyers, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI held steady at 9 in March, marking a fifth consecutive month of single-digit readings."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "Property taxes to increase despite falling home values" (3-16-09)

"The county assessor's office predicts that property taxes will increase this year for 75 percent of homes and other properties. That would produce a projected $91 million in additional revenue to the county, cities, school districts and other jurisdictions."

Inman News - "Real estate's February report card" (3-16-09)

"Since we began tracking the data for the major metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in 1981, there has never been a better time to buy a home. The median-income household needs only 27 percent of their income (an all-time low) to qualify for the median-priced home, and that household is also only paying 3.3 times their income for the house (3.1 is the all-time low)."

CNN - "Mortgage fraud at an all-time high" (3-16-09)

"The number of reported incidents of mortgage fraud has reached an all-time high even as the number of home loans being issued has shrunk, according to a report released Monday. Cases of reported fraud surged 26% from 2007 to 2008, according to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), a LexisNexis Service, which compiled the report for the Mortgage Banker's Association"

Bloomberg - "Retail REITs Have Further to Fall as Stores Struggle" (3-16-09)

There’s little relief in store for investors in U.S. shopping center and mall landlords even after the shares plummeted 80 percent from their February 2007 highs. 'REITs are cheap but they’re going to continue to be cheap,' said Marc Halle, managing director of Prudential Real Estate Investors in Parsippany, New Jersey, whose firm manages about $32.5 billion in real estate assets. 'We’re going to see increased corporate bankruptcies and continued unemployment for the next few months'"

Orange County Register - "10,000 more O.C. real estate/finance jobs gone" (3-16-09)

"Initially, we thought that real estate and finance bosses trimmed 30,000 jobs between 2006 and 2008 — a 11% drop. But now we learn the two-year drop was 10,000 bodies worse than first feared — making it a 14% tumble."

The Wall Street Journal - "U.S. to Toughen Finance Rules" (3-16-09)

"The Obama administration, moving with increasing speed, has inked the main contours of its plan to revamp financial-market oversight -- changes that will ripple through the economy, affecting everything from the operations of international banks to consumer protection. The principles include giving the Federal Reserve new powers that include authority to monitor and address broad risks across the economy, say people familiar with the matter. The proposals are expected to include tougher capital requirements for big banks and authority for regulators to take over a large financial firm that is failing."

Inman - "Search for bottom offers peek into abyss" (3-16-09)

"The Treasury this week effortlessly raked in $64 billion by selling long-term debt, and mortgage markets stayed about the same, just under 5 percent. The outside world may choke on our paper someday, but not when its economies are failing faster than ours. German orders for manufactured goods in January fell 38 percent from the prior year, its exports down 21 percent. China is trying domestic stimulus but lives on exports, which are dropping at a 40 percent annual pace, its trade surplus down 87 percent."

Realty Times - "How Much Does a Foreclosure Cost?" (3-16-09)

"According to a report by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, the average foreclosure cost amount to about $151,000, with several parties picking up the tab"

Realty Times - "Five Ways to Wow Buyers" (3-16-09)

"Crown molding and wider baseboards. Some homeowners are shy to experiment with this, especially if they live in a small home, but it can be very attractive in any size home. Wider baseboard. The measly baseboard that builders often use in tract homes doesn’t draw attention. Adding a wider baseboard and a fresh coat of paint makes the room come to life. Also, framing windows and doors helps complete the look of a room."

Friday, March 13, 2009

CBIA - "California New Home Market Continued at a Crawl in January, CBIA Announces" (3-13-09)

"Clearly demonstrating the need for the state and federal tax credits that were enacted in February, the pace of home sales at California new-home communities continued to crawl during January, the California Building Industry Association reported today. Robert Rivinius, CBIA’s President and CEO, said anecdotal reports for the first two weeks of March – after the $10,000 state tax credit for the purchase of a newly built home went into effect – indicate a jump in sales, and said he hopes the dismal sales figures from January mark the bottom of the current housing cycle."

Reuters - "BofA seeks more jumbo mortgages: report" (3-13-09)

"Bank of America Corp is seeking to produce more 'jumbo' mortgages, which can range from $417,000 in most areas to as much as $729,750, Barbara Desoer, the bank's head of mortgage, home equity and insurance services told Bloomberg in an interview."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Household Net Worth Had Record Decline in Fourth Quarter" (3-13-09)

U.S. household wealth fell by a record $5.1 trillion from October to December, almost twice the decrease in the previous quarter, as home values and stock prices plunged, Federal Reserve figures showed."

Bloomberg - "Fed Program to Spur Loans May Start With Few Deals" (3-13-09)

The Federal Reserve’s program to revive the market for securities backed by consumer loans may start with just a handful of deals, according to participants in the preparations, delaying its prospects of easing the credit crunch. Today, the Fed delayed by two days the March 17 deadline for submissions of proposed packages of debt that investors can buy with Fed financing. No agreements have been announced yet for proposed securities. Brokers and investors have had difficulty agreeing over contract terms for the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the people said."

CNN - "One reason you can't get a mortgage" (3-13-09)

"The main tool in the appraiser's kit is the sale prices of homes in the area. If they can find similar houses nearby in similar condition that sold recently for, say, $300,000, they can assume that the home they are appraising is worth a comparable amount. But with sales volume falling, there are fewer homes with which to compare. In fact, sales of new homes crashed in January to the lowest level in 45 years, and existing home sales fell to a 12-year low."

Bloomberg - "Regulators ‘Working Hard’ to Cut Mortgage Rates, Lockhart Says" (3-13-09)

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart, who oversees mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said he is 'working hard' with other federal regulators to push home-loan interest rates down"

Bloomberg - "Bank of America Says ‘Thank Goodness’ for Countrywide" (3-13-09)

Bank of America Corp.’s mortgage- origination business, the largest in the U.S., is booming after the purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp. and as lower loan rates push a wave of refinancing, the unit’s chief said."

Los Angeles Times - "California budget faces new $8-billion shortfall" (3-13-09)

"The state budget package that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed last month to fill California's giant budget hole has already fallen out of balance, with plummeting revenue creating a new shortfall of $8 billion in just the few weeks since the spending plan was passed, the Legislature's chief budget analyst said in a report this morning."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NAHB - "Mortgage And Financial Markets Continue To Slow Housing Activity, Builders Testify" (3-12-09)

"The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress that the housing sector is still being significantly affected by the upheaval in the financial and mortgage markets that started in 2007, and there is deep concern that these financial dislocations will increase the depth and length of the housing downturn."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Credit Markets and Economy Add Pressure to Commercial Mortgage Performance" (3-12-09)

The weakening economy and continued credit crunch contributed to increases in commercial/multifamily mortgage delinquencies during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Commercial/Multifamily Delinquency Report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)."

The Press Enterprise - "
Riverside/San Bernardino counties ranked sixth nationwide in foreclosures" (3-12-09)

Riverside/San Bernardino in February ranked sixth among the nation's metropolitan areas in rate of foreclosure activity, with one foreclosure related filing for every 80 homes. The two counties combined had 18,040 filings, up 63 percent from 11,066 filings in February, 2008."

Bloomberg - "
Homeowners See U.S. Taxes Rise as Property Values Sink Amid Deficits" (3-12-09)

Municipal finance officers budgeted for a 3.6 percent drop in revenue from residential taxes this fiscal year, a survey by the U.S. League of Cities in September shows. With home prices down 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the most ever for an index compiled by the National Association of Realtors, cities and counties are compensating with higher tax rates or appraisals, even where laws cap property-tax growth."

Bloomberg - "Foreclosure Filings in U.S. Jumped 30% in February" (3-12-09)

Foreclosure filings in the U.S. climbed 30 percent in February from a year earlier as the worsening economy thwarted efforts by the government and lenders to prevent homeowners from losing property, RealtyTrac Inc. said. A total of 290,631 homes received a default or auction notice or were seized by the lender, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said in a statement today. Properties that got a foreclosure filing for the first time totaled 161,976, the highest in RealtyTrac records dating to January 2005."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Rates in U.S. Drop to 5.03%, Freddie Reports" (3-12-09)

The rate dropped to 5.03 percent from 5.15 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer, said today. It dipped to 4.96 percent the week of Jan. 15, the lowest since Freddie began keeping track."

Bloomberg - "Freddie Dividends to Treasury May Bury Future Profits" (3-12-09)

Freddie Mac, the U.S. mortgage- finance company seized by regulators six months ago, said it needs more financial help from the government and raised doubts about its ability to become profitable again. Freddie’s decision yesterday to tap an additional $31 billion in aid in return for preferred stock will raise its annual dividend payment to the Treasury to $4.6 billion, a figure the McLean, Virginia-based company said may be beyond its means."

Orange County Register - "Just 4% of O.C. office space seen as distressed" (3-12-09)

"13.4% of O.C. office space was empty in December. Yes, that’s roughly equal to 1-in-7 buildings. But 12 markets had higher vacancy rates among the top 50. (U.S. average? 11.8%)"

Orange County Register - "Biggest home-price gainers now biggest losers" (3-12-09)

"The hottest housing markets during the housing boom tended to be the biggest losers when the bubble burst, a new study of Southern California communities shows. Nine of Orange County’s top 10 losers were among the top 12 gainers during the run-up to price peaks, according to a Concord Group analysis of DataQuick housing figures"

Orange County Register - "Bank of America operates in the black" (3-12-09)

"The bank’s stock rose for a fourth straight day in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, advancing 71 cents, or 14 percent, to $5.64 at 3:05 p.m. Lewis said in today’s speech he expects revenue to top $100 billion this year."

Inman - "Coldwell Banker boosts M&A in '08" (3-12-09)

"Coldwell Banker, an international real estate franchise company that is a part of Realogy Corp., reported that 96 affiliates expanded through mergers and acquisitions activity in 2008"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (3-11-09)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 6, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 723.4, an increase of 11.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 649.7 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 11.6 percent compared with the previous week and 5.7 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The Wall Street Journal - "Housing Plan Creates Opening for Scammers" (3-11-09)

"President Barack Obama's foreclosure-prevention plan, announced last week, is designed to give several million troubled borrowers another chance to lower their mortgage payments. But government officials and counseling agencies warn that it also presents a golden opportunity for firms to fleece unsuspecting borrowers."

The Wall Street Journal - "State Housing Agencies Get Caught in Credit Crunch" (3-11-09)

"The credit crunch has claimed another group of victims: housing-finance agencies operated by state governments that cater to first-time homeowners. All states have housing-finance agencies, which either originate mortgage loans to state residents or guarantee loans made by lenders. In 2007, state housing agencies issued $17 billion in bonds that funded 126,611 mortgages. In 2008, some agencies were on track to exceed 2007's levels, until September when the credit markets froze."

Bloomberg - "Fed’s Rate Policy Didn’t Cause Housing Bubble, Greenspan Says" (3-11-09)

"The U.S. Federal Reserve’s 'easy money' policies during the first part of this decade didn’t cause the housing bubble, former Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote in the Wall Street Journal."

Bloomberg - "Hovnanian February Sales Hit 6-Month High, Chief Says" (3-11-09)

"Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., New Jersey’s largest homebuilder, rose as much as 27 percent after Chief Executive Officer Ara Hovnanian said the company contracted to sell 506 houses last month, the most in six months."

Orange County Register - "More O.C. borrowers ignore credit-card bill" (3-11-09)

"TransUnion reports the 90-day delinquency ratio for credit card holders in Orange County increased to 1.23 percent at end of 2008 from 1.03 percent in September and 1.16 percent a year earlier."

Orange County Register - "The other shoe dropping on banks" (3-11-09)

"as these loans are old-fashioned and concentrated in smaller banks, their fate is particularly interesting as it indicates that issues with the banking system go far deeper than the so-called 'toxic assets' belonging to the largest lenders that have thus far gotten most of the attention and government aid."