Friday, May 29, 2009

NAR - "First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit for Closing Will Move Market" (5-29-09)

"Consumers across the country can now take advantage of a Federal Housing Administration program to allow qualified home buyers to apply the $8,000 tax credit when purchasing a home. FHA will now permit its lenders to provide a short-term bridge loan that will let qualified home buyers use the tax credit to either make a larger downpayment above the FHA required 3.5 percent, cover closing costs, or buy down their interest rate."

CAR - "Buyers put a dent in inventories" (5-29-09)

The inventory of homes for sale fell 11.7 percent in April compared to a year ago, to 8.1 months, according to a survey by the Associated Press and RE/MAX International. All but nine of 55 markets surveyed saw sales increase from March to April, RE/MAX said, with the largest increases in markets that have seen the greatest price declines. Sales were up 84.9 percent from a year ago in Las Vegas, 79.4 percent in Phoenix, 56.2 percent in Miami, and 47.2 percent in Los Angeles."

Wall Street Journal - "Housing Picture Brightens in California" (5-29-09)

"California's median price for existing homes rose 1.4% in April from March, marking the second consecutive monthly increase in housing prices and prompting some industry officials to declare that the state's long swoon in housing values could be at or near the bottom. California's housing market is being closely watched as a barometer of the economy -- it is the nation's largest. Prices soared during the boom, but the collapse of housing prices has pummeled homeowners and helped send foreclosures skyrocketing. Any sign of recovery would be taken as a sign that the market is bottoming."

Bloomberg - "Bernanke Bid to Lift Housing Scuttled by Rising Rates" (5-29-09)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s efforts to bring down borrowing costs to revive the housing market and help the economy are stalling. Mortgage rates are almost back to where they were in March before the 30-year rate fell to a record and sparked a refinancing boom. Mortgage delinquencies rose to a record 9.12 percent of U.S. home loans and house prices dropped the most on record in the first quarter, industry reports show."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Banks Have $168 Billion Reason to Avoid PPIP" (5-29-09)

U.S. banks have a $168 billion reason to shun a government program designed to strip toxic loans from their books. That’s how much lenders could lose if the banks sell loans into the Public-Private Investment Partnership at market prices instead of their balance-sheet valuation, based on estimates in regulatory filings. It would erase the $75 billion that banks were told to raise by the Federal Reserve to withstand a deeper recession"

Bloomberg - "Starbucks Pushing Landlords for 25% Cut in Cafe Rents" (5-29-09)

Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop operator, is pushing some U.S. landlords for as much as a 25 percent reduction in lease rates, taking advantage of a declining real estate market to save on rent"

Bloomberg - "Mortgage-Bond Yields Tumble, Signaling Lower Home-Loan Rates" (5-29-09)

"Yields on Washington-based Fannie Mae’s current-coupon 30- year fixed-rate mortgage securities declined 0.23 percentage point today to 4.33 percent as of 4:30 p.m. in New York, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Even with today’s drop the yield is up from 3.94 percent on May 20. Increases this week, spurred in part by a jump in Treasury yields, at one point were as big as any since 1984 in percentage terms."

Bloomberg - "Weyerhaeuser Says REIT Conversion ‘Unlikely’ in 2009" (5-29-09)

Weyerhaeuser Co., the largest U.S. lumber producer, said it probably won’t convert to a real estate investment trust, or REIT, this year because low timber prices would make the change of little value."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wall Street Journal - "California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs" (5-28-09)

"As California seeks more funds from its cash-strapped cities and counties to close a $21 billion budget deficit, some state legislators are pushing a plan that could compound municipalities' pain by making it tougher for them to file for bankruptcy. The bill would require a California municipality seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to first obtain approval from a state commission. That contrasts with the state's current bankruptcy process, which allows municipalities to speedily declare bankruptcy without any state oversight so that they can quickly restructure their finances. The bill, introduced in January, has passed one committee vote and could reach a final vote by mid-July."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Delinquencies and Foreclosures Continue to Climb in Latest MBA National Delinquency Survey" (5-28-09)

According the MBA’s National Delinquency Survey, the delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties was 8.22 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, down 41 basis points from 8.63 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Delinquency rates always decline in the first quarter of the year due to a variety of seasonal factors. After accounting for these factors, the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate was 9.12 percent of all loans outstanding as of the end of the first quarter of 2009, up 124 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2008, and up 277 basis points from one year ago."

Bloomberg - "
New-Home Sales in U.S. Climbed 0.3% to 352,000 Pace" (5-28-09)

Purchases of new homes in the U.S. rose in April for the second time in three months as lower prices and cheaper financing stabilized demand. Sales increased 0.3 percent to an annual pace of 352,000, lower than forecast, after a 351,000 rate in March, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median sales price decreased 15 percent from April 2008, while the number of homes on the market fell to the lowest level in almost eight years."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Rates Rise for 30-Year U.S Fixed Loans" (5-28-09)

Fixed mortgage rates for 30-year U.S. home loans climbed to the highest since March as the Federal Reserve’s plan to lower the cost of home loans flagged. The average rate rose to 4.91 percent from 4.82 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer, said today in a statement. The 15-year rate averaged 4.53 percent, up from 4.5 percent."

Bloomberg - "Jumping Mortgage Rates Cloud ‘Risk Appetite’ Return" (5-28-09)

A jump in interest rates on typical new U.S. mortgages to the highest since February may end a 'two-month-old rebound in risk appetite,' according to Credit Suisse Group analysts."

CAR - "April sales and price report" (5-28-09)

C.A.R. reports April home sales increased 49.2 percent, median home price declined 36.5 percent"

Los Angeles Times - "
Stocks fall after lackluster rise in home sales" (5-28-09)

"In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 44.05, or 0.5 percent, to 8,255.97. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.07, or 0.3 percent, to 889.99, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 9.63, or 0.6 percent, to 1,721.45"

Inman - "FTC shuts down mortgage 'rescue' firms" (5-28-09)

"The managers of two California-based companies are accused of collecting at least $3.3 million from Spanish-speaking homeowners without following through on promises to help them negotiate loan modifications with lenders to avoid foreclosure."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NAR - "Existing-Home Sales Rise in April" (5-27-09)

"Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised pace of 4.55 million units in March, but were 3.5 percent below the 4.85 million-unit level in April 2008."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Refinance Activity Falls, Purchase Applications Steady in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (5-27-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 22, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 786.0, a decrease of 14.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 915.9 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 13.8 percent compared with the previous week and increased 28.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Bloomberg - "
U.S. Home Price Declines Slowed in First Quarter" (5-27-09)

The average price of a U.S. home fell 7.1 percent in the first quarter, slower than the fourth quarter’s 8.3 percent drop that was the largest on record, the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Washington said today."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage-Bond Yields Jump, Jeopardizing Fed’s Housing Effort" (5-27-09)

Yields on Washington-based Fannie Mae’s current-coupon 30- year fixed-rate mortgage bonds climbed to 4.51 percent as of 2:17 p.m. in New York, the highest since Dec. 5 and up from 3.94 percent on May 20, data compiled by Bloomberg show"

Bloomberg - "U.S. Commercial-Mortgage Defaults Set to Increase, Reis Says" (5-27-09)

Delinquency and default rates for securitized loans on office, retail, industrial, apartment and hotel properties are likely to rise above 6 percent by the end of the year from a weighted average of 1.76 percent in the first quarter, said the New York-based provider of property data. Those rates climbed from 1.14 percent in the fourth quarter and 0.8 percent in the third quarter. CMBS loans represent about 21 percent of the $3.5 trillion commercial real-estate debt market, Reis said."

Inman - "'Junk' fee or necessity?" (5-27-09)

"In what's become standard practice at a growing number of real estate brokerages, homebuyers and sellers are being asked to pay flat fees of several hundred dollars per transaction on top of the percentage-based commissions they've traditionally been assessed. The fees can come as an unpleasant surprise to consumers, and some have charged that they violate federal law. Many real estate agents don't like the flat fees, either -- in most cases, they don't receive a cut, and some end up paying them out of their own commissions."

Inman - "Site dishes out distressed property data" (5-27-09)

" provides information on about 2.3 million foreclosure, preforeclosure, bankruptcy, for-sale-by-owner and tax-lien properties in the United States, according to the Web site. The site obtains its information from lenders, government agencies and corporate sellers. Users can search for properties by property type, ZIP code, city and county"

Realty Times - "Millions of Foreclosures, More Renters and Multi-Family Sales" (5-27-09)

"In essence, the multi-family market is benefitting from the downturn of the general market. This means that educated agents in the field of multi-family homes are reaping large gains. Agents today seeking to learn all that they need to know about multi-family properties are earning the 'Multi-Family Specialist®' real estate designation. They are choosing to earn this certification so that they can react intelligently to the positive turn in the multi-family marketplace."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bloomberg - "Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Fall More Than Forecast" (5-26-09)

"Home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas fell more than forecast in March as foreclosures surged, threatening to extend the housing slump. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index decreased 18.7 percent from March 2008, matching the drop in the year ended in February. The measure declined 19 percent in January, the most since data began in 2001."

Bloomberg - "Housing Hitting Bottom Means Fewest Starts Since 1945" (5-26-09)

"The slump in the U.S. housing market that caused the median value of homes to decline 24 percent since 2006 may bottom next month without any prospect of a rebound for another year, according to estimates from chief economists at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association and national realtors and homebuilder groups."

Orange County Register - "Banks to earn billions from bad-loan accounting" (5-26-09)

"JPMorgan Chase & Co. stands to reap a $29 billion windfall thanks to an accounting rule that lets the second-biggest U.S. bank transform bad loans it purchased from Washington Mutual Inc. into income. Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. are also poised to benefit from taking over home lenders Wachovia Corp., Countrywide Financial Corp. and National City Corp., regulatory filings show. The deals provide a combined $56 billion in so-called accretable yield, the difference between the value of the loans on the banks’ balance sheets and the cash flow they’re expected to produce."

Orange County Register - "Slump cuts 32,300 O.C. construction jobs" (5-26-09)

"Orange County building industry has lost 32,300 construction jobs from the September 2007 peak — or 29%. The last time there were this few construction jobs in the country? May 2002."

Realty Times - "Washington Report: Obama Signs Bills" (5-26-09)

"Last week alone President Obama signed two major bills into law. The first is intended to combat widespread mortgage fraud. It authorizes nearly half a billion dollars for the federal government to hire new prosecutors targeting mortgage fraud, and to beef up Secret Service, U.S. Postal Service and HUD fraud investigation capabilities."

Realty Times - "Real Estate Outlook: Recovery Underway" (5-26-09)

"The facts are that the Commerce Department found that apartment starts -- new multifamily units -- took a drop in April, but starts of new single family homes were up by 3 percent, and permits for future construction of detached single family homes jumped by nearly 4 percent. That's the second straight month of increases. Home builders themselves are seeing a turnaround -- more shoppers in their models and showrooms, more contracts, fewer cancellations."

Realty Times - "Seniors Only: Surviving the Economic Crisis with a Reverse Mortgage" (5-26-09)

"HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) created one of the first reverse mortgage programs, called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). With HUD's HECM , homeowners don't have to repay the 'loan' as long as one or more of the borrowers continues to live in the home and is able to keep the property taxes and homeowner insurance current. The initial loan is calculated based on life expectancy tables known as actuarial tables. Even if the homeowner outlives the statistical estimate, they will not have a mortgage payment."
New York Times - "Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure" (5-24-09)

"In the latest phase of the nation’s real estate disaster, the locus of trouble has shifted from subprime loans — those extended to home buyers with troubled credit — to the far more numerous prime loans issued to those with decent financial histories. With many economists anticipating that the unemployment rate will rise into the double digits from its current 8.9 percent, foreclosures are expected to accelerate. That could exacerbate bank losses, adding pressure to the financial system and the broader economy."

Wall Street Journal - "Don't Monetize the Debt" (5-24-09)

"Mr. Fisher acknowledges that events in the financial markets last year required some unusual Fed action in the commercial lending market. But he says the longer-term debt, particularly the Treasurys, is making investors nervous. The looming challenge, he says, is to reassure markets that the Fed is not going to be 'the handmaiden' to fiscal profligacy. 'I think the trick here is to assist the functioning of the private markets without signaling in any way, shape or form that the Federal Reserve will be party to monetizing fiscal largess, deficits or the stimulus program.'"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Los Angeles Times - "Mortgage rates likely to remain stable for rest of year, analysts say" (5-22-09)

" said its weekly national survey taken Wednesday showed an uptick in rates, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to 5.24% from 5.21%. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage carried a 0.43 discount and origination points."

Bloomberg - "TARP Warrants Shows Banks May Reap ‘Ruthless Bargain’" (5-22-09)

Banks negotiating to reclaim stock warrants they granted in return for Troubled Asset Relief Program money may shortchange taxpayers by almost $10 billion if Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s first sale sets the pace, data compiled by Bloomberg show. While 17 financial institutions have repaid TARP funds, only two have come to terms with the U.S. on the value of the rights to buy stock that taxpayers received for the risk of recapitalizing the industry. The first was Old National Bancorp in Evansville, Indiana, which gave the Treasury Department $1.2 million last week for warrants that may have been worth $5.81 million, according to the data."

Yahoo - "44 states lost jobs in April, led by California" (5-22-09)

"Forty-four states lost jobs in April, led by California where employers slashed 63,700 positions, as the recession took a further toll on U.S. workers. Trailing California in over-the-month job losses were: Texas, which saw 39,500 jobs vanish; Michigan, which lost 38,400 jobs; and Ohio, where payrolls fell 25,200, according to a U.S. Labor Department report issued Friday."

Real Estate Journal - "Recession Turns Malls Into Ghost Towns" (5-22-09)

"In the 12 months ended March 31, U.S. malls collectively posted a 6.5% decline in tenants' same-store sales, according to Green Street Advisors Inc., a real-estate research firm. The recent slump was led by an average 7.3% sales drop at Simon Property Group Inc., the operator with the largest number of mall locations."

Inman - "Trust can mend broker-agent relationship" (5-22-09)

"In San Francisco, we expect sales to be down about 20 percent year over year, with prices down about 25 percent. In other parts of the Bay Area that have been in a declining market for several years -- like Oakland -- we expect a bottoming out, with prices down about 50 percent but sales up about 100 percent"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DQNews - "Bay Area home sales rise again; median price up slightly over March" (5-21-09)

"Bay Area home sales posted a year-over-year gain for the eighth consecutive month in April, with robust sales in lower-cost inland areas once again compensating for anemic sales on the coast. The median price paid, which is down 41.3 percent from a year ago, edged slightly above the prior month for the first time since fall 2007, a real estate information service reported."

CNN - "Renewed HOPE for Homeowners" (5-21-09)

"One of the biggest disappointments of the foreclosure prevention fight has been HOPE for Homeowners, a plan Congress passed in an attempt to help as many as 400,000 underwater, delinquent borrowers from going into foreclosure."

Bloomberg - "Mortgage Rates Fall in U.S. for 30-Year Fixed Loans" (5-21-09)

The average rate for a 30-year loan fell to 4.82 percent from 4.86 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer, said today in a statement. The 15-year rate averaged 4.50 percent, down from 4.52 percent."

Orange County Register - "Ditech owner may get more bailout money" (5-21-09)

"The Wall Street Journal reports GMAC LLC, owner of Costa Mesa-based, is poised to get $7 billion more from the Treasury Department, the first installment of an aid deal that could reach $14 billion."

Orange County Register - "11 more Irvine homes are headed to auction" (5-21-09)

"Eleven more Irvine homes are now in default on loans and scheduled to go to auction, according to legal notices printed May 21. Here is a sampling of some of the properties in default"

Orange County Register - "O.C. buyers shun adjustable mortgages" (5-21-09)

"One of the most stunning trends within recent Orange County homebuying turmoil has been the virtual elimination of adjustable-rate mortgages (or ARMs, in banker lingo) as a tool in purchasing a home. According to DataQuick, 2.5% of Orange County home purchases financed in April had variable-rate mortgages of some sort. It’s the 5th consecutive months where the adjustable share was under 3%. Compare that to the 4 years ending in the summer of 2007 when every month adjustable-rate financings were involved in more than half of all purchases. Some months, ARM use exceeded 80 percent of all financings!"

Inman - "Much ado over IDX indexing" (5-21-09)

"The Internet Data Exchange (a real estate data exchange format, also known as IDX) solution that I am currently using is not being indexed by Google, but some of my competitors are using indexed solutions. Yet, when I Google the address for a property I have listed, information about the property comes up. For one address I found seven references -- all on page one and in positions two through eight in Google's search results. A Google Maps results will always comes up in the top position. Anyone who is using Google to search for homes by property address is going to instantly find several links to my listings and all of the information about them, and they will find me, too."

Inman - "Survey: Foreclosures seen as bargains" (5-21-09)

"A growing number of would-be homebuyers see foreclosed homes as bargains and are willing to consider purchasing one, according to an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Trulia Inc. and RealtyTrac Inc.Among the 2,397 adults surveyed between May 1-5, 40 percent said they would expect to pay at least 50 percent less for a foreclosed home, compared with 31 percent of those surveyed in a previous survey in November."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NAR - "Commercial Real Estate Hurt by Credit Crunch and Weak Economy" (5-20-09)

"The general economic downturn, complicated by a severe credit crunch in commercial real estate, is dampening commercial real estate activity. In addition, a forward-looking index shows the forecast for commercial real estate sectors will remain weak for the remainder of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors®."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (5-20-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 15, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 915.9, an increase of 2.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 895.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 2.0 percent compared with the previous week and increased 42.0 percent compared with the same week one year earlier. "

Los Angeles Times - "
Congress passes bill to help stem foreclosures" (5-20-09)

"Congress on Tuesday sent the president legislation that encourages banks to spare homeowners from foreclosure after the industry helped scuttle a tougher measure that would have forced lenders to reduce monthly payments of owners in bankruptcy. The House voted 367 to 54 to pass the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. The Senate had voted 91 to 5 in favor of the bill and approved the final version by unanimous consent."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Fed sees hopeful signs but downgrades `09 forecast" (5-20-09)

"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues continue to believe that business sales and factory production will begin to recover gradually during the second half of this year as President Barack Obama's stimulus package and the Fed's aggressive efforts to lift the country out of recession take hold. They also pointed to signs that the recession's grip was easing in the current quarter, according to documents released Wednesday."

Bloomberg - "California Confronts Growing Cash Crisis After Defeat" (5-20-09)

California is on the verge of running out of cash for the second time this year after a ballot measure defeat yesterday added $6 billion to the budget deficit of the most-populous U.S. state."

Bloomberg - "Geithner Says Toxic-Asset Plan to Start in Six Weeks" (5-20-09)

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said policy makers plan by early July to begin helping banks dispose of illiquid assets, in the U.S. government’s next step to end the worst credit crisis in decades."

Bloomberg - "General Growth Won’t Sell at Discount, Taubman Says" (5-20-09)

General Growth Properties Inc., the mall owner that filed the biggest real-estate bankruptcy in U.S. history, may not have to sell any malls at discounted prices, said the head of rival Taubman Centers Inc."

Bloomberg - "Toll Second-Quarter Revenue Declines on Housing Slump" (5-20-09)

Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. builder of luxury homes, said fiscal second-quarter revenue fell 51 percent as banks cut lending and demand for new homes sagged."

Bloomberg - "Tishman Seeks Buyer for Five California Buildings" (5-20-09)

Tishman Speyer Properties LP, the real estate developer that owns Rockefeller Center, is seeking a buyer for five California office buildings at a time when values have fallen 30 percent in the past two years."

Bloomberg - "Insurers Face ‘Pain’ From Commercial Loans, S&P Says" (5-20-09)

U.S. life insurers, a group led by MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc., face 'pain' on more than $300 billion invested in mortgages tied to commercial property and multifamily homes, Standard & Poor’s said."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NAHB - "Single-Family Starts And Permits Edge Higher In April" (5-19-09)

"Production of single-family homes edged upward in April as builders responded to improving conditions for new-home buyers, according to newly released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department. While overall starts fell 12.8 percent to a record-low seasonally adjusted annual pace of 458,000 units, the decline was entirely confined to the multifamily sector, where production fell 46 percent to a 90,000-unit pace for the month, while single-family starts posted a 2.8 percent gain to 368,000 units."

DQNews - "Southland home sales hot inland, cool on coast; median price dips" (5-19-09)

"A total of 20,514 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the six-county Southland last month. That was up 5.2 percent from 19,506 in March and up 31.4 percent from 15,615 a year ago, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service."

Bloomberg - "House Passes Mortgage Bill, Expands FDIC Credit Line" (5-19-09)

The measure passed 367-54 today will more than triple the FDIC’s borrowing authority from Treasury to $100 billion with a $500 billion line of credit through 2010, according to a Democratic summary. The bill includes a so-called safe-harbor provision to help homeowners refinance by shielding loan- servicing companies from lawsuits if they modify a loan at risk of default. The Senate must pass the bill before it becomes law."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Economy: April Housing Starts Drop on Apartments" (5-19-09)

Housing starts unexpectedly slid 13 percent to an annual rate of 458,000, led by a 46 percent tumble in multifamily starts, which tend to be more volatile, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington. Building permits, a sign of future construction, fell 3.3 percent to a record low of 494,000."

Bloomberg - "Fed to Add Older CMBS to TALF Lending Program in July" (5-19-09)

The Federal Reserve will include legacy assets for the first time in a $1 trillion program to revive credit markets, expanding the effort to commercial real estate securities issued before the start of this year."

Orange County Register - "Banks seize fewest houses in 17 months" (5-19-09)

"Banks in April took 482 houses and condos in Orange County away from delinquent borrowers, the lowest total in 17 months and down 46 percent from a year ago. And lenders filed 2,947 notices of default, which initiate the foreclosure process, down 15 percent from March, but up 13 percent from a year ago."

Realty Times - "Washington Report: $8,000 Tax Credit" (5-19-09)

"Home builders and Realtors cheered in Washington last week when HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that FHA will allow lenders and government agencies to 'monetize' the $8,000 federal homebuyer tax credit, providing purchasers with downpayment cash upfront, available at closing, rather than waiting for the IRS to mail them a tax credit check."

Realty Times - "Teaching Homeowners the Importance of DTI Ratios" (5-19-09)

"Homeowners need to know that their debt-to-income (DTI) ratios are crucial to determining an affordable house payment. President Obama’s foreclosure prevention plan, for example, defines an affordable house payment as one that is no higher than 31 percent of the homeowner's front-end DTI. In other words, the house payment or PITIA (principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and any association fees) on the first mortgage cannot exceed 31 percent of the household's gross monthly income."

Monday, May 18, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle - "More high-end properties sitting on the market" (5-17-09)

"In the Bay Area, the months of unsold inventory of existing single-family homes priced above $1 million reached 14 months in March, more than double where it stood a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors. The statistic estimates the time it would take to sell all the homes on the market based on the current rate of transactions. In contrast, inventory of homes priced below $500,000 fell to just 2.6 months, a nearly 80 percent decline. The same general trends were seen on the state level as well."

Orange County Register - "Latest thing to buy online … a mortgage" (5-16-09)

"These days you can buy just about everything online, so why not mortgages? There are Web sites for big investors, but until now small investors have had to find loans other ways, says Jeff Freud, founder of Irvine-based LoanMarket Inc."

NAHB - "Builder Confidence Continues To Rise In May" (5-18-09)

"Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved for a second consecutive month in May to the highest level since September of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI rose two points to 16 this month."

Inman - "Jumbo lending crunch killing high-end sales" (5-18-09)

"The limited availability and high cost of 'jumbo' loans not backed by the government is taking a toll on sales of high-priced homes, a trend that's rippling through housing markets and the economy, according to a new research report by the National Association of Realtors. The report floats the idea of temporarily lifting the $729,750 conforming loan limit in place for high-cost markets, using government bailout money to expand jumbo lending, and encouraging more competition among lenders by facilitating warehouse lending to small- and medium-sized lenders."

CNN - "Treasury Dept. is giving 'cash-for-keys'" (5-18-09)

"When all else fails, the Treasury Department is now willing to cough up cash to get homeowners to move on and to get loan servicers to forgive mortgage debt. The new initiatives are part of the government's Making Home Affordable program. Under the original program, unveiled earlier this year, homeowners could be eligible for loan adjustments or refinancings if they meet several criteria: the home must be their primary residence, for example, and the mortgage balance must be no more than $729,750. "

CNN - "Mortgage rescue: Still more hurdles" (5-18-09)

"Loan servicers are overwhelmed by the flood of applications. Mortgage investors are angry about a congressional bill prohibiting them from suing servicers that modify loans. Foreclosures are rising as unemployment soars. Nearly three months after President Obama first announced his $75 billion mortgage rescue effort, his administration is still refining the program in hopes of reaching its goal to save 9 million homeowners from foreclosure."

Bloomberg - "Home Depot Retrains Store Workers in Turnaround Push" (5-18-09)

"Home Depot Inc., the largest home- improvement chain in the U.S., is waiting to see if its latest attempt to improve customer service pays off. All 300,000 employees took a mandatory crash course in helping customers earlier this year. The company is also on a two-year push to improve merchandising and modernize distribution. The goal is to cultivate happier shoppers who buy more paint and power tools."

Bloomberg - "Lowe’s Tops Analysts’ Estimates on Outdoor Products" (5-18-09)

"Lowe’s Cos., the second-largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, posted first-quarter earnings that fell less than analysts estimated, helped by sales of more- profitable shrubs and flowers. The shares gained. Sales of goods for smaller outdoor home-improvement projects accounted for 35 percent of revenue, Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock said today on a conference call with investors and analysts. The category outperformed indoor goods, he said."

Bloomberg - "Cities Ask Treasury for $5 Billion to Fund Public Bond Insurer" (5-18-09)

"The National League of Cities says it will ask the U.S. Treasury today for a $5 billion interest-free loan to capitalize a new municipal bond insurer it plans to create. The Issuers Mutual Bond Assurance Co. would be the first publicly owned U.S. financial guarantor. The $5 billion capitalization would make it the biggest in the industry, eclipsing MBIA Inc.’s capital base of $3.8 billion and the $1.1 billion of current market leader Assured Guaranty Inc."

Orange County Register - "Warning! Online rent scams grow" (5-18-09)

"It takes up-front cash to get a roof over your head. Most landlords want a security deposit, plus first- and last-month’s rent before letting you set foot into your new home. But what if the guy taking your money isn’t a real landlord? What if he’s an imposter? You pay your cash, then watch the faux landlord, and your money, do a vanishing act. The Federal Trade Commission recent ssued a warning that online rental listings often are ruses by fake landlords to filch your funds."

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Sacramento Bee - "Home Front: First-time buyers reap reward of median price in Sacramento County" (5-15-08)

"Only the high desert region of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley's Merced County – which has seen a median entry-level price tumble to an astonishing $89,040 – were more affordable than Sacramento County."

Washington Post - "Plan to Encourage Banks to Allow Short Sales" (5-15-09)

"The program, known as Making Home Affordable, focuses on paying lenders to modify distressed borrowers' loans to affordable levels. But under this expansion of the program, lenders can also receive incentive payments even if the homeowner's loan is not modified. In those cases, the lender could get up to $1,000 for allowing a short sale. In such deals, the lender accepts less than the value of the mortgage in what has usually been a time-consuming and cumbersome process. Under the plan, the government will also share the cost of extinguishing second liens on the property, such as those for second mortgages."

Inman - "Mortgage rates stable" (5-15-09)

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.86 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 14, 2009, up from 4.84 percent last week but down from 6.01 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.52 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from 4.51 percent last week but down from 5.6 percent a year ago."

North County Times - "HOUSING: No sign of foreclosures slowing" (5-15-09)

"Delinquency rates in the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area hit a staggering 15.7 percent ---- meaning borrowers on roughly one out of every six mortgages were at least 90 days late on their payments, according to the report by First American CoreLogic, a Santa Ana research firm"

Bloomberg - "Bernanke Says June Demand for TALF Loans May Top This Month’s" (5-15-09)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said demand for the central bank’s loans to buy asset- backed securities is likely to rise next month from May’s total as investors become more comfortable with the program."

Orange County Register - "O.C. homebuying surge near 10-month low" (5-15-09)

"Late April’s $376,000 median selling price is -24.8% vs. a year ago and -42% below June 2007’s Orange County peak of $645,000. Prices have been falling on a year-over-year basis since Sept. 2007 with the worst at -31.5% in August 2008."

Orange County Register - "Is ‘walking away’ from a home justified?" (5-15-09)

"I am not in favor of telling people to walk away from obligations, but I can understand that, if they don’t have any equity, why they might wish to. Before they do that, however, they should exhaust all options with the lender. A 9% loan probably falls in the predatory category and they may have more resources than they think. Perhaps the lenders would reduce the interest rate and/or principal balance to something acceptable. Have them do it themselves. Don’t hire a 'negotiator.' That’s probably a rip off."

Realty Times - "'Mulch' Improved: Homeowners Spruce Up Landscape and Increase Home Value" (5-15-09)

"According to Angie's List, a Web site where thousands of consumers share their ratings and reviews on local service providers in more than 425 different categories, well-designed landscaping can increase the value of your home by 7 percent to 14 percent."

Realty Times - "Not Much Changed in Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates" (5-15-09)

"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 4.86 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 14, 2009, up from last week when it averaged 4.84 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.01 percent."

Realty Times - "The 20/50/30 Rule" (5-15-09)

"We have all been exposed to the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of our labor, or 80 percent of our income will come from 20 percent of our clients. When this rule is learned and applied, it is a powerful tool towards success. There is another rule, which I have applied with great results throughout my sales career. It is more powerful but less known than the 80/20 rule. It is the 20/50/30 rule. Let's take an in depth look at this rule."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NAHB - "Remodeling Market Shows Signs Of Recovery" (5-14-09)

"The residential remodeling market showed signs of improvement during the first quarter of 2009 with significant growth in all indicators, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The current market conditions measure rose to 34.5 from 25.5 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Future expectations jumped to 30 from a historic low of 18.6 the previous quarter."

NAR - "Weak Economy and Lack of Credit Hobble Commercial Real Estate" (5-14-09)

"Credit availability and refinancing issues have seriously affected commercial real estate markets, but recent actions by the Federal Reserve may help ease the crisis, according to presentations at a commercial real estate forum today at the Realtors® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. While the commercial and multifamily real estate industry plays a vital role in the economy, it has been facing its worst liquidity challenge since the Great Depression. Hundreds of billions of dollars in commercial loans are expected to mature this year, and more than $1 trillion will mature over the next few years."

NAR - "Realtors® See Buyers Returning to Market" (5-14-09)

"Historically high housing affordability and low mortgage interest rates, combined with buyer opportunities in the distressed sales market, have increased home sales in many areas of the country."

CAR - "Entry-level housing affordability reached 69 percent in Q1 09" (5-14-09)

"C.A.R. First-time Buyer Housing Affordability Index stood at 69 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with 46 percent (revised) in the first quarter of 2008. The median price of an entry-level home in California was $213,040 in the first quarter of 2009."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Lawmakers eye adds to new-home tax credit" (5-14-09)

"Three months after the California Legislature created a state-tax credit for new-home purchases, a group of lawmakers - backed by home builders - is pushing to expand or extend it. One bill, AB765, would add $200 million to the $100 million originally allocated for the credit."

Wall Street Journal - "Obama Administration Expands Mortgage-Aid Plan" (5-14-09)

"The Obama administration in March unveiled key details of its $75 billion housing market rescue plan -- known as the Making Home Affordable Program -- which works by paying mortgage servicers to reduce borrowers payments. The aim of the ambitious effort, which was recently expanded to help lower the cost of second mortgages as well, is to help as many as 9 million homeowners avoid foreclosure."

Orange County Register - "Brightwater developer is back in the black" (5-14-09)

"California Coastal Communities, builder of the Brightwater development overlooking Bolsa Chica wetlands, reports today that it completed the sale of five homes there during the first 3 months of the year, including three ocean-view homes worth an average of $3.2 million. That’s up from two homes closed in the same period a year earlier."

Inman - "Homeowners ready to call bottom" (5-14-09)

"Although most homeowners believe their homes have lost value in the last 12 months, even more seem to think that homes prices will stabilize or bounce back in the next six months, Zillow said. The survey found 60 percent of homeowners think their own home lost value in the last 12 months. Zillow said its analysis of market trends reveals that 80 percent of U.S. homes lost value in the last year."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NAR - "Realtor® Member Survey Shows Response to Challenging Market" (5-13-09)

"More than one-third of Realtors® use social and professional networking sites. Blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts are used by 17 percent of respondents on a regular basis, up from 12 percent in 2008. There are no significant changes in use of these technologies based on the number of years in the business."

NAR - "Jumbo Mortgage Market is Holding Recovery Back, Realtors® Report" (5-13-09)

"The ongoing credit crunch in the jumbo mortgage market has stalled home sales of high-priced homes, despite some recovery taking place in some mid- and low-priced home markets. The national share of home sales above $750,000 has fallen from 4.4 percent in 2007 to approximately 2.3 percent in 2009, and the months’ supply of inventory has risen from 18.7 months to 41.1 months during that same period."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA Survey Shows Continued Slowdown of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Lending in First Quarter 2009" (5-13-09)

Commercial and multifamily mortgage loan originations continued to drop in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations. First quarter originations were 70 percent lower than during the same period last year and 26 percent lower than during the fourth quarter of 2008. The year-over-year decrease was seen across all investor groups and most property types."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "
Refinance Activity Slows, Purchase Applications Steady in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (5-13-09)

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 8, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 895.6, a decrease of 8.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 979.7 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 8.1 percent compared with the previous week and increased 28.4 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Los Angeles Times - "
L.A. may test loan program for troubled Pacoima homeowners" (5-13-09)

"The Los Angeles City Council is poised to vote today on a plan to help distressed homeowners in the northeast San Fernando Valley by putting up city money for 'silent second mortgages' that could encourage financial institutions to modify home loans. The pilot program would make available $1 million from the Community Redevelopment Agency to help 20 to 30 homeowners in Pacoima and neighboring communities who are in foreclosure."

Yahoo - "RealtyTrac: April foreclosures rise 32 percent" (5-13-09)

"The number of U.S. households faced with losing their homes to foreclosure jumped 32 percent in April compared with the same month last year, with Nevada, Florida and California showing the highest rates, according to data released Wednesday. Ohio was in the top 10."

Bloomberg - "General Growth’s $400 Million Loan, Cash Use Approve" (5-13-09)

General Growth Properties Inc., which filed the biggest real-estate bankruptcy in U.S. history, won court approval of a $400 million loan from a group led by Farallon Capital Management LLC and the right to use cash on hand to fund its operations"

Bloomberg - "California Home Prices to Fall 36% More, Fitch Says" (5-13-09)

California home prices may decline by another 36 percent over the next year to 18 months, more than any other state, Fitch Ratings said."

Bloomberg - "Credit Suisse Loses Priority on ‘Predatory’ Loan" (5-13-09)

Credit Suisse Group AG made a 'predatory' loan to the bankrupt Yellowstone Club and therefore lost its place in a line of creditors for the $309 million the club owes it, a U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NAR - "HUD Secretary Announces Monetization of Tax Credit at NAR Real Estate Summit" (5-12-09)

"Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said that the Federal Housing Administration is going to permit its lenders to allow homeowners to use the $8,000 tax credit as a downpayment. Secretary Donovan said that important changes, which the National Association of Realtors® has been calling for, will help consumers purchase a home."

NAR - "Foreclosure and Short Sale Discounts Weigh Down Metro Area Median Prices" (5-12-09)

"With first-time buyers accounting for half of all purchases during the first quarter, 134 out of 152 metropolitan statistical areas1 reported lower median existing single-family home prices in comparison with the first quarter of 2008, while 18 metros had price gains."

CBIA - "Corona Joins Growing List of Communities Reducing Development Fees" (5-12-09)

"The Corona City Council voted last week to slash development impact fees by 40 percent for the next two years. The Council took its action in an effort to stimulate the city’s economy and to put people back to work. The move is expected to reduce the cost to build a new home by an average of $7,700."

The Sacramento Bee - "Investors bidding for bargains at sale of tax-burdened property" (5-12-09)

"Sacramento County collected $95,500 in back taxes with force Monday, auctioning an oddball assortment of real estate for amounts ranging from $100 for empty lots in Sacramento to $55,000 for a home in Rancho Cordova."

The Wall Street Journal - "April Drop in Listings for Homes" (5-12-09)

"The supply of homes for sale in 29 major metropolitan areas at the end of April was down 3.6% from a month earlier, according to figures compiled by ZipRealty Inc., a real-estate brokerage firm based in Emeryville, Calif. The ZipRealty data cover all single-family homes, condominiums and town houses listed on local multiple-listing services in metro areas where the firm operates."

Bloomberg - "Greenspan Sees ‘Seeds of a Bottoming’ in U.S. Housing" (5-12-09)

"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the decline in the U.S. housing market may be bottoming and it’s 'very easy to see' financial markets continuing to improve."

Bloomberg - "MBIA CEO Cites ‘Ineligible’ Debt as Source of Relief" (5-12-09)

"MBIA Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jay Brown said the largest bond insurer may be able to unwind much of its credit losses because the debt it agreed to back didn’t meet contractual promises"

Bloomberg - "Freddie Mac to Tap $6.1 Billion in Aid After Loss" (5-12-09)

"Freddie Mac, operating under a federal conservatorship, asked the U.S. Treasury for a $6.1 billion capital investment as the mortgage-finance company’s loan holdings and other assets deteriorated"

Orange County Register - "Home appraisal fix under fire" (5-12-09)

"(Appraisal management companies) are using inexperienced appraisers that are picked at random. Meaning you get a guy from San Diego who knows nothing about Old Town Orange and the historic district and they have no idea how to appraise it"

Monday, May 11, 2009

CBIA - "Tax Credit Helps Boost New-Home Sales, CBIA Announces" (5-11-09)

"Thanks in part to the California new-home tax credit that went into effect in March, the pace of home sales at California new-home communities has begun to show signs of stabilizing, California Building Industry Association reported today. Robert Rivinius, CBIA’s President and CEO, said the state tax credit has clearly helped jump-start the housing market, and that April’s sales figures should reflect an even more robust increase as more prospective buyers learned about it and a federal tax credit for first-time buyers."

Reuters - "Big U.S. banks selling stock to repay government" (5-11-09)

"U.S. Bancorp plans to sell $2.5 billion of stock, and sold $1 billion of five-year notes. Capital One Financial Corp sold $1.55 billion of stock, BB&T Corp said it will sell $1.5 billion, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp said it will sell $1 billion."

Inman - "'If the experts say it's so ...'" (5-11-09)

"NAR reported in April that the rate of sales declined by 3 percent while prices increased during the last month by 4.2 percent -- with the median price increasing from $168,200 in February to $175,200 in March (it's important to note that the median resale price was down 12.4 percent compared to March 2008). While it may not feel like a recovery quite yet, there are some positive signs. The first part of a recovery is typically marked by prices stabilizing. The market will flatten and sputter along instead of continuing to decline. Unit sales are generally the leading indicator. The inventory must be absorbed before price stabilization can occur."

CNN - "More muscle sought in fraud fight" (5-11-09)

"In a move that received little notice, Congress may soon be sending to President Obama a bill to direct $532 million to investigate mortgage and securities fraud. The bill would double the size of the mortgage fraud investigation staff at the FBI starting in the fall. The bill would also allow the government to hire more prosecutors, special agents and analysts to chase housing and corporate financial fraud."

Bloomberg - "Mortgages Over 5% Mean Fed Purchases as Bonds Slump" (5-11-09)

"The world’s biggest investors are increasing bets that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will boost purchases of Treasuries as the steepest losses on government debt since 1994 send mortgage rates above 5 percent. "

Bloomberg - "Goldman to Pay $60 Million in Subprime Settlement" (5-11-09)

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to pay about $60 million to settle a Massachusetts investigation into the packaging of mortgage securities at the root of the collapse of the U.S. housing market. "

Orange County Register - "O.C. 5th priciest U.S. place to rent" (5-11-09)

"Orange County rents still look high when compared to other U.S. towns, according to an analysis by the Center for Housing Policy."
Daily News - "Who did more subprime damage than Countrywide? Nobody" (5-9-09)

"Countrywide Financial Corp., formerly headquartered at 4500 Park Granada in Calabasas, topped the center's list of 25 lenders responsible for extending subprime mortgages to homeowners who might not otherwise have qualified for a mortgage. Those lenders accounted for nearly $998 billion of the $1.4 trillion in subprime mortgages made from 2005 to 2007"

AOL - "Obama Wants Fed as Finance Supercop" (5-9-09)

"The Obama administration told industry officials on Friday that it was leaning toward making such a recommendation, according to officials who attended a private one-hour meeting between President Barack Obama's economic advisers and representatives from about a dozen banks, hedge funds and other financial groups. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other officials made it clear they were not inclined to divide the job among various regulators as has been suggested by industry and some federal regulators. Geithner told the group that one organization needs to be held responsible for monitoring systemwide risk."

The Huffington Post - "Short Sales: Banks Blocking Way Out Of Foreclosure Crisis" (5-9-09)

"According to research firm Campbell Communications, only 23 percent of short sale transactions are actually completed. 'Three out of four potential short sale transactions fail, principally because the mortgage servicer takes too long to respond to the offer,' said Tom Popik, author of a February survey of real estate agents."

Los Angeles Times - "Court decision targets mystery closing fees" (5-10-09)

"A federal district court has handed down a ruling in a class action that could have a direct effect on the fees you pay to the real estate company at closing, whether as a buyer or seller. The decision targets one of the most common practices adopted by brokerage firms in recent years: charging consumers 'admin,' 'processing,' 'ABC' and other mystery fees ranging from $150 to as much as $500 per transaction. The fees are tacked on top of regular commissions and sometimes come as last-minute surprises on settlement sheets."

Redding - "Validity of home value Web sites questioned" (5-10-09)

"Take Zillow's home value report for the first quarter of 2009, for example. It revealed that values in Redding, which encompasses Anderson and Shasta Lake, declined 34 percent from a year ago to $197,193. Wait, though, Zillow doesn't rely solely on recent or comparable sales. The site contends there's more that goes into values than what a house sold for recently in a particular neighborhood - it eliminates the bias present in median sales prices."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Los Angeles Times - "U.S. threatens to rescind stimulus money over wage cuts" (5-8-09)

"Schwarzenegger's office was advised this week by federal health officials that the wage reduction, which will save California $74 million, violates provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Failure to revoke the scheduled wage cut before it takes effect July 1 could cost California $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to state officials."

CNN - "Fannie loses $23 billion, seeks more U.S. aid" (5-8-09)

"Fannie Mae, the troubled mortgage finance company, reported a first-quarter loss of $23.2 billion on Friday. The mortgage giant also reported that it submitted a request for $19 billion from the Treasury Department to cover its losses. That followed a request earlier this year for $15.2 billion to cover 2008 losses."

Los Angeles Times - "Bank 'stress test' results hint at economic recovery" (5-8-09)

"The Federal Reserve's highly anticipated 'stress tests' found that 10 of the 19 largest banks needed to bolster their capital by a combined $75 billion. Most of that must be raised by two banks with a large California presence -- Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. -- highlighting the role of the state's housing market meltdown in the recession."

Inman - "Mortgage rates bounce off lows" (5-8-09)

"Rates on mortgages eligible for purchase by Freddie Mac bounced back slightly from last week's record lows, but remain well under 5 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.84 percent with an average 0.7 point this week, up from 4.78 percent a week ago but down from 6.05 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac said in releasing results of its weekly survey of lenders."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Economy: Job Losses Slow as Economy Starts to Stabilize" (5-8-09)

Payrolls fell by 539,000, after a 699,000 loss in March, while the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent, the highest level since 1983, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The Commerce Department separately said that wholesalers reduced their supply of unsold goods for a seventh month in March."

Bloomberg - "Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley Raise $15 Billion After Stress Test" (5-8-09)

"Wells Fargo sold $7.5 billion of common stock, 25 percent more than it originally planned, according to a person close to the situation, and Morgan Stanley raised $7.5 billion by selling stocks and bonds, up from $5 billion it said yesterday that it would raise. Citigroup Inc. is exchanging an additional $5.5 billion of preferred securities into common stock. Bank of America Corp. plans to sell as many as 1.25 billion shares of common stock in a shelf registration and an undetermined amount of debt that wouldn’t be guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Corp."

Bloomberg - "Bad Loans Make Charges More Likely at Small-Cap Banks" (5-8-09)

Corus Bankshares Inc., Frontier Financial Corp. and W Holding Co. are among small banks in the U.S. where bad loans have grown larger than reserves, raising the possibility of writedowns, loan limits and a demand for capital that may prompt some to seek buyers"

Bloomberg - "REITs Raise $10.6 Billion to Cut Debt, Buy Competitors’ Assets" (5-8-09)

Real estate investment trusts in the U.S. have raised $10.6 billion from share sales this year, almost matching the total for all of 2008, to reduce debt and acquire assets from competitors weakened by the recession."

Inman - " parent loses $10.6M in Q1" (5-8-09)

" operator Move Inc. reported a first-quarter net loss of $10.6 million, or 7 cents per share, citing $1.9 million in severance pay and $8.7 million in stock-based compensation charges associated with executive departures and an incoming CEO."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

NAR - "Realtors Urge Congress to Stop Foreclosure Rescue Scams" (5-6-09)

"Foreclosure rescue scams and other predatory and irresponsible lending practices have been on the rise, negatively impacting families, communities, and the housing market. The National Association of Realtors® testified today on the importance of protecting homeowners from these anti-consumer practices."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (5-6-09)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 1, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 979.7, an increase of 2.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 960.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 2.4 percent compared with the previous week and 43.7 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

CNBC - "Are Home Prices Really As Low As 'Experts' Say?" (5-6-09)

"The Realtors have told us that they guestimate about 50 percent of existing home sales in March were of distressed properties, and they only count what goes through real estate listings, not auctions, so the number could be far higher. So if there is all this pent up demand of not just buyers, but sellers, hanging out on the sidelines, then that tells me that the only regular people (not banks) selling homes now are being forced to sell their homes for financial or location or family reasons; that of course makes them desperate and makes them more amenable to price cuts."

CNN - "20% of homeowners 'underwater'" (5-6-09)

"More than 20% of American homeowners owe more on their mortgage debt than they can sell their homes for, according to an industry report released Wednesday. The real estate Web site reported that 21.8% of all U.S. homes, representing more than 20 million residences, were in a 'negative equity' or 'underwater' position after prices dropped more than 14% nationally in the year ended March 31."

Orange County Register - "Perhaps home sales haven’t bottomed" (5-6-09)

"Recent headlines based on Seasonally Adjusted (SA) data are misleading. Reporters have been trained to cover the SA numbers each month. While the SA numbers have merit, they bounce around a lot because of sample size, weather, or other issues such as whether Easter is in March or April. These issues are often addressed in the body of the article, or in the later stages of the TV report, but most people unfortunately do not pay attention to the details."

Orange County Register - "Chase loaned $6.7 billion to Californians in Q1" (5-6-09)

"JP Morgan Chase made more than 400,000 new loans to Californians totaling $6.7 billion in the first three months of 2009, which the bank said today was an increase from the previous quarter when it took over troubled Washington Mutual."

Bloomberg - "Rich Default on Luxury Homes Like Subprime Victims" (5-6-09)

"The number of U.S. homes valued at more than $729,750, the jumbo-loan limit in the most affluent areas, entering the foreclosure process jumped 127 percent during the first 10 weeks of this year from the same period of 2008, data compiled by RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, California, show. The rate rose 72 percent for homes valued at less than $417,000 and 78 percent for all homes, RealtyTrac said"

San Francisco Chronicle - "California had most subprime loans, study says" (5-7-09)

"The study published Wednesday on the Center for Public Integrity's Web site analyzed government data on $1.38 trillion worth of subprime mortgages made from 2005 to 2007. The analysis found that about 56 percent of those loans were originated by 15 lenders from California."

Los Angeles Times - "New jobless claims unexpectedly plunge to 601K" (5-7-09)

"The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number newly laid off workers applying for benefits dropped to 601,000 last week. That was far better than the rise to 635,000 claims that economists expected"

Bloomberg - "Simon Boosts Size of Offering, May Raise $1 Billion" (5-7-09)

"Simon Property Group Inc., the biggest U.S. shopping mall owner, increased the size of its stock offering today and said it may raise as much as $1 billion. The company will now sell 20 million shares at $50 each, Indianapolis-based Simon Property said today in a statement. Yesterday the company said it would sell 14 million shares in an offering that would be used to repay debt or fund acquisitions."

Bloomberg - "Fixed Mortgage Rates Rise in U.S., Freddie Mac Says" (5-7-09)

"The average rate for a 30-year home loan climbed to 4.84 percent from 4.78 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer, said today in a statement. The 15-year fixed rate averaged 4.51 percent, up from 4.48 percent last week, Freddie Mac said."

Bloomberg - "Fed’s Bank Results ‘Reassuring,’ Show No Insolvency" (5-7-09)

"Federal regulators today unveil what Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said will be a 'reassuring' picture of a U.S. banking system able to withstand whatever stresses the recession may inflict on it once a handful of institutions add to their capital base."

Orange County Register - "Got equity? Not half of recent O.C. buyers!" (5-7-09)

"The typical buyer from this 5-year period is 'under water' by $8,116 — or 1.8% of the home’s value. The problem centers largely around buyers from 2005 to 2007."