Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Washington Post... Bank America Give Away!

Bank of America Said to Seek Separate Foreclosure Deal


Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. has held settlement negotiations with some states over home foreclosures separately from talks with a larger group of state and federal officials, two people familiar with the matter said.

The proposed deal would give the bank liability releases from state and federal claims over its mortgage practices in exchange for reducing loan principals to help struggling homeowners, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because the discussions aren’t public.

State and federal officials are negotiating a settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, over their servicing and foreclosure practices. Attorneys general from all 50 states began investigating the practices last year to determine whether banks and loan servicers used faulty documents to justify foreclosures.

Bank of America, in its separate negotiations, has offered to fund more principal writedowns than what is being discussed in the larger settlement talks, one of the people said. The bank is seeking a blanket liability release that would be broader than what would be available for the other banks involved in the negotiations, the person said.

Other attorneys general were unaware of the separate talks with Bank of America, the person said.

Read entire article at the Washington Post

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mississippi Foreclosure Filings Dropping?

Foreclosure actions falling in Mississippi

By ALAN SAYRE , 07.14.11, 02:04 PM EDT

The number of Mississippi residents threatened by the loss of their homes dropped during the second quarter, a national tracking firm said Thursday.

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac said that for the three months ending June 30, 840 properties were targeted by some foreclosure-related action. But for those it was largely the end of the line, as 514 were repossessed by lenders and the other 326 were scheduled for a foreclosure sale.

The total number of actions fell 22.4 percent from the first quarter of 2011 and 17.8 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

Mississippi ranked 47th in the RealtyTrac count among the states and the District of Columbia in foreclosure-related actions during the second quarter.

Over the first half of 2011, Mississippi recorded 1,872 foreclosure-related filings, affecting one in every 685 housing units. That's down 42 percent from the previous six months and 16.5 percent from the first half of 2010.

Mississippi ranked 46th in foreclosure actions for the first six months of the year.

read the entire article at Forbes.com

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Hampshire Foreclosures Continue to Rise


 
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority said Wednesday that foreclosures in the state rose 5.3 percent in May when compared to the same month last year.

The authority announced that the state appears on track to see more than 3,500 foreclosures this year.
The authority announced that 340 foreclosure deeds were recorded in May, up from 323 in May 2010.
There were 1,757 foreclosures in the first five months of the year, down from 1,811 foreclosures recorded over the same time period in 2010.

The pace of foreclosures slowed in late 2010 and early this year due to a moratorium by several large lenders.

There were a total of 3,953 foreclosures in New Hampshire in 2010, nearly double the number recorded in 2007.

From BusinessWeek.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another Ridiculous Move by the Government to "Help" Homeowners

Obama admits misstep on housing, extends help to jobless homeowners


The Obama administration said Thursday it would require lenders to allow unemployed homeowners to delay their monthly payments for up to a year without threat of foreclosure.
The announcement came a day after the president made a rare admission of a policy misstep, acknowledging that his policies have failed to provide enough support to struggling homeowners and recognize the scope of the nation’s housing crisis.

The Federal Housing Administration previously required banks to allow FHA borrowers to put off their mortgage payments for a minimum of four months while lenders worked out options to keep people in their homes. The expansion of this program is needed because of “how long it takes unemployed borrowers to find a job,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who added he expects the new initiative to reach “tens of thousands of families.”

The Treasury is also asking lenders to offer a similar deal to borrowers under its primary foreclosure prevention program, but it does not have the authority to require the change, administration officials said.
Despite predictions by Obama’s advisers that the housing market would rebound by now, real estate prices are falling once again. And the administration’s past efforts to push banks to modify the mortgages of families who missed their monthly payments have been widely criticized as lacking.

Obama first raised the shortcomings of his administration’s policy Wednesday when a questioner during a town hall event asked what mistakes the president had made in handling the economy.

“The continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn’t bottomed out as quickly as we expected,” Obama responded.

Later, he added that his administration’s efforts to help struggling homeowners were “not enough.”
“And so we’re going back to the drawing board,” he said.

The housing issue threatens to loom over Obama’s reelection campaign, with foreclosures piling up and real estate markets in turmoil in pivotal swing states such as Florida and Nevada, which voted for him in 2008.
Obama has not often discussed the housing crisis, with much of his time in Washington and on the campaign trail focused on job creation and deficit reduction.

But the issue repeatedly came up Wednesday as Obama conducted his first ever town hall meeting via Twitter.

One person asked in a tweet: “How will admin work to help underwater homeowners who aren’t behind in payments but are trapped in homes they can’t sell?”

Later, another questioner — whose Twitter handle was @Shnaps — asked a follow-up question about whether the market could heal itself.

Obama responded that “given the size of the housing market, no federal program is going to be able to solve the housing problem.”

He later added: “Some folks just bought more home than they could afford and probably they’re going to be better off renting.”

Much of the criticism of the administration’s housing policy has focused on the Treasury Department’s foreclosure prevention initiative called the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, one of a series of measures that the administration has rolled out with mixed results.

The program was funded by the financial bailout and carved out tens of billions of dollars to pay banks to modify the mortgages of distressed homeowners, or at least lower their monthly payments.

The administration has said that HAMP helped more than a million families in this way. But critics say that the aid was not long-lasting and that the initiative’s design was too complicated for the industry to implement effectively.

From The Washington Post - to see article, click post title

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Florida County sees Foreclosures Rise In June

Lee foreclosures up in June

Permits for homes highest since March

Written by
Dick Hogan
dhogan@news-press.com
The number of both mortgage foreclosures and permits pulled for single-family homes in Lee County both popped up in June, according to reports released Friday.
In separate reports by municipalities, a total of 126 single-family permits were pulled. It was the highest since 131 in March. Only Fort Myers Beach's number was not available.
Meanwhile, lenders filed 468 mortgage foreclosure lawsuits in Lee County in June, up from 345 in May but down from 890 in June 2010, according to statistics released by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investment Association.
It was the highest number since 656 were reported in October.
Jeff Tumbarello, director of the investment association, said the higher number bears watching, but doesn't necessarily mean a second wave of foreclosures is coming.
"If we have another increase next month it's certainly time to start watching it," Tumbarello said. "One month doesn't make a trend."
Meanwhile, 773 foreclosed properties were sold at public auction in June, almost the same as May's 774 and sharply down from June 2010's 1,318, the report states.
Foreclosures spiked sharply after Southwest Florida's housing bubble burst at the end of 2005. The all-time high month for foreclosures was October 2008 with 2,665.
Building permits have been bumping along at a low level - usually around 100 a month - for the past two years. In the boom, there often were more than 1,000 in a month.
Roger Schutt, developer of both Calusa Ridge LLC on Pine Island and Celebration Cape in Cape Coral, said three new homes were permitted in Celebration Cape in June and one in Calusa Ridge.
Buyers tend to be looking for a vacation or retirement home, and a lot are paying cash, Schutt said. The market's looking better than it has for awhile, he added.
"I think we're starting to turn that corner. I think we're going to have a reasonably strong summer," Schutt said.
Unincorporated Lee County and the municipalities in the county issue separate reports on permits:
UNINCORPORATED COUNTY: 45
CAPE CORAL: 22
BONITA SPRINGS: 14
FORT MYERS: 41
SANIBEL: 4
FORT MYERS BEACH: NOT AVAILABLE.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Debunking the Foreclosure-to-Apartment Assumption.

By Dawn Wotapka and Robbie Whelan

Apartment operators have long been considered big beneficiaries of the housing bust. But one leading industry analyst thinks that rental homes are the post-housing crash world’s real stars.
In a lengthy research note, Zelman & Associates argues foreclosures are primarily shifting occupants to single-family rental homes. “The benefit of a changing home-ownership rate may not be as directly beneficial to the multifamily sector as many believe,” the firm writes.
Five years into the housing bust, fewer Americans are homeowners, either by choice or by necessity. In the first quarter, 66.5% of Americans owned homes, down from 67.2% a year earlier, according to the Census Bureau. During the heyday, when easy credit made mortgages available with less regard for income or ability to pay, the ownership rate surged to near 70% in 2004. Each percentage point represents about 1 million households.
Many people assume that, following a foreclosure, home owners move into apartments. Indeed, the sector has seen occupancies and rents rise in recent quarters and operators expect even better times ahead. That’s put pep in shares of apartment real-estate investment trusts: Equity Residential, the largest apartment player by market capitalization, and AvalonBay Communities Inc. have gained more than 17% since January. Camden Property Trust has spiked 20% this year and nearly 60% in the last 12 months.
Apartment owners say the foreclosure crisis is sending tenants to their doors. “We have a significantly higher number of people today living in our apartments who have lost their homes than I ever remember,” says Jeffrey Friedman, chief executive of Associated Estates Realty Corp., an Ohio-based apartment owner. “They don’t put their cars in the garage, they put their belongings in the garage.”
The sector has also benefited because fewer residents are moving out and people who downsized with roommates and parents during the downturn are moving into their own pads.
But the single-family rental market has also grown rapidly in recent years, helped by families who might feel squeezed in an apartment. In the last few years, investors have been snapping up distressed and foreclosed homes and renting them out, dramatically increasing the supply of rental single-family homes. The number of single-family rental households spiked 21% from 2005 until 2010.
In Nevada, Florida and Arizona – all markets hard-hit by foreclosures – the growth of single-family residential over apartment rental is even more striking: Between 2005 and 2010 the number of families renting homes grew 47.6%, compared with a growth rate of just 0.6% in traditional apartments. About one-in-three rental units is a single-family house, the report says. Zelman’s figures come from analysis of U.S. Census data.
“Conversations about housing often settle around single-family versus multi-family and owning versus renting, and, in many cases, single-family is incorrectly associated with owning a home while multifamily is used interchangeably with renting,” Zelman writes. “Our data suggests that marriage, children and number of residents more directly determine the type of housing individuals or families choose.”
To be sure, each decision has positives and negatives. Apartments could include neighbors with loud children or blaring music. But then, single-family landlords are often investors who may or may not make good property managers. “You could get people who won’t return your call,” says Alexander Goldfarb, a REIT analyst Sandler O’Neill + Partners.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Youngstown, Ohio Foreclosure Rates Increase

Mortgage Foreclosure Rate Up in April
 
June 29, 2011 6:52 a.m.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Foreclosure rates in Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metropolitan statistical area increased in April compared to the same month last year, reports CoreLogic.

The rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 4.72% in April, an increase of 0.66 percentage points compared to last April.

Foreclosure activity in Youngstown-Warren-Boardman was higher than the national foreclosure rate, which was 3.47% for April, representing a 1.25 percentage point difference, according to the newly released data.

Meanwhile, the mortgage delinquency rate decreased during April in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman MSA. CoreLogic reports 8.24% of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent in April compared to 8.53% for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 0.29 percentage points.

CoreLogic provides information, analytics and services to business and government. The company is based in Santa Ana, Calif.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rampant Bank Fraud and Wrongful Foreclosures Extend to the Commercial Real Estate Market

Agoura Hills, CA (PRWEB) June 27, 2011
“Throughout the United States, reputable builders and commercial property owners have often been overlooked as victims of bank fraud and wrongful foreclosure in the Nation’s ongoing bank crises,” says 35-year trial lawyer and former prosecutor Michael S. Riley of Mitchell J. Stein & Associates LLP.

Mr. Riley, a Senior Partner of Mitchell J. Stein & Associates LLP and former governmental prosecutor for more than a decade, commented further that “the wave of significant and far reaching disclosures of horrible bank schemes against the core of our economy – middle America’s builders and commercial realty owners – are now going to begin hitting the national stage and its judicial system.”
Mitchell J. Stein & Associates LLP sees the problem as a logical one:

“In 2009, we predicted that fraudulent foreclosure practices would be hoisted upon home owners nationwide and the Firm filed suit against Bank of America in behalf of aggrieved Californians on March 12, 2009. This lawsuit (Ronald v. Bank of America) was the first of its kind to be filed nationwide and has since been the shepherd for the Firm’s several other lawsuits against the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Ally Bank (formerly GMAC), Wells Fargo, Onewest (formerly Indymac), U.S. Bank and Citibank. These lawsuits have become commonly known as “Mass Joinders”. Just a few months ago, in April 2011, the Department of Homeland Security, the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller and other State and Federal Agencies have agreed that at least 14 bank servicers have committed wrongful and “unsafe” foreclosure practices since 2009, i.e., just as the firm predicted in the first quarter of 2009 as evidenced by the filing of Ronald v. Bank of America.

Read More

Monday, June 27, 2011

N.J. foreclosures down but could be calm before deluge

forecloselogo033011_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
Foreclosure filings are down 86 percent in 2011 from last year in New Jersey, but housing attorneys fear this is only the calm before the deluge.
Lenders will be looking to file an estimated 28,500 foreclosures, and another 55,000 mortgage loans are currently more than 90 days behind, according to LPS Applied Analytics.
Chief Justice of the New Jersey State Supreme Court Stuart Rabner announced in December that he would place a moratorium on foreclosures from major banks (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, One West Bank, Citigroup, and Ally Financial) unless they could document the accuracy of their foreclosure processes. According to totalmortgage.com, Rabner said these banks were being singled out due to a “public record of questionable practice”.
The New York Times reported that the banks admitted last fall that they had been illegally processing foreclosures by filing false court documents, but they said any delays in repossessions would be minimal. In April, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency gave the banks 60 days to reform their foreclosure procedures.
According to nj.com, bankers in New Jersey have told the CEO of the New Jersey Bankers Association, that it now takes almost three years to complete a foreclosure. Retired Superior Court Judge Richard Williams will be reviewing the material from the banks and will report on whether they satisfied enough changes, but he has no deadline. LPS says it would take 49 years to clear up the foreclosures and delinquencies in New Jersey at their current rate.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Next Crisis in Residential Mortgages – New Data Emerges

Back in the fall of last year, we commented to many that the so-called “foreclosure-gate,” or “document-gate” (remember, the Schwarzeneggerian term “robo-signers”) was going to prove to be a double edged sword for the large banks.

On the one hand, lying to judges and facing the possible voiding of mortgage collateral documents and the ability to foreclose is decidedly bad for business.  On the other hand, we pointed out that there would likely be sighs of relief (we were once, injudiciously, quoted as referring to the popping of champagne corks) at the notion that the recognition of losses connected with the bubble of pending home repossessions, that was then coming towards the end of the foreclosure snake, could again be delayed.

Over the past week, two intrepid investigative business reporters, at The Financial Times and The New York Times, respectively, have published stories that shed new light on this issue, in a manner that furthers our concerns about the banking sector.  More about the articles below (don’t miss this, keep reading).
In our view, the magnitude of pending foreclosures, together with housing prices that continued to decline through March, could potentially result in losses to banks that materially exceed existing provisions for such losses.  Moreover, if the backlog of foreclosures were to move through repossession and liquidation, the impact on the housing market would unquestionably be to accelerate the pace of falling prices (at least in many regions of the country).

Not surprisingly, in this environment, lender recoveries of loan principal through the liquidation of foreclosed mortgage collateral has been dismal – averaging between 35% and 40% of loan face amount (taking into consideration both selling price and all costs related to the foreclosure and liquidation) for years now and showing no signs of improving.

With home prices, per the S&P Case Shiller 20-City Index, having fallen 6.2% from the end of Q3 2010 through the end of Q1 2011, and now more than 33% below peak levels in July of 2006, the largest banks in the U.S. are therefore loath to repossess and liquidate defaulted home loan collateral.

Yet, apparently driven by a now-questionable view (possible, but by no means a certainty) that the American economy is positioned for a sustainable recovery, banks have been releasing provisions for losses on loans held in portfolio.  This has had a positive effect on bank earnings for several quarters. Although, with many banks trading below book value, the market seems not to believe either the sustainability of recent earnings or the recoverability of bank loan assets.

So the banks owning large residential loan portfolios have slowed the foreclosure process to a trickle and, at the same time, have been unwilling to restructure home mortgage loans in a manner that would lead to large scale principal reductions.  According to various studies, the best path to the maximization of defaulted mortgage recoveries runs through actions that keep people in their homes and paying instead of walking away.

And with regard to underwater borrowers (nearly a third of all mortgagors now) the best way to keep people paying is to renegotiate the original principal.  Recoveries on that basis promise numbers closer to 70% of face, than to liquidations yielding half that ratio.

The banks do have one further concern that is not entirely illegitimate.  The see moral hazard in the notion that aggressive principal modifications would trigger more widespread default, as borrowers who might otherwise pay will, literally in some cases, covet their neighbors principal reduction and default themselves in order to obtain the same treatment.  But we do not see the advantages of a stand-off over liquidations or modifications in a stable or declining price environment, in the absence of sustainable macroeconomic improvement.  We also note that it is somewhat painful to listen to moral hazard arguments from lenders who have recently been the beneficiaries of assistance themselves.

So that’s why we feel it important to highlight two pieces of journalism that have shed more light on these issues and promise further data to come.

Last Monday, Suzanne Kapner of The Financial Times wrote a small but interesting piece entitled Concern Rises over U.S. Mortgage Defaults which discloses that she has received some hitherto unpublished numbers from the Office of the Controller of the Currency (the principal regulator of large banks) that potentially suggest that delinquencies on bank residential mortge loans in portfolio may be higher than have been previously understood (and higher than what banks have disclosed for securities act purposes).  Some 20% of bank-held mortgage loans, according to Kapner, are 30-days or more past due, which we read as meaning loans that are about to miss two or more payments.  We are very interested in seeing more work from Ms. Kapner on this subject as banks hold nearly $3 trillion of mortgage loans in non-securities form on their books.  20% could be an alarmingly large number relative to existing loan loss provisions if such loans are eventually liquidated at anything near today’s prevailing recovery rates.

Yesterday, in a piece entitled Backlog of Cases Gives a Reprieve on Foreclosures, David Streitfeld of The New York Times writes extensively on the fact that the pace of foreclosure repossessions has slowed to a crawl throughout the country.  He quotes one Florida chief judge as noting, “We’re here to do what we’re asked to do. But you’ve got to ask. And the banks aren’t asking.” He further notes that, at the current pace, it would take years to liquidate even the homes that are presently repossessable – and that’s just in the so-called non-judicial states.  In states in which courts control the foreclosure process, it would take decades.
Yes, it is possible that these matters are coincidental and that the unfortunate situation merely looks as though large banks are kicking the can in order to avoid recognizing substantial losses for as long as possible.  Or, perhaps, the situation is exactly as is appears – only bank regulators know for sure.  And, like the rest of us, the regulatory establishment fears having the banking system fall back into disarray in a political environment in which renewed taxpayer assistance to the industry is by no means a certain alternative.

US Data Prev: Foreclosures Problems Cont. To Hurt Home Resales


 
WASHINGTON (MNI) - The National Association of Realtors' existing home sales report Tuesday is expected to show continued softening in the housing market, mainly driven by persistent weakness in the labor market and home buyers that remain wary of falling home prices.

Existing home sales figures for May, which the NAR will publish at 10:00 am ET, are expected to fall to 4.80 million according to a survey of economists by Market News International. Sales figures for April came in at 5.05 million.

Tuesday's existing home sales release will be of particular importance because May is traditionally one of the most biggest months of the year for home sales and if potential buyers decide not to buy in the spring they will often wait till next year.

The release of existing home sales data is usually preceded by data on pending home sales -- which declined by 11.6% in April, indicating home resales for May will be weak.

"We continue to see that home prices will continue to fall through the end of the year and then we will get some extremely modest upward momentum in the early part of 2012," Anika Khan, economist at Wells Fargo told Market News International.

"We need foreclosures to subside to get that downward pressure on home prices to kind of quell," Khan added.

Part of the problem with foreclosures is that there are still many home owners living in their homes but not making mortgage payments because their home is now worth less than the loan take to buy the house, often referred to as negative equity.

According to a June report by data analytics firm, CoreLogic, 22.7% of all residential properties with a mortgage had negative equity.

Banks are also now more hesitant to foreclose on properties for a number of reasons; one of which is an investigation by the State attorney generals into the banks' foreclosure practices. Some sort of settlement is expected, but the timeline of an agreement is not yet known.

Wells Fargo's Khan said it would be better if a deal between banks and the attorney generals got done sooner rather than later because that would speed up the process of working through the foreclosure backlog.

Another problem the NAR noted in last month's report is that appraisers continue to be very conservative, meaning sales that looked to be certainties fell through because of low appraisal values.

Khan concurred, saying "appraisal problem is clearly still an issue, you know appraisers are extremely conservative at this particular point of the housing market cycle and they will continue to be."

According to the S&P/Case Shiller house price indices, home prices fell 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011 after falling 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"This month's report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation," Chairman of the Index, David Blitzer said in the report released May 31.

"The rebound in prices seen in 2009 and 2010 was largely due to the first-time home buyers tax credit. Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices during or after the recent recession," Blitzer said.

Khan said the future progress of the housing recovery boils down to jobs. Unfortunately recent data shows that the labor market remains weak.

Weekly jobless claims continue to tread above 400,000 after trending below that level in February and March, and the May employment report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed only 54,000 new jobs were added in May, below even the most bearish of forecasts.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Latest Foreclosure News

The housing crisis is far from over, regardless of what those in our government are so vehemently trying to tell us...

We will track the upcoming crisis here...