Archive for 'Loan Mod'

Short Sale Rules Leave Realtors Wary

Short Sale Rules Leave Realtors Wary

Short Sale Rules Leave Realtors Wary-Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

A new rule from the Federal Trade Commission that aims to protect home owners from mortgage relief scams may impact real estate professionals who represent clients involved in short sale transactions. Several hundred Realtors® learned more about the new rule and its impact on their business at the “Risk Management and License Law Forum” during the Realtors® 2011 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. today.

National Association of Realtors® General Counsel Laurie Janik overviewed the FTC’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule, which took effect on January 31, 2011. The goal of the rule is to protect distressed home owners from mortgage relief scams and ensure that people who provide counseling, advice and other services to troubled home owners are indeed providing a benefit for the fees they charge. The rule bans all upfront fees for renegotiating mortgage terms and mandates that certain disclosures are made to consumers if a short sale is negotiated with a lender on their behalf or when advertising short sales experience.

“As the leading advocate for home ownership, NAR supports efforts to ensure that mortgage assistance relief services truly benefit consumers,” said Janik. “Nevertheless, NAR has some concerns about the rule and its application to real estate professionals involved in short sales transactions. We are working closely with the FTC to clarify several aspects of the rule in relation to real estate professionals when they are performing traditional real estate functions in a short sale transaction.”

The rule is primarily directed at companies that offer loan modification services to consumers, but it also may impact real estate professionals who represent clients involved in a short sale transaction, especially when advertising short sale negotiation services or other short sale expertise; communicating with a consumer about a possible short sale before the listing agreement is executed; negotiating a short sale on behalf of a consumer; or arranging a short sale negotiation for a consumer. The rule only applies to residential real estate transactions.

In the meantime, Realtors® must already be complying with the rule by not taking any upfront fees and using specific disclosure language. The rule necessitates when and how the disclosures must be presented to consumers and that they are made clearly.

Currently, there are three types of disclosures that a real estate professional may need to make to consumers. First, a real estate professional now needs to include a clear and prominent disclosure in all commercial messages that advertise their short sale services.

Second and third disclosures are required by real estate professionals before they begin mortgage assistance services on their client’s behalf and at the time they present their client with the lender’s short sale approval letter.

“NAR is discussing with the FTC some language in the second and third disclosures and well as some other requirements found in the MARS rule. The FTC is considering possible options to help make the rule more applicable to a real estate brokerage,” said Janik.

For additional information and updates on the MARS rule, visit

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

U.S. Foreclosure Activity Hits 40-Month Low After Jump in March
REOs Hit Record High in Nevada, Defaults Spike in Massachusetts and New Jersey

RealtyTrac® (, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for April 2011, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 219,258 U.S. properties in April, a 9 percent decrease from March and a 34 percent decrease from April 2010. The report also shows one in every 593 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during April 2011.

“Foreclosure activity decreased on an annual basis for the seventh straight month in April, bringing foreclosure activity to a 40-month low,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “This slowdown continues to be largely the result of massive delays in processing foreclosures rather than the result of a housing recovery that is lifting people out of foreclosure.

“The first delay occurs between delinquency and foreclosure, when lenders and services are no longer automatically pushing loans that are more than 90 days delinquent into foreclosure but are waiting longer to allow for loan modifications, short sales and possibly other disposition alternatives,” Saccacio continued. “Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that about 3.7 million properties are in this seriously delinquent stage. The second delay occurs after foreclosure has started, when lenders are taking much longer than they were just a few years ago to complete the foreclosure process.”

Foreclosure timelines lengthening
Nationwide, foreclosures completed (REOs) in the first quarter of 2011 took an average of 400 days from the initial default notice to the REO, up from 340 days in the first quarter of 2010 and more than double the average 151 days it took to foreclose in the first quarter of 2007.

The foreclosure process took much longer in some states. The average timeframe from initial default notice to REO in New Jersey and New York was more than 900 days in the first quarter of 2011, more than three times the average timeline in the first quarter of 2007 for both states.

The average foreclosure process in Florida took 619 days for foreclosures completed in the first quarter, up from 470 days in the first quarter of 2010 and nearly four times the average of 169 days it took in the first quarter of 2007.

The average foreclosure process in California took 330 days for foreclosures completed in the first quarter, up from 262 days in the first quarter of 2010 and more than double the average of 134 days in took in the first quarter of 2007.

Foreclosure Activity by Type
Default notices (NOD, LIS) were filed for the first time on a total of 63,422 U.S. properties in April, a 14 percent decrease from the previous month and a 39 percent decrease from April 2010. After spiking 16 percent in March, default notices in April dropped back down close to the 48-month low hit in February.

Scheduled foreclosure auctions (NTS, NFS) hit a 31-month low in April, with a total of 86,304 U.S. properties scheduled for an auction for the first time during the month — down 7 percent from March and down 37 percent from April 2010.

Lenders foreclosed on 69,532 U.S. properties in April, down 5 percent from March and down 25 percent from April 2010, but bank repossessions (REOs) were still above a 22-month low hit in February 2011.

States with a judicial foreclosure process registered a 3 percent decrease in overall foreclosure activity from March and a 47 percent decrease in overall foreclosure activity from April 2010. States with a non-judicial foreclosure process posted an 11 percent month-over-month decrease and 26 percent year-over-year decrease in overall foreclosure activity.

Nevada, Arizona, California post top state foreclosure rates
Nevada posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the 52nd straight month in April, with one in every 97 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month. Overall foreclosure activity in Nevada decreased 9 percent from the previous month and was down 27 percent from April 2010. Bank repossessions increased 23 percent from March and were up 12 percent from April 2010 to 4,606 — an all-time monthly high since RealtyTrac began issuing the report for Nevada in April 2005.

Arizona REOs decreased 3 percent from March but were still up 22 percent from April 2010, helping the state maintain the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive month. One in every 205 Arizona housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month, and overall foreclosure activity decreased 15 percent from March and was down 17 percent from April 2010 despite the year-over-year jump in REOs.

Overall, foreclosure activity in California was down monthly and annually in April, but a 22 percent month-over-month jump in REOs helped keep the state’s foreclosure rate at the third highest among all states for the sixth consecutive month. One in every 240 California properties received a foreclosure filing in April.

One in every 322 Utah housing units received a foreclosure filing in April, the fourth highest state foreclosure rate, and one in every 325 Idaho housing units received a foreclosure filing in April, the fifth highest state foreclosure rate.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 in April were Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Colorado and Oregon.

10 states account for 70 percent of total foreclosure activity
Ten states accounted for 70 percent of U.S. foreclosure activity in April, led by California with 55,869 properties receiving a foreclosure filing during the month.

A total of 19,649 Florida properties received a foreclosure filing in April, the second highest state total despite a 59 percent decrease from April 2010. Florida overall foreclosure activity in April was still up marginally from a 46-month low set in February, and default notices and scheduled auctions increased from March.

Arizona tallied the third highest state total, with 13,419 properties receiving foreclosure filings in April, followed by Michigan, with 12,996 properties receiving foreclosure filings, and Nevada, with 11,761 properties receiving foreclosure filings.

Other states with foreclosure activity totals among the nation’s 10 highest in April were Illinois (10,055), Texas (8,793), Georgia (8,479), Ohio (7,962) and Colorado (4,379).

Top metro foreclosure rates
Las Vegas continued to post the nation’s highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more, with one in every 82 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in April — more than seven times the national average.

Another Nevada metropolitan area with a foreclosure rate in the top 10 was Reno-Sparks at No. 9, with one in every 183 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in April.

Seven of the 10 highest metro foreclosure rates were in California cities, led by Modesto at No. 2, with one in every 136 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in April. Other California cities in the top 10 were Stockton at No. 3 (one in every 138 housing units), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario at No. 4 (one in every 145 housing units), Bakersfield at No. 5 (one in every 151 housing units), Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville at No. 6 (one in every 166 housing units), Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 8 (one in every 175 housing units), and Merced at No. 10 (one in every 195 housing units).

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area posted the nation’s seventh highest metro foreclosure rate in April, with one in every 168 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month.

Report methodology
The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a count of the total number of properties with at least one foreclosure filing entered into the RealtyTrac database during the month — broken out by type of filing. Some foreclosure filings entered into the database during the month may have been recorded in previous months. Data is collected from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, and those counties account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population. RealtyTrac’s report incorporates documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure: Default — Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); Auction — Notice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank). The report does not count a property again if it receives the same type of foreclosure filing multiple times within the estimated foreclosure timeframe for the state where the property is located.

Report License
The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report is the result of a proprietary evaluation of information compiled by RealtyTrac; the report and any of the information in whole or in part can only be quoted, copied, published, re-published, distributed and/or re-distributed or used in any manner if the user specifically references RealtyTrac as the source for said report and/or any of the information set forth within the report.

About RealtyTrac Inc.
RealtyTrac ( is the leading online marketplace of foreclosure properties, with more than 2 million default, auction and bank-owned listings from over 2,200 U.S. counties, along with detailed property, loan and home sales data. Hosting more than 3 million unique monthly visitors, RealtyTrac provides innovative technology solutions and practical education resources to facilitate buying, selling and investing in real estate. RealtyTrac’s foreclosure data has also been used by the Federal Reserve, FBI, U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee and Banking Committee, U.S. Treasury Department, and numerous state housing and banking departments to help evaluate foreclosure trends and address policy issues related to foreclosures.


Mortgage Requirements Put Strain on Creditworthy Homebuyers

Mortgage Requirements Put Strain on Creditworthy Homebuyers-Image via Wikipedia

The pendulum on mortgage credit has swung too far in the other direction after the recent housing downturn and is putting an unnecessary burden on creditworthy consumers, impeding the economic and housing market recoveries. That’s what a panel of industry experts told several thousand Realtors® gathered at a special symposium, Ensuring Mortgage Availability for Creditworthy Homebuyers, during the Realtors® 2011 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., here through May 14.

“As the leading advocate for home ownership, the National Association of Realtors® believes that we cannot have a viable housing or economic recovery until creditworthy homebuyers are able to obtain mortgage financing,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Reforms were needed to get rid of the harmful products that led to the housing meltdown, but continuing to curtail access to affordable credit for qualified home buyers affects the entire economy.”

Panelists offered their perspectives on the current state of the industry and identified numerous challenges impacting the availability and accessibility of mortgage financing and agreed that making it harder for those who can afford a safe mortgage does not further the goals of the housing or economic recovery.

David H. Stevens, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Federal Housing Administration commissioner, told attendees the entire financial industry made bad decisions regarding risky loan products and there is no doubt that reforms are needed to get back to a level of sustainable access where qualified consumers are able to achieve home ownership.

According to the 2011 NAR Member Profile, 34 percent of Realtors® reported that the most important factor in limiting their clients’ ability to buy a home was difficulty in obtaining a mortgage.

“The industry needs to work together to collectively ensure there are accessible and affordable mortgage products available to meet current demand as well as that of the 17 million individuals who will require housing in the next decade,” said Stevens, incoming president and chief executive officer for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

When asked if there has been a shift in America’s perspective about the value of owning a home following the downturn, Stevens was optimistic, saying affordability is better today than it’s ever been and if consumers are well qualified, have a job and can afford a mortgage they’ll realize it’s a better financial option and has greater social benefits such as more stable communities, better education, and lower crime.

Other panelists agreed that owning a home continues to be a goal for many families and that many Americans still consider buying a home a good long-term financial investment.

Panelists also answered questions and addressed the concerns of Realtors® attending the symposium about ongoing issues with residential appraisals and improving mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing.

Hundreds of Realtors® will be visiting Capitol Hill later this week to urge congressional leaders to support policies that ensure qualified borrowers can obtain safe and sound mortgage financing products. Realtors® will also be advocating that the current GSE and FHA loan limits be extended to prevent an immediate negative impact on the availability of affordable mortgages for numerous markets across the nation. According to NAR research, reverting to the statutory limits will reduce limits in 619 counties and 41 states and the District of Columbia – the average decline in loan limits will be more than $58,000.

NAR also has concerns about the proposed risk retention regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act that requires lenders that securitize mortgage loans to retain 5 percent of the credit risk unless the mortgage is a qualified residential mortgage (QRM). High down payment requirements are being proposed by federal regulatory agencies as part of the QRM exemption. Most Americans still consider having enough money for down payment and closing costs to be the biggest obstacles to buying a home. According to NAR estimates it could take as many as 14 years for the average family to save for their down payment. Higher down payments do not have a meaningful impact on default rates; NAR supports a reasonable and affordable cash investment requirement coupled with quality credit standards, strong documentation and sound underwriting.

Other panelists included Martin Eakes, chief executive officer, Center for Responsible Lending; Cara Heiden, co-president for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Doug Jones, consumer sales and institutional mortgage services executive, Bank of America Home Loans; Patricia McClung, vice president of single family offerings management, Freddie Mac; Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer, National Urban League; Rajinder Singh, chief risk officer, CitiMortgage; and Michael Williams, chief executive officer, Fannie Mae. CNBC Real Estate Reporter Diana Olick moderated the symposium.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


A statewide, bipartisan, grassroots coalition has been formed to place a citizens’ referendum on the 2012 ballot to repeal controversial Montana House Bill 198 (HB198).

The bill, which was allowed to become law by Gov. Brian Schweitzer on May 12, significantly restricts Montana property owners’ rights and broadens the ability for private corporations to exercise eminent domain in acquiring land for private profit, a coalition spokesperson Marie Garrison said.

Once the necessary signatures are obtained, HB198 will be suspended until Montanan voters decide in 2012 to repeal or keep it as state law. A formal press conference will be held on Monday, June 13, in the state capitol to formally announce the campaign and kick off the petition drive.

Garrison, wife of fourth-generation Divide, Mont. rancher Tim Garrison, said “HB198 is exactly what the governor says it is – ‘a deal with the devil.’ The bill is legislation that gives private and foreign entities the power of eminent domain normally reserved for state government to condemn private land for a public use. This legislation will force Montanans to give up land that has been in families for generations and has provided a broad base of jobs and income.”

Montana Public Service Commissioner John Vincent, D-Gallatin Gateway, has agreed to support the effort and calls the HB198 referendum pure Montana grassroots democracy. “The referendum brings an incredibly important private property infringement issue directly to the people and lets them decide what is fair and just,” Vincent said.

Organizers have already garnered the support of key Republican and Democratic legislators from across the state including senators Shannon Augare, D-Browning; Debby Barrett, R-Dillon; Eric Moore, R-Miles City; Lynda Moss, D-Billings; Jason Priest, R-Red Lodge; Sharon Stewart-Peregory, D-Crow Agency; Mitch Tropila, D-Great Falls; Dave Wanzenreid, D-Missoula; Art Wittich, R-Bozeman; and as well as representatives Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend; Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel; James Knox, R-Billings; Mike Miller, R-Helmville; Michael More, R-Gallatin Gateway; Lee Randall, R-Broadus ;Matt Rosendale, R-Glendive; Derek Skees, R-Whitefish; Bob Wagner, R-Harrison; and Max Yates, R-Butte.

Organizers are continuing to secure support from more Montana legislators and from the 18 groups and organizations who opposed HB198 during the legislative session. A full list of legislators and statewide organizations participating in the referendum will be announced at the June press conference.

The Montana Property Rights petition drive will need signatures of five percent of the registered voters in 34 house districts to place HB198 on the ballot and 15 percent of the registered voters in 51 house districts to suspend it until it is either approved or rejected by voters in 2012.

“We’re confident this will be a highly visible and successful campaign because citizens are motivated, committed and determined to stop the incredibly unjust use of eminent domain as granted in HB198,” said Garrison.

Contact: Katherine Ord
Phone: 406.925.2533

Web Site:

In the first quarter of 2011, fixed-rate loans accounted for more than 95 percent of refinance loans, based on the Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) Quarterly Product Transition Report released today. Refinancing borrowers overwhelmingly chose fixed-rate loans, regardless of whether their original loan was an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or a fixed-rate.

News Facts

  • An increasing share of refinancing borrowers chose to shorten their loan terms during the first quarter. Of borrowers who paid off a 30-year fixed-rate loan, 34 percent chose a 15- or 20-year loan, the highest such share since the first quarter of 2004.
  • Eighty-four percent of borrowers who had a hybrid ARM chose to refinance into a fixed-rate product during the first quarter, continuing a pattern of the past few years of borrowers revealing a strong preference for fixed-rate over variable-pay contracts.


Attributed to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist

  • “Fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.85 percent for 30-year loans and 4.12 percent for 15-year product during the first quarter in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, well below long-term averages. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has estimated the average coupon on single-family loans was about 6 percent at the end of 2010. It’s no wonder we continue to see strong refinance activity into fixed-rate loans.
  • “The mortgage rate on 15-year fixed was about three-fourths percentage point below that on 30-year fixed during the first quarter. For borrowers motivated to refinance by low interest rates, they could obtain even lower rates by shortening their term. In the first quarter we saw the largest share of borrowers shortening their term while refinancing in seven years.”

Get the latest information from Freddie Mac’s Office of the Chief Economist on Twitter: @FreddieMac

Quarterly Product Transition Information

These estimates come from a sample of properties on which Freddie Mac has funded at least two successive loans and the latest loan is for refinance rather than for home purchase. Some loan products, such as 1-year ARMs and balloons, are based on a small number of transactions. During the first quarter of 2011, the ARM share of applications was 6 percent in Freddie Mac’s monthly ARM survey, which includes purchase-money as well as refinance applications.

  • Quarterly Product Transition Statistics

Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and more than five million renters.

Related Links

Economic & Housing Research

Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS®)

Primary Mortgage Market Survey® Archives

Bureau of Economic Analysis [U.S. Secondary Market Yields On Federal Housing Administration Mortgages 01/1949-12/1965]

Refi & ARM Share Data


CONTACT: Chad Wandler, +1-703-903-2446,

Web Site:

Swiss TV traveled to Las Vegas, NV to interview Kenneth Lowman, the Broker/Owner of Luxury Homes of Las Vegas, for a story about foreclosed homes in the high-end of the United States real estate market.  Swiss TV found Kenneth Lowman through several of his national and international web site promotions at and selected him after seeing his expertise and knowledge in the marketplace.

Swiss TV is the primary public broadcaster for the country of Switzerland.  They have three channels and a Washington, D.C. bureau that covers news, politics, and other U.S. based stories for nightly news programs in Zurich, Geneva and Lugano.  Sylvie Deroche, producer for Swiss TV, said, “we are pleased to have Kenneth Lowman in our story as it was obvious to us he has the pulse on the luxury real estate market in Las Vegas.”

Kenneth Lowman was recently featured on a Fox News story about the Las Vegas luxury real estate market.  His innovative marketing has led to notable accomplishments that include selling a luxury estate home for over $1,047 per square foot, a record in the Las Vegas valley, selling a $7,000,000 luxury property, one of the highest sales in the marketplace in the past two years, selling a $4,200,000 luxury home in just 1 day, and leading the sales of luxury homes in the Las Vegas area with a 35% share of the market in the sale of luxury homes over $1 million.

Ken Lowman, Broker and Owner of Luxury Homes of Las Vegas, has over 21 years of experience in a star studded career specializing in higher-priced, luxury homes.  Lowman was recently selected as “One of the Most Dependable Luxury Real Estate Professionals of The West” by Goldline Research, an independent research firm specializing in evaluating professional service firms.  This recognition was published in Forbes Magazine.  Because the Southern Nevada luxury real estate market pivots on Ken’s home sales, he’s perceived as a barometer for the national media and has been featured on “The Today Show,” “Fox Business,” “Nightline,” “EXTRA” and “Inside Edition.”  Luxury Homes of Las Vegas is located at 7854 W. Sahara Ave., Ste. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89117.  For more information, call 702-216-HOME (4663) or 866-210-7620 or visit

Contact: Kenneth Lowman
(702) 216-4663

Web Site:

Florida Tops List for Mortgage Fraud

The first three months of this year brought a 44 percent increase in the dollar volume of mortgage fraud case activity, according to the First-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Fraud Index from The report, which is being announced from the floor of the Global Technology Summit 2011, indicated that prosecution of mortgage fraud occurs around four years after the crime.

The Mortgage Fraud Index climbed to 990 from the fourth quarter’s 126. The index, which is based on mortgage fraud case activity tracked at the mortgage fraud blog, was lower than 1144 in the first-quarter 2010.

The cases covered by the index represented fraud on an estimated $1.2 billion in real estate loans, rising from $0.9 billion in the final period of last year.

Index by Quarter

Period Index Amount # Cases
Q1 2011 990 $1,247,615,165 150
Q4 2010 814 $867,318,214 126
Q1 2010 1144 1,920,057,275 172

“We’re seeing signs that repurchases are responsible for some of the latest increase,” said Founder and Publisher Sam Garcia. “Smaller firms that are forced to buy back loans from housing agencies or correspondent lenders are doing their own investigations and uncovering more fraudulent activity.”

Mr. Garcia is moderating a mortgage fraud panel Monday at the GTS 2011 being held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Florida had the highest index: 130. California and New York followed.

Top States by Index

State Index
Florida 130
California 103
New York 60
Ohio 53
Pennsylvania 50

With nearly $0.3 billion in mortgages associated with first-quarter case activity in California, the Golden State had the highest dollar amount. Florida was No. 2.

Top States by Amount

State Amount
California $273,240,500
Florida $156,654,009
Illinois $132,867,750
Virginia $125,400,000
Texas $64,200,000

“The average quarterly index peaked in 2009 at 1676, while loan delinquency also topped out that year,” Mr. Garcia stated. “But subprime mortgage production peaked in 2005, suggesting an average lag time of around four years from when the actual fraud occurred to when the criminal case is prosecuted.”

Full Mortgage Fraud Index report:

Mortgage Fraud News:

Mortgage fraud Blog:


Founded in 1998, provides online mortgage news and analysis for the mortgage industry. More than 30,000 people visit each month.

Holly Himelright
3811-700 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75219

Web Site:

Housing Reforms Pushed by NAR

Reforms to America’s housing finance market must ensure a reliable source of affordable mortgage lending for creditworthy consumers. That’s according to Realtors® and other industry insiders who examined the federal government’s future role in the secondary mortgage market at the “Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: Obama Options and Beyond” session during the National Association of Realtors® 2011 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, here through May 14.

Panelist Steve Brown, 2011 NAR first vice-president nominee, opened the session by outlining NAR’s position for reforming the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), saying that reform is required, taxpayers must be protected from losses, and the federal government must continue to play a role in the secondary mortgage market to ensure a steady flow of mortgage liquidity in all markets under all economic conditions.

“As the leading advocate for home owners, NAR is concerned that eliminating the GSEs without a viable replacement is not a reasonable option and will severely restrict mortgage capital and result in higher fees and costs for qualified borrowers,” said Brown. “Reform of the secondary mortgage market needs to be comprehensive and undertaken methodically.”

James Parrot, senior advisor for housing at the National Economic Council in Washington, D.C., overviewed the Obama administration’s recommendations for reforming the GSEs in the wake of the financial crisis, which included varying levels of government backing. He noted the primary objective of the proposals was twofold – first, to lay out an immediate near-term path for reform, with steps that could be taken the next few years to reduce taxpayer risk and move the housing market to more stable footing, and second, to frame the discussion regarding the government’s long-term role in housing finance.

“The government’s large presence in the housing finance is unhealthy and needs to be scaled back; however, the steps we take over next few years to reduce the government’s role and increase private capital will have a tremendous impact on the housing market and economy as well as the availability and affordability of mortgages,” said Parrot. “The objective isn’t to turn away from housing, but to make the housing finance market stronger so that families and their most important asset are better protected,” said Parrot.

Panelist Susan Wachter, a professor at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, agreed that private capital needs to return to the housing finance market, but that most likely won’t happen until the market has stabilized.

“There needs to be more accountability and transparency in the secondary mortgage market so that private investors can best assess their risk and safely get back into the market,” she said.

Mark Calabria, director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute, argued for a very limited government role in the secondary mortgage market; saying that the private capital market has the funds and capacity to absorb Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s market share. He said that increased government support in the past few decades have only slightly increased America’s home ownership rate and that rates in other countries are higher despite their government’s limited involvement. Despite his opposing viewpoint to the level of involvement, Calabria did acknowledge that some government backstop was essential in the future, since the housing and finance markets are sensitive to booms and busts.

David Katkov, executive vice president and chief business officer at The PMI Group, countered that it would be naïve to move to a purely private market because it’s been successful in other countries, adding that the U.S.’s housing finance system dwarfs that of other countries and is far more complex.

Ann Grochala, vice president at the Independent Community Bankers of America also shared concerns for small lenders and community bankers in a purely private market, where competition from large lenders would be great.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Mortgage Interest Rates Continue Downward Slide

Mortgage Interest Rates Continue Downward Slide-Image via CrunchBase

Mortgage rates dropped again, with the benchmark conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling to 4.82 percent, according to’s weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.4 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to

The average 15-year fixed mortgage settled at 4.00 percent, and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate retreated to 5.26 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages established new lows, with the average 5-year ARM sinking to 3.52 percent and the 7-year ARM dropping to 3.76 percent.

A surprising spike in weekly filings for unemployment and a perceived loss of economic momentum have helped in bringing Treasury yields and mortgage rates to the lowest point since last December. Not even a better-than-expected report on April job growth could alter the trajectory. But with inflation readings on deck, the risk could tilt to the upside over the next week. Regardless, both fixed and adjustable mortgage rates remain at some of the lowest levels ever recorded.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.82 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,051.75, a difference of $190 per month for anyone refinancing now.


30-year fixed: 4.82% — down from 4.88% last week (avg. points: 0.4)

15-year fixed: 4.00% — down from 4.05% last week (avg. points: 0.34)

5/1 ARM: 3.52% — down from 3.56% last week (avg. points: 0.38)

Bankrate’s national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week’s move in mortgage rates, go to

The survey is complemented by Bankrate’s weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. This week, half of the panelists expect mortgage rates to rise, while 44 percent predict mortgage rates will remain more or less unchanged. Just 6 percent forecast further declines in the coming week.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to

About Bankrate, Inc.

The Bankrate network of companies includes,,, Nationwide Card Services,, Fee Disclosure, InsureMe, Bankaholic, and NetQuote.  Each of these businesses helps consumers to make informed decisions about their personal finance matters. The company’s flagship brand, is a destination site of personal finance channels, including banking, investing, taxes, debt management and college finance. is the leading aggregator of rates and other information on more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and used auto loans, money market accounts and CDs, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 575 markets in 50 states. provides financial applications and information to a network of more than 75 partners, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online (NYSE: AOL), The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT).’s information is also distributed through more than 500 newspapers.  Bankrate, Inc. was acquired by Apax Partners, one of the world’s leading private equity investment groups, in September 2009.  Apax operates across the United States, Europe and Asia and has more than 30 years of investing experience. For more information on Apax, visit:

For more information contact:
Kayleen Yates
Senior Director, Corporate Communications

(917) 368-8677

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Short Sale Specialist Network Reaches Out to Distressed Homeowners

Short Sale Specialist Network Reaches Out to Distressed Homeowners-Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The Short Sale Specialist Network recently released information on a new program, Bridging the Gap, which sets out to connect homeowners in financial hardship with those who are best suited to assist them. The borrower outreach program is at no cost to servicers and offers incentives to homeowners to take action through a short sale rather than allowing their home to go into foreclosure.

“Over 70% of delinquent borrowers are not currently involved in any type of workout program. Bridging the Gap reaches out to these borrowers who would not seek assistance on their own, aiming to dramatically alter that disturbing statistic for the better,” says Director of Operations, Mike Linkenauger. Through the program, participating lenders send delinquent borrowers’ information to the Short Sale Specialist Network via a secure online portal. The Network then assigns the referral to a local short sale agent who will contact the borrower through a multi-layered communication campaign, including visits to the subject property with borrower incentive letters. Once the borrower responds positively to the promotion, the traditional short sale process can commence.

For years, the Short Sale Specialist Network has been connecting homeowners in hardship with their network of top local short sale specialists, making them the only established network of short sale Realtors® in the country. When a borrower contacts the Network for short sale help, they are quickly informed that the entire short sale process will cost them nothing.

The Short Sale Specialist Network is only compensated by a brokerage referral fee at the transaction’s closing; therefore, the highest of ethical standards and service-level requirements are placed on their agents. Linkenauger comments, “Over the years, we’ve screened out poorly performing agents, resulting in an expanded network of highly qualified short sale experts to utilize.”

With an agent network of over 6,000 members, the Short Sale Specialist Network plans to put their nationwide expansion of Realtors to good use by “Bridging the Gap” between borrowers and lenders. The program’s Presentation Guide explains, “By combining our top-notch short sale agents, no cost services, and cutting edge technology, and customizing all of it to meet lenders’ unique servicing requirements, we are able to assist in streamlining the processing and liquidation of defaulting assets. This synergy will result in more short sales closed and fewer seized assets for our lender partners.”

For a presentation guide and complete program details, visit

The Bridging the Gap Program is fully compliant with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

April Miklas
(877) 737-4903

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