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Melrose foreclosures rise in first quarter of 2012

Petitions for new foreclosures in Melrose more than doubled in the first three months of the year, new housing data shows.

Lenders moved to foreclosure on 12 homeowners through March, up from five in the same period last year, according to the Warren Group, which tracks real estate trends in Massachusetts.

Completed foreclosures, known as foreclosure deeds, spiked even higher, to six this year, compared to only one in the first quarter of 2011.

Sales of foreclosed Melrose homes was the only positive exception. In all, nine homes were sold on the auction block through March, three fewer than last year.

For town-by-town stats, click here.

Statewide, foreclosure activity has spiked this year, and last month in particular. The rise in activity follows a national anti-foreclosure lawsuit that slowed the process in 2011.

Lenders initiated 1,621 foreclosures during the month of March, up from 1,048 in the same period last year.

“Banks are stepping up foreclosures all over the country, and Massachusetts is no exception,” said The Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr.

Article source: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/melrose/2012/04/melrose_foreclosures_double_in.html

Homeownership Rate in U.S. Falls to Lowest Since 1997


Enlarge image
Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines to 65.4%, Lowest Since 1997

Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines to 65.4%, Lowest Since 1997

Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines to 65.4%, Lowest Since 1997

Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Blocks of Cuyahoga County are filled with vacant and stripped homes on Feb. 2, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Blocks of Cuyahoga County are filled with vacant and stripped homes on Feb. 2, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photographer: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Graham Fisher's Rosner on U.S. Housing Market

April 26 (Bloomberg) — Joshua Rosner, an analyst at Graham Fisher Co., talks about the outlook for the U.S. housing market and homebuilder stocks.
He speaks with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock.” (Source: Bloomberg)


Enlarge image
Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines

Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines

Homeownership Rate in U.S. Declines

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Keys hang on the wall of a five-bedroom row house for sale in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The homeownership rate probably will settle around 64 percent, where it stood from about 1965 to the mid-1980s, because credit conditions are similar to that era, according to Patrick Newport , U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight..

Keys hang on the wall of a five-bedroom row house for sale in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The homeownership rate probably will settle around 64 percent, where it stood from about 1965 to the mid-1980s, because credit conditions are similar to that era, according to Patrick Newport , U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight.. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S. homeownership rate fell to
the lowest level in 15 years in the first quarter as borrowers
lost homes to foreclosure and tighter inventory and credit kept
buyers off the market.

The rate dropped to 65.4 percent from 66 percent in the
fourth quarter and fell a full percentage point from a year
earlier, the Census Bureau said in a report today. That is the
lowest level since the first quarter of 1997, and down from a
record 69.2 percent in June 2004.

Mounting foreclosures are displacing borrowers, while a
lack of inventory has kept home sales from accelerating amid
record affordability, the National Association of Realtors
reported April 19. Stricter mortgage standards are also limiting
purchases as rental demand surges, said Paul Diggle, property
economist with Capital Economics Ltd. in London.

“Although house prices and mortgage rates have fallen to a
level that makes buying preferable to renting, ongoing problems
accessing mortgage credit are preventing many households from
taking advantage,” he wrote in a note today.

The U.S. apartment vacancy rate fell to 4.9 percent in the
first quarter, an 11-year low, according to New York-based Reis
Inc. (REIS)
The vacancy rate for rental homes was 8.8 percent in the
first quarter, compared with 9.7 percent a year earlier, the
Census Bureau said in today’s report.

Home Vacancies

Of the estimated 132.6 million U.S. homes, 18.5 million, or
13.9 percent, were vacant in the first quarter. A year earlier,
about 19 million homes were vacant, according to the report.
That includes homes for sale or rent or held off the market, and
vacation properties used seasonally.

“Both homeowner and rental vacancy rates dropped during
the first quarter, which obviously bodes well for housing,”
because shrinking inventory will boost rents and spur demand for
new homes, Stephen East, an analyst with International Strategy
Investment Group LLC, wrote in a note to clients.

Homeownership may fall further and repossessions may
increase this year as lenders step up foreclosures after a $25
billion agreement by the nation’s largest loan servicers in
February to settle allegations of improper practices.
Foreclosure filings fell to the lowest since 2007 in the first
quarter as banks slowed actions before the settlement, according
to RealtyTrac Inc.

The ownership rate may drop below 64 percent by the end of
2015 and stay there for years, Scott Simon, the mortgage bond
head of Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach,
California, said in an e-mail today.

“It will be lower by 2017,” he said. “It will be lower
in 2020.”

New Rental Households

About 6 million borrowers will lose their properties in the
next five years because of inability to pay, creating 4 million
new rental households, Simon said in an April 24 interview on
Bloomberg Television.

The homeownership rate fell 3 percentage points from a year
earlier to 61.4 percent in the first quarter for people aged 35
to 44, the biggest drop of any age group. The Northeast had the
biggest regional decline, with the ownership rate falling 1.4
percentage points to 62.5 percent. The West had the lowest
ownership rate at 59.9 percent, down 1 percentage point from a
year earlier.

Ownership Society

The U.S. homeownership rate rose to a record in 2004 when
President George W. Bush, running for re-election, called for
expanding home-loan availability to create an “ownership
society.”
The current rate of 65.4 percent matches the average
since 1965, when the Census Bureau began reporting the figures,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Home prices fell 3.5 percent in February from a year
earlier and are 35 percent below their July 2006 peak, according
to the SP/Case-Shiller index of 20 U.S. cities. The average
rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 3.88 percent last week and
reached 3.87 percent in February, the lowest level in at least
four decades, according to Freddie Mac.

About 2.37 million homes were listed for sale in March, a
and 6.3 month supply and down 22 percent from a year earlier,
the Realtors association said on April 19. A six-month supply is
considered a healthy market, according to the group.

To contact the reporter on this story:
John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles at
johngitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kara Wetzel at
kwetzel@bloomberg.net

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-30/homeownership-rate-in-u-s-falls-to-lowest-since-1997.html

Foreclosure: Initiative 84 changes language, pushes for signatures

foreclosure sign wikimedia.jpgInitiative 84, a proposed constitutional amendment that would require lenders to prove ownership of property before foreclosing on it, has passed another hurdle in its move toward legalization. On Friday, proponents and opponents met before the state title board to discuss its language, which made it through relatively unchanged. The next step, however, might prove the hardest.

Before the potential amendment makes it to a statewide ballot, the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the body heading up its support, must collect a minimum of 87,000 signatures — which could cost $200,000 or more, CPC economic justice director Corrine Fowler says. Now that the effort’s language has been cemented, the coalition is gathering volunteers and paid representatives to launch its signature drive.

Initiative 84, which was created after House Bill 1156, a similar foreclosure measure, died in committee before making it to the floor, seeks to reverse 2006 legislation that changed the standards for legally processing Colorado foreclosures. Since that year, it has been legal for lawyers to sign a “statement of qualified holder,” which indicates ownership without a pattern of proof, and it is no longer mandatory to show a paperwork chain.

If approved, the amendment would require financial institutions to verify ownership of any property through a county note or a certified copy presented during the court stage of a foreclosure.

So far, the language has come under fire from a handful of financial institutions, and while both sides made arguments regarding the initiative’s appropriateness on Friday, most were rejected because they did not apply to title board proceedings. In the meantime, the board denied efforts to stage a rehearing to slow down the initiative.

Fowler says the CPC is satisfied with the slight change in wording, which now reads, “An amendment to the Colorado Constitution changing the existing evidentiary requirements for foreclosure of real property and in connection there with requiring the evidence be filed to sufficiently establish a party’s right to enforce a valid recorded security interest prior to the foreclosure of any real property.”

The central change here is that now sufficient evidence is required, rather than “complete” evidence. The difference could become a significant one at court in the future.

“Special interests like the Colorado Bankers Association won’t be able to come back and change it in future years,” Fowler told Westword. “This is going to affect the bottom line of the lawyers and the bankers, and we know that and don’t take this lightly. We believe that the foreclosure crisis is the biggest issue our national economy is facing.”

More form our Politics archive: “Foreclosure reform: Initiative 84 aims to put fix rejected by House committee in constitution.”

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Article source: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/04/foreclosure_initiative_84_title_board.php

Bankruptcy May Offer Relief for Owners Facing an Association Foreclosure

April 29, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — A Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides a homeowner various kinds of protection from their financial problems. By filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can stop creditor harassment, pay mortgage arrears over a 5-year period, and reduce or eliminate much of your unsecured credit card debt.

Underwater?

For homeowners with a second mortgage or home equity loan and an underwater first-mortgage, a Chapter 13 may permit the second mortgage to be “stripped.” This allows the loan to be treated as unsecured debt, like a credit card, because there is no longer any equity in the home to secure it.

Homeowner’s Association Foreclosure

When people fall behind paying their homeowners’ association dues, the arrears are collected in a lien, which financially behaves as a second mortgage.

With the recession and the collapse of the real estate market in Florida in recent years, many homeowners’ associations have become aggressive in foreclosing on properties when owners fail to pay association fees. Homeowner’s associations can use these liens and foreclose on amounts that are a fraction of the value of the unit.

When the value of the property declines below the first mortgage, making the mortgage underwater, a lien created by the association to collect back payments on association dues becomes a junior lien, unsecured and subject to modification by the bankruptcy code.

Depending on the terms of your association agreement, a Chapter 13 could allow a homeowner faced with a foreclosure to both stop the foreclosure and strip the lien at the same time. This would mean any arrears on the association dues could be treated in the Chapter 13 plan as unsecured debt.

In order to determine if this would work for you, you would need to speak with an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney, as the variables are many, and each homeowner’s particular financial situation is unique. An attorney can work through the calculations and help you figure out if a Chapter 13 is the best solution to your financial problems.

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Article source: http://www.businessreviewusa.com/press_releases/bankruptcy-may-offer-relief-for-owners-facing-an-association-foreclosure

Commodities caught between financial facts and empty optimism

Commodities, Crude oil, Gold, Copper, SilverCommodities, Crude oil, Gold, Copper, Silver

The ongoing rhetoric emanating from the global media and the various national administrations remains optimistic even against a plethora of information to the contrary. One glaring example, and the latest in a list of debt crisis victims, is Spain where the unemployment rate is 25% and where austerity programs are causing protests. It was recently announced that Great Britain has fallen back into recession. We have not heard anything lately on Greece, Italy or Portugal, where problems will soon re-appear in the media headlines. The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank cannot possibly finance the ongoing debt crisis and a global recession is unavoidable.

The continuing exclusion from the U.S. media of the disparity between the jobs created and jobs lost is a source of consternation. A creation of 120,000 jobs in a month, where the quality of those jobs is in question, against the weekly loss of 350,000 jobs continues to elude recognition. An unemployed worker applying for first time benefit must have, in my opinion, lost a job so we have a monthly job “creation” of 120,000 against a monthly loss of 1.4 million based on a four-week month where each week 350,000 or more applications for unemployment are made. What is wrong with this picture?

Four more U.S. bank failures were reported last week, bringing the total to 21 so far this year. The current mortgage situation is another problem that we feel is being ignored. Potential home buyers are reluctant to purchase as long as they feel there is an overhanging default and foreclosure condition. The inability or reluctance of banks to foreclose is apparent because mortgages, whether being serviced or not, are carried on their books as an asset and to foreclose would mean the move from the plus column to the minus column would mean the necessary addition of reserve funds. Something they do not want to do on a large basis so they are only foreclosing on a small amount of their bad loans in order to avoid the haircut required by the Federal Banking regulations. The only answer I see is the immediate foreclosure on all bad loans to form a base from which to finally start a new housing boom. Yes, prices will decline but they will decline to an actual bottom and then we can expect to see buyers flowing into the housing market.

How long can the recognition of an economic crisis in the U.S. be disguised as prosperity or economic improvement? We continue to urge investors to maintain a conservative approach to their investment analysis bearing in mind that an economic contraction could result in severe market reaction and impact their financial health.

Now for some actual information to hopefully assist our readers with their ability to make financial decisions…

Interest Rates: June U.S. Treasury bonds closed at 142 23/32nds, up 14/32nds on continuing concern over U.S. economic data such as the weaker than expected first quarter GDP. A veto threat by President Obama of a federal loan doubling for college students along with women’s issues and his health care overhaul was also a consideration. Both political parties agree that student loan interest payments should not increase but Republicans want spending cuts and Democrats want higher revenues. Republics would keep interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4% for another year rather than an automatic increase to 6.8% on July 1st as would occur under a law enacted five years ago by a Democratic Congress. So another stalemate exists which in most cases provides for gains in treasury prices and resulting lower yields. A credit rating downgrade by Standard Poors for Spain and additional easing measures by the Japanese Central Bank also led to demand for U.S. Treasuries. Another report that Democrats voted earlier this year to take money from the preventive health fund to help keep doctors Medicare reimbursements from dropping also led to partisonship in the Congress leading institutions to wonder if an agreement would ever be reached on the budget. The confusion led to addition influx into the U.S. treasury market from other avenues of investment. We continue to view the Treasury market as within a range between 135 and 145 and at nearly 143, we are fast approaching the higher end of our projected range. We favor the strategy is employing “strangle spreads”.

Stock Indices: The Dow Jones industrials closed at 13,228.31, up 23.69 and for the week gained 1.53%. The SP 500 closed at 1,403.36, up 3.38 and for the week managed a gain of 1.8%. The tech heavy Nasdaq closed at 3,069.20, up 18.59 and gained 2.29% for the week. Better than expect earnings reports and an improved consumer sentiment report offset the disappointing U.S. GDP data and the downgrade of Spain’s credit rating. We would caution our readers against expectation of continued market gains predicated on earnings from corporations while labor conditions remain in flux. As we have indicated in previous commentaries, “an unemployed consumer does not consume” and sales figures are not as good as resulting net earnings would imply. We strongly urge the implementation of strategic hedging programs which we have developed and provide to clients.

Currencies: The June U.S. dollar index closed at 78.77 down 23.1 points against most major currencies including the Canadian dollar on economic gains and an expected increase in its key lending rate. The June Canadian dollar climbed 27 points to close at $1.0184. The June Euro closed at $1.3262, up 21 points. Other gains were posted for the Swiss Franc 24 points to $1.1045, the Japanese yen 86 points to .12445, the British pound 72 points to $1.6264, and the Australian dollar 73 points to $1.0416. We continue to favor the U.S. dollar not on a U.S. economy but relative to the deteriorating Euro zone debt situation.

Next page: Energies, metals and ags


Article source: http://www.futuresmag.com/2012/04/29/commodities-caught-between-financial-facts-and-emp?t=financials

Home calendar

Learn “how to buy HUD and foreclosure properties “: A 3-hour class, 9-noon, sponsored by Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland, on Saturday at the Royal Oak Senior Center, 3500 Marais, (north of 13 Mile Road, between Crooks and Main). This is the first class of a series of 10 held on the first Saturday of the month. Each class is $49 (plus $5.40 material fee). E-mail: OREIAClass@AddedValueRealty.com; 248-787-7325.

Home preservation fair: Eighth annual Home Preservation Fair presented by the Historic Boston Edison Association will be held from noon-5 p.m. on Saturday. Owners and prospective owners of historic homes can participate in one-stop shopping with metro Detroit home repair/preservation specialists. Pre-screened specialists with knowledge and experience of the needs of historic homes will exhibit their expertise. Invited specialists have skills that include masonry repair and restoration, wet plaster repair and replacement, painting of both exteriors and interiors, plumbing, heating and cooling services, landscaping, window repair and restoration, roofing, electrical upgrades and updating, fencing, flooring, wood floor refinishing. Event will be held at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, 2701 Chicago Blvd. (at Linwood), Detroit. The fair is free and open to the public, however, a registration fee is required for home repair/preservation specialists. Free and secure parking is provided via the Linwood entrance. Questions and details: go to www.historicbostonedison.org or e-mail bostonedison@gmail.com.

7th annual Grandmont Rosedale Communities Open House: Up to 20 homes for sale in one of Detroit’s premier neighborhoods will be featured during the open house from 1-5 p.m. on May 6. Visitors begin at the Welcome Center in the North Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale, where they can pick up a list of the homes that will be open that day, view presentations on the neighborhood, meet residents and get information on the 15-year tax abatement available to new buyers. Shuttle bus tours highlighting featured homes and neighborhood amenities will run throughout the afternoon. Homes for sale reflect a variety of styles ranging from a traditional 1,580-square-foot brick colonial to a more contemporary 3,600-square-foot ranch house; prices range from $60,000 to $178,000. Event is sponsored by the community associations of North Rosedale Park, Rosedale Park, Grandmont, Grandmont No. 1, and Minock Park, as well as Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., Huntington Bank, LaMont Title, Grandmont Rosedale Lending Solutions, Robinson Realty and Management Group and Dusing Security. The Community House is located in North Rosedale Park, three blocks west of the Southfield Freeway and four blocks north of Grand River. For more information, directions and home listings, visit www.grandmontrosedale.com.

Finance seminar: Learn how to finance your purchase and rehab projects in and around Detroit. Hear from an expert in the lending business, Trent Dalrymple, who has more than 25 years of experience. Real estate and investment professionals are welcome. Seating is limited, so call 248-547-3006, or sign up at www.metro-mi.com . These free one-hour seminars will be 6-7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month at Metro Mortgage Investments, 26711 Woodward Ave., Suite 301, Huntington Woods.

Home-selling options: Know your rights about foreclosure, HAFA, HAMP and a $3,000 relocation assistance program. Free seminar 6-7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Remerica Hometown One, 44785 Five Mile Road, Plymouth. Call Terrance Green to RSVP, 734-395-8346.

Understanding foreclosure and your alternatives: This seminar outlines alternatives to a home foreclosure. Hosts will explain what a short sale is and what it means to you 6-7 p.m. Thursdays, Weichert Realtors — Excel, 47699 Van Dyke, Shelby Township. Call Kim Hammonds at 586-703-7949 to register.

Wayne County REIA monthly meeting: Open forum this Tuesday. Come and share ideas/information. There will be local investors available to answer questions and update you on the current market as well as share knowledge and expertise. Meetings at 7:30 on the first Tuesday of every month at Red Lobster at 13999 Eureka Road in Southgate. Members are free, guests $20 (which will be applied toward membership). Call Wayde Koehler at 313-277-4168 for details.

Wealth friendly upside-down thinking seminar: Presented by Robert Shemin, sponsored by Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland, 5:30- 9:30 May 10 at Club Venetian, John R Road, north of 12 Mile, Madison Heights. Seminar free to members, $20 nonmembers. Call 800-747-6742 (www.REIAofOakland.com).

Real Estate Contributor of the Year Awards Night: Join CoreNet Global Michigan Chapter for a Charity Casino and Awards Night at 6:30 p.m. on May 16 as it honors Henry Ford Health System as the Real Estate Contributor of the Year for its commitment to the community, in an evening with food, drinks and casino games at the Roostertail, 100 Marquette Drive, Detroit. Your ticket includes a buffet, open premium bar, 20/20 raffle, blackjack, craps and roulette tables. This event benefits the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. For more information, please contact Paula Arwady at 248-318-2588 (paarwady@comcast.net).

Buying/refinancing seminars: Discuss options available to those looking to purchase a home or refinance their existing home. Receive $500 off closing costs. Contact Jeff Catullo, Amerisave Mortgage, at 586-214-4339 or e-mail catullo@comcast.net .

Home selling: Learn about selling your home even if you owe more than its current market value, 6 p.m. Thursdays at 50429 Independence, Canton. Sponsored by Remerica Hometown One. Free. Call Terrance Green at 734-395-8346.

Reverse-mortgage seminar: 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Colonial Mortgage, 33919 Plymouth in Livonia. Free. Call 800-260-5484.

Avoid/stop foreclosure: Qualify for a short sale (HAFA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) or loan modification, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at RE/MAX First, 15095 Twenty-two Mile Rd., Shelby Township. Call Aileen Potter at 586-873-2431. www.ShortSaleProsOfMichigan.com

CAREERS IN REAL ESTATE

Real estate training: Out of a job? Changing careers? Become a real estate agent and be ready for the upcoming real estate boom. Remerica Hometown presents a pre-license training class. Real Estate Professional Education Group is at 41025 Ann Arbor Road, Plymouth. Class cost is $99 and includes all materials. For more information, a reservation or to schedule a private interview call Chris, 734-459-6222, or e-mail info@remericahometown.com.

Free career seminars: Provided by Real Estate One. Seminars every Tuesday and Thursday at various times and locations throughout metro Detroit. For information about the seminars and licensing class times, e-mail careers@realestateone.com or call 800-889-9001. Or complete a free interactive business plan to see whether a career in real estate is right for you. Go to www.michigancareerinrealestate.com .

KATHRYN PATTERSON COMPILES THIS LIST. CONTACT HER AT 313-222-6610.

Article source: http://www.freep.com/article/20120429/BUSINESS04/204290311/Home-calendar

Florida Foreclosure and Short Sale Experts Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure …

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Help Stop Foreclosure with AvoidForeclosure.com

Photo by Ambro

There is variety in the selection process now and homeowners might not have to declare bankruptcy.

Jacksonville, Florida (PRWEB) April 22, 2012

Florida foreclosure and short sale experts have the unfortunate task of viewing the face of foreclosure from the ground level. The process to stop foreclosure is complicated and some homeowners face challenges that other homeowners do not face during foreclosure. Traditional ways that a homeowner could explore to avoid foreclosure included filing bankruptcy or hiring an attorney that could use legal blockades to slow the foreclosure process. AvoidForeclosure.com, the online foreclosure help center, announces that its programs are now nationwide. New options are available for homeowners to avoid bankruptcy apart from bankruptcy or hiring attorneys. These national programs are now available in every U.S. state and are a combined effort of over three years of research and development.

The news media has reported the high number of foreclosures in U.S. states like Arizona, Michigan and Florida. These states are some of the hardest hit since the real estate market slowdown in 2008. The Obama Administration has focused efforts to help homeowners struggling with foreclosure, but no new federal assistance has been approved by Congress. Some homeowners facing foreclosure are searching for alternative ways to stay in their homes and avoid the sale of their property. “The impact of foreclosure is devastating to families and individuals in many states,” said Joe Kern, Housing Consultant for AvoidForeclosure.com. “The statistics are reported daily by the news media, but we get to read personal emails and requests for help from desperate homeowners everyday,” Kern added.

Some banks and mortgage lenders stop negotiations and loan modification requests after a certain length of time has passed. Proving financial hardship has been one of the challenges that some homeowners have faced when fighting to avoid foreclosure. In many U.S. states, the process of foreclosure is judicial and requires court approval before foreclosure can be started. New programs that are available from AvoidForeclosure.com could help a homeowner stop their home from being sold by a mortgage lender. “Certain options are right for certain people,” said Megan Marcum, Foreclosure Specialist at AvoidForeclosure.com. “There is variety in the selection process now and homeowners might not have to declare bankruptcy,” added Marcum.

As the federal government overhauls its foreclosure assistance programs, the homeowners that are facing foreclosure within the next three to six months could find that federal assistance will arrive too late to make a difference. A typical foreclosure is completed in 180 days or less after public notice is made. The qualified specialists that speak directly to homeowners at AvoidForeclosure.com know the struggles that are experienced during the fight to save a home from foreclosure. The national expansion of the announced foreclosure programs have been designed to offer the chance for a way out of foreclosure by avoiding traditional methods like forbearance and loan modifications. 

About AvoidForeclosure.com

Since the spring of 2010, AvoidForeclosure.com has provided assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure in the state of Florida. A group with backgrounds in real estate, legal and financial industries started AvoidForeclosure.com with the hope of taking it national. The first quarter of 2012 marks the launch of national programs aimed at stopping foreclosure in any U.S. state.

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Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/avoid-foreclosure/04/prweb9430268.htm

New federal rules could speed up short-sale process

WASHINGTON — If you’re one of the estimated 11 million homeowners burdened with an underwater mortgage, a new federal policy change could be good news: Starting in June, when you want to do a short sale to shed your mortgage and avoid foreclosure, you may not have to wait for months to hear back from your bank when you submit an offer from a potential purchaser.

Instead, if your loan is owned or securitized by either of the dominant conventional mortgage market players — Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac — you can expect a response within 30 business days, with a final decision taking no more than 60 days. If you don’t hear back during the first 30 days, the bank will be required to send you weekly updates telling you precisely where the holdups are and when they are likely to be resolved. None of this is typical of short-sale procedures today. Banks and loan servicers that don’t comply will face monetary and other penalties.

The mandatory timelines, which real estate and mortgage industry experts say should help speed up what traditionally has been a glacial process, are being imposed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulatory overseer of Fannie and Freddie in conservatorship. Short sales, in which the lender or loan servicer agrees to accept less than the full amount owed by the borrower, represent an important alternative to foreclosure.

  • Also
  • Low-ball offers decline in some housing markets

  • Qualifying for a mortgage has gotten much tougher, analysis shows

  • FHA rule change on ‘collection’ accounts could hurt home buyers

  • Snags leading to more real estate contract cancellations

  • FHA ‘streamline refi’ is a breeze for homeowners who qualify

  • Builders highlight often-hidden costs of buying a foreclosed home

  • See more stories »

Although short sales can be complex and messy, and can take anywhere from several months to more than a year to complete, they are turning into a mainstay of the real estate market. According to a report from the foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac, short sales jumped 33% in January compared with the same month the year before. In 12 states — including California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New York and New Jersey — there were more short sales recorded during January than sales of foreclosed properties.

This trend is welcome, regulators say, but the time required to complete short sales is still far too long. The 30-day and 60-day mandates address just one of the key points of delay in the process, but regulators promise a series of additional steps during the coming months designed to speed transactions. They include clearer guidelines on borrower eligibility, property valuations, compensation for lenders holding second liens and mortgage insurance issues. All of these are points of friction that can delay short sales for weeks or months.

Realty agents who specialize in short sales say setting mandatory timelines is a step in the right direction but won’t solve all the problems. The new rules and promises of more “are great if they really happen,” said broker Erik Berry of Erik Berry Associates in Sacramento. Short sales that his firm handles take an average of “about six months” from start to finish on Fannie-Freddie loans. But FHA transactions, which will not be affected by the new regulations, average much longer, and sometimes drag on for a year.

Berry also is skeptical that banks and servicers will be able to reform their staffing practices quickly enough to meet the compressed timelines — even if penalties are imposed. In some cases, he said, banks switch personnel and negotiators five or six times over the course of a short sale.

“You’re dealing with one person one day and they say, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s fine,’ then suddenly they’re gone and you never hear from them again,” Berry said, leaving the deal stalled for weeks.

Matt Battiata, whose Battiata Real Estate Group in Del Mar, Calif., handles hundreds of short sales a year, said a reliable, 60-day decision deadline for responses to offers will be helpful — 30 days better than the 90-day average he now sees from banks — but the whole process will still take longer than traditional sales. For clients seeking to do short sales today, Battiata estimates five to six months from offer to closing.

Some of the complications inherent in short sales are beyond the control of regulators or banks, he pointed out. For instance, buyers put in offers to purchase but then change their minds, forcing the sellers and brokers to come up with replacement offers and the bank to reset the clock to analyze the new package.

The take-away for potential short sellers: Be aware of the new moves afoot to streamline the process, but don’t expect miracles.

kenharney@earthlink.net

Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group.

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-harney-20120429,0,7718386.story

Foreclosure damages children’s health, grades

By Cornelius Frolik,

Staff Writer

6:43 PM Sunday, April 29, 2012

Housing instability has a negative impact on children’s well-being, and almost 80,000 children in Ohio have lost their homes to foreclosure while many others are at risk of it happening to them, according to a new study.

Foreclosures increase the stress levels in households, and they can result in families having to live in poor neighborhoods with more crime and weaker community bonds, according to a new report by First Focus, a family-advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

The school performance of children who change living arrangements often slides, and some health issues have been linked to housing changes.

“It is a huge, traumatic issue for families,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “The implications for kids’ long-term well-being is really poor.”

An estimated 79,000 children in Ohio have lost their homes to foreclosure, and 98,000 are at risk of eviction because their families’ mortgage payments are at least 60 days delinquent, according to the First Focus report released earlier this month.

Across the country, millions of children have lost their homes while millions more are at risk of joining them.

Families that are evicted from their homes often must double up with other relatives or rely on friends for a place to stay, according to First Focus. Unstable housing situations commonly lead to emotional and psychological hardships that negatively affect family relationships.

“The financial pressure on parents tends to affect interactions with each other and with their children, and a less supportive parenting style caused by stress can have negative consequences on children’s behavior and their overall development,” said Julia Isaacs, senior research fellow at the Urban Institute and author of the report.

Additionally, the schoolwork of children who are forced to move out of their homes often suffers, and one move has the same effect of missing one month of school, the report said.

Families with housing problems often also postpone important medical visits and they skip buying necessary medications.

People often think of a foreclosure as a single event, but studies show that the foreclosure process on average takes more than 600 days to reach a conclusion, said Cyleste Collins, research assistant professor with the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“Many of these families are living in a state of limbo for a very long period of time,” she said. “Being in that limbo state and trying to fight to avoid losing your house is very tough on these families.”

Collins said parents try to limit the disruption the foreclosures cause in their children’s lives by doing things like keeping them in the same schools or holding onto their home until the school year ends.

But it is very difficult to shield children from the hardships involved in losing a home, she said.

First Focus advocates for government policies that help residents refinance their mortgages and prevent foreclosures through loan modifications, and the group also calls for more programs that help families find new affordable homes.

The group urges the government to provide more housing assistance to homeless children, and it encourages schools to develop methods to help transition students into a new school setting when they are forced to move.

Collins encourages families facing foreclosure to reach out to friends, relatives and community members for emotional support to help them cope with the harrowing experience.

“They need some sort of system to support them,” she said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-0749 or cfrolik@DaytonDailyNews.com.

Article source: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/foreclosure-damages-childrens-health-grades-1367818.html

Foreclosures rise in many US cities

(MoneyWatch) Foreclosures are on the rise in parts of the U.S., according to new data from RealtyTrac. Foreclosure activity rose for the first quarter in 114 out of the 212 metropolitan areas around the nation surveyed by the real-estate industry research firm.

Foreclosures increased from the previous quarter in 26 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. Pittsburgh saw the highest jump, with a 49 percent increase in homes seized, followed by Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Raleigh, N.C., and Virginia Beach, Va.

The surge in foreclosures appears to be weighing on the entire residential housing sector. Home prices declined year-over-year in the first two months of 2012, according to the latest SP/Case-Shiller index, release earlier this week.

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Foreclosure activity did decline over the quarter in some cities. Portland saw a 28 percent drop in foreclosures, the largest decline among the cities RealtyTrac monitors. Foreclosures fell 61 percent in Las Vegas, viewed by many as ground zero for the housing bust, as well as in Providence, R.I., Salt Lake City, Boston, and San Jose, Calif.

Despite the continuing problems in the housing market, total foreclosures are at a lower level this year than in 2011. Of the 212 metropolitan areas examined by RealtyTrac, 64 percent saw a year-over-year decline in foreclosures in the first quarter.

Most of the nation’s largest metro areas also are seeing foreclosures ebb. Of the nation’s 50 biggest cities, 33 reported a drop in home seizures. Along with Las Vegas, foreclosures also declined significantly in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Austin, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y.

Of the 17 larger metro areas that posted year-over-year increases in the first quarter, Orlando, Fla., saw the largest hike, at 52 percent. Rounding out the top five were Indianapolis, Hartford, Conn., Miami, and Philadelphia.

“First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag,” Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, said in a statement. “While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter — an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.”

Although it may be premature to call a bottom to the housing crash, in other words, we may be closer to than we think.

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It’s not surprising to see banks pushing more foreclosures through the pipeline. The federal government’s $26 billion foreclosure settlement earlier this year with five of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders lays out clearer loan-servicing guidelines, while banks are becoming more efficient in processing foreclosures. Despite recent speculation that short-sales are slowly becoming the preferred method of unloading distressed property, banks also still must complete the foreclosures they’ve already started.

If you’re a homeowner and have questions about whether you qualify for a loan modification or refinancing under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (also known as HARP 2.0), contact the Homeowner’s HOPE hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE or go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov. If you believe you were foreclosed upon incorrectly or received a foreclosure notice that you shouldn’t have, you can ask for a free Independent Foreclosure Review. Go to IndependentForeclosureReview.com for details or call 888-952-9105.

Article source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57422063/foreclosures-rise-in-many-u.s-cities/