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Detroit’s foreclosure, blight crisis focus of New York Times’ interactive …

DETROIT, MI — The New York Times has taken an extensive look at the foreclosure crisis’ impact on the city of Detroit, and the results posted online are staggering.

The newspaper’s online, interactive database reveals 43,634 properties in the city that were on the brink of foreclosure this year and shows Google Maps Street View images.

As of January, the newspaper reports owners of these properties collectively owned Wayne County more than $328 million in unpaid taxes and fees.

This report, posted on The Times’ website June 26, also mentions that 26,038 properties currently remain in jeopardy of being foreclosed on.

For several years, reports have indicated that there could be 100,000 abandoned lots and 80,000 abandoned structures (at least 40,000 residential) with the city of Detroit’s 142.87 square miles.

The city, founded in 1701, reached its peak population (1.8 million) in 1950 and has been in steady decline ever since.

Vacant structures have led to an effort from various groups like the Motor City Blight Busters and newly formed Detroit Blight Authority to clean up neighborhoods one block at a time.

But the positive working being done to improve neighborhoods hasn’t appeared to stop residents from moving out.

The U.S. Census estimated in 2013 that Detroit’s population was at 688,701.

Census data shows that estimated mark is Detroit’s lowest since its population was at an estimated 465,766 in 1910

Article source: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/06/detroits_foreclosure_blight_cr.html

Several Project New Life properties in foreclosure

RACINE — A local nonprofit that was given federal funds to fix up and sell an inner-city house has allegedly defaulted on its mortgages and a lawsuit over the matter could cost it and a church their home.

North Milwaukee State Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit this spring against Racine-based nonprofit Project New Life Community Development Corp., and loan guarantors Abundant Life Christian Center Ministries Inc., and Elliott K. Cohen, claiming the parties owe them more than $468,000 after Project New Life defaulted on four mortgages.

The mortgages were secured by two properties Project New Life owns. The first property, 3433 Douglas Ave., is where Abundant Life and Project New Life operations are located. The second property is 1017 Marquette St.

In April 2009, Project New Life submitted an application to the city seeking $28,175 in federal HOME Investment Partnership Program grant dollars to rehabilitate the Marquette Street property, a four-bedroom house that had been badly damaged in a fire the year before.

Two months later, the nonprofit — whose executive director, Cohen, is also the senior pastor of Abundant Life — applied for $45,677 in additional HOME funds, stating it needed the extra dollars to complete the project.

City’s claim

Last June, the city filed suit against Project New Life asking for the grant dollars back. The money should be returned, the city claimed, because the nonprofit violated more than a dozen elements of the grant agreement surrounding the project — chief among them, that the now-rehabilitated home be sold to an “income-qualified” buyer.

The funds should also be pulled back, it alleged, because Project New Life failed to “account” for the grant dollars it received, used grant funds “for unauthorized purposes” and failed to “document the receipt and expenditure” of funds it obtained from a man who rented the property for $600 a month.

Project New Life denied the bulk of the city’s claims, asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed. In August, Cohen told The Journal Times that the nonprofit had always been “working to provide a bona fide homeowner for the property,” but that it has been a challenge given the depressed housing market and tight lending climate.

Plans were being made for a jury trial in the case as early as November, according to online court records.

Those plans and other movements in the case were put on hold Thursday, when, according to online court records, an order was entered by Racine County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Ptacek staying the matter until the foreclosure lawsuit is resolved.

Receivership for buildings

Although both the foreclosure and grant lawsuits are still pending, what will happen with the church and the Marquette Street home — at least in the short term — appears to be a bit more clear.

On Thursday, Ptacek signed an order appointing a special asset manager as the receiver of the properties, making the bank the temporary custodian of the properties while the litigation plays out. Having custody means the bank can ask that Project New Life and Abundant Life vacate the properties.

When the court learned that Cohen had filed for bankruptcy on June 20, the receivership request had been briefly put on hold. It was lifted after the bank’s attorney pointed out that it was just Cohen that had filed for personal bankruptcy, not Project New Life.

Called about the situation on Thursday, Cohen directed all questions about the cases and the church to two church members and two lawyers, Joseph M. Capelli and Felix Servantez. Calls made to the attorneys on Thursday were not returned.

Speaking on behalf of Cohen, church member Kyle Laurenz stated that the pastor “has confidence in the people that we work with, who understand our mission to help the marginalized and disenfranchised of our community.”

Asked if he knew if Abundant Life leadership knew whether the congregation would be able to remain in the Douglas Avenue location or if it had found a new place to worship, church member Stephen Olugbemi stated that, with the case still pending, he could not say one way or another.

“Regardless of what happens, the church will go on,” he added. “We are more than a building.”


Other creditors

While the City of Racine might never see the return of the grant dollars it believes Project New Life owes, it is not the only creditor mentioned in the foreclosure lawsuit that could end up being unable to collect debts they say they are owed by the nonprofit.

According to the North Milwaukee State Bank lawsuit, the nonprofit took out two other mortgages on the properties: a $47,500 mortgage with Tri City National Bank, and a $25,000 mortgage with Florencio and Susan Alvarez.

In addition to the two additional mortgages, the lawsuit says Project New Life owes AJMA, LLC just more than $1,321.

There are also four tax liens on the properties from the Internal Revenue Service. All but one of them are for back employment taxes. The largest of the four liens — in the amount of $13,377.35 — was filed in November 2012.

Article source: http://journaltimes.com/news/local/several-project-new-life-properties-in-foreclosure/article_723a0ba0-0049-11e4-b471-001a4bcf887a.html

Elderly Shelby Township woman fights foreclosure, allowed to stay for now



Rosemary Heidenfelder in her condominium.




A judge ruled Friday that an 85-year-old Shelby Township woman can pay rent and stay in her condominium while a legal battle continues over her attempted ouster through the under-the-radar foreclosure process.

Circuit Judge Peter J. Maceroni granted a preliminary injunction that halts the eviction of Rosemary Heidenfelder from her unit at Heritage Place condominiums if she pays $500 per month rent and any other assessments while her attorney, Michael Balian, tries to reverse what he called unjust and morally repugnant maneuvers.

Im pleased he (Maceroni) made a good decision, he said.

But he said he is not close to an agreement with his legal foes, Raymond Confer of Confer Investment Properties in Shelby Township and Mount Clemens-based Kirkpatrick Management Co.

The deal we want is not the deal they want, he said. Were just looking to get her house back. Were not looking for a free ride but to get her house back.

Attorneys for the defendants declined to speak to a reporter as they quickly exited a courthouse hallway following the hearing.

A group of a half-dozen senior citizens from Oakland County trekked to the Macomb County courthouse in Mount Clemens in support of Heidenfelder because they believe she is a victim of elder abuse.

I think they will find that this was surely was an improper thing to do, said Tom Kimble of Clarkston. This is wrong and cant happen to our seniors. Those financial people who prey on people has to stop.

Kimble is president of the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Retired People but said he attended out of personal interest.

Someone has to step up and speak up, said Monalisa McNeil, 63, of Bloomfield Hills, who said she has an elderly mother. It could happen to anyone of us in Oakland County. Wayne County, too.

This is a travesty whats happened, said Al Pope of Clarkston.

Also attending was Confers real estate agent Ralph Roberts, who did not speak in court.

Heidenfelders home near 22 Mile and Hayes roads was foreclosed on after she failed to pay a $342 bill that she says she never saw. It was assessed by the association for repairs beyond the monthly assesessment. Her $160 monthly fee is automatically withdrawn from a bank account.

The association, through Kirkpatrick, in May 2013 put a lien on her condominium, and it went into foreclosure by advertisement. A process server says a sheriffs sale notice was posted on her front door, but she says she never saw it. Confers bid of $35,300 beat several other bids at last Julys sheriffs auction.

Still unaware of the situation, Heidenfelder didnt respond during the six-month redemption period.

Heidenfelder paid $60,000 for the unit 28 years ago. Its market value now is estimated at $100,000.

Confer this spring sought to start trying to evict her before Balian gained a termporary restraining order in May.

Balian said Heidenfelder is willing to buy the home back at a reasonable profit of 10 to 20 percent to Confer as well as pay for other expenses to Confer, but Confer has refused.

About $31,000 from the sale, reduced from $35,000 to cover costs, has been placed in an escrow account.

Maceroni gave the parties 90 days to conduct discovery and another 30 days for filing motions before a trial is scheduled.

Kimble said he was encouraged by the judges statement from the bench that the court not only decides legal issues, but is a court of equity.

Meanwhile, Balain said the dispute is affecting his client, saying she is frail.

This is all she thinks about, he said. It consumes her.

Article source: http://www.macombdaily.com/general-news/20140629/elderly-shelby-township-woman-fights-foreclosure-allowed-to-stay-for-now

Always here: Flint’s oldest house has stood through boom and bust

FLINT, MI — If these walls could talk, they could tell an awful lot about Flint.

They could probably tell everything about Flint. They were here before Flint was Flint, before Michigan was a state. The house, discreetly tucked in among other homes on leafy Westwood Parkway, has survived every major change and event the city has known.

The walls of the old Greek Revival near the heart of the city were here when there were more Native Americans than white settlers. It has endured everything that has happened since. The timber industry, the carriage industry, William Durant and the start of General Motors, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers and the cradle of the American Dream. It stood after factories closed and unemployment lines filled up, when thousands left the city for suburbs and greener pastures. When foreclosure and crime gripped the city, the house weathered the storm.

As Joe Rundell walks through the halls of his new home in Flint’s historic Woodcroft neighborhood, he’s touring decades of Flint history.

“I feel like it’s an honor to live here,” the 74-year-old man said.

It’s a white house, built in the Greek Revival style that was popular in the time. Four big pillars line the front porch.

Built almost 200 years ago, it is believed to be the oldest standing house in Flint.

A long history

Reports are mixed about when the house was actually built, varying between the early 1830s to 1840s. It originally was erected at what is now the corner of Beach and Court streets.

“The corner was the heart of Flint’s finest residential section then,” read a 1930 Flint Journal story.

Flint was “a very small village at that point,” said David White, president of the Genesee County Historical Society.

The land was purchased from Wait Beach, the street’s namesake, by a New York settler named Eliakim M. Pratt, according to a letter from one of the early owners’ descendants.

“Tradition has it that he (Pratt) experienced several cyclones in his former home in New York state, and he determined to build this house in the wilds of Michigan so strong that it would never be blown down, and an examination of the timbers in the main portion of the house will disclose construction unknown to present-day builders,” wrote E.M. Cumings in a 1931 letter to what was then the Flint Daily Journal.

Cumings was grandson of former Michigan Gov. Josiah Begole. Begole purchased the home from Pratt “somewhere between 1860 and 1862″ and lived there until he died in 1896, according to the letter. Begole, another New York native, served as a state and congressional representative and was Michigan’s 19th governor from 1883 to 1885.

After Begole’s death, his daughter and her husband lived in the home until the daughter died in 1928. The house sat vacant for two years and was scheduled for demolition.

In 1930, E.M. Cumings took possession of the house.

“The heirs agreed to turn the building over to me, as I was contemplating building a house for my daughter,” Cumings wrote.

He consulted with an architect, who had a unique suggestion: Move the house.

“One of Flint’s earliest homes, where a governor of Michigan entertained statesmen and friends back in the eighties, has been cut in half and is being moved away to a lot in a new subdivision on the west side, where it will be rebuilt,” read a November 1930 Flint Journal story.

Decades of care

Over the years, the house appears to have been carefully preserved, said Demetra Aposporos, editor of magazine Old House Journal and a resident of Flint’s Woodcroft neighborhood.

Aposporos has never toured the house, but has studied photographs and is familiar with some of its history.

“Clearly, it has a lot of historical significance to the area here, and clearly it has been carefully shepherded by a series of owners,” she said.

After Cumings died, the house cycled through several owners during the 20th century, most notably Charles Tutt and his family. Tutt was an engineering professor at Kettering University, then General Motors Institute, and served as dean of engineering at the school and president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Tutt died in 1993.

The 3,511-square-foot house sits on six-tenths of an acre.

Plenty in the house is original, Aposporos said.

“What’s interesting to me about this house is I see these things that were in fashion that were tacked onto it,” Aposporos said.

A toilet from around 1920, a bathroom vanity from the ’60s. Kitchen tile that looks to be from the ’70s. A downstairs recreation room that might have been from the ’20s.

“Clearly, there were owners who were a little bit intrepid and tried to stay ahead of the curve on the latest thing,” she said.

Aposporos said it appears there have been two or three additions to the original structure over the years, but it’s hard to say exactly when they were added.

When the house was first built, there would have been no plumbing or electricity. So wiring, plumbing and running water would have been added years later. Also, the kitchen would have originally been in another building out back. Today, the kitchen is in a small room and is not the grand, common area many modern kitchens are.

There is also no ductwork in the house, meaning no forced air heating and no central air conditioning. The house is heated with a boiler, which feeds hot steam to a series of radiators in the house.

It does the trick, Rundell said.

“If it’s cold and I start the boiler, the whole thing is warm within 20 minutes,” said Rundell.

To compensate for the lack of air conditioning, a screened-in porch was added to the back of the house. Called a sleeping porch, residents would construct these rooms to sleep in during the hot months when it was too warm to sleep indoors.

Stumbling onto history

It was 2013 when Joe Rundell first saw the house.

A local sculptor and artist, Rundell has been the man behind several new statues of auto industry pioneers installed downtown Flint in recent years. It was late 2013 when Rundell was downtown for a GM event. They were giving tours of the city’s auto industry landmarks and some of Rundell’s statues were a new addition to town.

“I was curious if they were going to stop at my statues,” Rundell said.

So he hopped on the bus, and before long the tour took them into the Woodcroft Neighborhood, where several auto industry bigwigs lived over the years.

The tour guide talked about the old Begole house, about the history of it and how it was moved from its original site.

And by the way, the guide said, the place is for sale.

“He came home and talked about it and talked about it and talked about it,” said Melinda Rundell, his daughter and a local real estate agent.

“It’s all he talked about.”

So his daughter set up a showing. The house was empty, had fallen into foreclosure.

This was in December. By March 2014, Rundell had the house. The selling price: $139,000.

Now, they’re finishing the move from Vienna Township.

“He fell in love with it,” Rundell’s wife, Zadra, said. “And he talked me into it.”

Blake Thorne is a reporter for MLive-The Flint Journal. Contact him at bthorne1@mlive.com or 810-347-8194. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Article source: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/06/always_here_a_look_inside_flin.html

Support gathers for Shelby Township woman allow to stay home for now



Rosemary Heidenfelder in her condominium.




A judge ruled Friday that an 85-year-old Shelby Township woman can pay rent and stay in her condominium while a legal battle continues over her attempted ouster through the under-the-radar foreclosure process.

Circuit Judge Peter J. Maceroni granted a preliminary injunction that halts the eviction of Rosemary Heidenfelder from her unit at Heritage Place condominiums if she pays $500 per month rent and any other assessments while her attorney, Michael Balian, tries to reverse what he called unjust and morally repugnant maneuvers.

Im pleased he (Maceroni) made a good decision, he said.

But he said he is not close to an agreement with his legal foes, Raymond Confer of Confer Investment Properties in Shelby Township and Mount Clemens-based Kirkpatrick Management Co.

The deal we want is not the deal they want, he said. Were just looking to get her house back. Were not looking for a free ride but to get her house back.

Attorneys for the defendants declined to speak to a reporter as they quickly exited a courthouse hallway following the hearing.

A group of a half-dozen senior citizens from Oakland County trekked to the Macomb County courthouse in Mount Clemens in support of Heidenfelder because they believe she is a victim of elder abuse.

I think they will find that this was surely was an improper thing to do, said Tom Kimble of Clarkston. This is wrong and cant happen to our seniors. Those financial people who prey on people has to stop.

Kimble is president of the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Retired People but said he attended out of personal interest.

Someone has to step up and speak up, said Monalisa McNeil, 63, of Bloomfield Hills, who said she has an elderly mother. It could happen to anyone of us in Oakland County. Wayne County, too.

This is a travesty whats happened, said Al Pope of Clarkston.

Also attending was Confers real estate agent Ralph Roberts, who did not speak in court.

Heidenfelders home near 22 Mile and Hayes roads was foreclosed on after she failed to pay a $342 bill that she says she never saw. It was assessed by the association for repairs beyond the monthly assesessment. Her $160 monthly fee is automatically withdrawn from a bank account.

The association, through Kirkpatrick, in May 2013 put a lien on her condominium, and it went into foreclosure by advertisement. A process server says a sheriffs sale notice was posted on her front door, but she says she never saw it. Confers bid of $35,300 beat several other bids at last Julys sheriffs auction.

Still unaware of the situation, Heidenfelder didnt respond during the six-month redemption period.

Heidenfelder paid $60,000 for the unit 28 years ago. Its market value now is estimated at $100,000.

Confer this spring sought to start trying to evict her before Balian gained a termporary restraining order in May.

Balian said Heidenfelder is willing to buy the home back at a reasonable profit of 10 to 20 percent to Confer as well as pay for other expenses to Confer, but Confer has refused.

About $31,000 from the sale, reduced from $35,000 to cover costs, has been placed in an escrow account.

Maceroni gave the parties 90 days to conduct discovery and another 30 days for filing motions before a trial is scheduled.

Kimble said he was encouraged by the judges statement from the bench that the court not only decides legal issues, but is a court of equity.

Meanwhile, Balain said the dispute is affecting his client, saying she is frail.

This is all she thinks about, he said. It consumes her.

Article source: http://www.macombdaily.com/general-news/20140629/support-gathers-for-shelby-township-woman-allow-to-stay-home-for-now

Elderly Shelby Township woman fights quick foreclosure



Rosemary Heidenfelder in her condominium.




A judge ruled Friday that an 85-year-old Shelby Township woman can pay rent and stay in her condominium while a legal battle continues over her attempted ouster through the under-the-radar foreclosure process.

Circuit Judge Peter J. Maceroni granted a preliminary injunction that halts the eviction of Rosemary Heidenfelder from her unit at Heritage Place condominiums if she pays $500 per month rent and any other assessments while her attorney, Michael Balian, tries to reverse what he called unjust and morally repugnant maneuvers.

Im pleased he (Maceroni) made a good decision, he said.

But he said he is not close to an agreement with his legal foes, Raymond Confer of Confer Investment Properties in Shelby Township and Mount Clemens-based Kirkpatrick Management Co.

The deal we want is not the deal they want, he said. Were just looking to get her house back. Were not looking for a free ride but to get her house back.

Attorneys for the defendants declined to speak to a reporter as they quickly exited a courthouse hallway following the hearing.

A group of a half-dozen senior citizens from Oakland County trekked to the Macomb County courthouse in Mount Clemens in support of Heidenfelder because they believe she is a victim of elder abuse.

I think they will find that this was surely was an improper thing to do, said Tom Kimble of Clarkston. This is wrong and cant happen to our seniors. Those financial people who prey on people has to stop.

Kimble is president of the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Retired People but said he attended out of personal interest.

Someone has to step up and speak up, said Monalisa McNeil, 63, of Bloomfield Hills, who said she has an elderly mother. It could happen to anyone of us in Oakland County. Wayne County, too.

This is a travesty whats happened, said Al Pope of Clarkston.

Also attending was Confers real estate agent Ralph Roberts, who did not speak in court.

Heidenfelders home near 22 Mile and Hayes roads was foreclosed on after she failed to pay a $342 bill that she says she never saw. It was assessed by the association for repairs beyond the monthly assesessment. Her $160 monthly fee is automatically withdrawn from a bank account.

The association, through Kirkpatrick, in May 2013 put a lien on her condominium, and it went into foreclosure by advertisement. A process server says a sheriffs sale notice was posted on her front door, but she says she never saw it. Confers bid of $35,300 beat several other bids at last Julys sheriffs auction.

Still unaware of the situation, Heidenfelder didnt respond during the six-month redemption period.

Heidenfelder paid $60,000 for the unit 28 years ago. Its market value now is estimated at $100,000.

Confer this spring sought to start trying to evict her before Balian gained a termporary restraining order in May.

Balian said Heidenfelder is willing to buy the home back at a reasonable profit of 10 to 20 percent to Confer as well as pay for other expenses to Confer, but Confer has refused.

Maceroni gave the parties 90 days to conduct discovery and another 30 days for filing motions before a trial is scheduled.

Kimble said he was encouraged by the judges statement from the bench that the court not only decides legal issues, but is a court of equity.

Meanwhile, Balain said the dispute is affecting his client, saying she is frail.

This is all she thinks about, he said. It consumes her.

Article source: http://www.dailytribune.com/general-news/20140629/elderly-shelby-township-woman-fights-quick-foreclosure

Local briefcase published June 29

Names and faces

Windermere Real Estate-Helena is pleased to announce the addition of sales associate Jared Engels to its Helena office.

Engels initially came to Helena to attend Carroll College. While here, he found a passion for the great outdoors and all that Montana has to offer. He can’t wait to work with the people in the community that he has gotten to know so well over these last few years.

Tetra Tech announces the hiring of Travis Dunkle in the Helena and Butte offices. Dunkle graduated from Montana State University in May 2013 with a degree in chemical engineering and a focus in environmental engineering. He received his Engineering in Training certificate in January 2014. Dunkle has experience with particulate control systems, wastewater treatment, groundwater remediation systems and environmental sampling and monitoring through his education and previous work experience. For Tetra Tech, he will primarily provide engineering and technical support for the operations and maintenance of the Montana Pole Treating Plant in Butte.

Montana Department of Revenue’s Cleo Anderson has retired from the agency after 36 years of service in state government. Her last day was June 27. Most recently, Anderson served as chief security and disclosure officer in the department’s legal services unit. Anderson began her public service career in 1974 at the state Department of Agriculture as a legal assistant working on freight rate cases and administrative rules. In the late 1980s when the nation was experiencing difficult economic times, Anderson served as the Revenue Department’s bankruptcy agent. She helped investigate Montana’s first drug tax case, which ultimately became a bankruptcy case, and was later appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three different governors presented Anderson with the Governor’s Award for Excellence

The Helena Law Firm of Morrison, Sherwood, Wilson Deola PLLP announce that Harley R. Harris, Scott Peterson, and Rob Farris-Olsen have joined the Firm.

Harris is joining the firm as a senior associate. He was recently general counsel for MATL LLP, developer of the Montana Alberta Tie International Transmission Line. Prior to that Harris was a partner at Luxan Murfitt PLLP, an assistant attorney general and a Supreme Court Fellow for the National Association of Attorneys General. He is also a member of the board of directors of Intermountain. Harris has over 25 years of experience in representing and advising clients in the areas of water rights, property, commercial, environmental, renewable energy, public utility, oil and gas, and administrative law, as well as in complex civil litigation. He will be focusing his practice on helping individuals, organizations, and Montana businesses to find effective solutions to complex legal and regulatory problems.

Peterson is joining the firm as an associate. He graduated with honors from the University of Montana Law School in 2011, where he served as the articles editor for the Montana Law Review and competed in National Moot Court. After law school, Peterson served as a Montana Supreme Court law clerk for the Honorable Brian Morris. Before joining the firm, Peterson worked for Erik Thueson on a series of insurance class actions and FELA trials and is excited to continue his legal career at the firm. Peterson’s practice will focus on insurance disputes, bankruptcy, personal injury and consumer protection.

Farris-Olsen, a Helena native, is also joining the firm as an associate. He graduated with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in 2011, where he participated in the Environmental Law Group and the International Law Students Association. He also served as the MontPIRG board chair. After law school, Farris-Olsen clerked for the Honorable Michael Wheat of the Montana Supreme Court. Following his clerkship, Farris-Olsen worked for Montana Legal Services Association helping Montana homeowners avoid foreclosure and protecting consumer rights. Farris-Olsen’s practice will focus on bankruptcy, consumer protection, criminal defense, environmental protection, foreclosure defense and family law.


Honors and awards

FedEx Corporation held the 2014 Montana State Truck Driving Championship in Billings on

June 14. Tracey James, of Jaybird Delivery Company domiciled out of the FedEx Ground station in Helena, won the first-place trophy in the Step Van class. James was also awarded the Rookie of the Year award.

James and other top competitors will go on to compete at the American Trucking Associations’ 2014 NTDC, known as the “Super Bowl of Safety,” Aug. 12-16 in Pittsburgh. In addition, each state winner will be recognized by FedEx as part of its safe driving initiative, The Chairman’s Challenge.

Article source: http://helenair.com/business/local/local-briefcase-published-june/article_cfcb850a-ff54-11e3-8e6f-001a4bcf887a.html

HUD and FHA Channeling Resources to Preservation of the American Dream

Keys to Homeownership Pic

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante and U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced the Obama Administration’s efforts to continue helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, increase access to affordable rental options and expand access to credit for borrowers.

In remarks at the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Fifth Anniversary Summit, Secretary Jacob Lew specifically unveiled a new financing partnership between the Treasury Department and HUD aimed at supporting FHA’s multifamily mortgage risk-sharing program. In addition, Secretary Lew announced an extension of the MHA program for at least one year and a new effort to help jumpstart the Private Label Securities (PLS) market. Before speaking at the Summit, Secretary Lew met with homeowners and housing counselors at the Greater Washington Urban League, a non-profit organization that provides direct services and advocacy to more than 65,000 individuals each year.

With the new HUD-Treasury partnership, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) will use its authority to finance FHA-insured mortgages that support the construction and preservation of rental housing. The first partnership with the New York City Housing Development Corporation will help restore affordable rental housing damaged by Superstorm Sandy in Far Rockaway, Queens.

“Families have been especially hard hit during the rental housing crisis. Demand is soaring and prices are climbing,” said Carol Galante, Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “To help the many hard working families who cannot find affordable rental housing, we are partnering with the Treasury Department, to broaden our efforts to create and preserve safe, decent and affordable rental housing by allowing more Housing Finance Agencies access to the capital they need to build or maintain affordable multifamily apartment buildings.”

“Families and neighborhoods across the country continue to recover from the financial crisis, and we must not lose our resolve to help them, even as the economy continues to expand,” said Secretary Lew. “From day one, the Obama Administration has worked to provide relief to struggling homeowners and stabilize hard-hit communities. This announcement continues that effort. These new actions will help provide more affordable options for renters, assist homeowners facing foreclosure or juggling bills to pay their mortgages and expand access to credit for prospective borrowers.”

In addition to the new HUD-Treasury partnership, Secretary Lew announced that the Administration would be extending MHA at least until Dec. 31, 2016, to allow the Administration to continue assisting homeowners facing foreclosure and those whose homes are underwater. To date, the MHA program has provided relief to homeowners across the country, including more than 1.3 million homeowners who have permanently modified their mortgages, saving a median of $540 a month in mortgage payments. The Treasury Department’s housing assistance programs have also become a model for the broader housing sector, setting a new standard for the mortgage industry on how to restructure loans and help homeowners. More than five million homeowners have been helped by private lenders who have, in many cases, used a similar framework to the one created by MHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program. 

Finally, in an effort to help expand access to credit for qualified prospective homeowners, Secretary Lew announced a new Treasury-led effort to catalyze the PLS market.

Prior to the housing crisis, private label securities provided access to credit for many qualified Americans who did not meet Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and FHA eligibility requirements. Securitization allowed the risks associated with extending mortgage credit to be allocated among investors with different appetites for taking credit and interest rate risk.

Since the crisis, Treasury officials have been working with regulators to put in place reforms that address the flaws in the securitization and lending practices that played a role in the financial crisis. Nevertheless, many of the largest investors have not returned to the market, resulting in very little issuance and few mortgage financing options for borrowers aside from government-supported channels. To help determine what more can be done to encourage a well-functioning PLS market, the Treasury Department is publishing a Request for Comment in the Federal Register and plans to host a series of upcoming meetings with investors and securitizers to further explore ways to increase private lending.

Article source: http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news50009/HUD-FHA-Channeling-Resources-Preservation-American-Dream

Good news, bad news in foreclosure activity

In the For Crying Out Loud Department, we have yet another reason the housing market is straining to reach normalcy: there aren’t enough foreclosures.

Not that Rick Sharga wishes mortgage default on anyone — and he acknowledges that the nation has been through a collective financial tragedy.

But the executive vice president of Auction.com, an online real estate company, said the extraordinary reliability of recent mortgage borrowers actually has a downside, and lenders could and should take a little more risk to help rev up the marketplace.

  • Mary Umberger
  • Mary Umberger

At the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors meeting in Houston and in a later edited interview, Sharga explained his view of where housing is going.

Q: First, the inarguably good news: You believe the nation’s legendary foreclosure mess is behind us?

A: Yes, the pig has finally made it almost through the python. At the peak of the crisis, we were looking at about 14.5 percent of all loans being either delinquent or in the process of foreclosure. In a “normal market” that number is between 4 and 5 percent.

Right now, we’re roughly at 7.5 percent of all loans, so we’re down by half from the peak but almost twice as high as normal. In the next two to three years, that number should work its way down to the norm.

Q: How could there be a downside to that?

A: The vast majority of the loans that are delinquent right now were made before 2010.

They’re delinquent but not in foreclosure. However, they’re so delinquent that there’s no way to salvage them. These borrowers haven’t made a payment in two to three years.

On the other hand, the loans that have been made in the last three years aren’t going into default at all.

We’re seeing pretty much historically unprecedented loan performance — historically speaking, about 1percent of loans will be in foreclosure in a given year, and now we’re looking at about half of that.

Short of a borrower getting hit by a meteorite on the way home, nobody is missing payments.

And this suggests that we probably have over-tightened credit. Not that we want more people in default, but we know that people are having a hard time getting loans. Loan standards are just too tight.

That’s one reason it’s going to take time for the market to normalize.

Q: You also talked about the influence of hedge funds and other extremely deep-pocketed investors on the rental market. For a couple of years, they’ve been famously buying single-family homes by the hundreds, fixing them up, then renting them out.

Some market observers say these institutions’ affection for single-family rentals is on the wane — but you say that marketplace is just evolving. How so?

A: The single-family rental market, as a category, is going to continue to grow. The institutional players are slowing down, but not stopping.

Blackstone, one of the largest hedge funds, has announced it’s only going to buy $30 million worth of houses a week, down from $100 million a week. They’re not leaving the marketplace.

But that opening is going to lead to the entry of a new category of investor.

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/foreclosure/sc-cons-0626-umberger-20140626,0,4525269.column

Fla. veteran faces foreclosure for fighting homeowners’ assoc. ban on US flag

  • The flag outside the home of Florida veteran Larry Murphee show in this Fox NEws screen grab.

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    The flag outside the home of Florida veteran Larry Murphee show in … more 

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A 73-year-old military veteran living in Jacksonville, Fla., has been fined $8,000 by his homeowners association because he won’t remove a small American flag from his front-yard flower pot.

Larry Murphree said the HOA has also placed a lien on his home, United Press International reported.

“I have a right to have it there,” Mr. Murphree said to First Coast News. “They’ve got a foreclosure on my house — that’s why the flag is upside down. [I’m] hurt, disappointed that they just keep going after the American flag and after me.”

His dispute with the Sweetwater HOA at his Tides Condominium has been going on for more than two years, UPI said. He previously reached an out-of-court settlement with the HOA over a similar legal issue. But since, the HOA has rewritten its rules and regulations — and, apparently, U.S. flags in flower pots are no longer allowed.

“When I first moved here, I loved it,” Mr. Murphree said, Action News reported. “It was wonderful, but it got where I’m being nitpicked more and more. I’ve lost a lot of friends and neighbors moving out. I don’t want to move.”

Meanwhile, an attorney for the HOA said Mr. Murphree might have to do just that in 30 days, when foreclosure proceedings could start, if he doesn’t pay the $8,000 fine.

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Article source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/25/fla-veteran-facing-8k-fine-foreclosure-fighting-ho/