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Why people are calling the acting attorney general’s firing the ‘Monday Night Massacre’

On Monday evening, the White House released a statement saying acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates had been fired for instructing Justice Department lawyers not to defend President Trump’s travel ban.

Yates has “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said .

“Monday Night Massacre” was trending on Twitter within the hour.

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Game Stop, PacSun to close Boulevard Mall locations – The Buffalo …

The Boulevard Mall will soon be down two more stores.

Video game store Game Stop vacated the mall over the weekend. It sold video games, consoles, accessories and collectibles. The Texas-based company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Game Stop was located at the mall’s southern end near Justice, Claire’s Boutique and Spencer Gifts between Sprint and Kids Foot Locker.

There are 13 remaining locations in Depew, Hamburg, Niagara Falls, West Seneca Amherst, Cheektowaga, Kenmore and Buffalo.

PacSun, a surfer-style clothing store that sells such brands as Vans, Billabong and Roxy, is slated to close Saturday. It is located at the mall’s southern end, between Things Remembered and Verizon Diamond Wireless. The California-based company  has been failing since 2008 due to shifting fashion preferences and the company’s over expansion. PacSun declared bankruptcy in April.

There are other PacSun locations at Walden Galleria and Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. PacSun couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The store closures are among several recent tenant departures at the mall. Most recently, major anchor Sears announced it would close its locations there and at Walden Galleria as part of a nationwide restructuring.

In July, Forest City Enterprises put the mall up for sale. Next month, the owner has a $92.4 million balloon payment due on a loan for which the mall serves as collateral. If the company defaults, that could lead to a lengthy foreclosure process and a new owner for Boulevard Mall.


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Rising mortgage interest rates will slow home price appreciation …

Higher mortgage interest rates will reduce future loan balances; thus today’s homeowners will not experience the home price appreciation enjoyed by previous generations.

Many would-be homeowners rush to the market to lock in low mortgage rates out of fear of being priced out forever. Nervous buyers fear that if they wait, they will fail to get a place of their own. Due to our chronic shortage of homes, there is some basis for this fear, but potential buyers considered the ramifications of that occurrence, the fear would evaporate.

If today’s homebuyer were to be priced out tomorrow, they probably wouldn’t be alone in that predicament. In fact, if a great many people are priced out by rising mortgage rates, by definition, demand declines. Less demand means less home price appreciation or even price drops.

Does that mean that people shouldn’t buy today and wait for a better day? No. In a market where home prices and rents rise in tandem, like ours has for the last four years, residents are equally at risk of being priced out of rental housing or homeownership. Whenever more jobs are created than houses constructed, people bid against one another for the scarce resource, and both rents and home sales prices rise.

The advantage of buying in today’s homebuying environment isn’t future home price appreciation: the advantage is amortization. Low interest rates loan build equity faster in the early years of a mortgage than high interest rates loans. Between the accelerated amortization and freezing housing costs with a fixed rate mortgage, homeownership is still a good financial move even in a low appreciation market environment.

Home Equity

Where does home equity come from? Does it appear by magic, a gift of the appreciation fairy? Does it accumulate by discipline through paying down a mortgage? Both factors are at work, but unless you believe the appreciation fairy listens to your prayers, the only factor that builds home equity you have control over is the amount of debt encumbering the property.

So how does the appreciation fairy work? In concept house prices should rise gently over time to match the growth of wages in the area. In practice house prices rise and fall violently with changes in financing costs, economic upheavals, a downward substitution effect in supply-constrained markets, and kool-aid intoxication, or as economists prefer to call it, animal spirits.

The underlying determinant of home equity is the difference between the resale value and the debt on the property. Resale value is determined by the activity of buyers in the market, and it’s closely tied to the sales prices of comparable properties in the neighborhood.

And what is the largest determinant of the resale price of neighboring homes? The amount the buyer borrowed. In other words, the biggest determinant of your home equity as a homeowner is the amount of debt someone was willing and able to borrow to buy in your neighborhood.

When a property sells for a new high price, the sale impacts values on all similar properties near the new sale. During the housing bubble, neighbors cheered each new higher comp because it added to their (illusory) net worth. With unrestricted access to equity with no-doc loans and 100%+ LTV HELOCs, everyone near a new high comp obtained free money from foolish lenders funded by even more foolish investors.

The late arrivals to the house party eagerly awaited a greater fool to come along and pay an even higher price so they could pilfer their share of the HELOC booty too. Obviously, under such circumstances, the desire for real estate was infinite, and with no impeding lending standards and an eagerness from investors to fund new loans, actual demand as measured by dollars was very high as well; therefore, we ended up with a massive housing bubble.

When the housing bubble collapsed, prudent lending standards returned, and prices dropped precipitously largely because buyers could not borrow the prodigious sums previously made available to them to bid up prices, putting the banks in a bind as the huge reduction in collateral value backed the bad loans they made during the bubble era.

The price collapse put between a quarter and a third of American homeowners underwater, and if the banks were forced to liquidate, it would cause hundreds of billions in losses bankrupting our banking system and triggering a deep economic depression. Something had to give.

The US government and the federal reserve took a number of steps to solve the problem. First, in early 2009, regulators relaxed mark-to-market accounting rules allowing banks to hold bad loans on their books at a fantasy value to avoid loss recognition, buying the banks time. Further, in order to placate pressure from homeowners to “do something” and to provide lenders with a few additional debt service payments on these bad loans, the government embarked on a series of failed loan modification programs.

These were sold to the public as ostensibly helping struggling borrowers, but they were really designed to allow banks to kick-the-can loan-loss recognition and squeeze a few more payments out of hopeless borrowers before they imploded. These programs largely failed homeowners, but succeeded for bankers by providing operating cash while delaying loss recognition for a later equity sale.

Manipulated Mortgage Rates

Ultimately, banks don’t want to recognize losses. They would far rather delay their necessary foreclosures until the loans had collateral backing, allowing them to recover their capital. However, since potential buyers of these properties couldn’t afford to pay an amount which would recover the outstanding debt, the bubble needed to be reflated before the foreclosures could go forward.

To facilitate reflation of the housing bubble, the federal reserve lowered interest rates to zero, and embarked on a program of buying 10-year Treasuries (operation Twist) and directly buying mortgage-backed securities to ensure the flow of capital into the housing market and dramatically lower mortgage interest rates. At the peak of the housing bubble, mortgage interest rates were between 6% and 6.5%. They bottomed out near 3.35% in 2012 — a near 50% reduction. These super-low interest rates gave buyers the ability to borrow amounts commensurate with peak prices under stable loan terms.

Manipulated Supply

Due to the collapse of prices when the housing bubble burst, comparable sales were far below peak prices, and continued foreclosure processing was keeping prices down. The solution was simple; stop foreclosure processing and restrict inventory until the housing bubble reflates.

Lenders stopped foreclosure processing to dry up the inventory, and underwater homeowners patiently wait to list their properties because if they wait, they might escape through an equity sale, avoiding credit problems. With almost no foreclosures or inventory to burden the market, supply is greatly reduced further facilitating a rapid reflation of the housing bubble.

Once the problem of excessive MLS inventory was resolved, we quickly reflated the bubble to allow lenders to recover capital at peak prices, mostly through equity sales, which is where we are today.

Bills Come Due

There is a secret price for the government’s intervention in housing: when rates rise, borrowers will endure reduced borrowing power, home sales volumes decline, resale values may fall, and home equity may be reduced.

Perhaps wages will rise faster than mortgage rates, but it’s unlikely that wages would rise 12% or more to offset the impact of a 1% rise in mortgage rates. In short, future buyers will likely be less leveraged, and although price declines are not certain, rapidly rising house prices seem an unlikely possibility.

So while efforts to reflated the housing bubble succeeded, and both lenders and existing homeowners rejoice in this success, the rising interest rates to come will surprise many homeowners with an unwelcome decade or two of below-average home price appreciation.

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LePage pushes bill to prevent foreclosure on Maine’s elderly – The …

As the recent home foreclosure and eviction of an elderly Albion couple draws more attention statewide, Gov. Paul LePage says a bill to prohibit municipalities from foreclosing in such cases will likely go before the state Legislature within the next several weeks.

LePage worked on the bill after the town of Albion foreclosed on the home of Richard and Leonette Sukeforth, both 80, and sold the property in a sealed bid auction. The new owner bid just $500 more than a Sukeforth family friend and then evicted the couple last month.

“I just think it was really bad public policy,” LePage said in a phone interview last week. “I suggest the town fathers in Albion should take care of their constituents. Their job is public service, and public servants don’t throw people on the street.”

What started as a local foreclosure dispute has quickly transformed into an issue with implications across Maine, with the governor seizing on the matter as a symbol of the need for government to look out for the state’s elderly and impoverished residents.

At a town hall-style forum Wednesday night attended by 150-plus people at Biddeford Middle School, LePage responded to an audience question about the Albion home foreclosure. He summarized what his proposed bill would do and advised anyone who lives on a fixed income and owns a home to take out a small home equity loan from a bank in case of foreclosure.

The governor also said he received a letter recently from someone who claimed LePage didn’t know the whole story and that Richard Sukeforth had “been a pain in the butt in town for 20 years.”

By all accounts, the foreclosure was done legally, but LePage maintains it was unethical. The rundown house, located at 180 Marden Shore Road on Lovejoy Pond off China Road, is essentially a small camp. A Sukeforth neighbor and the family tried to buy the property back for the couple after the foreclosure, but town officials denied the request.

The Kennebec County town had never foreclosed on properties before three years ago, and the Sukeforth foreclosure was the first in which people were actually living in the house at the time of foreclosure, according to Albion Town Clerk Amanda Dow. That’s a fact LePage pointed to during the town hall forum.

Dow said the town had to follow foreclosure laws, and Albion has a provision that allows a person to pay their taxes in full six months after automatic foreclosure, but Sukeforth, a National Guard and Marine veteran, did not do that. Dow said the town sent a letter, a selectman went to visit him and explained the process, but he still did not take action.

Family members say they think it is because he is in the early stages of dementia, and had they known he had not paid his taxes, they would have done so. Leonette Sukeforth is frail and suffers from diabetes.

LePage’s bill, which has been drafted and is being fine-tuned before heading to the Legislature, is intended to ensure such foreclosures do not occur.

Since a story about the Sukeforth case was published in the Morning Sentinel, Kennebec Journal and Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 8, LePage said he has learned of a dozen similar situations around the state in which elderly people have been forced from their homes. “It’s primarily people who own their homes outright,” he said.

His bill would require steps to be taken by the municipality before foreclosure, such as discussing reverse mortgage, tax abatement or an agreement where, if the homeowner has no mortgage, the municipality applies a lien on the property for taxes owed, lets the people live in the house until they die and then sells it.

LePage had been working on trying to find assisted living care for the Sukeforths, but their daughter, Yvette Ingalls, said she believes it’s best for them to continue to live with her. They will have been married 58 years in May, she said.

The state pays for a home health aide to come in from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to care for her mother, Leonette, who is weak and becomes dizzy often, Ingalls said. She said she thinks her mother’s spirits are better than they were after she was evicted from her home of 33 years because she is around family in a warm home where she is fed three meals a day.

Ingalls works as a cook at a rehabilitation center. The middle child of the Sukeforths’ five children, she hopes LePage’s bill to protect elderly people from foreclosure is successful. Hopefully others in a similar situation will not endure the same trauma, she said.

“What we’ve come to conclude is that we’re just a stepping stone to open it up so other people don’t go through this,” she said.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AmyCalder17

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send questions/comments to the editors.

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Wayne County Treasurer Sabree announces foreclosure prevention sessions

Wayne County Community College will host at various locations
Wayne County Treasurer Eric R. Sabree is pleased to announce “Taxpayer Saturdays” in February to help reduce foreclosures in 2017 by expanding opportunities to meet personally with homeowners who may be at risk of foreclosure.

The Treasurer has established four “Taxpayer Saturday” sessions in February at a variety of Wayne County Community College District locations. The Treasurer has arranged to have the resources of his office and alliance partners to taxpayers at risk of foreclosure.

“These informal sessions are being held by my office and staff to give another opportunity for taxpayers to discuss options to avoid tax foreclosure,” said Treasurer Eric R. Sabree. “We understand that many hard working people have experience financial difficulties and have fallen behind on paying property taxes. We are very glad to partner again with WCCCD to make Saturday hour available so that people will not have to take off work. We want to do everything possible to prevent foreclosures and help the residents of Wayne County.”
February Taxpayer Saturdays Schedule at Wayne County Community College Campuses:

Feb. 4
Northwest Campus, Media Center, 8200 West Outer Dr. in Detroit

Feb. 11
Downriver Campus, Ray Mix Community Room, 21000 Northline Rd. in Taylor

Feb. 18
Eastern Campus, Cooper Community Room, 5901 Conner in Detroit

Feb. 25
Downtown Campus, Frank Hayden Community Room, 1001 West Fort St. in Detroit

The sessions, open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will walk taxpayers through foreclosure prevention options. They will also have a host of public-private alliance organizations on hand to provide free financial counseling, assistance with energy bills, home financing and related services.

Sabree added that anyone who is concerned about foreclosure does not need to wait for the Taxpayer Saturday meetings. Homeowners can contact the Treasurer’s office during regular business hours for personalized attention to their case.

“We had a great turnout for our show cause hearings and many entered into payment plans or paid their taxes in full. We do not want to foreclose on any homes,” said Sabree. “If someone ignores the process and our help, then we have no choice but to uphold state law.”

Any resident owing 2016 and prior year’s taxes is encouraged to attend a Taxpayer Assistance Saturday. If you are able to pay your back taxes, please be prepared to bring a money order or cashier’s check for onsite payments (made payable to the Wayne County Treasurer. No cash will be accepted).

If homeowners are unable to attend a Taxpayer Assistance Saturday, you may seek information on assistance programs offered by the Treasurer’s Office. Information on these programs and meeting location maps are available on the Treasurer’s website Questions can be emailed to or by calling 313-224-5990.


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Continue reading Wayne County Treasurer Sabree announces foreclosure prevention sessions

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Report says Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin misled senators about foreclosures by OneWest Bank

An Ohio newspaper reported that Steve Mnuchin, President Trump’s nominee to be Treasury secretary, misled senators about foreclosures by OneWest Bank while he was chief executive, providing more fuel to opponents ahead of a contentious committee confirmation vote scheduled for Tuesday.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday that Mnuchin denied in written responses to questions from the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest engaged in so-called robo-signing of mortgage documents.

The paper said its analysis of nearly four dozen foreclosure cases in Ohio’s Franklin County in 2010 showed that the bank “frequently used robo-signers.” 

The practice, prevalent throughout the mortgage industry in the aftermath of the financial crisis, involved employees at financial firms signing foreclosure documents en masse without properly reviewing them.

Democrats sharply criticized Mnuchin during his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing concerning OneWest’s foreclosures while he ran the Pasadena bank from 2009 to 2015. They called the institution, which formerly had been troubled subprime lender IndyMac Bank, “a foreclosure machine.”

“Mnuchin ran a bank that was notorious for aggressively foreclosing on homeowners, and now he’s lying about his bank’s dismal track record in his official responses to the Finance Committee,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Monday. “Working families simply cannot trust him to be the country’s top economic official.”

At the hearing, Mnuchin blamed the large amount of foreclosures on bad IndyMac loans he inherited. Mnuchin and other investors put up nearly $1.6 billion to buy IndyMac and renamed it OneWest. They sold the bank to CIT Group in 2015 for $3.4 billion.

The new report is expected to be raised by Democrats when the committee meets Tuesday morning to vote on his nomination. Many, if not all, of the 12 Democrats on the committee are expected to oppose Mnuchin’s confirmation.

At least three Democrats already have said publicly they will not support him.

A vote had been scheduled for 3 p.m. PST Monday. But Democrats objected to a procedural move that forced “an unfortunate and needless delay,” said Julia Lawless, spokeswoman for Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

Democrats wanted the delay so they could attend a candlelight vigil Monday protesting President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees and blocking all admissions from seven mostly Muslim countries, said Rachel McCleery, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the committee’s top Democrat.

Wyden said Monday that it was “extremely disturbing that Mr. Mnuchin flatly denied OneWest’s robo-signing practices” and announced that he would vote against confirmation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who sits on the committee, also has said he would vote against Mnuchin. 

“Mnuchin profited off of kicking people out of their homes and then gave false testimony about his bank’s abusive practices,” Brown said Sunday. “He cannot be trusted to make decisions about policies as personal to working Ohioans as their taxes and retirement.”

Another Democrat on the committee, Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia, said Monday that he also would vote against Mnuchin.

The Columbus Dispatch cited a foreclosure involving a mortgage signed by Erica Johnson-Seck, a OneWest vice president who said in a deposition in a 2009 Florida case that she signed an average of 750 documents a week.

Barney Keller, a spokesman for Mnuchin, said Monday that several courts had dismissed cases involving allegations of robo-signing by Johnson-Seck.

“The media is picking on a hardworking bank employee whose reputation has been maligned but whose work has been upheld by numerous courts all around the country in the face of scurrilous and false allegations,” Keller said.

In written questions to Mnuchin, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) asked if OneWest engaged in robo-signing.

“OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” Mnuchin said. He added that the bank was the only one to “successfully complete” an independent foreclosure review process by federal banking regulators looking into robo-signing allegations.

In 2011-12, several mortgage servicers agreed to pay a total of $3.9 billion to borrowers for foreclosure errors as part of a settlement with regulators.

OneWest was not part of the settlement because an independent consultant hired by the bank completed its own review and “remediation checks have been issued to those borrowers where financial injury was identified,” according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Casey said Mnuchin “continues to deny his bank robo-signed documents, while evidence from court cases, bank regulators and news reports continues to show the opposite.” 

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Anyone tuning in to the SAG Awards on Sunday thinking they might be escaping news headlines for a couple of hours was quickly disabused of that notion as winner after winner used the platform to speak out against President Trump’s immigration ban.

Anyone tuning in to the SAG Awards on Sunday thinking they might be escaping news headlines for a couple of hours was quickly disabused of that notion as winner after winner used the platform to speak out against President Trump’s immigration ban.

Thousands of protesters at LAX

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State agencies feud over off-roading along seaside dunes

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New battle over public use of the beach and sand dunes along the coast near Pismo Beach.

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4:25 p.m.: This article was updated with Sen. Ron Wyden’s announcement that he would vote against confirming Mnuchin.

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Real Estate Q&A: Homeowner Still Has Hope for Mortgage Modification

(TNS)—Q: I have fallen behind on my mortgage payments due to illness. Things are better now, and I am back at work, but my home is heading to foreclosure. I heard that loan modifications are no longer available. Is there any hope for me?

A: Yes, there is. The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program stopped taking new applications at the end of 2016, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t options available.

The HAMP program helped many distressed homeowners save their homes, and it will be harder to get modifications now that the program ended. Fortunately, lenders still are offering other modification programs to assist you. Plus, a new Flex Modification government program by loan giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to be released this year. That will give you another option to save your home.

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As soon as you start falling behind on your payments, you will receive many offers from loan modification companies. Most people can successfully get a modification without any outside help. Beware of scammers. Avoid any company that promises a result or claims to have some special process or insider contact. There are no simple solutions. If your lender sues you for foreclosure during the process, you should take it seriously and hire an attorney experienced in foreclosure matters. A loan modification company can’t stop the foreclosure lawsuit. You need to be properly represented in court or the lawyers that your lender hired will quickly have their way.

While the tools may have changed, the process for getting a mortgage modification remains substantially the same. If you start to fall behind on payments, reach out to your lender. The process will be exasperating, and there will be many hoops for you to jump through to get it done. But it’s a must if you want to save your home. Send the same form three times, if necessary. Send in pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns, and completely fill out the many forms the lender puts in front of you. It’s important that you keep a detailed log of all activity, so write down everything you do and everything that is said.

When your lender asks for another document to be sent, get it in before the deadline or you will end up starting over. It may take several tries; remember that this is your home you are fighting for, and don’t give up.

©2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Citigroup to exit U.S. mortgage servicing operations by 2018

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc C.N said on Monday it would speed up the transformation of its U.S. mortgage business by exiting servicing operations by the end of 2018.

Citi said it would sell its mortgage servicing rights on about 780,000 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans of non-Citibank retail customers to New Residential Mortgage LLC (NRZ).

The remaining Citi-owned loans and other mortgage servicing rights not sold to NRZ are expected to be transferred to loan servicing provider Cenlar FSB [CENLR.UL] in 2018.

The lender said it expected these deals to hurt first-quarter pretax results by about $400 million, including a loss on sale and certain related transaction costs.

The move is intended to simplify CitiMortgage’s operations, reduce expenses and improve returns on capital as the company focuses on mortgage originations.

CitiMortgage services mortgage loans for Citibank and government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Citigroup’s mortgage units, including CitiMortgage, were fined $28.8 million last week for keeping home borrowers in the dark about options to avoid foreclosure and making it difficult for them to apply for relief.

(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D’Couto)

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Veterans home loan program a model of stability in mortgage industry (Opinion)

By Chris Birk

Veterans in Oregon and across the country are turning to their hard-earned home loan benefits like never before.

The historic Veterans Administration home loan program had its biggest year ever in 2016, fueled by a surge of millennial veterans and service members. The VA backed more than 707,000 loans last fiscal year, nearly double the program’s volume from five years ago.

Created as part of the original GI Bill, these flexible, $0 down mortgages are helping a new generation of veterans and military families put down roots. VA loan volume in the Portland area and across Oregon has jumped about 75 percent from just a couple years ago.

This is a deserving demographic that believes in homeownership. Earlier this year, the national homeownership rate dropped just below 63 percent, marking a 50-year low. VA estimates the veteran homeownership rate is closer to 82 percent.

For many veterans and military families, the challenge has been securing financing in an era of tight lending and lagging wage growth. Military buyers can face unique credit and financial challenges that put conventional financing out of reach. VA loans allow qualified buyers to purchase with no down payment, no mortgage insurance and less-than-perfect credit.

The average VA buyer in 2016 had a FICO credit score nearly 50 points lower than their conventional counterpart, according to mortgage software firm Ellie Mae. It can take veterans and military families years to save the 5 percent down payment most conventional loans require.

This benefit program is also proving to be an economic springboard for those elusive millennial homebuyers. The VA estimates millennial-age veterans and military members accounted for a third of all loans last year, spurred by the $0 down advantage and more forgiving credit guidelines.

In many ways, VA loans continue to fulfill their original mission to help level the playing field for those who’ve served our country. But they’ve also become a surprising model of stability in the mortgage industry.

One of the most under-the-radar stories of the housing recovery is that a no-down payment loan has led the way in foreclosure avoidance. VA loans have had a lower foreclosure rate than both FHA and prime conventional loans for 25 of the last 35 quarters, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Part of that success stems from the VA’s common sense requirements for discretionary income, an underwriting feature absent from other loan types. But loan program leadership is also committed to helping veterans keep their homes.

The VA keeps tabs on its more than 2 million active mortgages. Loan program staff members can intercede on behalf of troubled homeowners and encourage lenders and servicers to consider foreclosure alternatives.


Since 2008, those efforts have helped more than 500,000 veterans avoid foreclosure.

Over the last decade, millions of veterans and military families have found a foothold in the housing market using the VA loan program. But millions more are still missing out.

VA surveys have found about 1 in 3 homebuying veterans didn’t know they had a home loan benefit. Theses government-backed loans aren’t the right answer for every would-be homebuyer. But understanding all of your mortgage options is key to making the savviest financial decision possible.

For so many veterans and military members, this hard-earned benefit winds up being the most powerful lending option on the market.

Chris Birk is author of “The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits” and Director of Education for Veterans United Home Loans.

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Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin used robo-signing to foreclose on loans: ‘The guy is just lying’

The vote on Steve Mnuchin’s nomination as secretary of the Treasury is scheduled for 6PM ET Monday night. But only hours before that vote, information has emerged showing that the former OneWest CEO straight-out lied to senators during his confirmation hearing.

[Mnuchin] flatly denied in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest used “robo-signing” on mortgage documents.

But records show the bank utilized the questionable practice in Ohio.

“The guy is just lying. There’s no other way to say it,” said Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

Robo-signing is when a mortgage company generates hundreds or thousands of near-identical foreclosure documents without conducting the necessary—and legally required—review. Mnuchin denied that OneWest had used this practice, despite widespread accusations. 

But an analysis by the Columbus Dispatch found not just a few cases of these bulk-created documents, but more than 1,900 cases in Ohio alone. Individual cases reveal OneWest declaring properties vacant even though someone was living there, and refusing to abide by agreed upon loan modifications. 

It’s not just the evidence collected by the Dispatch that proves Mnuchin is lying. 

From her office in Austin, Texas, [Erica Johnson-Seck, vice president of OneWest] robo-signed an average of 750 foreclosure documents a week, according to a sworn deposition she gave in a Florida case in July 2009.

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