June 21, 2015 |
Based on what readers have been telling me since 2009, the federal government's Making Home Affordable Program - better known by the acronyms HAMP and HARP - hasn't been all it could be. In HAMP, qualified borrowers seek to have their mortgage payments modified so they can afford them. HARP does the same thing through refinancing qualified loans. It has been a while since I wrote about these programs, unveiled in February 2009 by the Obama administration in an attempt to keep millions of borrowers from losing their homes through foreclosure.
June 17, 2015
AS CLERGY, our lives revolve around the religious calendars. For our Jewish brothers and sisters, September's Yom Kippur is a time of quiet reflection and atonement, followed by the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Christians follow the familiar rhythms of the liturgical calendar, celebrating Christmas every December and Easter every spring. And nearly every spring for the last three years, clergy from across Pennsylvania sent urgent pleas to Harrisburg to stop predatory payday lenders who are seeking permission to charge usurious, triple-digit interest rates in the Keystone State.
May 17, 2015 |
Question: Lenders made bad loans during the years prior to the financial crisis because the loans could be sold as securities to unwary investors. Would most mortgage borrowers be better off if there were no secondary market in which to sell mortgages? Answer: Some might, but most would not. Largely because of secondary markets, a knowledgeable and creditworthy home buyer in the United States pays a rate only modestly higher than that charged to the U.S. government. The rate spread between home mortgages and government bonds is lower in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of the U.K. and Denmark, which also have secondary mortgage markets.
March 22, 2015 |
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa sued Friday to block Atlantic City from borrowing $43 million in the bond market to repay a state loan due March 31. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Atlantic County, claims that the borrowing plan, endorsed by Atlantic City Council on March 4, violates a September ordinance allowing the city to borrow up to $140 million to pay property-tax refunds, such as $88.25 million owed to Borgata. The Borgata lawsuit came just days before the city's emergency manager, appointed Jan. 22 by Gov. Christie, is expected to issue recommendations on stabilizing Atlantic City's finances, and it sets up a three-way fight among the state, the city, and Borgata, Atlantic City's most successful casino.
February 5, 2015 |
ATLANTIC CITY - Atlantic City borrowed $12 million from Bank of America Merrill Lynch to refinance a note that was due Tuesday, Mayor Don Guardian said. The loan helped the city clear its first significant financial hurdle since Gov. Christie appointed an emergency manager last month, a move that made lenders wary of lending to the city. The new loan, which came in just in time to help repay a $12.8 million note, has a six-month term and a high annual interest rate of 5 percent, costing the city $300,000, Guardian said.
February 3, 2015 |
Camden County homeowners, gardeners, and fix-it-yourself types will soon have a new money-saving resource. This summer, county officials hope to launch a tool library in Gloucester Township that can help residents work on home projects without having to buy special equipment. The program will be similar to the West Philly Tool Library, which Camden County Freeholder Michelle Gentek visited last year, along with Chris Waldron, county director of sustainability and shared services. "In the short time we were there, about 20 people came through the door," Gentek said.
January 29, 2015
ISSUE | LENDING Legacy disappointed some city borrowers In 2001, as a manager at a mortgage company that made home improvement loans in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I was affected by Philadelphia's new predatory-lending law, which retiring City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco considers part of her legacy ("Tasco looks back on a long Council career," Jan. 19). Because this law required that low rates be charged to all borrowers regardless of credit qualifications, many less-qualified borrowers in the city no longer qualified for the loans that they needed to fix leaking roofs or broken heaters.
December 31, 2014
LOCAL FILM producer Steve Gordon had been shopping around a movie called "Must Be the Music" co-starring Charles "Roc" Dutton and Tasha Smith. The movie, filmed locally in 2011, is set in Philly and revolves around a drug-dealer-turned-hip-hop-mogul faced with deciding which of his children will carry on his musical legacy. Lee Daniels' "Empire," which premieres at 9 p.m. Jan. 7, and features co-stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe, also is set in Philly and revolves around a drug-dealer-turned-hip-hop-mogul who, after getting diagnosed with ALS, must decide which of his children will take over the family music business.
December 29, 2014 |
Chris and Jillian Soriano bought and then renovated their Haddon Heights house using a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation loan to finance the improvements. The couple moved into the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house last summer "knowing we were going to rip out the kitchen," said Jillian Soriano, who wanted an open-concept cooking and dining area. "I wanted to take down the wall separating the kitchen and dining room and replace it with a butcher-block island with two sets of seating," she said.
December 29, 2014 |
The first Christmas I spent away from home turned out to be the best day of my life. Though not with family, I went to the next best place: Bethlehem. I had been studying in Israel for five months and had been dreading this moment: How was I going to celebrate Christmas so far away from home, in a country that doesn't take the 25th of December as a national holiday? I actually had an exam scheduled for Christmas Day, but I decided to risk a poor grade and hopped on a bus to Jerusalem on Christmas Eve. The city was surprisingly calm.