April 1, 2012 |
John White retired as a vice president of Orleans Homebuilders in 2002, as housing was starting to boom and long before it went bust. Now living in Florida, he e-mails me periodically with his thoughts about the real estate market. I don't consistently agree or disagree with his viewpoints, but I believe that continuing the dialogue about the current state of the housing and finance industries is too important an opportunity to pass up. White's most recent discourse: who and what caused the housing bubble to burst six years ago, which I will summarize to fit this space.
March 30, 2012 |
In a pilot program so small it is little more than symbolic, Bank of America is handling some of the trouble it and other lenders created: an overabundance of empty houses. The bank will pick fewer than 1,000 families in Arizona, Nevada, and New York on the verge of foreclosure. They will be asked to surrender the titles to their homes to have their debts forgiven, and then pay rent. This is no acknowledgment of the hurt that the mortgage industry put on the nation's economy, individuals, investors, and entire neighborhoods.
March 23, 2012
Murray Lender, 81, who helped turn his father's small Connecticut bakery into a national company credited with introducing bagels to many Americans, died Wednesday at a hospital in Miami from complications from a fall, his wife, Gillie Lender, said. The couple, who were married more than nine years, lived in Aventura, Fla., and also kept a home in Connecticut. Mr. Lender was perhaps best known from promoting Lender's Bagels in TV commercials. "He was courageous, strong and an example to everyone to show how one should go through life with a vision, ambition, a goal and with success," Gillie Lender said.
March 23, 2012
At long last, HARP 2.0 is available to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers who want to refinance but owe more on their mortgages than their houses now are worth. HARP 2.0 - HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program - is being billed as an improvement over the three-year-old version that just about everyone acknowledges didn't help anyone. The reason for that failure: The original program had limits on loan-to-value ratio, the amount of a mortgage as a percentage of the appraised value of a property.
March 1, 2012 |
Houses repossessed by mortgage lenders through foreclosure accounted for 7 percent of fourth-quarter 2011 sales in the metropolitan Philadelphia area, the search engine RealtyTrac said in a report released Thursday. Although the number of houses repossessed, 1,010, was 8.14 percent higher than in the same three months of 2010, the percentage of total sales was half that of the United States as a whole. RealtyTrac's numbers cover the Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington metropolitan statistical area.
February 2, 2012 |
President Obama detailed plans Wednesday to help an estimated 3.5 million homeowners refinance into lower-rate mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration and to turn hundreds of thousands of houses repossessed by lenders into rentals. The president spoke at a news conference in Falls Church, Va., where, he said, property values have declined 25 percent since the housing bubble burst five years ago. Obama, who announced the initiative in his State of the Union address Jan. 24, said the program was designed for "responsible" homeowners who are current in their mortgage payments but are unable to refinance loans at fixed rates as low as 3.8 percent because they owe more than their houses are now worth.
November 1, 2011
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ordered Thomas Richter, the owner of a Bala Cynwyd lender that specialized in financing taverns, to pay $668,951 to seven borrowers "for damages, humiliation and suffering caused by illegal predatory lending," plus $10,000 in civil penalties to the state. The order was dated Oct. 24, but Richter said Tuesday that he had not seen the order and was "totally shocked" to hear about it. "I've been dealing with this case for a couple of years.
October 6, 2011
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is right. The nation should not rush to settle with lenders before finishing investigations into how their irresponsible mortgage spree has damaged the economy. Harris walked out of talks last week among 50 state attorneys general, the U.S. Justice Department, and major lenders concerning a proposed settlement to compensate homeowners victimized in the foreclosure robo-signing scandal. She correctly asserted that the banks' request for immunity against future claims was too broad.