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NEWS
June 24, 2010
Thirty-year fixed interest rates hit their lowest average today since Freddie Mac began keeping records in April 1971. The rate, 4.69 percent with 0.7 mortgage origination points, averaged 5.42 percent this week a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate was also at an all-time low - 4.13 percent with 0.6 points. The five-year indexed hybrid adjustable was 3.84 percent, another record low. The one-year ARM, at 3.77 percent, was last at this point in May 2004, Freddie Mac reported.
NEWS
May 4, 2011
Fannie Mae, the nationwide mortgage company, opened a Philadelphia Mortgage Help Center today to provide free education and counseling to Philadelphia-area residents struggling with foreclosure issues. The center, at 399 Franklin Mills Circle in the Northeast, is the latest of nine to open across the country. The services are available only for homeowners with a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae and require an appointment, which can be made by calling 866-442-8570.    - Alan J. Heavens  
NEWS
December 11, 2012
D EAR HARRY: I know that you have answered questions about reverse mortgages before, but I don't fully understand how they work. Some experts say that they are great, and others say to avoid them completely. My husband is in his 70s and not in the best of health. I am in my 60s and presently out of work. Our home is worth about $300,000 with $600 monthly mortgage payments that go out to 2035. We're both on Social Security, getting about $1,300 together. We were told that we could get a reverse-mortgage arrangement that would give us $60,000 now, without us ever having to pay anything on any mortgage forever.
BUSINESS
February 15, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
Although he has the authority to fix "all sorts of financial services and products," Richard Cordray said his "greatest" focus will be on the mortgage market. Cordray, first director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said Monday that there was "much to be fixed in this broken market. " "It was, after all, the house of cards that crashed our economy and caused so much pain for millions of Americans," he said. Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, became the bureau's director in January after President Obama defied six months of Republican opposition and made the appointment during the congressional recess.
BUSINESS
January 28, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
Calling this a "make or break time for the middle class," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan joined federal and state law enforcement officials Friday in detailing a plan to uncover fraud in the residential mortgage-backed-securities market. The Housing and Urban Development chief joined U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama administration officials at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington to announce formation of a "working group" to investigate mortgage-securities fraud.
NEWS
January 11, 2013 | LOS ANGELES TIMES
  WHAT mortgage meltdown? While millions of Americans have suffered the angst of lost homes, equity and pride, nearly a third of the nation's homeowners have no mortgage at all, according to an estimate released Thursday by real estate website Zillow. The free-and-clear class includes, predictably, retirees who have chipped away at their debts for decades, but also a surprisingly high percentage of young people and those who live in relatively affordable regions. The fact that baby boomers can pay cash when they move will make them increasingly important players in a recovering housing market.
NEWS
February 10, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
The attorneys general of 49 states and the federal government reached a $25 billion agreement Thursday with five of the nation's biggest lenders - Ally Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America - to end mortgage-servicing and home-foreclosure abuses stemming from so-called robo-signing practices. New Jersey's share of the settlement is $837.7 million; Pennsylvania's share totals $266 million. Only Oklahoma did not sign the long-anticipated accord. An estimated 1.8 million borrowers whose mortgages are owned or serviced by the five lenders are covered by the settlement.
NEWS
August 5, 2015 | By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Monday overturned a ruling that could have brought tens of millions of dollars in unpaid records fees to Pennsylvania counties. The class-action suit, brought by Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds Nancy J. Becker in 2011, alleged that the nation's largest mortgage registry system, known as MERS, was used to illegally circumvent county recorders and fees when investors would buy, sell, and transfer mortgages. A federal judge last year ruled in Becker's favor, saying MERS cost counties tens of millions of dollars, compromised the accuracy of public records, and left homeowners in the dark as home loans were sold time and again with no public paper trail.
REAL_ESTATE
February 3, 2013 | By Al Heavens, Inquirer Columnist
Because I've covered the foreclosure crisis as long as I have, even a quick read of the latest proposed rules affecting mortgage servicing highlights all the abuses borrowers have mentioned over the last few years. Choose the situation your servicer dumped on you and send me an e-mail about it. Experiences will be published. The most common abuse that the latest rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau address is "double-tracking," in which a servicer simultaneously pursues foreclosure and offers alternatives to loss of the home.
BUSINESS
February 19, 2014 | By Erin E. Arvedlund, Inquirer Columnist
Houses are often our biggest investments. Know that borrowing rates for those wanting to take out mortgages will likely creep higher this year. Currently, a 30-year fixed mortgage costs 4.32 percent, while an adjustable rate costs 3.46 percent. In addition, refinancing won't be as easy as it has been. Tighter mortgage rules that took effect Jan. 10 limit people from taking out a mortgage or refinancing an existing one if it puts their overall household borrowing at more than 43 percent of income, according to Brian Simon, of New Penn Financial mortgage brokers in Plymouth Meeting.
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BUSINESS
April 17, 2016 | By Harold Brubaker, Staff Writer
Freedom Mortgage Corp., of Mount Laurel, agreed to pay $113 million to settle allegations that from 2006 through 2011 it certified hundreds of mortgages for Federal Housing Administration insurance that did not qualify, Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, said Friday. Mortgage companies authorized to certify home loans for the federal loan insurance - designed for borrowers who cannot afford a large down payment - are required to monitor loans for defaults within the first six months.
NEWS
April 2, 2016
ISSUE | PERSONAL FINANCE Buyer beware of reverse mortgages Reverse mortgages offer benefits for some people, but high fees, declining equity, and other risks can result in families losing their homes ("Reverse mortgage in retirement," Sunday). An owner must live in the home and pay taxes, maintenance costs, and insurance. Failure to do so, including moving to a nursing home or rehabilitation center for more than a year, could result in foreclosure. Low-income homeowners face greater risks.
BUSINESS
April 1, 2016 | By Alan J. Heavens, REAL ESTATE WRITER
It was time to trade an Old City condo for a townhouse large enough to accommodate their three growing children. But dentist Brad Pirok and veterinarian Maya Pirok had been spending considerable capital building up their practices, and so were in the market for a mortgage that took their situations into account. Two years ago, Maya opened Northern Liberties Veterinary Center, which "required a lot of emotional, financial, and physical capital," as Brad put it - something common among medical practitioners.
REAL_ESTATE
March 28, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Many homeowners today choose to retire, or are obliged to, before they have fully paid off their mortgages. With their incomes reduced, the required monthly mortgage payments can become burdensome. If a balance is not too large relative to the value of the home, it can be paid off with the proceeds of a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), the reverse mortgage offered by the Federal Housing Administration, which has no required payment. If the borrower is 62, the balance of the old mortgage cannot exceed 50 percent of the value of the home; the cutoff rises to about 68 percent for a borrower age 87. The conversion of a standard mortgage to a reverse mortgage is not for everyone.
NEWS
March 20, 2016 | By Brian X. McCrone, STAFF WRITER
Two men described as longtime friends allegedly pocketed hundreds of thousands in fees and fake mortgage payments in a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners, the federal prosecutors said Friday. Daniel Sheehan, 41, of Gloucester City, N.J., and John Hoban, 42, of Bellmawr, N.J., are charged with numerous counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors allege they scammed more than 110 people, including several homeowners who eventually lost their homes. U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said the pair made more than $400,000, including upfront fees that often totalled more than $1,000 and subsequent monthly "trial payments" that the pair said were going into escrow accounts and would be returned once the homeowner's "loan modification" was completed.
REAL_ESTATE
March 7, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Last week, I wrote about mortgage repayment as a type of investment. This one is focused on payment mechanics. Question: Will I save money if I make regular monthly payments early? Answer: No, paying early merely allows the firm servicing your loan to earn interest on your money until your payment is due. On a standard mortgage, the scheduled payment is due the first of the month, but there is a grace period of 10 to 15 days during which the payment can be made and will be credited as if it were paid on the first.
REAL_ESTATE
February 28, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Questions about why and how to pay off a mortgage early outnumber those I receive on any other topic, including loan origination. Borrowers typically spend only a few weeks, at most a few months, acquiring a mortgage, but they usually have the mortgage for many years. During that period, their financial circumstances may change, the economy may change, or they may change, any of which may stimulate an interest in accelerating repayment of their mortgage. Question: Why do you view mortgage repayment as an investment?
REAL_ESTATE
February 1, 2016 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
Here's a much-belated Christmas present from me to those of you who are first-time buyers and struggling to come up with a down payment and closing costs for Home No. 1: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's "rural" mortgage. This is not my first mention of this kind of mortgage, which, despite its name, does not require you to have a degree in animal husbandry. A year ago at Christmas, I wrote about a 25-year-old single first-time buyer, employed by a software company, who bought a house in Gloucester County.
NEWS
January 22, 2016 | By Barbara Boyer, Staff Writer
A Woolwich Township man was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for scamming financially troubled homeowners and soliciting fake real estate investments, netting more than $3 million in illegal profits, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Wednesday. Randy Poulson, 44, had been charged in May 2014 and later pleaded guilty to mail fraud before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb in Camden. Wednesday, Poulson was back before the judge. According to court documents, Poulson owned and operated Equity Capital Investments L.L.C.
REAL_ESTATE
January 4, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Many wannabe house purchasers wonder whether they can afford the price quoted on the house they would like to buy. Or if they have not started their house shopping, they may be wondering what price range they should be exploring. If you intend to buy with cash, you can pretty much answer the affordability question on your own. But if you will need a mortgage, as most home buyers do, the decision is no longer yours alone. A lender is also involved, and behind the lender are multiple government agencies that set rules that the lenders are obliged to follow.
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