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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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REAL_ESTATE
September 12, 2016 | By Alan J. Heavens, Staff Writer
It came as quite a shock to many distressed homeowners that the U.S. Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program and Home Affordable Refinance Program would end Dec. 31. You still have until then to get out from the "under" that the bursting of the housing bubble put you in. Although the programs were extended past their original expiration dates because the nationwide foreclosure crisis was deeper and lasted longer than anyone had imagined,...
NEWS
August 26, 2016 | Stephan Salisbury, CULTURE WRITER
Sara Garonzik, who has helmed the Philadelphia Theatre Company from its tentative days as a professional troupe in 1982 to its status as a well-regarded and highly visible anchor for the Avenue of the Arts, has decided to step down from her post as executive producing director. "This will be my 35th season and my last," said Garonzik, 65. "I tell people this, and they are surprised, and I am like, 'Really? It's been 35 years?' " Garonzik said she will stay on as long as necessary - until the national search for her successor is complete and the company's future is set. "I am not running out the door, I will work at least through the middle of the next season," she said.
REAL_ESTATE
June 20, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
For years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau worked to integrate the mortgage-loan disclosures required by the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974. The bureau's work, done under the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule, or TRID, resulted in new requirements that went into effect in October. One major goal of the overhaul was to help borrowers understand and cope with the deluge of documents they must read and sign prior to closing on a mortgage.
BUSINESS
June 19, 2016 | By Julie Shaw, STAFF WRITER
A Bucks County mortgage settlement agent was charged this week with defrauding three title-insurance companies of nearly $3 million. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia charged Alfred Drechsel, 47, formerly of Voorhees, N.J., with one count of wire fraud Thursday. His attorney, Jeff Lindy, said Drechsel plans to plead guilty and pay back the full amount in restitution. Drechsel was one of three principals who worked at Lenders Edge Settlement Services, LLC, and Integrity Assurance Inc., at 1200 Bustleton Pike, in Feasterville.
REAL_ESTATE
June 13, 2016 | By Catherine Laughlin, For The Inquirer
On a snowy day in January 2015, Jeanne Stark fell in love with a storied homestead on five acres of lush countryside in West Brandywine Township. Named for a family who once owned it, the Reason Farm had been part of a larger 19th-century estate, and supposedly had been a hub for the Underground Railroad, then later a hideaway for a bootlegging operation. Stark had recently taken a marketing job nearby and was searching for a home for her and Chris Scherler, her partner of 10 years.
NEWS
June 10, 2016
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a 22-year-old son who has moved back home due to his relocating. His girlfriend of six months has done some suspicious and devious things. We have tried to overlook them, but the latest involves a car our son asked us to sell her because she was in a bind because of some stupid financial decisions she had made. We felt sorry for her, so we sold her the car for LESS than half of what we could have gotten on a trade-in since we were going to purchase a newer car. Now, one month later, she has taken the car and traded it in for a different one, no doubt gaining the extra equity.
REAL_ESTATE
May 30, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
When weighing whether to take out a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), the reverse mortgage offered through the Federal Housing Administration, there are three key decisions to consider. The first applies to the draw options - the combination of up-front cash, monthly payment, and credit line that best meets the borrower's needs. Though this is the least challenging of the three decisions - I have addressed it before and won't go into it here, because most borrowers understand their needs better than anyone else - this decision may influence the two others.
BUSINESS
May 16, 2016 | By Jane M. Von Bergen, Staff Writer
When it comes to money know-how, talking is key, particularly when senior citizens are considering reverse mortgages. "I would encourage you to go to a counseling agency with your children," said Patricia Hasson, 53, president and executive director of Clarifi, the financial counseling and education nonprofit now celebrating its 50th year. (People old enough to qualify for reverse mortgages might remember the nonprofit's legal name, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley.)
REAL_ESTATE
May 9, 2016 | By Jack Guttentag, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
A prospective home buyer who needs a mortgage to make the purchase is under the gun to have it approved and fully processed before the sale date. By contrast, a senior homeowner contemplating a reverse mortgage has no deadline to meet and can be as deliberate and careful as he or she wants. Having the opportunity to consider all options without feeling pressured is a good thing. But it can be a bad thing if the conditions that affect the terms of the reverse mortgage for which a senior qualifies change in an unfavorable way during deliberation.
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.
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