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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
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.
NEWS
December 31, 2015 | Michelle Singletary, The Color of Money
AS YOU BEGIN to plan for 2016, leave in the past some financial advice you may have learned. I wrote a column recently using Yoda from the Star Wars franchise as inspiration. In The Empire Strikes Back , he gave some advice to Luke Skywalker. The Jedi master told Luke: "You must unlearn what you have learned. " I had questions from readers about some things on my list that they should unlearn, so I wanted to further explain three pieces of financial advice. *  Unlearn that there's good debt and bad debt.
REAL_ESTATE
November 8, 2015 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
Maybe it's my sense of humor, but this recent comment by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, made me chuckle: "Despite strong protections that have been put in place to protect homeowners, this month's complaint report shows consumers are still having problems when dealing with their mortgages. " I'd like to think that all the federal government has to do is snap its collective fingers and all our problems will go away, but I wasn't born yesterday.
NEWS
November 5, 2015 | By Jacob Adelman, Inquirer Staff Writer
An investment fund operated by New York's Square Mile Capital Management has originated a $26.8 million mortgage loan for the Penrose Plaza shopping center in Southwest Philadelphia, the company said in a release on Tuesday. Square Mile Capital Partners is funding the center's recent acquisition and planned capital expenditures by a joint venture of Onyx Properties, Abrams Realty & Development, and Siguler Guff. The 261,000-square-foot property at 2900-3000 Island Ave. is anchored by a ShopRite supermarket.
REAL_ESTATE
November 1, 2015 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
All eyes were on the Fed in mid-September as members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met to decide the future of interest rates. The federal funds rate, the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other banks overnight, was among those up for consideration. Changes in the fed funds rate trigger a chain of events that affect other short-term interest rates, foreign-exchange rates, long-term interest rates, the amount of money and credit, and, ultimately, a range of economic variables, including employment, output, and prices of goods and services.
REAL_ESTATE
October 25, 2015 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
FHA mortgages, with their low down payments and recently reduced insurance rates, continue to be the choice of many, especially first-time home buyers. But the Federal Housing Administration makes changes periodically in the rules. For example, effective Sept. 14, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires mortgage lenders "at first contact" to advise borrowers to get home inspections. On Sept. 15 came changes that can affect borrower eligibility. Because large numbers of buyers use FHA, I thought I would talk about some of those new rules: A buyer with a prior short sale may now purchase right away, rather than wait three years, as previously required.
BUSINESS
October 7, 2015 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
Changes designed to make it easier for a borrower to understand the cost of getting a mortgage loan have gone into effect, after a two-month postponement intended to get real estate agents and lenders up to speed. Introduced Saturday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the "Know Before You Owe" mortgage-disclosure rule replaces four disclosure forms with two new ones - the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. According to CFPB, the Loan Estimate makes it easier to compare offers from multiple mortgage lenders.
REAL_ESTATE
August 17, 2015 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
You can't tell the 2016 presidential hopefuls without a scorecard, but thanks to the Loan Depot, we know something about their houses and how much their mortgages are. I can't do them all in this space, so if anyone thinks I've slighted their favorite hopeful, you can view the full list here . Jeb and Columba Bush live in Coral Gables, in a 3,485-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath townhouse purchased in August 2011 for $1.3 million....
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