All Articles Tagged "housing market"

DC Program Turns Vacant Buildings into Apartments

September 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(NBC News) — Tough economic times continue to burden Americans, especially when it comes to people losing their jobs and their homes.  While balancing both campaigning and duties as head of state, President Barack Obama fights for his jobs bill, attempting to assuage worries that he has been inattentive to his political base in the black community. He insists that Congress pass it now and argues that this bill will help begin incremental change. Many say that he has not done enough.  But faced with slow change from federal bureaucrats, local governments are taking things into their own hands. The city of Washington has partnered with nonprofit organizations to create a new program that trades hard work on vacant buildings into homes for the homeless. If successful, the program would begin to reduce high unemployment rates, curb increased homelessness, and alleviate shriveling public assistance funds.

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Mortgage Scams: One Booming Part of Housing Industry

September 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Huffington Post) — From the looks of the mortgage relief companies Christopher Mallett has marketed in recent years, offering lower payments and new loan terms to troubled homeowners, one might easily get the impression that he has the backing of the federal government or is running non-profit help groups.  Mallett is the driving force behind usbankloanmodiicationgov.info and mortgagehelpgov.us. He also founded The Department of Consumer Services Protection, U.S. Debt Care, the U.S. Mortgage Relief Council and several other operations with similarly authoritative if not auspicious-sounding names. But people who turned to them for help didn’t receive services, according to court documents filed by the Federal Trade Commission in U.S. District Court this month. Their names were instead sold to companies that almost universally scam distressed homeowners, federal regulators say.

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One of Three Metro Mortgages Underwater

September 15th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AJC) — One of every three homeowners in the metro Atlanta area owe more on their loans than their houses are worth, according to data collected by a California firm.  Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic, said when homeowners are “underwater” on their loans, it retards their ability to refinance at more favorable interest rates and it slows sales in neighborhoods where there are many homeowners stuck in that situation.

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Bedford-Stuyvesant Steps Up Its Game

September 9th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Wall Street Journal) — When Michael Zawacki first moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant five years ago, friends would sometimes be surprised when they heard where he lived.  Now, he says, “I don’t get the kinds of reactions I used to get. People say, ‘Oh, I heard that neighborhood is really changing,’ or ‘Oh, it’s really beautiful over there.'”  This spring, Mr. Zawacki and a partner, Sam Lutzer, opened a gourmet coffee shop, Daily Press Bed-Stuy, on Franklin Avenue. The café is among a flurry of shops and restaurants that have been springing up in this rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood as owners aim to take advantage of a growing customer base and relative lack of competition.  “There’s a changing demographic that would appreciate more of a higher-end coffee shop, but there’s also a lot of [longtime] residents there who appreciate what we’re doing,” Mr. Zawacki says. “The neighborhood has changed so much just in the past five years, it’s amazing—every time you blink there’s something new.”

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Taxpayers Picking Up Tab for 248K Foreclosures

September 2nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Businessweek) — For sale or rent by distressed owner: 248,000 homes. That’s how many residential properties the U.S. government now has in its possession, the result of record numbers of people defaulting on government-backed mortgages. Washington is sitting on nearly a third of the nation’s 800,000 repossessed houses, making the U.S. taxpayer the largest owner of foreclosed properties. With even more homes moving toward default, Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac (FMCC), and the Federal Housing Administration are looking for a way to unload them without swamping the already depressed real estate market.  Trouble is, they haven’t figured out how to do that. The government admitted as much in August, when Fannie, Freddie, and FHA issued a joint plea to the public for ideas about how to solve the problem. (Give it your best shot: You have until Sept. 15 to submit ideas to reo.rfi@fhfa.gov.) “They’re stuck,” says Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, a Washington-based consultant that advises banks and other clients on government policy. “They don’t know what to do.”

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Will Your Neighborhood Keep It’s Value?

August 30th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Bankrate) — Buying a home that declines sharply in property value can put you underwater on your mortgage, erode your net worth and leave you unable to relocate for a new job or adapt to a change in household income. And one of the biggest factors that determines whether a home will rise or fall in value is its neighborhood.  That’s actually a good thing, because you don’t need a crystal ball to evaluate a neighborhood’s direction, says Andrew Schiller, creator of NeighborhoodScout.com, a real estate research website.  “The places that tend to hold on to their value are places that basically do well across two primary dimensions that anyone can think about and evaluate neighborhoods by,” Schiller says.

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Black Homeownership Devastated in Downturn

August 25th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(NPR) — When Clyde Jackson’s wife took a $6 hourly pay cut several years ago, it was the beginning of his rapid descent from two-time homeowner to renter in an apartment complex in the working-class Washington, D.C., suburb of Greenbelt, Md.  Jackson, 51, is an African-American father of three who works for a local government sanitation agency. In December, he lost a three-bedroom brick home to foreclosure. He purchased the house for $245,000 in 2004.  He has separated from his wife and now lives in a two-bedroom apartment. Jackson had to downsize so much that his 16-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter — both from a prior relationship — were forced to share a room.  “That was the biggest hurt of all,” Jackson says. “When you build up something, and then all of the sudden you lose it. Yeah, it takes a toll on you.”

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Home Market Gets Foreign Aid

August 24th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AJC) — Georgia may have one of the nation’s highest jobless rates, but a state program aimed at getting the unemployed back to work is being touted as the basis for a federal jobs program President Barack Obama will unveil next month.  The White House is studying Georgia Works, created in 2003 and hailed since as a promising approach, according to a report this week in The Wall Street Journal. The White House declined Tuesday to comment what the president will propose.  Georgia Works, which the state expanded last year and then curtailed for budgetary reasons, places unemployed workers in jobs for a six-week trial stint. Employers pay nothing and workers continue to receive unemployment benefits as well as a small state stipend for travel expenses and childcare.

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Baltimore Homes Go for $10K — or Less

August 22nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Post) — Andrew Wells is hoping to buy a Baltimore home for around the cost of an old car: Less than $10,000.  Turns out he’s in good company.  One of every 10 city homes sold during the first half of the year — about 275 in all — fellin that price range. Twice as many sold for under $20,000.

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Banks Seek Immunity for Mortgage Misbehavior

August 22nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Wall Street Journal) — Efforts to reach a settlement that would end the long-running probe of foreclosure practices are snagged over whether banks will get broad legal immunity from state officials for mortgage-related claims.  Federal and state officials are seeking penalties of $20 billion to $25 billion from Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other financial firms under investigation since last fall. The banks are pushing hard for a deal, but they have insisted on a wide-ranging legal release from state attorneys general.  “They wanted to be released from everything, including original sin,” said a U.S. official involved in the discussions. The legal protection sought by the banks included loan origination; securitization and servicing practices; fair-lending procedures; and their use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, an industry-owned loan registry that often acts as an agent for owners of mortgage loans, people familiar with the discussions said.
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