Friday, September 3, 2010

Home Sales

National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) reported Thursday that its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in July, increased 5.2 percent from last month’s reading. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

The index remains 19 percent below measurements recorded a year ago, but the month-to-month jump was an unexpected development, and some analysts are saying it may be a sign that the post-tax credit lull in home sales will soon come to an end. A group of economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting the pending sales index to fall by 1 percent.

The national index had fallen 29.9 percent based on contract signings in May – closely reflected in July’s 27 percent drop in actual existing-home sales. It lost another 2.8 percent after NAR’s analysis of June’s contracts, likely a good indicator of where August’s actual sales will end up. The latest 5.2 percent increase could be a telling sign of September’s sales numbers.

Reduced Price Cruises

Fannie Mae Says Foreclosure Delays Represent a Breach by the Servicer

The nation's largest mortgage company is about to start cracking down on servicers for letting delinquent loans languish too long without action. Fannie Mae has issued a notice alerting servicers that it is monitoring all delinquent loans to ensure foreclosures are handled within an acceptable time frame, and may assess penalties for poor servicer performance. By the tone of Fannie's announcement, the GSE wants these nonperformers off its books as quickly as possible.

Fannie says it will be keeping tabs on all whole mortgages, participation pool mortgages, and MBS pool mortgages with a special servicing option referred to an attorney or trustee to initiate foreclosure proceedings on or after July 1, 2010. Company officials will be scrutinizing servicer data to identify delays in the default management process.

According to the GSE, it may elect to perform a more extensive servicing review – possibly on-site – to further evaluate the actions the servicer took on certain mortgage loans. Servicers must send the requested documentation or make it available…within the time frame specified in the notification. If the servicer fails to do so, Fannie Mae may assess compensatory fees without first reviewing the loan or exercise other available remedies, the GSE warned.

Effective with the date of this Announcement, any mortgage loan referred to an attorney (or trustee) to initiate foreclosure proceedings with properties located in the States of Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and New York must meet the new foreclosure time frames noted below:

• Florida – 185 days

This timeline has an additional 35 days added to allow for a mediation referral prior to a foreclosure suit being commenced.

• Maryland – 90 days

This timeline begins when the case is referred to an attorney to file suit together with a Loss Mitigation Affidavit. The servicer must execute a Final Loss Mitigation Affidavit at the commencement of the case, if appropriate. If a Preliminary Loss Mitigation Affidavit is required, then the time frame allowed will be extended to 120 days.

• Nevada – 150 days

• New York (Upstate) – 300 days

• New York (Downstate) – 420 days

In the State of New York, a timeline of 300 days applies to all localities except for New York City and Long Island.

A timeline of 420 days applies for foreclosures conducted in the five boroughs of New York City — Bronx, Brooklyn (Kings County), Manhattan (New York County), Queens, and Staten Island (Richmond County) — and on Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties).

Rocket Docket_ palm Beach County

Check out Matt's blog for a transcript from a Rocket Docket.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fannie Mae Places Ban on 'Appraisal Cutting'

Fannie Mae is implementing a new policy this week regarding home appraisals. Beginning Wednesday, lenders will be prohibited from making changes to appraisers' valuations - a practice that has become more widespread and is commonly referred to as "appraisal cutting." Fannie officials say they have identified cases where the lender reduced the opinion of market value in the appraisal report based upon underwriter judgment or automated valuation models, prompting the GSE to place a ban on so-called appraisal cutting.

Law and Order goes to Court for Real

Lawyer Wins Bid to Depose 'Law &; Order' Producers in Libel Suit

New York Law Journal

Attorney Ravi Batra can question "Law & Order" producer Dick Wolf in connection with a $15 million libel action the lawyer filed in 2004 against 35 defendants, including Wolf and NBC Universal, a New York judge has ruled. The suit centers around a "Law & Order" episode entitled "Floater," in which a bald Indian-American matrimonial attorney called "Ravi Patel" is depicted bribing a Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn.

Servicers Fail to Deliver on Loan Mod Best Practices: J.D. Power

U.S. consumers are less satisfied with their experience during the loan modification process than they are during loan origination, namely because mortgage servicers are missing the mark when it comes to delivering on best practices, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The company's survey found that mortgage servicers fail to adhere to a time frame for approval, don't provide the customer with status updates, and repeatedly ask borrowers for the same information. BB&T ranks highest in customer satisfaction among mortgage servicers, followed by SunTrust Mortgage, US Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Judge fines firm $49,000

Does your kid have a wack mo game?  Well here's the court's version.

Judge Dunnigan handed down the $49,000 penalty

Monday, August 30, 2010

FRB Proposes Significant Changes to Reverse Mtg Disclosures and Ads

The Federal Reserve Board recently proposed significant changes to reverse mortgage advertisements and disclosures.

The Federal Register notice for the proposed rule is available at:

These proposed rules would:

• Impose rules for reverse mortgage advertising to ensure advertisements contain accurate and balanced information.

• Change the disclosures consumers receive for reverse mortgages, including: (a) at application, creditors must provide a new, two-page disclosure which highlights in simple language the basic features and risks of reverse mortgages; (b) within three days after receiving the consumer’s application, creditors must provide transaction-specific disclosures that reflect the actual terms of the reverse mortgage being offered, which must be presented in a tabular format; (c) at least three days before closing the loan, creditors must provide final disclosures in the same format, to facilitate comparison with the earlier disclosures; and (d) creditors also must ensure that their advertisements for reverse mortgages are accurate and balanced.

• Prohibit certain unfair practices in the sale of financial products with reverse mortgages, such as: (a) prohibiting creditors from conditioning a reverse mortgage on the consumer's purchase of another financial or insurance product; (b) requiring that a consumer receive counseling about reverse mortgages before a creditor can impose nonrefundable fees for a reverse mortgage or close the loan; and (c) prohibiting creditors from steering consumers to specific reverse mortgage counselors or compensating counselors or counseling agencies.

The comment period ends 90 days after publication of the proposal in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly.


Bankruptcy Action Can Be 'Commenced' Despite Failure to Meet Law's Requirements, 2nd Circuit Says

A bankruptcy action can be considered "commenced" even when a debtor has failed to meet a requirement imposed by Congress that he first receive credit counseling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. Interpreting a "statutory tangle" of bankruptcy provisions, the circuit said the counseling requirement under 11 U.S.C. §109(h) is not jurisdictional in nature and a case can still be regarded as begun by the filing of a bankruptcy petition, which triggers an automatic stay.'Commenced'%20Despite%20Failure%20to%20Meet%20Law's%20Requirements%2C%202nd%20Circuit%20Says

Federal Circuit Rules No Link Between Autism and Vaccine

The Federal Circuit on Friday upheld lower court findings that reject a causal connection between childhood vaccines and the onset of autism. The ruling came in the first of a series of test cases heard by special masters for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2007. The claims court picked several such cases to test different theories of causation advanced in the roughly 5,000 cases alleging a link to autism filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

Plaintiffs Lawyers in 9/11 Cases Lose Bid to Recoup $6.1 Million in Interest

Plaintiffs lawyers in the 9/11 respiratory cases cannot pass on to clients some $6.1 million in interest costs associated with financing the massive litigation, a New York federal judge ruled Friday. Even though the lead lawyer marshaled opinions by bar associations, court cases and experts to show that borrowing to finance litigation and passing the cost to clients is both legal and ethical, the judge said he would not allow it. "I'm not saying it was unethical. ... What you're getting is too much," he said.

America is in Financial Distress

For the quarter ended June 30, 2010, American households scored a 65.2 on the index’s 100-point scale, up from 65.0 in the first quarter of 2010, yet still below the score of 66.5 for the same period one year ago.

A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress, and CredAbility’s index shows that the average U.S. consumer has been in financial distress for eight consecutive quarters.

For the first time, CredAbility is also releasing consumer distress scores for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The agency says the second-quarter data reveals stark regional differences. Only nine states, primarily in the upper Midwest and Great Plains, achieved scores above the distress threshold of 70 points.

Among the states, Nevada posted the worst score on the index with at 59.23, while North Dakota had the best performance, with a score of 78.95.

FDIC Credit Card Advise

A new law for credit cards helps protect consumers from sudden interest rate increases but, under certain circumstances, card issuers can still raise your interest rate. Make sure you understand when and how this can happen.

More Americans Go Without Life Insurance

Nearly a third of U.S. households have no life-insurance coverage, the highest percentage in more than four decades, according to research firm Limra, the Wall Street Journal reported today. About 35 million U.S. households neither own their own life-insurance policies nor are covered under employer-sponsored plans, up from the 24 million, or 22 percent of households, without coverage in 2004, according to the study this year by Limra. The rise reflects tight household budgets, loss of employer-provided coverage as a result of layoffs, and cutbacks by some employers in their benefits packages, Limra said. Half of the respondents in the latest survey said they needed more life insurance, but many have not bought it because their financial priorities include paying off debt.

The industry also is grappling with a decline in the number of agents who sell to middle-class families, often described as those with household incomes of between about $35,000 and $100,000 a year.

Since the 1970s, the number of company-affiliated life-insurance agents has dropped by nearly one-third, to 174,000 in recent years, according to data from Limra.

Unemployed Home Owners Plan Update

The Obama administration plans to take two new steps in the next few weeks to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, said Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Bloomberg News reported today. The administration will begin a Federal Housing Administration refinancing effort to help borrowers who are struggling to pay their home mortgages, and will start an emergency homeowners' loan program for unemployed borrowers so they can stay in their homes, Donovan said. He said that it was too soon to say whether the administration's $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expired April 30, would be revived.

Florida has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the country, with one in every 171 Florida housing units receiving a foreclosure filing this year.