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IMOVE CHICAGO TOP PRODUCER

By iMove Rentals | on January 25,2016 at 12:06PM

 

CONGRATULATIONS- IMOVE CHICAGO TOP PRODUCER BACK TO BACK 2014 AND 2015.!! 

 

Congratulations!! Chicago Association of Realtors Top Producer

By iMove Rentals | on January 27,2015 at 9:31PM

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Erickson Ocasio, Managing Broker, iMove Chicago.  Nominated by the Chicago Association of Realtors as TOP 1% Producers for 2014.   

A New Weapon for Bidding Wars

By iMove Rentals | on March 26,2014 at 3:56PM
 
 
New York Times

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Real Estate Markets in Illinois and Chicago Remain in Crisis

By iMove Rentals | on January 10,2014 at 2:49PM

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New study shows a third of all Illinois and Chicago homes are in mortgage trouble


A new study by housing data provider RealtyTrac shows Illinois and Chicago remain particularly hard hit by the nation’s real estate crisis, with as many as a third of all homes considered “deeply underwater”.

The U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for December 2013 showed Illinois was one of the highest states nationwide for residential properties considered deeply underwater, with 32 percent of all properties so designated. Only Nevada (38 percent) and Florida (34 percent) were higher.

Homes considered deeply underwater carry a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 125 percent or more. That means that if the homeowner were to sell a property at full value, the purchase price would not cover the full amount of the outstanding loan.

The study also found Chicago continues to suffer a glut of distressed homeowners and properties, with fully a third of all properties considered deeply underwater. According to RealtyTrac, more than 700,000 properties in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area had a LTV ratio of greater then 125 percent.

Within the city limits, some areas of Chicago struggle worse than others with housing issues, particularly foreclosures.

A 2013 study of the first half of the year by the Woodstock Institute shows a key section of the southwest side of the city contains a particularly strong concentration of foreclosures.

The Chicago City and Regional Foreclosure Activity report shows two adjacent wards on the Southwest Side—the 13th and the 18th—had the highest levels of properties with foreclosure filings in the first half of 2013.

Both showed 254 foreclosures for the period. The 13th Ward is represent by Ald. Marty Quinn, and the 18th by Ald. Lona Lane.

The 13th Ward also covers parts of the Illinois 22nd House District, which is represented by powerful Speaker Mike Madigan.

Across the nation, the housing crisis brought on by the 2008 collapse of real estate prices continues to slowly improve, although markets in much of the country remain depressed.

The RealtyTrac report found 9.3 million U.S. residential properties were deeply underwater in December, down from 10.7 million in September.

Yet Las Vegas, Orlando, Detroit, Tampa and Miami all had percentages of deeply underwater properties higher than Chicago.

The National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales fell in November, although the organization said median prices continue to show strong year-over-year growth.

A Big Year for V.A. Loans

By iMove Rentals | on January 10,2014 at 2:00PM

The number of loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs reached a record high in 2013, perhaps marking the peak of an upward trajectory that began after the housing market collapse.

The department guaranteed nearly 630,000 mortgage loans in fiscal year 2013, setting a new high just as the program enters its 70th year, said Mike Frueh, the director of the V.A.’s Loan Guaranty Program. The average loan was about $225,000, an amount that reflects the program’s value to “working-class America,” he said.

Calling the program’s growth “pretty incredible,” Chris Birk, the executive editor at Veterans United Home Loans, an online broker of V.A. loans, estimated that total loan volume has risen 372 percent since fiscal 2007.

Another factor is the tough lending climate of the last six years, which has made a V.A. loan the most viable option for many service members. “It’s become so much more difficult for military personnel and veterans to qualify for conventional financing,” Mr. Birk said. “This is the only path to homeownership for many.”One reason is historically low interest rates, which have driven a tremendous increase in loans for the purpose of refinancing. About half of last year’s V.A. loans were “refis.” That business dropped off toward the end of last year as interest rates rose.

One big advantage for first-time buyers is that the loans do not require a down payment. About 90 percent of all V.A.-guaranteed purchase loans are made without any money down. “Our average borrower has about $7,000 in liquid assets at the time they close the loan,” Mr. Frueh said. “That’s not enough to make a significant down payment.”

Another benefit is that V.A.-backed loans do not require private mortgage insurance, which add to a borrower’s monthly payment. According to Mr. Frueh, for the loans made last year, borrowers will save $35 billion they might otherwise have paid out in mortgage insurance premiums over the life of their loans.

There are restrictions, of course. The loan must be for a primary residence. And the V.A. maintains limits on the amount it will guarantee, based on area median home prices. The 2014 limits, calculated by county, range from $417,500 to $1,094,625.

The V.A. does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but lenders typically add their own, which is currently around 620. The V.A. is more concerned with a borrower’s income and expenses.

To qualify, borrowers must show enough monthly income after paying personal debts and housing costs to meet “residual income” levels set by the department. The levels vary by region and household size. In the Northeast, for example, on loans exceeding $80,000, a two-person household must show at least $755 in leftover income, while a family of five must show $1,062.

“Their underwriting is a little bit more restrictive, but it’s prudent,” said William J. McCue, the owner of McCue Mortgage in New Britain, Conn., which has handled the agency’s loans since its founding in 1949. “That’s why the loans perform so well.”

Indeed, V.A. loans have shown the lowest foreclosure rate for the last five years, according to data gathered by the Mortgage Bankers Association. “People naturally assume that these loans are risky,” Mr. Birk said, adding, “You really don’t see people who can’t afford a mortgage getting a loan, because of that residual income requirement.”

According to data gathered by Veterans United, the three states that saw the greatest jumps in loan activity last year compared to 2012 were Arizona, up 40 percent; Ohio, up 33 percent; and Connecticut, up 30 percent.

‘Qualified’ Loans, Redefined

By iMove Rentals | on November 8,2013 at 12:02PM

 

 

The mortgage industry is bracing for the coming of “Q.M.,” the new federal rules defining a “qualified mortgage” — or one underwritten to standards deemed safe for consumers. The implementation of Q.M. poses a compliance headache for lenders, though the average borrower is unlikely to notice any difference when the rules take effect in January. The most immediate differences will be felt by borrowers at the higher and lower ends of the income scale.

As part of the lending reforms imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act, a qualified mortgage is intended to be less likely to wind up in default. Lenders that meet the Q.M. conditions and underwriting standards are promised protection from legal challenges for those loans.

Among the basic criteria: A Q.M. loan must be fully amortizing with a term no longer than 30 years, and the points and fees paid by the borrower cannot exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount.

Lenders must also document the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, and confirm a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43 percent. (The ratio represents the percentage of a borrower’s monthly gross income used to pay monthly debts.) Loans with a ratio exceeding 43 percent but qualified for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or for a Federal Housing Administration guarantee, will still fall under the Q.M. umbrella because of a temporary exemption expected to last at least a few years. Higher-risk mortgages like interest-only and “no-doc” loans, which don’t require verification of the borrower’s income and assets, are ineligible.

For now, the Q.M. definition is broad enough that an estimated 95 percent of mortgage loans being made in the current market fit the criteria, according to Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is writing the rules. Mr. Cordray cited that figure in remarks late last month to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“For a borrower going in January to get a loan, I think it’s going to be pretty much status quo,” said Eric Stein, a senior vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending. “The kind of loans that people are getting these days qualify directly for Q.M. status, so there shouldn’t be any impact.”

Still, credit unions, which are known for being more flexible around mortgage lending, are wary of the rule’s effect on their members, said Carrie Hunt, the senior vice president for government affairs and general counsel of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. The organization has requested that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau delay implementation of the rules because the cost of compliance is proving so burdensome for smaller institutions.

The rule could affect the availability of so-called jumbo loans, which, because they don’t conform with the Fannie and Freddie loan limits, would not be considered qualified mortgages if the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio exceeded 43 percent.

At the other end of the scale, the cap on points and fees could make it harder for lower-income borrowers, said Cameron Findlay, the chief economist for Discover Home Loans. Those with less-than-perfect credit and higher debt-to-income ratios often wind up in loans with substantial points and fees that could exceed the 3 percent cap, he said. These consumers would have to look to a nonqualified mortgage, which could be more expensive.

“The question is, how much lending activity are we going to see emerge around the Q.M. box?” said Stan Humphries, the chief economist at Zillow.com, a real estate information service. “If you want to exceed 43 percent D.T.I., but you’ve got an 850 credit score and you want to put 30 percent down, someone’s going to make you a mortgage for that.”

 

The Pre-emptive Rate Lock

By iMove Rentals | on October 24,2013 at 9:07AM

 

Fixed mortgage rates inched upward as the federal budget deadline loomed. Now that the budget stalemate is over, however, borrowers getting ready to apply for home loans shouldn’t wait around for the still-reasonable rates to drop — lock in the best rate you can get, industry experts say.

The likelihood is that rates will move higher rather than lower in the coming weeks, said Keith T. Gumbinger, the vice president of HSH.com, a financial publisher.

Even in “more normal” times, Mr. Gumbinger added, “we don’t advise people to try to time the market. If you have a mortgage deal in place that makes your transaction work, go get it and lock it in. No one can be certain what will happen in the future.”

Locking in the interest rate on a loan means it cannot change, regardless of what happens to rates generally, so long as the borrower closes within the prescribed lock-in period.

Most lenders won’t approve a rate lock until the borrower has a property under contract or a signed offer. Before that, however, borrowers should get prequalified for a loan so they can work out issues that might affect their interest rate, said John Adam, a northeast divisional sales executive for home loans for Bank of America. For example, the borrower might need to resolve a credit problem or come up with more cash to put down.

Deciding when to lock in a rate — at the beginning or later on in the loan process — is up to the borrower. But allowing the rate to float in hopes of a decline in interest rates can be risky. “Rates could go against you,” Mr. Adam said. “And would that put your purchase in jeopardy?”

Lock-in periods are typically for 30, 45 or 60 days. Bank of America’s standard lock is 60 days, but borrowers should be sure to choose a period that meets their contractual obligations, Mr. Adam said.

The length of time a borrower needs can vary by location. In California, a closing time of 21 to 30 days is typical in written agreements, but more time may be needed in Manhattan, “because you have condo and co-op boards that have to approve your purchase,” Mr. Adam noted.

Some lenders charge a fee for the lock, and longer lock periods typically cost a bit more. For example, Continental Home Loans in Melville, N.Y., asks for a point upfront to lock in for 60 days, said Michael McHugh, the company president. The amount is later credited toward the borrower’s closing costs. (A point is 1 percent of the loan amount.)

Lenders also offer, for an additional upfront fee, a “float-down” provision that allows borrowers to change their locked rate if interest rates fall. It’s a way of “hedging your bet” on longer lock periods, which are more likely to see rate fluctuations, Mr. McHugh said.

Borrowers considering a float-down should weigh the fee against the potential savings from a slight drop in interest rates. It makes the most sense on larger mortgages, Mr. Gumbinger said. And, he added, “if it does come true, it’s like scratching off a pretty good lottery ticket.”

If a lock period expires before a loan closes, and the delay wasn’t the bank’s fault, a borrower might have to pay for an extension. Borrowers should make sure they’re not delaying the processing of their loan.

“Meet with the loan officer,” Mr. Adam said, “make sure you know what’s necessary in terms of documents, and get them in in a timely fashion.”

 
 

 

Wells Fargo faces new legal action amid mortgage holder complaints

By iMove Rentals | on October 9,2013 at 5:47PM

 

1:32 p.m. CDTOctober 2, 2013

 

NEW YORK -- Mirza Baig, 70, has lived in his home in the New York City borough of Staten Island since 2007.

 

The Pakistani immigrant had been working at the front desk of a hotel near New York’s JFK airport, but he lost his job during the Great Recession.

In 2009, he fell behind on his mortgage payments. He asked Wells Fargo for help modifying his mortgage, but said the process has been frustrating and confusing ever since.

Wells Fargo, he said, sent “harassing material” in the mail, threatening him with loss of his home. The bank filed for foreclosure in 2010, according to Staten Island Legal Services, which is representing him in the case.

“They just keep on confusing me,” Baig said. “Their policy is never clear to me.”

Baig spoke to reporters after a news conference held by New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who announced legal action against Wells Fargo over allegations it wasn’t living up to the terms of last year’s landmark $25-billion national mortgage settlement.

Schneiderman faulted the bank’s mortgage-servicing communications, calling its process “Byzantine.” The attorney general also announced a parallel settlement with Bank of America to fix its practices.

Baig, who has lived in the city for a quarter-century, has since found lower-paying employment in the food service industry, working in a kitchen and delivering food. He remains worried about his protracted wrangling with Wells Fargo.

“I’m still in my home, but I’m living in uncertainty and [in a] stress situation because they are not doing anything,” Baig said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Hurdles for Condo Buyers

By iMove Rentals | on October 9,2013 at 5:38PM

 

 

 

In New York, buyers intent on getting a co-op know to brace themselves for the notoriously invasive approval process. But increasingly, condominium buyers are also being asked to fill out lengthy applications and provide detailed financial information to buildings’ governing boards.

Although condos don’t have the same right as co-ops to reject buyers at will, they do have a right of first refusal. This means that on any pending sale, the condo association has the right to step in, through its board, and match the offer.

In allowing the condo to be sold to an outside buyer, the board issues a waiver of its right of refusal. Before doing so, however, it may at this point in the process demand information about the buyer, including financial statements, employment history, personal references and other details.

In reality, although it is intended to give condo associations some control over who lives in their building, the right of first refusal is very rarely exercised, said Patricia Kantor, a real estate lawyer in Manhattan. Most condo associations don’t have the money to buy an apartment quickly. And bylaws typically require that such a purchase be approved by a majority of unit owners, which can be time-consuming. “There’s a very limited time for the board to act in response to an offer — 15 to 30 days, 45 at the most,” Ms. Kantor said.

What’s more, many condo bylaws limit a board’s ability to get financing, or may require a unit owner vote to do so, said Adam Leitman Bailey, a lawyer who represents condos in New York. Though he has helped condos obtain loans, financing is difficult because usually the only collateral for a loan is the common charge, he said. 

Still, even condos without the means to act on a right of refusal may use their waiver-granting power as leverage. “The right of first refusal is being used more frequently and aggressively than ever before in order to give the boards the ability to have more control over who is living in the building,” said Stuart M. Saft, a lawyer whose firm represents about 50 condos in Manhattan.

Mr. Saft says he has used the process to require buyers with “shaky” finances either to find a guarantor or put several months’ common charges in escrow.

Mr. Bailey says he wields the right of refusal “as a weapon” to ward off potentially troublesome buyers. “If they don’t want to provide the tax returns and fill out the questionnaires and give the references,” he said, “then they’re not getting the waiver of right of first refusal. I need to protect the building before they enter it.”

Mr. Bailey says he has also started asking buyers to sign riders in which they agree to terms that may not be in the condo bylaws, like smoking or pet prohibitions.

He has no problem holding up a waiver if a buyer refuses to comply. Could a buyer sue him for damages as a result of a lost interest rate? Possibly, Mr. Bailey says, but the process would be so lengthy that it would hardly be worth it. “It’s very rare that we get pushback,” he said.

In the rare instances when condos do buy apartments, it’s often because “the apartment is just being dumped and the sale price is going to have an adverse impact on the comps,” Mr. Saft said, referring to comparable sales. “This frequently happens in estate sales, when the family and the executor don’t want to waste a lot of time fighting, so they just take the first offer that comes along.”

Or the board may simply not like the buyer. Mr. Saft recalls one instance, in a building with two units per floor, in which an owner objected to an applicant for the unit next to his, because he feared the person would be too noisy. The owner asked the board to exercise its right, which it did, and he bought the apartment himself.

 

How to Get a Home Loan With Bad Credit

By iMove Rentals | on September 26,2013 at 5:52PM

 

By Sheree R. Curry

 

To easily snag a home loan, an applicant needs to be a "triple threat" -- have an excellent credit rating, a large down payment, and low debt-to-income ratio with steady significant income. But even if you have bad credit, you don't have to rule out future home ownership.

Homebuyers with bad credit due to a foreclosure or bankruptcy, or who have previously been turned down for a loan, can still get a home loan.

Melanye Miller, a 40-something Chicago schoolteacher, has been hankering for three years to move out of the single-family home she was renting, so that she could purchase a place big enough for her and her three children. But when her credit report revealed a poor score, she knew banks would not give her a home loan, especially not one with zero down payment.

To increase her chances of getting a home loan, Miller began a long road to recovery from her bad credit history, which included not using credit cards and setting aside money each month for her house fund. Finally, in November, after saving for almost two years, she purchased a four-bedroom condo. "I saved and saved, but I decided to purchase a foreclosure condo because it was less expensive and required fewer funds," she says. "Owning a home is not out of the question if you have bad credit. You just have to do your research, know what you can really afford, do even more research, and save your money."

There are hurdles, for sure. But for those with a less than stellar credit history, you need to highlight your "compensating factors" -- those mitigating factors not reflected in your bad credit score or on your credit report.

Even though there are few opportunities for personal appeals when applying for a home loan -- for instance, explaining why a bill was not paid on time -- you can still try to present yourself in the best possible light. It just may help tip the scales in your favor when you've got bad credit in your history.
Here are seven compensating factors to consider submitting with your home loan application to help improve your chances for obtaining a mortgage, even with bad credit:

1. Flaunt other assets. If you don't have a large cash reserve or a large down payment, show loan officers the financial assets you do have. For example, if you have whole life insurance, list the cash value on your home loan application. If you have a sizable 401(k) or other retirement accounts, be sure to list them all and their current values. This strategy lets lenders know that if you're ever in a bind paying your mortgage, you're able to pull from one of these other sources to make ends meet. And if you're seeking to refinance, showing a low loan-to-value rating is a huge plus.

2. Stress job stability. If you have been working in the same industry for several years, and even with the same company for, say, five years or longer, be sure to highlight that to offset a bad credit history. And don't forget to mention any regular pay raises that you've received. If you have a cost-of-living increase every two years, or an annual merit-pay increase, be sure to mention in your home loan application how your income has risen over the years. The same goes for regular bonuses. Proof of rising pay or additional money will help lenders know that you will have funds to offset any possible rise in expenditures, such as property taxes or utilities.

3. Show discipline. Prove to lenders that your bad credit is a thing of the past and that you know how to save. If you've been socking away $600 a month to a savings account or have been contributing yearly to a retirement account, this will help you obtain a home loan. You are trying to show discipline, consistency and stability.

4. Willingness to stay put. Prove to lenders that you're not a flight risk. Home loan lenders like to believe that you're going to stay put in that home for some time (though you can always upgrade or downsize). Show that you're committed to the home, neighborhood or greater community by listing how long you lived at your last residence, if the length of time was significant -- three years or more. If that time was spent living in your mother's basement, that might not fly, unless you show that the home you're interested in is down the street from Mom. Strong ties to the community can help.

5. Increase your down payment. The days of zero down payments are pretty much gone. Yes, you can get a house with a 10 percent down payment, or 3.5 percent under FHA. But in general, the larger the down payment, the quicker the home loan approval. Historically, the single largest obstacle to purchasing a home has been amassing enough money for the down payment and closing costs. If you can't come up with that money on your own, there are a few down-payment assistance programs as well as state and local municipality programs to help. Check with your city for possible homebuyer assistance; show your banker that you're not afraid to ask for help and that you have the tenacity to solve any of your own financial problems.

6. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Be reasonable about the amount of house and home loan you can afford, even if some real estate agents or brokers are telling you that you can afford more. The best advice is to start out smaller than you want. Spend some time getting to know home prices in the area where you want to buy, and know that you always can move up later. It's far better to own a home you can afford than to move into something outside your payment comfort level -- only to lose it and amass more bad credit down the road.

7. Have proof. It's one thing to tell potential home loan lenders that you never were late on your rent, or that you always pay your child support obligations. It's another thing to be able to show them. Be prepared to give documentation to back up all of the items on your compensating factors list. For example, show canceled checks for payments you've made to any entity, show bank statements to prove regular deposits of income or contributions to retirement. A letter from a landlord saying that you paid rent on time is not enough. If you cannot produce these documents, you will raise doubts about the veracity of your credit history.

The bottom line is there are certain red flags that give home loan lenders pause. When your credit history is less than perfect, get past the warning signs by highlighting other, positive aspects of your financial profile.

 

Figuring Out the Best Mortgage for Your Home Purchase

By iMove Rentals | on September 26,2013 at 5:48PM

Property Owners Braced For Interest Rate Hike

 

By Susanna Kim

By ABC News 

A large majority of homebuyers choose a 30-year fixed rate mortgage when taking out a loan to buy a home. But it may not be the best choice of mortgages for all households. There are three reasons why homebuyers continually flock to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, says Frank Nothaft, chief economist with Freddie Mac: affordability, stability and flexibility.

First, Nothaft explains, the longer term means the principal is paid back (i.e., amortized) over a longer time period. "That means the monthly payments are lower than on a 15-year mortgage, which is fundamental to making homeownership viable for first-time buyers in their early earning years," Nothaft writes on Freddie Mac's website.

Even though the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was just 2.5 percent last year, the lowest in recorded history, and three-quarters of a percentage point below the 30-year fixed-rate loan, more than 85 percent of the home loan market was dominated by 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been popular particularly in recent times after the housing bubble and crash, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors.

Yun said consumers want certainty, and by getting a 30-year fixed rate mortgage while they are in their homes is protection against the uncertainty of other economic factors. As for the second reason, stability, a fixed interest rate over 30 years also means a monthly principal and interest payment that is predictable to homeowners. "Moreover, by avoiding payment shock and negative amortization, fixed-rate borrowers are less likely to fall behind on their payments –- a plus for investors too," Nothaft writes.

Why not a longer period than 30 years? Yun says institutions and homeowners rely on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for both tradition and history. Also, "People view more than 30 years as lifetime of payments," Yun said. "Thirty years offers a term limit to say, 'At a certain point in my life, I will not have to pay a mortgage.' I think that assurance is comforting."

Yun adds that given the mortgage's standardization and popularity, it makes it easy for Wall Street, or Fannie and Freddie to guarantee those mortgages. Nothaft said 30-year fixed-rate loan is flexible because it is generally prepayable at any time without penalty. If homebuyers choose to pay off the loan before maturity, in the case of refinancing or selling the home, for example, they can do so without paying an early prepayment fee, Nothaft said.

"This feature is largely unique to the U.S. as other nations generally require a prepayment penalty for long-term fixed-rate loans on single-family homes," he writes. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is particularly popular with first-time homebuyers or younger people, said Yun. He said homebuyers with greater means or repeat buyers with equity in their home can use their equity as a substantial down payment.

Some people would prefer to go with a shorter term to plan to avoid paying mortgage payments during their retirement years. However, because the 30-year is more expensive in interest paid, anyone who can afford the higher payment of a 15- or 20-year loan should consider it. For example, a 30-year fixed mortgage of $250,000 at the current rate of 4.5 percent means monthly payments of $1266.71. But the same loan at 15 years and the average rate of 3.6 percent is $1799.51 a month.
You'll pay $73,911 in interest with the 15-year loan as opposed to a whopping $206,016 in interest with the 30-year loan.

Home Sales Rise in Spite of Higher Interest Rate

By iMove Rentals | on September 24,2013 at 11:10AM

 

WASHINGTON — Sales of existing houses climbed 1.7 percent in August to a six-and-a-half-year high, and factories grew busier in the mid-Atlantic region this month, providing signs that rising borrowing costs are weighing only modestly on the economy.

The New York Times

 

The New York Times

 

The National Association of Realtorssaid on Thursday that existing houses were selling at an annual rate of 5.48 million units, the highest level since early 2007, when a housing bubble was deflating and the economy was sliding toward its deepest recession in decades.

The report surprised analysts who had expected higher interest rates would lead to a decline in resales. Mortgage rates have risen more than a percentage point since the Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, hinted in May that the central bank could begin reducing its economic stimulus soon. On Wednesday, however, the Fed said it would maintain its $85 billion monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities

“Over all, these reports point to a sustained pickup in economic growth momentum,” said Millan Mulraine, an economist at TD Securities.

The manufacturing sector also is showing signs of brisk growth. Factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region increased by the most in more than two years in September, and firms’ optimism about the future hit a 10-year high, according to a survey conducted by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank.

The Philadelphia Fed’s business activity index jumped to 22.3 in September, easily beating economists’ expectations for a reading of 10.0. Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region’s manufacturing.

In yet another indication the economy is shrugging off higher borrowing costs, an index of leading indicators advanced by a greater-than-expected 0.7 percent in August, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in July, according to the Conference Board.

“The economy is grinding its way higher,” said Mark L. Lehmann, president of JMP Securities.

Many economists, however, contend it is just a matter of time before higher mortgage rates hit the housing market harder.

“The strong levels of existing home sales in July and August are likely a result of home buyers locking in mortgage rates due to uncertainty about the future trajectory of rates,” economists at Nomura Securities said in a note to clients.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed the number of initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week held near its lowest levels since before the last recession began in December 2007. Initial jobless claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 15,000, to a seasonally adjusted 309,000, while the four-week moving average slipped by 7,000, to 314,750.

A report from the Commerce Department showed that an increase in American exports narrowed the country’s current-account deficit in the second quarter to its lowest in four years.

The current-account deficit, a broad measure of the flow of goods, services and money across national borders, dropped to $98.9 billion in the April-to-June period from a revised $104.9 billion in the previous period.

The second-quarter level was the lowest since 2009.

 

Taking Over a Seller’s Loan

By iMove Rentals | on September 24,2013 at 11:11AM

 

By LISA PREVOST
NY Times
Published: September 19, 2013

Homeowners with a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs should consider using their loan terms as a marketing tool when it comes time to sell.

Mortgage loans from both government agencies include a little-known feature known as assumability. In other words, the buyer of a home financed with an existing F.H.A. or V.A. loan may be able to take over, or assume, the seller’s loan, under the same terms, rather than take out a new mortgage.

During periods when interest rates are rising, homes offered for sale with an assumable, lower-rate mortgage may have extra appeal for certain buyers.

“You could now have a seller saying, ‘I have a great house to sell you and a great mortgage to go with it, which is better than my neighbor, who only has a great house,’ ” said Marc Israel, an executive vice president of Kensington Vanguard National Land Services and a real estate lawyer. “It’s a very clever idea.”

The savings for buyers assuming a loan extend beyond a lower interest rate. Assuming a loan is cheaper than applying for a new one because there are fewer settlement fees. An appraisal is not required (though a buyer may want to obtain one anyway). And in New York, borrowers assuming a loan do not have to pay the hefty mortgage recording tax a second time, Mr. Israel said. 

F.H.A. loans do demand that the borrower pay for mortgage insurance over the life of the loan. But when assuming a loan, borrowers do not have to pay the upfront mortgage insurance premium required on a new loan, according to John Walsh, the president of Total Mortgage Services in Milford, Conn.

And, he noted, because the original mortgage holder would have been paying the loan for a number of years, the buyer assuming the loan will start at a point deeper into the amortization schedule than on a new loan. That means more of the monthly payment will go toward principal.

“In a rising rate environment, assumability is a very attractive option,” said Katie Miller, the vice president of mortgage products for Navy Federal Credit Union. “It ends up making homes that much more affordable.”

She emphasized, however, that loan assumptions are often not a viable option for first-time buyers if the seller has accumulated substantial equity in the home.

Say, for example, that the seller’s loan balance is $150,000, and the sale price for the property is $200,000. The borrower assuming the loan must come up with the $50,000 difference, either in cash or through some type of subordinate financing.

That can be too big a hurdle for first-time buyers. The more attractive option at Navy Federal is the HomeBuyers Choice loan, which offers 100 percent financing. These loans currently account for about a quarter of the credit union’s purchase volume, and 65 percent of those borrowers are first-time buyers, Ms. Miller said.

Borrowers seeking to assume a loan must also prove their creditworthiness as they would for any F.H.A. or V.A. loan.

Under F.H.A. rules, once a new borrower is found to be creditworthy enough to assume a loan, the lender must release the seller from any future liability for payment of that loan.

Borrowers considering loan assumption should weigh the costs against other loan options, paying attention to the principal and interest payment, the amount of cash required upfront, and the private mortgage insurance premium. “At the end of the day,” Mr. Walsh said, “if the prospective buyer can come up with the down payment and qualify for the loan assumption, then it could be a huge benefit.”

A somber look at suburbia's future

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:25PM

Suburbia

 

 

Is the suburb you're living in a future slum? Should you shove a for-sale sign into your front yard, pack your bags and light out for some lively urban neighborhood before it's too late?

Leigh Gallagher doesn't know the answer to those questions, but she certainly doesn't have an optimistic vision of the future of America's post-bubble bedroom communities. Gallagher, an assistant managing editor at Fortune magazine, believes there's a passel of evidence pointing to a growing societal preference for cities over suburbs.

In her newly published book, "The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving," she wrote that the financial crisis, demographic trends, and the end of our love affair with driving collectively point to hard times ahead for suburbia in general.

 

n an edited interview, she talked about pressures that are weighing on the traditional suburban American dream.

Q: Let's start with the most obvious question. Why did you write this book, which maintains that, despite decades of generally vigorous suburban growth, numerous forces are converging to render our suburbs unnecessary, even undesirable?

A: I was looking around at all the ways our lives had been impacted by the financial crisis. I came across this vague outline of a big story, in the form of some of the data from the update of the 2010 census. It showed that for the first time in 100 years, the rate of growth in cities was faster than in their suburbs. I started wondering if our love affair with the suburbs might be peaking. I thought, this is a huge deal if this is even close to being true. And it was true beyond what I suspected. Every stone I turned over yielded some other, different kind of proof.

Q: So which demons are breathing down suburbia's neck?

A: There's a lot. To begin with, the nuclear family, which filled our suburban houses, is no longer the norm — marriage and birthrates are steadily declining, while the number of single-person households is growing rapidly. If the demand for good schools and family-friendly lifestyles has historically been the main selling point of suburban life, those things aren't going to matter so much in the future.

Another thing is that Americans are just sick of driving. They're sick of commuting. The number of miles driven per year is in decline. And the cost of gasoline has meant that homes on the suburban fringe are not such a bargain.

At the same time, cities, in general, are making a comeback, especially among young adults and even among families with children.

Q: Among the factors you write about in the book, which one is the biggest influence?

A: One of the things that's the most potent of all of these factors is the demographic situation — the birthrate is falling, the marriage rate is falling, the nuclear family is rapidly becoming a minority household type in this country — 70 percent of households won't have any children in them by 2025. When you look at those figures and the way our population is changing so dramatically, it hits home — we have built all these houses for a type of household that isn't going to exist anymore.

Q: What happens to those miles and miles of suburban towns? Do they just vanish?

A: Some demographers and planners think some far suburbs are going to be the next slums, and there's going to be a good argument for that. There are a lot of zombie subdivisions out there. A lot of people think they will fall apart because they were put up so quickly — they weren't built to last 100 years.

Nonetheless, I think there's always going to be a market for suburbia for a segment of the population. One group is probably going to stay put — the first soup-to-nuts, fully suburban generation will be staying put because they have deep roots. I think that inner-ring suburbs will do well, especially with young people. Older suburbs that were built before single-use (single-family home) zoning came, those will be in a much better position. The exurbs will not do well.

Q: I noticed in the book that you took pains in several places to reiterate that you're not a suburb-basher. Why did you feel the need to state that?

A: I was anticipating getting attacked from all sides, getting tons and tons of hate mail. That hasn't happened. I wasn't coming at this from an activist perspective. I'm not a lobbyist or a new urbanist (a philosophy that promotes the development of smaller-scale, walkable neighborhoods built on traditional town planning methods): I'm a journalist.

It was important to me not to come across as a condo-dwelling, New Yorker elitist snob who thinks the suburbs should just burn. That's not who I am. I was purely documenting a trend that's happening. Good or bad, I think this is totally happening.

When Appraisals Come in Low

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:21PM

 

 

NY Times

One consequence of the subprime mortgage crisis is a far more rigid home appraisal process. Borrowers can complain about lower than expected appraisals — which may mean they can’t borrow enough to meet an agreed-upon sale price, or can’t refinance — but lenders very rarely reconsider.  

Federally enacted rules have set up regulatory walls between loan originators and appraisers so as to shield them from pressures to inflate home values. Now many banks order appraisals through a third party, typically an appraisal management company, which acts as an intermediary.

“In the past, you could communicate that you were unhappy with the appraisal,” said Patrick Galway, an appraiser and the manager of the Town & Country Real Estate Westhampton office. “Today, that kind of communication is severed.”

One option is available to borrowers: a rebuttal letter to the lender. If such a challenge is to garner any attention at all, it must lay out solid and objective evidence of where the appraiser went wrong. But without a decent knowledge of appraisal guidelines, that can be difficult to do.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is a challenge has to be based on facts,” said Robert Morin, the president of the Greystone Valuation Group, in Bedford, N.Y.

Appraisers determine a property’s value partly by researching the sales prices of nearby homes. These homes should be of similar size and style, and located roughly within one mile. The sales should have closed within the previous six months.

Borrowers who question an appraisal should obtain the appraiser’s report from their lender and review the comparable sales that were used. “If they believe they’re not good representations of the property,” Mr. Morin said, “then they should hook up with a local Realtor to get assistance with getting better sales.”

That might mean sales that were pending at the time of the appraisal, but have since closed. If they support a higher value, they might make a difference.

The borrower should also consider a host of factors to see if the “comps” are truly comparable, said Collin Lord, the owner of Absolute Value Management in Boston. Are they located on busier roads? Are the kitchens and baths more dated than those in the purchase property? (Variables like decks and fireplaces are unimportant.) And most important, are the living areas of similar size — that is, not more than 25 percent larger or smaller?

In putting together the information for the lender, borrowers should always “maintain a level of professionalism, and not be accusatory or derogatory,” Mr. Lord said. “It’s important to be respectful of the procedure.”

In all likelihood, however, rebutting an appraisal will prove fruitless. Better to be prepared at the beginning of the process with a list of recent sales that are most comparable to the property to be appraised, Mr. Galway said. “I think you have your best shot and maybe your only shot before the appraiser shows up at the house,” he said.

In a market like this one where prices are rising, sales that are six months old may not reflect current values, said Heather Harrison, an owner of Platinum Drive Realty in Scarsdale, N.Y. That can be frustrating for buyers, but convincing banks that values have risen can be tough when they’re looking backward. Recently, she sold a condo listed for $1.1 million to a buyer who, after some initial hesitation, decided to use cash to make up the difference between the negotiated price (close to list) and the bank’s appraisal of $920,000.

Another possibility is to try another bank. Sometimes, Ms. Harrison said, a second appraisal does the trick.

 

 

Change in the air: Rental smoking bans

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:25PM

 

 

It's becoming increasingly difficult to be a renter and a smoker.

Although numerous landlords long have maintained nonsmoking policies, the bans are gaining momentum, according to Rick Haughey, vice president of operations and technology for the National Multi Housing Council, a trade group for landlords.

The issue, from the nonsmokers' point of view, comes down to secondhand smoke that seeps and drifts from unit to unit. But from some smokers' viewpoints, such policies are a privacy intrusion.

The policies took a major turn June 19 when Related Cos., one of the nation's largest landlords, with 40,000 units in 17 states, announced it would phase in a smoking ban in all of its apartments, including on private balconies and terraces. It's a major move in the apartment-rental business, one that will be watched, and likely followed, by other landlords, Haughey said.

The anti-smoking momentum isn't coming just from the rental business; numerous municipalities have moved to ban smoking in all multifamily housing. The latest prominent example is Walnut Creek, Calif., whose City Council members generally agreed during a June meeting that they likely would approve such a restriction in July.

Haughey explained, in an interview, that cultural and demographic attitudes are sweeping the change along; and besides, he said, landlords are finding that in deciding to ban smoking, they have economics on their side. This is an edited transcript.

Q: Related Cos. said it would implement its ban gradually. If other major landlords were to follow suit, would it likely be handled the same way?

A: That's probably the way to go, going at it at (lease) renewal, so you eventually get yourself to a smoke-free building. You can phase in this kind of thing relatively quickly on renewal. I would think they can't go at it cold turkey.

Some (rental developers) are building entirely smoke-free buildings, but they're keeping some buildings available for smokers, in complexes where they might have five or six buildings.

Q: Clearly, there are some societal pressures to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, but aren't there some fiscal reasons for landlords to want to snuff out smoking?

A: There are clearly costs associated with having smokers on the premises. In the olden days, when smoking was widely permitted in hotels, you could tell by the odor the rooms where smokers had been, even after they had been cleaned.

There are higher cleaning costs when smokers move out of apartments. Any soft surface would absorb the smells. Carpets would have to be cleaned, maybe even removed. And drapes would more likely need to be cleaned — even the wall would need a deeper clean than you would otherwise have to do.

I believe you would find reduced insurance costs as well. So there are financial incentives, but I don't know if those costs have been quantified, industrywide.

In addition to the demographic changes and cultural changes (that don't favor smoking), a lot of this momentum comes from the apartment owners feeling a lot more confident that they actually can do this because it's a tight rental market.

You have some metro markets that have only 1, 2 or 3 percent vacancies — they have people waiting in line to get in, so you can set the rules. They don't need the smokers.

Q: How do you enforce such rules?

A: You're in the same situation as you would be with noise complaints — you would be in violation of your lease. It would be handled on a case-by-case basis, in terms of talking to the tenants, and if it's not resolved then, you move to the next legal level.

Q: Some smokers and smoking-advocacy groups have complained that these bans are intrusive — that they prohibit behavior that's legal. And in the case of the municipal bans, they amount to government intrusion. What's your view on this?

A: Yes, you can smoke in your own home, but the difference is that you don't own your home when you're a renter — you're renting the space, just as if you were renting a storage unit or an office space. And the secondhand-smoke piece of the discussion changes the argument. You're not talking about a person doing something (potentially health-damaging) to themselves, but to others.

 

Update your kitchen cabinets without spending a fortune

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:25PM

 

 
Kitchen cabinets make a strong style statement, but if you've thought about replacing yours, the project may seem daunting. A lengthy kitchen renovation usually requires a big budget, and often, more time than money. But there are lots of ways to freshen up your cabinets and save on both.

QUICK CHANGES

Sometimes simply sprucing up the look of your cabinets is all it takes to give your kitchen a whole new feel. Easy ways to update always starts with paint. If your cabinets are already painted, why not change the color?

And don't be shy! Try a bold approach with bright shades like orange, robin's egg blue or yellow. If those colors seem a little too loud, other stylish options include all shades of gray, mossy greens and steely blues. Or, you could simply try painting only the top or bottom cabinets a different color to create a contrast.

Still more choices include pulling out select cabinets for painting, such as an island or a sink cabinet.

Other quick changes include mixing up open and closed cabinets. Removing a few doors to create an open display cabinet can give your kitchen a new focal point and can make the room seem larger. Of course, door insets can also be removed and replaced with glass (http://www.bendheimcabinetglass.com/) for a lighter, brighter look.

RENOVATE

If you have a little larger budget, resurfacing will give your cabinets a new look without a complete tear out. You can hire out the work or replace doors and drawer fronts yourself by ordering online (http://www.cabinetdoordepot.com/)

If you're ready to move on from cabinets all together, consider replacing with them with open shelves. Yet another way to shake things up is to do a minimal tear out and just replace one bank of cabinets with open shelves.

If you'd like bold style and want a big graphic print or design on your cabinets, or even a picture of your favorite vacation spot, it's all possible with Custom Cupboards Facets cabinets. Virtually any design, color, or picture you can imagine can be imprinted on your cabinets. Love plaid or geometric designs? Even these are available (http://www.customcupboards.com/Facets).

JAZZY OPTIONS

Still another option is tricking out your cabinets. This can include installing roll out shelves and organizers, interior lighting, under cabinet lighting, and painting or wallpapering the cabinet interiors. New hardware always adds interest.

Retro style is making strides, too. Try adding arched framing around a kitchen window or rounded corner cabinets that were once so popular. If your cabinet fronts are flat, interesting molding and accents like bead board can change up the appearance. Even small, simple additions can have a big impact.

Problems still rampant in mortgage servicing industry

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:25PM

Wells Fargo

 

A cluster of mortgage-related news that has come out in the past few weeks highlights a simple fact: Despite lawsuits, settlements, fines and promises of revamped practices, there continues to be concern about the way in which mortgage servicing companies interact with consumers and their efforts to keep people in their homes.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recent report on mortgage servicing found problems at banks and nonbanks alike.

Specifically, its investigation, conducted from November to June, found significant issues that could cause homeowners to miss payments, threaten their credit histories and plunge them into foreclosure.

No companies were specifically named in the report.

Among the problems: sloppy account transfers between mortgage servicing companies, delayed payment processing and loan servicers that continue to deal inconsistently or inadequately with homeowners who are trying to modify their homes and stay out of foreclosure. The bureau said in some cases, it opened investigations of servicers.

The agency also called out nonbanks for having inadequate procedures to ensure they are properly complying with federal laws designed to protect consumers, and that in some cases the bureau found violations of federal laws.

The report also noted that the agency has had discussions with major mortgage servicing companies well in advance of new loan servicing rules that take effect Jan. 10.

A day after the CFPB report, officials monitoring the $25 billion national mortgage settlement reported that the nation's five largest servicers are close to offering the total sum of assistance they promised under that February 2012 settlement, based on their own self-reporting. Joseph Smith Jr., the settlement's independent monitor, needs to confirm most of those numbers reported by banks.

While the financial portion of the settlement may be close to being met, it's unclear whether lenders have made much progress in improving their servicing standards. In June, Smith found substantial problems lingered in the area of loan modification processing, billing and statement inquiries, and the requirement that consumers have a single point of contact at a mortgage servicer.

Smith said he will not release his next report on servicing standards until November or December.

And, finally, a recent court ruling has kept alive a consumer lawsuit related to loan modifications offered under the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower federal court ruling, enabling two lawsuits to proceed against Wells Fargo & Co. over denied loan modifications. The suits, which sought class-action status, challenged decisions by the bank to deny permanent HAMP mortgage loan modifications to homeowners who successfully completed trial loan modifications. A lower court had dismissed the consumers' complaints.

It is the second such appellate court ruling centering on the issue of homeowner eligibility for permanent loan modifications under the government's program. In March 2012, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Chicago homeowner, Lori Wigod, could proceed with the fraud suit she filed against Wells Fargo in 2010 for not giving her a permanent HAMP loan modification after she said she complied with the terms of a four-month temporary modification.

That case continues. Wells Fargo has produced more than 128,000 pages of documents in the case, according to a court filing, and the plaintiffs are seeking additional documents from the independent consultant that is performing the foreclosure review on Wells Fargo.

Underwater homeowners

A lack of inventory is frustrating potential Chicago-area homebuyers, and a report last week from Zillow explains why some homeowners might like to sell their properties but can't. Despite improving home values, 35.4 percent of Chicago-area homeowners with a mortgage were underwater at the end of June, meaning they owed more on their loan than the home was worth, Zillow said. That means those homeowners would have to sell their properties through a bank-approved short sale.

Nationally, 23.8 percent homeowners were underwater in June.

Zillow also predicted that more than 38,000 local homeowners should regain some equity in their homes by year's end, bringing the Chicago area's negative equity rate to 33.2 percent.

 

 

 

Home loan closing costs on the rise

By iMove Rentals | on September 12,2013 at 5:11PM

Closing costs

 

 

Home prices and mortgage rates aren't the only costs on the rise when it comes to buying a house these days. Expect higher closings costs as well, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

The average closing cost, which includes origination plus third-party fees, is $2,402, up 6 percent from last year.

Lenders appear to be boosting fees before the rise in mortgage rates turns borrowers off and makes it harder for lenders to attract new customers, a George Mason University real estate and finance expert told Bankrate.

""They know when rates go up, loan applications plunge, so they are trying to generate more earnings on anticipation of lower application volume and lower profits," Anthony Sanders said.

Lenders say the increased costs reflect more federal regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Bankrate looked at origination and third-party fees. Origination fees include items such as points, a calculation used to compensate loan officers; and payments for the loan application, other document preparation, loan processing and broker or originator fees. Third-party fees include payments for such items as the appraisal, closing attorney, inspections and surveys.

Bankrate, however, said not all lenders include all of the fees, and actual closing costs are probably much higher because its analysis did not account for the most highly variable costs, such as title insurance, title search, taxes and other government fees and escrow fees.

Bankrate asked up to 10 lenders in each state plus Washington, D.C., to provide good-faith estimates for a $200,000 mortgage loan on a single-family house in a state's largest city, and for a borrower with excellent credit who was putting up 20 percent in for a down payment. Banks are required to disclose all fees on the good-faith estimate.

Bankrate ranked Georgia fourth in costliest closing costs in the South behind No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 North Carolina; and No. 3 Florida. 

Nationally, Hawaii had the highest average closing costs ($2,919), followed by Alaska ($2,675), S.C. ($2,658); California ($2,639) and New Mexico ($2,566). Such costs were cheapest in Wisconsin ($2,119), Missouri ($2,188), Kansas ($2,193), Michigan ($2,203) and Washington ($2,208).

The rise in closing costs mirrors similar increases in home prices and mortgage rates.

Experts advise homebuyers to shop around for the best rates and closing fees, and get a good faith estimate, which will allow consumers to see all fees associated with the loan.

 

Life Without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By iMove Rentals | on September 14,2013 at 2:25PM
MORTGAGES

Life Without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

 
New York Times
By Lise Provost
September 5,  2013
 
Talk of doing away with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is still just that — talk. But as Congress considers whether and how to get rid of these agencies, consumers ought to be aware of how a substantial reduction in the government’s role in housing finance could affect their ability to borrow in the future.

“What’s at stake here is access to mortgages at an affordable price,” said Julia Gordon, the director of housing finance and policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

Fannie and Freddie have been much maligned since their heavy investment in risky loans resulted in a $188-billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. Having since refocused on guaranteeing and securitizing prime mortgages, while also acting as a fill-in for fleeing private capital, the agencies now own or guarantee a majority of the country’s home loans.

As the housing market strengthens, Congress is interested in transferring some or all of that risk back to the private sector. Last month, President Obama voiced support for a bipartisan effort in the Senate to replace the government-sponsored agencies with a new agency with a much-reduced role.

A competing bill in the House would go even further to almost completely privatize the mortgage market.

If a winding down of the two agencies is inevitable, some government guarantee should remain to ensure lending is widely available and safe, Ms. Gordon said.

“The private market likes to look at every single loan — they only want the loans that are the crème de la crème,” she said. “If you scale back the government guarantee too much, then you end up with a really segmented market where people who have pristine credit scores and lots of money can get good, safe, well-priced mortgages, but everybody else can’t.”

A former administrator at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Ms. Gordon cited analyses that estimate a half-percentage-point rise in borrowing costs if a “fairly robust” government guarantee stays in place, and an increase of at least a whole percentage point if it is dropped completely. The reason for the added expense is that “the market is going to perceive greater risk associated with the loans,” said Alan MacEachin, the corporate economist for the Navy Federal Credit Union, a four million-member banking institution in Virginia. “If there’s greater risk, the markets have to be compensated, and that compensation is higher interest rates, or risk premiums, if you will.”

With a greatly reduced government backstop, borrowers would likely have to contend with higher down payment requirements, Mr. MacEachin said. And, he added, “lending conditions would be more reactionary to what’s going on in the market. We could only imagine what could have happened had the government not stepped in during the mortgage crisis.”

Any reform isn’t likely to happen for at least a couple of years, especially since the now-profitable agencies are repaying the government for the bailout “rather handsomely,” Mr. MacEachin said.

Despite widespread negative perceptions of Fannie and Freddie, the conversations about reform have, in a “refreshing twist,” drawn attention to the positive role the agencies play, noted Alex Matjanec, a founder of MyBankTracker.com, a personal finance Web site.

A central argument for eliminating Fannie and Freddie is to get taxpayers off the hook for any further bailouts. But Mr. Matjanec thinks that professed taxpayer protection may be false assurance.

“If a major bank fails,” he said, “I think the government will treat them like a General Motors and bail them out anyway.”

Renter Protections involved in Foreclosures

By iMove Rentals | on September 12,2013 at 5:13PM
From CRAINS Business
 
August 21, 2013

Renters whose apartments are involved in foreclosures will get special new protections under a bill signed into law today by Gov. Pat Quinn.

 

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Chicago Democrats, covers residents who live in multifamily developments who have hit financial problems and are foreclosed on.

 

Specifically, the measure requires anyone who is acquiring residential property through a foreclosure to honor their tenants' existing leases or provide them a minimum of 90 days to move. The measure takes effect in 90 days and strengthens provisions of a measure that is set to expire in 2014.

 

"The foreclosure crisis has been devastating to homeowners as well as many families living in rental homes who are at risk of losing their home due to no fault of their own," Mr. Quinn said in a statement. "This law will ensure renters are protected from sudden forced moves that can be costly and disruptive."

Mobile Phones and the Do Not Call List - Get the Facts

By Rusty Payton | on September 1,2012 at 5:01PM

There has beeen a lot in the press and on blogs and such about the prospect of mobile phones being the subject of telemarketing calls and how this all interacts with the National "Do Not Call" list. Well, we did some research and found this information from the FCC: the Facts.

The long and short of the FCC info is that there is nothing to panic about. Your mobile will not soon be swamped with unwanted calls. 

How to Lessen the Pain of Chicago's Parking Meter Deal: A Proposal by iMove Chicago

By Rusty Payton | on April 16,2012 at 5:08PM

Okay....we all hate to pay those darn parking boxes and it seem that no one was happy with the City of Chicago's deal to lease out parking in the city for the next 75 years! Complaints to our politicians are answered with "Well, it's a done deal, whatcha gonna do?" Really?  Try thinking outside of the bx and let's come up with some solutions.

Here at iMove, we put our heads together and came up with an idea. Now, mind you, it doesn't solve the problem completely, but it's a start. Here's our idea - the City can issue prepaid cards that Merchants can sell at a discount in exchange for advertising. Imagine if you will, a prepaid card with a $20 value issued for say $15 or $12 by Ford, Chase Bank, BP, Dominick's etc.  Participants buy the cards only at sponsoring merchants.  That drives customers in the door and allows the merchants to brand the card with their advertising. In exchange, we all get a break on the cost of parking.  An added plus of any such card is that we would be fishing around for a lot less quarters to feed those boxes!

If you like this idea, pass it on.  If you have an idea of you own, let us know and we will do the same.