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Add-ons may be dissuading many from refinancing

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:40:24 EDT

With mortgage rates at unprecedented lows, why are more people not taking advantage of them to refinance or buy houses?

The significance of the Fed's report on an increase in homeowners' equity stakes

Sat, 02 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

With all the grim news about underwater mortgages and rising foreclosures, you might be surprised to learn that a bellwether measure of the national housing market -- homeowners' equity stakes -- has been on the rebound.

Disputed advice: Making payments on 2nd loan can discourage bank from helping on the first one

Sat, 25 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Are you delinquent on your first mortgage but still making monthly payments on your home-equity credit line or second mortgage?

IRS bungling some homebuyer tax-credit claims

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The federal homebuyer tax credit programs have been widely praised for stimulating real estate sales but reviled by critics who see them as a multibillion-dollar waste of the government's money.

As credit scores fall, more consumers vulnerable to credit-repair scams

Sat, 11 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Recession-hammered homeowners' credit scores are on the decline across the country, say scoring industry experts, and that makes more consumers vulnerable to scams that purport to erase delinquencies, judgments, foreclosures and other problems from files at the three national credit bureaus -- Eq...

Fannie Mae's national lending program HomePath is worth a look

Sat, 04 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

If you fit the profile -- typically buyers with little cash on hand or small-scale investors looking for a deal on a foreclosed house -- a little-publicized national lending program could be just what you need this fall.

Lenders won't have to run a second full credit check before closing on mortgage

Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, it turns out that your mortgage lender will not have to pull a second full credit report on you hours before closing on your home purchase or refinancing.

Media Files:

FHFA's proposed ban on private transfer fees could cost homeowners

Sat, 21 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

A federal agency is moving to prohibit controversial "private transfer fees" on all mortgages funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But its proposed ban might extend to transfer fees routinely collected by community associations across the country -- potentially forcing some of them to raise asse...

Home shoppers beware of click-fix digital makeovers

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Try to picture this real estate scenario -- virtually. Like most shoppers searching for a home, you start on the Web, checking out listings and locations. You find a house that appears to be what you're after, and you tap into the photos section of the listing to see the interior shots.

Diverse coalition targets home transfer fees

Sat, 07 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Can you name a housing controversy that pulls Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, consumer advocates, labor unions representing transport workers and government employees, the title insurance industry, the National Council of La Raza, libertarian and property rights groups, and the National Associatio...

In tough times, how to score a better mortgage deal

Sat, 24 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Call it the great real estate disconnect of 2010: Mortgage rates have been at half-century lows and home prices have stabilized, but applications for mortgages have declined most weeks during the past three months, as measured by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

To boost quality, Fannie Mae calls for experienced appraisers

Sat, 10 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Picture this: You've signed a contract to sell your house. Your buyers say they have nailed down the right mortgage. All is well. But then the appraisal comes in low -- $25,000 to $50,000 under what was agreed upon in the contract.

Media Files:

Strategic defaults give mortgage lenders challenge: those who can pay but don't

Sat, 03 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

With tougher mortgage underwriting rules a virtual certainty under Congress's financial reform legislation, lenders have begun confronting still another vexing issue: Can homebuyers who have high credit scores be trusted not to pull the plug -- strategically default -- when the economy hits a rough...

Kenneth Harney: Foreclosure alternative gaining favor

Sat, 26 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Short sales have been the hot solution for financially stressed homeowners and their lenders for the past year, but here's another potent foreclosure alternative that's about to take center stage: deeds in lieu.

FHA to make reverse mortgage less forgiving for seniors late on taxes

Sat, 19 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Here's a sobering message for anyone who has a federally insured reverse mortgage or plans to apply for one: If you don't pay your local property taxes or hazard-insurance premiums, the risk of losing your house to foreclosure is about to increase.

HUD is asking a lot of questions about 'required use'

Sat, 12 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The Obama administration wants to stir the pot on a highly contentious issue involving homebuilders and their customers: the legality of the discounts, rebates, closing costs, upgrades and other lures that builders often dangle in front of buyers --

Consumers stand to gain the most from financial overhaul

Sat, 05 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Though the Wall Street and banking features of the giant financial industry overhaul bill taking shape on Capitol Hill have drawn most of the attention, home buyers and mortgage applicants should be major winners when the legislation is finally signed into law, probably early next month.

FHA plans to halve mortgage loan's 6% seller concession this summer

Sat, 29 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

One of the key attractions of FHA mortgage financing is going, going -- but not quite gone. Sellers and buyers who move fast can still make the most of it.

Anger at the root of mortgage default problem, study finds

Sat, 22 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Memo to the bank: Take this money-sucking, underwater house and shove it! Go ahead and wreck my credit for years to come. I'm walking away, no matter what.

Applying for mortgage? Starting June 1, you could face another credit screening

Sat, 15 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

If you're thinking about applying for a home mortgage, here's some important news: Beginning June 1, your lender is likely to order a second full credit screening immediately before closing.

New rules making tax-credit closing deadlines tough to meet

Sat, 08 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

For thousands of home buyers who scrambled to meet the April 30 federal tax-credit deadline for completed contracts, a new challenge is looming: Can they nail down their mortgage financing and get to closing before the program terminates?

Kenneth Harney: Despite 2009 restrictions, mortgage and appraisal fraud spiked

Sat, 01 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT

For anyone who assumed that the toughened real-estate appraisal rules imposed on the mortgage market last year would mean less monkey business in home valuations, here's a shocker: Fraudulent appraisals soared in 2009, according to a lending-industry study released this week, and they now represent...

Fannie Mae wants to help some troubled borrowers get back into home market

Sat, 24 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Here's some good news for people who had to give the deed on their house back to the bank because of financial problems, or who have done a short sale to avoid foreclosure: You may not have to wait the typical four or five years to re-qualify for financing to buy another home.

Media Files:

Urgent mortgage moves need not destroy credit scores

Sat, 17 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Financially stressed homeowners looking to cut their mortgage payments through a loan modification, short sale or principal reduction under one of the Obama administration's programs needn't wreck their credit scores in the process.

To protect minorities from higher loan fees, policy takes aim at the top

Sat, 10 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

A new Obama administration policy that gets tough on home-mortgage discrimination is drawing kudos from consumer advocates, along with expressions of serious concern from lawyers who represent lenders and brokers.

Nation's Housing: Few repeat buyers taking advantage of $6,500 tax credit

Sat, 03 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Could Congress's ambitious second round of home purchase tax credits -- especially the $6,500 repeat-buyer credit -- turn out to be a wimp in terms of economic stimulus?

Principal forgiveness program may offer relief for underwater homeowners

Sat, 27 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

For hundreds of thousands of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, it's been a tantalizing question: Is there any way that our lender might agree to lower the amount we owe -- not just the monthly payments but the principal debt itself?

HUD taking a closer look at added realty fees

Sat, 20 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Does it matter whether a real estate agent charges you a flat commission rate -- say 6 percent -- or quotes you a flat rate but adds hundreds of dollars labeled an "admin" or administrative fee?

Some tax issues to consider on mortgage write-downs

Sat, 13 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

With the Obama administration and private lenders actively considering mortgage principal-reduction programs to help financially distressed homeowners, the Internal Revenue Service has issued a new advisory to taxpayers who receive -- or seek to receive -- such assistance. The IRS gets involved in...

A new real estate cost to watch for: Developer's private transfer fee

Sat, 06 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

How about this for a new and ingenious real estate money machine? Every time a house sells during the next 99 years, 1 percent of the price goes back to the original developer or is shared among investor partners. Ka-ching!

Be aware of good-faith estimate' rules, or it could cost you

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

If you are planning to take out a mortgage or refinance, you might want to hear this blunt message from federal officials: Don't fly blind. When you're shopping among competing lenders for the best terms and fees, make sure you know which quotes come with a guarantee and which do not.

Good real estate news: Home equity is rising again

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

With all the bad news about underwater homeowners and strategic walkaways, you might think that American homeowners' equity holdings are in the tank. But the least-publicized recent statistic on real estate is that, despite these scary reports, home equity is again on the rise.

To boost sales of foreclosures, FHA suspends anti-flipping rules

Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

Call it three birds with one stone: The federal government hopes to help low-down-payment home buyers, investors who fix up foreclosures, and communities burdened with too many bank-owned and foreclosed homes -- all with one potentially far-reaching policy change.

IRS offers guidance on new $6,500 tax credit for repeat home buyers

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

If you've been holding back on getting involved with the new $6,500 federal tax credit for repeat home purchases, there's no more excuse for inaction. You now have all the official IRS guidance you'll need to buy a house, qualify for the credit and pocket the $6,500.

Mortgage lenders can sidestep new rules to prevent lowball estimates

Sat, 16 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

The federal government's efforts to eliminate settlement-cost surprises for home mortgage applicants may have opened the door to a new, and potentially costly, set of consumer problems.

Regulators outline potential pitfalls of reverse mortgages

Sat, 02 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

If you, your relatives or your friends are contemplating applying for a reverse mortgage in 2010, check out the new guidelines proposed in December by federal regulators. Though aimed at banks and credit unions, the guidelines neatly sum up the potential pitfalls for consumers in the fast-growing...

Media Files:

Congress moving toward a consumer financial watchdog with real bite

Sat, 19 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

Had there been a federal watchdog consumer protection agency during the early years of this decade, could it have prevented the housing boom and bust that put millions of homeowners into foreclosure and sucked trillions of dollars of equity wealth from just about everybody else?

Short-sale help is on the way, thanks to Obama plan

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

If you're in trouble on your mortgage and can't get a loan modification, check out the Obama administration's new standardized short-sale plan that's scheduled to roll out during the next several months.

Enter the maze of tax credit rules

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

If you're thinking about applying for the new $6,500 federal tax credit for repeat home buyers or the extended $8,000 version for first-time buyers, here's some news: The IRS has just issued its first formal guidelines for you.

The Nation's Housing: Walking away from a mortgage

Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

Go ahead. Break the chains. Stop paying on your mortgage if you owe more than the house is worth. And most important: Don't feel guilty about it. Don't think you're doing something morally wrong.

New tax credit may be worth pouncing on

Sat, 14 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

Take a close, hard look at the new $6,500 federal tax credit for "move up" home buyers that passed the Senate and House last week. Though it's been getting second billing to the original $8,000 credit for first-time purchasers -- now extended by Congress through June 30 -- the $6,500 credit for...

Putting 'good faith' back in closing

Sat, 07 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

Remember the bad old days of 11th-hour mortgage settlement cost shocks and mystery junk fees? Remember when the "good-faith estimates" your lender gave you upfront said closing costs would be about $2,000, but somehow they ballooned to $3,500 on the final settlement sheet?

Home appraisal system could be rehauled soon

Sat, 31 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Could the controversial appraisal system imposed nationwide by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in May -- and now tied to lowball property valuations, busted home sale transactions and higher fees to consumers -- be on its way out?

Old credit disputes can scuttle loan

Sat, 24 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Could a little-known and potentially controversial practice by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac kill or stall your next loan application? Absolutely.

No Matter What You Hear, There's No Quick Fix for Credit

Sat, 17 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

With Americans' credit scores plunging amid record numbers of mortgage and credit card delinquencies, companies that promise to eliminate negative information in credit bureaus' files are proliferating, federal regulators say.

Kenneth R. Harney: An IRS Form to Take Seriously

Sat, 10 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

You might assume it's just another boring-looking piece of the paper blitz you're hit with when applying for a home loan. But given the new prominence of IRS Form 4506-Ts in the fraud-shocked mortgage market, it's much more than just another document to sign.

Reverse Mortgages Feel the Squeeze

Sat, 03 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Declining home values have put a serious squeeze on one of the mortgage market's most popular and fastest-growing financing concepts: the Federal Housing Administration's reverse mortgage program for people 62 and older.

New Life for the First-Time Credit?

Sat, 26 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Will Congress extend the wildly popular $8,000 home-buyer tax credit beyond its Nov. 30 expiration date?

Good Credit Scores, Deadbeat Choices

Sat, 19 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Who is more likely to walk away from a house and a mortgage -- a person with super-prime credit scores or someone with lower scores?

The Nation's Housing: Credit Score Conundrums

Sat, 12 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

When you do a short sale of a house, or modify the mortgage, is there much of an effect on your credit score? What if you walk away from the mortgage altogether?