The Rise and Fall of Fannie Mae: A Timeline

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in the news a lot this year. For starters, there was the presidential summit in August, to solicit ideas for what to do with the ailing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs for short). That was followed by midterm-election wrangling over whether to replace the struggling mortgage giants... Continue Reading »

Mortgage Refinancing: Why Borrowers Aren't Playing HARP

It's not every day that a successful investor takes the national stage to suggest that he should lose billions of dollars for the greater good. But that's what Bill Gross of the bond giant PIMCO did last week at the Treasury and HUD conference on the future of the housing finance system. Gross unleashed a bold proposal... Continue Reading »

LIVE: Mortgage Markets Face 'Fundamental Change,' Geithner Says

The big takeaway from today's "Future of Housing Finance" conference at the U.S. Department of Treasury was that everybody agreed to agree – more or less. It was a given that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be put into retirement, eventually. As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in his introductory remarks,... Continue Reading »

Why the Feds Want to Stay in the Mortgage Game

The future is here, and not a moment too soon. Tomorrow, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, pictured left, will host a conference on the future of housing finance. Before you click away or fall asleep -- pay attention. What's at stake is nothing less than whether or not you -- or the buyer... Continue Reading »

New York Creates Borrowers' Bill of Rights

Just how much trouble are mortgage borrowers having with their loan servicers? These are the companies that send the monthly bills, foreclose when the payments don't come, and too often make it really hard for many borrowers to get loan modifications when they can't afford to keep up. According to New York State Banking... Continue Reading »

Foreclosure Aid: States Fall Short on Short Sales

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the $1.5 billion in new Home Affordable Modification Program funds exclusively for states with the biggest home price drops: California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona (Michigan somehow made it in, too). Now the Treasury Department has announced Part 2 of that project – another $600... Continue Reading »

HAMP Program Success Rate Much Lower Than First Reported

If you've been following the ups and downs – mostly downs – of the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, you know that the HAMP has been one big bottleneck, with just a fraction of homeowners who apply succeeding in getting permanent modifications to their mortgages. Then two weeks ago the federal... Continue Reading »

Michigan Foreclosure Aid Program Overwhelmed by Calls

Last week, with the help of a special $1.5 billion Obama administration fund for the states most devastated by property price declines and foreclosures, the state of Michigan launched its own program for unemployed borrowers who are having trouble paying their mortgages. Unlike the federal Home Affordable Mortgage... Continue Reading »

Energy Efficiency Loans Lose the Backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Homeowners looking for a hand with energy efficiency just got dealt a big blow – and the fallout could affect everyone looking to take out a mortgage. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the federal regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced this week that it will not permit homeowners with... Continue Reading »

Urban Real Estate Gets a Boost Over 'Burbs With New Obama Program

Are you trying to decide between buying a cozy house in town or a big place in a new subdivision? Today the Obama administration went public with a program that will help make the first choice the much better bet to hold its value over the long term. It's called the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, and the idea... Continue Reading »

Federal Mortgage Mods: Fannie and Freddie Bail Out More Borrowers

Are you one of the millions who didn't make the cut for the federal loan modification program, because you weren't in bad enough trouble? If your loan is held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be in luck. Worried that home prices will continue to decline, Fannie and Freddie are offering a hand to borrowers looking to... Continue Reading »

Mortgage Brokers and Borrowers: Congress Weighs Their Rights

Just because versions of financial reform have passed the House and Senate doesn't mean the mortgage lobbyists' job is over yet. The Senate bill put limits on how much money a mortgage broker or banker can make when they sell you a mortgage. Now mortgage industry associations are fighting to protect their right to profit... Continue Reading »

FHA Mortgages: Get a Good Deal While You Can

Next time you're inclined to complain about the bankers' bailout, remember that homebuyers are now on government life support as much as anyone. This week, Federal Housing Administration chief David Stevens announced that his agency is now the largest source of home-purchase mortgages in the nation. According to the firm... Continue Reading »

Foreclosure Aid Is More Than Some States Need

In 2008, Vermont had 137 foreclosures, the fewest of any state in the nation. It had precisely zero foreclosures in the first quarter of this year, according to RealtyTrac. So why did Congress give it nearly $20 million in 2008 to deal with empty homes from the mortgage crisis? The same amounts went to Nebraska, Wyoming,... Continue Reading »

Refinancing Bias: Does Race Play a Role?

Looking to get a mortgage to refinance your home at a low rate? Better check not only your bank account and credit score but your neighborhood's racial profile. According to a new report that surveyed loans in seven major cities across the country: among the big four bank holding companies that now dominate the mortgage... Continue Reading »

Fannie and Freddie's Federal Shakedown: A $19-Billion Bargain?

Is $19 billion a lot of money -- or a small price to pay for keeping mortgages available to you at a reasonable price during the ongoing financial crisis and into the future? Ask yourself that as you take in the heated reaction to this news: The government overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wants the U.S. Treasury to... Continue Reading »

Chase Sued by HAMP Rejects

Homeowners seeking help reducing their mortgage payments are fed up with banks, and they're not taking it anymore. Borrowers allege that some lenders have been giving temporary "trial" modifications under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP), only to later refuse permanent modifications -- leaving the borrowers worse... Continue Reading »

Obama to Mortgage Biz and Banks: We're in This Together

It's becoming a standard play for President Obama. Just as he gave a high-profile speech to seal the deal on the health care overhaul earlier this year, he came to New York City on Thursday to set up the winning shot for financial reform. With Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein seated in the third row, President Obama could... Continue Reading »

Goldman Fraud Victims? Homeowners, Not Investors

You probably already know that the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that hedge fund Paulson & Co handpicked stinker mortgage-backed securities to put into an investment pool, then bet that the pool would fail. Goldman didn't even buy the securities themselves – it just took investors' money based on... Continue Reading »

SEC Sues Goldman Sachs

We at Housing Watch had to do a double take when the news came in. The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Goldman Sachs, and demanding that it return money that the SEC charges was obtained through fraud. The SEC? The same SEC that stood by as securities traders saddled teachers' pension funds with toxic... Continue Reading »

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