30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.71 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 31, 2016, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.70 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.96 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for theDefinitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
Quote Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“Dovish comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday triggered a rally in Treasury markets and drove the 10-year yield down 13 basis points from last week’s high. Yellen’s comments came too late to affect this week’s mortgage rate survey, and the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.71 percent. However, if the Fed’s cautious tone persists, mortgage rates may register the impact in subsequent weeks.”
The dirty secret of Miami’s latest luxury condo boom? Some of those sky-high penthouses are being bought by international criminals and other shady individuals to launder money. How many? Well, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network wants to find out.
“[We are] concerned that all-cash purchases — i.e., those without bank financing — may be conducted by individuals attempting to hide their assets and identity by purchasing residential properties through limited liability companies or other opaque structures,” reads a release from the feds.
The Treasury Department will now require insurance companies to identify the names of the buyers of any all-cash real-estate transactions in Miami-Dade of more than $1 million and report them to the federal government. Those names, however, will not be released to the public.
Currently, buyers can use a network of shell companies, both offshore and domestic, to shield their identities. When buyers pay in cash, it’s even harder to track the origin of the money because no mortgages are involved.
The order will be in place from March until August, but according to the New York Times, if multiple instances of money laundering are uncovered, permanent rules will be put in place and the requirement may be extended beyond Manhattan and Miami-Dade.
“There is a huge amount of dirty money flowing into Miami that’s disguised as investment,” Jack Blum, a Washington attorney specializing in money-laundering cases, told the Nation. “The local business community sees any threat to that as a threat to the city’s lifeblood.”
The news comes as foreign investment in Miami luxury properties is already decreasing. Curbed Miami reported earlier this week that “stock market volatility in China, low oil prices, currency devaluations in South America, and a heck of a lot of new condo units coming on the market” is leading to softening demand.
The effect the order will have on Miami’s already shaky real-estate market depends upon the number of buyers using dirty money to purchase those properties.
There’s a simple way to find out what’s gone down in your house. But are you sure you want to know? (Photo: Balazs Kovacs Images/Shutterstock)
Maybe there’s something creepy about the way your stairs creak when no one is walking on them. Or maybe that new house you’re considering buying gives you chills and you don’t know why.
You don’t need to consult a psychic or a Ouija board. A new website,DiedInHouse.com, will search for murders, suicides, and accidental or natural deaths at any U.S. address. But that’s not all. Your $11.99 fee will also cover a search for any fires or meth lab activity that occurred at the location. (How practical!)
According to the website, the company has a database of 4.5 million houses that were the site of confirmed deaths, and that number is growing at a pace of about 500,000 per year. This takes the guesswork out of figuring out if anyone expired where you live or where you want to live.
Although most people would want to know about any in-house deaths, few states have laws requiring disclosure of deaths or crime to prospective purchasers. For example, according to Bloomberg, the state Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled last year that “psychological stigmas” such as deaths don’t need to be disclosed at all. It’s the same story in Massachusetts, where state law allows sellers to keep quiet about “alleged para psychological or supernatural phenomenon.”
If I had to depend on Wall Street or Washington for an explanation of what ails the U.S. financial economy, I’d probably pick neither one. My choice would be John Griffin, a cowboy boots-wearing University of Texas financial professor, who has been on something of a roll.
Six years before Standard & Poor’s agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle state and federal government lawsuits alleging it inflated credit ratings on securitized mortgage debt, Griffin revealed—with mathematical precision—how S&P degraded its own analytical model to issue puffed-up grades.
Seven months before J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to pay $13 billion to resolve state and federal claims that it misled investors on toxic mortgage securities—the largest financial settlement with a single entity in U.S. history—Griffin showed how the bank had originated a disproportionate share of securitized mortgages flawed by undisclosed second liens (among other reporting problems).
Today, Griffin is advancing a new argument: that housing prices were more inflated—and the crash even more violent—in markets where lenders who misreported mortgages held concentrated market shares. He concludes that big banks with bad practices drove the credit bubble, and the misreporting deepened it.
“I just want to know the truth,” says Griffin, 45, who grew up playing high school football in Texas and today delivers some of his hardest hits on Wall Street.
In his latest forensic work, Griffin and co-author Gonzalo Maturana, an assistant professor of finance at Emory University in Atlanta, combed through 3.1 million mortgages originated between 2002 and the end of 2007. More than one-quarter of these loans subsequently defaulted.
While looking for inconsistencies in appraisal values and owner-occupancy status, the most interesting part of the investigation exposes how some mortgage securities were riddled with undisclosed second liens. These hidden debts reduced the borrowers’ incentive to repay their obligations. Griffin and Maturana found the gaps by comparing bank securities documents to county courthouse records.
No fewer than 10.2% of the securitized mortgages in their sample contained an undisclosed second lien. Some lenders, such as Barclays and J.P. Morgan Chase, produced nearly double the overall number of missing debts. This is startling for two reasons: first, loans with an unreported lien were 97% more likely to become seriously delinquent than were correctly reported loans; and second, the same lender originated both liens more than two-thirds of the time.
Barclays and J.P. Morgan not only had the highest levels of misreported second liens, but also the highest aggregated misreporting across all categories analyzed, according to Griffin and Maturana’s research. They also discovered owner-occupancy inconsistencies are based on county tax records mailed to a non-business address other than the purchased residence. And they tracked aberrations in appraisal value based on human appraisals that were 20% higher than a standard model-based valuation. This is a conservative measure, four times higher than a statistically significant 5% deviation.
Of the 18 largest players in the securitized market, the highest misreporting was Barclays at 41.5% and J.P. Morgan at 41%, the research finds. J.P. Morgan and Barclays both declined to comment.
Adding to the skepticism, loans with unreported second liens typically bore higher interest rates than correctly reported loans, meaning that lenders “were seemingly aware of and accounted for the second-lien risk,” according to the research, titled “Who Facilitated Misreporting in Securitized Loans?”
These undisclosed second liens spiked “significantly” around benchmark credit thresholds, meaning the omitted debts might have helped borrowers obtain the loans, on the one hand, and helped lenders to securitize them on another.
“This type of misreporting derives from the originator’s incentives to securitize,” Griffin and Maturana conclude in their paper, which is slated for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Finance.
Such analysis cuts closer than conventional blame-shifting that would hold faceless borrowers, and expansionary government credit policies, accountable.
And that takes us to Griffin’s latest research, which seeks to answer the question of whether lenders that misreported important mortgage information, played a calculable role in driving up home prices—and deepening the crash.
In this new study, titled “Did Dubious Mortgage Origination Practices Distort House Prices?” Griffin and Maturana looked at a universe of about 5,000 ZIP codes across the country. They drilled down to individual streets, where 15% or more of the home mortgages were originated by the same suspect lenders identified in the earlier study. They compared this to similar houses sold in other ZIP codes where the lenders originated less than 5% of the purchase transactions.
Unsurprisingly—based on the compounding effect of such bad practices—Griffin and Maturana found that home prices rose 63% in 858 ZIP codes with high concentrations of lenders they believe misreported mortgage information from 2003 to 2006. This contrasts with a 36% price increase in 4,318 ZIP codes with a lower presence of such originators. On the downside, from 2007 to 2012, prices decreased 40% in ZIP Codes with the higher concentrations of bad originating practices, almost double the 21% decline elsewhere.
After a disappointing set of housing data last month, recent reports suggest a return to trend for home building as the nation enters the spring home buying season.
Home builders reversed a one-month decline in sentiment as the April NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) increased 4 points to 56 in April from a one-point downwardly revised 52 in March. The bounce back up to the January-February average suggests the March observation was an outlier.
All three components of the HMI rebounded to or above the early part of 2015. The current sales index rose three points to 61, matching the February level and standing just one point below the January report. The expected sales component rose five points to 64, the highest in 2015, and the traffic component rose four points to 41. The solid and significant increase in expectations suggests builders are expecting the market to continue growing.
Consistent with this rebound in market sentiment, Census-estimated housing starts increased 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 926,000 in March. Single-family starts increased 4.4% to a 618,000 rate. Multifamily starts dropped to a 308,000 pace, the lowest monthly rate since September 2013. Most of this decline in apartment construction was concentrated in the West.
Permits were down 5.7% overall, mostly due to a 15.9% loss in multifamily, evenly spread across three of the four regions. Northeast multifamily permits rose 55% to 90,000, the highest since June 2008, when a code change caused a one-time jump. The remaining three regions accounted for a 108,000 fall, offsetting the 48,000 increase in the Northeast. Single-family permits rose 2.1% to a 636,000 rate, with only the West showing a decline of 2% or down 3,000 to a 146,000 permits pace for March
United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index 2000-2015 | Data | Chart
Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States increased to 173.02 Index Points in December of 2014 from 172.94 Index Points in November of 2014. Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States averaged 154.45 Index Points from 2000 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 206.52 Index Points in July of 2006 and a record low of 100 Index Points in January of 2000. Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States is reported by the Standard & Poor’s.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index measures changes in residential house prices in 20 metropolitan regions in the United States: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Washington D.C. This page provides – United States Case Shiller Home Price Index- actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news. Content for – United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index – was last refreshed on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
Existing home sales in November tumbled 6.1%, the biggest drop since July 2010, down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million.
This was well below analyst expectations of a 1.1% decline, ending five months of 5 million SAAR sales.
It wasn’t weather – analysts noted that the November weather was mild and should have given a boost to sales.
“While the headlines often point to first-time buyers’ reluctance to enter the market as a catalyst to the sluggish housing recovery, today’s report shows inventory needs to climb before it can support more interested buyers,”Quicken Loans Vice President Bill Banfield said. “As homeowners gain trust in the economy, they will be more comfortable leaving their current mortgage and entering the market, thus driving up inventory to support further demand.”
November’s weakness is broad based, with all four regions showing single-digit monthly declines.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, blamed the stock market.
“The stock market swings in October may have impacted some consumers’ psyche and therefore led to fewer November closings,” Yun said. “Furthermore, rising home values are causing more investors to retreat from the market.”
Westchester County has approved a 2015 budget plan, with a modest spending increase and no hike in the tax levy.
The $1.75 billion spending plan also contains no layoffs, and maintains and improves essential service delivery, according to the office of county Executive Rob Astorino.
“This is a smart and responsible budget that protects the interests of all county residents,” Astorino said in a news release. “It strikes the right balance between taxes and services.”
The budget increases spending by 0.5 percent, or $10 million – less than the rate of inflation, the release said. There will be no reductions in services, and the county’s safety net was maintained with spending for the Department of Social Services at $545 million, the release said.
The tax levy will remain at $548 million for the fifth year in a row, and sales tax was projected to rise by 4 percent to $414 million, the release said.
The budget passed by a vote of 10 to 7, winning the vote of all seven Republican and three Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, the release said.
The board did reach a compromise in borrowing to pay tax certioraris – the claims made against the county by property owners challenging their tax assessments. The county will only borrow $5 million rather than the $8 million it borrowed last year, as an alternative to service cuts or layoffs that otherwise would have been used to offset costs.
The Westchester County Health Department is providing advice to prepare a healthy, safe holiday meal.
“Remember to thoroughly wash your hands between the preparation of uncooked poultry and ready to serve foods,” said Peter DeLucia, assistant commissioner of Public Health Protection. “Preparing a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal is not an easy task for even the most seasoned of chefs, so residents should follow these tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday meal.”
Separate and Prepare – Bacteria on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. Use different cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, seafood and veggies. Keep the raw turkey away from vegetables and side dishes that won’t be cooked. Wash hands, surfaces and utensils often to avoid spreading bacteria when preparing food.
Stuff – To avoid under-cooked stuffing that can cause a food borne illness, bake stuffing separately in a shallow pan, where it can quickly reach 165 degrees. Many food borne outbreaks have been caused by stuffed, roasted turkey.
Cook – Turkeys should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. It’s essential to have a 0 to 220 degree probe thermometer at home to accurately measure food temperature. To be safe, take the turkey’s temperature by inserting the probe thermometer deep into the meat.
Properly Cool Leftovers – Improper cooling practices are one of the most frequent causes of food borne illness. Leftover turkey, stuffing, etc., needs to be refrigerated within two hours. If you prepare foods in advance such as soups and stocks, make sure to cool them in the refrigerator, uncovered in shallow pans.
Reheat – Leftovers, including turkey meat, stuffing and stock should be reheated to at least 165 degrees before serving.