Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Housing settlement details due out this week

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Final details are due out this week in the $26 billion settlement to help struggling homeowners and settle charges of abusive and negligent foreclosure practices, according to President Obama's housing chief.The Obama administration made a big announcement nearly three weeks ago, touting that 49 states had agreed on a deal with the five largest banks providing relief to homeowners who were victims of improper foreclosures. The relief would come in the form of principal reductions, mortgage refinancings and small payouts.

But so far, the only details made public have been what officials have said, as well as a few short summaries and fact sheets.Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a Senate Banking hearing Tuesday that the deal will be filed in court later this week, making all the details public.Donovan said that the earlier announcement revealed the "significant aspects of the agreement." He suggested that officials have been in minor negotiations with some states about, for example, how they planned to use their piece of the settlement. He also said that federal officials had been in talks with other banks considering signing on to the deal.
For any of your real estate needs please call or e-mail Melissa today at (509) 879-7858 or

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fannie, Freddie legal fees: $110 million and counting

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- A watchdog agency said Wednesday that the legal tab for former leaders of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is at least $110 million.And taxpayers have paid at least $47 million of it, according to an Office of Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency report.

And the total bill could be even higher since the inspector general report focused on only one particular legal case against Fannie Mae, and isn't an exhaustive account of the housing giants' legal bills, reportedly more than $160 million, according to a 2011 congressional hearing. Yet, a whopping $99.4 million has been paid in legal bills to defend a 2004 case against three former Fannie Mae senior executives accused of inflating the firm's publicly traded stock price to maximize their own bonuses.
About $37 million of that has been picked up by the taxpayer.For Freddie Mac, the overall legal tab paid by the taxpayers is $10 million, according to inspector general.The Federal Housing Finance Agency inherited legal bills when it took Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under conservatorship in 2008. The bills are for employees long gone but must be paid as a part of benefits packages agreed to by legal contract.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

New home construction starts strong in 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- New home construction got off to a strong start for the year, with housing starts and building permits rising in January on a monthly and annual basis -- another sign that the U.S. housing market and broader economy are headed in the right direction. The Census Bureau reported that housing starts rose to an annual rate of 699,000, up 1.5% from December. Compared to a year ago, housing starts were almost 10% higher.

Building permits, which are less affected by weather than starts, came in at a 676,000 annual rate in January, up 0.7% from the prior month and 19% from a year earlier. Results were also better than industry expectations. A consensus of industry experts from had forecast starts of 671,000 and permits of 675,000.
Please call or e-mail Melissa today whether you're a first-time home buyer, investor, or looking to sell your home at (509) 879-7858 or

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Home prices at lowest point in more than 10 years

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices fell to their lowest point in more than a decade in January, which helped to lift the pace of home sales, according to a report from an industry trade group.The National Association of Realtors reported that the median home price in January fell 2% from December to $154,700. That's the lowest price reading since November 2001, before the run-up in home prices that became known as the housing bubble.

The median price is the point at which half of homes are sold for a higher price, and half are sold at a lower price. (Multi-million dollar foreclosures)Serving as a drag on existing home prices is a large inventory of homes in foreclosure. Distressed home sales, which includes homes in foreclosure and so-called short sales in which the home is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage, made up 35% of sales in January."Prices will continue to fall through the first half of 2012 due to the high share of distressed sales," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist with PNC Financial. "The recent agreement between the big mortgage servicers, state attorneys general and the Obama administration will also result in more homes going to foreclosure over the next few months, adding to downward pressure on prices."
For all of your real estate needs please call or e-mail Melissa today at (509) 879-7858 or

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Citi fined $158 million for gaming federal housing program

Citi fined $158 million for gaming federal housing program
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Citigroup will pay $158 million to settle charges that its mortgage unit defrauded the Federal Housing Administration by inaccurately claiming that certain mortgages were eligible for government insurance, government officials announced Wednesday. Under the FHA's Direct
Endorsement Lender program, lenders like Citi's CitiMortgage division can submit certain loans for government insurance in case a borrower defaults. Lenders are required to maintain their own quality-control programs to ensure that loans submitted for such insurance have been prepared properly and without any evidence of fraud.

Citi, however, repeatedly obscured or downplayed problems with loans submitted for insurance over the past decade, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday. The firm ignored roughly 1,000 cases of potential fraud and failed to verify information on borrowers' ability to make payments, according to the complaint in the case.Of the 30,000 mortgages Citi (C, Fortune 500) has endorsed for FHA insurance since 2004, more than 30% have defaulted, including 47% of those originated in 2006 and 2007. The government has already paid out nearly $200 million in claims on these loans, a "substantial percentage" of which should never have been eligible for insurance, the complaint says.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Remodeled Bungalow in Lower South Hill

2523 E. 4th

Recently remodeled Rancher with formal dining, large living room & kitchen. 3rd bdrm is small and accessed through master, but perfect for child's room oroffice. Gas fireplace, vinyl windows & newer paint. Large yard. Close to bus route. Priced for quick sale.

Virtual Tour

Please call or e-mail Melissa today for a showing or for more information at (509) 879-7858 or

Friday, February 17, 2012

First-Time Homebuyer's Guide

Mike Valdez fits the profile of a savvy first-time homebuyer perfectly. A
34-year-old financial analyst from New Rochelle, N.Y., he and his family had
grown sick of living the renter's life. So two years ago he decided to test the
market and find a townhouse for his growing family. But despite his financial
aptitude, he quickly ran into a setback."We found a place we liked and
ran the numbers," he says, but the young couple soon discovered that they had
underestimated the burden of their college debt. They were forced to back
out.Mike's lesson goes to the heart of what every first-time homebuyer
needs to know -- buying a home means so much more than paying a mortgage.

Fix Your Credit

The first step toward buying a home takes place months before walking into your lender's office. It's crucial to check your credit score at least three to six months ahead of your mortgage
application, says Rod Griffin, director of Public Education at Experian. You can
request a free copy of the report from each of the three credit bureaus
(Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) at if
you don't have sterling credit (generally a FICO score of 720 or above), the
most important thing to do is to take stock of what the figure means. "Every
score is educational," says Griffin. "It's more about why the number is than
what the number is."
Call or e-mail Melissa today for any of your First-Time Homebuyer needs or for any of your real estate needs at (509) 879-7858 or

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home buying: Most affordable in decades

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Buying a home is now more affordable than it has been in the last twenty years. Thanks to continued declines in home prices and rock-bottom mortgage rates, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index hit a record level of affordability.

According to the index, 75.9% of all new and existing homes sold during the three months ended Dec. 31 could have been comfortably purchased by families earning the national median income of $64,200. That was the highest percentage recorded in the 20-year history of the index, and a sharp increase from just three months earlier when 72.9% of all homes sold were considered affordable.Unfortunately, being able to afford a home and actually being able to buy one are two different matters entirely. According to Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., potential home buyers are still finding it difficult to land mortgages.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Slowly, but surely, the foreclosure crisis seems to be abating. The number of homes in foreclosure shrunk by 130,000, or 8.4%, in 2011, according to a report from CoreLogic, an economic research firm.
These are homes owned by borrowers who had slipped far behind on payments, forcing lenders to put them into the foreclosure process. The homes remain foreclosure inventory until they're sold -- either at auction or in a short sale, which is when a home is sold for less than the mortgage value -- or until homeowners are current again on payments.
There are dual reasons for the inventory drop, according to Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.Foreclosure deal has 40 states but others balk"The pace at which properties are entering foreclosure is slowing," he said. "And servicers nationwide stepped up the rate at which they were able to process distressed assets."
For any of your real estate needs please feel free to give a call or email Melissa at (509) 879-7858 or

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

9 remodeling tips to make your home feel bigger

(MONEY Magazine) -- You don't have to be underwater on your mortgage to feel trapped in your home. Now may be a less than ideal time to put a house on the market or to take on big debt -- icing your plans to trade up or build an addition anytime soon. But that doesn't mean you're stuck living in an uncomfortable home.
1. Multitask the dining room ... Cost: $500 to $2,000 If you have an eat-in kitchen, your dining room is probably used for special occasions only. "Why have a prime spot sit vacant except for two or three holidays a year?" says Susanka.
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Whether it's your first home, selling your home, investment property or land, Melissa has the expertise in diverse range of real esate to help you today.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finally, a foreclosure settlement (Maybe)

WASHINGTON ( -- States have until late Monday to agree to the latest draft deal aimed at relieving homeowners struggling with mortgages bigger than their home's value.That means federal officials and states attorneys general could be days away from announcing a deal with some of the nation's largest banks that could yield.
"Documents have been shared with the attorneys general," said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan during a White House briefing on Wednesday. "They are making decisions as we speak. A number of them have already announced support for it, and it will be finalized, I would expect, in the coming days."
Please contact Melissa for any of your real estate needs at (509) 879-7858 or