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White House talks tough again about banks, threatens to withhold funds

In a contentious era, the Obama administration has taken a stand against big banks, but will it make a difference, or will it fall on deaf ears?



Today, the US Treasury Department announced they would withhold incentive payments to JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America until their performance in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) improved.

The Obama administration has taken considerable heat for the colossal failure of HAMP which was originally intended to help struggling homeowners, but after lost paperwork, documented stall tactics by servicers and an extremely low number of homeowners ever seeing a permanent modification despite trial periods, etc.

Feds say the big three banks are failing to prevent foreclosures, citing poor evaluation of income requirement evaluations, therefore, the government says they will stop paying for their modifying delinquent loans.

Housing the biggest drag on the economy

We have been waiting for Obama to make a move, any move after he said in April that housing is the biggest drag on the economy and spoken harshly of bank misdeeds for some time.

According to CNN Money, the payment amount per loan that servicers modify is $4,500 over three years which is a substantial dollar amount when multiplied across the number of loan mods.

Wells Fargo says they will dispute the withholdings because they say their error rate has plummeted, Chase “respectfully disagrees,” it tells CNN and points the finger to the portfolios they’ve taken over in recent years while Bank of America reminds the world they account for one in four HAMP mods and says there is room for improvement.

Will they go through with it?

It is questionable whether or not they will actually go through with these threats, as they got tough in December 2009 and the Treasury marched what they called “swat teams” into servicers’ offices to supervise loan modifications, an ominous move that promised to straighten up the bank DNA, but not a peep has been heard about this since they announced the launch.

We maintain HAMP has been a disaster, a waste of funds and a continued pock mark on the housing sector that has given a lot of homeowners false hope and servicers’ failure to execute modifications has put these homeowners in worse positions as we continue to report.

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  1. Kevin

    June 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I think this is more of a punishment for Servicers not following guidelines uniformly than it is for helping homeowners.

  2. Mark Brian

    June 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I feel that the big banks do not care about this threat. The big banks would rather foreclose than modify a loan in my opinion.

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Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?



Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.



aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.



zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub,, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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