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Posts Tagged: HARP

Changes to mortgage-disclosures take effect

With new disclosure rules taking effect for all loans—including fixed and adjustable rate loans, HARP, FHA-backed loans, and more—lenders are now required to provide home buyers with two new forms that clearly spell out the important details of their loan terms. Formerly known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, the "Know Before You Owe" mortgage-disclosure rule is meant to reduce paperwork and give borrowers a clearer picture of what to expect from their mortgage terms.

"The documents are designed to be more transparent and understandable," says Holden Lewis, a mortgage analyst at, "and I think they are really well done."

Renters in single-family homes looking to move out

According to recent research from Zillow, almost all the growth in the number of households in the US in the past decade has been driven by an increase in the number of rental households. This piece of information on its own would be rather neutral, were it not for the fact that renters are disproportionately represented among cost-burdened households, with over 30 percent of the household's income going toward rent each month.

The Zillow study determined that 61 percent of the growth in rental households during the period between 2005 and 2015 was due to an explosive increase in the number of people renting rooms in houses originally designated as single-family. Only one third of the growth could be attributed to an increase in the number of renters in multifamily housing. This trend may have been driven by increasingly high rents in multifamily housing and the more informal structure of renting from a homeowner, which often requires fewer proofs of employment and credit checks, which many people had trouble providing during the recession.

Mortgage delinquencies down at the end of 2014

According to Black Knight Financial Services' December 2014 First Look at Mortgage Data, the end of 2014 saw an encouraging trend that lends credence to the idea that the US housing market is in recovery mode. Mortgage delinquencies dropped by 7 percent between November and December 2014, finishing the year at a low 5.6 percent.

A delinquent mortgage is defined as a mortgage on which payments are 30 or more days past due, and delinquencies surged during and after the financial crash in 2008. Now, it appears that the rates may finally be returning to normal after a long, slow recovery period.

Government appoints new heads of FHFA and Federal Reserve

This past week has marked a serious changing of the guard for the government bodies in charge of guiding the housing market's recovery, with both the nation's central bank and main lending insurers having new leadership either sworn in or confirmed in the span of just a few hours.

On Monday, January 6, Mel Watt took over his role as the new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which is the government body that oversees lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - two entities that secure more than 60 percent of the nation's mortgages. Later in the day, the Senate was also quick to confirm President Barack Obama's pick to lead the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, in a majority vote of 56-26.

Foreclosures down nationwide, but remains an isolated problem

At the height of the Great Recession, no area of the country was immune to the massive tide of foreclosures that swept the nation from coast to coast. However, thanks to government initiatives like the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0), which effectively helped millions of borrowers restructure their mortgages, and an increase in property values across the country, this disturbing trend was largely curbed.

However, in some states, the rate of foreclosure continues to be extremely high, despite an overall drop in the nationwide rate. In fact, foreclosures that are in a judicial state, as in those that are subject to court approval, have been higher than they were one year ago for 16 consecutive months, according to the recent Housing Market Index (HMI) from analytics group RealtyTrac.

More refinancers looking to shorter-term loans

When President Barack Obama first enacted the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in March 2009, he had anticipated that it would help millions of homeowners climb out from mortgage debt and help get monthly payments more in line with sinking property values. However, it wasn't until HARP was revamped in 2011 with lower qualification standards that the initiative really took hold and became an effective tool for a wide swath of Americans.

To date, millions of Americans have been able to refinance their government-backed mortgages through the program, obtaining lower interest rates and, as a new Freddie Mac Product Transition Report shows, changing the terms of their loan to lower its lifespan.

HARP 2.0 reaches another 68,000 Americans in August

According to data from the federal government, another 68,000 homeowners were able to restructure their mortgage offerings under the terms of President Barack Obama's Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) in August. These numbers indicate that for the second year in a row, the initiative will close out 2013 with more than 1 million borrowers helped, making monthly loan payments more manageable and preventing mass foreclosure.

When HARP 2.0 was first enacted, it was designed to help underwater borrowers who had seen their property values plummet as a result of the Great Recession. Across the country, thousands of residents found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their houses were worth - a strain that was weakening an already damaged national economy.

Rate of foreclosure sinks in 2013 across the country

According to a recent report from CoreLogic, a real estate analytics group, the incidence of foreclosure is down markedly in the year ending August 2013 from the same period 12 months earlier. Over the span, the number of homes that were foreclosed upon sank 34 percent as homeowners were able to take advantage of refinance programs and improved property values to catch up on underwater mortgages or even sell their home without taking a loss.

However, the data also shows that foreclosure is still a lingering problem across the nation and is more prevalent now than it has been historically. Nearly half of all foreclosures come from five states that have had the most trouble recovering from the Great Recession. Even in these regions, though, the numbers show that filings are steadily grinding to a halt.

While economy continues improving, government still looking to help homeowners

It has been a banner year for the housing market, with the past several months especially showing improvements that have signaled a return to almost-normalcy as housing costs and sales return to pre-recession levels. With an increase in home sales at the highest price points and a jump in the applications for jumbo loans across the nation, it is clear that Americans are getting their financial footing back after a rough decade.

However, it's not just prospective homeowners who are seeing conditions improve but also individuals who already occupy properties that are looking to avoid foreclosure. Thanks to a bevy of government-backed initiatives, homeowners across the country have been able to lower their monthly mortgage payments through refinance initiatives that made interest rates more affordable on existing loans.

Deadline for Making Home Affordable Program extended to 2015

The deadline to apply for the Making Home Affordable Program, which works to prevent housing foreclosures for families and improve the housing market nationwide, has been extended, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through Dec. 31, 2015.

The program, which was developed by the Obama Administration and launched in March 2009, has helped close to 1.3 million homeowners. The Home Affordable Modification Program - which helps to modify the terms of a homeowner's mortgage to make payments more affordable - is one of the services provided under the program and has been used by more than 1.1 million homeowners.