Monday, October 25, 2010

September jobless rates down in D.C. and Virginia, up in Maryland

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 23, 2010; 3:03 AM
Unemployment rates in September dropped in the District and Virginia but rose by 0.2 percentage points in Maryland, according to federal government data released Friday. The numbers illustrate long-term improvement in the regional job market but prolonged reluctance among employers to significantly expand their payrolls because of lingering uncertainty about the economy.

Maryland's rate jumped to 7.5 percent from 7.3 percent in August, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The rates fell by 0.1 points to 9.8 percent in the District and to 6.8 percent in Virginia. The U.S. unemployment rate in September remained steady at 9.6 percent.
"This has just been a very tenuous time," said Ann D. Lang, senior economist at the Virginia Employment Commission. "Retail sales rose in September - there's some spending going on," but employers are "holding back a little and concerned about jobs and if we're going to get on a solid road here."  more...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac bailout cost is likely to rise to $154 billion, agency projects

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2010; 12:13 AM

The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is likely to cost taxpayers an additional $19 billion and may cost as much as $124 billion more if the economy starts shrinking again, according to a government projection released Thursday. The rescue of the mortgage giants, which has helped keep the housing market alive amid economic crisis and recession, already has a price tag of $135 billion. The money went to cover losses on defaulted home loans.
The ballooning price of the Fannie and Freddie bailout comes as the Obama administration celebrates news of lower costs on other financial rescues. Administration officials are also preparing to release a plan for reforming the two companies in coming months.
Watch Video

Lawyers got it right on the foreclosure mess

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't blame the lawyers. The crisis over faulty or fraudulent paperwork in mortgage foreclosures -- which is either a big deal or a humongous deal, depending on which experts you believe -- is the fault of arrogant, greedy lenders who played fast and loose with the basic property rights of homeowners.

Banks and other lenders, it seems, made statements in courts of law that turned out not to be true. Because judges have such an underdeveloped sense of humor when it comes to prevarication, this mess may be with us for a while.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fannie, Freddie bailout could double, regulator says

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 21, 2010; 11:53 AM

The federal bailout for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could double in size during the next three years, according to projections from the companies' federal regulator.

Fannie and Freddie, the federally controlled mortgage finance giants, probably will need at least another $73 billion and perhaps as much as $215 billion from taxpayers in the next three years to meet their financial obligations, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said, but much of that money would automatically be returned to the government.

The growing taxpayer infusions will cover losses Fannie and Freddie suffer on home loans, as well as payments the companies must make to the U.S. Treasury in exchange for a federal guarantee to provide cash to keep the companies solvent. more...
Gardner Doesn't Sees Fannie, Freddie Overhaul Until 2013: Video

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Task force probing whether banks broke federal laws during home seizures

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 20, 2010; 12:11 AM

Federal investigators are exploring whether banks and other financial firms broke U.S. law when using fraudulent court documents to foreclose on people's homes, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The criminal investigation, still in its early days, is focused on whether companies misled federal housing agencies that now insure a large share of U.S. home loans, and whether the firms committed wire or mail fraud in filing false paperwork.

Although prosecutors across the country previously opened a patchwork of inquiries, a broader federal effort targeting companies that improperly evicted people from their homes is only now taking shape. This comes at the same time that investors have begun to hold firms accountable for selling securities composed of mortgages that were improperly serviced.

Thousands of Foreclosures are put on hold. Click here to Watch the Video.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Foreclosure freeze leads to uneasy politics for Democrats

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2010; 7:26 AM

The details of the foreclosure mess are ugly and complicated. The politics of it are even worse.
The calculus is clear for most Democratic incumbents, especially those in tight races like Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid: Nothing could be worse on the eve of elections than images of people being booted out of their homes by big banks that have relied on sloppy, if not fraudulent, paperwork.

But reviving the economy requires repairing the housing market, which won't happen until foreclosed properties and delinquent mortgages are dealt with. So the White House, which is looking past the midterm elections, has been restrained. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan wrote over the weekend that "a national, blanket moratorium on all foreclosure sales would do far more harm than good, hurting homeowners and home buyers alike."

Whalen Calls U.S. Foreclosure Crisis a `Cancer': Video

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

U.S. presses mortgage lenders to fix documents, but foreclosures can continue

By Zachary A. Goldfarb,Dina ElBoghdady and Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 12:31 AM

Federal regulators sought Wednesday to prevent the growing furor over improper foreclosures from escalating, pressing mortgage lenders to replace flawed and fraudulent court documents while insisting that foreclosures continue apace. more...

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Housing troubles face new Pr. George's county executive

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Less than a year after Prince George's County lost millions in federal housing aid, a report is calling on the next county executive to revamp the housing department by conducting a national search for a director, setting up a local trust fund for housing needs and offering more rental housing. more...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Financial regulators planning worldwide rules for large firms

By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 10, 2010; 9:09 PM

International bank regulators are planning a fresh wave of rules for the world's most important financial companies in an effort to ensure that firms considered "too big to fail" are better protected from collapse - and that taxpayers are insulated from the fallout if they do. more...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reston-based company MERS in the middle of foreclosure chaos

By Brady Dennis and Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 8, 2010; 12:01 AM

As courts across the country face a wave of foreclosures, a name little known to the public has cropped up on thousands of court filings as a stand-in for prominent banks, lenders and mortgage servicers. more...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Real Estate Updates: Week of September 4th, 2010

Home prices up, but growth rate slows
U.S. home prices
Case-Shiller Index, US House Prices, (2000 = 100)
By Les Christie, staff writerSeptember 28, 2010: 10:38 AM ET

NEW YORK ( -- Home prices have risen for five straight months, but the rate of growth has slowed, according to an industry report released Tuesday.
Prices inched up 0.6% in July compared with June, according to S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose 3.2% compared with July 2009. more...

Mortgages under 5% are back in bloom
With one of the key measures below the benchmark for the second week in a row, would-be home buyers face the best rates since the spring.

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter
Last Updated: October 8, 2009: 1:03 PM ET
NEW YORK ( -- The possibility of securing a mortgage rate below 5% has greatly improved in recent weeks, in a positive sign for would-be home buyers.
Home mortgage rates fell for the sixth straight week, according to two key measures, with one of them pointing to a sub-5% rate for the 30-year fixed loan for the second week in a row. more...

The powers (of attorney) that be: What you need to know now

By Harvey S. Jacobs

Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, October 2, 2010

On Oct. 1, the Maryland General and Limited Power of Attorney Act took effect. The changes make it more difficult to delegate a power of attorney, and so this tool can no longer be regarded as a last-minute alternative to attending a real estate closing.
Dubbed "Loretta's Law," the measure was partially the result of one family member abusing the power entrusted to her by her elderly aunt. more...

Friday, October 1, 2010

J.P. Morgan Chase to freeze foreclosures over flawed paperwork

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 11:36 PM

J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the nation's leading banks, announced Wednesday that it will freeze foreclosures in about half the country because of flawed paperwork, a move that Wall Street analysts said will pressure the rest of the industry to follow suit. more...

Walking away with less

By Dina ElBoghdady and Dan Keating
Sunday, September 26, 2010; 4:03 AM
A new wave of distressed home sales is rippling, more quietly this time, through American cities and suburbs. Its unsettling effects are playing out here in Manassas, along Brewer Creek Place, a modest, horseshoe-shaped street lined with 98 brick townhouses. Several years after the U.S. foreclosure crisis erupted, the U-Hauls are back.
The last time, banks seized nearly every fourth house on the street through foreclosure. This time, homeowners are going another route: a short sale. more..

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Report gives stimulus package high marks

By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 1, 2010; 1:38 AM
The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report to be released Friday. more...