Inside these posts: Housing market

Visit our Filed page for categories. To browse by specific topic, see our Inside page. For a list of companies covered on this site, visit our Companies page.


Mortgage rates in U.S. fall for third week

Freddie Mac's corporate offices in McLean, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, FILE)

Mortgage rates eased again last week, with long-term rates continuing their decline from the current-year high set three weeks ago, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.

Rates had seen a recent rise, hitting their highest level since April last month. They had slumped most of last year as Treasurys had declined amid economic uncertainty. The rates generally track the yields, which move inversely to Treasury prices.

Freddie Chief Economist Frank Nothaft cautioned, “housing demand still remains weak,” noting that new home sales in January neared the lowest levels since at least 1964, when data collection began, according to the Census Bureau. Get the full story »

Geithner: Mortgage costs to rise with reform

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday that future mortgage costs likely will be “modestly higher” after reforms are completed to the national housing finance system. Get the full story »

Recession still causing personal finance headaches

The Great Recession might be officially over, but that’s not helping Americans save money, and they’re growing increasingly worried about it, according to survey results released Tuesday.

The portion of people “very concerned” about the impact of the current recession on their personal finances rose from 43 percent last year to 49 percent this year, according to the survey commissioned by the American Savings Education Council and the “America Saves” campaign, with more than 1,000 participating groups.

“The recession clearly has not ended for millions of Americans,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. High unemployment, consumer and mortgage debt, and the housing crisis help explain why savers haven’t made much progress. Get the full story »

M/I Homes optimistic about Chicago housing market

As earnings reports from homebuilders have dribbled out over the past few weeks, only one company gave a very specific and very positive shout-out to the Chicago market.

That company was M/I Homes Inc., the Columbus, Ohio-based builder that broke ground on its first suburban Chicago home less than three years ago and just finalized the purchase of its seventh local project, one designed to bring 146 town homes to Naperville.

Nationally, the inventory of new homes for sale dropped to 191,000 in December, the lowest number since 1968, according to the National Association of Home Builders. It dropped locally too, but at year’s end, there remained more than a year of available new homes on the market. Get the full story »

Freddie Mac to raise some mortgage fees

Freddie Mac, the second-largest provider of funding for U.S. home mortgages, will raise some loan fees, a sign it sees greater risks even for borrowers making regular payments.

The company, struggling to recover from the worst housing slump since the 1930s, will raise some so-called “delivery fees” in March to cover increased risks on loans for large portions of a property’s value, according to a bulletin dated Monday on its Web site. Get the full story »

Fannie, Freddie may need another $215 billion

The cost for the huge government bailouts of housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will grow — and possibly more than double to $363 billion — over the next three years.

But the taxpayer loss depends mainly on the health of the economy and the real estate market, a federal regulator said Thursday. Get the full story »

Bank shares slide on foreclosure worries

Bank shares declined Friday morning in a broad industry sell-off, as investors continued to fear the impact the continuing foreclosure crisis will have on future earnings. Get the full story »

Fewer homeowners received mortgage help in July

The Treasury Department said Friday that the nation’s housing market “remains fragile” and reported that far fewer delinquent mortgage borrowers received loan modifications through a federal government program in July than they did in June. Get the full story »

USG sees lightweight drywall as profit heavyweight

USG Corp. is counting on a lightweight version of its Sheetrock brand drywall to help revive profit pummeled by the long slump in housing construction. Get the full story »

July homebuilder confidence falls to 15-month low

Home-builder sentiment fell more than expected in July to the lowest level in more than a year after a popular home-buyer tax credit expired in April, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

Buyer confirms contract for 300 N. LaSalle

From Crain’s Chicago Business | It’s official: A real estate investment trust sponsored by KBS Realty Advisors LLC will buy 300 N. LaSalle St., and pay nearly $503 a square foot for it.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac delist from NYSE

From CNN | Troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said goodbye to the New York Stock Exchange at the end of trade Wednesday. At the market open Thursday, Fannie and Freddie will start trading on the over-the-counter bulletin board — also known as pink sheets — under the symbols “FNMA” and “FMCC.” Get the full story »

Pending home sales fall sharply in U.S.

Chicago-area real estate agents sensed a fall-off in homebuyer traffic last month, and on Thursday, they were validated: Sales contracts on home purchases plunged 32.1 percent in the Midwest and 30 percent nationally in May.

The index of pending home sales, measured by the National Association of Realtors, fell to 77.6 nationally in May from April, far worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted a drop of 11.3 percent from April, to a reading of 98.4. For the Midwest, the index dropped to 70.8, which is a drop of 32.1 percent from April and down 20.2 percent from a year ago.

A reading of 100 is equivalent to 2001’s average level of sales activity. Get the full story »

Report: Mortgage program full of inconsistencies

Struggling homeowners who have complained for more than a year that the federal government’s loan modification program was unfair got some validation Thursday.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) paints a picture of the Home Affordable Modification Program as an inconsistent effort with wide-ranging degrees of participation that could lead to different outcomes, even for borrowers who face similar personal circumstances.
Get the full story »

Fewer homeowners qualify for mortgage help plan

The number of Chicago-area homeowners who received permanent loan modifications under the federal government’s program rose 17 percent in May, but there continues to be a dramatic slowdown in the ability of local consumers to qualify for trial payment plans.

Treasury Department officials said 17,428 area homeowners have received a permanent modification since the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program that was introduced last year, compared with 14,890 homeowners in April. At the same time, the number of homeowners in active trial modifications slumped by more than 26 percent in May, to 23,640.

Nationally, the report shows that for the eight largest servicers, 48.9 percent of homeowners who were unable to qualify for a permanent modification found an alternative to foreclosure. In fact, among the largest servicers, only 7 percent of cancelled trial modifications ended up in foreclosure.
Get the full story »