First Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Report Shows Preponderance of Mortgage Relief from Already-Popular Short Sales

By: Wednesday August 29, 2012 11:40 am

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight has released their initial assessment of the foreclosure fraud settlement. And what they’re finding is that banks are “paying off” their portion of the settlement by engaging in short sales with their borrowers. Which is something they were already doing in greater numbers prior to the settlement.


A Look at the Housing Plank of the GOP Platform

By: Wednesday August 29, 2012 9:40 am

The housing plank comes in the “Restoring the American Dream – Economy and Jobs” section of the document. It’s five paragraphs long, and much of it is explanatory and flowery. Most of the first paragraph goes on and on about the importance of homeownership. It concludes, “Homeownership is best fostered by a growing economy with low interest rates, as well as prudent regulation, financial education, and targeted assistance to responsible borrowers.” Beyond that, there’s not much here; they blame government for the housing market collapse, citicize Obama for not fixing it even though it happened in 2006-07, and have no discussion of the current foreclosure and servicing crisis except to say that the government shouldn’t help homeowners with principal writedowns.

Housing Advocates Start Campaign Organizing Underwater Homeowners

By: Friday August 24, 2012 6:00 am

We’re supposed to turn away from some of the underlying problems in the housing market, because the fundamentals are strong, and a combination of private equity house-flipping and deliberate blight will bring the market back into positive territory. But the truth is that there are still between 11 and 16 million underwater homeowners in America. This includes half of all borrowers under the age of 40.

Treasury Could Force Principal Reductions at the GSEs

By: Thursday August 9, 2012 11:25 am

Last week, when Ed DeMarco rejected principal reductions on Fannie and Freddie loans, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pronounced himself disappointed. Housing advocates called for DeMarco to be fired; I explained why that won’t happen. And here’s another reason, courtesy Joseph Cotterill. The truth is that the Treasury Department has all the tools it needs to [...]

Why the Administration Won’t Fire Ed DeMarco, Cont’d

By: Monday August 6, 2012 1:45 pm

I went through last week why I don’t think Ed DeMarco will be fired. Now Neil BArofsky, who has a passing knowledge of the individuals involved, entered this debate. Geithner has used the moral hazard/strategic default argument plenty of times over the past few years. Now it could be that Treasury has magically turned the corner and gotten the message that the economy needs widespread debt relief. But the fact that this lines up perfectly with the upcoming Presidential election is enough to make one skeptical.

Tax Extenders Pass Senate Finance Committee

By: Sunday August 5, 2012 7:40 am

One man’s loophole is another constituent’s hard-won credit, and that person has someone in Washington lobbying on their behalf to keep that credit intact.

House Passes One-Year Extension of Bush Tax Cuts

By: Thursday August 2, 2012 9:30 am

Yesterday the House put themselves on the record on the Bush tax cuts, ensuring that the issue will extend into the lame duck session and that the election, in large part, will determine the course of action.

My Piece in Salon: Underwater Homeowners Face a Tax Time Bomb

By: Thursday August 2, 2012 6:45 am

The letter from Bank of America Home Loans got right to the point. “We are pleased to inform you that we have approved your Home Equity Account for participation in a principal forgiveness program offered as a result of the Department of Justice and State Attorneys General global settlement with major mortgage servicers.” In the letter, which I obtained from an anti-foreclosure activist, Bank of America offered the homeowner full forgiveness of their entire home equity loan balance of over $177,000. But then Paragraph 5 came with an ominous warning: “Please be aware that we are required to report the amount of your cancelled principal debt to the Internal Revenue Service.”

Why Ed DeMarco Won’t Be Fired

By: Wednesday August 1, 2012 6:50 am

When Ed DeMarco rejected participation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the HAMP principal reduction program, condemnation on the left was fast and furious. But the statute is a bit unclear, and no matter, what Ed Marco may be a convenient villain for an Administration that has done little to solve the housing problem over three years.

FHFA Opts to Reject Principal Reductions for Fannie and Freddie Loans

By: Tuesday July 31, 2012 1:15 pm

I was wondering whether FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco would respond to that Wall Street Journal article today pressuring him to allow participation from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an Administration principal reduction program. Well, he has. DeMarco rejected participation for Fannie and Freddie, opting to go ahead with principal forbearance and other loan modification programs and blocking principal reduction.

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