Sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 10.4 % in October. But that one spark of hope comes against a backdrop of declining prices, bulging inventories and ongoing legal issues around foreclosures. Don't count on a real estate recovery next year.
Back in December 2008, John H. was small-business owner with perfect credit and a house he could afford. But when his business started suffering, he appealed to Citi Residential Mortgage for a modification. Now, he faces foreclosure -- for the fourth time -- the day before Thanksgiving.
A recent profile of Barbara Desoer, the president of Bank of America's home loan unit, describes her as "Besieged." But here's who's really beseiged: All those homeowners who are getting a raw deal from the banks.
A lack of staff in the face of overwhelming volume is the excuse banks give for turning to robo-signers to speed foreclosures, and for their inability to manage the the mortgage modification process. Now, a class action against BofA raises questions about its core business as well.
Wells Fargo still won't admit it, but its employees' testimony makes it clear that, like GMAC, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and OneWest Bank, they have a problem with their foreclosure documents. But the solution isn't just a better documentation process: It's time to bring back cram downs.
Many troubled homeowners in the federal foreclosure relief program end up losing their property anyway. Banks gain the most by delaying repossessing houses they can't sell, while collecting monthly payments from strapped borrowers.
Michael Feder of Radar Logic thinks it does. And he adds that the federal government, which has underwritten or guaranteed almost every new mortgage since the financial crisis began, is in a precarious position itself. But Feder offers one possible solution.
The Congressional Oversight Panel, which is evaluating the federal foreclosure mitigation program, found that the Making Home Affordable plan has done little to help homeowners and, in many cases, has just prolonged their pain.