Tag Archives: market rate

BofA Tests an Option to Foreclosure

Bank of America Corp.is launching a pilot program that will allow homeowners at risk of foreclosure to hand over deeds to their houses and sign leases that will let them rent the houses back from the bank at a market rate.

While the initial scope of the “Mortgage to Lease” program is small—the bank began sending letters Thursday offering leases to 1,000 homeowners in Arizona, Nevada and New York—it represents a big change in the way banks deal with borrowers who can’t afford their mortgages.

Until now, banks have focused the bulk of their borrower outreach on modifying mortgages, usually by reducing the monthly payments. When that doesn’t work, most foreclosure alternatives require homeowners to leave their house, typically through a short sale, in which the bank approves the sale for less than the amount owed. Banks often insert clauses forbidding the new owner from renting the property back to the former owner.

The new approach is unlikely to be expanded unless banks conclude that avoiding eviction reduces costs associated with taking back, maintaining and reselling properties. If a significant number of borrowers are willing and able to rent the homes, Bank of America could ultimately sell the properties to investors that agree to keep them as rentals.

Already, in a growing number of housing markets, investors are buying foreclosures and converting them into rentals, often filling them with families that have gone through foreclosure.

Executives last year began to ask themselves “isn’t there a way to sort of combine that whole process and

keep the borrower in the property? It’s just better for the market,” said Ron Sturzenegger, the Bank of America executive who last summer was put in charge of the unit that handles troubled mortgages.

[BANKRENT]

Bank of America became the nation’s largest mortgage originator after its 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp., but over the past year it has retreated from the mortgage market. The initial pilot is limited to loans that Bank of America holds on its books. Homeowners can’t apply for the program—only those who receive letters from the bank can participate.

Borrowers would agree to a what is known as a “deed-in-lieu” of foreclosure, where they essentially sign over ownership of the property to the lender. This is less costly to the bank and also does less damage to a borrower’s credit than a foreclosure.

Borrowers selected for the program must be at least two months past due on their mortgage and face considerable risk of foreclosure.

In exchange…

Read the rest of this article by the Wall Street Journal here: “Alternative to Foreclosure Tested“.

Rise in Home Sales Signifies Strengthening Market

The long-awaited housing recovery is beginning to blossom, according to industry experts taking a look at recent existing-home sales.

While admitting home sales “are still very low,” Paul Dales, chief economist at Capital Economics, says “it is clear that housing recovery is now well underway.”

The evidence: home sales have been on the rise for the past three months, posting a 5 percent increase in December.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), concurs with Dales’ assessment, saying “The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery.”

Yun suggests consumers are gaining confidence from “record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices.”

In addition to the 5 percent increase in December, NAR reported a 1.7 percent annual increase in existing-home sales in 2011, a total of 4.26 million homes for the year.

Distressed homes made up 32 percent of sales in December, according to NAR’s existing home sales report for the month.
Foreclosed home sales closed at about 22 percent below market rate in December, a discount 2 percent higher than that recorded a year earlier.

Investor demand remains steady with 21 percent of homes sold in December going to investors after this category of buyers took 19 percent of purchases in November and 20 percent one year ago.

Cash sales – commonly linked to investors – made up 31 percent of December’s existing-home sales. This rate was 28 percent in November and 29 percent a year ago.

Purchases by first-time home buyers declined in December – both from the previous month and the previous year. First-time home buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases in December, down from 35 percent in November and 33 percent in December 2010.

Housing inventory is on the decline and fell to its lowest level since March 2005 last month, according to NAR. Approximately 2.3 million homes are available for sale currently.

“The inventory supply suggests many markets will continue to see prices stabilize or grow moderately in the near future,” Yun said.

However, listed inventory is only part of the equation, and according to CoreLogic’s latest numbers, shadow inventory stands at about 1.6 million.

Regardless, Dales believes sales will rise this year. “Housing still won’t contribute much to GDP growth over the next few years, but at least it will no longer subtract from it,” Dales says.