HUD Chief Defends FHA Premium Cut, Saying ‘It’s the Right Time’


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro moved swiftly on Thursday to defend pending cuts to the Federal Housing Administration’s premiums, rebutting GOP arguments they are premature.

Republicans blasted the administration’s decision to cut the annual mortgage insurance premium in the hopes of boosting spring home sales and accelerating the housing recovery, noting the FHA’s fund is well short of its statutory minimum.

But Castro told reporters that the premium reduction will delay reaching the 2% minimum by just a few months, and said lower premiums were needed urgently to help struggling borrowers who are having trouble obtaining credit.

“We are in a position now where we can strike a very good balance between ensuring that we have a strong fund and we can offer greater opportunity for hard working families to own a home,” Castro said on a conference call. “So now is the right time […]

U.S. Home Lending Set to Bounce Back in 2015 After Slump


The U.S. mortgage market hit bottom in 2014.

Chief economists at Fannie Mae and Moody’s Analytics Inc. as well as the Mortgage Bankers Association all predicted a turnaround this year after a record decline in 2014.

“The worst is over,” said Mark Zandi at West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Moody’s Analytics. “Mortgage bankers will feel a lot better by the end of the year than they do right now. It will be a long, slow climb out, but better days are ahead.”

Home lending plunged 36 percent last year, according to the MBA, to the lowest since 1997, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average first broke 7,000. The drop was led by Wells Fargo & Co., where originations fell 50 percent from a year earlier, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s 53 percent decline, the banks said yesterday in earnings reports.

The market is poised for revival […]

Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Week as 30-Year at 3.66%


U.S. mortgage rates fell for a second week, holding at the lowest level in more than a year and a half, as declining financing costs boost loan demand.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.66 percent from 3.73 percent last week, Freddie Mac said in a statement today. The average 15-year rate declined to 2.98 percent from 3.05 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company said. Both are the lowest since May 2013.

Consumers, returning from the holidays, have taken advantage of dropping rates to purchase and refinance homes. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s loan applications index jumped 49 percent in the period ended Jan. 9 after an 11 percent increase the prior week, the Washington-based group said yesterday.

“It’s difficult to make a case that it’s not beneficial,” Paul Diggle, U.S. property economist […]

Failure to Refi Proves Costly


Homeowners choose not to refinance their mortgages for any number of reasons. But when they don’t, they lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in savings.

Exactly how much they lose depends on each borrower’s individual circumstances, but a first-of-its-kind study attempts to quantify what people forfeit by not turning in their old loan rates for lower ones.

Researchers found that the median household, having failed to refinance, gave away $45,000 in savings over the life of its mortgage. The study — by Benjamin Keys and Devin Pope from the University of Chicago, and Jaren Pope of Brigham Young University — also found that the mistake of not refinancing is widespread.

Based on a sample of 1.5 million single-family mortgages that were active in December 2010, they estimate that 1 in 5 borrowers — that is, roughly 300,000 families — had not refinanced when […]

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