Where the Housing Recovery Is Strongest and Weakest


If you own a home in Baltimore, you probably know the housing market is recovering. But how much?
Not so much, actually. Housing has turned up nearly everywhere, with the average home price nationwide up about 12% during the past year. But some markets are going gangbusters while others barely seem to have escaped the gloom.
Baltimore, it turns out, is a housing laggard, according to a new RealtyTrac housing-recovery index that ranks 100 metro areas based on 7 variables including home-price appreciation, the unemployment rate and the decline in foreclosure rates. In Baltimore, prices are up, foreclosures are down and fewer homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, owing more than the home is worth. But the market in Baltimore is still far weaker than in 99 other cities ranked in the index, making it the lowest-ranking metropolis.

That illustrates how a spotty economic recovery is creating […]

Kill Fannie and Freddie? Maybe not so fast


WASHINGTON — You may have seen two sets of news reports recently that didn’t quite add up: First, President Obama called for the liquidation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s largest providers of funds for home mortgages. Then a couple of days later, Fannie Mae announced its sixth straight quarterly profit and said it was sending $10.2 billion in dividends to the Treasury. Freddie Mac also reported a hefty profit — $5 billion over the previous three months — and said it is providing $4.4 billion in dividends to the government.

Both companies also summarized what they’ve been doing for homebuyers and owners following their takeover by the federal government in September 2008. Given the president’s call for them to disappear, it’s worth taking a quick look.

Since January 2009, Fannie says it has provided funding for 3.1 million home purchases and 11 […]

Regulators Are Set to Loosen New Mortgage Rules


In his State of the Union address, President Obama said overlapping regulations were keeping “responsible young families from buying their first home.” He called for change: “Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.” Banking regulators apparently agree, and by the end of summer may propose new rules to simplify the mortgage market.

Bloomberg News reports that by the end of August, regulators will release a “softer” version of rules overseeing how banks finance mortgages. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill tasked regulators with writing rules that would force Wall Street to keep some skin in the game when they bundle mortgages into securities. Rather than letting banks pass all of the risk on to investors who buy the securities, the bill said banks must keep 5 percent of the deals on their own books.

In 2011, regulators released their preliminary proposal for defining the clunkily-named “Qualified […]

Fed hasn’t stop bond buying- Just market speculation


Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve haven’t stopped bond buying. They haven’t even started tapering QE3 yet. The recent increase in the bond market is pure speculation.

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