Here are the top stories this week affecting housing and our economy
Mortgage Servicers Hold Convention in San Diego
This past week the nation's largest mortgage services got together for the MBA Mortgage Servicing Conference in San Diego. Most of these servicers are owned by major banks and are the ones collecting mortgage payments, short selling properties and foreclosing on homeowners who don’t pay up. Here are the highlights:
Servicers talked about what they could do for borrower who didn’t qualify for HAMP
Short Sales and other Foreclosure Alternatives were a key theme
Government may put more foreclosure restrictions on banks
MBA puts forth proposal for 9 month forbearance program for unemployed
Speaking of the unemployed....
Congress In Disagreement on Unemployment Benefits
Democrats and Republicans are in disagreement on how to tackle the unemployment crisis. The House passed a bill Thursday that would extend benefits for another month while a more long term plan is worked out. The bill has not made it through the Senate because of Republican opposition, saying the bill would add $10 billion to the deficit.
Bernanke Promises to Keep Rates Down
Fed Chairman Bernanke was on the hill this week. Speaking to the House Financial Services Committee, Bernanke made clear that even though the Fed plans on ending its 1.25 trillion purchase program for mortgage backed securities, it doesn't plan on selling off what it's already bought. He claimed that just keeping the assets on the Feds balance sheet would "keep rates down". He also assured the market that the Fed would be ready to step in if, "a severe market reaction" took place.
FDIC Explores Principal Reduction for Underwater Mortgage Borrowers
The FDIC is considering a program that would reduce the outstanding mortgage balance for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. This would be a pilot program that FDIC would test on the mortgages that they've acquired through taking over failed banks. As with the launch of the Making Home Affordable Program, FDIC's pilot program could lead to a much larger government effort. When the FDIC took over Indymac Bank and started testing loan modifications in 2008 that eventually led to the creation of the Making Home Affordable program the next year. Some banks like Wells Fargo have already done principal reduction for underwater borrowers for certain loan programs like the Option Arm mortgage.
Top Ten Jobs for the Next Decade
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Released its job growth report a month ago. I just figured I'd stick it in here so that we'd have something productive to discuss for the week. Here are the top ten places for growth in jobs:
1. Restaurant Industry
2. Computer System Design and Related Industries
3. Employment Services
4. General Merchandise Stores
5. Home Health Care Facilities
6. Services for the Elderly and Disabled
7. Nursing Care Facilities
8. Management, Science and Technical Consulting
9. Physician Office Jobs
10. Local Government excluding Education and Hospitals