President Obama Holds News Conference, Unveils Housing Plan

 
WASHINGTON – March 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama is aiming mortgage relief at members of the military as well as homeowners with government-insured loans, the administration’s latest efforts to address a persistent housing crisis. In his first full news conference of the year Tuesday, Obama was to announce plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year. Obama also was detailing an agreement with major lenders to compensate service members and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.A senior administration official described Obama’s proposals to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss them ahead of the announcement.The efforts Obama is announcing do not require congressional approval and are limited in comparison with the vast expansion of government assistance to homeowners that he asked Congress to approve last month. That $5 billion to $10 billion plan would make it easier for more borrowers with burdensome mortgages to refinance their loans.

Obama is holding the news conference in the midst of a modestly improving economy. But international challenges as well as a stubbornly depressed housing market remain threats to the current recovery and to his presidency.

Obama has not held a full news conference since November.

Under the housing plans Obama was to announce Tuesday, FHA-insured borrowers would be able to refinance their loans at half the fee that the FHA currently charges. FHA borrowers who want to refinance now must pay a fee of 1.15 percent of their balance every year. Officials say those fees make refinancing unappealing to many borrowers. The new plan will reduce that charge to 0.55 percent.

With mortgage rates at about 4 percent, the administration estimates a typical FHA borrower with $175,000 still owed on a home could reduce monthly payments to $915 a month and save $100 a month more than the borrower would have under current FHA fees.

Though 2 million to 3 million borrowers would be eligible, the administration official would not speculate how many would actually seek to benefit from the program. The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. The loans typically go to homeowners who do not have enough equity to qualify for standard mortgages. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

For service members and veterans, Obama will announce that major lenders will review foreclosures to determine whether they were done properly. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members and veterans would be paid their lost equity and also be entitled to an additional $116,785 in compensation. That was a figure reached through an agreement with major lenders by the federal government and 49 state attorneys general.

Under the agreement, the lenders also would compensate service members who lost value in their homes when they were forced to sell them due to a military reassignment.
AP Logo Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Jim Kuhnhenn. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Topics: Foreclosures
 
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“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

Buffet: Real Estate Investment- Better Than Stocks

Buffett: ‘I’d buy up a couple hundred thousand’ homes

WICHITA, Kan. – March 1, 2012 – Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” recently that he’d “buy up a couple hundred thousand” single-family homes if it was practical.Buffett said that’s because he believes purchasing a home with ultra-low mortgage rates and holding it for the long-term has become a better investment than stocks right now.

“Housing will come back, you can be sure of that,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders recently.

Buffett forecasts an increase in household formations, as more people who moved in with their parents or family members during the recession look to move out and get their own home soon.

“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while ‘doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure,” Buffett said.

Buffett said the recovery in the housing market could vary quite a bit among local housing markets, however. He did not provide a timeline of when he expected a full housing recovery, admitting that his prediction last year that a housing recovery will take shape within the year turned out to be “dead wrong.”

Source: “Housing Market Forecast Beyond 2012 From Warren Buffet,” International Business Times (Feb. 28, 2012) and “Warren Buffet on CNBC: I’d Buy Up ‘A Couple Hundred Thousand’ Single-Family Homes If I Could,” CNBC (Feb. 27, 2012)

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Related Topics: Real estate investing

Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S: Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Amazon listed the U.S.’s top 20 romantic cities, and Florida has more than any other state. 

Florida: Balmy breezes, sunsets and romance

ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2012 – Love is in the air. Amazon.com announced its list of the “Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.,” and Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state.

To compile the list, Amazon looked at sales numbers for romance novels and relationship books (Kindle Books and print books), romantic comedy movies (digital movies and DVDs), Barry White albums (CDs and MP3s), and other romantic wellness products since Jan. 1, 2012. It considered sales on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents.

The top city on the list was Knoxville, Tenn., for some reason. In Florida, Orlando took the No. 4 spot, followed by Miami (No. 7), Clearwater (12), Gainesville (17) and Tallahassee (20).

According to Amazon customers’ purchase habits, New York City is the least romantic city in the U.S., with Winston-Salem, N.C.; Patterson, N.J.; and El Monte, Calif., also securing bottom spots.

Amazon’s complete list of romantic cities

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Alexandria, Va.
3. Springfield, Mo.
4. Orlando, Fla.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Vancouver, Wash.
7. Miami, Fla.
8. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
9. Dayton, Ohio19. Rochester, N.Y.
10. Columbia, S.C.
11. Pittsburgh, Penn.
12. Clearwater, Fla.
13. St. Louis, Mo.
14. Erie, Pa.
15. Clarksville, Tenn.
16. Everett, Wash.
17. Gainesville, Fla.
18. Las Vegas, Nev.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

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