Monday, August 30, 2010

Couples Race to Atlanta Open Houses to Win Hidden $20,000 Down Payment Prize

/PRNewswire/ -- HomeFinder.com (http://www.homefinder.com/), a popular home search site, today announced the upcoming HomeFinder.com Race for the Home event inviting Atlanta home buyers and sellers to participate in a one day, challenge-filled, location-based game on Saturday, September 25. HomeFinder.com, together with Prudential Georgia Realty and Google Ventures backed gaming company, SCVNGR, will offer a grand prize of $20,000 during a real estate-inspired version of "The Amazing Race." The home buyers who score the most points by successfully completing challenges in Atlanta open houses will win the $20,000 grand prize. The HomeFinder.com Race for the Home will also help to raise funds for breast cancer awareness through the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Greater Atlanta Foundation.

Atlanta homebuyers and sellers are all welcome to sign up! Any couple or team of two can participate and all ages 18 or over are welcome. Participants can register today at www.raceforthehome.com and tell their story why they should be chosen to play for the chance to WIN the $20,000 cash grand prize sponsored by Prudential Georgia Realty, SunTrust Mortgage and Weissman, Norwack, Curry & Wilco P.C. The spots are limited and registration will end on Friday, September 24th.

The HomeFinder.com Race for the Home will involve special challenges at featured listings from top Atlanta real estate broker Prudential Georgia Realty. Players will be tasked with individual challenges around each listing to accumulate points throughout the game. The team with the most points will earn bragging rights as well as $20,000, which can be used for a down payment for their dream home.

"Real estate is one of the most customer-driven industries," said Tim Fagan, president and CEO of HomeFinder.com. "We're thrilled to host this unique opportunity to not only serve our home buying audience by helping them find their dream homes, but also to connect them with one of our top local Atlanta partners, Prudential Georgia Realty, in a dynamic new way. The current housing market poses its challenges, but finding and buying your home is still a fun, fulfilling experience, and we're excited to bring that spirit to this action-packed event."

"In the last three years, our company has made significant investments to build a powerful marketing and technology infrastructure. While others have cut costs to survive the real estate downturn, these innovations have served our agents and clients well. During this period, we have grown market share more than any large brokerage. Today, our company is #1 in units sales, #1 in buyers and #1 in listing inventory for the Metro Atlanta and North Georgia markets," said Prudential Georgia Realty President and CEO Dan Forsman. "We're excited to team up with HomeFinder.com and SCVNGR to bring the Race for the Home event to Atlanta. SCVNGR brings a cool and fun mobile technology solution. More importantly, it will showcase our open houses and produce more results for our clients. Our company has also made a strategic commitment to position our listings as Featured Properties on HomeFinder.com. This exposure on such a high profile national Web site is an important part of this event and will drive substantial traffic to our listings."

Thanks to SCVNGR's cutting-edge mobile social technology, playing is easy and free in this high tech house hunt. All of the challenges will be delivered via text message right to a player's cell phone. SCVNGR's mobile platform is compatible with any cell phone, model and carrier.

Mark your calendars. The HomeFinder.com Race for the Home in Atlanta kicks off September 25 at Piedmont Park (Oak Hill) at 9 a.m. with an after party immediately following at Max Lager's at 2 p.m. For more info and to register for your chance to play, visit www.raceforthehome.com.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

HUD Shares Plans for New Reverse Mortgage Option

/PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced today that it intends to make modifications to its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) product, a reverse mortgage loan insured by the federal government, to make it more attractive and cost effective for older home owners seeking to tap their home equity to cover living expenses and health care costs, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

A HECM is a reverse mortgage that is insured by the FHA. It is designed to enable elderly homeowners (62 years or older) to borrow against the equity in their home without having to make monthly payments as is required with a traditional "forward" mortgage or home equity loan. Under a reverse mortgage, funds are advanced to the borrower and interest accrues, but the outstanding balance is not due until the last borrower leaves the home, sells or passes away. If the balance due upon settlement of the loan exceeds the value of the home, the FHA insurance covers the difference. HECM borrowers may draw down funds as a lump sum at loan origination, establish a line of credit or request fixed monthly payments for as long as they continue to live in the home. The FHA insurance guarantees HECM borrowers that the funds they expect to access from a reverse mortgage will be available to them, no matter what might happen to the lender from which they've obtained the loan.

HECMs are now primarily used by seniors to cover a monthly gap between income and living expenses, to pay for health care, cover home repair and maintenance costs, or to avoid foreclosures. Despite the obvious value of this financial product to America's senior population, the most frequently heard complaint among people who did not take a reverse mortgage has been that the upfront costs were high. So HUD has responded by creating a variant on the standard HECM product that substantially lowers those costs.

In a telephone briefing to prepare industry participants for upcoming changes to the HECM program, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Vicky Bott shared the Department's plans to implement a new variant of the product, referred to as the "HECM Saver," that will provide seniors with a reverse mortgage option that significantly lowers upfront costs by virtually eliminating the upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium that is required under the standard HECM option. Bott also reported accompanying changes intended for the existing HECM product, now referred to as a "HECM Standard." The introduction of the HECM Saver and changes to the HECM Standard are expected to be effective shortly after the new federal fiscal year begins this October.

The primary difference between the two HECM options will be in the cost of the upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) and the amount of the funds, or "principal limit," available to borrowers. The upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium is charged by the Federal Housing Administration to support its insurance fund. Under the HECM Standard option, the upfront MIP will remain at 2% of the value of the property (or 2% of the maximum FHA loan limit of $625,500, if the property has a value greater than that.) HECM Saver will have an upfront MIP of only .01% of the property's value, significantly reducing upfront costs.

This cost saving in upfront fees is able to be achieved because the amount of money available to a borrower, an amount known as the "principal limit," under a HECM Saver will be reduced, substantially lowering the risk to the FHA insurance fund. Borrowers will receive approximately 10% to 18% less under the HECM saver option, than they would under the HECM Standard option.

These changes, Bott explained, are "enhancements to make the program sustainable."

"We applaud HUD for undertaking the analysis required and re-engineering the HECM program to create options that will make it a viable solution for more older homeowners," said Peter Bell, President of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. "The upfront mortgage insurance premium has been a deterrent to some prospective borrowers, particularly those needing less than the full amount available under the traditional HECM Standard program. This new variation, the HECM Saver, presents a sensitive response to their needs."

This new change comes about as HUD is also in the process of implementing a new, updated Counseling Protocol for prospective reverse mortgage borrowers, which takes effect on September 11, 2010. All prospective HECM borrowers are required to attend an individualized counseling session with an exam-qualified reverse mortgage counselor employed by a HUD-approved independent counseling agency prior to formally applying for a HECM reverse mortgage. Under the new Counseling Protocol, which governs what is to take place during a counseling session, the client and counselor will utilize a new Financial Interview Tool to assess whether or not the homeowner should be able to sustain themselves in their home and meet their financial obligation after obtaining the HECM. Additionally, an online tool, BenefitsCheckup.org, will be utilized to identify other sources of assistance that might help homeowners meet their needs.

"The revised counseling protocols, new HECM options and other enhanced consumer protections that are being implemented by HUD, housing counselors and reverse mortgage lenders who are members of NRMLA, should help homeowners understand that they can borrow with confidence, if they are considering a reverse mortgage," according to Bell.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

HUD Southeast Warns of Fraudulent Housing Voucher Sales

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Southeast Regional Administrator Edward Jennings, Jr. warns that fraudulent efforts to sell housing vouchers in Atlanta are being reported. Housing vouchers are not for sale but rather are issued locally by public housing agencies (PHA). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.

“Individuals, families and veterans need to be on the alert to this scam and ensure that they do not pay for these fraudulent housing vouchers,” said, Jennings. “Housing vouchers are issued by public housing authorities and if someone should attempt to sell you a voucher please contact US HUD Office of the Inspector General immediately at 1-800-347-3735.

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program. A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA.

VA Reaches Out to Homeowners Affected by Gulf Oil Crisis

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Veterans in the Gulf States impacted by the recent oil spill may qualify for delayed mortgage payments if their mortgages are already guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“We must assist these Veterans in this difficult time, just as they have supported us in their sacrifice to the Nation.”

“We are strongly urging mortgage companies to extend every possible forbearance to Veterans whose livelihoods have been affected by the oil spill crisis,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Shinseki noted that several mortgage companies have already announced plans to waive late payment charges and suspend negative reporting to credit bureaus on affected borrowers. VA is asking all mortgage companies to follow this example.

“Through no fault of their own, many of our Veterans are out of work and are struggling to earn an income,” the Secretary added. “We must assist these Veterans in this difficult time, just as they have supported us in their sacrifice to the Nation.”

VA has information on its website, www.homeloans.va.gov, that provides basic guidance for Veterans affected by a major disaster. Veterans in need of mortgage counseling may also contact their nearest VA regional loan center at 1-877-827-3702 for help and information, regardless of whether or not they have a VA home loan.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Detailed Information on Nation's Housing; Monthly Housing Costs Reach $1,000 for Homeowners

/PRNewswire/ -- The nation's homeowners paid a median of $1,000 in monthly housing costs in 2009, compared with $808 for renters, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, renters usually paid a higher percentage of their household income on these costs than did owners (31 percent compared with 20 percent).

These new figures come from the 2009 American Housing Survey, the definitive source of information on the quality of housing in the United States. Statistics are provided for apartments, single-family homes, manufactured housing, new construction and vacant housing units.

Issued jointly every two years by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this survey provides detailed information on the characteristics of the nation's housing stock.

A wide range of specific topics is covered, such as the presence of air conditioning, crowding, housing costs, special living services offered to older residents, safety equipment present, type of heating fuel used, satisfaction with the neighborhood, cost of utilities and size of the home. The survey also covers the demographic characteristics of the housing units' occupants.

"So many of these measures are really unique to this survey," notes Tamara Cole, chief of the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey Branch. "Together they provide a comprehensive view of the quality of the nation's housing stock. This survey is also a longitudinal one, meaning it follows the same unit over time. For example, you can track the remodeling done to a specific unit from one survey to the next."

The 2009 survey indicates that respondents are generally quite content with where they live: about 70 percent rate their homes an 8, 9, or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 28 percent giving them the "best" rating of 10. Residents of new construction tend to rate their homes even more highly: 84 percent gave them between an 8 and 10, and 45 percent gave a perfect 10 rating. Likewise, more than two-thirds of residents (68 percent) rated their neighborhood highly with 25 percent giving it a "best" rating. People living in newly built homes rate their neighborhoods especially highly: 75 percent (rated highly) and 35 percent (rated best), respectively. (See Graphs 1 and 2.)

Other highlights for the nearly 112 million occupied housing units:
-- The median year housing units were built was in 1974, with
owner-occupied units being slightly newer (median of 1975 compared
with 1971 for renter-occupied units).
-- The median purchase price of homes was $107,500; for a newly
constructed home, it was $240,000.
-- Thirty-two percent of owner-occupied units were owned free and clear,
66 percent had a regular and/or home equity mortgage and 2 percent had
only a line-of-credit.
-- The most important consideration for recent movers in choosing their
homes was financial (28 percent), followed by room layout/design (15
percent) and size of home (10 percent). Furthermore, the most common
reasons recent movers had for choosing their neighborhoods were
convenience to job (20 percent), convenience to friends or relatives
(14 percent), look/design of neighborhood (10 percent) and the house
itself (10 percent).
-- About two-thirds (64 percent) of the units used a warm-air furnace for
heating; 12 percent used an electric heat pump; and 11 percent used a
steam or hot water system. The latter is increasingly falling out of
use as only 2 percent of new units use this system.
-- About half of homes (48 percent) had a separate dining room and three
in 10 (30 percent) reported two or more living rooms or recreation
rooms. About one-third (35 percent) had a usable fireplace.
-- About two-thirds of housing units (65 percent) had central air
conditioning and another 21 percent had window units; for new units,
the percentage with central air conditioning was even higher (89
percent).
-- About nine in 10 units (93 percent) reported the presence of a smoke
detector. Additionally, 36 percent reported having a working carbon
monoxide detector, 45 percent purchased or recharged a fire
extinguisher in the last two years and 5 percent had a sprinkler
system.
-- Most homes had three or more bedrooms (64 percent), with the
percentage even higher in new homes (80 percent). Additionally, about
half of homes (51 percent) had two or more bathrooms, with the
percentage even higher (89 percent) in new homes.
-- Ten percent of communities had secured entrances, with the likelihood
somewhat higher (15 percent) in new communities.


Data from this survey are available at the national and regional level, and for inside and outside metropolitan statistical areas, and urban and rural areas.

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Homeowner Confidence in Real Estate Market Dips; 1 in 3 Think Worst Is Yet to Come, While 38% Think Local Home Values Have Reached Bottom

/PRNewswire/ -- Homeowners(i) are more pessimistic about the short-term future of home values in their local market than they have been in the past three quarters, according to the Zillow second quarter Homeowner Confidence Survey(ii). One-third (33 percent) believe home values in their local housing market have not yet reached a bottom, while 38 percent believe they have already reached a bottom.

More than one-quarter (28 percent) of U.S. homeowners said home values in their local real estate market will decrease in the next six months, up from 20 percent in the first quarter. Additionally, less than one-third (30 percent) believe home values in their local market will increase, down from 42 percent in the first quarter.

Despite the increasing pessimism, a large number of homeowners anxiously await the opportunity to sell. Five percent of U.S. homeowners say they are very likely to put their home on the market in the next six months if they see signs of a real estate market turnaround. This translates into 3.8 million homes with the potential to come into the market(iii). By comparison, 5.2 million existing homes were sold in all of 2009(iv).

Looking backward, homeowners also became slightly more pessimistic about the performance of their own homes' values in the past year. Less than a quarter (24 percent) of homeowners said their home had increased in value in the past year, compared to 27 percent in the first quarter. In reality, 34 percent of homes increased in value in the second quarter, according to the Zillow Q2 Real Estate Market Reports.

"As homeowners have been so inundated recently with news of declining home sales post-tax credit, it's no surprise that they would become more pessimistic about the future of home values," said Dr. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.com®. "Homeowners have become much more responsive to current market conditions than they were just two years ago, when a more typical reaction was denial.

"Given this sentiment, we're surprised so many homeowners believe their market has already bottomed. Although our Q2 reports indicated signs of stabilization in 30 percent of markets we cover, we're concerned that this was at least partly due to the homebuyer tax credits. We're already seeing payback for the credits in the form of declining home sales, and this trend will push up inventory levels and exert downward pressure on home values. Add in the inventory from the millions of sidelined sellers and we'll take more steps back. Our forecast remains largely unchanged: We're in for an L-shaped recovery that will likely keep annualized home value appreciation very low for the next three to five years."

Homeowner Perception by Region
  ------------------------------

  Homeowner Perception of Home Value       US Q2
   Change in Past Year by Region           2010    Northeast  Midwest
  ----------------------------------      ------   ---------  -------
  My Home's Value Has Decreased                49%        40%        50%
  ----------------------------------          ---        ---        ---
  My Home's Value Has Stayed the Same          27%        37%        30%
  -----------------------------------         ---        ---        ---
  My Home's Value Has Increased                24%        23%        20%
  -----------------------------               ---        ---        ---
  Market Reality: Homes Reporting Year-
   over-Year Value Changes in Q2,
   according to Zillow
  -------------------------------------
  Actual Percent of Homes that Decreased       61%        53%        70%
  --------------------------------------      ---        ---        ---
  Actual Percent of Homes that Stayed the
   Same (+/-1%)                                 7%         9%         7%
  ---------------------------------------     ---        ---        ---
  Actual Percent of Homes that Increased       32%        38%        23%
  --------------------------------------      ---        ---        ---
  Q2 2010 Home Value Misperception
   Index(v)                                    -2         -5          4
  --------------------------------            ---        ---        ---
  Q1 2010 Home Value Misperception Index        5         -2          4
  --------------------------------------      ---        ---        ---
  Q2 2009 Home Value Misperception Index       13         10         10
  --------------------------------------      ---        ---        ---
  Homeowner Perception of Local Market
   Value in Next Six Months
  ------------------------------------
  Home Values In Local Market Will
   Decrease                                    28%        24%        32%
  --------------------------------            ---        ---        ---
  Home Values In Local Market Will Stay
   the Same                                    42%        45%        46%
  -------------------------------------       ---        ---        ---
  Home Values In Local Market Will
   Increase                                    30%        31%        22%
  --------------------------------            ---        ---        ---
  Homeowner Appreciation Expectations
   over the Next 12 Months
  -----------------------------------
  How Much Own Home's Value will Increase       6%        10%        10%
  (Median number based on homeowners who
   expect their home to increase in value
   in next 12 months)                         ---        ---        ---
  ---------------------------------------
  How Much Own Home's Value will Decrease      10%        10%        20%
  (Median number based on homeowners who
   expect their home to decrease in value
   in next 12 months)                         ---        ---        ---
  ---------------------------------------
  Homeowner Perception of the Timing of
   the Real Estate Market Bottom
  -------------------------------------
  The Housing Market Has Already Hit
   Bottom                                      38%        39%        36%
  ----------------------------------          ---        ---        ---
  The Housing Market Has Not Yet Reached
   Bottom                                      33%        35%        32%
  --------------------------------------      ---        ---        ---
  I Don't Know When the Housing Market
   Will Reach Bottom                           29%        26%        32%
  ------------------------------------        ---        ---        ---





  Homeowner Perception of Home Value Change in
   Past Year by Region                           South   West
  --------------------------------------------   -----   ----
  My Home's Value Has Decreased                      47%     65%
  -----------------------------                     ---     ---
  My Home's Value Has Stayed the Same                25%     15%
  -----------------------------------               ---     ---
  My Home's Value Has Increased                      28%     20%
  -----------------------------                     ---     ---
  Market Reality: Homes Reporting Year-over-
   Year Value Changes in Q2, according to
   Zillow
  ------------------------------------------
  Actual Percent of Homes that Decreased             65%     58%
  --------------------------------------            ---     ---
  Actual Percent of Homes that Stayed the Same
   (+/-1%)                                            7%      7%
  --------------------------------------------      ---     ---
  Actual Percent of Homes that Increased             28%     35%
  --------------------------------------            ---     ---
  Q2 2010 Home Value Misperception Index(v)           8     -15
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---
  Q1 2010 Home Value Misperception Index             14     -12
  --------------------------------------            ---     ---
  Q2 2009 Home Value Misperception Index             18       7
  --------------------------------------            ---     ---
  Homeowner Perception of Local Market Value in
   Next Six Months
  ---------------------------------------------
  Home Values In Local Market Will Decrease          28%     26%
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---
  Home Values In Local Market Will Stay the
   Same                                              41%     36%
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---
  Home Values In Local Market Will Increase          31%     38%
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---
  Homeowner Appreciation Expectations over the
   Next 12 Months
  --------------------------------------------
  How Much Own Home's Value will Increase             5%     10%
  (Median number based on homeowners who expect
   their home to increase in value in next 12
   months)                                          ---     ---
  ---------------------------------------------
  How Much Own Home's Value will Decrease            10%     10%
  (Median number based on homeowners who expect
   their home to decrease in value in next 12
   months)                                          ---     ---
  ---------------------------------------------
  Homeowner Perception of the Timing of the
   Real Estate Market Bottom
  -----------------------------------------
  The Housing Market Has Already Hit Bottom          37%     40%
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---
  The Housing Market Has Not Yet Reached Bottom      33%     32%
  ---------------------------------------------     ---     ---
  I Don't Know When the Housing Market Will
   Reach Bottom                                      30%     29%
  -----------------------------------------         ---     ---

  (NOTE: Column percentages may not total 100 percent due to rounding)
Long-term home value expectations vary by region


Looking further into the future, the majority of homeowners believe their own homes' values will either increase (27 percent) or stay the same (35 percent) in the next 12 months, while 12 percent expect a decrease and 26 percent don't know.

Of those who expect their home's value to increase, the median expectation is a rise of 6 percent, although that varies by geography. Northeastern and Western homeowners who expect an increase anticipate a median rise of 10 percent, while Southern and Midwestern homeowners expect a median increase of 5 percent. Those who expect their home's value to decrease in the next year anticipate a median decrease of 10 percent.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LendingTree.com Weekly Mortgage Rate Pulse Reports Rates Fall to New Lows

LendingTree lowest rates for Georgia - 3.88% (4.01% APR)

/PRNewswire/ -- Mortgage rates fell to new lows this week, according to the LendingTree Weekly Mortgage Rate Pulse, a snapshot of the lowest and average mortgage rates available within the LendingTree network of lenders.

On August 17, lenders on the LendingTree network offered mortgage rates as low as 4.00 percent (4.13% APR) for a 30-year fixed mortgage, 3.5 percent (3.85% APR) for a 15-year fixed mortgage and 2.875 percent (3.41% APR) for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). Rates fell one eighth of a point week-over-week for all product types.

Average home loan rates offered by lenders on the LendingTree network were 4.52 percent (4.70% APR) for 30-year fixed mortgages, 4.14 percent (4.43% APR) for 15-year fixed mortgages and 3.48 percent (3.72% APR) for 5/1 ARMs.

"The current rate spread has widened to 108 basis points or 1.08%, approaching the high of 111 basis points we reached at the end of July," said Cameron Findlay, Chief Economist of LendingTree.com. "For perspective, the median spread this year has been 74 basis points. So consumers in the market for a home loan should really be doing their homework to ensure they're getting the best possible deal before locking in a rate. Spreads this wide provide an opportunity for borrowers to take control by using sites like LendingTree.com to negotiate with multiple lenders."

Below is a state-by-state comparison of mortgage data including a snapshot of the lowest 30-year fixed rates offered by lenders on the LendingTree network, average loan-to-value ratio and percentage of consumers with negative equity.

Additional refinance mortgage rates are available at http://www.lendingtree.com/mortgage-loans/rates/.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Fannie Mae Clarifies Undisclosed Liabilities Policy

/PRNewswire/ -- Fannie Mae (OTC Bulletin Board: FNMA) today issued Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2010-11, which clarifies that lenders are not required to obtain a second credit report just before loan closing. Rather, Fannie Mae is reminding lenders to have processes in place to facilitate borrower disclosure of changes in financial circumstances throughout the origination process.

"This is an important update, because every mortgage loan delivered to Fannie Mae has to be underwritten to establish that the borrower is able to repay the debt," said Deborah Slade-Horsey, Vice President for Single-Family Risk Policy. "Our primary objectives are to support borrowers' ability to sustain homeownership and to strike a reasonable balance between requirements that may reduce loan repurchases and requirements that might over-burden lenders' origination processes."

The updated policy reminds lenders that Fannie Mae expects them to have processes in place to facilitate borrower disclosure of changes in financial circumstances throughout the origination process. It also provides an expanded debt-to-income (DTI) ratio tolerance that will lead to fewer loans having to be re-underwritten.

Lenders will only be required to re-underwrite a loan after the initial underwriting decision has been made if the borrower discloses or the lender discovers changes that cause the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to exceed 45% or to increase by 3 percentage points or more.

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America's secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Hit 4th Record in a Row!

/PRNewswire/ -- Mortgage rates moved lower this week, with the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate hitting another record low of 4.57 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.48 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage retreated to 4.06 percent, and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate dropped to 5.27 percent, both record lows. Adjustable rate mortgages were mixed, with the average 3-year ARM nosing higher to 4.18 percent and the average 5-year ARM dipping to 3.92 percent.

The latest decline in mortgage rates followed a poor jobs report for July and the Federal Reserve's announcement about reinvesting bond proceeds in order to juice the economy. By reinvesting in more government bonds, the Fed aims to keep rates near these ultra-low levels. But low rates alone won't revive the housing market as would-be borrowers remain worried about job loss, don't have equity in their homes, or lack sufficient money for a downpayment.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At that time, the average rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.57 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,021.71, a savings of $220 per month for a homeowner refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS
30-year fixed: 4.57% -- down from 4.66% last week (avg. points: 0.48)
15-year fixed: 4.06% -- down from 4.11% last week (avg. points: 0.42)
5/1 ARM: 3.92% -- down from 3.95% last week (avg. points: 0.28)

Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week's move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/.

The survey is complemented by Bankrate's weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. Nearly half of the panelists, 47 percent, say mortgage rates aren't headed anywhere and will remain more or less unchanged. But 40 percent forecast still lower mortgage rates and just 13 percent predict mortgage rates will rise in the next week.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center Opens in Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Fannie Mae (OTC Bulletin Board: FNMA) today announced the opening of a new mortgage help center in Atlanta to provide counseling and other services for struggling homeowners in the greater metro area with loans owned by Fannie Mae. The Atlanta Mortgage Help Center is the third facility and fourth announced partnership in a series of planned nationwide mortgage help centers. Fannie Mae is partnering on this initiative with Forest Park-based The D&;E Group, A Financial Education and Training Institute, Inc., major mortgage servicers, and civic and community leaders from across the region.

At the center, borrowers will meet directly with dedicated on-site English- and Spanish-speaking staff and experienced housing counselors to discuss their mortgage situation. These face-to-face meetings will help borrowers better understand the range of foreclosure prevention options available to them and help them to better manage their relationship with their servicer.

"A common misconception is that foreclosure is the only option, and in reality foreclosure doesn't have to be an option," said Jeff Hayward, Fannie Mae's Senior Vice President, National Servicing Organization. "We are opening the Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center in Atlanta to provide distressed homeowners in the area the resources necessary to stay in their homes including free access to high quality counseling and in-person resolution of their particular mortgage circumstances. For those who do not qualify for a modification or other solution, our counselors will work with the servicer and homeowner to arrange a graceful exit from the property, which may include assistance with relocation costs. Homeowners who are struggling to make mortgage payments or who anticipate financial hardship should know that our doors are open for them."

Counselors will provide a full range of services, which include reviewing a borrower's loan, discussing foreclosure alternatives, collecting the required documents for the federal Making Home Affordable Program and providing help to finalize any pending loan workout efforts. Fannie Mae and The D&E Group will provide information and clarify expectations for the foreclosure prevention process. Efforts will be made to counteract local scams and groups that charge fees for modifications and foreclosure prevention services.

"The Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center offers counseling, information and tools necessary to help homeowners avoid foreclosure," said Carrie Harris, President and Founder, The D&E Group. "Struggling homeowners should seek counseling through the center or a HUD-approved counseling agency and guard against scams by avoiding any individual or business who promises a modification for a fee."

The center is only for borrowers who have a mortgage held by Fannie Mae. Homeowners can determine if Fannie Mae owns their loan by visiting www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup or by contacting Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE. Homeowners who do not have loans owned by Fannie Mae can contact the Homeowner's HOPE(TM) Hotline at 888-995-HOPE.

The center is available by appointment only and borrowers wishing to schedule a visit should call (866) 442-8573 or E-mail atlanta_mhc@fanniemae.com.

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America's secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Negative Equity Falls in Second Quarter, But National Home Values Continue to Decline

/PRNewswire/ -- Home values in the United States continued to decline in the second quarter of 2010, with the Zillow Home Value Index(1) falling 3.2 percent year-over-year and 0.6 percent from the first quarter to $182,500. The national rate of decline decelerated from the first quarter, marking the second consecutive quarter of slowing declines, and negative equity(2) fell to 21.5 percent, according to the second quarter Zillow Real Estate Market Reports(3).

Negative equity, which refers to the percentage of single-family homeowners with mortgages who are underwater, fell from 23.3 percent in the first quarter, and from 23 percent one year ago.

Conditions varied among individual markets across the country. In California, where both federal and state tax credits are available to some homebuyers, more than a quarter (27.8 percent) of markets tracked by Zillow saw increases in home values in the past year. Home values in five California markets have increased for the past five quarters, and four of those have increased by more than 5 percent since the second quarter of 2009. The Zillow Home Value Index was up 7.3 percent year-over-year in the San Diego metropolitan statistical area (MSA); up 5.9 percent in the San Francisco MSA; up 5.6 percent in the San Jose MSA; and up 5.5 percent in the Los Angeles MSA.

Meanwhile, home values in Florida and Arizona continued to show dramatic declines, with home values in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale MSA falling 15.2 percent year-over-year and home values in the Phoenix MSA falling 11.8 percent.

"As the national housing market limps toward stabilization, individual markets are a mixed bag," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "The double tax credits for some California homebuyers have certainly stimulated housing demand there and are partly responsible for the rapid - and likely unsustainable - rates of appreciation in many markets across the state. While there is some uncertainty about how home values will respond in those markets once all incentives are removed, it's certain they can't continue at their current rates of appreciation, but is unlikely they will re-test the low points reached in 2009.

"Markets in other parts of the country, like Miami and Phoenix, are not yet showing signs of reaching a bottom in home values. High supply continues to be a challenge in states like Florida and Arizona.

"Nationally, home values are moving in the right direction as rates of decline continue to slow. There is a large unknown on the horizon, however, as these second quarter numbers are still heavily influenced by the federal homebuyer tax credits, which were available for homes under contract by the end of April. Home sales are declining significantly in the post-tax credits environment, but the impact of falling home sales on already-declining home values is yet to be seen. Recent trends in home values suggest the nation could reach a bottom in the latter half of 2010, but we continue to be cautious about the impact of declining home sales."

Foreclosures(4) again reached a new peak in June, with more than one out of every 1,000 (0.11 percent) U.S. homes being foreclosed upon during the month.

Foreclosure re-sales(5) fell in June, making up 16.9 percent of all U.S. home sales during the month, down from a 2010 high of 19.8 percent in February. Foreclosure re-sales continued to be high in most markets hit hardest by value declines. For example, they made up 55.8 percent of June sales in the El Centro, Calif. MSA, 54.6 percent in the Madera, Calif. MSA and 53.6 percent in the Merced, Calif. MSA. Additionally, more than one-fourth (26 percent) of home sales nationwide sold for less than what the seller originally paid.

Metropolitan
        Statistical                Zillow Home Value Index
                                Areas
                                -----
                            June       QoQ       YoY     Change   Negative
                              2010   Change    Change     from    Equity*
                                                 ------     Peak      ----
                                                            ----
  United States           $182,460      -0.6%     -3.2%    -23.9%     21.5%
  Akron, OH               $117,213       0.4%     -2.7%    -14.1%     26.1%
  Albany, NY              $188,323       1.5%     -1.1%     -5.8%     10.7%
  Allentown, PA           $191,234      -0.3%     -1.7%    -16.0%     16.8%
  Anderson, SC             $99,300       1.5%      2.4%     -9.6%      n/a
  Ann Arbor, MI           $157,432      -1.2%    -10.6%    -32.2%     33.0%
  Atlanta, GA             $142,461      -1.9%     -6.0%    -22.2%     31.5%
  Atlantic City, NJ       $200,906      -0.3%     -5.0%    -27.2%     20.2%
  Augusta, GA             $107,414       1.1%     -6.4%     -8.3%     14.5%
  Bakersfield, CA         $136,554       1.9%     -1.4%    -50.5%     44.6%
  Baltimore, MD           $238,527      -1.1%     -5.1%    -19.2%     19.0%
  Bellingham, WA          $255,500       0.6%     -1.3%    -10.1%      n/a
  Bend, OR                $167,531      -2.7%    -21.8%    -52.6%     40.3%
  Boston, MA              $331,568       3.2%      3.4%    -16.8%      8.3%
  Boulder, CO             $312,583       2.1%     -0.4%     -1.9%      9.9%
  Bremerton, WA           $249,020      -1.0%     -4.3%    -19.0%     18.6%
  Canton, OH              $102,763      -0.2%     -1.7%    -13.6%     23.6%
  Cape Cod, MA            $318,026       0.4%     -2.8%    -22.7%      6.9%
  Champaign-Urbana, IL    $131,512       0.7%     -2.2%     -3.9%     11.1%
  Charleston, SC          $170,039       0.0%     -5.1%    -15.7%     22.0%
  Charlotte, NC           $148,985       0.1%     -4.0%    -10.4%     27.3%
  Chattanooga, TN         $126,967      -2.6%     -2.1%     -4.7%      n/a
  Chicago, IL             $196,987       1.6%     -4.4%    -27.2%     28.9%
  Chico, CA               $203,749       2.9%     -0.4%    -32.1%     24.7%
  Cleveland, OH           $119,716       1.5%     -1.3%    -16.4%     28.8%
  Cleveland, TN           $123,000       2.8%      0.5%     -6.0%      n/a
  Colorado Springs, CO    $189,793      -0.0%     -2.0%     -7.4%     28.4%
  Columbia, SC            $122,065       0.0%     -2.1%     -5.7%     17.3%
  Columbus, OH            $137,578      -0.3%     -2.8%     -8.4%     26.4%
  Corvallis, OR           $244,300       0.8%     -4.4%     -9.6%      n/a
  Cumberland, MD           $83,500      3.57%     2.10%      0.0%      n/a
  Dayton, OH              $102,713      -0.2%     -3.1%    -12.9%     22.6%
  Daytona Beach, FL       $108,300      -1.7%    -12.8%    -51.4%      n/a
  Denver, CO              $215,969       1.0%      2.5%     -7.4%     29.1%
  Des Moines, IA          $144,550       2.3%     -0.1%     -2.8%     18.6%
  Destin, FL              $159,290       0.3%     -3.8%    -37.3%     37.8%
  Detroit, MI              $87,147      -1.6%    -14.3%    -46.0%     31.4%
  Durham, NC              $180,886       2.3%      3.6%      0.0%      8.4%
  El Centro, CA           $112,086      -2.2%    -11.3%    -56.3%     57.5%
  Eugene, OR              $193,793      -1.8%     -6.3%    -16.8%     12.8%
  Fayetteville, NC        $114,036      -0.7%     -7.0%     -7.0%     11.5%
  Flagstaff, AZ           $254,385      -3.4%     -9.8%    -29.5%     19.9%
  Fort Collins, CO        $219,522       1.2%      1.2%     -3.1%     13.0%
  Fort Myers, FL          $120,479      -0.1%     -6.5%    -60.2%     51.9%
  Fresno, CA              $153,117      -0.4%     -4.7%    -47.8%     38.5%
  Gainesville, FL         $146,253       1.8%     -7.8%    -23.2%     22.6%
  Grand Junction, CO      $177,344      -4.2%    -12.6%    -20.8%     31.2%
  Grand Rapids, MI        $116,111      -0.6%     -0.4%    -18.3%     33.0%
  Green Bay, WI           $142,896       0.2%     -0.7%     -5.2%     15.7%
  Greensboro, NC          $125,125      -0.4%     -5.3%    -12.1%     11.7%
  Greenville, SC          $132,853       2.3%     -0.4%     -1.8%     11.6%
  Hanford, CA             $118,400       1.1%    -14.7%    -45.4%      n/a
  Hartford, CT            $224,393       2.2%      1.4%     -9.9%      8.3%
  Jackson, TN              $95,800       2.1%      0.7%     -3.4%      n/a
  Jacksonville, FL        $136,265      -3.2%    -10.7%    -34.6%     49.8%
  Jacksonville, NC        $140,700      -0.4%      0.5%     -0.5%      n/a
  Johnson City, TN        $110,100       2.6%     -3.6%    -14.3%      n/a
  Knoxville, TN           $134,741       1.7%     -4.4%     -6.3%      9.4%
  Lakeland, FL             $99,695      -5.3%    -13.9%    -47.1%     55.7%
  Lancaster, PA           $178,064       1.1%     -3.2%     -7.2%      8.0%
  Las Vegas, NV           $128,183      -0.4%    -12.4%    -58.1%     73.9%
  Lincoln, NE             $134,914      -0.4%     -0.1%     -5.5%     12.7%
  Little Rock, AR         $128,012       4.0%      4.4%      0.0%      9.6%
  Los Angeles, CA         $425,425       2.2%      5.5%    -29.7%     16.9%
  Madera, CA              $151,759       7.8%     -0.5%    -51.6%     38.4%
  Madison, WI             $203,332      -0.7%     -3.6%    -14.8%     12.2%
  Medford, OR             $179,433      -0.5%     -7.7%    -37.9%     37.4%
  Melbourne, FL           $112,654      -4.5%     -9.6%    -51.6%     43.0%
  Memphis, TN             $105,058      -0.7%     -4.2%    -14.3%     33.7%
  Merced, CA              $110,719       1.2%      1.4%    -67.9%     40.0%
  Miami-Fort
   Lauderdale, FL         $146,458      -6.6%    -15.2%    -52.4%     44.0%
  Milwaukee, WI           $178,517       1.9%     -6.0%    -13.0%     22.0%
  Minneapolis-St Paul,
   MN                     $185,783      -0.2%     -3.1%    -24.3%     36.6%
  Mobile, AL              $105,480      -4.1%    -11.7%    -20.2%     13.3%
  Modesto, CA             $146,391       2.2%      0.4%    -60.0%     57.5%
  Morristown, TN           $98,700       0.8%     -6.6%    -20.7%      n/a
  Mount Vernon, WA        $211,100      -2.7%    -13.4%    -23.4%      n/a
  Napa, CA                $360,562       0.9%     -5.1%    -41.1%     37.2%
  Naples, FL              $216,628       0.5%     -3.7%    -52.0%     38.5%
  Nashville, TN           $150,378      -1.6%     -6.2%     -9.6%     18.1%
  New Haven, CT           $231,106       2.1%      0.5%    -15.9%     10.5%
  New London, CT          $225,420       2.2%      1.8%    -13.1%     10.6%
  New York, NY            $363,239      -0.5%     -2.1%    -20.9%     13.5%
  Ocala, FL               $101,072      -4.1%    -15.2%    -42.8%     37.7%
  Oklahoma City, OK       $119,257       4.6%      5.0%      0.0%      6.1%
  Olympia, WA             $232,744       0.2%     -4.2%    -10.8%     20.8%
  Omaha, NE               $139,666      -4.8%     -7.0%     -8.2%     13.6%
  Orlando, FL             $124,483      -1.3%    -13.8%    -51.7%     64.6%
  Panama City, FL         $150,500      -0.3%     -4.9%    -42.5%     31.1%
  Pensacola, FL           $123,252      -2.2%     -3.7%    -24.5%     32.1%
  Philadelphia, PA        $208,639      -0.3%      0.0%    -11.0%     10.6%
  Phoenix, AZ             $137,113      -3.6%    -11.8%    -51.1%     66.8%
  Pittsburgh, PA          $107,164       1.1%     -2.8%     -5.1%      5.6%
  Pittsfield, MA          $194,900       2.5%      1.7%    -11.2%      n/a
  Port St. Lucie, FL      $111,812      -4.9%     -9.7%    -55.9%     55.0%
  Portland, OR            $230,165      -0.9%     -7.1%    -22.3%     22.6%
  Poughkeepsie, NY        $232,640      -2.2%     -8.6%    -26.1%     12.5%
  Prescott, AZ            $189,774      -1.7%     -6.7%    -38.6%     28.2%
  Providence, RI          $219,102      -1.2%     -4.3%    -28.0%      n/a
  Pueblo, CO              $108,010      -1.1%     -1.7%    -13.0%     29.3%
  Punta Gorda, FL         $121,989      -1.4%      1.4%    -48.2%     38.3%
  Raleigh, NC             $182,578       0.0%     -6.8%    -11.8%     20.1%
  Reading, PA             $163,441       0.9%      0.7%     -9.0%      9.4%
  Reno, NV                $181,576      -1.1%     -9.0%    -49.4%     61.9%
  Richmond, VA            $200,111       1.6%     -2.5%    -11.4%     17.4%
  Riverside, CA           $194,562       1.5%     -0.8%    -51.7%     49.0%
  Rochester, NY           $123,158       2.1%      2.8%      0.0%      9.3%
  Rockford, IL            $109,214       1.2%     -2.1%    -11.6%     16.3%
  Sacramento, CA          $234,655       1.0%     -2.0%    -43.2%     38.1%
  Salem, OR               $178,122       0.8%     -4.5%    -16.2%     20.4%
  Salinas, CA             $303,697      -0.1%      0.6%    -56.0%     33.6%
  Salisbury, MD           $143,900      -3.2%     -9.8%    -21.1%      n/a
  San Diego, CA           $378,798       2.9%      7.3%    -29.7%     20.4%
  San Francisco, CA       $528,861       2.0%      5.9%    -25.1%     19.6%
  San Jose, CA            $590,686       3.2%      5.6%    -20.7%     13.8%
  San Luis Obispo, CA     $400,845      -0.8%     -4.0%    -33.3%     17.7%
  Santa Barbara, CA       $449,368       1.0%      4.2%    -33.1%     22.9%
  Santa Cruz, CA          $507,115      -0.3%     -4.1%    -30.6%     16.9%
  Santa Rosa, CA          $374,313       3.6%      1.9%    -36.8%     15.8%
  Sarasota, FL            $150,175      -0.6%     -4.4%    -51.2%     45.4%
  Seattle, WA             $288,942      -1.3%     -5.9%    -24.3%     25.0%
  Spartanburg, SC         $105,521       0.6%     -2.7%     -2.9%     12.7%
  Spokane, WA             $158,933       1.4%     -2.6%    -15.5%     20.0%
  Springfield, OH          $91,800     -1.59%    -3.52%    -10.6%      n/a
  Springfield, MA         $190,256       0.7%     -2.3%    -12.0%      7.2%
  St. Louis, MO           $141,073       1.6%     -3.3%    -10.5%     18.3%
  Stamford, CT            $393,151       1.6%     -0.2%    -21.1%      9.6%
  Stockton, CA            $163,039       2.6%     -0.3%    -60.3%     53.5%
  Sumter, SC              $100,500       1.9%     -1.7%    -14.2%      n/a
  Tallahassee, FL         $149,118      -3.4%     -7.2%    -18.3%     32.9%
  Tampa, FL               $118,670      -0.1%     -8.2%    -45.1%     45.3%
  Toledo, OH               $93,489      -0.3%     -4.7%    -23.2%     26.5%
  Tucson, AZ              $160,341      -0.5%     -6.4%    -31.7%     41.4%
  Tulsa, OK               $117,135       0.9%      2.6%      0.0%      6.1%
  Utica, NY                $99,710       2.8%      1.7%     -5.0%      8.4%
  Vallejo, CA             $217,225       3.9%     -2.6%    -54.1%     49.7%
  Ventura, CA             $418,875       1.2%      3.7%    -33.3%     18.9%
  Vero Beach, FL          $121,439      -1.1%     -8.5%    -48.6%     42.5%
  Visalia, CA             $136,442      -1.7%     -6.7%    -44.1%     37.5%
  Washington, DC          $330,573       1.0%      1.8%    -24.2%     25.0%
  Winston-Salem, NC       $134,546       2.4%      1.6%     -2.9%     10.1%
  Worcester, MA           $214,437       1.2%     -0.8%    -24.6%     20.2%
  Yakima, WA              $137,586      -0.3%     -2.3%     -3.7%      7.2%
  York, PA                $154,688      -0.3%     -2.6%    -13.5%     15.1%
  Yuba City, CA           $153,200       1.4%     -5.2%    -51.3%      n/a
  Yuma, AZ                $124,500      -1.0%    -10.3%    -33.2%      n/a
  --------                --------      ----     -----     -----       ---
  *Negative equity refers to the percent of single-family
   homeowners with mortgages
  -------------------------------------------------------


(1) The Zillow Home Value Index is the median Zestimate valuation for a given geographic area on a given day and includes the value of all single-family residences, condominiums and cooperatives, regardless of whether they sold within a given period. The Home Value Index at the national level is calculated using a weighted average of the median home value for each county and includes data from 440 metropolitan statistical areas. It is expressed in dollars and is for a particular geographic region.

(2) Negative equity is calculated of all single-family homes with mortgages. Zillow began calculating negative equity with this methodology in the first quarter of 2009.

(3) The data in Zillow's Real Estate Market Reports is aggregated from public sources by a number of data providers for 124 Metropolitan Statistical Areas dating back to 1996. Mortgage and home loan data is typically recorded in each county and publicly available through a county recorder's office.

(4) Foreclosures are defined as a Trustee's Deed Upon Sale or equivalent transaction.

(5) Foreclosure re-sales capture mostly sales of bank-owned (REO) homes. It measures sales of homes that were foreclosed on in the previous 12 months.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Lifestyles Directors Help Set Active Adult Community Apart from Competition

With a 28,000 square-foot clubhouse equipped with two on-site lifestyle directors, Soleil Laurel Canyon can sometimes feel like year-round camp for grownups.

Lifestyle Director Sue Dean was brought on board in 2008 to help coordinate the community’s more than 50 social clubs and numerous events such as Jazz on the Lawn and happy hours that take place at the resort-inspired community throughout the course of a month.

“You can buy a home anywhere, but what sets this community apart is the diversity of events that are available for our residents,” said Dean, who is on-site Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as after-hours for community events.

With tremendous growth in sales over the last few months Active Lifestyle Communities (ALC), the developer of Soleil Laurel Canyon, recently brought on its second lifestyle director, making the community one of few in the country that boasts two such directors.

“I absolutely love being here,” said Laura Mahoney, who began working in the community in April. “Not only are we appreciated by the residents of the community, but we are also appreciated by ALC for the work we do. It’s great that we can help our residents always feel like they are on vacation.”

Dean recommended Mahoney for the position when it became available. The two met while attending event planning school together at Kennesaw State University a few years back.

“We needed a person like Laura here,” said Dean. “She has the absolute right personality for the job and the residents just love her.”

With hospitality and real estate backgrounds, the two have a great understanding of how to not only work with existing residents, but also prospects as well.

“Sue and Laura both understand the importance of making our residents and prospects feel comfortable by including them in well planned activities and events,” said Jay Clark, a partner in ALC and president of Southeast Capital Companies. “Residents don’t necessarily have to participate in every club or event, but having two quality lifestyle directors like we do, definitely allows our residents to feel more welcomed.”

Unlike the traditional active adult community, Soleil Laurel Canyon includes activities and clubs for every lifestyle. Residents can often be found in the community’s clubhouse in its billiards parlor, gourmet teaching kitchen, library, card-playing room, media room, fitness center and arts or crafts studio complete with kilns. A heated indoor saline pool along with an outdoor lagoon-style pool also allows residents to swim all year long.

Nestled in Soleil Laurel Canyon’s expansive property are walking trails, bocce ball courts, six lighted clay tennis courts, a greenhouse and horticulture center and an outdoor amphitheatre.

Soleil Laurel Canyon’s 50 plus social clubs include “Les Marmitons” an international men’s gourmet cooking club, a garden club, quilting club and many more. Most recently, Soleil added a men’s breakfast group, various book clubs and chess club to name a few. For a full list of clubs, activities and classes, visit www.SoleilLaurelCanyon.com.

About Soleil and ALC:
Active Lifestyle Communities (ALC) is a partnership between Southeast Capital Companies (formerly Southeast Capital Partners) and Patrick Malloy Communities. The Company purchased Soleil Laurel Canton in an all-cash transaction with the plan to invest $28 million. Residents of the neighborhood’s 248 homes enjoy exceptional amenities including a 28,000 sq. ft. clubhouse with a heated indoor saline pool, billiards parlor, gourmet teaching kitchen, fitness center and aerobics studio, library, card rooms and an arts and crafts studio. A performing arts center, outdoor amphitheatre, outdoor lagoon-style pool, tennis courts, walking trails, greenhouse and neighboring golf course complete the resort-style environment. To learn more visit: www.soleilLaurelCanyon.com.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Continue to Drop

/PRNewswire/ -- Mortgage rates moved even lower this week, with the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate hitting a record low of 4.66 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.42 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages/

The average 15-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.11 percent, and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate remained at 5.43 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were mixed, with the average 5-year ARM sliding to 3.95 percent and the average 1-year ARM remaining at 4.80 percent.

Mortgage rates hit yet another record low as worries about weak economic growth just won't go away. Recent speculation that the Federal Reserve may resume measures such as purchasing mortgage-backed bonds or government debt - perhaps as soon as next week's FOMC meeting - helped bring rates lower. Whether or not the Fed pursues such a course likely hinges on the July jobs report to be released Aug. 6. Even without any action by the Fed, the next move in mortgage rates is also pegged to the employment report.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At that time, the average rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.66 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,032.47, a savings of $209 per month for a homeowner refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS
30-year fixed: 4.66% -- down from 4.71% last week (avg. points: 0.42)
15-year fixed: 4.11% -- down from 4.17% last week (avg. points: 0.40)
5/1 ARM: 3.95% -- down from 4.07% last week (avg. points: 0.30)



Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Near Majority Want Housing Tax Credit

(PR.com)-- Close to a majority of those surveyed said they want the federal tax credit for home buyers to be re-established by Congress to re-stimulate the housing market. The finding was determined by a just released Housing Predictor opinion poll.

Nearly half of all respondents or 48% said they want the tax incentive to be re-started. Another 25% said it would be best to bulldoze a surplus number of mostly old and vacant homes to help markets recover from their record downturn. Get the full details on the opinion poll at Housing Predictor dot com.

Housing Predictor is an independent real estate research firm that’s been forecasting housing markets in all 50 states for five years, surveying visitors on the latest trends and hop topics in real estate and providing the latest in real estate news.

The website just also added a new feature, inviting visitors to express your views by writing an article to be published on the site. Submit your news to Housing Predictor.

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Operation HOPE Launches Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline at New Regional Offices in Downtown Atlanta

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to the ongoing financial struggles of middle- and low-income Americans, John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the economic empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE (HOPE) announced the regional launch of the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and the HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline in the Atlanta area. The toll-free hotline at 888-388-HOPE (4673) provides free financial counseling to those faced with mortgage and credit challenges.

“With the unemployment rates not getting any better, the effects of the sub-prime mortgage crisis not yet behind us and credit card interest rates soaring, the next financial crisis to hit this nation will be dealing with budgeting, credit and credit cards”

“With the unemployment rates not getting any better, the effects of the sub-prime mortgage crisis not yet behind us and credit card interest rates soaring, the next financial crisis to hit this nation will be dealing with budgeting, credit and credit cards,” said Bryant, the business bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World.

According to Federal Reserve estimates, the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans surpassed a record $960 billion in 2009 and is increasing quickly as more people rely on credit cards to help them survive. What’s worse is that credit card defaults are estimated to be well over 10 percent.

The toll-free hotlines provide free support in the areas of consumer credit and mortgages. The Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline staff is certified in foreclosure intervention and default counseling and the HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline staff members are certified personal finance counselors. Counselors for the hotlines are experienced and trained to provide guidance on a variety of different financial topics including negotiating with your lender, applying for loan modifications, avoiding foreclosure, restructuring your existing debt and obligations, negotiating with your creditor and credit, debt and budgeting support. The Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline has already received 100,000 calls and assisted in over $360 million in modified loans.

Operation HOPE has had a presence in the Southeastern Region since 2004. Through their youth financial literacy educational program Banking on Our Future, HOPE has educated over 20,000 students in Atlanta area public schools in the “language of money” involving over 1250 HOPE Corps volunteers. In addition, HOPE Coalition America has provided emergency and disaster recovery support to the region, helping 130,000 survivors of Hurricane Katrina as well as victims from Hurricanes Ike, Gustav and the Georgia Floods of 2009.

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