Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Countrywide Announces a $16 Billion Comprehensive Home Preservation Program

This is a republished article by John Lopez:

Enhanced focus on rate resets will benefit more than 80,000 borrowers -

CALABASAS, Calif., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Countrywide Financial Corporation CFC today announced a comprehensive home preservation program to reach out to borrowers at-risk of default. Countrywide will launch an outbound calling initiative to refinance or modify up to $16 billion of Countrywide loans for borrowers who are facing an adjustable-rate mortgage reset through the end of 2008.

"Countrywide is committed to helping its customers sustain homeownership," said David Sambol, President and Chief Operating Officer of Countrywide. "Unprecedented times call for unprecedented remedies. We are determined to assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes, but need a little help to do it."

"Countrywide believes that none of our subprime borrowers that have demonstrated the ability to make payments should lose their home to foreclosure solely as a result of a rate reset," said Sambol. "This is yet another step in our continuing effort to identify and improve existing programs that assist our customers."

Countrywide will offer tailored solutions to its borrowers to proactively address the rising foreclosure rate. Dedicated teams of Countrywide specialists will contact customers who are current in their payments and approaching a rate reset to ascertain the borrowers circumstances and advise them about refinance and home preservation options.

Countrywide's new and enhanced programs include:

Refinance Program

-- For Countrywide borrowers currently in a subprime loan with a strong payment history, a special refinance unit has been created to contact approximately 52,000 borrowers to offer refinance options. The company has identified and will work to refinance approximately $10 billion of mortgages. For this group, Countrywide will offer borrowers options to refinance into prime or FHA loans. For those with credit issues, Countrywide will offer Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac's expanded criteria programs. Countrywide has a strong track record of successfully transitioning borrowers from subprime products to prime loans. Year-to-date, more than 31,000 borrowers have refinanced to prime fixed rate loans totaling more than $5 billion.

Modification Program

-- Countrywide is working to identify and contact prime and subprime borrowers who are current but unable to qualify for a refinance and are likely to have difficulty affording an upcoming reset. Countrywide will supplement its early notification letter to borrowers by calling no later than three months prior to the reset to determine their financial circumstances and develop affordable solutions. As a result of this initiative, Countrywide will successfully modify $4.0 billion in loans for approximately 20,000 borrowers in an existing adjustable rate mortgage through the end of 2008.

Additionally, for subprime borrowers who are currently delinquent and are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of a recent reset, Countrywide has implemented a simplified loan modification process. Countrywide is in the process of sending letters to these borrowers offering a pre-determined, pre- approved rate reduction. It is anticipated that 10,000 additional borrowers, totaling $2.2 billion, will receive modifications through this initiative by year-end.

Home Preservation Efforts

So far this year, Countrywide's existing home preservation efforts have
helped more than 40,000 borrowers stay in their homes including the
completion of 20,000 loan modifications. Countrywide's comprehensive
efforts help borrowers facing financing difficulty. These include:

-- 2,700 highly-trained home retention specialists that work with delinquent borrowers by providing payment alternatives in order to help them retain their homes.

-- Countrywide borrowers with an impending rate reset are sent a letter 180, 90 and 45 days prior to the rate increase to ensure that borrowers understand their options.

-- Outreach to distressed homeowners in their own communities by setting up face-to-face meetings through various means; hosting seminars around the country to help borrowers avoid foreclosure; participating in foreclosure prevention workshops, teaching them about possible foreclosure scams; and offering loan workouts on- site.

-- Working with non-profit and community groups across the country to create grassroots efforts to contact and counsel distressed borrowers, particularly in communities that are experiencing unusually high foreclosure rates.

Countrywide encourages consumers who face an increase in their mortgage payment or fear falling behind on their payments for any reason to call the Countrywide home retention team at 800-669-6650.

About Countrywide

Founded in 1969, Countrywide Financial Corporation is a diversified financial services provider and a member of the S&P 500, Forbes 2000 and Fortune 500. Through its family of companies, Countrywide originates, purchases, securitizes, sells, and services residential and commercial loans; provides loan closing services such as credit reports, appraisals and flood determinations; offers banking services which include depository and home loan products; conducts fixed income securities underwriting and trading activities; provides property, life and casualty insurance; and manages a captive mortgage reinsurance company. For more information about the Company, visit Countrywide's website at http://www.countrywide.com.

Housing bust takes big toll on Realtors

3,500 left real estate industry in Michigan in the last year alone.
Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News
STERLING HEIGHTS -- Thousands of Michigan real estate agents -- some with decades of experience -- are getting squeezed out of the business, casualties of one of the worst housing slumps in state history.
Agents who prospered a few years ago, when consumers' appetite for real estate seemed insatiable, now are struggling or switching careers.
Michigan agents say a lack of home buyers for the glut of houses on the market is driving them from the business. Those who do manage to move a property are realizing lower commissions as a result of dampened real estate prices.
In the last year alone, the Michigan Association of Realtors has lost 10 percent of its membership, or about 3,500 agents. Membership now stands at about 30,000, the trade group said. An untold number of agents have taken second jobs to weather the slump or have put their licenses in "escrow," basically not using them until the market turns around.
Metro Detroit has been among the regions worst hit by the housing slowdown, which started in Michigan in late 2005 and hit the rest of the nation early this year. In September, Realtors sold 3,703 homes in Metro Detroit, down from 4,184 in September last year and 4,456 the year before that, according to multiple listing service Realcomp II Ltd.
Real estate agents across the country are leaving the business as the sales downturn worsens. The National Association of Realtors is predicting a 4 percent decline in its membership by the end of 2007, from a record high of 1.4 million members at the beginning of this year.
When Metro Detroit's real estate market entered its downward slide, John Kurczak, a 17-year veteran of the industry, thought he had the tools and experience to ride out the storm.
But after watching the agency he worked at for 16 years close its doors and the number of homes he sells drop off dramatically, Kurczak, 36, is wondering just how much longer he can stand the 14-hour days and long stretches between commission checks.
"I've reinvented myself and spent countless hours trying to get ahead," said Kurczak, who is looking at job offers from other states and in other fields.
"But it's not always paying off. It's a shame -- I can spend all this money trying to market a home, but nobody's buying. I only get paid when the fat lady sings."
Strategies change
Agents still in the business said they're fighting hard to keep ahead.
Some have changed their advertising strategies in an attempt to grab the attention of scarce buyers.
Kurczak, now an agent at Keller Williams in Sterling Heights , said the transition away from his old Century 21 AAA digs in Eastpointe was a rough one. Forced to find a new professional home after the Eastpointe office was shuttered last year, Kurczak renewed his focus on developing and maintaining his own Web site, while keeping in contact with anybody and everybody who could be a sales lead.
Others, like Maureen Francis of SKBK Sotheby's Realty, in Birmingham , have started offering potential customers their own brand of real estate news analysis.
Francis, who specializes in selling luxury properties in Oakland County, started a blog, mioaklandcounty.com , with her husband, also a Realtor. She regularly updates the site with commentary on local and national real estate news and said her site has been instrumental in connecting with customers.
"It lets them get a better idea of what's going on in the market," Francis said. "It's honest and shows what kind of agent I am."
Dreams die
Being honest and tech-savvy isn't enough to stay afloat as a Realtor, Kurczak said. And with job offers coming in from other fields with companies in other states, Kurczak said his days working Metro Detroit's property market likely are numbered.
Kurczak said his current job is one that's only gotten harder as friends and even family members have fled the real estate business while he's tried to hold on.
Both of his brothers got their real estate licenses within the last year. But after seeing Kurczak struggle -- including a situation last winter in which Kurczak was dropped by a couple looking for a home after he took them on 70 private showings -- both brothers have decided to wait to get in the business until the market improves.
Sandy Covert, 33, said she wishes she had done just that.
Lured by tales of plump paychecks and the allure of a job that came with a business card and no uniform, Covert decided in November 2005 to ditch her merry-go-round of low-wage retail jobs for the world of Metro Detroit real estate.
Covert of Dearborn Heights said she did everything right -- taking licensure classes in the evening and spending lunch breaks studying economics and accounting volumes picked up from a used bookstore. She was assured by instructors and more experienced agents that there was no end to success in the real estate business, even with talk of a downturn swirling in the news.
But after thousands of dollars spent on preparation and six months working every angle of the market she could, Covert had sold only one home.
"It was a complete embarrassment," Covert said of the dilapidated structure a few blocks from her own Dearborn flat that she sold for a mere $4,500. "That was all I could sell. I tried harder at this than anything before in my life and I couldn't make it work. People don't believe what a tough business this is."
Covert was lucky, other agents said. Though she abandoned her dreams of real estate success after a year, she was able to return, albeit reluctantly, to her career in retail.
Marlene Bryant, a 52-year-old instructor at a private school in Toledo , said she stopped teaching in 2002 to try her hand at selling real estate around her hometown of Monroe. But after three years, she said she's happy to be back to her life of guaranteed work hours and a pension.
"It was like a glamorous dream job," Bryant said. "I drove a Cadillac and took people to nice places. It was great while it lasted."
Others like Kurczak, whose professional life started as a real estate agent, aren't sure what they'll do if they leave the business.
"It's not as if we're not working hard," he said. "But you can't make people buy houses, which is unfortunate. I'd be a very rich man if I sold everything there is to sell in Metro Detroit."
You can reach Nathan Hurst at (313) 222-2293 or nhurst@detnews.com.

Real Estate Investors & Homeowners, Do You Want More Information Or Experience ?

November Seminar the Cooperative Purchase System with Adam King, Sponsored By Property Investing Club

The "staggeringly high" new investor failure rate is dictated by the solid understanding of these two important words. Adam knows the importance and difference of these two words and wants nothing less than the investment community to learn how to properly act on it.

The Cooperative Purchase seminar and workshop isn't just another event packed with "home study" information and material you won't use. It is a "system" that involves immediate and everlasting support from Adam himself and the team you will effortlessly build in order to accomplish deals anywhere in the country. You may have heard of, or even studied such strategies as lease options, short sales, wholesaling, rehabbing, land contracts, multi-unit, high end flipping and more, but do you know who to apply them successfully? Do you know how to apply them "backwards" so your exit strategy comes first? Do you know where to get money that you can count on? Do you know how to structure the offer so everyone wins?

Let's face it, getting deals in our current economy is easy, but how would you feel if you KNEW that when you got a deal there was a paycheck coming your way from the very beginning? You will learn how "real money" works in our business. You will learn techniques that NO OTHER guru has taught EVER! And you will learn and ACT on it TOGETHER with our current 114 associates in 22 states and in Canada.

Come join us November 15th as Adam will walk you through his experiences as a new investor with no clue, to an investor who understands the leverage of all forms of creative real estate investing including the amazing financing side of hard and soft money. He knows and has experienced what every new and seasoned investor has faced. He has been the glue holding together multi-million dollar deals and low income acquisitions. And now it is his time to share his experiences and knowledge with you.

Ralph Marcus Maupin, Jr. (Mark), College Professor, at Wayne County Community College said "Real Investing can be a risk. The thing I like about Adam King is that his approach is not to put the investor new or experience at risk. With his program he puts buyer in control without risking their money. Great program for new or experience investors. This REIA, (real estate investors association) brings both the National experts like Adam King, but also brings local experts to every meeting."

This is one of many events sponsored by National Real Estate Network, LLC. This real estate investing club event repeats ever third Thursday of Month in Livonia, Michigan. This is club for new and experience investors, homeowners, and landlord in Southeast Michigan. The third Thursday meetings are Free to first time visitors. Below is the when, how and where:
Meeting is free to first time visitors. Agenda: • 6:00—Structured Networking – Resource tables, local real estate experts • 7:00—Update from Founders • 7:30—Expert—Adam King Seating is limited so don't delay and reserve your seat TODAY!!! Register NOW 248-762-0800 Event Date: Thursday, 15th November 2007 Event Start Time: 6:00 PM Event End Time: 9:00 PM Location: Laurel Manor 39000 Schoolcraft Rd Livonia, MI 48150 Primary Phone: 248-762-0800 Primary Email: info@megaeveningevent.com The club services the following areas; Macomb County --Bruce Township, Center Line, Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, Eastpointe, Fraser, Harrison Township, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, Mt. Clemens, New Baltimore, Ray Township, Roseville, Richmond, Shelby Township, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Utica, Warren, Washington Township Oakland County --Addison Township, Auburn Hills, Berkley, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Clawson, Commerce Township, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Franklin, Hazel Park, Highland Township, Holly, Holly Township, Huntington Woods, Independence Township, Keego Harbor, Lathrup Village, Lyon Township, Madison Heights, Milford, Milford Township, Northville, Novi, Oak Park, Oakland Township, Orchard Lake, Orion Township, Oxford Township, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Southfield, South Lyon, Troy, Walled Lake, Waterford Township, West Bloomfield Township, White Lake Township, Wixom Wayne County --Belleville, Brownstown Township, Canton Township, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Grosse Ile Township, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Hamtramck, Inkster, Livonia, Northville Township, Plymouth, Redford Township, Riverview, Romulus, Taylor, Trenton, Wayne, Westland, Wyandotte.

Washtenaw County:
Ann Arbor, Bridgewater, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Salem, Saline, Superior Township, Whitmore Lake, Whittaker, Willis, and Ypsilanti
National Real Estate Network (NREN) is a premier Real Estate Investors Club in Michigan. Also known as Michigan REIA; NREN meets on 3rd Thursdays each month at Laurel Manor in Livonia, Michigan. NREN brings Investors and Professional in Michigan market together. NREN invites National and Local speakers each month and they provide excellent education to their members. NREN has grown to 300 Members strong and still growing. You can get more information at http://www.MegaEveningEvent.com Contact Urvi Mehta 248-762-0800 info@MegaEveningEvent.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Loans Going Bad!

Delinquent FHA loans mount in Michigan
Feds to offer counseling to struggling homeowners
Christine MacDonald / The Detroit News
Alarmed by Michigan's nation-leading rate of FHA foreclosures, federal officials are stepping in to arrange counseling for defaulting homeowners and may reward real estate agents for reselling properties.

Nearly 4 percent of Michigan's Federal Housing Administration loans -- 5,235 -- were foreclosed on in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, according to data compiled last week; payments on about 9,000 more are at least 90 days delinquent in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Michigan's rate is the highest in any state since at least 2002, and further cements the state as the center of the nation's housing crisis.

Experts say those numbers bolster the belief that Michigan's foreclosure problems go much deeper than the struggles seen nationwide with subprime and adjustable rate mortgages.

They blame Michigan's overall economic troubles for driving up the numbers in the somewhat less risky FHA loans, which require low down payments and are aimed at low- and middle-income borrowers.

"In Michigan, we have determined that the situation has just gotten so severe we need to get out front more," said Laurie Maggiano, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Asset Management and Disposition. "We don't like the numbers and we want to see them go down."

City officials worry about the toll the vacant houses -- especially FHA homes, which can take longer to work their way out of foreclosure limbo than other conventional loans -- is taking on Metro Detroit. Some communities are taking steps to buy the houses from HUD, rehab them and sell them cheap -- just to get them occupied and back on the tax rolls.

"It's only a matter of time before something bad happens," said Taylor Mayor Cameron Priebe, who is concerned that the empty houses will become eyesores, suppress property values and attract vandals.
Mich.-only plans in works
People who buy homes insured by the FHA secure mortgages through private lenders, such as banks or mortgage companies, and the FHA insures the loan. If a homeowner defaults, FHA covers the lender's loss. FHA clients pay mortgage insurance; the program is self-sustaining and costs taxpayers nothing.

Officials with HUD say they will roll out special, Michigan-only initiatives in mid-November to tackle the problem.

For the first time, HUD is contacting by mail thousands of delinquent FHA borrowers in Metro Detroit who are on the verge of foreclosure and urging them to attend to a Nov. 15 financial counseling event with lenders to potentially negotiate a way to avoid foreclosure.

HUD typically doesn't contact borrowers directly, Maggiano said.

And HUD is considering additional ways to move homes off the HUD inventory, including
lowering down payment requirements even further from the standard 3 percent of the home's cost -- potentially as low as $100 -- to attract buyers. Maggiano said borrowers will still have to prove they will be able to repay the loan.

The maximum FHA-backed mortgage in Metro Detroit is $226,100.

As an incentive to move FHA-reverted houses, real estate agents may be offered bonuses for selling them. And the federal government is reaching out to cities and housing nonprofits to urge them to buy some of the unsold homes, -- anywhere from half off to just $1 -- restore and sell them to people for whom home ownership is otherwise unattainable.

Dearborn bought 60 FHA-foreclosed, derelict homes from HUD for $1 each this year, tore them down and divided the land between adjacent homeowners or combined vacant lots for new home construction, said David Norwood, the city's director of the building and safety department.

And city officials hope to buy and rehab additional homes soon.

Taylor is close to buying from HUD, for $1 each, 11 foreclosed homes that have sat unsold for six months, and has set aside $50,000 in seed money to start rehabbing them. Taylor plans to sell the houses to low- to moderate-income residents.

The HUD homes can sometimes sit longer in foreclosure than traditional loans because there are more parties involved -- the lending institution plus the government.

"We want to minimize this negative," Priebe said. "Every little bit is a start."

The news that Taylor is going to buy the foreclosed house next door to Clarence Schiller is bittersweet. Schiller, 51, has kept an eye on the house for the two years it's been vacant and tracks the nine other vacant buildings on the block that are empty.

But his house could be the next to go. Laid off from his automotive-related job in January, Schiller and his wife may lose their home to foreclosure soon. He is applying for temporary jobs in Alaska, in hopes he can make enough money to save his home.

"It's not good," Schiller said of Michigan's growing foreclosure crisis. "It's not good at all."
Derelicts a drain on area
Experts say it's key for cities and nonprofits to work on the problem because the longer a foreclosed house sits empty, the more it drains nearby property values and becomes a target for thieves and vandals.

FHA loans typically have lower interest rates than sub-prime loans and if the borrowers can't meet those payments, there is likely a broader issue at fault, such as a job loss.

"It's a signal and symptom of a bigger problem," said Pava Leyrer, a president of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association. "They don't have the money in general."

More money spent on financial literacy would help, particularly in schools, so that people are realistic about how much house they can afford, she said.

"For us as a nation, this is going to be one of the biggest problems we've faced since the 1930s," said Deborah Younger, executive director of the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp, which provides technical and financial help to housing non-profits and are working on solutions to the foreclosure problem. "The numbers are overwhelming."

You can reach Christine MacDonald at (313) 222-2396 or cmacdonald@detnews.com.

Bush Administration Hope Now Program

Bush Administration Hope Now Program
Thursday, 11 October 2007

The following report in the Washington Post details the recent announcement by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson concerning the Bush administration efforts to address the foreclosure crisis.
Bush Officials Launch Mortgage Campaign
Responding to the rise in foreclosures, the Bush administration yesterday announced the creation of a mortgage industry coalition (see list below) to "step up efforts" to prevent people from losing their homes.
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said a broad collection of lenders, mortgage counselors, trade organizations and investors will try persuading hundreds of thousands of at-risk homeowners to seek solutions to their mortgage woes.
"The earlier a troubled borrower reaches out to explore financial options, the more likely he or she will be able to find an affordable mortgage solution," Paulson said at a news conference.
The program has enlisted at least 15 mortgage servicers and insurers, which represent more than 60 percent of the mortgages in the United States, according to the Housing Policy Council, a trade association helping coordinate the coalition.
As a key part of its effort, the alliance plans a direct mail and advertising campaign to encourage at-risk borrowers to call their mortgage servicer or a credit counselor and improve communication between servicers and nonprofit counselors to explain options.
"Of greatest importance, the alliance hopes to increase support for the use of housing counselors," Alphonso Jackson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said at the news conference.
In general, some key Democrats have reacted skeptically to the administration's recent efforts to address the mortgage problem. Yesterday, the reactions were mixed.
"Unfortunately, the bottom is falling out of our housing market much more quickly than the Administration is willing to act to stem the tide of foreclosures," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said in a prepared statement.
Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said: "Today's announcement by the administration is a small step that should also serve as a wake up call for lenders to take concrete action to help families who are struggling to keep their homes."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, applauded the announcement.
It has been about five weeks since the Bush administration unveiled plans to change the Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance program so more people could refinance with FHA-insured loans if they fall behind on their adjustable-rate mortgages, some of which offer low introductory rates but can rise significantly.
Last month, the Mortgage Bankers Association released a survey showing the percentage of mortgages entering foreclosure rose to a record level during a three month period ending June 30. California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona were the states hardest hit.

To view the online article, please click here.
To view the Press Release from the U.S. Treasury Dept, please click here
The following organizations have joined the coalition:

• The American Financial Services Association• The American Securitization Forum• Assurant Inc.• Bank of America• CCCS Atlanta Inc.• Citigroup Inc.• The Consumer Mortgage Coalition• Countrywide Financial Corp.• Fannie Mae• The Financial Services Roundtable• First Horizon National Corp.• Freddie Mac • GMAC ResCap• The Homeownership Preservation Foundation• The Housing Partnership Network• The Housing Policy Council• HSBC North American Holdings Inc.• JP Morgan Chase & Co.• Mortgage Bankers Association• National City• NeighborWorks America• Option One Mortgage Corp.• PMI Mortgage Insurance Co.• The Securities and Financial Markets Association• State Farm Insurance Cos. • SunTrust Mortgage Inc.• Washington Mutual Inc.• Wells Fargo & Co.