Federal Reserve governor says that unspecified monetary penalties will be levied for lapses in processing mortgage modifications and foreclosures.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 10, 2012 12:50PM

For the second time in a week, the Federal Reserve has taken a stand on the mortgage mess, this time pledging to fine 14 mortgage servicers for "deficient practices in mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing."


Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, speaking to the Association of American Law Schools last weekend, did not say when the fines would be announced or how large they would be. But she made the failures in mortgage servicing the focus of her speech.


"Throughout the successive waves in foreclosures that have occurred since 2007, problems in mortgage servicing have emerged and persisted," she said. "These problems have included critical weaknesses in mortgage servicers' foreclosure governance processes, foreclosure document preparation processes, and oversight and monitoring of third-party law firms and other vendors. Collectively, these problems have hampered the ability of the courts and the markets to work through the foreclosure inventory in an efficient manner."


More large metros join the list of mostly small cities reporting improved prices, employment and building-permit activity.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 9, 2012 12:13PM

© Stockbyte/Getty ImagesThe number of real-estate markets deemed improving by the National Association of Home Builders nearly doubled in January, from 41 to 76 cities.


In addition, six more major cities joined the mostly small metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index.


Five cities were dropped from the list: Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Canton, Ohio; Scranton, Pa.; and Charleston, W.Va.


The decision to level the house and start over was a practical one, according to the builder, who said the new home will not only be larger but better able to withstand hurricanes.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 9, 2012 8:29AM

Tiger Woods' ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, wants to build a mansion much like the one she just knocked down, but bigger and better — and less likely to be leveled by a hurricane or eaten by termites.


Plans filed with Palm Beach County, Fla., officials and not yet approved call for a similar traditional Mediterranean Colonial-style home, but this one would be 21,309 square feet, compared with the 17,000 (or maybe 9,000) square feet in the home Nordegren had demolished. TMZ has a photo of the rendering of the new home.


The new home will include nine bedrooms and eight baths, as well as a 600-square-foot theater with stadium seating, a 1,182-square-foot kitchen, a 1,000-square-foot master bedroom overlooking the ocean, a 1,102-square-foot gym and a 300-square-foot playroom for Nordegren's and Woods' two children. According to Jose Lambiet's Gossip Extra, there is also a safe room in the plans.

Tags: celebrity

Chairman Ben Bernanke says the government could do more to stop foreclosures and help homeowners. The Fed also finds Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies an obstacle.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 6, 2012 11:59AM

Another voice has joined those of the real-estate agents and homebuilders in complaining that tight credit is hindering the housing market's recovery.


In a 26-page white paper on the housing crisis presented to Congress this week, the board of governors of the Federal Reserve listed tightened mortgage standards as one factor holding back the housing recovery.


"Obstacles limiting access to mortgage credit even among creditworthy borrowers contribute to weakness in housing demand, and barriers to refinancing blunt the transmission of monetary policy to the household sector," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote in a letter to the heads of the Senate and House Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  "Further attention to easing some of these obstacles could contribute to the gradual recovery in housing markets and thus help speed the overall economic recovery."


Pilot short-sale program in Florida is aimed at underwater homeowners who could face foreclosure. Other lenders also are offering certain homeowners money to move.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 5, 2012 12:42PM

Bank of America is trying a new approach with underwater homeowners in Florida: It is offering them money to dispose of their homes in a short sale.


It offered payments ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to homeowners who agreed to sell, and got positive responses from about 15% of the 20,000 customers to whom it offered the deal.


The program was aimed at homeowners who cannot afford their mortgages, so not all qualified. The amount of the incentive program was based on the size of the mortgage, as well as other factors, according to an article in The Tampa (Fla.) Bay Times.


Elin Nordegren plans to build a new home on the Florida oceanfront site. Meanwhile, demolition plans in Malibu have drawn opposition from celebrity neighbors.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 5, 2012 10:40AM

© 2012 Microsoft Corporation/2010 Pictometry International CorpThe rich are different.


What looks like a mansion to us is just too, too small, and rather than add a new wing, they often just tear down the whole thing and start over.


The latest celebrity to knock down a house is Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of golfer Tiger Woods, who recently demolished her 17,000-square-foot oceanfront mansion near Palm Beach, Fla., so she can build a new home on the site. She paid $12.2 million for the eight-bedroom home in a gated community in February.

Tags: celebrity

New book titled 'Unreal Estate' looks at 16 lavish homes in four of the city's wealthiest enclaves and shares the history of the people who lived in them.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 4, 2012 2:20PM

© Random House We all love to ogle the real estate of the rich and famous. When that real estate is in Southern California, it is often at its most ostentatious.


Author Michael Gross has taken real-estate porn one step further, mixing it with juicy stories of gangsters, industrialists, movie stars and others in his new book "Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles."


The book looks at 16 homes and their owners and inhabitants in the wealthy enclaves of Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, Beverly Park and Bel-Air, an area known as the "Platinum Triangle." The history of that prized real estate is also a piece of the history of the city.

Tags: celebrity

Idaho couple and their conservative allies argue that they should be able to challenge the agency's contention they need a permit to fill wetlands.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 4, 2012 12:39PM

© Jessica Robinson/Northwest News NetworkNext week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case that pits a homeowner who wants to build near a lake against the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act.


Mike and Chantell Sackett want to build a home on their lot of just more than half an acre in Priest Lake, Idaho. The EPA says that their building site contains wetlands and that they need a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.


"There's no common sense, and the EPA, they've gone rogue," Chantell Sackett told The Associated Press. "They do whatever they want. They bend the rules and they make your life hell."



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