The Norris Group Real Estate News Roundup 1/20/10

Today’s News Synopsis:

The MBA’s Market Composite Index shows that loan application volume increased by 9.1 percent. Policy changes for FHA will consequently cause borrowers to pay more on their FHA-insured mortgages. HUD reports that housing starts declined 4% in December. Regional housing inflation rose 0.2% in Southern California.

In The News:

Mortgage Bankers Association“Refinance Applications Increase as Mortgage Rates Fall in Latest MBA Weekly Survey” (1-20-10)

“The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 15, 2010. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 10.4 percent compared with the previous week and decreased 52.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.”

Mortgage Bankers Association“MBA Comments on Changes to FHA Credit Policy” (1-20-10)

“Borrowers may have to pay a little more for their FHA-insured mortgages or certain borrowers will have to put more money down for their home, but these changes are necessary given the stress that the housing downturn has put on the FHA program.”

Housing Wire“Commercial Real Estate Investor Demand to Grow in 2010” (1-20-10)

“The start of 2010 is showing signs of growing investor demand in US commercial real estate, and potentially in related secondary markets, despite the lagging performance of underlying collateral. The pick-up is also predicted to be mirrored in similar markets in Europe and Asia; areas expected to see comparatively better performance. In a report from the rating agency Moody’s, analysts project some pick-up in commercial real estate (CRE) demand after Q409, which would help markets after little movement for much of the year.”

Housing Wire“Housing Starts Drop, Permits Up in December” (1-20-10)

“After jumping up 8.9% one month earlier, housing starts declined 4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 557,000 in December, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau.”

Housing Wire “BofA Posts $5.2bn Loss in Q409 After TARP Repayment” (1-20-10)

“In the same quarter of 2008, BofA posted a net less of $2.4bn, or $0.48 per diluted share. Excluding the $4bn TARP repayment, BofA had a net loss of $194m in Q409, which narrowed from the $1.8bn loss from a year earlier. For all of 2009, BofA reported a net income of $6.3bn, an improvement from $4bn in 2008.”

Housing Wire“Morgan Stanley Posts $413m Q409 Profit as Real Estate Gains” (1-20-10)

“Firm-wide results for the full year reflected $1.9bn of net losses on real estate investments ‘amidst the ongoing industry-wide decline in this market,’ Morgan Stanley said in the earnings statement.”

Housing Wire“Wells Fargo Posts Record $12.3bn Annual Net Income” (1-20-10)

“Wells Fargo said mortgage originations and servicing revenue was $3.4bn in the quarter, and its total mortgage banking noninterest income accounted for 15% of the company’s consolidated Q409 revenue. The bank had $1.2bn in income from mortgage origination and sales activities on $94bn of residential mortgage originations and $144bn of applications.”

Bloomberg “‘Tranche Warfare’ Erupts as Property Owners Slide Into Default” (1-20-10)

“Infighting among lenders with different classes of debt, called tranches, is on the rise in the hotel industry and throughout the $3.5 trillion market for commercial real estate loans after property prices fell more than 40 percent from their peak in 2007. Commercial mortgage defaults more than doubled to 3.4 percent in last year’s third quarter from a year earlier.”

Bloomberg “Property Bonds Beat Corporates as Simon Sells: Credit Markets” (1-20-10)

“Real estate borrowers are leading the rally in U.S. corporate bonds as investors add to bets property companies will weather an increase in commercial mortgage defaults. Bonds sold by real-estate investment trusts, shopping-mall owners and office landlords have gained 3.27 percent this month, exceeding 3.18 percent for all of the fourth quarter, and BBB rated commercial mortgage bonds returned 3.59 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. The gains are the biggest among investment-grade issuers, which returned 1.65 percent so far in 2010, the indexes show.”

Orange County Register“SoCal housing inflation lowest in 32+ years” (1-20-10)

“Overall regional housing inflation rose 0.2% for the year, lowest since they started this data series in 1977. Household energy costs fell 8.8% last year, biggest drop in the series that dates to 1977.”

Orange County Register“408 south coast homes in default on loans” (1-20-10)

“There are hundreds of homes in Dana Point, Laguna Beach and San Clemente that are in default on their mortgages and in danger of being foreclosed. According to, a total of 408 homes in these south coastal communities have received a notice of default from their bank, which typically follows one or often a series of missed mortgage payments and a late notice.”

Inman “Zillow, Trulia slip in Hitwise ratings” (1-20-10)

“ remained the dominant Web site in the real estate category, with 6.79 percent market share. Rounding out the top 10 Web sites were Yahoo! Real Estate (3.8 percent), Zillow (3.5 percent), ZipRealty (2.91 percent), eBay’s (2.57 percent), Service Magic (2.27 percent), (2.16 percent), (1.99 percent), MSN Real Estate (1.78 percent) and (1.32 percent).”

Inman “Google, RPR and the future” (1-20-10)

“Marty Frame, president of NAR’s Realtors Property Resource, which seeks to create a national database of property information and a new property-valuation system for Realtors to access, discusses RPR plans with Dale Ross, RPR CEO.”

Looking Back:

One year ago, congress voted to use the second half of the $700 billion TARP bailout. FHA was offering 3.5%-down mortgages to qualified buyers. Nouriel Roubini predicted that the U.S. financial crisis may reach $3.6 trillion. Dataquick reported that foreclosures made up just 6 percent of resales in August 2007.

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