Wednesday, April 18, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
Several factors have increased the recent precedence of mothers-in-law suites across the nation. Namely, harsh economic conditions. As many families struggle to make ends meet they find that they are better equipped to hold on to their houses if multiple generations call them home.
Another prime factor in the mother-in-law suite game is the growing size of today's home. In the 1950's the average size home was just over 1,000 square feet. Home today are double that size, coming in at over 2,300 square feet. There's simply more room for multiple generations.
In many cultures and other countries it is commonplace to have multiple generations of one family living under the same roof. Assisted and senior living communities are all but unheard of. This hasn't been the case in the United States. In addition to a society that puts youth above all else, to the detriment of the old and wise, our mobile society means families are spread out across many cities, states, and regions.
Families cho ...
Thursday, April 12, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
A federal-state program aimed at helping homeowners in states hardest hit by the mortgage crisis is falling far short of its goals, a federal watchdog said in a report released Thursday.
In the report, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) said that just 3% of $7.6 billion available in the Hardest Hit Housing Markets program -- available for 18 states and the District of Columbia -- had been tapped as of Dec. 31.
The money has gone to help 30,640 homeowners, or about 7% of the 458,000 homeowners officials estimated would be helped by the end of the program in 2017, according to the watchdog.
More than 75% of the program funds has gone to prop up state unemployment programs that pay mortgages of the unemployed -- not efforts such as mortgage modifications or principal reductions that would force banks to take a hit, according to the report.
Christy Romero, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said the hardest hit f ...
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Tuesday that it's considering new rules aimed at mortgage servicers to help protect consumers against "costly surprises."
The bureau's new rules will require servicers to issue mortgage statements that are more clear, as well as better disclosures about any fees or changes in a loan's interest rate.
"We want to make sure that at all times consumers know how much they owe, what they are paying, and how their payments are being applied," said Richard Cordray, director of the consumer bureau in a Tuesday speech.
This would be the federal government's first major move to crack down on the entire mortgage servicing industry, including big banks that service mortgages, since the housing bust and resulting financial crisis.
The new rules coincide with new standards set forth by a large settlement deal between states attorneys general and the five largest mortgage servicing banks. Those standards only impact the five largest banks and are ...
Saturday, April 7, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
Half a decade into the deepest U.S. housing crisis since the 1930s, many Americans are hoping the crisis is finally nearing its end. House sales are picking up across most of the country, the plunge in prices is slowing and attempts by lenders to claim back properties from struggling borrowers dropped by more than a third in 2011, hitting a four-year low.
But a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.
"We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010," said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.
"Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way," he said.
In 2011, the "robo-signing" scandal, in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly reviewing individual cases, prompted banks to ho ...
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
As household spending and income adapt to meet the needs of today's economic conditions, new single-family home have followed suite. In a surprise divergence from recent trends, homes seem to be on a growth spurt again.
According to the latest Census Bureau data homes for the first half of 2011 new home being built were following this surprising trend. Data found that in comparison to 2010 the average size of homes grew along with the number of four+ bedroom homes.
This data is surprising considering that many potential homebuyers have been sidelined by high unemployment and weak economic growth. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke recently about the slow economic recovery at the 2012 National Association of Homebuilders International Builders' Show in Orlando, Florida.
He noted that "although some progress has been made in reversing the losses in jobs and income sustained during the recession, the pace of expansion has been frustratingly slow and the unemployment rate remains very high ...