Daily Archives: July 14, 2015

Fannie Mae launches homebuyer education app

 

 

Housingwire:

Fannie Mae launched its new homebuyer application HOME that educates future homeowners about the steps and responsibilities of buying and owning a home.

The app is part of Fannie’s ongoing efforts to help its partners expand access to mortgage credit for qualified buyers by providing educational resources to reduce barriers to homeownership.

The application features:

  • Dashboard and checklist to track their progress
  • Four financial calculators: Estimate affordability, Calculate mortgage payment, Plan and budget for a down payment, Learn how paying ahead can save money and reduce loan payback times
  • HUD-approved housing counseling agency “locator tool”
  • Articles, videos, and more

Leading Democrats don’t want proposed FHA insurance change, gives a free pass to big banks that engaged in criminal behavior

Leading Democrats on the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees on Tuesday urged the Obama Administration to reconsider a proposal that would make it easier for lenders that have engaged in criminal behavior to keep accessing taxpayer-backed mortgage insurance.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the Banking Committee’s senior Democrat; Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the senior Democrat on Financial Services, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., outlined their concerns in a letter to the leaders of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Management and Budget.

HUD’s proposal would eliminate the requirement that lenders approved by the Federal Housing Administrationcertify on each loan application that they are not, or have not recently been, subject to certain charges or penalties.

In their letter, the lawmakers called on HUD to provide a thorough explanation for its proposal to lower the lending standards and give the public an opportunity to comment on whether the changes are appropriate.

“We are concerned that the proposed changes, the most significant of which were not described in the notice, would make it easier for lenders who have engaged in illegal behavior to obtain FHA insurance – insurance that is ultimately provided by American taxpayers,” the lawmakers wrote.

Read on.

Osceola clerk of court hired hired a company owned by a felon to perform foreclosure audit

Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez hired a company owned by a felon — convicted in a $64 million scam in the 1990s that stole money from the U.S. government — to review county mortgage records last year.

Ramirez employed David Paul Krieger’s company, DK Consultants LLC of San Antonio, in June 2014 and paid the company $34,500 to find out whether Wall Street banks had illegally foreclosed on hundreds of local homes, records show.

Foreclosures remain a hot-button issue in Osceola County, where slightly more than 58,277 owners have lost their homes since 2007. That’s 45.6 percent of total housing, the country’s second-highest foreclosure rate, according to RealtyTrac.com.

Read on.

Judge: Wells Fargo to pay $8M for fraud tied to trust set up when Dallas woman was orphan

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Wells Fargo Bank has been ordered to pay a Dallas woman more than $8 million by a state judge who concluded the bank defrauded her in serving as a trustee for a trust established by her relatives in Midland when she was orphaned at age 7.

In court filings and during a 2012 bench trial before State Judge Emily Tobolowsky, Angela Militello alleged that she had been deceived by Wells Fargo, which was acting as the trustee in a trust set up for her as a child. (The original complaint is here.)

Wells Fargo sent a trust officer to Dallas County in 1999 to discuss Militello’s trust, she alleged. At a Dallas restaurant, he informed her she needed to “open a new account” and produced papers for her to assign to create a revocable trust.

In 2006, following her divorce, Militello asked her trust officer how she might get $200,000 to  buy a house where she and her child could live. In May of that year, he sent her a check for the $200,000 and a form asking her to approve the already completed sale of 35 percent of the trust’s assets. Within a few months, the rest of the assets would be sold as well.

She alleged that Wells Fargo conspired with a third party to sell the assets at “far below market value” and to fraudulently charge the taxes for the property to her trust account even after the assets were sold to the buyer.

Read on.

Leaked Document: Nearly One-Third Of 847,000 Veterans In Backlog For VA Health Care Already Died

This is disgraceful!!!

WASHINGTON — More than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans in the pending backlog for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post.

Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta and apast whistleblower on the VA’s failings, provided HuffPost with an April 2015 report titled “Analysis of Death Services,” which reviews the accuracy of the VA’s veteran death records. The report was conducted by staffers in the VA Health Eligibility Center and the VA Office of Analytics.

Flip to page 13 and you’ll see some stark numbers. As of April, there were 847,822 veterans listed as pending for enrollment in VA health care. Of those, 238,657 are now deceased, meaning they died after they applied for, but never got, health care.

While the number is large — representing nearly a third of those listed as pending — some of the applicants may have died years ago. The VA has no mechanism to purge the list of dead applicants, and some of those applying, according to VA spokeswoman Walinda West, likely never completed the application, yet remain on the pending list anyway. West said the VA electronic health record system has been in place since 1985, suggesting some of the data may be decades old and some of those people may have gone on to use other insurance.

Read on.

“Someone Has To Be Held Accountable”, House Committee Presses Fed On Leaks

When last we checked in with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, he was in the process of learning a frustrating lesson about central bankers in the post-crisis world.

What Jeb might not have realized when he subpoenaed the Fed for information on how the September 2012 FOMC minutes managed to get leaked to Medley Global Advisors (just four months after Janet Yellen met with the firm) is that whatever pretension of accountability the position of Fed chair retained in the lead up to the crisis disappeared entirely when Ben Bernanke ‘saved the world’ from financial armageddon in 2008.

Since then, central bankers have become celebrities and like celebrities, are generally above the law, a fact Yellen probably thought she had made clear to Hensarling when she simply refused to cooperate with the subpoena.

As a reminder, here is the sequence of events (from the beginning):

On October 3, 2012, consulting firm Medley Global Advisors sent a newsletter to clients entitled “Fed: December Bound.”

The “special report” essentially constituted an early leak of the minutes from the FOMC’s September meeting.

Read on.

When Wall Street Offers Free Money, Watch Out

Bankers and new accounting rules are emboldening governments to borrow-and-bet their way out of pension problems, a strategy that’s backfired in the past.

This story was co-published with the Washington Post.

If there were ever a time not to bet the moon on the stock and bond markets, it’s now, with U.S. stocks at near-record highs and interest rates on quality bonds at near-record lows. But Wall Street is urging state and local governments to do just that — and they’re listening.

Despite the risks, governments are lining up to issue billions of dollars in new debt to replenish their depleted pension funds and, as a bonus, take some pressure off strapped budgets. In some cases, the borrowing makes their balance sheets look vastly better.

Bankers, who make fat fees for raising the money, are encouraging this borrow-and-bet trend. Their sales pitch is that borrowing at today’s low interest rates all but guarantees a profit for the governments because they can invest the proceeds in their pension funds and for decades earn returns higher than the 5 percent or so in interest that they will pay on the bonds.

But there’s a catch: If the timing is wrong, these so-called pension obligation bonds could clobber the finances of the government issuers. Pension funds and beneficiaries will be better off because pensions will be more soundly financed. But taxpayers — present and future — might be considerably worse off. They will be running huge risks and could get stuck with a massive tab.

“It’s sold as a magic bean,” said Todd Ely, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver who has studied pension bonds. “But when it goes bad it’s not free. Then it isn’t really magic. If it could be counted on to work as often as it’s supposed to, then everyone would be doing it.”

Read on.