Economy

FHFA to expand national mortgage database, collect more loan info

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said recently it plans to expand the national mortgage database it created with the CFPB next month to collect additional information on borrowers and loans. The FHFA said, beginning May 27, it would begin collecting more detailed demographic and personal contact information on borrowers and their households,... Read More...

NCUA: Credit unions can provide alternative to costly payday loans

Representatives from the NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives and Office of Examination and Insurance told credit unions on Wednesday that the institutions can provide a viable alternative to predatory payday loans. NCUA representatives told credit unions during Wednesday’s webinar that payday loans can provide credit unions with... Read More...

Freddie Mac economists predict boom in home purchases for 2014

Freddie Mac economists said in a blog last week that the U.S. housing market will continue to see a decline in the number of refinances, while home purchases will expand in coming months. During the first quarter of 2013, 71 percent of all mortgage originations were refinances, according to data from Freddie Mac, but the number fell to 51... Read More...

Monthly mortgage originations fall to lowest level in 14 years

Data released by Fidelity company Black Knight Financial Services last week showed monthly mortgage originations fell last year to their lowest level in 14 years, but sales remained steady despite the decline in the number of new mortgages. “February’s data showed the continued trend of declining origination activity we’ve been observing... Read More...

CBA, AOL launch index to measure financial optimism among consumers

The Consumer Bankers Association and AOL launched a finance optimism index on Monday to gauge American consumers’ attitudes towards personal finance. AOL and the CBA have conducted research over the past year in an effort to better understand consumer attitudes towards their financial situation. The ongoing collaborative effort seeks to... Read More...

NCUA to offer free small dollar lending webinar for credit unions

The National Credit Union Administration will offer a webinar for credit unions later this month on how small dollar, short-term loans to consumers can improve an institution’s portfolio. The webinar, which will be held at 2 p.m. EST on April 16, will be led by Tom Penna, Jr., an economic development specialist at NCUA’s Office of Small... Read More...

Pending home sales, existing home sales decline in February

Data released by the National Association of Realtors last week showed pending home sales continued their downward fall in February, marking the eighth consecutive month of decline. According to the data, pending homes sales in the Midwest rose 2.8 percent while sales in the West rose 2.3 percent in February. The gains were offset, however, by... Read More...

ICBA’s Jorde criticizes USPS plan to provide financial services

Terry J. Jorde, the senior executive vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, recently said that a proposal to provide small-dollar loans through the U.S. Postal Service “throws good money after bad.” In January, the USPS inspector general proposed providing non-bank financial services to the underbanked in a plan the... Read More...

U.K.’s credEcard launches Visa debit card for instant loan disbursement

U.K.-based e-money account and rewards provider credEcard announced on Tuesday the launch of its instant issue loan card, which will allow credit unions to issue instant loans to members through a single-use Visa debit card. The launch of the product eliminates the need for large amounts of cash and may be able to help deter members from... Read More...

Illinois bankers call on FHFA to raise Chicago MSA loan limits

The Community Bankers Association of Illinois called on the Federal Housing Finance Agency last week to raise the loan limits for the Chicagoland Metropolitan Statistical Area, saying the current loan limit of $417,000 has negatively impacted the metro area’s housing market. In December, the FHFA requested public comment on a plan to... Read More...

“Cooling off” periods for payday loans have minimal impact on renewals

A report released by the CFPB on Tuesday showed that “cooling off” periods aimed at discouraging borrowers from taking out multiple payday loans in the same day have had little impact on rollovers and renewals. According to the report, which is based on data from more than 12 million payday loans over a one-year period, over 80 percent of... Read More...

AEI’s Glassman criticizes Johnson-Crapo GSE reform proposal

In a recent blog post, James K. Glassman, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the draft proposal for housing reform released by members of the Senate Banking Committee is a “complicated apparatus disturbingly similar to Obamacare.” Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and... Read More...

More Americans plan to move, purchase home in 2014

Data released by American Express on Tuesday showed more Americans are planning a move in 2014 as even more plan to purchase a new home. According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 16 percent of Americans are planning to move in 2014, compared to 10 percent in 2012. Of those planning to move, 46 percent plan to purchase a... Read More...

Ohio Supreme Court rules oral agreements on loan mods not binding

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of lenders earlier this month when it said that loan modifications and their corresponding terms must be in writing and signed by all parties to make them legally binding. The ruling came following an appeal by FirstMerit—a $24.1 billion financial services firm headquartered in Akron, Ohio, operating in... Read More...

Wells Fargo launches NeighborhoodLIFT program in Denver

Wells Fargo recently partnered with NeighborWorks America and Community Resources and Housing Development Corp. to launch the Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT program, which seeks to increase homeownership and bolster low- and moderate-income communities in Denver. “This innovative collaboration between NeighborWorks America, our network member... Read More...

National Council on Aging sets up senior reverse mortgage counseling

The National Council on Aging announced last week the availability of a new national toll-free hotline offering reverse mortgage counseling to older homeowners. Reverse mortgages allow seniors to take out a portion of their home equity and continue to live in their homes. Consumers considering a reverse mortgage, such as the FHA Home Equity... Read More...

Americans hoping to retire may face financial security challenges

Witnesses testified during the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy’s hearing on retirement security last week that millions of Americans facing retirement may also face significant financial security challenges. Monique Morrissey, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute and witness at the hearing, pointed to a 2013 figure... Read More...

Senate Banking Committee reaches housing finance reform agreement

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) announced on Tuesday that they have reached a bipartisan agreement on housing finance reform after months of negotiations. “There is near unanimous agreement that our current housing finance system is not sustainable in the long-term and reform is... Read More...

Gen Y comprises largest share of overall, first-time homebuyers

Data released on Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors showed that Generation Y—or Millenial—consumers accounted for the largest share of both overall and first-time homebuyers in recent home purchases. Millenials, sometimes referred to as Generation Next—those born between 1980 and 1995—accounted for 31 percent of recent home... Read More...

Lenders loosen mortgage credit for third consecutive month in February

Data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association on Tuesday showed mortgage availability increased for the third consecutive month, indicating lenders are more willing to extend credit to borrowers. Mortgage credit availability increased 0.44 percent in February to reach 113.5 on the MBA’s mortgage credit availability index, though the MBA... Read More...

GAO: Changing social, labor trends make retirees financially vulnerable

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that changes in marriage and labor trends have led to changes in the type of retirement benefits received by Americans, making some retirees more financially vulnerable. According to the report, the percentage of households that identify as unmarried or single-parent families has... Read More...

Senate Banking subcommittee to hold hearing on retirement security

The Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy will hold a hearing on March 12 to examine the state of retirement security in the U.S. The hearing, titled “The State of U.S. Retirement Security: Can the Middle Class Afford to Retire?” will be held between 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at room 538 in the Dirksen Senate Office... Read More...

Black Knight introduces VeraStrat Scores to prioritize borrower contact

Black Knight Financial Services introduced a solution last week that will allow servicers to prioritize delinquent borrower contact to assist them in identifying and contacting the highest risk borrowers first. VeraStrat Scores is a loan-level indicator of borrower risk and historical payment pattern. It is a three-digit number, where the first... Read More...

Plan to expand PAYE student loan program may lower default risk

Fitch Ratings said last week that President Obama’s plan to expand the Pay as You Earn plan for student loan borrowers may lower default risk and boost prepayments in Federal Family Education Loan Program asset-backed security portfolios. The Pay as You Earn program—launched last year—is designed to keep monthly student loan payments... Read More...

HomeStreet to sell residential mortgages in Pacific Northwest

HomeStreet announced on Wednesday that it plans to sell two pools of residential loans in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii. The first pool is a group of fixed-rate residential mortgages with total outstanding principal balances of approximately $105 million, and the second pool is comprised of adjustable rate residential mortgages with... Read More...

Visa CEO Charles Scharf appointed to presidential youth council

The Obama administration announced last week the appointment of Visa CEO Charles Scharf as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. The council, which was established last June by executive order, seeks to counsel the president on ways to improve financial literacy among American youths and... Read More...

FSR to host discussion on retirement security challenges

The Financial Services Roundtable will hold a panel discussion next month on challenges in retirement security and a pending fiduciary rule from the U.S. Department of Labor. The discussion will take place from 8:30-10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on New Jersey Avenue in Washington, D.C. Phyllis C. Borzi, the... Read More...

Delinquencies, foreclosures drop in fourth quarter to pre-crisis levels

Data released last week by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 to reach pre-crisis levels. “We continue to see substantial improvement in both delinquency and foreclosure rates, with most measures now back to pre-crisis levels,” MBA Chief Economist and Senior... Read More...

Survey: Financial discussions more difficult than religious, political talks

A recent survey released by Wells Fargo revealed that Americans consider discussing personal finances to be as difficult as discussing controversial topics such as religion and politics. According to the survey, 44 percent of Americans said personal finances is the most difficult topic to discuss with others, compared to 38 percent for death,... Read More...

GAO unable to determine impact of Stafford loan limit increases

A report released last week by the GAO found that an increase in student loan limits and the impact of the 2008 financial crisis will make it difficult to determine whether the Stafford loan limit increases affected the cost of college. According to the report, college prices have been on the rise since the 2008 and 2009 Stafford loan limit... Read More...

Wells Fargo to hold financial education webinars for servicemembers

Wells Fargo announced last week that, in celebration of America Saves Week, it will offer three free financial education webinars on home-buying, budgeting and saving and credit aimed at military members, veterans and their families. America Saves Week, an annual campaign that involves more than 1,000 nonprofit and government groups encouraging... Read More...

CUNA urges lawmakers to advance housing finance, data security reforms

The Credit Union National Association urged Congress on Wednesday to press forward on housing finance and data security reform. CUNA sent letters to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Ranking Committee Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking... Read More...

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