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Louisiana Realtors win big, end transfer taxes

Not content with winning battles over real estate transfer taxes every few years, the Louisiana Realtors Association decided to put an end to the possibility once and for all. They decided to try to amend the state constitution to prohibit the taxes, period.

Using funds and assistance from NAR’s My Rearltor® Party initiative (which is designed for just this sort of thing), LRA first convinced both chambers of its legislature to pass the measure, then — per the state’s constitution — turned to consumers to win their support and votes.

FHA buyers blocked from condos

Many condo communities in the state have lost their FHA certification, something buyers and sellers don’t realize until a contract is blocked. So if you have clients that are in any way connected with condo or townhouse communities — owners, managers, potential buyers — they need to be aware of this: FHA revoked its certification of every condo earlier this year. If the management hasn’t reapplied, units can’t be purchased with an FHA loan.

New Freddie Mac requirement looks to combat short-sale fraud

In an effort to cut down on the amount of fraud it’s finding in short sales, Freddie Mac has issued a new set of guidelines.

The problem: Working with an unethical agent, someone makes a low bid on a short sale and the agent doesn’t disclose any competing (higher) bids. When the sale goes through, the new owner turns around and sells the property to one of those higher bidders, pocketing the difference. The process is called “flopping.”

Builders making granny more welcome

Home builders know a good market when they see it, and what they see are “multigenerational” homes — houses designed for families with an extra body or two, e.g., a grandparent.

What makes them a bit different. Could be any number of amenities: A separate entrance, two kitchens, two master bedrooms, a “mother-in-law apartment,” and so on.

Says Bloomberg:

1.8 million already helped by federal housing programs

The latest progress report released by the Treasury Department finds that the government’s three “H” programs — HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program), HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) and HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) — have helped about 1,777,000 Americans stay in their homes.

In the case of HAMP, the delinquency rate of mortgage holders taking part in the government program is much lower than that of people using private modification programs.

FHA loans drop 30% in FY2011

Loan originations by the Federal Housing Administration dropped almost 30% for the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30). Part of the drop is attributed to lower demand, but lenders also say that tighter lending standards have been a factor.

FHA loans are popular for many first-time buyers because of typically lower credit and down-payment requirements than at a traditional lender. (The FHA loan portfolio has performed very well; it’s one of the few government programs that generates revenue.)

Victims of foreclosure fraud will get payback from lenders

Millions of foreclosed homeowners will have a chance for payback as part of the legal agreement between the government and 14 lenders who broke various laws for handling mortgages.

CNN’s story sums it up well:

Homeowners whose lenders played fast and loose with their foreclosures may be in for a payday.


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