Interesting column from Reuters’s Agnes Crane, “U.S. housing has added problem: mortgage insurance.” Why interesting? Because the trouble she describes hits right in the issue of down payments — specifically, the idea of a 20 percent-down requirement for the best rates.
The 3rd Quarter 2011 Virginia Home Sales Report has been released, with many indications that we may be starting to see some stability in many housing markets throughout the Commonwealth.
The annualized pace of home sales started to increase again in the 3rd Quarter of 2011. This increase is the first such improvement in this long-term trend since late 2009 and early 2010 when the federal home buyer tax credit was helping to produce market improvements.
A 16-year study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of families in poverty found that simply moving to a better neighborhood reduces the incidence of obesity and diabetes.
The study involved 4,498 volunteers living in public housing; some were given vouchers so they could afford to live in middle-class neighborhoods, some had vouchers to live in the same neighborhood but got help with rent, and some got neither.
In other words, the only significant change to the living situation was neighborhood, not income. And the study found that
There’s a useful post over at Dan Green’s The Mortgage Reports that explains who is eligible for the new, revamped HARP.
Click here to read “The Complete, Revamped HARP / Making Home Affordable Eligibility Requirements.”
Nine Virginia cities — all in Northern Virginia — are among the top 25 housing markets in the country according to Bloomberg Businessweek. In “The Obama Effect,” it looked at which parts of the country have seen the greatest value increase since Obama took office. Virginia was by far the most-represented state on the list.
Here’s what made the list:
- Leesburg (#24 best housing market since 2009)
- Sterling (19)
- McLean (13)
- Chantilly (11)
- Reston (9)
- Ashburn (8)
- Herndon (6)
- Vienna (5)
- Burke (4)
(No Virginia city made the list of 25 worst markets since 2009 — Florida pretty much owns that.)
The issue is one we’ve covered before: A lot of underwater and struggling homeowners could benefit tremendously if they could refinance at today’s crazy-low rates. But they can’t refinance because the value of their property has dropped so much.
So now the Obama Administration has revised its Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which was designed to help five million underwater homeowners but has only been used by half a million.
You should know the loan-limit issue by now: In 2008, Congress raised the maximum amount of the loans the government (through FHA, Fannie, and Freddie) could back. But on October 1 those limits dropped back to their old values, despite the lobbying efforts of a host of industry groups, including your Realtor associations.
Every year, the National Council of State Housing Agencies gives a series of awards to the state agencies that have done the most to promote and protect affordable housing. In 2011, the Virginia Housing Development Authority took home four of the 17 awards. Check it out, yo: