Archive for June, 2014

Despite Falling Mortgage Rates, March 2014 HARP Loan Closings Lowest …

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Despite Falling Mortgage Rates, March 2014 HARP Loan Closings Lowest Since Programs Launch

  • HARP Mortgages

In late-2011, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was made available to US homeowners whose mortgages were severely underwater. The program was a hit, and help homeowners to refinance.

At its peak, HARP loans for which loan-to-value (LTV) exceeded 125% accounted for more than 40 percent of all HARP loans closed. Today, however, with home prices rising, fewer homeowners need HARPs high-LTV option.

In March 2014, HARP loans over 125% LTV accounted for a paltry 12 percent of overall HARP closings. 

Get a personalized HARP rate quote here.

HARP : Refinancing For Underwater Homeowners

HARP is an acronym. It stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. Sometimes called the Obama Refi, HARP was launched in 2009 as part of that years economic stimulus program.

At the time, current mortgage rates had been dropping sharply. Meanwhile, home values were doing the same.

In places like Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and Phoenix, Arizona, homeowners witnessed 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates dropping to the 4s. However, because these homeowners had little or no equity left in their properties, there was — quite literally — nothing they could do to benefit from low rates.

Thats when the Home Affordable Refinance Program was first proposed.

As part of its economic stimulus programs, the government was promoting the idea that if underwater homeowners could just get access to a refinance, they would be able to lower their monthly mortgage payments, thereby increasing household cash flow, and boosting consumer spending which would help propel the US economy recovery.

HARP mortgage guidelines instructed US banks to ignore a homeowners specific home equity for a refinance and, instead, to focus on a homeowners other loan traits, such as its history of on-time mortgage payments.

Headlines read Obama Waives Refi Requirements. US homeowners jumped on the program.

HARP 2 : Removing 125% LTV Restrictions

HARP was originally meant to reach 7 million US homeowners. However, through the programs first two years, it had failed to reach even one million households. The government determined that there were two key reasons for the shortfall.

The first reason HARP was falling short was because the government was asking banks to underwrite loans for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, but then holding them responsible for due diligence errors made on the loan prior to the refinance.

For example, if Wells Fargo was giving a HARP loan to an existing Bank of America customer, Wells Fargo would be accountable to Bank of Americas original home loan approval, plus any errors, omissions, or traces of fraud which occurred on the original underwrite.

Rules like that will scare a bank so, as a result, few lenders gave HARP access beyond their existing customers base. These loans came to be known as same-servicer HARP loans. The lack of cross-servicer loans hindered HARPs progress.

The second reason HARP was falling short was because program guidelines restricted HARP loans to homes with LTVs of 125% LTV or less. This was restrictive to homeowners in hard-hit states such as Nevada and Florida whose negative-equity positions were much greater than 125% LTV. 

Some homeowners had LTVs as high as 300 percent.

So, in November 2011, as an effort to make HARP better, the government re-released the Home Affordable Refinance Program as HARP 2.0.

The main changes for HARP 2.0 were two-fold :

  1. Indemnify new mortgage lender from errors made by original mortgage lender
  2. Remove the loan-to-value restrictions so 125% LTV was no longer a limit

The changes gave US homeowners access to unlimited LTV loans which could be handled by any HARP-participating lender. Since the program update, HARP volume has tripled. More than 3 million HARP loans have closed since the programs inception.

The need for ultra-high LTV loans is waning, however.

Get a personalized HARP rate quote for your home.

HARP For LTVs Over 125% Lose Market Share

HARP 2.0 launched in November 2011 and, by June 2012, loans over 125 percent LTV accounted for more than 40% of total HARP volume.

This would be the peak for ultra-high LTV HARP loans, though; a function of pent-up demand, falling mortgage rates, and stagnant US home prices.

Since June 2012, with home values rising as much as 25% in some US markets, requests for HARP loans over 125% have steadily dropped. The reduction since last summer has been swift.

  • March 2013 : 21.8% of all HARP loans were for LTVs over 125%
  • March 2014 : 12.4% of all HARP loans were for LTVs over 125%

Demand for ultra-high LTV loans is decidedly lower as compared to last year.

Rising home values are diminishing the need for HARP loans over 125% LTV, a trend which will likely continue through 2014, and into 2015 when the Home Affordable Refinance Program is slated to expire.

HARP concludes December 31, 2015. There are no plans to extend HARP currently.

Get HARP Mortgage Rates

The HARP mortgage program has fewer than 2 years left in its life, but thats still plenty of time to weigh your options and apply for a loan. Plus, with mortgage rates at a one-year low, market conditions are favorable for all  homeowners to save money each month.

The typical HARP homeowner saves more than 27% on their mortgage payment monthly. See how HARP can help you. Get started with a rate quote today. Rates are available online at no cost and with no obligation. Your social security number is not required to get started.

Click here for todays rate quotes.

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Va. Beach man charged after barricade situation

Monday, June 30th, 2014

The Virginian-Pilot


A man who was believed to be armed and locked inside acash advance store in the 1000 block of Lynnhaven Pkwy. now is in police custody.

An employee told policean armed person was inside the Ace Cash Express about 8:30 am, said Tonya Borman, police spokeswoman. The employee was somehow able to lock the man inside the store and call 911.

Officersmade contact with the man using a bullhorn and talked him into leaving peacefully shortly before 10 am

Detectives arrested Clarence Cortez Brown, 25, of Virginia Beach. He is charged with attempted robbery, abduction and two counts of use of a firearm, a police news release said. He is being held in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center without bond.

Pilot writer Mike Connors contributed to this report.

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The Future of Small-Business Lending Looks a Lot Less Sketchy

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The Next America | Economic Empowerment

The Future of Small-Business Lending Looks a Lot Less Sketchy
A California nonprofit reinvents the merchant cash advance with loans that could expand access to capital and wont bankrupt small-business owners.

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Northern Dynasty accepts more mining claims near Pebble

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Northern Dynasty accepts more mining claims near Pebble

June 6th 6:52 pm | By Dave Bendinger

In May, an agreement was finalized transferring 199 state mining claims on the Big Chunk Super Project site from Liberty Star Uranium amp; Metals to Northern Dynasty, the sole owner of the Pebble Mine project north of Iliamna.

Along with 95 mineral claims transferred in 2010, Northern Dynasty now owns 294 claims on the Big Chunk copper and gold deposit, which lies a few miles north of Pebble.

The transfer settles a 2010 cash loan from Northern Dynasty which Liberty Star was never able to repay.

The deal began when Northern Dynasty staked Liberty Star $1 million in cash in return for the direct purchase of 95 Big Chunk claims. Liberty Star put the 199 claims up as collateral for an additional $3 million loan from Northern Dynasty.

When Northern Dynasty called for repayment of that loan in the fall of 2012, Liberty Star was bound to transfer the remaining claims in lieu of the cash payment. With interest, the balance of the loan had risen to $3,730,174.

The deal was put on hold, however, by another company also owed money by Liberty Star. MBGS, LLC, an Alaska-Native owned contracting firm had put a lien on the 199 claims after alleging Liberty Star had failed to pay some $320,000 for services provided during the drilling season of 2012.

MBGS, LLC filed suit against Liberty Star in December 2012. The lawsuit was settled in March 2014, when Liberty Star agreed to give MBGS 1 million shares of company stock and all of the equipment and property at the camp site.

When the lien was removed, Liberty Star was able to transfer the 199 claims to Northern Dynasty to satisfy the loan terms. Their agreement was signed May 12.

There are other signs that Liberty Star, an exploration stage mining company based out of Tucson, Ariz., is in poor financial shape. A 2013 year-end statement filed in May reports the company had only $55,089 cash on hand, and had a net loss of $2,318,047 for the 12-month period ended Jan. 31, 2014. The company reported a net loss the previous year of about the same amount. It continues to borrow heavily, and its stock price is trading at just over $0.01 per share.

According to a December 2013 press release, Liberty Star has dumped all but 54 mineral claims (12 square miles) at Big Chunk. Just a year prior, the company held 612 state mining claims (177 square miles) at the site, and was continuing geologic work to try and prove the deposit was perhaps similar in scope and value to Pebble.

The company says it has reduced all land that previous studies confirm lack anomalies for porphyry copper deposits, and that the remaining 54 claims are directly centered over the promising anomalies.

In that December release, CEO Jim Briscoe said the problems that have caused Anglo American to withdraw from the area were similarly bad for Liberty Star, and that the money that would have been used for holding costs on the dumped claims will be used to shore up other prospects in Arizona.

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Report: Temporary Cash Advance among Proposals to Resolve Wage Scale …

Friday, June 27th, 2014

A project to grant military officials, public sector employees, and teachers a temporary cash advance as one proposal to resolve the dispute over the new wage scale is being studied, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday.

Informed sources told the daily that the advance will be part of a 20 to 25 percent raise for these employees.

This salary hike will be included in the proposed modifications of the wage scale draft-law.

The modifications also include refraining from altering the time scheduled of public sector and public school employees until a new president is elected.

This will pave the way for an “advanced level of security in Lebanon that will allow for serious discussions over the funding of the new wage scale that is being proposed today,” explained the sources.

The public sector employees and teachers are holding onto a 121 percent increase in their salaries. But a ministerial-parliamentary committee has proposed to reduce the total funding from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion).

It has also called for raising certain taxes, which are a source of controversy among parliamentary blocs.

The Syndicate Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has held several protests to pressure parliament to approve the wage scale draft-law without any amendments.

Several political and economic officials have warned that approving the draft-law will have a negative impact of Lebanons economy.

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Pawn shop ordinance gives police more time to track stolen goods

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Local secondhand shops will now have to keep new purchases for 10 days before putting them out for sale, giving police more time to track stolen goods.

The Kokomo Common Council amended the ordinance Monday for pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers in the city in an effort to comply with updates to state laws. Previously, Kokomo’s ordinance required that items be retained for 24 hours.

The changes are meant to give police more time to investigate and discover stolen goods that are sold at pawn shops or other secondhand stores.

All goods or articles sold at any licensed pawnbroker, secondhand dealer, precious metals or stone dealer must now be retained at their place of business for 10 days after the transaction has been electronically transmitted to the Kokomo Police Department before they can be sold.

Local law enforcement uses online databases like Leads Online, which tracks pawn shop purchases with important and pertinent information in real-time, to find goods that have been stolen.

Kokomo Common Council member Kevin Summers said the state’s switch from a five- to 10-day waiting period will allow those who have had items stolen more time to report the theft.

“There’s no real magic number, but 10 days gives you a full couple of weeks. If you’ve been on vacation and your house gets broken into, there are a couple of days to handle that,” he said.

In addition to a longer waiting period, a clear photograph of each article, capturing characteristics like serial numbers, names, letters, special features or other unique identifying marks, must be preserved electronically through a computer data system as stipulated by the Kokomo Police Department.

Cash Loan amp; Security Inc. co-manager Deb Hickey said her business at 501 S. Reed Road has not taken photos with incoming merchandise in the past, so there will be a learning curve of sorts with the changes.

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Abused Michigan inmates must repay cash-advance company, federal appeals …

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

FLINT, MI — A federal appeals court has ruled a group of former female inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by prison guards will have to repay much of their multi-million dollar settlement to a company that provided them cash while the lawsuit was ongoing.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, June 19, that it would uphold Flint US District Judge Mark Goldsmiths ruling that the eight women owe Money for Lawsuits (MFL), a company that invests in lawsuits by purchasing a contingent right to receive a portion of a settlement, roughly $4.2 million after the company claims it paid the women nearly $860,000 during the life of the case.

Royal Oak attorney Ralph J. Sirlin, who represented the women, said he would discuss appealing the ruling to the United States Supreme Court with his clients.

The women were part of a class against lawsuit filed against the state by a group of female inmates who claimed that they were systematically harassed and abused by male prison guards. The class action was settled in 2008 for $100 million and MFL claims that the group of eight received nearly $5 million of the settlement.

MFL claimed that it provided the women more than $860,000 during the life of the lawsuit that, when combined with interest, grew to a debt of roughly $4.2 million.

However, MFL sued the women in April 2010 in Flint US District Court claiming the women never paid back the money they owed.

Birmingham Attorney David E. Plunkett, who represented MFL, could not be reached for comment on the appeals court decision.

Sirlin argued that the women did not owe the company any money because the interest rates MFL charged, sometimes more than 80 percent annually, violated Michigans usury laws and invalidated the deals.

The interest rates were astronomical, Sirlin said. These corporations take advantage of these people.

Goldsmith ruled that the agreements the women signed were not considered loans since MFL would only be repaid if the lawsuit was successful. By not being considered loans, usury laws governing interest rates were not applicable, the court ruled.

But, despite the courts rationale, Sirlin said he believes his clients were treated unfairly by the court because of their history of being prison inmates.

Sirlin said the courts forced him to argue his case via written motions and briefs rather than being allowed to debate the case in-person in front of a judge.

They just didnt want to look at this, Sirlin said.

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Men sentenced for robberies at Topeka businesses

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

TOPEKA, KAN. –  A press release from The Office of United States Attorney Barry Grissom of Kansas states states that two men were sentenced Tuesday for robberies at Topeka businesses.

Quartez Norwood, 32, Topeka, Kan., was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm during a robbery.

Henry Lavelle Davis, 41, Topeka, Kan., was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery

In his plea, Norwood admitted that on July 29, 2013, he robbed the EZ Payday Advance at 2613 SW 21st Street in Topeka, on Aug. 3, 2013, he robbed the Family Dollar at 2616 SE 6th Street in Topeka, and on Aug. 3, 2013, he brandished a firearm during the robbery at the Family Dollar.

In his plea, Davis admitted that on July 25, 2013, he robbed the Check Into Cash at 3711 SW Plaza Drive in Topeka, and on July 29, 2013, he robbed the EZ Payday Advance at 2613 SW 21st Street in Topeka.

Co-defendants include Xavier Leron Sims, 26, Topeka, Kan., who was sentenced to 35 months, Robert Wayne Redmond, 42, Topeka, Kan., who is set for sentencing July 14, and Henry Earl Sirvira, 45, Topeka, Kan., who is awaiting trial.

Grissom commended the Topeka Police Department, the FBI and Assistant US Attorney Jared Maag for their work on the case.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

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New Small Business Loan Solutions are Here and Ready, Thanks to Business …

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

New Small Business Loan Solutions are Here and Ready, Thanks to Business Cash Advance Guru, a Leading Provider of Commercial Grade Funding
Thanks to this alternative lender, Business Cash Advance Guru, Small business loan solutions are now available at an affordable price, without red tape, collateral, or a personal guarantee; and, there’s no credit check required.

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School district confirms payday loans given from public money

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Rumors that the Colleton County School District was issuing payday advance loans to employees from the districts general fund during former Superintendent of Education Leila Williams tenure have been proven true.

The Press and Standard on Wednesday obtained a copy of the Colleton County School Districts reply to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Colleton Business Alliance seeking information about loans given to school district employees since 2010.

In its reply, the district documented 23 cash advance loans from the taxpayer funded general balance that were issued between July 2010 and Feb. 2014 totaling $37,095. Of that total, $3,164 have not yet been repaid to the school district.

The loan amounts given ranged from a  low of $175 to a high of $3,500. The time given to repay the loans ranges from as short as one pay period (14-17) days to 25 pay periods (more than a year).

Names of employees who received the loans and the purposes for which they were given were not included in the report. 

Dr. Franklin Foster, acting Superintendent of Education for the Colleton County School District, said that all advances were authorized and signed by former superintendent Leila Williams. Foster also said that all outstanding balances on the five loans still in repayment are due by Aug. 15.

All loans were established with basic written contracts that specified amounts, repayment periods, and that the employee was voluntarily seeking the loan. The contracts were to be dated and signed by the employee seeking the loan and the authorizing administrator.

Foster, who took over in March and is in contract negotiations with the school board to become interim superintendent for the 2014-15 school year, said it is the districts policy to no longer make cash advances to employees.

For more on this developing story, continue to follow

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