Thursday, May 26, 2011
HOUSING AND OTHER NEWS
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY HITS NEW HIGH; BANK
FORECLOSURE ABUSE SETTLEMENTS UNDER
DISCUSSION; PUBLIC SCHOOL CUTS SOLUTIONS
With the national median family income at $64,400, the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo announced that 74.6% of new and existing homes sold in 1Q-2011 were affordable to these families. This is the highest level recorded in more than 20 years since the index has been measured. In 2010 73.9% was the figure. Interest rates are at historically low levels, but credit is very tight.
Freddie Mac is offering up to 3.5% closing-cost assistance and a $1200 bonus to buyers agents on sales of HomeSteps properties. Offers must be received by July 31 with escrow closing onor before September 30.
Five of the nation’s largest banks were told by state attorneys general that they face liability of at least $17BB in civil lawsuits unless they can reach a settlement regarding improper foreclosure practices. There are additional potential claims of billions of dollars from federal agencies including HUD and DOJ. Banks have proposed a $5BB settlement to compensate any previously wronged borrowers and to provide transition assistance for borrowers ousted from their homes. Federal and state officials say that is insufficient and want $20BB to resolve these problems which the state attorneys general from all 50 states and DC have been investigating since last fall.
New home sales April gains as opposed to March gains were 7.1%. However, this is down 23% from sales in April 2010.
Budget cuts are causing some public schools to shift costs to students for enrolling in some courses and activities. Parents are being asked to pay for supplemental materials such as printer ink, biology lab safety goggles and algebra workbooks, some schools offering installment pay plans and others accepting credit cards for a small fee. Some fees are waived for low-income families. In California, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the State for allowing districts to charge a wide array of fees. Enrichment programs have been cut or eliminated such as advanced math and science, music, art, drama, foreign languages, sports, gifted student courses and help for struggling readers in order to meet budget. Some teachers noted that many students have taken on part time jobs to pay for activities they want to take part in such as athletics and music.