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July 21st, 2008 9:42 AM by Lehel Szucs

A Reuters/University of Michigan survey reveals that twice as many homeowners expect their home value to fall in the coming year than believed their home value would drop a year ago. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed in late April and early May said they expect their home to depreciate in value, up from 14 percent at this same time last year. Just 17 percent predicted their home will increase in value, down significantly from 35 percent in May 2007. Their outlook doesn’t improve much over the longer term: Only 58 percent reported they expect their home value to appreciate over the next five years, down from 65 percent a year ago. Concerns about month after month of home price declines and long-term prospects for inflation, energy costs and the job market were behind the more pessimistic response, survey participants said.

Some 183,000 at-risk homeowners were rescued from the potential loss of their homes due to foreclosure in April, according to Hope Now, a coalition of mortgage lenders, servicers, investors and community groups that has offered help to troubled borrowers since July 2007. Hope Now said it completed more than 183,000 loan workouts in April, a 7.6 percent increase over March, bringing the total number of homeowners helped to more than 1.6 million. Most of the workouts involved the negotiation of repayment plans in which borrowers receive extra time to bring their loans current. However, the number of mortgage term modifications rose to 42 percent, or roughly 77,000 total workouts for the month. Even with the program, 80,926 families lost their home to foreclosure in April, the group said.

Consumers who arrange a mortgage through a mortgage broker or who are African American, Latino or live in neighborhoods with lower numbers of college graduates generally pay more in closing costs, according to a recent study of 7,560 loans closed in May and June of 2001 through commercial lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Homebuyers who worked through a mortgage broker paid $300 to $425 more in closing costs than those who worked through direct lenders. African Americans paid an additional $415, while Latinos paid an additional $365, on average. Consumers in neighborhoods where there were larger numbers of college-educated adults paid on average $1,100 less that homebuyers paid in neighborhoods where there were fewer college graduates. The study concluded that buyers who obtain so-called "no cost loans" (where there is no cost for points, appraisals or title insurance) generally are better off than those w ho "buy down" their interest rate but pay more in fees or points.

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Posted by Lehel Szucs on July 21st, 2008 9:42 AM

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