Interesting Housing News Links (February 8, 2009)

* Regulators planning to ban “sham” trusts in short sales (Margaret Jackson)

The Colorado Division of Real Estate has formed a task force to examine short-sale real estate transactions involving investor trusts.

* Crying out for communicators (The Financial Times)

Risk management quants, or quantitative analysts, were considered until last year as a lesser-known species of the banking underworld. Armed with PhDs in theoretical physics and mathematics, they would typically keep themselves to themselves, creating models to assess the precise risk of holding financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities.

* Mortgage rates rise on economic reports (San Francisco Chronicle)

Rates have gone up since hitting a record low of 4.96 percent three weeks ago, a decline attributed to the Federal Reserve’s move to buy $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities to spur lending by banks.

* Real Estate News: Wells Fargo offers to cut balances on some Wachovia loans (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Wells Fargo & Co. has offered to cut balances on some Wachovia Corp. mortgages by 20 percent, according to a Bloomberg story .

* Boulder sheriff tells public of problems fighting wildfires (Annette Espinoza, Denver Post)

LONGMONT Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle scolded homeowners Saturday for making it more difficult to fight three fires that scorched 3,000 acres on Jan. 7.

* U.S. mortgage time bomb needs defusing (Asbury Park Press)

When talking about the U.S. home market, mentioning “the other shoe to drop” was quaint about a year ago. Now we are referring only to bombs.

* S&P dividends to take steepest drop since ’42

NEW YORK: Dividend payments from America’s largest companies are expected to fall 13.3 percent this year, the steepest drop since 1942, Standard & Poor’s predicted.

* Another tool to escape foreclosures (Kenneth Harney, Washington Post Writers Group)

Critics say it could be disastrous – pushing up interest rates on all future mortgages, even for people with excellent credit, and creating huge losses for ailing banks.

* Reverse Mortgages Could be the Next to Collapse (KLKS)

The reverse mortgage business could be the next sector of the real estate market to collapse, says State Representative Jim Davnie of Minneapolis. He and Attorney General Lori Swanson are worried about predatory reverse mortgages aimed at senior citizens.

* Africanized bees spread throughout Florida | How to prevent attacks (Mike Clary, S. Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Just seven years after they were first spotted in the Tampa area, African honeybees have become well-established throughout South Florida. Experts estimate that up to 80 percent of all wild bee colonies in our area are now hybridized with this aggressive, often-irritable strain.

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