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Real Estate News - February 2010

26 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Existing-home sales fall 7.2% to 7-month low
Resales of U.S. homes and condos fell 7.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, the lowest in seven months, raising concerns about the durability of the housing recovery, the National Association of Realtors reported Friday.

26 February 2010 - FT - U.K. house prices fall for first time in 10 months
UK house prices fell 1% in February, halting a nine-month streak of steady rises and raising questions once again about the stability of the market

26 February 2010 - Times - City money drives farmland prices up
Investors see farmland as a lifestyle choice and a hedge against tough times — and they like the tax breaks

25 February 2010 - FT - Bernanke signals US rates to be kept low
US interest rates would remain at exceptionally low levels for an “extended period” in spite of the “nascent” economic recovery, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, told Congress

25 February 2010 - FT - Freddie Mac likely to need more cash support
Freddie Mac said on Wednesday it would probably have to take more taxpayer cash this year to offset continued losses in a fragile housing market. The warning by the government-run mortgage financier came as it revealed it lost $7.8bn in the last three months of 2009, compared with a loss of $23.9bn a year earlier. The deficit in the fourth quarter of last year was inflated by a $1.3bn dividend payment to the US Treasury but is still up on the loss of $5.4bn in the previous quarter.

24 February 2010 - FT - Commerzbank hit by €4.5bn loss
Germany's second-largest bank lost €4.5bn in 2009 as the cost of overhauling the acquired Dresdner Bank and a steep rise in loan-loss provisions took their toll

24 February 2010 - Marketwatch - U.S. new-home sales fall to record-low level
Sales of new U.S. homes plunged 11.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000, the lowest rate on record dating back to 1963, the Commerce Department estimated Wednesday.

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - 11.3 million homeowners underwater on mortgage
More than 11.3 million homeowners -- nearly one-fourth of all Americans with a mortgage -- owe more on their loan than their home is now worth, according to a report released Tuesday by FirstAmerican CoreLogic.

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - U.S. home prices fall 0.2% in December, Case-Shiller says
Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities fell a not-seasonally adjusted 0.2% in December compared with November, according to the Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's.

23 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Almost 10% of FDIC-insured banks on 'troubled' list
Driven by expanding problems with commercial real estate loans, the number of distressed banks in the U.S. rose to 702 in the fourth quarter, marking the highest level in 16 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

22 February 2010 - FT - Debt threat to Kuwait investment houses
Most of Kuwait's multibillion dollar investment company industry could be wiped out by debt repayments on the finance houses' leveraged investments made before the recession, senior bankers have warned.

22 February 2010 - Bloomberg - The search for the next Greece is finding its way to Japan
Few here gave much weight to warnings by analysts like Makoto Noji of Mizuho Securities Co. about the second-biggest economy facing “next-Greece” speculation. That was until Japan’s central bank chief hinted at a similar risk.

22 February 2010 - FT - Mortgage lending at 10-year low
Gross mortgage lending in January fell to the lowest level in 10 years as buyers were deterred by the end of the stamp duty holiday, figures showed this week – but experts have warned that lending could decline further as banks lose government funding support.

22 February 2010 - FT - Investors drawn to farmland
Individuals move to take advantage of expected rises in rural prices and favourable tax benefits

22 February 2010 - FT - US housing market hit by 'walkaways'
Wayne B, a 62-year-old executive who works at an airport, and his wife Orapin, a dental assistant, are about to do something odd. The couple, with a pristine credit history, have decided to default on their $500,000 (£325,000, ¦370,000) mortgage on a townhouse in Livermore, a respectable city in California's San Francisco Bay area.

22 February 2010 - Telegraph - UK property company Hammerson to bet this year on France, not Britain
Hammerson, the UK property company, will focus on France rather than the UK this year because it believes the country's economy is stronger.

19 February 2010 - Reuters - Mortgages foreclosing, delinquent at 15 percent in Q4
A record proportion of U.S. mortgages were in foreclosure or at least one payment past due in the fourth quarter, according to industry data showing the fragile state of the recovery in the housing market.

19 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Is it time to give up your low adjustable-rate mortgage for a fixed-rate loan?
Low mortgage rates over the past year have inspired many Americans to refinance their home loans, but some eligible borrowers haven't made the leap.

19 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Foreclosure troubles only hibernating
You would like so desperately for our housing woes to end that you want to believe the latest numbers on mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures signal a turnaround in the fortunes of American homeowners. But the numbers just don't ring true.

19 February 2010 - Times - Shock deficit threatens UK recovery
A shock January deficit from a record slump in tax receipts fuelled fears that Britain could slip back into recession.

18 February 2010 - FT - Mortgage lending falls to a ten-year low
Mortgage lending fell to a ten-year low in January as the market was hit by the ending of the stamp duty holiday late last year.

18 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Fed ramps up discount rate to 0.75%
The Federal Reserve surprised financial markets Thursday by lifting the lending rate it charges banks. Moved called return to 'normal' operations, not sign of tighter monetary policy.

17 February 2010 - Marketwatch - More gloom ahead in commercial real estate
Over the next few years, a wave of commercial real estate loan failures could threaten America's already-weakened financial system.

17 February 2010 - FT - Bank of Ireland to change year end
Bank of Ireland has announced that it will change its year end, increasing speculation about an imminent rights issue to avoid having to take further government investment as it struggles to absorb large property loan write downs.

17 February 2010 - Telegraph - US bank lending falls at fastest rate in history
Bank lending in the US has contracted so far this year at the fastest rate in recorded history, raising concerns that the Federal Reserve may have jumped the gun by withdrawing emergency stimulus.

17 February 2010 - Telegraph - UK house prices 'to slump as credit crunch returns'
A second mortgage credit crunch that will send UK house prices into a new tailspin is looming, economists and credit experts have warned.

17 February 2010 - FT - Canada curbs lending to check housing boom
Canada tightened mortgage lending rules with the aim of damping a housing boom fuelled by low interest rates and fast-rising consumer debt

17 February 2010 - Times - UK inflation leaps to 3.5 per cent after VAT rise
The consumer prices index has surged to an annual rate of 3.5 per cent - an increase of 2.9 per cent from December

16 February 2010 - FT - US banks take hit to clear home loan books
Big US banks including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are moving to clear their books of troubled mortgages by embracing "short sales", in which homeowners settle debts by selling their properties for less than the mortgage value.

16 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Australian economist warns of bubble in nation's housing
Australia's seemingly bulletproof economy could soon face fallout from high debt levels and purportedly misguided policies designed to pump up asset prices, according to an outspoken skeptic of the nation's housing boom.

16 February 2010 - Times - Millions of credit card holders feel the crunch as interest soars
Millions of credit card holders are being squeezed by the highest interest rates in more than a decade, according to new research. Despite the Bank of England’s base rate being at 0.5 per cent, average credit card interest rates have risen to 18.8 per cent.

15 February 2010 - Housing Wire - CMBS Delinquencies and Special Servicing Hit Record Highs
The delinquency rate on commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) conduit and fusion loans posted the largest single monthly increase on record. US CMBS loans are also transferring to special servicing status faster and greater than ever before.

15 February 2010 - Telegraph - Inflation expected to rise above Bank of England target
Britain's benchmark inflation rate may be catapulted to 4pc, perhaps as soon as Tuesday's release of January's data, economists have predicted.

15 February 2010 - FT - Lenders tighten 'consent-to-let' rules
Mortgage lenders are making it more difficult for borrowers moving home to keep an existing property and let it out. Many are charging higher rates and fees, with some lenders refusing their consent at all, brokers warn

15 February 2010 - FT - Investors abandon junk bonds
Investors are selling out of “junk” bonds at the fastest rate since September 2005, in the latest indication that concerns over sovereign debt are spreading to other credit markets

12 February 2010 - FT - US foreclosures: an open sore
Four years on from the peak in US house prices and the bust has matured enough to show seasonal patterns. Foreclosure filings are up - 15 per cent higher than last January, according to RealtyTrac - but the month was below December. Christmas prompts a flurry of filings to get paperwork filed ahead of the holiday, followed by a new year dip.

12 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Protecting Yourself from the Giant New Deficit
For every dollar in debt that Americans have paid off since they started cleansing their balance sheets in mid-2008, the U.S. government has borrowed more than $7. All the hard work by consumers to replenish their piggy banks may be for naught if big government budget deficits play havoc with the economy.

11 February 2010 - Wall Street Journal - Fannie and Freddie to Buy More Delinquent Home Loans
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they will ramp up their purchases of some $200 billion in delinquent home loans that the two government-controlled mortgage-finance companies have guaranteed.

10 February 2010 - Marketwatch - After trend of rising prices, some housing markets see about-face
One in five housing markets entered a second leg of home price declines in late 2009, after showing price increases for nearly half of last year, according to a report released Wednesday by, a real-estate Web site.

08 February 2010 - FT - UK house price growth slows
House prices rose at their slowest pace in six months in January, according to a closely watched index, adding to signs that the rapid pace of recovery in the housing market may be easing

08 February 2010 - Marketwatch - British house prices rise in January: RICS
British house prices rose again in January, although buyer interest and the number of new sellers declined amid foul weather, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said Tuesday.

08 February 2010 - Jumbo Mortgage ‘Serious Delinquencies’ Rise to 9.6%
U.S. prime jumbo mortgages at least 60 days late backing securities reached 9.6 percent in January from 9.2 percent in December, the 32nd straight increase for “serious delinquencies,” according to Fitch Ratings.

07 February 2010 - FT - Lenders warn of mortgage shortages
Britain's banks and building societies have warned that they will have to slash mortgage lending and raise rates on home loans if the government insists on prompt and full repayment of the £300bn they have received in state support since 2008.

05 February 2010 - FT - Gilt markets unruffled as QE suspended
The Bank of England has held interest rates at record lows but says it will not extend its £200bn-plus asset buying programme

04 February 2010 - Wall Street Journal - Mortgage-Index Quirks Prove Costly
Tens of thousands of homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages have seen their monthly payments jump or stay high even as they have fallen for other homeowners. This disparity owes to the obscure indexes used to calculate those payments have moved in unexpected ways.

04 February 2010 - FT - House prices rise but at a slower pace
House prices rose for the seventh consecutive month in January but at a more modest pace, according to the latest Halifax house price index.

04 Februry 2010 - Times - Buy-to-let investors may get cut in tax
The Government is considering granting stamp duty concessions on bulk buying of property to encourage institutional investors to become professional landlords.

03 February 2010 - Wall Street Journal - Home-Ownership Level Falls to 67.3%
The percentage of Americans who owned their homes fell at the end of 2009 to the lowest point in nearly a decade, a reflection of continuing troubles in the housing market even as the sector showed signs of stabilizing.

03 February 2010 - FT - US mortgage sector braced for end of Fed help
Cold turkey time is rapidly approaching for the US mortgage market as the Federal Reserve gets ready to end its mammoth $1,250bn buying programme at the end of March.

03 February 2010 - Marketwatch - Banks' $10 billion problem: loan repurchases
Just when they thought the worst of the mortgage crisis was behind them, billions of dollars in bad loans from the debacle may be rising from the dead and creeping back on the balance sheets of the largest U.S. banks.

02 February 2010 - New York Times - No Help in Sight, More Homeowners Walk Away
The number of US homes valued below 75 per cent of the mortgage balance will climb to a peak of 5.1 million by June.

02 February 2010 - FT - Eurozone issues record €110bn in bonds
Eurozone governments have borrowed a record €110bn from the markets so far this year, forcing up borrowing costs for those countries with the weakest public finances as they pay a heavy price for their ballooning debt levels

02 February 2010 - Marketwatch - 20 reasons Global Debt Time Bomb explodes soon
Any one can destroy your retirement because all 20 are inexorably linked, a house-of-cards, a circular firing squad destined to self-destruct, triggering the third great Wall Street meltdown of the 21st century, igniting the Great Depression II that George W. Bush, Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson and now President Obama have simply delayed with their endless knee-jerk, debt-laden wars, stimulus bonanzas and bailouts.

01 February 2010 - FT - Building societies forced to act on losses
Building society customers can expect to see more mergers, and more increases to the standard variable rate (SVR) for their mortgages, as mutual lenders struggle with low profitability.

01 February 2010 - Reuters - Obama's 2010 budget: deficit soars amid job spending
President Barack Obama pledged on Monday to halve a record 2010 budget deficit by the end of his first term in office, but made tackling double-digit unemployment his immediate priority with a spending plan that risked public ire and a rough battle in Congress.

01 February 2010 - FT - Mortgage repurchases
Even as credit costs start to fall, US banks' hangover from the housing bust will linger. One post-binge ailment buried in banks' books is charges related to mortgage repurchases, where investors - mainly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - use legal guarantees in sale agreements, on underwriting standards and documentation for example, to return problem loans to the original lender. Banks assess the likelihood that bad loans will come back to them, and the severity of ensuing losses, in a similar manner to credit reserves. But the impact is recorded as a deduction from revenue in the mortgage business

01 February 2010 - New York Times - Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power
Projections suggest there is virtually no room over the next decade for new domestic initiatives for President Obama or his successors.




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