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The San Francisco metro area has once again put up the largest annual home price gain in the U.S., according to the most recent numbers from a prominent real estate index.

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The latest S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which run two months behind, say that single-family home prices in the San Francisco area increased by 9.3 percent in December, the most of any of the 20 major U.S. metro areas included in the report. San Francisco returned to the top of the Case-Shiller index for the first time in 18 months in November, when prices rose by 8.9 percent year over year.

As was the case in the two preceding months, home prices in San Francisco grew at about double the national rate in December. Case-Shiller’s numbers put the U.S. annual rate of home price appreciation at 4.6 percent in the final month of 2014.

Although existing home price growth and sales across the country are at their normal levels, David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that he believes the housing recovery is “faltering,” a by-product of sluggish construction and new-home-sales activity.

“Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession,” Blitzer said. “The softness in housing is despite favorable conditions elsewhere in the economy: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates, and positive consumer confidence.”

According to MLS data, the median single-family home price increased year over year in every one of Pacific Union’s Bay Area regions except the Mid-Peninsula subregion, which saw a slight decline. Home prices topped the $1 million mark in our Contra Costa County, Marin County, Mid-Peninsula, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley regions as 2014 came to a close.

The chart below provides more information on annual Bay Area home price changes. Also, be sure to check out Pacific Union’s fourth-quarter 2014 real estate report for more in-depth sales data and information on how we define our regions.

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(Image: Flickr/Bhautikjoshi)

Source: Pacific Union

Fed Cracks Down On Mortgage Servicers, Banks

Immediate changes coming to the foreclosure industry. Lenders being held accountable for improper foreclosure process. ALL foreclosures starting in 2009 to be examined for infractions and owners given compensation….and/ or their homes are to be GIVEN BACK TO THEM.

NOTE: the AG Robo-Signers settlement will be in addition to this…so, more changes coming to the foreclosure process.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Thrift Supervision released enforcement action against 14 major bank/servicers in the form of consent orders.

Bank of America , JP Morgan Chase , Ally Financial, Wells Fargo, SunTrust, Citibank, HSBC, MetLife, PNC, U.S. Bank, Aurora Bank,   EverBank, OneWest Bank and Sovereign Bank will all be hit with no fewer than 16 new requirements for mortgage servicing and loss mitigation.

These 16 new requirements are more or less what the requirements were always thought to be…. forcing the servicers to improve on foreclosure documentation, oversight, and chain of ownership. Additionally, lenders are required independent reviews and a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure. The action prohibits dual tracking, when one arm of the bank pursues foreclosure while another pursues modification.

Another detail, servicers (banks) will also be held accountable of their third-party vendors, including lawyers, who provide foreclosure services. No more…”that was an outside company we hired…we had no idea they were doing X”. Banks must comply within 120 days of the order. Most of the big banks have already implemented many of these ‘new’ requirements. The second we get an official copy of these 16 new requirements we will publish them.

And now the really interesting news….

Penalties are coming… “The Federal Reserve believes monetary sanctions in these cases are appropriate and plans to announce monetary penalties.”

And…. The OCC also says the enforcement actions, “do not preclude determinations regarding assessment of civil money penalties.”

In other words, we are talking about potentially huge penalties and judgments from the civil claims.

As part of this new enforcement the banks will be required to engage an independent firm to review foreclosure actions from January 1, 2009 through December, 2010 to assess whether foreclosures complied with federal and state laws and whether there were in fact grounds to foreclose.

You read that correctly, all foreclosures that happened between 01/01/09 and 12/01/10 will be reviewed by (hopefully) independent firms looking for infractions.

And what happens if (when) infractions are found….?

If borrowers were harmed by the foreclosure process the banks will have to remediate the borrowers in some way. Remediation could include monetary damages and even the borrower getting the home back.

Imagine all the folks who lost their homes to foreclosure that will be filing claims. Lenders will be required to create a system where by anyone who feels they suffered financially can submit a claim.

Click on this link to watch the video from CNBC News: CNBC Video on Fed Cracks Down On Mortgage Servicers, Bank

Source:  Real Estate Insiders News By: Tim and Julie of Harris Real Estate University.

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