Hillsborough Title President Aaron Davis featured in Fox News story on National Flood

Zone VP, Aaron Davis on Fox News Tampa Bay

Today, Aaron Davis, FLTA’s Zone 4 Vice President was featured on Fox News Tampa Bay discussing the May 31 expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program and FLTA and ALTA’s efforts to have the program extended. 
Here’s a link to the Story
As some of you are aware, both FLTA and ALTA have been monitoring this issue closely.   The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has lapsed eleven times since Sept. 30, 2008.  (12 counting this week)   Each lapse has delayed thousands of closings and caused considerable uncertainty for buyers, sellers and lenders. These disruptions cost title and escrow businesses’, lenders’, and consumers’ time, money and unnecessary worry.
What is less widely known, is that earlier this month, FLTA sent a delegation of 10 of our members to Washington DC to join the ALTA team in visiting legislators to express our concern that the NFIP might lapse again.  
We expect another short-term extension of the program.  Months ago, the House of Representatives passed a five year extension of the NFIP by a bi-partisan majority; the Senate declined to vote on the long term extension.  Two weeks ago, seeing no action on the Senate side and knowing the deadline was fast approaching, the House approved a 30 day extension of the program.   Last week, the Senate approved a 60 day extension.   
We are in a position where the bills from both sides must be reconciled, voted on and sent to the President for signature.   We are cautiously optimistic that this will be completed before May 31 so that there is not another lapse in the program.
Our thanks to Aaron for carrying this important message (albeit in a highly edited form) to the public.  
FLTA blog post by Alan Fields

Three Refinancing Bills Propose Cutting Red Tape to Expand Eligibility


At a time when mortgage rates have hit record-low numbers, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan stressed urgency in passing housing refinance bills on President Barack Obama’s “to-do” list for Congress.

During a teleconference Friday, which preceded Obama’s stop into Reno, Nevada, to boost support for the housing proposals, Donovan outlined the three bills, which he said were introduced to Congress that week.

The first bill, sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), looks to reduce the cost for refinancing, increase servicer competition, and streamline the refinancing process. The bill would also allow borrowers with a second lien or home equity line of credit to refinance.

The second bill, introduced by Diane Feinstein (D-California), proposes to expand eligibility for refinancing to non-GSE backed loans.

Donovan said there are about 3.5 million families who are doing the right thing, paying their bills, but have been locked out of refinancing because they have a private label security loan.

The third bill looks to rebuild equity into homes of underwater borrowers. Introduced by Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), the bill would allow borrowers to refinance into shorter terms with lower interest rates and apply their savings to reduce their mortgage balance.

Donovan said the bills would save homeowners an average of $2,500 to $3,000 a year, and overall, will help families, the economy, and even taxpayers by preventing GSE-backed mortgages from defaulting.

By Esther Cho for DSNews

NAR: Pending home sales rise to highest level in 2 years

Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

NAR’s pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1% to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February. It is 12.8% above March 2011 when it was 89.9. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing. “First-quarter sales closings were the highest first-quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” he said.

“The housing market has clearly turned the corner,” Yun added. “Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions … which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses.”

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year of examination.

By Justin T. Hilley for HousingWire