Jennifer Wilbur's Blog

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The Federal Reserve

On January 4, 2011 The Federal Reserve released a 28 page white paper regarding the current housing market and its recommendations/considerations for the markets economic recovery.  A brief summary is attached prepared by James E. Hyland for the TLTA. 

James E. Hyland The Pennsylvania Group

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve Board released a 28-page white paper entitled "The U.S. Housing Market: Current Conditions and Policy Considerations." The Fed wrote that the challenges faced by the U.S. housing market today reflect, in part, major changes taking place in housing finance; a persistent excess supply of homes on the market; and losses arising from an often costly and inefficient foreclosure process.

The Fed suggests that corrections will include measures that adapt the existing housing stock to the tight mortgage lending conditions--for example, devising policies that could help the conversion of foreclosed properties to rental properties. Additionally, the Fed suggested a need to support a housing finance regime that is less restrictive than today’s, while steering clear of the lax standards of the past. The Fed also urged that policymakers consider minimizing unnecessary foreclosures through the use of a broad menu of types of loan modifications, and having servicers with appropriate incentives to pursue alternatives to foreclosure. In the Fed’s view, policymakers should also consider policies that facilitate deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sales in order to reduce the costs associated with foreclosures.

One key point for the title industry is the Fed’s suggestion that an area for improvement in mortgage servicing may involve creating an online registry of liens. It stated "among other problems, the current system for lien registration in many jurisdictions is antiquated, largely manual, and not reliably available in cross-jurisdictional form. This lack of organization has made it difficult for regulators and policymakers to assess and address the issues raised by junior lien holders when a senior mortgage is being considered for modification." ALTA and TLTA will be monitoring this issue, and believe changing or improving the current MERS system is a better alternative than creating a massive new federal registry of liens.

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