FHFA extends foreclosure & REO eviction freeze

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has extended “until at least January 31, 2021” the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises).

The moratorium deadline previously was set at December 31, 2020.

The new extension likely will not be the last, judging from the announcement’s language, which notes the “FHFA will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on the mortgage industry and update its policies as needed,” suggesting the possibility of another extension.

All of the above will give borrowers at risk of losing their home the leveraging they need as the holiday month kicks off.

“Extending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through January 2021 keeps borrowers safe during the pandemic,” said director Mark Calabria. “This extension gives peace of mind to the more than 28 million homeowners with an Enterprise-backed mortgage.”

While only the Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages will benefit from the foreclosure moratorium, the REO eviction moratorium “applies to properties that have been acquired by an Enterprise through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions,” the FHFA explained in the announcement.

So far, the Enterprises have incurred $6 billion in moratorium related costs. The FHFA now expects Fannie and Freddie will incur another $1.1 to $1.7 billion in COVID-19 related costs “due to the existing foreclosure moratorium and its extension.”

FHFA also called on all interested parties to visit the joint website by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHFA, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for more detailed information.

LISEP: Unemployment stays high, vastly different from BLS data

Americans looking to find a living wage job in October remained stagnant, according to a report published by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP), which states that despite recent improvements, the real unemployment rate is higher than what government data indicate.

LISEP’s True Rate of Unemployment (TRU) was 25.5% in October, down merely 2% of its value from 26.1% in September.

By comparison, the unemployment rate released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for October was 6.9%, a full percentage point below the September rate of 7.9%.

Introduced in October 2020, TRU uses data compiled by BLS to measure the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is “functionally unemployed.”

That definition includes someone who does not have a full-time job (35+ hours a week) but wants one, has no job, or does not earn a living wage, conservatively pegged at $20,000 annually before taxes. Since an income of $20,000 or less per year is below the poverty level set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in every state.

TRU indicates in October more than one-fourth of the American workforce either is unemployed or cannot find a job that takes them over the poverty line, the report notes.

Improving BLS numbers appear promising but “they simply do not tell the whole story,” said Gene Ludwig, Chairman of LISEP. “While the employment picture may appear to be improving ever so slightly,” a number of those gains are in low-wage or part-time jobs that cannot sustain a family.

LISEP findings for the month of October also show TRU for Hispanic Americans increased from 30.8% in September to 31.9% in October; TRU for women remains higher than the national average and improved only slightly, from 30.8% to 30.4%; TRU for Black Americans remains high at 31.1%, but improved from the 32% rate in September.

Education is another metric introduced by LISEP.

Data show there is an educational divide exacerbated by the COVID crisis, “as recovery among different levels of education has not been equal.” The TRU for those with an advanced degree in October was 13.1%, up from the 12.4% January level – compared to 50.2% for those with no high school diploma, up from 45% in January. 

“These data show too many working families face are being left behind,” said Ludwig. The creation of full-time, living-wage jobs must be a priority in the months ahead.”

LISEP issues the TRU one to two weeks after the release of the BLS unemployment report on the first Friday of each month.   

Founded in 2019, by Gene Ludwig and his wife, Dr. Carol Ludwig,, LISEP’s mission is to help improve the economic well-being of middle and lower income Americans through research, financial education and advocacy.

Jason Mitchell RE opens in Honolulu, Hawaii

The Jason Mitchell Real Estate (JMRE), a top rated business-to-business real estate services provider based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has officially opened for business in Honolulu, Hawaii. The new location expands the firm’s presence to 16 states.

The Jason Michell Group (JMG) operates as a referral service that supports mortgage lenders and other mortgage industry networks by connecting their clients with real estate agents – providing a host of services from the buy side representation to property listing.

“Our goal as a company is to support our partners” via a customized real estate process for each client, “to seamlessly support our agents and provide them an opportunity to grow their business,” said Jason Mitchell, president and CEO of JMG, leveraging technology.

Established in 2006, today JMG receives over 90% of its business leads from referrals from its partners, according to the company website, and is one of the top five real estate referral teams in the country by overall production.

The JMG model has proven to be a unique business-to-business niche for the real estate market,he said.

JMG currently serves as the preferred real estate group for national powerhouses and largest brands, such as Rocket Homes/Rocket Mortgage, Bank of America, Zillow Group, Opendoor, New American Funding, Veterans United, Axos Bank, Cardinal Financial, and Realtor.com.

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