U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan is in Las Vegas on Thursday to discuss the recent robo-signing settlement with Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Still, that was only a start and there are many programs that were designed to fix the foreclosure crisis that have barely touched the Las Vegas housing market. We ask the Secretary about those programs and the future of housing.
Much of the foreclosure crisis has been told as a tale of wicked banks and self-indulgent homeowners. But Paul Kiel has uncovered a horrendous three year struggle of a woman who made mistakes but did not deserve to end up living in a tent in Hawaii.
The federal government has tried a variety of remedies to make sure that homeowners who are underwater would be able to refinance their homes. In Las Vegas, the Home Affordable Refinance Program has struggled because the limits are far outside the big drops in home prices that have happened here - often as much as 50 percent or even more. Now, a new report from ProPublica says that banks are gaming the system. We talk with the reporter who has examined the banks' actions.
Much of the Attorney General's term has been dominated by efforts to untangle mortgage fraud by brokers, real estate professionals and the banks themselves. The first of what has been promised as a series of victories by state attorneys general was the settlement in the robo-signing case.
The dust is beginning to settle after the federal government and 49 states agreed to settle with five banks over allegations of fraudulent foreclosure documents. The deal will pay homeowners who lost their homes some money and will allow people facing foreclosure the opportunity to have the interest or the principal lowered on their mortgages. But how much impact can that make? And will it only speed up the process of getting more homes onto the market, which will push prices even lower?
State and federal officials across the country have announced a $26 billion settlement to charges that major banks acted carelessly and fraudulently in foreclosing on millions of homeowners across the country. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto had been reluctant to join but did include Nevada at the very end of marathon negotiations.
On Wednesday, President Obama launched a new plan to cut through red tape and encourage banks to refinance mortgages that are under water. It would, on average, free up $3,000 to each family with a mortgage.
Nevada and Massachusetts have both sued the companies that service mortgage documents - process the payments, guarantee the integrity of the documents and, if needed, initiate foreclosures. Those lawsuits have revealed a great deal of information about the backroom workings of the mortgage industry.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto has guts. She's taken on big banks, like Bank of America, for allegedly frauding homeowners in her state. On our show, we discuss what she can do as state attorney general, and whether her efforts will, in fact, help Nevada homeowners.
Do you have any questions or suggestions for the state's AG? Let us know in the comment section below.
The answer to Las Vegas' housing and foreclosure troubles might not come from Nevada at all, some housing experts say. Many developers are looking to encourage overseas investors to buy up our oversupply of housing stock, thus increasing home values and spurring renters into move into otherwise-foreclosed and vacant homes.
Many Las Vegans have been hit hard by foreclosures and underwater mortgages. They might walk away from their home or take on debt when they sell an underpriced home. But when an Air Force member does so, that servicemember risks losing security clearance - and in some cases, even lose their jobs. The housing market has forced some servicemembers to live in trailers, or even move to different states. How has the hard-hit market affected those at Nellis Air Force Base, and what options do they have left? And how is their situation different than the average underwater homeowner?
When it comes to housing, Las Vegas consistently ranks near the top for most foreclosures and underwater mortgages. And this forces many Las Vegans who are underwater to make a choice: stay or walk away? How has the housing situation changed this past year? What decisions has it forced Las Vegans to make, and how has it affected the culture and optimism of the city? Also, what does our real estate situation look like to the rest of the world? We talk to experts, plus some homeowners on how their lives have changed. Also, special guest Lawrence Pollard from the BBC joins our panel to see how one of the country's worst foreclosure rates can change an American city.
The federal government has been trying since 2008 to arrest the foreclosure crisis. The goal is to keep homeowners in their homes but the further home prices have fallen, the harder it has been for Nevadans to qualify for federal assistance.
More than 4,000 mortgage mediations have been processed since the 2009 Nevada Legislature created a program to force banks and homeowners to meet to discuss troublesome mortgages. Foreclosures continue to dominate the housing market in Las Vegas but the program sees that number as a measure of its success.
Then we talk with an economist whose work contradicts a lot of the conventional wisdom about the mortgage crisis. The teaser rates weren't much of a tease, the foreclosure crisis has been caused by falling home prices, not an inability to pay.