Industry Groups, Lawmakers Slam Dodd-Frank, CFPB

by Ryan Smith | April 10, 2017


Republican lawmakers and industry groups slammed the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at a hearing Thursday, claiming that ambiguous regulation has confused financial services companies and that the CFPB has effectively cut off access to credit for millions of consumers.
“Financial companies are standing on regulatory quicksand, having to constantly shift in an effort to stay afloat. There are unending attempts to decipher a regulator’s wants and needs, allowing little to no foundation on which to run a business,” said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee. “Ultimately, this world of ambiguous guidance, contradictory rules, and aggressive enforcement has led to confusion for financial companies seeking to comply with Dodd-Frank and other Obama-era rules. But the greatest impact is on the customers of those financial companies, who in many cases have been left clamoring for access to financial services, and paying more for the ones they’ve been able to retain.”
According to GOP subcommittee members, “ambiguous guidance” from agencies like the CFPB has caused confusion for financial companies and made compliance with regulations unnecessarily difficult. The subcommittee also slammed regulatory agencies for “evidence of limited due process” when enforcing regulations.
“If we want a healthier economy and more freedom, we must increase access to competitive, transparent, and innovative markets and provide a ladder of opportunity on which all Americans can rise,” the subcommittee said in a release.
Witnesses at the hearing also slammed the current regulatory regime.
“There is no doubt that, for decades, the U.S. regulatory framework has increasingly made it more difficult to create and maintain jobs and businesses that benefit Americans,” said Norbert Michel, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “One of the main reasons the regulatory regime has been counterproductive for so long is because it allows regulators to micromanage firms’ financial risk, a process that substitutes regulators’ judgments for those of private investors.”
Bill Himpler, executive vice president of the American Financial Services Association, said that access to credit should be much more widely available than it currently is – and that the CFPB’s regulatory regime cuts ordinary Americans out of gaining that access.
“The CFPB seems to believe that credit should only be extended to those borrowers who do not present any risk, such as holders of the Amex Black Card who make more than enough money to pay back a loan,” Himpler said.


Morning Briefing: Foreclosure Activity Below Pre-Recession Level Nationwide

by Steve Randall |13 Apr 2017

Close-up Foreclosure Real Estate Sign in Front of House.

The level of foreclosure activity nationwide in the first quarter of 2017 was at pre-recession levels, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

The analysis of 216 metros found that 102 (47 per cent) have below-recession levels of foreclosure activity, up from 78 a year ago.

There were foreclosure filings on 234,508 homes in the first three months of this year, down 11 per cent from the previous quarter and 19 per cent below the level of the first quarter of 2016.

“US foreclosure activity on a quarterly basis first dipped below pre-recession averages in the fourth quarter of last year, and this report shows that trend continuing for the second consecutive quarter,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions.

The markets which are below pre-recession levels include Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington DC are among those still above pre-recession levels.

There was an increase in foreclosure starts in March (up 1 per cent from February) but the level was still 24 per cent below that of a year earlier.

Vacation sales dropped in 2016 says NAR

There were fewer purchases of vacation homes in 2016 according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

The estimated 721,000 vacation home sales was 21.6 per cent below 2015’s total and was the lowest since 2013. Investment sales increased 4.5 per cent to 1.14 million while owner-occupied purchases were up 12.5 per cent to 4.21 million, the highest level since 2006.

“In several markets in the South and West – the two most popular destinations for vacation buyers – home prices have soared in recent years because substantial buyer demand from strong job growth continues to outstrip the supply of homes for sale,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

More second-home buyers financed their home purchase in 2016, the report shows, as higher prices meant the share of cash buyers of vacation homes slipped to 28 per cent from 38 per cent in 2015.

Investors were also financing more purchases with cash buyers in this sector down to 35 per cent from 39 per cent in 2015.

“Sales to individual investors reached their highest level since 2012 (1.20 million) as investors took advantage of record low mortgage rates and recognized the sizeable demand for renting in their market as renters struggle to become homeowners,” said Yun.

No problem for Houston housing market

There was a strong start to the spring buying season in the Houston market with a fifth consecutive monthly gain in sales.

Houston Association of Realtors reports that 7,013 single-family homes were sold in March, up 11.7 per cent year-over-year; condo and townhome sales were up 7.4 per cent.

“Houston home sales blossomed in March, but we also saw tremendous activity in the rental market,” said HAR Chair Cindy Hamann with Heritage Texas Properties. “A healthy pace of new listings helped inventory levels grow, which is critical if we are to maintain the positive momentum.”

The median price of a single-family home was up 5.8 per cent to $227,530, the highest median ever for March.

More Ultra-Luxury Sellers Face ‘Stale’ Listings

In the high-end market, more properties are lingering. Some sellers are having to reduce their prices in the ultra-luxury market, in the hopes of getting a quicker sale. Otherwise, those hoping to hold out for a higher price are finding they’re waiting not months but years to make a sale.

For some, the waiting game is fine, though.

“In most cases, my sellers don’t have to sell,” says Ann MacQuoid, a real estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. One of her clients in Park City, Utah, has a home listed for $10.9 million that has lingered on the market for a year and a half.

The pricier the home, the longer it usually takes to sell, according to data from®. Homes in the highest bracket spent a median of 134 days on the market compared to 100 days for luxury homes overall. Meanwhile, the typical home spent only 53 days on the market.®’s research team examined the priciest 10 percent of 44,000 listings in the 20 largest U.S. metro areas in February.

About 9.5 percent of luxury homes spent more than a year on the market, according to®’s research.

But real estate professionals warn that letting a listing go stale is rarely a good idea in the end. A buyer may start to believe something is wrong with the home and lowball the seller. Indeed, homes that spent an average of 774 days on the market to sell received 77 percent of the original list price, according to a report from Concierge Auctions, which analyzed the 10 most expensive sales in 27 high-end markets. On the other hand, homes that were on the market for less than 180 days sold for 93 percent of the initial list price.

John Walton and Stacy Demcher of Keller Williams Jersey Shore say they specialize in “expired listings” that have not sold. Walton says he will typically come in and adjust the price, take new photographs, and rewrite the copy to re-energize a listing and speed a sale. Some real estate pros also recommend taking the home off the market for a short period to try to reset the days-on-market number.

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Trump promises ‘major haircut’ on Dodd-Frank


The controversial Dodd-Frank Act is going to get a “major haircut,” President Donald Trump promised business leaders Tuesday.

During a meeting with the CEOs of some of the nation’s biggest companies, Trump said that some current regulations were making it impossible for businesses to function. He told the assembled executives that he planned on “destroying” not only Obama-era regulations, but regulations enacted as far back as the beginning of the Clinton administration.

“We are absolutely destroying these horrible regulations that have been placed over your heads, not over the last eight years – over the last 20 and 25 years,” Trump said.

Trump particularly singled out the Dodd-Frank act, saying it was stifling lending.

“Dodd-Frank is an example of what we’re working on and we’re working on it right now,” he said. “…We’re going to be doing things that are going to be very good for the banking industry so the banks can lend money to people that need it.”

Trump said that under Dodd-Frank, the CEOs of financial institutions weren’t really the ones in charge of their companies.

“Really, the head people, they’re petrified of the regulators. They’re petrified,” Trump said. “They can’t move. The regulators are running the banks.”

However, Trump said he wasn’t pushing for a total repeal of the law. Rather, he said, he wanted to give it a “haircut.”

“So we’re going to do a very major haircut on Dodd-Frank,” he said. “We want strong restrictions. We want strong regulation, but not regulation that makes it impossible for banks to lend to people that are going to create jobs.”The president may be in for a tough sled in gutting the regulation, however; congressional Democrats have already vowed to fight any attempt to weaken the act.

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CFPB included in new presidential order to reorganize the executive branch