Interest Rate Roundup

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dispatches from the Florida front

We're #1 down here in Florida! Unfortunately, I'm talking about being top-ranked in terms of mortgage fraud. That's the conclusion of a new report from MARI, the Mortgage Asset Research Institute. The company tracks incidents of mortgage scams and fraud.

Overall, MARI says fraud reports on 2006 loans were up about 30% from fraud reports on 2005 loans. And the number of so-called "Suspicious Activity Reports" related to mortgage fraud (which are collected by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) soared to 28,372 in fiscal 2006 from just 3,515 in 2000, before the boom got underway.

If you want to read more, here's a link to MARI's report. And here's a Tampa Tribune story, with some of my comments on the subject.

Meanwhile, the latest local sales, inventory and price figures are in for my area (Southeast Florida). The local brokerage firm Illustrated Properties says that in April ...

* Sales dropped 24.7% year-over-year

* Median home prices dipped just over 4%

* Inventories climbed 14%

If there's a bright spot in this report, it's that the number of homes for sale actually dipped a bit from March. Too early to call it a trend, considering inventories rose the previous few months. But it bears watching. If enough sellers "get it" and lower their prices to close deals, it will eventually ease the very large supply glut we're facing.


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