Mortgage settlement is a godsend
It's a breakthrough that will speed up short sales of housing, reduce inventory and lift home prices.
That's why this $25 billion settlement between the federal and state governments and five big banks and mortgage services, over the outrageous foreclosure procedures these institutions used during this period, is so important to the progress that's so needed for this incredibly important issue, the one that precipitated the U.S. downturn and remains at the epicenter of the tepid pace of the recovery.
What exactly will it do?
On the surface, it will provide aid from Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Ally Financial to states and to beleaguered homeowners for principal forgiveness and forbearance and refinancing.
What it will actually do is put cold, hard settlement money into millions of homeowners' pockets and reduce payments in many cases.
It will accelerate foreclosures to clean out inventory and speed up short sales to get past the big logjam for underwater home sales.
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And it will give the banks, like it or not, a real break in what had become a gigantic expense: legal fees. These have actually hurt the bottom line for years now.
I don't know if you have tried to buy property during this period, as I have. Here's what you have faced. Banks have demanded a huge down payment, even as you might obviously be able to afford the property. Banks have been unwilling to give you a refinance at these low rates that Fed Chief Ben Bernanke has made possible, unless you put down colossal amounts of money that most people don't have. And banks have been the big obstacle to buying short-sale property.
I know this. I have tried and given up buying short-sale property because of the banks' intransigence. I had to pay down a gigantic amount of money to refinance after going through dozens of banks to let me do so. I am in the process of buying property, and I know that I might as well buy it with cash.
I don't like to play the 1% card, but if I am having a problem with these issues, then everyone is having problems, and I can tell you that this settlement is a godsend.
Is it a reason to buy the bank stocks? You know, I have been a huge fan of Wells Fargo, and I have to tell you the answer is yes, absolutely, even as the bank stocks failed to react to the deal. I think banks will be able to free up a lot of a capital to do more to help homeowners, and I think you are going to begin to see a real dent in the inventory overhang and, yes, the beginning of a sustained rise in home prices.
We have all become too jaded about any government initiative to solve this brutal problem. This one is big. Recognize it. Take it as a sign that we are now over the hump of the housing issue, and be prepared to hear about much better numbers going forward.
Me? After giving up in 2011, I am going to search for short-sale opportunities to buy. I bet there some real bargains. With these low interest rates, I want them.
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, has no positions in the stocks mentioned.
how about some $$ for people who didnt mortgage themselves to the hilt and arent behind on their payments.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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