Are record-low interest rates masking high-cost mortgage lending?

Are record-low interest rates masking high-cost mortgage lending?

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Obama administration committed to preventing 'avoidable foreclosures'

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Recovery in the housing market remains fragile but the Obama administration is committed to preventing "avoidable foreclosures and stabilizing" the market. In the administration's housing scorecard for November, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury Department said 1 million home mortgages refinanced in the last quarter, helped by the lowest interest rates in generations. The agencies said mortgage-backed securities purchases by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury helped keep rates at the record lows. Although interest rates began to move away from historic lows this week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey. And some market participants don't see low rates sparking additional demand for mortgages. The administration expects recently launched programs to further stabilize the housing market. A short refinance option for homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth will allow qualified borrowers to get a new FHA-insured mortgage. "Through a range of swift actions since we took office, we've seen millions more families able to stay in their homes and a steady rise in responsible borrowers refinancing their loans or becoming homeowners,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. "While we cannot stop every foreclosure, we know that more has to be done to reach homeowners in distress and to help unemployed borrowers." Write to Jason Philyaw.

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