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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Kansas fights mortgage fee, NJ closes foreclosure program

December 2, 2013

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at stories across the HousingWire news desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.

New Jersey has almost dried up its foreclosure prevention money supply, spending two-thirds of its federal funds, an article in The Star-Ledger reported.

The state distributed more than $206 million of the $300.5 million it received in 2010 as part of the federal government's Hardest Hit program.

New Jersey is one of the 18 states designated as Hardest Hit jurisdictions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

So far, the state has assisted 5,068 homeowners, while receiving over 12,200 applications.

Now that the program is coming to a close, the state plans to use the remaining $53.4 million to continue to help homeowners, and the rest will be directed toward administrative and educational purposes.

The program got a rough start and drew criticism for its slow pace. But Governor Chris Christie admitted the program was not working and ordered an easing of the regulations.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Kansas residents and real estate agents are fighting against a state house closing cost, according to an article in The Kansas City Star.

Currently, the fees are pouring millions of extra dollars into the local government, with a cut resulting in a huge loss for the cities.

“It would create a significant tax shift,” Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert said. “There’s no place else to go.”

Opponents argue that the homeowners are forced to pay for the same service twice. One of the fees relates to mortgage registration, and the second is a smaller fee for recording the paperwork with the register of deeds.

The cities are not prepared to lose an estimated $47 million in cash, which if lost, would result in property tax increases.

“In the end, it’s a huge loss of revenue that will have to be dealt with,” said Melissa Wangemann, legislative services director for the Kansas Association of Counties. “Either property taxes go up for everyone or the person buying the new house pays the fee.”

The labor market might look promising at a first glace, but upon further inspection it produces different results, the New York Times said in a recent jobs report.

While the chance of being fired is now less than it was when the economy was in trouble four years ago, the situation remains gloomy.

But the real root of the problem is found in the rate of hiring, which has barely picked up. “What seems to have happened in the United States is that job mobility — historically an important feature of the nation’s labor market — fell rapidly during the recession and has yet to recover much,” the article explained.

Although the short-term unemployment rate is back to pre-recession levels, the long-term rate is still higher than it was at any time before the recession.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported no bank closings for the week ending Nov. 29.

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