Happy Thanksgiving: For those HW readers here in the US, warm wishes for a wonderful holiday — we’ve actually had some of that so-called “wintry mix” in the DFW area today. I’m thankful for many things this year, family and friends at the top of that list. But I’m also thankful for the more than two million people who have visited HW this year. I’ve never once advertised this site, so the growth here at HW is due entirely to the word of mouth of readers just like yourself. Thanks very much for your support, and thanks for continuing to pass HW on to your colleagues. The number of daily email subscribers is now over 3,000 — if you haven’t yet signed up for the HW Daily Update, now’s a great time. Also, feel free to link up with me over on Linked In, should you use the service for professional networking. More than a few industry insiders have been added to the network recently, and you never know what may come of it. Just click the badge over on the right of the home page. Ch-ch-ch-changes: There are some exciting changes around the corner for HW, designed to further establish the real estate finance industry’s leading source for independent commentary and news. I’ve heard from hundreds of readers recently about what they’d like to see here, and I’m working feverishly behind the scenes (when I’m not putting up stories) to make it happen. BTW, if you read this site on your mobile phone — and I know from the logs that many of you do, especially those of you in New York — you’ve probably noticed some welcome changes recently. I’ve rearranged some technical details to make this site much easier for HW’s growing mobile audience. (You’re welcome). Sending out an SOS: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is clearly worried about how the mortgage industry and housing mess is going to affect the broader economy — and probably with good reason. He rattled the markets earlier in the week by saying that individual workouts will not be enough. Tanta over at CR has an interesting take in an open letter to Paulson that is worth your read. ResCap and Northern Rock — together at last? At least, that’s the picture coming together between SEC filings and UK media reports right now. GMAC said in a filing late Wednesday that it was looking to combine its ailing US mortgage unit Residential Capital LLC with an undisclosed international mortgage operation, quickly identified by UK media as troubled Northern Rock (I’d covered NR in a post in September, here.) Californians get a break: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office announced an agreement with four major servicers late last week that will see nearly half a million borrowers in the Golden State get to keep their initial teaser rates for up to 5 years. I realize this is good press for the servicers involved, like Countrywide and Litton, but am I the only one who knows they aren’t the ones pulling the purse strings here? An agreement to perform loan modifications en masse for California borrowers has me wondering who else was involved in the negotiating process (the PSAs for most securitized pools won’t allow more than 5 percent of the pool to be modified at a servicer’s discretion). I also am surprised I haven’t seen more heat in the press covering what should be some level of “responsible borrower” outrage at the free pass apparently being offered here, even if it is (again, apparently) intended to be temporary. The coverage I’ve read suggests a borrower relief program that would appear to go above and beyond any “normal” loan modification activity. I’m even more surprised nobody’s talking about affordability in assessing a program like this — will troubled borrowers who can’t afford a payment reset now somehow be better able to do so in the future? Especially in a market where prices are forecast to drop precipitously? So many questions, not enough answers … Blogging will be light through Monday — enjoy the start of the holiday season, and this blogger’s favorite time of year.
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