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Archive for ◊ March, 2016 ◊

Brown County Utility Lands Water Improvement Funding
Thursday, March 31st, 2016 | Author:

INDIANAPOLIS –

Brown County Water Utility Inc. has secured funding to begin upgrades and improvements to its drinking water distribution system. The utility closed on a more than $8 millionloan through the Indiana Finance Authoritys Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan program.

The IFA says by using the state revolving fund loan program, it will save about $1.75 million in interest over the life of the loan. The projects the loan will fund are needed to replace aging water system components and to provide safe and reliable water to the utility members, according to the IFA.

The project includes improvements to the water transmission main, water main replacement, residential water meter replacement with automated meter reading capabilities and valve and hydrant replacement, among others. The IFA says the project should provide public health benefits with the upgrades and improvements.

The results of an environmental assessment for the projectwere released Thursday. They show the project would have no significant adverse environmental impact. You can read the full report below:

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When to look at new credit cards
Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 | Author:

Americans tend to be loyal to their credit cards, even as better offers emerge, a new report finds.

More than a quarter of people 30 to 49 years old say they haven’t changed their favorite credit card in at least six years, according to a survey from CreditCards.com, a commercial card comparison website.

Older people are even more loyal to their credit cards, the survey found: Thirty-one percent of people 65 and older say they have been using the same card for at least a decade, and 20 percent say they have never changed it.

The information comes from a telephone survey of US credit card holders conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The survey, which questioned 639 people in early February, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

In terms of maintaining a healthy credit score, longer-term card holders are generally on the right track, said Ethan Dornhelm, senior director of analytic development at FICO. One factor in a credit score – the three-digit number that summarizes your credit report and determines what interest rate you pay on loans – is the length of your credit history, including the average age of your accounts. So a years-long run of using a card responsibly is generally a smart thing to do.

Card loyalty also helps if you ever have to negotiate with your card issuer, like asking to have a one-time late-payment fee removed, said Matt Schulz, senior analyst with CreditCards.com.

But these days, aggressive competition among credit card issuers for new customers means many are offering signing bonuses, like increased cash-back offers or rewards points. Someone who hasn’t switched cards in five or 10 years, Schulz said, may be missing out on better terms – not only on bonuses but also in continuing perks like cash back based on spending.

“Cards are offering the most lucrative rewards we have seen in some time,” he said. CreditCards.com earns a fee if someone gets a card through the website.

Consumers may be able to combine bonus offers from different cards to maximize rewards. For example, Schulz said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is offering 50,000 points when the new holder spends $4,000 in the first three months. The Chase card allows users to transfer points directly to certain hotel and airline partners.

One is Southwest Airlines, which is offering bonuses of 25,000 to 50,000 points for new customers of its Rapid Rewards Premier credit card. Someone approved for both the Chase and the Southwest cards would earn a bonus equal to 75,000 to 100,000 points.

Trading in an old standby for a new card may not be the best approach for everyone, however. If you end up spending more than you ordinarily do, just to earn the bonus, the move doesn’t make sense.

Ditto, getting a card for the bonus if you are unable to pay your balance in full each month. Any perk you get from a new card isn’t worth the double-digit interest you’ll pay if you carry a balance from month to month.

If you have a balance to pay off, you may want to consider a zero percent balance transfer offer, said Nicholas Clements, co-founder of the financial website MagnifyMoney.com.

Clements said consumers must be honest with themselves about their ability to handle additional credit.

If they can let an older card remain dormant and shift their spending to the new card, it may be worth applying for a card offering a lucrative bonus.

But if adding new credit means spending more, he said, consumers could risk getting into debt.

Here are some questions and answers about switching credit cards:

Q: If I switch to a new credit card, should I close my old card account?

It’s generally best to keep an older account open, even if you don’t use it, rather than closing it, Dornhelm said. That’s because closing it may increase your “utilization,” or the proportion of available credit you are using, which tends to lower your credit score.

If the card you are abandoning has an annual fee, Clements suggests, you should call the issuing bank to ask if it will “migrate” the account to a non-fee version of the card. That way, you won’t have to pay a fee for a card you’re not using.

Q: Won’t opening new accounts hurt my credit score?

Opening a few new accounts is unlikely to cause a “substantial” drop in most consumer scores, Dornhelm said. One possible exception is if someone with relatively few accounts suddenly submits a flurry of new credit applications. That may suggest they are becoming a greater risk.

Q: Can I still get a rewards credit card if I don’t have great credit?

Even some secured credit cards, typically offered to consumers who lack a strong credit history, are offering cash-back rewards these days. The Discover It secured card, for instance, offers 2 percent cash back on spending at gas stations and restaurants and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

With secured cards, the holders typically make a deposit equal to their credit limit, which serves as collateral while they build a record of on-time payments.

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The CFPBs critics are getting louder, arbitration clauses are spending some time on the chopping block and credit reporting continues to garner more and more attention. These are all things we can expect to focus on this year as the auto lending industry continues its power struggle with the CFPB.

Senate passing Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act (HR 1737)

All signs point to the Senate passing the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act (HR 1737) this year. Currently, the Act is in the Senate and has not been taken up for a vote yet, but several industry leaders are estimating as many as 60 votes in its favor.

Last November, the House passed the Act with a resounding 392-96 vote. The Act aims to curtail the CFPBs attempts to regulate purportedly discriminatory auto lending practices. According to the CFPB, auto lenders are charging minorities a higher markup on products than similarly situated white borrowers. Auto dealers and lenders, however, have questioned the methodology used by the CFPB to reach this conclusion, and the Act is the auto industrys attempt to obtain more transparency from the CFPB.

Although President Obama will likely veto the Act if it passes in the Senate, there is a high probability that the Act will get passed by a Congressional override. If nothing else, the strong bipartisan support for the Act is a powerful indictment on the CFPBs forays into the auto lending space so far. We are likely to see stronger, louder outcry from the auto lending industry regarding the CFPBs attempts to issue guidance in 2016.

Additional movement toward limiting arbitration clauses

This year, the CFPB is likely to issue a formal, proposed rule limiting the use of arbitration clauses in consumer lending agreements. In October 2015, the CFPB announced its plans to propose rules limiting the use of arbitration clauses that affect a consumers right to participate in a class action lawsuit.

Once the CFPB publishes its proposed rule and the comments period opens, we expect that many auto lending companies will submit comments opposing a final rule. A proposed rule is expected in mid-to-late 2016.

If the CFPB enacts a final rule curtailing arbitration clauses in consumer finance products, it is very likely that the rule will end up before the US Supreme Court at some point. Arbitration clauses have been a hot topic in the Supreme Court as of late. In fact, the Court issued a new decision upholding arbitration clauses in December 2015 in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia. In that case, Justice Ginsburg issued a dissent and relied on the CFPBs study finding that mandating arbitration and banning class action lawsuits harms consumers.

To be sure, Supreme Court involvement regarding a CFPB rule curtailing arbitration clauses is still years in the future. However, the recent landscape of case law regarding arbitration clauses will influence many commenters and will ultimately influence the CFPBs position as to whether such a rule is in the consumers best interest.

Continued criticism regarding the CFPBs methodology

In January 2016, the Republican staff of the Houses Committee on Financial Services issued a report finding that the CFPB improperly issued settlement checks to white consumers in connection with the 2014 Ally Financial settlement. (In the 2014 CFPB/DOJ joint enforcement action against Ally, Ally was ordered to pay $80 million in damages to a large class of claimants for its discriminatory pricing system. There, the CFPB found that Ally charged minorities higher markups on auto loans than their white counterparts.)

According to the House Committee, the CFPB inflated the number of potential claimants in order to inflate the settlement figure to which Ally ultimately agreed. Then, once a settlement agreement was achieved, the CFPB employed questionable metrics to identify 419,669 potential claimants minus; none of which were required to disclose their race before becoming eligible for compensation. The Committee concluded that the CFPB unfairly targeted a company that it knew had a strong incentive to settle for business reasons and applied undue leverage against the company to extract a large settlement.

The House Committee is the latest in a long line of critics of the CFPBs data mining processes, particularly in connection with its research regarding disparate impact on minorities. Many expect that CFPB Assistant Director Patrice Ficklin will be called to testify before the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation in the spring of 2016. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the CFPB reacts to the mounting criticism in 2016.

Increased scrutiny regarding credit reporting

In its Monthly Complaint Report published on March 1, 2016, the CFPB reported that, between November 2015 and January 2016, it received an average of 3,536 consumer complaints per month focusing on credit reporting. Although this figure represents a seven percent decrease from credit reporting complaints received in the same period last year, it is still the third most common type of complaint received by the CFPB.

Last August, the CFPB reported a sharp increase in credit reporting complaints between June and July 2015, and the CFPB has since been increasing its scrutiny in this arena. Unlike complaints against one specific product (like a mortgage or student loan), credit reporting complaints can implicate several different parts of the financial services industry.

According to the CFPB, 97 percent of the credit reporting complaints deal with the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union). If the CFPB continues to increase regulation on these three companies, auto lenders may start feeling the pinch as the regulation inevitably spreads to data furnishers as well.

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Home buying season is just around the corner, so we thought it would be fun to take a look at the words people use when they’re looking to finance a new house.

We found out there is a huge difference in the way different people end up searching for the same thing, and that these differences vary from state to state. Why is this important? Because your credit union could be leaving a lot of money on the table by not using the right words.

Let’s take a look.

HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT vs. HELOC

For example, you have some equity in your home and you’re looking for some credit. Do you search for a “Home Equity Line of Credit” or for a “HELOC” online?

It depends.

In general, more people are searching for the keyword “Home Equity Line of Credit” but if you’re a credit union in Colorado, you may want to consider leading with the term “HELOC” on your web pages and outbound communications because that term is relatively popular in the Centennial State.

How about if you need money to buy a house? Are you looking for a “Home Loan” or a “Home Mortgage” online? The keyword “Home Loan” gets about double the number of searches of the keyword “Home Mortgage. However, midwestern states seem to prefer the keyword “Home Mortgage” while northwestern states prefer the keyword “Home Loan.”

Taking a closer look at the keywords related to “Home Loan” and “Home Mortgage,” respectively, also brings up an interesting point. Keywords related to “Home Loan” have the term “equity” in them, eg “Equity Loan” and “Home Equity.” Whereas the keyword, “Home Mortgage” has related keywords with the term “rates” in them, eg “Mortgage Rates” and “Home Mortgage Rates.”

This means that even though the keyword “Home Loan” may have more search traffic related to it, you might want to go with a keyword like “Home Mortgage” because you know exactly what the people using that term are looking for online.

This research is powerful because getting into the minds of your members and prospective members is the first step toward marketing to them successfully.

MORTGAGE CALCULATOR vs. LOAN CALCULATOR

Let’s say that you want to figure out what your payments will be based on different loan balances. Are you looking for a “Mortgage Calculator” or a “Loan Calculator” online? A couple million people are searching for a “Mortgage Calculator” every month, while less than half a million people search for a “loan calculator” monthly.

Which one do you want on your website and marketing materials?

The related keywords tell a story here, as well. A “Loan Calculator” seems to be highly associated with auto loans. Related keywords include terms like “Auto Calculator” and “Auto Loan Calculator.” Whereas a “Mortgage Calculator” gets quadruple the search volume and is highly associated with a mortgage loan.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

If you’re like us and you think that figuring out what people are searching for will help you show up when they’re looking AND help you sell to them in your marketing collateral, then we’ve got something great for you. We’re putting all of our research on home buying searches together on one page, to serve as a living resource for financial institution marketers.

Click on the image above and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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She also learned that gastrointestinal diseases were quite common, especially among children. She started researching this situation and found out that the lack of sanitation facilities was the main reason for girls to drop out of school when they reached puberty.

Sinha surveyed 30 local families about their sanitation routines, sources of drinking water, and occurrences of stomach/gastrointestinal illnesses. She used this information to try to come up with the ways to help the local people and sought and secured funding to install 61 composting toilets in the village.

She then evaluated a number of different designs of composting toilets and hypothesized that in the tight living conditions in rural India, the liquid waste discharged from the toilets into the groundwater may contaminate the sources of drinking water with bacteria present in human waste.

In the current phase of her project, Sinha is working on improving the efficiency of the slow sand filtration process that is widely used in wastewater management in developing countries.

She designed and built several table-top reactors that she uses as the prototypes of real composting toilets. Several materials readily available in the local communities are either being tested or will be tested in the near future for their antibacterial properties and feasibility as additives to the slow sand filtration systems.

Sinha is performing these experiments under the mentorship of Professors Lisa Rodenburg and Craig Phelps at the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University.

At CHS, Sinha is working under the mentorship of Naumova, who has a background in environmental engineering. Naumova regularly works with Sinha to look at data and read and give feedback on drafts of Sinhas papers, and it wasNaumova who introduced Sinha to Professor Rodenburg at Rutgers, who studies air and water pollution.

Naumova also encouraged her to enter the New Jersey Regional Science Fair and to apply to give an oral presentation at the New Jersey Youth Science and Humanities Conference. Sinhas proposal was accepted, and she will speak at the conference later this month.

I am thrilled that Nishitas project got such recognition at the New Jersey Regional Science Fair,Naumova said. The judges and audience were very impressed with all components of the project: a realistic objective to develop an efficient and economical solution for safe sanitation,sound methodology, the prototype of the filtration system that Nishita designed and built, solid data analysis, clear future directions for expanding her research, and -not the least of all -the potential social impact that this technology can have on peoples quality of life in developing countries.

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Whats driving record auto sales is not the economy, but record auto lending, Ben Weinger, who runs hedge fund 3-Sigma Value LP in New York, told The Wall Street Journal. Weinger has been betting against some auto lenders, who he said have lowered underwriting standards.

But others said such fears are overblown, with the US economy growing, unemployment down and fuel prices moderate. Still, with the US auto industry having posted six straight years of annual gains, the first time for a streak of that length, some forecasters are referring to a plateau in sales, this year and next.

Equifax reported that outstanding auto loans have topped $1 trillion in the US, a fifth of that amount going to subprime borrowers, the credit category for those with the lowest credit scores. Subprime borrowers also pay the highest interest rates — sometimes as high as 20% — and usually are the first to be delinquent.

With more than half of subprime borrowers using their loans to buy used cars, analysts keenly watch how delinquencies, repossessions and other factors affect used-vehicle pricing. Though used-vehicle pricing has been strong for several years, it fell in February, according to Manheim, an operator of vehicle auctions.

Manheim reported that the average used vehicle sold wholesale for $10,345, down 2% from a year ago. Adjusted for seasonal factors, average prices fell 1.5% to $12,298, representing the second consecutive year-over-year decline in monthly prices. (A new vehicle in the US costs in average of about $33,000 at retail.)

Tom Webb, chief economist of Cox Automotive — the owner of Manheim — said a long-term trend of dropping used-car resale values is coming, though not from credit problems. We expect pricing to fall over the next two years a much more supply as vehicles come off their leases, Webb said.

Pressure on used-car prices could have negative repercussions for new-vehicle sales and production. Buyers of new vehicles usually rely on the trade-in of used vehicles for a down payment; if values decline, they may postpone purchasing or buy a less costly model.

As prices of used and new models diverge, credit-strapped consumers who are considering both may gravitate toward used cars. Automakers often will increase incentives or discounts to encourage the sale of a new vehicle; but eventually the profit margin shrinks too much, the only alternative to slow or suspend production.

Industry executives and retailers insisted that American consumers remain in the mood to buy. The energy in showrooms was just starting to build in the last week of February, said Judy Wheeler, Nissans (NSANY) US sales chief.

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Chatham High School junior Nishita Sinha won five awards at the New Jersey Regional Science Fair at Rutgers University on March 11-12, for her project on Safe Sanitation Solutions. In her project, Nishita is developing an effective and economic filtration system to protect groundwater from enteric pathogens leaching from human waste. Her goal is to make safe sanitation accessible to more people in developing countries.

Sinha won the following awards: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pulse of the Planet Award, New Jersey Water Environment Association Award, International Sustainable World Award, ASU Walton Sustainability Award, and the Theobald Smith Society Award in Microbiology.

She will present her project at the New Jersey Youth Science and Humanities Symposium at Rutgers University at the end of this month, participate in the International Sustainable World Project Olympiad in Houston, Texas in April, and attend the New Jersey Water Environment Annual Conference in Atlantic City in May.

Sinha formulated the idea for this project during her trip to her familys ancestral village in India where her grandmother still lives, where she discovered that the majority of families lacked basic sanitation services, such as running water and toilet facilities. She also learned that gastrointestinal diseases were quite common, especially among children. She started researching this situation and found out that the lack of sanitation facilities was the main reason for girls to drop out of school when they reached puberty.

Sinha surveyed 30 local families about their sanitation routines, sources of drinking water, and occurrences of stomach/gastrointestinal illnesses. She used this information to try to come up with the ways to help the local people and sought and secured funding to install 61 composting toilets in the village. She then evaluated a number of different designs of composting toilets and hypothesized that in the tight living conditions in rural India, the liquid waste discharged from the toilets into the groundwater may contaminate the sources of drinking water with bacteria present in human waste.

In the current phase of her project, Sinha is working on improving the efficiency of the slow sand filtration process that is widely used in wastewater management in developing countries. She designed and built several table-top reactors that she uses as the prototypes of real composting toilets. Several materials readily available in the local communities are either being tested or will be tested in the near future for their antibacterial properties and feasibility as additives to the slow sand filtration systems.

Sinha is performing these experiments under the mentorship of Professors Lisa Rodenburg and Craig Phelps at the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University.

At Chatham High School, Sinha is working under the mentorship of Yelena Naumova, a Chatham High School science teacher who has a background in environmental engineering. Naumova regularly works with Sinha to look at data and read and give feedback on drafts of Sinhas papers, and it was Ms. Naumova who introduced Sinha to Professor Lisa Rodenburg at Rutgers, who studies air and water pollution. Naumova also encouraged her to enter the New Jersey Regional Science Fair and to apply to give an oral presentation at the New Jersey Youth Science and Humanities Conference. Sinhas proposal was accepted, and she will speak at the conference later this month.

Naumova said, What impresses me most is that Nishita conceived this project entirely by herself. She researched the issue, proposed possible solutions, sought the resources and funding, and approached the university faculty with the clear research plan. I see in Nishita a tremendous research potential, as well as persistence, dedication, resourcefulness, and openness to new ideas.

I am thrilled that Nishitas project got such recognition at the New Jersey Regional Science Fair. The judges and audience were very impressed with all components of the project: a realistic objective to develop an efficient and economical solution for safe sanitation, sound methodology, the prototype of the filtration system that Nishita designed and built, solid data analysis, clear future directions for expanding her research, and -not the least of all- the potential social impact that this technology can have on peoples quality of life in developing countries.

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Rolls-Royce Engines To Power Italian LHD
Sunday, March 27th, 2016 | Author:

LONDON — British engine-maker Rolls-Royce has made a breakthrough sale in Italy with the company’s MT30 gas turbine being selected to power a landing helicopter dock (LHD) set to be built for the Navy. Two of the MT30 engines will power the 20,000-ton warship due to be built by Fincantieri as part of a major program to upgrade the Italian fleet.

The sale is a consolation prize for the British engine maker, which lost out recently to rival General Electric for its LM2500 to power a fleet of multipurpose offshore patrol vessels being built by Fincantieri for the Italian Navy.

The US engine maker has dominated the Italian naval power market in recent years on the back of a deal supplying gas turbines for a fleet of FREMM frigates currently under construction for Italy.

Don Roussinos, the president of Rolls-Royce’s naval business, said he was “very pleased that the MT30 has penetrated another new market.”

The order comes at a time when Italy is driving through a major naval regeneration program. The Navy has secured funding for a new logistics support ship, six of the multipurpose offshore patrol vessels and the LHD.

Rolls-Royce is tilting at further equipment supply opportunities in the naval program.

Fincantieri signed a EUR1.1 billion (US $1.2 billion) deal to develop and build the LHD last year.

The MT30 engine is a marine derivative of the Trent 800, which powers the Boeing 777 airliner. The gas turbine deal makes Italy the fourth Navy to opt for the MT30 to power its warships.

The US Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyers and Freedom-class littoral combat ship, South Korea’s Incheon-class frigates, and the Royal Navy’s 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and the yet-to-be-built Type 26 frigates use the engine.

Fincantieri is part of the Rolls-Royce-led team providing the power plant for the Type 26 frigate. The Italian shipbuilder will provide the packaging for the MT30 for at least the first three Type 26s to be built for the Royal Navy.

An MT30 has already been delivered to the Italian’s company’s Bari facility for integration of the packaging.

Email: achuter@defensenews.com

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The Mortgage Monitor for January (pdf) from Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS, formerly LPS) reported that there were 659,237 home mortgages, or 1.30% of all mortgages outstanding, remaining in the foreclosure process at the end of January. This was down from 688,672, or 1.37% of all active loans that were in foreclosure at the end of December, and down from 1.76% of all mortgages that were in foreclosure in January of last year.#160; These are homeowners who had a foreclosure notice served but whose homes had not yet been seized, and the January foreclosure inventory is now showing the lowest percentage of homes that were in the foreclosure process since the fall of 2007.#160;#160; New foreclosure starts, which have been volatile from month to month, fell to 71,900 in January from 78,088 in December and from 93,280 in January a year ago, while they were still higher than the 66,626 foreclosure starts we saw in November, which had been the lowest since the crisis began.#160; Over the past year, new foreclosure starts have remained in a range about one-third higher than number of new foreclosures we we seeing in the precrisis year of 2005.

In addition to homes in foreclosure, BKFS data showed that 2,574,560 mortgages, or 5.09% of all mortgage loans, or were at least one mortgage payment overdue but not in foreclosure in January, up from 4.78% of homeowners with a mortgage who were more than 30 days behind in December, but still down from the mortgage delinquency rate of 5.42% in January a year earlier.#160; Of those who were delinquent in January, 831,284 home owners, or 1.65% of those with a mortgage, were considered seriously delinquent, meaning they were more than 90 days behind on mortgage payments, but still not in foreclosure at the end of the month, which was up from 807,656 seriously delinquent mortgages in December.#160; Combining the totals delinquent mortgages with those in foreclosure, we find that a total of 6.39% of homeowners with a mortgage were either late in paying or in foreclosure at the end of January, and that 2.95% of all homeowners were in serious trouble, ie, either seriously delinquent or already in foreclosure at month end.

As those of you whove paid attention to the monthly changes in mortgages delinquencies know, there is a seasonal trend in delinquencies, as late housepayments usually increase before the Holidays as homeowners defer their mortgage payments in order to do Christmas shopping.#160; Then we normally see a large drop in mortgages delinquencies during January, February and March, as homeowners catch up on their bills.#160; Thus, a 6.62% increase in January mortgage delinquencies is unusual, as January usually sees a decrease of delinquent mortgages ranging from 2.4% to 3.1%.#160; To look at that increase closer, the graph from page 6 of this months mortgage monitor were including below divides into 4 types of mortgage delinquencies the number of mortgages that were farther behind in their mortgage payments than they were in the prior month for each month since 2005.#160; Those that were current in the prior month but became delinquent in the reporting month are shown in red; those that transitioned from one month late to two months late are shown in green; while those that transitioned from two months late to 3 months late are shown in violet.#160; Finally, of those who were more than 90 days delinquent in the prior month who were foreclosed on in each month is shown in blue.#160; Here we can see in red that over 580,000 home mortgages became newly delinquent in January, a 129,000 mortgage or 28% increase from those that became newly delinquent in December..#160; In addition, there was an increase of 21,000 mortgages, or 11% higher than in December, that rolled from 1 month late to 2 months behind on their housepayments, while 7,500 homeowners, or 7% more than those who had rolled from 2 months to 3 months late in December, have rolled to 3 months late in January.#160; Lastly, we can see in blue that the number of those who were seriously delinquent who were foreclosed on in January fell by about 7.8%, as our earlier coverage noted…

As you know, the Mortgage Monitor (pdf) is a mostly graphics presentation from what was once the Analytics division of Lender Processing Services that covers a variety of mortgage related issues each month.#160; One issue they looked at this month was the potential risk exposure that mortgage holders faced in three states where courts are deliberating how statutes of limitations laws should be applied to foreclosures.#160; As you should recall, tens of thousands of homeowners have been stuck in the foreclosure process for years because of the lengthy foreclosure pipelines and difficulty in establishing clear title and right to foreclose after the evisceration of public land records by MERS and the banks during the housing boom, and now courts in Florida, New Jersey and New York are deciding whether statutes of limitations laws should apply to severely delinquent mortgages in those states.#160; According to BKFS, up to 98,000 seriously delinquent home loans with an unpaid principal balance of approximately $30 billion may be subject to such statutes of limitations (ie, mortgages that are more than five years past due in Florida or more than six years past due in New Jersey and New York).#160; Moreover, roughly $1 out of every $10 of principal in private-label securitizations in these three states is tied to such a mortgage.

The bar graph below, from page 11 of the Mortgage Monitor, gives us a graphic representation of the number of seriously delinquent mortgages more than 6 years past due in New York and New Jersey, and the number of seriously delinquent mortgages more than 5 years past due in Florida, with the dark blue bars representing the count as of this January report, and the light blue bars representing the count as of a year earlier.#160; As the callout on the graph notes, Florida still has the most delinquent mortgages subject to statute of limitations law, despite a 38% drop in such mortgages over the past year (ie, suggesting a large number of Florida foreclosures were completed) but the number of such mortgages is still growing in New York and New Jersey, where they have slow foreclosure courts and extremely long foreclosure pipelines.#160; And this can get worse than shown here, considering that roughly 40% of foreclosures that took place during the crisis have not yet reached the 6 year statute of limitations in those states.#160; If you are a resident of these states or are interested in more detail, page 12 of the mortgage monitor breaks down the number of such mortgages subject to statute of limitation laws by county, and if you are an investor in mortgages, page 13 of the mortgage monitor has a graphic representation, in millions or billions of dollars, of the exposure of such securities to the unpaid principal balance (UPB) of such mortgages in these states.

For a historical summary of those metrics, and the other data that we have discussed, were including below that part of the Mortgage Monitor table showing the monthly count of active home mortgage loans and their delinquency status, which comes from the bottom part of page 18 of the pdf.#160; The columns in the table below show the total active mortgage loan count nationally for each month given, number of mortgages that were delinquent by more than 90 days but not yet in foreclosure, the monthly count of those mortgages that are in the foreclosure process (FC), the total non-current mortgages, including those that just missed one or two payments, and then the number of foreclosure starts for each month over the past year, and for each January shown going back to January 2005.#160; In the last two columns, we see the average length of time that those who have been more than 90 days delinquent have remained in their homes without foreclosure, and then the average number of days those in foreclosure have been stuck in that process because of the lengthy foreclosure pipeline. The average length of delinquency for those who have been more than 90 days delinquent without foreclosure has decreased from the April record of 536 days and is now at 495 days, while the average time for those who’ve been in foreclosure without a resolution has now dropped a bit its record high set in November but at 1047 days is still at an average of nearly three years.

(Note: the above was excerpted from my post on Marketwatch 666)

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3 Signs You’re Ready for a Rewards Credit Card
Saturday, March 26th, 2016 | Author:

A rewards credit card can certainly add some heft to persons wallet. After all, what other payment method lets you earn points, miles or cash back on all of your purchases?

Still, in spite of the perks, this type of plastic just isnt for everyone. For starters, rewards credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates than their no-frills counterparts. And some carry high annual fees that you may not recoup, depending on your spending habits.

Thats not to say you should be stuck with your starter, secured or student credit card forever. If youre looking to upgrade, here are some signs you may be ready for a rewards credit card.

A Credit Card For Every Level of Credit
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1.Youre Paying Your Monthly Balances Off in Full

Rewards credit cards best serve people who dont carry a balance since points, miles or cash-back rewards can otherwise be negated by the interest. If youre in the habit of always paying balances off in full each month, you might be ready for some premium plastic. If not, you may want to stick with a simple or low-interest credit card. And, if youre already carrying a lot of debt, you may want to look into a balance transfer credit card to minimize your interest costs.

2. Youre Meeting All of Your Budgeting Goals

It can feel great to earn points, miles or cash back, but you dont want to spend more than you normally would each month just to bolster those coffers. Your ability to maintain a budget is a good measuring stick of your overall financial health — and can also provide hints about how disciplined you might be with some new plastic in hand.

3. Your Credit Score Is in Great Shape

Not all rewards credit cards are created equal, but a good credit score will help you qualify for the best of them. Plus, having good or excellent credit is another sign that youll use the new line of credit responsibly. In either event, its a good idea to check your credit before you fill out any applications. You can do so by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.

Its also important to read all of the terms and conditions associated with a card you are considering carefully. Youll want to comparison-shop to find a card thats right for you. You can check out our recent ranking of the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards in America here.

More on Credit Cards:

  • Credit.com’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
  • How to Get a Credit Line Increase
  • Are Annual Fee Credit Cards Worth It?

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