New York Times
Refinancing into shorter loans
Grim headlines about the housing market can make that final mortgage payment seem like a distant dream. But a growing number of homeowners are refinancing into shorter-term mortgages designed to make the dream become a reality sooner. Read the full story.

Wall Street Journal
A new way to cut a mortgage
Some homeowners who already have refinanced into low-interest-rate mortgages are using a little-known strategy to make their monthly payments even smaller.  Called “recasting” or “re-amortizing,” the strategy allows a borrower to lower the monthly payment on an existing fixed-rate home loan for a small fee without having to apply for a new loan and without having to pay reappraisal and other fees. Read the full story.

Mercury News
Congress holds conforming loan limits at nearly $730,000
Congress has extended a policy that allows homeowners in pricey real estate markets to secure government-backed mortgages of nearly $730,000. Read the full story.

Sacramento Bee
California REALTORS® forecast slight rise in 2011 home sales
Sales of existing, single-family homes are expected to decline slightly in 2010 compared with 2009, but are forecast to rise slightly in 2011, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2011 California Housing Market Forecast.”  Meanwhile, the median price of homes in California is expected to increase both in 2010 and 2011 compared with the year prior.

  • Following near record-high levels of year-over-year sales increases, home sales are expected to decline 10 percent in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the C.A.R. forecast.  C.A.R.’s economists predict home sales will increase 2 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.
  • Home sales are expected to end the year at 492,000 units, compared with 546,500 in 2009.  C.A.R. forecasts sales will come in at 502,000 units in 2011.
  • The median sales price is forecast to increase 11.5 percent to $306,500 for 2010, and an additional 2 percent in 2011 to $312,500, C.A.R. announced.
  • According to C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, the Association expects a net jobs increase of approximately 1.4 million jobs in California for 2011 and an improvement in unemployment figures, which many believe are key to the economic recovery.
  • Ms. Appleton-Young also noted that a lean supply of available homes for sale will drive up prices at the low-end ($500,000 and less), but larger inventories and limited, less-attractive financing will cause continued softness at the high-end of the market ($1 million and more).

Read the full story.