BULLETIN NO. 18-04
APRIL 10, 2018
TO: ALL NEW JERSEY STATE CHARTERED BANKS, SAVINGS BANKS, SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS, CREDIT UNIONS, NEW JERSEY LICENSED RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LENDERS AND BROKERS, MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATORS, TITLE INSURERS, TITLE PRODUCERS, AND LICENSED REAL ESTATE BROKERS AND SALESPERSONS
FROM: MARLENE CARIDE, ACTING COMMISSIONER, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEPARTMENT OF BANKING AND INSURANCE
RE: WIRE TRANSFER FRAUD
The industries addressed in this Bulletin handle millions of dollars in wire transfers every day in connection with mortgage loan transactions in this State. The purpose of this Bulletin is to remind you of the prevalence of fraudulent schemes to divert funds transferred by wire.
The New Jersey Senate passed bill S1893 on February 26, 2018 by a 28-9 margin. The bill would authorize any municipality, county or school district to establish charitable funds for specific purposes and permitting property tax credits for certain "donations." Residents would then take a charity write-off for property taxes on their federal income taxes. The bill must be approved by the full Assembly and Governor Phil Murphy has said he supports the measure.
Nonetheless, even if fully passed, the proposal faces an uphill battle as the IRS does not appear willing to recognize tax payments as "donations" and United States Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has called the plan "ridiculous."
Fulfilling a campaign promise by Governor Phil Murphy, a recent bill (S885) introduced by state Sens. Richard Codey and Nia Gill seeks to create a state-run financial institution to host state deposits, make loans, and purchase mortgages from commercial banks under the guidance of a 13-member board of directors. The state bank would also fund transportation project loans, small business loans, student loans and have the power of eminent domain. Critics say local community banks already provide these services and reinvest this money back into local communities, who in the end will suffer. There is currently only one other state-run bank in the United States, located in North Dakota.
For the first time since Q1 2017, a composite outlook of bank CEOs, presidents, and CFOs from across the United States suggests that there is more optimism about the banking industry, as well as overall economic conditions.
This according to Promontory Interfinancial Network's proprietary Bank Confidence Index (SM), which is back in positive territory with a 2.4-point improvement (to 50.5, crossing from contractionary to expansionary territory) over last quarter. This is the highest rating for the Bank Confidence Index since Q2 of 2016.
The Bank Confidence Index, which is calculated using the results of Promontory Interfinancial Network's Bank Executive Business Outlook Survey, tracks banker expectations in four key areas: access to capital, loan demand, funding costs, and deposit competition. (Charted on a scale of 0-100, a score over 50 can be read as expansionary.) The Q4 2017 survey is the twelfth published by Promontory Interfinancial Network with data released every fiscal quarter.
S&P Dow Jones Indices today released the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for December 2017 shows that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. More than 27 years of history for these data series is available, and can be accessed in full by going to http://www.homeprice.spdji.com. Additional content on the housing market can also be found on S&P Dow Jones Indices’ housing blog: http://www.housingviews.com.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 6.3% annual gain in December, up from 6.1% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 6.0%, no change from the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 6.3% year-over-year gain, down from 6.4% in the previous month.
“The rise in home prices should be causing the same nervous wonder aimed at the stock market after its recent bout of volatility,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Across the 20 cities covered by S&P Corelogic Case Shiller Home Price Indices, the average increase from the financial crisis low is 62%; over the same period, inflation was 12.4%. None of the cities covered in this release saw real, inflation-adjusted prices fall in 2017. The National Index, which reached its low point in 2012, is up 38% in six years after adjusting for inflation, a real annual gain of 5.3%. The National Index’s average annual real gain from 1976 to 2017 was 1.3%. Even considering the recovery from the financial crisis, we are experiencing a boom in home prices.
“Within the last few months, there are beginning to be some signs that gains in housing may be leveling off. Sales of existing homes fell in December and January after seasonal adjustment and are now as low as any month in 2017. Pending sales of existing homes are roughly flat over the last several months. New home sales appear to be following the same trend as existing home sales. While the price increases do not suggest any weakening of demand, mortgage rates rose from 4% to 4.4% since the start of the year. It is too early to tell if the housing recovery is slowing. If it is, some moderation in price gains could be seen later this year.”
To read the full report, click here.
Home equity levels have been steadily returning since the recession years, however, the latest findings from ATTOM Data Solutions show that while equity is still on the positive side, the most recent gains are not quite as strong.
The latest stats show 9.3 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater at the end of 2017, down from 9.6 percent a year ago. However, this was the smallest year-over-year decrease in share of seriously underwater properties since ATTOM began tracking this data at the beginning of 2012.
Across the U.S. 25.4 percent of all properties with a mortgage were equity rich at the end of 2017, up from 24.6 percent a year ago. This was the smallest year-over-year increase in share of equity rich properties since the third quarter of 2015.
Is the stock market crashing? The short answer: no—the Dow is just a little bumpy right now. The recent Wall Street frenzy had people from all over the world fearing that a U.S. real estate bubble might be the culprit after the stock market suddenly took a nearly 1,600-point (4.6 percent) plunge. According to CNN Money, it was the biggest point decline in history during a trading day.
However, experts say there's no reason to worry. While homeownership rates and home prices are currently at an all-time high, they are not to blame for the market's volatility.
"The types of corrections we are seeing this week in the U.S. stock markets are not expected to negatively impact the housing market unless the current volatility causes the market to significantly fall below normal levels," says Joseph Kirchner, senior economist for realtor.com®. "Despite [the] correction, the market is still 15 percent above a year ago and economic fundamentals remain strong."
A recently released report outlines several key priorities to improve New Jersey's housing sector and the worst-in-the-nation foreclosure problem. The fifteen page report proposes, among other things, reinstating the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Housing and Statewide Commission, expanding Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credits, reducing barriers to creating housing, legal assistance for individuals facing eviction or foreclosure and utilizing foreclosed homes for affordable rental and home ownership.
A full copy of the housing report recommendations can be found here.
Purple lovers rejoice! Pantone has picked 18-3838 Ultra Violet as its 2018 color of the year.
According to an article by Joanne Friedrick at Home Furnishings News (HFN), the blue-based purple is described as “provocative, thoughtful and mystical” as well as “evocative of the night sky and the mysteries of the universe.”
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute in a statement for HFN. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Ultra Violet.”
According to HFN, Pantone points to purple’s correlation to counterculture, unconventionality and artistic genius, evidenced in the likes of music greats Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, who donned shades of deep purple to express their individuality.
Inventory constraints that have fueled a sharp rise in home prices and made it difficult for buyers to gain a foothold in the market will begin to ease in 2018 as part of broad and continued market improvements, according to the recently released realtor.com® 2018 National Housing Forecast.
The easing of the inventory shortage, which is expected to result in more manageable increases in home prices and a modest acceleration of home sales, is being predicted based on developments first detected by realtor.com® in late summer 2017.
The annual forecast, which is among the industry's bellwethers in tracking and analyzing major trends in the housing market, also foresees an increase in millennial mortgages and strong sales growth in Southern markets.
" will set the stage for a significant inflection point in the housing shortage," says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com®. "Inventory increases will be felt in higher priced segments after the spring home-buying season, which we expect to take hold and begin to provide relief for buyers and drive sales growth in 2019 and beyond."