Ladd Tower sold for $79 million, by Wendy Culverwell, Portland Business Journal

Ladd Tower in Portland, Oregon, USA

Image via Wikipedia

Ladd Tower sold for $79.35 million to a Dallas-based institutional investor in November, marking the largest apartment sale of the year.

CoStar Group and the Daily Journal of Commerce first reported the news.

Invesco Institutional acquired the 332-unit tower from U.S. Bank. The bank took over Ladd Tower, 1300 S.W. Park Ave., in August from developer Opus Northwest in lieu of foreclosing on an $82 million construction loan.

Ladd Tower is one of the last local projects completed by Opus Northwest, once one of the region’s most prolific developers with 17 million square feet developed in the metro area.

Also in November, Opus sold its 101-unit Park 19 project, 550 N.W. 19th St., or $28.8 million to TIAA-CREF, a New York investment giant.

@wendyculverwell | | 503-219-3415

Read more: Ladd Tower sold for $79 million | Portland Business Journal

Pending Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Rose 3.5% in November, by Bob Willis,

The number of contracts to buy previously owned homes rose more than forecast in November, a sign sales are recovering following a post-tax credit plunge.

The index of pending resales increased 3.5 percent after jumping a record 10 percent in October, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 0.8 percent rise in November, and the gain was the fourth in five months. The group’s data go back to 2001.

Home demand is stabilizing after sales collapsed to a record low in July, as the effects of a tax incentive worth as much as $8,000 waned. A jobless rate hovering near 10 percent means foreclosures will remain elevated and any recovery in housing, the industry that precipitated the worst recession since the 1930s, will take time to develop.

The figures are “in line with an ongoing gradual pickup in existing-home sales in December,” Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said in an e-mail to clients. “Housing demand should continue its uneven recovery entering 2011 as housing oversupply should keep pushing housing prices down.”

A report today from the Labor Department showed claims for jobless benefits fell last week to the lowest level since July 2008, showing the labor market is improving heading into 2011. Filings decreased by 34,000 to 388,000 in the week ended Dec. 25, fewer than the lowest estimate of economists surveyed.

Business Barometer

Other figures showed the economy accelerated at the end of the year. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’sbusiness barometer jumped to 68.6 in December from 62.5 in the prior month. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion and the level was the highest since July 1988.

Stocks fluctuated between gains and losses after the reports. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Indexfell 0.1 percent to 1,258.23 at 11:17 a.m. in New York. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note declined, pushing up the yield to 3.39 percent from 3.35 percent late yesterday.

The projected increase in pending home sales was based on the median of 24 forecasts in the Bloomberg survey. Estimates ranged from a drop of 5 percent to a gain of 5 percent.

Two of four regions saw an increase, today’s report showed, led by an 18 percent jump in the West. Pending sales rose 1.8 percent in the Northeast. They fell 4.2 percent in the Midwest and 1.8 percent in the South.

November 2009

Compared with November 2009, pending sales in the U.S. were down 2.4 percent.

Even as the labor market is improving and manufacturing is growing, housing remains a weak link. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun last week estimated there were about 4.5 million distressed properties that could potentially reach the market in coming months.

Average home prices as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller indexes have begun dropping again after rising when the tax incentive was in effect. The group’s 20-city index fell 0.8 percent in October from a year earlier, the biggest year-on-year decline since December. It fell 1 percent from the prior month, and is down 30 percent from its July 2006 peak.

Reports earlier this month showed the housing market is stuck near recession levels. Housing permits fell in November to the third-lowest level on record, while starts rose for the first time in three months, the Commerce Department reported Dec. 16.

Home Sales

Sales of new and existing homes last month rose less than projected by the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, reports from the Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors showed last week. Existing home sales represent closings on the contracts captured by the pending sales gauge.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., the largest homebuilder in New Jersey, on Dec. 22 reported a fourth-quarter loss bigger than analysts expected as revenue fell 19 percent.

“The year can generally be described as one where we and the industry were bouncing along the bottom,” Chief Executive Officer Ara Hovnanian said on a conference call.

Even so, economists in the past two weeks have boosted projections for fourth-quarter growth, reflecting a pickup in consumer spending and passage of an $858 billion bill extending all Bush-era tax cuts for two years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Willis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at

    Wells Fargo Top Mortgage Lender for the Fourth Consecutive Quarter,

    Wells Fargo's corporate headquarters in San Fr...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Wells Fargo was the top residential mortgage lender for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to

    The San Francisco-based bank and mortgage lender grabbed nearly a quarter (23.13 percent) of total market share with $102.8 billion in loan origination volume during the third quarter.

    The company bested its year-ago total of $97.9 billion and crushed the $83 billion originated in the second quarter, thanks in part to the record low mortgage rates on offer, which sparkedrefinance demand.

    Bank of America came in a distant second with $74 billion and 16.66 percent market share – Chase originated about half of that, with $42.7 billion and 9.60 percent market share.

    Their volume was nearly identical to the volume seen a quarter earlier, but 25 percent lower than that seen a year ago.

    Rounding out the top five were CitiMortgage and Ally Bank/Residential Capital (GMAC) with $20.3 billion and $20.2 billion, respectively.

    The pair saw market share of just over nine percent combined.

    So the five largest mortgage lenders accounted for nearly 60 percent of all loan origination volume.

    Quicken Loans was the biggest gainer in the top 10, with an 88 percent increase seen from the third quarter of 2009.

    SunTrust Bank was the biggest loser year-over-year, chalking a 34 percent decline.

    Take a look at the top 10 mortgage lenders in the third quarter of 2010:


    Oregon Real Estate Wanted: New Listing SG12

    I have new clients that are looking for a home to lease, lease to own or buy on contract. This is a professional couple that will be moving to the area with in the next 60 to 90 days. They have a dog that is well trained and mannered. It is a 100 pound german shepherd. Homes in which pets are welcomed and either has a dog positive yard or near areas where my clients can walk their dog in safety are a must. Client can provide references for themselves as well as their dog.

    If you have a listing you feel my clients might be interested in or you know of one let me know. When you contact me just reference SG12 so I will know which clients you are referring too.

    Please feel free to forward this message to anyone you feel might have a property for my clients.

    To find out more information about my clients and what they are looking for please visit and scroll down to buyer SG12 or contact me.




    Fred Stewart
    Stewart Group Realty Inc.

    503-289-4970 (Phone)


    Obama Considers Foreclosure Ban, by Carrie Bay,

    Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

    Image via Wikipedia

    President Obama and his administration are floating an idea to prohibit lenders from foreclosing on a home unless the borrower has been considered for the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

    The proposal would require servicers to initiate contact with all borrowers who are 60 or more days behind on their mortgage payments and offer them access to the federal modification program. Only after the homeowner has been screened under the HAMP guidelines and it is determined that the loan cannot be saved, could foreclosure proceedings commence. The proposal would also halt any foreclosures already in process once a borrower has been accepted into the trial phase of the program.

    The proposal was reviewed by lenders last week on a White House conference call and “prohibits referral to foreclosure until borrower is evaluated and found ineligible for HAMPor reasonable contact efforts have failed,” Bloomberg Newsreported, citing a Treasury Department document outlining the plan.

    Some lenders have been voluntarily suspending foreclosure proceedings while they evaluate a homeowner’s eligibility for HAMP, but under the program’s current guidelines there is no requirement to do so, and a number of homeowner advocacy groups have submitted complaints to the administration that even borrowers who are making their trial payments are being hit with foreclosure litigation.

    A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that a foreclosure ban is under consideration, but stressed that it is one of many ideas on the table and has not been approved yet.

    Laurie Goodman, a senior managing director at the Amherst Securities Group who has been highly critical of the government’s modification program, told the New York Times that even if the proposal came to pass, it would.

    not be “a major change. We think there is a large public relations element to this,” she said.

    As the Times noted, the government could use some favorable public relations for its modification program. Lawmakers have begun to openly express their disappointment with the program. On Thursday, members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said matter-of-factly in a report, that by every practical measure, “HAMP has failed.”

    Reps. Darrell Issa (R-California) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) called the program a misuse of taxpayer money, theWashington Post said. The program has been allocated $75 billion to pay incentives to servicers, investors, and borrowers for loan restructurings, but the paper says that so far only $15 million has been spent.

    As of the end of January, 116,297 troubled mortgages had been permanently modified under HAMP. About 830,000 more were in the trial phase of the program. The administration’s goal is to help three to four million borrowers save their homes through the program by the end of 2012.

    News of a draft document by the Treasury outlining additional changes to HAMP also circulated this week. Besides the proposed ban on foreclosures until after aHAMP review, the administration is also considering implementing a mandatory 30-day appeal period for borrowers that are denied a federal modification. Servicers would not be allowed to proceed with a foreclosure sale during this time.

    The proposal would also require servicers to prove that they have made multiple attempts to contact delinquent borrowers both by phone and via written notices, and would require them to consider HAMP applications from homeowners that have already filed for bankruptcy.

    Lenders have expressed concern that the proposed requirements would prolong foreclosure delays beyond the current 12 month timeline that it typically takes to resolve the loans that don’t qualify for a modification.

    Earlier this month at the American Securitization Forum’s annual meeting, Seth Wheeler, a senior advisor at the Treasury Department, told mortgage bond investors and lenders that the administration is also considering revising HAMP’s net present value (NPV) model in order to incorporate more principal writedowns into the equation. The NPV test is applied to determine if the mortgage owner can recoup more money by restructuring the loan or by foreclosing.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac HARP Refinancings Increase in Third Quarter,

    Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

    Image via Wikipedia

    RISMEDIA, December 27, 2010—Refinancings through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) increased 26% in the third quarter of 2010. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) increased 16% in the quarter, although the overall volume of loan modifications and the pace of HAMP modifications declined from previous periods. The data were released in FHFA’s Third Quarter 2010 Foreclosure Prevention & Refinance Report, which includes data on all of the Enterprises’ foreclosure prevention efforts.

    Findings of the report include:

    -Loans modified in the last three quarters are performing substantially better three months after modification, compared to loans modified in earlier periods.

    -More than half of the loan modifications completed in the third quarter lowered borrowers’ monthly payments by over 30%.

    -Loans that are 30-days delinquent increased by 17,600 loans or 2.7% during the third quarter to approximately 682,000.

    -Loans 60-plus-days delinquent declined for the third consecutive quarter. The 60-plus-days delinquent loans decreased by 109,700 loans, or 6.8% during the third quarter to approximately 1.5 million.

    -Nearly 35,400 HAMP trial modifications transitioned to permanent during the third quarter, bringing the total number of active HAMP permanent modifications to nearly 260,000.

    For more information, visit and

    RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to:

    Have you heard about RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN)? RREIN is an elite network of leading real estate companies dedicated to providing consumers and their agents with leading real estate information, and committed to the belief that Information Share Equals Market Share. Having only launched this past June 2010, the RREIN network is already comprised of 40 leading brokerages, which make up 575 offices, 30,000 agents, 167,000 closings and represents over $41 billion in transactions. How can RREIN help your recruiting efforts and differentiate your company today? For more information, email

    Cloud of suspense surrounds Bank of America, WikiLeaks, by Rick Rothacker,

    Picture of Julian Assange during a talk at 26C3

    Image via Wikipedia

    Internal security stepped up after Assange announces plans for ‘megaleak’ about a large bank.

    Heading into the new year, a big question looms for Bank of America: What’s next in the WikiLeaks saga?

    Julian Assange, the anti-secrecy organization’s founder, has said he is preparing a “megaleak” about a large bank, leading to speculation the Charlotte bank is the target. On Monday, he told the Times of London that he had enough information to make the bosses of a major bank resign.

    Meanwhile, Bank of America has cut off payments intended for WikiLeaks, spurring the group to tell customers to stop doing business with the bank. Other financial institutions that have foiled payments have faced cyberspace attacks from WikiLeaks supporters, but so far the bank doesn’t appear to be suffering ill effects.

    Analysts say it’s possible WikiLeaks could stir up new trouble for the nation’s biggest bank, perhaps exposing more problems in the mortgage arena or reviving questions about its Merrill Lynch acquisition. It’s also possible the revelations cause little harm or that WikiLeaks bypasses the bank altogether.

    Bert Ely, a Virginia-based banking consultant, said he suspects all major financial institutions are girding for the group’s next move.

    “We don’t know it’s Bank of America,” he said. “It could be one of a number of banks.”

    In recent months, WikiLeaks has gained notoriety for exposing Pentagon and State Department secrets and for Assange’s fight against sexual assault charges in Sweden. In November, he told Forbes magazine that his group planned a bank leak in early 2011. That drew attention to a 2009 article in which Assange said WikiLeaks had obtained a Bank of America executive’s hard drive.

    Bank of America has said it has no evidence that WikiLeaks has company data but it has said little else on the subject. In a speech earlier this month, chief marketing officer Anne Finucane hinted Bank of America was steeled for any possible revelations, partly because it already has endured intense investigations of its 2008 Merrill deal.

    “We have been out there pretty much 24/7, whether those of us who run communications like it or not, and we have learned not only to react, but deal with this as a given,” Finucane told a Boston audience.

    A Bank of America employee told the Observer that it appeared the bank had stepped up security internally recently, taking steps to block access to websites such as Gmail on company laptops. The bank declined to comment on security procedures.

    Analysts say they’re watching for the next development, which could cause new problems for a company still trying to recover from the financial crisis. When speculation surfaced on Nov. 30 that Bank of America could be WikiLeaks’ next target, the bank’s shares plunged more than 3 percent to $10.95. But since that drop-off, the bank’s shares have climbed nearly 15 percent to $12.98 at Tuesday’s close.

    Jefferson Harralson, a bank analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said WikiLeaks’ revelations are unlikely to highlight a new problem but could add more color around topics already in the news. The bank’s mortgage unit, bulked up by the 2008 Countrywide Financial acquisition, has been the biggest trouble spot lately. The most costly issue is requests by investors to buy back billions in soured mortgage loans originated and sold off by Countrywide during the housing bubble.

    “The soft underbelly (for Bank of America) would be the mortgage crisis,” Harralson said.

    Still, analysts already are braced for huge losses tied to mortgage loan repurchase requests. Harralson estimates the bank could spend $35 billion over five years buying back mortgages, although he suspects the amount could end up being less.

    Ely, the banking consultant, said WikiLeaks could reveal information on a range of issues, from executives’ actions during the Merrill Lynch acquisition to who is using the company jet. One of the more damaging disclosures would be evidence of securities law violations, such as the manipulation of earnings or the failure to disclose material information to investors, he said.

    “That can trigger lawsuits from shareholders and bring out the class-action bar,” he said.

    The New York Times on Tuesday reported that regulators also are worried that WikiLeaks revelations could show failings by the agencies charged with overseeing the banking industry. Earlier this month, however, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Bair downplayed concerns about a leak. “I have a hard time understanding what would be so provocative,” she said after a speech. “So I would just ignore it, I really would.”

    On Friday, Bank of America said it cut off payments to WikiLeaks because it had “reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.” A bank spokesman declined to answer further questions.

    Analysts said the bank could have a number of reasons for making the move, including pressure from the government, a desire to separate itself from possible criminal activities or revenge for obtaining its internal information.

    Through its Twitter handle, WikiLeaks has encouraged Bank of America customers to close their accounts. The bank’s website doesn’t appear to be suffering from cyberspace attacks. Rich Mogull, analyst and chief executive at security research firm Securosis, said WikiLeaks supporters would need “massive resources” to dent the bank’s formidable defenses.

    “Bank of America is always under attack,” Mogull said. “It’s one of the biggest targets on the Internet.”

    In case of any leaks, Harralson said Bank of America is likely preparing its legal response, although that could be difficult against an “ephemeral” organization like WikiLeaks. “You can examine your legal options,” he said, “but it’s a hard organization to pin down.”

    Read more: