Stephen Colbert Weighs In On Botulism, Chinese Poison Train, Subprime Lending

Who’s reading us now? Stephen Colbert weighs in on a bunch of Consumerist topics with more gravitas than we can muster ourselves. Sorry we missed the whole “dentist puts boar tusks in your mouth while you’re anesthetized” story. We’ll try to do better next time.

Heat Map Of Rental Prices Based On Craiglist Listings

Heat Map Of Rental Prices Based On Craiglist Listings

In a project born out of “boredom” and an experience with a landlord that was facing foreclosure due to gambling on an ARM, grad student Ethan Garner created CraigStatsSF, a site that visualizes craiglist San Francisco rental listings. He writes:

As I started looking for places, I noticed everything that used to be for rent was now for sale due to the same foreclosure effect that happened to my landlord.

$325 Million Amerquest Settlement Payout Might Average $812.15 Per Person

$325 Million Amerquest Settlement Payout Might Average $812.15 Per Person

If you got a mortgage through Ameriquest from 1999-2005, you may be eligible for a $325 million settlement Ameriquest reached with 49 states over their shady lending practices, which included failing to disclose that the loans had adjustable rates, failing to disclose the terms of the loan, refinancing homeowners into inappropriate loans, inflating home appraisals, and charging excessive fees such as prepayment penalties and loan origination fees. Ameriquest did not admit wrongdoing.

New Record For Foreclosures In The First Half

New Record For Foreclosures In The First Half

Foreclosures hit an all time record in the first half of 2007, according to Bloomberg. Since the beginning of the year 926,000 foreclosures have been filed, 56% more than a year earlier.

Doomsday Coming in October For The Subprime Mortgage Industry

Doomsday Coming in October For The Subprime Mortgage Industry

Many consumers who signed up for adjustable rate mortgages in 2004 and 2005 will see their mortgage payments jump this October, according to CNNMoney. With foreclosure rates already as high as one foreclosure filing for every 656 households in the US, this can’t be good news.

H&R Block Continues To Hemorrhage Money

H&R Block Continues To Hemorrhage Money

The subprime lending arm of tax giant H&R Block continues to hemorrhage money, to the extent that it’s close to being unsalable, according to Bloomberg.

H&R Block Inc.’s mortgage unit lost a $1.5 billion credit line, falling “dangerously close” to the minimum amount demanded by a hedge fund firm that has agreed to buy the money-losing home lender.

Pending Home Resales Drop To Lowest Level Since September 2001

Pending Home Resales Drop To Lowest Level Since September 2001

Pending sales of existing homes dropped for the third straight month as troubles in the mortgage industry continue to disrupt the housing market. Figures released today show a 3.5% drop in May, following April’s drop of 3.2% and March’s drop of 4.5%.

H&R Block Subprime Lending Division Loses $676.8 Million

H&R Block Subprime Lending Division Loses $676.8 Million

The company reported losing $85.5 million, or 26 cents per share, during the February-April period, which is when the nation’s largest tax preparer sees the majority of its revenue. By comparison, the company earned $587.5 million, or $1.79, during the same period a year ago.

H&R Block says it will sell its subprime lending operation to a private equity firm.

Upgraded FICO Score To Debut In September

  • Borrowers with thin or young credit bureau files
    Fair Isaac says that, in addition to better predicting the behavior of subprime borrowers, the new FICO score will do a better job in assessing new accounts and borrowers who have little or no credit histories, such as young people and immigrants.

    Most people can expect their score to rise or fall slightly. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

  • Ameriquest Employees Confess: Lying To Customers, Forging Papers

    Ameriquest Employees Confess: Lying To Customers, Forging Papers

    Yesterday’s Morning Edition featured confessions from former Ameriquest mortgage employees. The confessions included startling revelations, such as:

    BusinessWeek: The Poverty Business

    BusinessWeek: The Poverty Business

    Business Week’s top story concerns the “subprime” lending industry in the United States. It’s a good read, one of those articles that makes you feel smarter for having read it. It’s shocking too, reading about a Navajo woman who makes $15,000 a year being lent $7,922 at 24.9% (to buy a 1999 Saturn with 103,000 miles on it) makes us slap our foreheads in frustration. But that’s how it goes when you’re poor. Your bank is a car dealer, your tax accountant is Jackson Hewitt and you’re screwed. —MEGHANN MARCO

    How To: Avoid Foreclosure

    How To: Avoid Foreclosure

    Since 1.1 million of you will soon be forced out of your homes due to the subprime mortgage debacle, we thought we’d link this extensive article in the Washington Post detailing the various strategies one can use to negotiate with lenders and hopefully stay in your home.

    Subprime Mortgage Debacle Makes General Motors Cry

    Subprime Mortgage Debacle Makes General Motors Cry

    Hey, you may be asking yourself, why are GM’s profits down 90% from this quarter last year?

    There Goes The Housing Market, Home Sales Experience Worst Drop In 18 Years

    There Goes The Housing Market, Home Sales Experience Worst Drop In 18 Years

    “Even if they’re not trying to sell their house or getting hammered with problems with a subprime mortgage, consumers can’t ignore the headlines.”

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

    About 85 percent of mortgage borrowers have credit scores of 620 or higher. So far — knock on wood — most of these prime customers needn’t worry about being turned down for home loans on the basis of their riskiness as borrowers, so long as they’re willing to let the lender verify their incomes and assets.

    Other sections include an analysis of the Federal debate, and “Lender Implosion” which declares that the industry has itself to blame.—MEGHANN MARCO

    $1 Billion Pledged For Refinancing Subprime Mortages, But It's Not Nearly Enough

    $1 Billion Pledged For Refinancing Subprime Mortages, But It's Not Nearly Enough

    The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America announced that they have set aside $1billion for the refinancing of subprime mortgages, but it’s not nearly enough. From the Washington Post (emphasis ours):

    NACA requires that people who ask for its help attend intensive housing counseling workshops. It also assesses the person’s ability to own and maintain a home. It then helps the person obtain a mortgage with one of its partner lending institutions, the biggest ones being CitiGroup and Bank of America.