So, another week, and yet more news the U.S. housing market is slowly returning to normal.
Numbers released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department show that builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That's up from 910,000 in January. And it's the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000.
Illinois homeowners facing foreclosure may soon be eligible for up to $35,000 in mortgage assistance.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced that beginning April 1 the Illinois Housing Development Authority is increasing the amount eligible households may receive from the Illinois Hardest Hit program. Currently homeowners may receive $25,000.
Quinn's office says the increase will help an additional 500 families keep their homes.
The program is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Quinn says it has helped more than 7,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure since 2011.
A judge in St. Louis city has halted enforcement of the city's new foreclosure mediation ordinance.
Robert Dierker issued the temporary restraining order today, which prohibits any city officials from enforcing the ordinance. Dierker does take care to note that voluntary participation in mediation is still allowed. A hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled for March 20.
Late Wednesday afternoon Associate Circuit Judge Brenda Stith Loftin ruled that St. Louis County does have the authority to enforce a new ordinance that requires banks offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.
St. Louis County Counselor Pat Reddington said their central argument before the court was that they were not trying to regulate banks.
“We’re trying to protect our residents,' Reddington said. "We argued, and the court found, that was in the kind of police power the county has.”
The St. Louis County Council approved additional changes to an ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.
The tweaks to the ordinance include removing the right for homeowners to sue lenders after they’ve gone through mediation, and they come in the shadow of an ongoing legal battle with lenders over whether the county even has the authority to enforce the ordinance.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby first introduced the mediation plan and is confident in the county’s case.
The Missouri Bankers Association has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County over a new ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure.
The trade group’s president, Max Cook, said they plan to argue that it has a laundry list of legal problems.
“Not the least of which is statute that says when it comes to banking laws, and rules, and regulation, no entity, be it a county, a city, what have you, can pass an ordinance or a rule more restrictive than that of the state of Missouri,” Cook said.
A new ordinance could offer struggling St. Louis City homeowners an option to help avoid foreclosure.
The program would extend a loan mediation process to any homeowner who requests it from their bank, just like the one passed two weeks ago in St. Louis County. Ignoring this request would cost a lender a $500 fine.
But, banks claim the laws violate state statutes prohibiting government intervention into the foreclosure process. They say it would mean fewer loans and increased costs.