Friday Five: Home Owners Insurance Rates Up, Mortgage Rates Down

Get caught up on all of the latest housing news that you might have missed over the holidays with the first Friday Five of the new year.

It looks like 2012 will be another year of low mortgage rates, but Congress is being pushed to help struggling home buyers take advantage of the market this time around. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for more aggressive action from Congress to assist the housing market. Washington’s first chance to help home owners will be reforming the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires in May. Here are a few of the housing stories making headlines:

Wall Street Journal Online: Fed Wants More Congressional Help in Housing

The Federal Reserve warned lawmakers who sit on key congressional banking committees that tight mortgage lending standards threaten to hold back the economy and urged for more aggressive action from Congress on housing. The Fed also signaled support for more aggressive use of Fannie and Freddie to support a housing recovery.

Detroit Free Press: Foreclosure Crisis Spurs Epidemic of Mortgage Modification Scams

The foreclosure crisis in Michigan and across the country has produced another epidemic: mortgage modification scams that have cost desperate borrowers thousands of dollars — even their homes.

Los Angeles Times: Low Mortgage Rates Likely to Continue Through 2012, Experts Say

The mortgage market told a sad story throughout 2011: record low rates, but few people taking advantage of them to buy homes. The likely scenario in the new year, according to many analysts, is more of the same.

Property Casualty: With an NFIP Extension to May Complete, Industry Eyes Long-Term Reforms

With the National Flood Insurance Program finally provided breathing space until May 31 through one of President Obama’s last actions of 2011 on Dec. 23, industry officials now say one of their top priorities in the New Year is to ensure the latest short-term extension is the last.

Reuters: First-Time Buyers Lean on the Bank of Mom and Dad

About a third of first-time buyers in 2011 got either a gift (26%) or a loan (7%) from their families to help finance their home purchases, down slightly from 2010, but consistent with assistance levels seen during the last decade, according to data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR).