Chase Bank lays off 420 peopleThe finance industry continues to suffer losses and as a result, it seems that some forecasting has shown it’s time to trim the fat where it can still be trimmed.

JPMorgan Chase on Tuesday said it plans to transfer 420 customer-service jobs from the Valley to locations outside Arizona as part of an ongoing workforce-efficiency drive.

Affected workers will be eligible for other jobs with Chase, which has 475 openings in Arizona in retail financial services and other areas. Those who don’t land new jobs with the company will receive severance packages.

Chase, the largest bank operating in Arizona based on deposits, counts about 9,000 workers in the state.

Mary Jane Rogers, a Chase spokeswoman, said the transfers don’t stem from weakness in any particular business unit.

“We’re continually reviewing our business priorities looking for efficiency,” she said. Chase plans to transfer the jobs to Texas, Ohio, the Philippines, Missouri and Michigan - places where she said Chase has lower operating costs and excess capacity.

Chase plans to transfer the positions gradually through year-end and will give 60-day notices to affected workers, most of whom handle telephone calls from customers and perform account-maintenance and research work. The affected employees are among 2,000 workers at a Chase facility near Sky Harbor International Airport.

Efficiency. The most beautiful and horrible word all at once - depending on which side of it you’re on.

There were some colorful comments that seemed to hint at some more reasons behind this:

It’s hard to believe that Chase will have lower operating costs anywhere in the US. Arizona wages are so low, it must be almost the bottom. So I guess most of these jobs will go to the Philippines.

This is a hard blow to Arizona which needs these low level jobs urgently because of our failing schools turning out so many people who are not qualified for anything better.

“ongoing workforce-efficiency drive” in plain American English=kiss your jobs goodbye. Chase will pay $1.25 per day to Makmoud in the Philippines and put the labor cost savings in the executive’s year end bonus. Chase would hire illegal aliens for cheap if they could, at least the paychecks would stay in the Arizona economy.


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house price trends, foreclosure ratesA crashing market is great for buyers who are eagerly waiting to chomp into their next home at a fantastic price. But it’s not so great for sellers who are left unable to sell at prices that let them break even with what they bought for. Seems to be a chicken vs egg question.

It’s a crushing feeling when you find the value of your house is less than what you paid for it. Even if you never took out a home equity loan, made payments as usual, and have a very valid reason to sell like a death in the family, loss of a job, etc.

Mortgage delinquencies will continue to rise over the next six to 12 months as home prices decline and economic conditions remain difficult, according to one forecast released Monday.

The Core Mortgage Risk Monitor (CMRM), an index of foreclosure risk compiled by real estate data analyzer First American CoreLogic, increased 16% compared with the same period last year.

CoreLogic analyzes house price trends, foreclosure rates, economic health factors and fraud propensity to predict the chances that future mortgage delinquencies will occur.

The index, which has increased over the last four quarterly reporting periods, is now 47% higher than it was in the first quarter of 2002 when the last recession was winding down.

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Homeowners who live near a house repossessed by a lender will see their property values dropAs the housing bubble continues to pop, we all get wet. Some end up stickier than others. Now that the hotter first quarter months are past, we’re seeing that the crash is continuing and that 2008 won’t be any better than 2007. To the contrary, it appears that it’s only going to get worse for those affected.

The median price for a single-family home in the U.S. dropped 7.7 percent in the first quarter, the biggest decline in at least 29 years, as values tumbled in two-thirds of U.S. cities, the National Association of Realtors said.

The median, the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less, was $196,300, down from $212,600 a year ago, the largest decline in records going back to 1979. Sales of single-family houses and condominiums fell 22 percent to 4.95 million at an annualized pace, the slowest in a decade, the Chicago-based group said in separate reports today.

Home prices are falling as foreclosed properties reduce the value of nearby real estate, said Lawrence Yun, the realtor group’s chief economist. U.S. foreclosure filings more than doubled in the first quarter from a year earlier, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of foreclosure data, said in a study released April 29.

“Foreclosures throw more supply on the market and accelerate the price declines that have already taken place,” said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Homeowners who live near a house repossessed by a lender will see their property values drop an average of $5,000, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. Nationally, foreclosures will result in $202 billion of lost real estate value, the Durham, North Carolina-based group said.

Price Declines

There were 4.06 million U.S. homes for sale at the end of March, 40,000 more than the prior month, the Realtors association said in an April 22 report. At the current sales pace, that represented 9.9 months’ worth, up from 9.6 months’ worth at the end of February.

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Jingle Mail Youngstown Ohio Mortgage Housing Bubble
In some of the more broken down parts of the nation, many folks are suggesting that the eyesores that have resulted from owners long gone after sending in their “jingle mail” and walking away from their mortgages, be torn down or converted. Seems Youngstown is doing exactly that.

I wonder if $50,000 is enough to do the trick though.

Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods.

Now, in a radical move, the city - which has suffered since the steel industry left town and jobs dried up - is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far.

Under the initiative, dubbed Plan 2010, city officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives - up to $50,000 in grants - for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed. The city will save by cutting back on services like garbage pick-ups and street lighting in deserted areas.

“We’re one of the first cities of significant size in the United States to embrace shrinkage,” said Williams.

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Walking Away From Your Mortgage - The Lights Are On In Almost 19 Million Homes But Nobody’s HomeRising by over 1 Million, the number of vacant homes has now been marked at 18.6 Million in the United States.

A record 18.6 million U.S. homes stood empty in the first quarter as lenders took possession of a growing number of properties in foreclosure.

The figure is 5.7 percent higher than a year ago, when 17.6 million properties were vacant, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report today. The vacancy rate, the share of homes empty and for sale, rose to 2.9 percent, the highest since the bureau started keeping count in 1956. About 2.3 million empty homes were for sale, compared with 2.2 million a year earlier, the report said.

The worst U.S. housing slump in more than a quarter century is deepening as falling values encourage buyers to delay purchases in hopes of getting a better deal. The median U.S. home sale price may drop 5.8 percent in 2008, the most on record, followed by another 4.7 percent decline next year, Fannie Mae, the world’s largest mortgage buyer, said April 7.

“We think it unlikely that prices begin to stabilize until vacancy rates start declining,” Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, said today in a report for clients.

There were 129.4 million homes in the U.S. in the first quarter, the study said. In addition to homes for sale, the report counted 4.1 million vacant homes that are for rent and 4.7 million that are seasonal.

Most foreclosures are contained in the report’s “other” category, which includes homes tied up in legal proceedings as well as homes that are empty because the owner is renovating and living somewhere else, according to the Census Web site. There were 7.5 million such homes that were vacant, up from 7.3 million a year earlier, the report said.

I’ve said before that a “good time to buy” is relative to your plans. In this case, liquidity is also important. Can you survive a job loss and still make your payments? Can you stay in your house for 10 years before you break even after being upside down on your home mortgage loan for several years?

Very important questions to ask yourselves as we get more and more statistics from very reputable sources. Is it really a better time to rent than to buy right now?

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