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Good morning! I’m back from my travels in Switzerland and Hungary and I’ve been catching up on all of the news I missed while I was away. I figure you’ve seen some of these stories but in case you missed some, here’s a roundup of stories from the past 10 days or so.

First, what’s happening this week:

  • Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury announced it was cracking down on banks to permanently modify mortgage payments for troubled borrowers, rather than keep issuing temporary ones as they have been doing. You might remember we found the program has been fraught with headaches since its inception. The Union-Tribune included some San Diego reaction to the Treasury announcement today.

Some other developments from the last week or so:

  • Home prices in San Diego County for September showed another increase. Rich Toscano broke down the numbers for us and found that though the overall index rose the highest tier faltered.
  • A major real estate firm changed the way it crunches the numbers on how many borrowers are underwater (via LA Times). That meant the number dropped significantly, even though the new numbers still show 35 percent of California borrowers were underwater in the second quarter. I’ll break down the San Diego numbers in an upcoming post.
  • City leaders are discussing the fees that developers pay in order to fund the city’s affordable housing (via U-T). San Diego’s fees are lower than some other major California cities, which formed a a key part of an audit of the Housing Commission earlier this year.
  • Speaking of the Housing Commission, the U-T and 10News combined forces to investigate the agency’s partnerships with loan agents for its home-buying assistance programs. The investigation revealed:

… that a handful of the more than 160 loan officers and brokers on the commission’s preferred lender list have had their licenses suspended, in some cases for engaging in criminal activity unrelated to lending. In other instances, they failed to complete educational requirements imposed by the state Department of Real Estate to hold a license.

The agency has made some changes as a result.

  • Local home-building activity, a sign economists watch closely for hints the economy is turning around, showed a “spark of life in October” (via U-T).

And some assorted other pieces:

  • The New York Times profiled a guy who takes care of distressed assets for banks, Norman Radow. Here’s the twist: Lehman Brothers appointed Radow to take care of downtown San Diego’s The Mark property, which local developer Doug Wilson built. Wilson’s a receiver himself — we asked Wilson about the irony inherent in his work a couple of months ago.
  • My editor, Andrew Donohue, joined our friends at KPBS for a good chat about the future of the San Diego housing market. I happen to think he did a really great job. You can listen or read a transcript here.
  • And finally, some cheer for this first day of December: A Tierrasanta real estate agent was the person on the other end of a wrong-number call last week. When she heard a voicemail from a desperate mom trying to balance her mortgage payment and sending money to her daughter who needed it, the real estate agent called the mom back and offered to help.

Any stories I missed? Thoughts on these? I’d love to hear what you’ve been watching this week. Leave a comment below (head to Survival if you’re not there already).

Come back later today for the latest numbers from USD economist Alan Gin’s local economic index.

KELLY BENNETT

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