$100 Homes

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is selling some seized homes in the Cleveland area for as little as $100.

HUD announced an agreement last week with an Ohio nonprofit in which the department will sell hundreds of homes to stabilize neighborhoods hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

HUD will first inspect newly acquired foreclosed properties in its inventory and give the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. the opportunity to buy the homes at deep discounts. Homes valued at $20,001 to $100,000 will be sold at a 30% discount for an initial five-day period. After 60 days, the homes will be sold at a 50% discount. Homes worth less than $20,000 will be sold for $100, HUD said.

The nonprofit, which was set up by the state, received a $41 million grant from HUD this year to purchase and redevelop foreclosed or abandoned properties.

Refi Application Rise

Refinancing requests jumped to a 13-month high last week as home mortgage rates remained near record lows, but it's unclear how much actual loan volume will result.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday its index of refi application activity rose 9.2% from the previous week as the average 30-year fixed rate barely budged, climbing a basis point to 4.68%.

"Refinancers [are] apparently nibbling," Mortgage Maxx LLC, a data firm in Ossining, N.Y., said Tuesday in a note to clients. "However, this minority is still overshadowed by the encumbered whose assets or credit rating can't generate a new mortgage."

Demand for loans to buy homes remains weak. The MBA's index of applications for such loans slipped 2% last week. For all of June, this index fell 30% from April — the last month for contract signings to qualify for the homebuyer tax credit.

Mortgage Maxx's index measuring refi and purchase applications in eight large states rose 7.1% last week. But even with rates as low as they are, the firm said, application volume "is most likely at or near its high for 2010."

Quotable …

"In order to preserve [a] positive working relationship, we would not further contest your desire to own this house. … Purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solve the housing issue, plus to 'do as the Romans do' in a society that values home ownership."

Richard Murphy and Cynthia Murphy, members of the alleged Russian spy ring, in an encrypted message to the Moscow headquarters of the intelligence agency SVR, which argued with the couple over who should own their Montclair, N.J., home.

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