They’re about to kick me out of this rat-infested coffee shop because I’ve spent six hours doing nothing but typing and buying one 12-oz cup of coffee, so here’s some other stories I read over the past couple of days.

Foreclosures Expected to Increase

Late payments and foreclosures are likely to grow as another wave of adjustable-rate mortgages reset at higher interest rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association warned yesterday.

Almost 14 percent of sub-prime borrowers with ARMs were behind on their payments last quarter, the highest rate since the start of 2003.

That figure is all but sure to rise next year, when at least $1.2 trillion in ARMs will reset to higher rates. About half that amount is expected to be refinanced into lower-rate fixed or adjustable loans, the association calculates.

Bankers don’t think this will turn into a financial crisis.

Why Real Estate Markets Will Improve in 2007

There are reasons to be optimistic about real estate next year, a BusinessWeek Online analyst says.

New and existing home sales might slide further in 2007, but there won’t be a sharp decline like there was in the early ’80s and ’90s. Why? Because the overall economy is in good shape.

Some markets will become much more affordable, making a home purchase possible for people who never could have afforded one previously.

Speculators who drove up housing prices will move on to speculate on something else.

Fewer new homes will be built, and surplus inventory will be absorbed, so prices will stabilize.

Mortgage rates will remain at relatively low prices and could go even lower if the Federal Funds Rate falls, which it might.

Mortgage Applications Bounce Back After Dip

Applications for mortgages were at their highest level last week in more than a year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The seasonally adjusted index of total mortgage applications rose 11.4 percent in the week ending Dec. 8 to 721.2, the highest level since October 2005. On an unadjusted basis, the index increased 10.2 percent compared with the previous week and was up 22.2 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.

“The substantial decline in mortgage rates over the last six months, greater than 80 basis points in total, has led to a significant increase in refinance activity. Additionally, we are seeing a steady increase in purchase applications,â€? said Mike Fratantoni, senior economist at the MBA, in a statement.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 52.6 percent of total applications from 50.1 the previous week. The refinance share is at its highest level since April 2004.

The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.02 from 5.98 percent. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 5.75 percent from 5.66 percent. The average interest rate for one-year ARMS decreased to 5.76 percent from 5.79 percent.

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