Daily Briefing


July 29, 2009

Home prices may be stabilizing, index says

Home prices now appear to be falling at a less severe pace across the nation, according to a widely followed index released Tuesday, but values are still lower than last year. Prices of homes sold in May were down 17 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas. The index is now at 2003 levels and is 32 percent below its 2006 peak. But May marked the fourth consecutive month in which the index's decline from the previous year was smaller than that of the preceding month.

- Los Angeles Times

Feds push mortgage firms to modify more loans

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration, scrambling to get its main housing initiative on track, extracted a pledge from 25 mortgage company executives to improve their efforts to assist borrowers in danger of foreclosure. In an all-day series of meetings Tuesday at the Treasury Department, government officials reached a verbal agreement with the executives for a new goal of about 500,000 loan modifications by Nov. 1 and stressed the program's urgency. As of this week, only about 200,000 borrowers were enrolled in three-month trial loan modifications, out of about 370,000 who were offered modifications by mortgage companies. The Obama administration's goal is to help 3 million to 4 million borrowers.

- Associated Press

RTKL names firm veteran next president, CEO

RTKL Associates has named a 30-year veteran of the company, Lance K. Josal, to be its next president and chief executive officer, effective Sept. 1. For the past seven years, Josal, 54, has directed RTKL's Commercial Practice Group, which accounts for more than 30 percent of its gross revenue. He will succeed RTKL's current president and CEO, David Hudson, who is retiring Sept. 1. Josal joined RTKL in 1979 in its Dallas office and most recently has been based in its Chicago office. He will be the first non-Maryland native to head the company, which was founded in Annapolis in 1946. RTKL's headquarters will remain in Baltimore, where it has about 150 employees. It has 890 employees worldwide. RTKL is one of Maryland's largest architecture, planning and engineering firms. Its parent company is ARCADIS, a Dutch engineering and consulting company.

- Edward Gunts

Apple rejects Google Voice application for online store

Apple has rejected the Google Voice application, triggering a storm of criticism from digital technorati who have been anticipating the service for weeks. Apple declined to give a reason for refusing to sell the app in its iTunes online store. Many speculate that AT&T, the exclusive carrier for Apple's iPhone, may have been less than pleased about Google Voice, a free service that lets users manage incoming calls and get transcripts of their voice messages. The application also lets users make free calls using the cell phone's browser, which could have eaten into AT&T's revenue.

- Los Angeles Times

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