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Consumer Confidential: New mortgage forms, less trust for banks, not enough used cars

May 18, 2011 | 11:13 am

Homepic Here's your while-my-guitar-gently-weeps Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Mortgage disclosure forms will soon be easier to understand. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has unveiled two versions of a new sample disclosure form as part of its effort to simplify the paperwork borrowers get when applying for a mortgage. The agency is asking for the public's feedback on which of the two versions is easier to understand. It's also welcoming suggestions on how to further clarify the expenses associated with a mortgage. The bureau says the forms will be tested over the summer in one-on-one interviews with consumers, lenders and brokers. You can check them out here. A final proposal will be issued by July 2012.

--Turns out we don't trust banks very much. Go figure, right? Trust in America's financial system has stumbled to 20% from 26%, according to the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index. The latest report shows that Americans' overall trust has fallen to levels recorded during the earliest months of the financial meltdown. A possible explanation for this fall in trust is that the survey was conducted shortly after the earthquake and resulting nuclear plant disaster in Japan. The report finds a decline in trust across most of the components measured in the index. Most notably, there was a significant drop in trust in banks (to 32% from 43%) and mutual funds (to 25% from 31%). Trust in the stock market slid to 12% from 16%.

--Still, it's a good time to sell your car. Because so many people are hanging on to their vehicles in these tight economic times, there aren't enough used cars to meet demand. This has pushed prices to their highest level in at least 16 years. Dealers are paying an average of $11,660 for a used car or truck, up almost 30% since December 2008. In fact, prices for used cars are now so high it may make more sense, if you're a buyer, to go for something new. A dealer might sell a 2008 four-cylinder Honda Accord LX sedan in good condition with about 45,000 miles on it for $16,175. But Honda is offering a three-year lease on a new 2011 Accord for just $250 a month. The average car on the road now is 10.6 years old. That's up from 9.8 years in the middle of 2007.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: New mortgage forms are intended to make buying a home easier. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

 

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