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HUD Scorecard Touts Initiatives Despite Housing Health

Housing market conditions remained fragile despite numerous initiatives put forward by the Obama administration, according to a recent scorecard released Thursday by HUD and the Treasury Department. The administration cited numerous industry-respected analytics sources and painted a helpful portrait of the homeownership and refinance endeavors it has made possible. Sources polled for the government gauge of housing and economic health included CoreLogic and Standard & Poor's, among others.

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REITs May Lose 50-Year Exemptions Under SEC Rule

Publicly traded real estate companies, commonly known as Real Estate Investment Trusts, could see their industry fall under new rules and regulations if a new rule-making proposal sees approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The federal commission voted Wednesday to investigate whether these companies meet definitions under the Company Investment Act, a law from which publicly traded real estate companies have been exempt for nearly 50 years.

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Appraisers Get New Standards

As of Thursday, appraisers and realtors must now use a new universal grading rubric when it comes to their assessments for properties with government-backed mortgages. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently revised their appraisal guidelines to streamline a sometimes unclear process, but some warn of the potential for fallout among appraisers, realtors, and homeowners unfamiliar with the new standards. Appraisers will need to weigh property values against new codes and abbreviations.

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Mortgage Rates Offer More Mixed News

Mortgage rates either stayed the same or plunged to record lows, depending on where market watchers obtained their news Thursday. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac and personal finance Web site Bankrate.com released separate figures, with the former seeing a static 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and the latter finding a new bottom for the benchmark loan. The 30-year loan went bottoms up, according to Bankrate.com, which posted a 4.37-percent low, down from 4.41 percent from the week earlier.

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JGWPT to Enter Reverse Mortgage Market

Private holding company JGWPT, which recently announced the acquisition of J.G. Wentworth and Peachtree Financial Solutions, has made another advancement, with the launch of its reverse mortgage division. The newly formed reverse mortgage segment will operate as part of the Peachtree group of companies and will be based in Boynton Beach.

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MBA Proposes Transitional License for Originators

If the Mortgage Bankers Association has its way, loan originators may soon have the ability to legally transition from entities under federal supervision and regulation to institutions under subject to state rules and authority. The trade group recently proposed amending the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act in a way that would supply originators with a transitional license. The MBA drafted the amendment to reshape language under the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and American Association of Mortgage Regulators.

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CoreLogic: Home Prices Inch Up in July

Home prices went up across the country in July, marking the fourth consecutive such month, according to a home price index released Wednesday by CoreLogic. While acknowledging the improvement as a net gain for the housing economy, the firm made predictions that home prices will slump on continuing news about an economic slowdown. CoreLogic found that home prices crawled forward by 0.8 percent month-over-month but fell year-over-year by 5.2 percent over July.

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BofA Plans to Close Mortgage Correspondent Unit

On the heels of attempts by investors to derail a mega settlement in the courts, Bank of America continued to shake up headlines Wednesday with multiple news outlets confirming that the mortgage giant plans to sell off its share of the correspondent mortgage market. With mortgage correspondents in the bank├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós unit set to soon receive their pink slips, multiple news outlets quoted suggested that some 3,500 could feel impact in their jobs. New job losses would follow recently reported second-quarter fallout.

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CMBS Deal for Deutsche Bank and Starwood

With its recent participation in a major commercial mortgage loan securitization, Starwood Property Trust, Inc. is enhancing its debt-related funding. The transaction, led by Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc., included four first mortgage loans contributed by Starwood, which when combined carried an aggregate principal balance of $154.

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