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JPMorgan to Slash $154B Mortgage Portfolio

On Thursday news reports confirmed that mortgage giant JPMorgan plans to scale back a $154 billion mortgage portfolio to a bare minimum on its balance sheets, even as it battles through continuing mortgage losses, multiple suits and settlements over past loan-servicing practices.

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Federal Office Closure Could Harm Atlanta Real Estate

A report published by turnaround management firm Anderson Bauman Tourtellot Vos found that a recent move by the Obama administration to clear office space in Atlanta could strangle the city's still-recovering commercial real estate sector, potentially throwing back markets in a state with the fifth-largest amount of government real estate outside of Washington, D.C. The firm fears that a reduction in government-owned property will also crimp employment.

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Housing Analysts Jittery About Debt Default Scenario

Fueling fears about a federal default scenario, fragile debt-ceiling negotiations continued to splinter and stagnate this week, with Republicans refusing to budge on proposed tax increases and Democrats fighting to keep entitlements off the chopping block. If trends continue and the federal government defaults on its national debt, housing economists and mortgage rate analysts predict spikes in interest and mortgage rates, with steep and potentially catastrophic declines in homes sales.

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WFG National Adds Two

According to an announcement made Tuesday, WFG National Title Insurance hailed move-ups by two to its Louisiana agency division. Stephen Sklamba and Liz Pecoraro will take on new roles as VP and underwriting counsel and state sales manager, respectively. Stephen and Liz are well-established and highly regarded by a wide number of independent agencies in Louisiana, Charles Cain, SVP and agency manager, their new boss, said in a statement.

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Freddie Reveals Declines in Mortgage Rates

Freddie Mac released a southerly primary mortgage market survey Thursday, revealing downward trends for mortgage rates across the board against a backdrop of anemic job growth and steadily increasing unemployment figures. According to the GSE, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 4.51 percent falling from 4.60 percent last week and staying just under the 4.57 percent average it struck last year. The data for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages yielded a fall from 3.75 percent last week to 3.65 percent this week.

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Galante Now Acting FHA Commissioner

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In a statement released Tuesday, HUD announced the move by multifamily housing deputy assistant secretary Carol Galante to her new role as acting commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. President Barack Obama picked Galante for the position, with rumors circulating around the Capitol that the affordable housing veteran may receive a nomination for the top role, too.

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