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ORNL Federal Credit Union to Build 33rd Branch

ORNL Federal Credit Union (FCU), the largest credit union in East Tennessee, announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase land to be used for a new full service branch in 2014. The announcement follows a tremendous year of growth for the credit union, which saw a 15 percent increase in its customer loan portfolio and a more than 12 percent growth in all loans in 2012.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Drop, Continuing Claims Hit 43-Month Low

Bolstered by favorable seasonal adjustment factors, first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped 27,000 to 341,000 for the week ending February 9, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected a much smaller decline to 360,000. Initial claims were under 350,000--a dividing line between a strong and weak labor market--for the third time in the last five weeks, hinting layoff activity has returned to normal.

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President Addresses Housing Concerns, Demands Congressional Action

In his State of the Union address, President Obama acknowledged the progress that has been made in the housing market with rising prices, increasing home purchases, and an uptick on construction. However, "even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected," he said. Obama also proclaimed his support for expanding access to refinancing, calling on Congress to pass a refinance bill currently in the pipeline.

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Altisource to Purchase Fee-Based Businesses from Ocwen

Altisource Portfolio Solutions announced it is purchasing certain fee-based businesses from Ocwen Financial for a combined purchase price of $218.6 million. According to a company release, Altisource entered into non-binding letters of intent with Ocwen to acquire certain fee-based businesses related to the servicer's recent purchase of Homeward Residential and the anticipated purchase of the mortgage servicing platform from Residential Capital.

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RE/MAX Reports Growth in Transactions, Volume in 2012

RE/MAX agents in the United States reported nearly 840,000 transaction sides last year--a 12 percent increase over 2011, the agency reported Tuesday. More notably, individual productivity within the RE/MAX network rose 15 percent to an average of 16.3 transaction sides per agent.

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Gold Star Mortgage Appoints Community Commitment Liaison

New

Brooke Hoag will now be the face of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group's community service efforts, the company announced. As Gold Star's community commitment liaison, Hoag will devote her energy to formalize and expand community giving efforts developed by employees over the years.

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Mortgage Application Volume Falls as Rates Climb

Mortgage applications dipped last as long-term rates reached a five-month high, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). MBA's weekly Market Composite Index showed a 6.4 percent drop for the week ending February 8. On an unadjusted basis, the index was down 5 percent. After showing some strength in the previous week, purchase application activity also dropped, falling by an adjusted 10 percent (or an unadjusted 4 percent). Year-over-year, however, volume was still up 15 percent.

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California Sees Largest Rent Price Growth in 2012

RentRange, LLC, a Westminster, Colorado-based data and analytics provider for the single-family rental market observed changes in rent prices for three-bedroom, single-family homes located in cities with at least 25,000 residents. The data firm found the greatest growth in La Quinta, California, where rents increased 35.75 percent from December 2011 to December 2012.

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