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Mortgage Master Expands in Midwest with Chicago Branch, New Hires

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Mortgage Master, a super-regional mortgage bank and one of the country's largest privately owned mortgage companies, announced it is expanding its geographic footprint into the Midwest with the opening of a new branch in Chicago. The company also announced the hiring of Brian Jensen as Midwest regional manager and Craig Achtzehn as area manager in the Chicago branch. The company also announced the hiring of Brian Jensen as Midwest regional manager and Craig Achtzehn as area manager in the Chicago branch.

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NAR: End of 2012 Sees Gains in Prices, Sales, Affordability

According to the NAR, the depleting share of lower-priced homes is contributing to price growth as distressed sales--foreclosures and short sales--diminish. The association found the national median price for an existing single-family home rose to $178,900 in Q4, up 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. The increase marks the biggest year-over-year gain since the fourth quarter of 2005, when the median price was up 13.6 percent. Existing-home sales improved as well in Q4, rising to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.90 million.

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Analysts Address Imbalance Between Starts, New Sales

While some take it as a good sign that housing starts are again on the rise and construction is making a small comeback, some might cautiously wonder if the market is ready to handle an increase in construction and if we aren't headed for a repeat of the overbuilding that contributed to the past housing boom and bust. The Census Bureau reports new home sales have risen 9 percent over the past year, while housing starts have risen by a much higher 37 percent. However, Capital Economics insists the imbalance is actually not unusual.

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California Sees Record Number of Cash-Purchased Homes in 2012

The number of homes purchased with cash in California reached an all-time high in 2012 as the mortgage environment kept other interested buyers out, according to DataQuick, a real estate information service. The company's data shows a total of 145,797 condos and houses were bought without mortgage financing in 2012, up from 125,812 in 2011 (the previous high) and 39,731 in 2007. According to DataQuick's John Walsh, the increase comes from high investor interest and a currently difficult mortgage environment.

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HUD Issues Rule to Standardize Discriminatory Housing Cases

HUD announced Friday the issuing of a final rule to formalize a national standard for determining whether a practice violates the Fair Housing law based on an unjustified discriminatory effect. According to the agency, the rule establishes a three-part test that shifts burden of proof in a discriminatory housing case back and forth between the plaintiff and defendant. It is designed to address recent debates over whether or not a housing practice can be considered discriminatory if it seems neutral on the surface.

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LPS Announces Addition to Board of Directors

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) announced the appointment of Dan Carmichael to its board of directors. Carmichael also serves as the chairman of the board at Platinum Underwriters Holdings and is on the board for EagleEye Analytics and Dovetail Insurance Corporation. In addition, he is an advisor to FirstMark Capital.

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