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SEC Chairman to Step Down in December

After serving as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for nearly four years, Mary L. Schapiro announced Monday she will step down on December 14. Schapiro was appointed as chairman by President Obama in January 2009 and was sworn in by the end of the month after receiving unanimous confirmation from the Senate.

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Companies Collaborate for Residential Asset Monitoring Module

Smithfield & Wainwright is teaming up with Marshall & Swift/Boeckh to launch a new, automated solution for evaluating properties and resulting portfolios of mortgage loans. Releasing the Residential Asset Monitoring (RAM) module, the companies' initiative will give banks and lenders a more comprehensive, "forward-looking" method for assessing the value of residential real estate and, ultimately, their portfolio health and compliance procedures.

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Bob Hope’s Former Residence Rumored to be Hitting Market for $45M

Though the expansive estate is not yet officially on the market, Curbed.com is reporting that the former residence of Bob Hope will soon list for an estimated $45 million. Located in Palm Springs, California, the 17,500-square-foot mansion has more than one claim to fame, having been designed by well-known architect John Lautner.

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Mortgage Employment Increases in Q3

Hiring in the mortgage industry increased in Q3 for the fifth straight quarter, according to Mortgage Daily's Mortgage Employment Index. The index shows 8,711 hires were made in the year's third quarter, up more than 3,000 from the last quarter and nearly 3,500 from Q3 2011. Even with an estimated 5,785 layoffs, the industry saw a net increase of nearly 3,000 jobs--more than double the gain in Q2. For 2012's first three quarters, mortgage and real estate finance companies recruited 7,230 more people than they've laid off.

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Fannie Mae Revises Forecast in Light of Positive Developments

According to Fannie Mae, the fundamentals are set in place for a solid housing recovery. The GSE revised its housing forecast for this year and the next to reflect changes made in the housing market, including low interest rates, rising prices, and a healing labor market. Analysts for the company also note that there is an upside risk to their forecast, as "pent-up demand amid stronger household formation may result in stronger housing activity next year" than what's expected.

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Fixed Rates Find New Lows for Second Week in a Row

Amid increases in new construction, homebuilder confidence, and existing home sales, Freddie Mac reported fixed mortgage rates reaching new record lows for the second week in a row. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to 3.31 percent (0.7 point) over the week ending November 21. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also experienced a decline this week, falling from 2.65 percent to 2.63 percent (0.7 point), according to Freddie Mac's data.

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