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Veros Hires Former Fannie Mae VP to Lead Strategic Initiatives

Veros Real Estate Solutions has announced a new senior vice president of strategic initiatives. The company recently hired former Fannie Mae vice president, Charles Rumfola, to fill the leadership position. In his new role for Veros, Rumfola will be responsible for managing numerous key initiatives in the secondary markets. Rumfola will remain based in Washington, D.C. while with California-based Veros. Prior to teaming up with Veros, Rumfola performed as Fannie Mae's vice president of single-family strategic initiatives.

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Fannie, Freddie See Q4 HARP Loan Volume Tick Up

Refinance activity ticked up for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the fourth quarter, showing an increase in interest for the Home Affordable Refinance Program over last year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency released the results Monday in a Foreclosure Prevention and Refinance Report for the last quarter. Total HARP refinance volume came to include more than 1,021,800 loans, with a cumulative rise by 10 percent for the GSEs in the fourth quarter. Of these, Fannie Mae netted 376,365 in refinance loans, a measure of 2,045,777 HARP loans it saw last year.

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Higher Mortgage Rates Unlikely to Drown Housing: Group

The potential for a lift in mortgage rates is unlikely to spell trouble for the housing recovery, according to a recent report. Paul Diggle, a property economist with Capital Economics, said in a note Monday that still-low home prices will help cushion the blow from interest rates. Mortgage rates continue to linger near record lows, with 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages hovering at or below 4 percent for the past several weeks. Waning confidence in Europe├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós ability to halt the debt crisis in Greece drives investors to U.S. Treasury debt.

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March Builder Confidence Flat As String of Increases Ends

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Builder confidence was flat in March, matching a downwardly revised February index of 28, the first time in six months the index has not increased, the National Association of Home Builders reported Monday. The builder assessment of present home sales conditions actually dipped in March, falling to 29, the first decline since last September. The outlook for home sales in the next six months rose to 36 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the highest level since June 2007 - from 34 in February. Buyer traffic was flat in March at 22. The drop in the index in the West census region was precipitous.

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Nearly 100 Housing Markets Improve in March: NAHB

Fewer declines in housing permits, strengthening job numbers, and stabilizing home prices helped field improvements in nearly 100 housing markets in March, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The trade group released results to show that 31 metropolitan markets joined the First American Improving Markets Index, canceling departures from the list by 30 others. The total number of improving markets settled at 99. New additions signaled improvements in 33 states, with Texas outpacing other states with 12 entrants.

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Mortgage Rates Rise With Higher Treasury Yields

The days of record-low mortgage rates may be in our rearview mirror. Rates for all loan products headed higher this week - and by more than just the incremental 1 or 2 basis points. Analysts attribute the rise to increasing bond yields, driven by investors' growing confidence in the economy and recent evidence from the Federal Reserve's stress tests that indicates banks have strengthened capital levels enough to maintain operations and continue lending through another hypothetical recession.

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Zillow’s Indices Show Rental Markets on the Rise

A new survey from Zillow, Inc., reveals that rental markets around the U.S. continue to grow. Citing declining home values, the company reported that 70 percent of markets nationwide saw an increase in rents during January. Statistics from Zillow's recent study showed that median rents moved forward by 3 percent on a year-over-year basis in January, and the findings also noted a correlating 4.6 percent drop in home pricing for the same period. January's Zillow Rent Index (ZRI) tallied year-over-year gains in 69.2 percent of all metropolitan areas covered within the report.

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Declining Initial Unemployment Claims Reverse Trends

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell 14,000 in the week ended March 9, according to the Labor Department. In a Thursday report, the bureau noted that the decline represents the first drop in four weeks. Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, also fell, dropping 81,000 to 3,343,000, after two second straight weekly increases. The four week moving average for initial claims was flat at 355,750, unchanged from the previous week while the four week average for continuing claims declined 25,250 to 3,394,250.

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Chase Becomes First Bank to Settle Veteran Fraud Case

JPMorgan Chase has finalized a deal that puts an end to mortgage fraud allegations that created critical headlines for the bank. The company announced on Tuesday that it has reached a settlement in a lawsuit that accused Chase of refinancing fraud against military veterans and taxpayers. In total, Chase will pay the federal government $45 million to conclude the legal issue, which sought to bring the bank to justice for hiding illegal fees within home mortgage refinancing transactions for veterans.

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Zillow: Statistics Show Upticks Across Lending Sector

Economic releases in recent days have signaled positive movement, albeit gradual, toward a strengthening economy. The rosier outlook has led mortgage interest rates higher. The 30-year fixed-mortgage rate on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace came in at 3.74 percent, up five basis points from 3.69 percent at the same time last week. Rates for a 15-year fixed mortgage, as well as adjustable-rate mortgages, also rose. Experts say conditions are primed for mortgage rates to continue to rise in the coming weeks and months.

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