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Mortgage Application Volume Declines 5%: MBA

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Mortgage application volume ticked down by 5 percent from the week before, with the refinance share of activity deflating sharply. The Mortgage Bankers Association adjusted the latest numbers to account for the Martin Luther King holiday in a Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey it released Wednesday. The refinance share of mortgage activity contracted by a sizeable 81.3 percent of total application volume, corresponding with a dip by 5.2 percent for the Refinance Index. Interest rates for mortgage loans by and large went up.

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New Hire for Avison Young’s Los Angeles Division

Avison Young is bolstering the leadership for its West Coast brokerage operations with the announcement that Martin McDermott will join the company's West Los Angeles office. McDermott, a commercial real estate broker, will focus on office and retail property transactions in his new role for Avison Young.

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Mortgage Rates Rise Slightly This Week: Zillow

After falling to new lows last week, interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 3.82 percent, real estate Web site Zillow said Tuesday. The Web site polled anonymous quotes from online users to release the latest Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, which it offers weekly. While the 30-year loan averaged 3.8 percent, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered around 3.12 percent. Mortgage rates have remained near all-time lows as investors continue to flee from European markets, which remain afflicted by concerns over their debt crises.

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Zillow Launches New Neighborhood Platform

Zillow is making it easier for home shoppers to gain information about the homes they are interested in purchasing with the launch of its Neighborhood Advice tool. The popular website will allow potential home buyers to learn more about the neighborhood they are targeting via social media outlet, Facebook.

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Illinois Home Sales Climbed in December

Illinois received an unexpected gift during December - rising home sales. Crediting the unseasonably mild weather, low mortgage interest rates, and attractive market pricing, the state recorded its sixth consecutive month of increasing numbers of homes sold. According to the recent report released by the Illinois Association of Realtors, the total number of homes sales during December was up 14 percent year-over-year. Overall, data from Illinois showed 8,828 homes sold for the month, off of 7,746 sold during December 2010.

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First Niagara Moves Forward with HSBC Acquisition

Continuing its sell off, First Niagara Bank has announced its intention to liquidate another 27 branches. The move is part of the company's transition following its acquisition of HSBC Bank's regional retail business in New York and Connecticut.

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FGMC Adds to Company’s Management Team

First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation has appointed a new assistant vice president, with the announcement that Lyle Lasky will join the company at its national underwriting and credit compliance manager. FGMC will capitalize on Lasky's 17 years of experience in the industry to enhance its quality and compliance initiatives.

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Housing Finance Reform Mired in Primary Politics

Presidential hopefuls remain quiet on subjects related to housing finance reform ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô except when it comes to politics. With former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trumping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary Saturday, the latter went on the attack Monday by reportedly criticizing his opponent for a $1.6-million contract he signed with Freddie Mac to advise the GSE at one time. These rows touch offer the only debate for candidates over housing, signaling only peripheral discussion of a still-lagging sector.

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