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FHFA Reports Falling Mortgage Interest Rates

The FHFA reported Tuesday that mortgage interest rates fell based on loans closed in the last week of May. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan ($417,000 or less) decreased 17 basis points in May to 4.04 percent, the FHFA said. The contract rate on the composite of all mortgage loans was 3.78 percent, down 15 basis points from 3.93 percent in April. Rate changes are based on unweighted survey data. Because interest rates are determined 30-45 days before loans are closed, reported rates depict market conditions from mid- to late- April.

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Jones Walker Welcoming New Special Counsel

In Louisiana, Jones Walker is welcoming a new hire in its New Orleans office. The law firm has appointed David S. Willenzik as special counsel for Jones Walker's operations throughout the lending and financial vertical.

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Home Prices Climb for First Time in Eight Months

The Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes rose for the first time in eight months in April. The 10- and 20-city indexes each rose 1.3 percent to the highest levels this year. Year-over-year, the 10-city index was down 2.2 percent and the 20-city index off 1.9 percent, both improvements from March. Prices improved month-over-month in all but one of the 20 cities tracked by Case-Shiller; prices fell 3.6 percent in Detroit. Prices were up year-over-year in 10 of the 20 cities. Economists had expected declines in the 20-city.

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Mortgage Fraud Ticked Up in First Quarter: Report

Although mortgage fraud activity seems to be leveling off, a report from MortgageDaily.com showed that mortgage fraud continues to cause foreclosure problems for the most victimized states. The Mortgage Fraud Index, which reflects mostly criminal cases involving law enforcement and court proceedings, showed that mortgage fraud crawled up in the first quarter of 2012. The index was 1151, slightly above Q4 2011├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós 1141 index. The highest recorded index was 2790 in fourth-quarter 2008. According to the website, most of the cases involve crimes committed five or more years ago.

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Experts: Housing Will Bottom Out in 2013

Experts surveyed by Zillow expect home prices to decline slightly in 2012, and predict they will bottom in 2013, according to the June 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. The survey included 114 respondents with backgrounds ranging from economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. The respondents├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó June prediction for home prices is that they will fall 0.4 percent in 2012, and then rise by 1.3 percent in 2013. In 2014, they expect home prices to rise by 2.5 percent, then rise by 3 percent in 2015.

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New Home Sales Soar to Two-Year High in May

New home sales jumped to 369,000 in May - the highest level since April 2010 - as the median and average home prices both fell, the Census Bureau and HUD said jointly Monday. Economists had expected sales to reach 350,000 from the prior month's 343,000. Sales increased 7.6 percent month-over-month, marking the first increase in three months, and were up 19.8 percent since May 2011. The median price of a new single-family home fell for the third straight month, dropping to $234,500, the lowest level since February.

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Customers Bancorp Acquires Acacia Federal

Customers Bancorp, Inc. announced Thursday the acquisition of Acacia Federal Savings Bank from Ameritas Mutual Holding Company. Bancorp, the parent company of $2 billion asset Customers Bank, will acquire all of the stock of Acacia Federal from Ameritas for a consideration of $65 million. Bancorp will issue its voting and non-voting common stock for about $45 million at 115 percent of GAAP book value at time of closing. Approximately $20 million of Tier 1 qualifying non-cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock will be issued by Bancorp to Ameritas at a rate of 3.72 fixed for the first five years.

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More Downgrades as Moody’s Goes After Several Banks

Count another major downgrade against the global financial community. On Thursday Moody├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Investors Service slashed credit ratings for 15 major financial institutions, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, among others. The reason for Moody├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós actions: The biggest banks face too much risk from debt-saddled Europe, earnings volatility, and still-faulty mortgages stateside. The ratings agency grouped the downgraded institutions into three groups. Stocks slid for many of the banks.

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