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Severn Promotes Senior Leader to CFO

Community financial institution, Severn Savings Bank has named a new chief financial officer. The Maryland-based bank recently promoted Stephen W. Lilly to the leadership role.

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FBC Strikes Agreement With Justice Department

The Justice Department has reached a deal with Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. The agency recently announced that the two entities have struck an agreement that pertains to underwriting practices related to loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration and HUD. FBC will revise its fourth quarter and full year financial results for 2011 as per the terms of the transaction. Additionally, FBC will reaffirm its forward looking statements for 2012, made by the company during its earnings call for fourth quarter findings in 2011.

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House Prices Hit Lows Not Seen Since 2002: Case-Shiller

Home prices reached fourth-quarter lows not seen since 2002, with the Standard & Poor├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós/Case-Shiller Index yielding 3.8 percent in declines for December last year. The index found that prices fell 4 percent year-over-year, alongside 1.1 percent in month-over-month declines for 10- and 20-city composite measures. Eighteen of 20 metropolitan areas monitored by S&P bore the brunt of monthly price declines, with figures up 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent for only Miami and Phoenix, respectively. Atlanta slouched into the negatives at 12.8 percent. Detroit offered the only positive annual return at 0.5 percent.

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Feds Sue B of A For Homebuyer Discrimination

The federal government leveled charges against Bank of America Monday that the mortgage company wrongfully discriminated against three borrowers with disabilities. HUD filed suit under the False Claims Act, alleging that Bank of America requested proof of disability from borrowers and Social Security income information after denying their qualifications for mortgage loans. In a sign of the growing authority for working groups, HUD said that it would hand off the investigation to the Justice Department and Federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which will assign it to a group.

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Pending-Home Sales Eclipse 2011 Figures by 8%: NAR

Pending-home sales shot up by 8 percent year-over-year in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. The trade group found that pending-home sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô contract signings for homes that have not yet closed ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô rose from 89.8 in January last year, which it indexes on a monthly basis. NAR said that the Pending Home Sales Index also climbed by 2 percent to 97 in January, reaching the highest figure since the homebuyer tax credit lifted it to 111.3 in April 2010. Regionally, the index gained by 7.6 percent to reach 78.2 for the Northeast, reflecting a 9.8-percent year-over-year increase.

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AGA Petitions Federal Reserve, CFPB

On Capitol Hill, the American Guild of Appraisers is petitioning the Federal Reserve Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to overturn a recently adopted rule that stands in opposition to regulations contained in the Dodd-Frank Act. The AGA wrote the organization's plea based on the assertion that the Fed's new rule poses a threat to the viability of professional appraisal practice and undermines the legitimacy of real estate appraisals. The legislation in question was put in place last year by the Fed.

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New Home Sales Fell Slightly in January

New home sales fell 0.9 percent in January, declining from 324,000 in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000. The Commerce Department found that the new home sales from January reflected a 3.5-percent increase year-over-year, up from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 310,000. Sales in the Northeast accordingly leapt forward by 11.1 percent from December but fell 39.4 percent from January last year. The South boasted still-strong numbers on either basis, up 9.3 percent month-over-month and 15.3 percent year-over-year.

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Mortgage Rates Lift on Greek Bailout, Housing

Interest rates for mortgage loans climbed close to 4 percent this week as a second Greek bailout sowed more confidence in the investor crowd and signs emerged that housing may see an upswing. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage company Freddie Mac each released separate surveys, with analysts attributing the rise to different causes. The GSE found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage lifting to 3.95 percent, up from 3.87 percent. Bankrate.com saw rates for the loan hit 4.16 percent, up from 4.10 percent last week.

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FHFA’s Fourth Quarter Findings a Mixed Message

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has released its data from the fourth quarter of 2011, and findings from the government organization├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós survey show that U.S. home pricing was slightly on the decline during the period. The FHFA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós seasonally-adjusted, purchase-only house price index (HPI) demonstrated a 0.1 percent drop in pricing between quarters, and year-over-year, the statistics displayed a decrease of 2.4 percent. In spite of the national trend, however, HPI findings from the FHFA indicated that 27 states and the District of Columbia recorded a rise for the fourth quarter of last year.

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