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Single-Family Sales Soar in Massachusetts

In the Northeast, data from the third-quarter shows that Massachusetts' housing market may be experiencing a slight uptick. The state recorded its third consecutive monthly increase in single-family home sales during September, based on year-over-year numbers.

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New Home Sales Strike a 5.7% September Stride

New single-family home sales snagged a September updraft to crest at their highest perch in nearly half a year, but remain below sales seen during the same period last year. The Commerce Department reported that new residential home sales ticked up to an annual rate of 313,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, reflecting a 5.7-percent revision above the 296,000-unit rate from August. The median sales price for a new house sold over September came out to $204,400, with the average for the same cresting at $243,900.

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Home Federal Integrating New Technology Platform

Financial institutions are continuing to invest in technology despite the unpredictable mortgage marketplace this year, and Home Federal Bank is adhering to the trend with the recent announcement that it will go live on the Common Origination module from Fiserv, Inc.

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Obama Nominates Candidate for FDIC Vice Chairman

The Obama administration's latest appointment on Capitol Hill was announced recently, with the news that Thomas Hoenig would be nominated as vice chairman of the FDIC. The former chief of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City would serve the FDIC until December 2015 if he is approved by the Senate.

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Bank Stocks, Shares Fall on Euro Debt News, Again

The meeting cancellation before a major summit of European Union state leaders spooked the markets Tuesday, according to multiple news outlets, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a 207-point nosedive and slashing stocks and shares for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós mortgage lenders. The investor selloff wiped clean three days of otherwise solid gains for bank stocks and shares, which deflated on news that troubled economic heavyweights Greece and Italy may still tumble.

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Morgan Stanley Plans to Exit Mortgage Servicing Business

Morgan Stanley announced Monday that it planned to hand off its servicing arm in a major sale, making it the newest bank in a growing line of others leaving or substantially reducing their share of activity in the mortgage markets. The financial institution said in a statement that it would sell Saxon Mortgage Services to Ocwen Financial Corp. for $59.3 million. The buyer will also pay $1.4 billion to cover fees for advance receivables outstanding, with the transaction expected to close over the first few months of 2012.

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Bipartisan Bill Targets Foreign Investors for U.S. Housing

On Capitol Hill, the Senate is making moves to help the U.S. housing market capitalize on foreign investors. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) proposed legislation recently that would facilitate investments from abroad by easing the acquisition of visas for those participating. The bipartisan plan would give foreigners buying homes on American soil a residential visa for three-years with an investment of $500,000 or more, provided they live in the property for a minimum of 180 days per year.

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FBR Releases Mixed Third-Quarter Bank Earnings

FBR Capital Markets & Co. has released its third-quarter report on bank earnings, and the results, which showed loan growth among some asset divisions, also indicated that the underlying fundamentals may not be in sync with the full impact such mitigating factors had on valuations during the quarter. Showing sensitivity to debt issues abroad and the current yield curve, findings for 3Q were mixed but pointed in a potentially positive direction for the final quarter of the year. Lending was up and net interest down.

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Obama Refi Proposal Takes Shape in HARP Changes

Federal regulators announced their intentions Monday to expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program available via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Among other modifications, the FHFA said it plans to eliminate a number of risk-based fees for short-term mortgage borrowers, take off the 125-percent loan-to-value ratio for loans guaranteed by the GSEs, and void requirements for new property appraisals in lieu of automated estimates. Market watchers around the industry offered reactions that ranged from skepticism to optimism.

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B of A Case, Two Attorneys Make Friday Fraud Blotter

Fraud

A Bank of America case, two attorneys, and state legislation that made mortgage fraud felonious helped complete the MReport mortgage fraud blotter Friday. MReport sourced two stories from multiple news outlets, which found Bank of America gaining the upper hand in a fraud-related suit and two attorneys alternately disbarred and charged for their roles in scamming lenders and homeowners. Also: A new state law makes mortgage fraud a felony in Michigan.

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