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Bipartisan Policy Center Adds New Commission Members

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission has added a new member, with the announcement that Alfred DelliBovi will join the organization. DelliBovi's appointment to the commission continues the development of the group's leadership roster, which includes numerous national business and civic leaders. Other members of the commission include Henry Cisneros and former U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, both of whom have previously acted as HUD secretaries; Senator Kit Bond; and George Mitchell, who co-founded the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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Freddie Mac Releases 2012 Economic Outlook

Freddie

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac revealed its December outlook Wednesday, forecasting that U.S. economic growth would likely climb to 2.5 percent over 2012 and that mortgage rates would stay at record lows. The GSE also pitched ideas that housing activity will scale upward but fail to reach ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£robust├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø levels seen in years prior. The company said that mortgage rates would stay low, with 4 percent for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage leading the way recently.

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AllianceBernstein Releases White Paper on Housing Finance

The relationship between housing finance and the government has been a hotly debated topic from Wall Street to Main Street since the mortgage crisis began, and the recently released white paper from AllianceBernstein provides a critical look at the role of private capital in reducing the housing market's dependence on Capitol Hill.

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California Leads U.S. in Mortgage Fraud: Study

Fraud

California tops a list of states for mortgage fraud activity, as the state├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós courts pursue more cases against alleged frausters, MortgageDaily.com found in an index it released Wednesday. The Web site documented activity in FraudBlogger.com, a mortgage fraud blog. While California claimed the top spot, New York and Florida also found themselves perched considerably high on the index, followed shortly by South Carolina and Minnesota. New York ranked second by dollar volume in mortgage fraud at $199,600,000.

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FOMC Keeps Interest Rates at 0%

Acknowledging improvements in the larger economy, the Federal Open Market Committee said Tuesday that it would keep a heel on zero interest rates and continue shepherding funds from mortgage-backed securities into agency mortgage-backed securities. The rate for federal funds remains between zero interest and .25 percent since December, and follows an earlier decision by the Fed to buy up $400 billion in Treasuries to ensure lower borrowing costs.

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FHFA IG Addresses Senate Banking Committee

Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, the inspector-general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency portrayed the agency as one beset by failures to adequately monitor and validate controls for executive compensation, examinations, and more. IG Steve Linick referenced a recent report from his office that found the FHFA needs to improve by taking measures to independently validate executive compensation packages. Compensation approval methods proved controversial last month.

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Senate Committee Approves FHA, Fed Nominees

Members of the Senate Banking Committee voted Tuesday to send nominees for top posts at the Federal Housing Administration and Federal Reserve Board to the full Senate floor. Lawmakers approved FHA Acting Commissioner and former BRIDGE Housing CEO Carole Galante 13 to 9 on a largely party-line vote, with only Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) breaking ranks with GOP faithful to cast in favor of the nominee. Thomas Hoenig meanwhile moved to the Senate floor on a unanimous vote.

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FHLB Recognizes West Coast Bank With Community Award

In Seattle, Washington, one lender has cause for celebration as we head into the new year. West Coast Bank has been named as the recipient of the 2011 Community Spirit Award, which is given annually by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. The special honor is extended yearly to a financial institution that is recognized as exemplifying the spirit of community partnership in creating affordable housing and economic development opportunities in its immediate region.

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Commercial Sector Forecasts Show Uptick in 2012

The commercial real estate market in the U.S. appears set for an uptick in 2012, but don't expect a headline-making rise. According to recent research from Jones Lang LaSalle, economic indicators are pointing to a modest improvement in the commercial segment, and data from the company also reveals that rumors of a double dip in the sector during the coming year were premature. Numbers from the survey call for an increase in total transaction volume of 15 to 20 percent.

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NAHB Criticizes Mortgage-Fee Raise in Payroll Tax

At least one key trade group opposes plans by some lawmakers to introduce a raise for mortgage fees in a payroll tax extension. Congress is essentially proposing to raise taxes on millions of potential home buyers in order to pay for a payroll tax cut and other non-housing legislative initiatives, NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement. Lawmakers are busy cobbling together a payroll tax plan this week that would extend current rates for employees and their employers.

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