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Fitch Releases Report on Regional Trends, Forecasts

Fitch Ratings has released its commentary on the current rends in regional home pricing, noting that significant variability persists among each area surveyed. In its recent report, Fitch also called for the nation's housing recovery to continue at an irregular and anemic pace for the duration of 2012. Citing tighter credit standards and static levels of household income, Fitch's analysis revealed that all regions are experiencing lower prices for new home sales. According to data from Fitch, the West has been hardest hit by flagging home prices.

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New Home Sales See Steepest Decline in 13 Months

New homes sales fell 7.1 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000, the steepest percentage decline since February 2011, according to the Commerce Department. Sales for January were revised upward from 313,000 to 353,000. Economists had expected the report to show a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 318,000 new home sales in March. New-home sales in March were up 7.5 percent from March 2011. The median price of a new home fell 1.0 percent in March to $234,500, but was up 6.3 percent from March 2011.

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Home Prices Fall to Lowest Level Since 2002

The Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes fell for the sixth straight month in February, with the 10- and 20-city indices each dropping 0.8 percent from January, according to Standard & Poor's. The 10-city index slid to its lowest level since May 2003 and the 20-city index dropped to its lowest level since October 2002. Prices fell in 16 of the 20 cities surveyed, improving month-over-month in only Miami, Phoenix, and San Diego. Prices were down year-over-year in 15 of the 20 cities, improving only in cities like Denver, Detroit, and Minneapolis.

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MGIC Sees $19.6M in First-Quarter Net Losses

Milwaukee-based MGIC Investment Corp. reported net losses of $19.6 million for the first quarter, down from $33.7 million year-over-year. The mortgage insurer said that total first-quarter revenues hovered at $379.7 million, up from $353.1 million in revenues from last year. MGIC wrote $255 million in net premiums, down from $274.5 million from the same period last year. New insurance written by MGIC amounted to $4.2 billion, an increase from $3 billion in the first quarter last year.

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Churchill Mortgage Adds New Setup Manager

A new setup manager recently joined Churchill Mortgage Corp. at the company's Houston office. The Tennessee-based mortgage lender said that Melissa Tucker would take over at branch locations off of Riverway and Sam Houston Parkway in North Houston.

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NAMB Joins Coalition Submitting CFPB Petition on QM Rule

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers has joined the coalition of professional entities petitioning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for greater clarification of the Qualified Mortgage rules within the Dodd-Frank Act. Comprised of various trade associations and housing interest groups with ties to the mortgage industry, the coalition recently submitted a letter to CFPB director Richard Cordray. As it stands now, QM legislation could be especially damaging to low- to moderate-income buyers.

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More Lenders Filed Suspicious Activity Reports in 2011

Financial institutions filed 31 percent more suspicious activity reports for mortgage fraud in 2011 than in the year before, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The agency released updates that showed lenders submitted 92,028 reports for suspected mortgage fraud activity in 2011, up from 70,472 seen in 2010. The report tracked increases alongside declines from the fourth quarter, observing a 9 percent decrease in suspicious activity reports by yearend 2011.

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Home Prices Fell in March Despite Low Sales Inventory: Survey

A surge in homebuyer traffic and waxing inventory failed to prevent home prices from declining in March, according to one survey. Polling 2,500 agents for their monthly HousingPulse Tracking Survey, Campbell Surveys and Inside Mortgage Finance found Monday that home prices for non-distressed properties slid 5.7 percent year-over-year, alongside 2.5 percent for move-in ready REOs over the same time frame. Prices for short sales plummeted 14.3 percent.

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Senior Home Equity Went Up $30B in Q4: NRMLA

Senior home equity went up by $30 billion in the fourth quarter last year, leaving senior homeowners to account for $3.22 trillion in equity, according to a recent report. The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association collaborated with Risk Span to release the Reverse Mortgage Market Index. The results? The reverse mortgage market is stabilizing, according to the index, which registered 153.48 in the fourth quarter, up 0.9 percent from the third quarter.

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Shedding MSRs, B of A Earns $653M in Q1 Net Income

First-quarter results for Bank of America recently showed that the company continues to shed its role in the mortgage market, with the giant reporting year-over-year declines to $1.6 trillion for home loan portfolios for investors. The financial institution said that mortgage portfolios serviced for investors also fell to $1.3 trillion in the first quarter from $1.4 trillion last year. The balance for mortgage servicing rights climbed to $7.6 billion from $7.4 billion.

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