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Origination

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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Obama Picks Galante for FHA Chief Amid Partisanship

President Barack Obama fielded HUD official Carol Galante as a new nominee to head up the Federal Housing Administration, even as the future for other federal nominees remains unclear. The White House announced the decision in a statement in which the president offered new names for other posts. It remains uncertain whether any of the current partisan wrangling over other nominees will impact the confirmation process for Galante. Also in line for his confirmation: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director-nominee Richard Cordray.

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Reports: Expect Obama’s Housing Finance Plan Soon

A declaration by President Barack Obama to end the war in Iraq helped drown other news Friday, including apparent moves by the White House to float a housing finance stimulus plan in the next few weeks. Some of the initiatives currently under wraps include an expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program and a selloff in mortgage-backed bonds by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to invite private-sector investment back into the housing finance system. The Federal Housing Finance Agency plays a major role for either proposal.

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Senate Passes Bill to Raise Conforming Loan Limits

A bill squeaked by the Senate Thursday that would reverse lower limits for conforming loans backed by the federal government and reinstate the $729,750 threshold until 2013. Lawmakers adopted the amendment to a federal spending measure by a count of 60 to 38, giving backers of the bill the supermajority needed to avoid wrangling over the issue. Multiple news outlets reported that Congress had allowed the higher limits for conforming loans to ease in October despite a massive lobbying effort by companies and trade groups.

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MBA: Multifamily Lending Jumps 31% Over 2010

More than 2,000 multifamily lenders financed five-unit apartment buildings to the tune of $68.8 billion over the course of 2010, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association report released Wednesday. The MBA pooled data from the MBA 2010 Commercial Multifamily Annual Origination Volume Rankings, which it said covered $119 billion in commercial and multifamily loans over the course of last year. The trade group found a 31-percent increase in total dollar volume for the multifamily lending industry.

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RE/MAX Founders Honored for $100M in Contributions

Gloom and doom seems all the rage for the housing market, but at least one real estate company bucked bad news with the announcement of a community achievement award. The Children's Miracle Network Hospital plans to recognize RE/MAX, LLC, founders Dave and Gail Liniger at an event Saturday for their role in inspiring more than $100 million in contributions from company personnel.

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