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Home Prices Climb for First Time in Eight Months

The Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes rose for the first time in eight months in April. The 10- and 20-city indexes each rose 1.3 percent to the highest levels this year. Year-over-year, the 10-city index was down 2.2 percent and the 20-city index off 1.9 percent, both improvements from March. Prices improved month-over-month in all but one of the 20 cities tracked by Case-Shiller; prices fell 3.6 percent in Detroit. Prices were up year-over-year in 10 of the 20 cities. Economists had expected declines in the 20-city.

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FHFA Files Suit Against Illinois Officials for Improper Taxation

The Federal Housing Finance Agency filed suit Friday against Illinois tax officials for imposing unlawful taxes on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Several Illinois counties have attempted to collect transfer taxes from the GSEs, and some have threatened to reject future property transfers from the enterprises if they do not pay the state and county transfer taxes. Illinois officials have demanded transfer fees from both enterprises. Similar claims and demands have been made from other Illinois counties.

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Mortgage Fraud Ticked Up in First Quarter: Report

Although mortgage fraud activity seems to be leveling off, a report from MortgageDaily.com showed that mortgage fraud continues to cause foreclosure problems for the most victimized states. The Mortgage Fraud Index, which reflects mostly criminal cases involving law enforcement and court proceedings, showed that mortgage fraud crawled up in the first quarter of 2012. The index was 1151, slightly above Q4 2011├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós 1141 index. The highest recorded index was 2790 in fourth-quarter 2008. According to the website, most of the cases involve crimes committed five or more years ago.

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Shortage of Distressed Properties Fueled Existing Sales Drop

The drop in existing home sales reported by the National Association of Realtors Thursday likely stemmed from a lack of distressed properties on the market, according to IHS Global Insight. In May, existing-home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 from 4.62 million in April, which is a monthly decline of 1.5 percent, the NAR reported. Existing home sales were still up from a year ago in May 2011 by 9.6 percent. According to the NAR report, investor purchases made up 17 percent of homes sales in May, down from 20 percent in April and 19 percent in May 2011. The report also revealed that distressed home sales, or foreclosures and short sales, declined monthly and yearly as well.

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Experts: Housing Will Bottom Out in 2013

Experts surveyed by Zillow expect home prices to decline slightly in 2012, and predict they will bottom in 2013, according to the June 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. The survey included 114 respondents with backgrounds ranging from economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. The respondents├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó June prediction for home prices is that they will fall 0.4 percent in 2012, and then rise by 1.3 percent in 2013. In 2014, they expect home prices to rise by 2.5 percent, then rise by 3 percent in 2015.

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New Home Sales Soar to Two-Year High in May

New home sales jumped to 369,000 in May - the highest level since April 2010 - as the median and average home prices both fell, the Census Bureau and HUD said jointly Monday. Economists had expected sales to reach 350,000 from the prior month's 343,000. Sales increased 7.6 percent month-over-month, marking the first increase in three months, and were up 19.8 percent since May 2011. The median price of a new single-family home fell for the third straight month, dropping to $234,500, the lowest level since February.

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Customers Bancorp Acquires Acacia Federal

Customers Bancorp, Inc. announced Thursday the acquisition of Acacia Federal Savings Bank from Ameritas Mutual Holding Company. Bancorp, the parent company of $2 billion asset Customers Bank, will acquire all of the stock of Acacia Federal from Ameritas for a consideration of $65 million. Bancorp will issue its voting and non-voting common stock for about $45 million at 115 percent of GAAP book value at time of closing. Approximately $20 million of Tier 1 qualifying non-cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock will be issued by Bancorp to Ameritas at a rate of 3.72 fixed for the first five years.

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More Downgrades as Moody’s Goes After Several Banks

Count another major downgrade against the global financial community. On Thursday Moody├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Investors Service slashed credit ratings for 15 major financial institutions, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, among others. The reason for Moody├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós actions: The biggest banks face too much risk from debt-saddled Europe, earnings volatility, and still-faulty mortgages stateside. The ratings agency grouped the downgraded institutions into three groups. Stocks slid for many of the banks.

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Cleveland Fed to Host 10th Annual Policy Summit


The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is preparing to kick off its 10th Annual Policy Summit on June 28, and this yeaR's two-day event will focus on methods for strengthening and rebuilding communities. In an official statement, the Cleveland Fed called the summit a chance to target effective strategies for economic development in our communities, with a particular emphasis on measurement." In an official statement, the Cleveland Fed called the summit a chance to target "effective strategies for economic development in our communities, with a particular emphasis on measurement."

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