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High Court Decides in Favor of Quicken Loans in RESPA Case

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Quicken Loans, Inc., Thursday, in a case that bars lenders from splitting settlement fees with third parties. The decision upholds an interpretation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act that gives lenders leeway when it comes to charging fees. It rejects a longstanding HUD policy that interpreted the law to include a flat ban on unearned fees. Much of the contention surrounded previous guidance issued by HUD supporting the view that the legal framework prohibits lenders from charging unearned fees.

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Fraud Task Force Calls on Whistleblowers to Come Forward

A task force created by the Obama administration to crack down on residential mortgage-backed securities misconduct recently went live with a new website for whistleblowers. The Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group established the online portal for those willing to air grievances about misconduct in the packaging and sale of mortgages into securities at financial institutions. The Justice Department launched the RMBS Working Group earlier this year to look into allegations of misconduct.

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Fewer Banks See Risk of Failure Over Fourth Straight Quarter

The number of financial institutions at risk of failure dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter, falling from 813 to 772. The FDIC reported Thursday that the decline signals the smallest number of problem banks since yearend 2009, with total assets waning from $319 billion to $292 billion. The much-weakened Deposit Insurance Fund saw its first-quarter net worth rise to $15.3 billion, up from $11.8 billion over the fourth quarter last year. Insured deposits grew by an estimated 0.7 percent over the first quarter.

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Senate Proposal to Revise HARP 2.0 Nets Industry Backing

The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2012, introduced this month by Sens. Robert Menendez and Barbara Boxer, received backing from witnesses at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. The bill aims to address what the senators say are barriers impeding the success of the recently revised Home Affordable Refinance Program, commonly referred to as HARP 2.0. The bill aims to eliminate all upfront fees and appraisal costs for refinances, prohibit second-lien holders from unreasonably hindering refinances, and more.

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UWM Launches ‘Elite’ Program for Mortgage Brokers

Brokers will have a new resource to tap into, with the launch of United Wholesale Mortgage's Elite program. The mortgage lender will use the new product to offer broker's access to the best conventional rates and pricing in the industry, according to a company statement.

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eLynx Examines the Borrowers’ Perspective on Lending

Seeking to provide industry insight into the borrowers' perspective when purchasing a mortgage, eLynx has revealed the findings from its recent panel discussion with lenders and customers. To conduct its survey, eLynx, a portfolio company of American Capital, assembled an advisory group that included both lending professionals and borrowers, tapping the participants for feedback on the initiatives that could improve the mortgage loan experience and reduce stress during the process.

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Refi Boom Set to Fuel $200B More Originations in 2012

A surge in refinance applications could propel mortgage originations by more than $200 billion in 2012, increasing to $1.28 trillion, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group attributed estimates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô upwardly revised from $1.26 trillion in 2011 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô to account for a refinance boom sparked by the crises in debt-saddled Europe. The MBA said that it expected refinance originations would amount to $870 billion this year, an amount nearly identical to forecasts from last year, when HARP led the way in estimates.

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Home Prices Tick Up Modestly in First Quarter: FHFA

Home prices ticked up modestly over the first quarter this year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday. The agency recorded a 0.6 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted basis for its home price index, with prices rising 0.5 percent year-over-year. The index registered a 1.3 percent decline over the last four quarters. Purchase-only house prices went up 0.5 percent year-over-year. Inflation-adjusted prices for homes fell some 2.6 percent over the last year. The home price index rose over the first quarter in 30 states.

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California’s Greatest Obstacle Is Shrinking Inventory

Things are looking up in California. Pending-home sales are continuing to rise on an annual basis; median prices are rising; and equity sales are starting to make up a larger portion of total sales, according to the California Association of Realtors. However, despite the year-over-year gains, April's pending home sales demonstrated a decline from March. Pending-home sales include contract signings but not closings. The index is based on 2008 contract signings with an index score of 100 equaling the average amount of contracts signed per month in 2008. The pending-home sales index for March was revised to 138.9.

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