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Origination

Bank Failure Tally Hits 90 as Regulators Close Two

Defying forecasts for a slowdown, the national tally for bank failures this year hit 90 as two financial institutions went under in Iowa and Louisiana. State regulators shuttered Johnston, Iowa-based Polk County Bank and Lacombe, Louisiana-based Central Progressive Bank, appointing the FDIC receiver. Grinnell-based Grinnell State Bank and New Orleans-based First NBC Bank scooped up branches, assets, and deposits in purchase-and-assumption agreements. Century-old Polk County closed its doors.

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Obama, Congress Raise Conforming Loan Limits for FHA

After several weeks of intense deliberation, with backers and supporters on both sides, Congress again raised limits for Federal Housing Administration conforming loans to $729,750, which President Barack Obama signed off on Friday. House lawmakers included an amendment to raise the limits in a stopgap spending measure cobbled together by both houses to keep the government running through December this year. The House voted for the bill by a 298-121 margin, which the Senate followed with 70 yeas and 30 nays. Trade groups rushed to extol the raised limits.

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Senators Grill Obama Administration Nominees

The Senate Banking Committee pressed nominees for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós major financial services and housing agencies over a myriad of recent issues Thursday, with insolvency for the Federal Housing Administration and an increasing number of bank failures prevailing in discussions. The nomination hearing for the three Obama administration prospects ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô FHA commissioner-nominee Carol Galante, FDIC vice-chairman nominee Thomas Hoenig, and HUD deputy secretary-nominee Maurice Jones ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô quickly transitioned from congratulatory to tense and at times awkward.

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Housing Market Will Stay Flat in 2012: Fannie Mae

Even with a pickup in the general economy, overall growth will remain flat into the New Year, slowing any impact from the housing market and delaying significant changes, according to a think tank internal to Fannie Mae. The mortgage company described circumstances going forward as those vulnerable to weak jobs growth, external shocks from the euro zone, and pickups or drops in consumer spending and confidence. Troubled euro zone markets continued to weigh down on the forecast.

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Home Sales Up 9% Year-Over-Year: RE/MAX

Despite falling month-over-month, home sales crept forward by 9 percent year-over-year, according to a recent monthly housing report from RE/MAX. Home sales meanwhile declined 9.8 percent from September to October, even while sales prices fell 5.4 percent year-over-year ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a bipolar trend that portrays the market as one slowly recovering from the financial crisis. The report found home sales rising for the fourth conservative month on an annual basis, as foreclosures plummeted for the sixteenth consecutive month.

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Starts Decline Only 0.3% in October, Beating Forecasts

Steadying homebuilder confidence translated into less bad news for the housing market Thursday, as the Commerce Department reported that housing starts more or less hovered around expectations. October figures for single-family housing starts trumped estimates from September, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000 beating expectations for 630,000. On a year-over-year basis, the boost in numbers reflects a 16.5-percent upward revision from a 539,000 housing units. Housing completions hovered around a seasonally adjusted 584,000.

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Europe Debt Crisis Keeps Mortgage Rates at Record Lows

Mortgage rates ran a tepid streak started three weeks ago by hovering at around 4 percent this week, according to Freddie Mac, largely because investors continue to flee European sovereign bonds for the safe haven of U.S. Treasury debt. For Freddie, rates for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched forward by a percentage point, placing it at 4 percent after the loan averaged 3.99 percent. Bankrate.com noted the same difference, reporting that the 30-year loan fell to 4.24 percent this week, down from 4.25 percent last week.

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