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Mortgage Applications Tick Up 4.8% Last Week: MBA

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Scheduled increases for government premiums and springtime for a still-steady recovery helped drive up mortgage application volume by 4.8 percent last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. The trade group also found mortgage applications headed up by 5 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The Refinance Index ticked up 4 percent from last week, with the refinance share of mortgage activity on a decline to 71.2 percent of total application volume, down from 71.9 percent from the week before.

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Saxon Mortgage Slashes 680 Jobs in Irving, Fort Worth

The same week that 12 twisters reportedly touched down in Dallas/Fort Worth, residents got wind of that Saxon Mortgage Services will close shop at two addresses and terminate nearly 700 employees. The firm ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô under new ownership at Ocwen Financial Corp. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô notified the Texas Workforce Commission and mayors of the cities of Fort Worth and Irving that it plans to move forward with 680 layoffs. Saxon Mortgage said that it had also informed employees of their eligibility for job retraining, reemployment services, and other state services for displaced workers.

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V.I.P. Mortgage Enhances Loan Production in Arizona

V.I.P. Mortgage is increasing its footprint in Tucson, Arizona. The company recently announced that it conducted in excess of $113 million in mortgage loans during 2011, and V.I.P. also noted that it is continuing to add home loan specialists within its Tucson branch, hiring nearly a dozen personnel last year alone. The company has merged two of its loan groups in the city, combining V.I.P. teams led by Rob Purvis and Jim Kaiser. Currently, V.I.P. has a total of 35 employees in Tucson.

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GFI Sued for Alleged Discriminatory Lending Practices

A lawsuit was filed against GFI Mortgage Bankers alleging it charged African American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees on mortgage loans because of their race rather than their creditworthiness, the U.S. Justice Department announced in a statement Tuesday. The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York under the federal Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act. According to the statement, GFI knew that its loan officers priced loans based on factors that resulted in thousands of dollars in overcharges for minority borrowers.

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Gateway and MCS Announce Partnership

Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS) has been selected by Gateway Mortgage Group as the company's partner for property inspection and preservation needs. Targeting enhanced efficiency for the property-related management of its servicing portfolio, Gateway chose Florida-based MCS for streamlined support.

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Churchill Hires New Home Loan Specialists

In Texas, Churchill Mortgage has added two industry professionals to bolster mortgage loan production in its Houston branch. The company recently announced that Peter Oreziak and Mike Gonzalez have been hired as home loan specialists. Prior to joining Churchill, Oreziak accrued more than nine years of experience in the mortgage business, and he has previously been active in customer service and transaction protection initiatives. Oreziak's new role for Churchill encompasses the provision of client guidance throughout the lending process from application to funding.

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Senate Banking Committee Clears Five Obama Nominees

Lawmakers seated on the Senate Banking Committee slated five nominees to head up regulatory agencies for full-chamber votes Friday. Committee Chairman Tim Johnson led the voice vote that cleared nominees for boards responsible for the Federal Reserve System, FDIC, and Troubled Asset Relief Program, among others. The nominees set for votes include Jerome Powell and Jeremy Stein for governorships with the Fed; Jeremiah Norton, for a board role with the FDIC; Richard Berner, for directorship of the Office of Financial Research; and Christy Romero, for service as TARP├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós next special inspector general.

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United Wholesale Mortgage Adds USDA Loan Products

In Michigan, United Wholesale Mortgage is adding a new mortgage loan product to its portfolio, recently announcing that the company would begin offering loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. UWM seeks to enhance its existing government platform of Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs loan programs through the extension of USDA loans. The USDA products from UWM will be comprised of 30-year fixed rate, 0 percent down mortgages with finance closing costs, competitively low rates, and financed appliances with minimal restrictions.

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Report from Equifax, Moody’s Shows Uptick in Originations

Recently released findings from Equifax's March National Consumer Credit Trends Report and CreditForecast.com revealed that originations are on the uptick, with notable increases in the sub-prime segment across all lending sectors. The survey, which evaluated activity for credit cards, auto finance, consumer finance, and student loans, showed that home financing balances fell to $8.7 billion during February. Total consumer debt in the U.S. stood at $11 trillion for February, representing an 11 percent drop since highs seen in the fourth-quarter of 2008.

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Michigan Bank Goes Under, Raising 2012 Tally to 16

Another bank fell quiet in Michigan Friday, lifting the national tally to 16 this year but falling short of the pace set by bank failures over the last several years. State regulators shuttered Dearborn-based Fidelity Bank, citing unsafe and unsound conditions in an order that made the FDIC receiver for $818.2 million in total assets and $747.6 million in total deposits. The Huntington National Bank stepped up to assume nearly all of Fidelity├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós assets, along with 15 branches that it rebranded and reopened Saturday.

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