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Freddie Reveals Declines in Mortgage Rates

Freddie Mac released a southerly primary mortgage market survey Thursday, revealing downward trends for mortgage rates across the board against a backdrop of anemic job growth and steadily increasing unemployment figures. According to the GSE, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 4.51 percent falling from 4.60 percent last week and staying just under the 4.57 percent average it struck last year. The data for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages yielded a fall from 3.75 percent last week to 3.65 percent this week.

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Galante Now Acting FHA Commissioner

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In a statement released Tuesday, HUD announced the move by multifamily housing deputy assistant secretary Carol Galante to her new role as acting commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. President Barack Obama picked Galante for the position, with rumors circulating around the Capitol that the affordable housing veteran may receive a nomination for the top role, too.

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12 Mortgage Fraud Cases, Over $12M in Losses

Twelve defendants appeared in court around the country this week to answer for charges related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud, and making false information to financial institutions, among others. The estimated combined losses for lenders and families: some $12.4 million. Unaccounted-for: the number of delayed dreams, shattered finances, and lives adversely impacted by the crimes, alleged and otherwise. Several news agencies reported the news.

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MBIA Drops Suit Against Bank of America

After a contentious suit against Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, MBIA Inc. ended a lawsuit against the mortgage giant over $5.7 billion in bad credit default protection the insurer underwrote for the bank's mortgage-backed securities. According to the filing, MBIA and Bank of America both agreed to voluntarily withdraw the claims and cover their fees for their separate cases. MBIA had sued Merrill in April 2009 with accompanying allegations that the bank committed fraud.

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Survey: Low Job Growth Hampers Homebuilding

Financial analysis firm Zelman & Associates released a survey signaling mixed results in the homebuilding industry, with new home orders grinding to a halt in May despite 20 percent year-over-year increases. The survey reported that builder sentiment gravitated towards stability, with an industry score topping off at 32.3 on a 0-100 scale, up from 29.6 in May. The Washington, D.C., builders' market remained top dog, while other regions rose only incrementally. Homebuilding starts hovered at 613,000.

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Warren, Republicans Faceoff on Thursday

With less than two weeks to go before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches, Treasury Department adviser and nominee Elizabeth Warren plans to attend the House Oversight Committee for the last time on Thursday, giving her Republican opponents one final opportunity to lob critiques at her brainchild before it assumes consumer financial protection authority. Analysts across the spectrum seem to agree that Warren will face yet another challenge from Republicans, who fear numerous transfers of authority from seven agencies will tip the scale between regulation and economic recovery.

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Prudential Mortgage Venture Aims for $1B in CMBS

On Friday lending giant Prudential Mortgage Capital Company announced a joint venture with Perella Weinberg Partners that will allow the two companies to store and originate future commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). Participation in the re-emerging CMBS market is critical to maintaining our leadership position in the commercial mortgage arena, David Twardock, president of Prudential Mortgage, said in a statement.

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Bank of America Taps New Chief Risk Officer

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In a statement released Friday, Bank of America announced that it tapped Terry Laughlin to head up the risk management division as chief risk officer. [IMAGE] Terry is steeped in the issues that represent the most significant risk we face, and his ultimate transition into the chief risk officer position reflects that and his deep industry expertise, CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

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