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Origination

Candidates Face Contests in States With Steep Home Values: Report

Ahead of the primary in South Carolina Saturday, Republican presidential hopefuls will compete for the chance for a face off with President Barack Obama ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a contest remarkably lacking in housing proposals for one that will take place in 15 battleground states with slipshod home values. The Progressive Policy Institute issued a policy brief Friday that said home values have fallen by 16 percent since October 2008, and that ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô despite a correspondingly steep drop in household wealth ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô few voters should expect candidates from either party to address housing finance reform in the election.

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FHA Finalizes Rule, Toughens Lender Insurance Criteria

The Federal Housing Administration finalized a new rule Friday that makes it tougher to qualify for loans insured by the agency. To qualify for mortgage insurance, lenders must offer up evidence that their seriously delinquent and claim rates remain at or below 150 percent of aggregate rates in home states. The rule authorizes more extensive examination for lenders in order to ensure that they are able to meet the FHA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós new qualifications. It requires that certain lenders indemnify HUD in claims over loans. The move arrives amid criticism that diminishing capital for the FHA may necessitate its bailout.

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FHLB of Cincinnati Marks Another Housing Exit

Make room for another departure from the federal housing community. On Friday the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati announced that president and CEO David Hehman planned to retire, concluding a career he started with the institution in 1977. The Federal Home Loan Bank├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós board of directors selected Andrew Howell, currently EVP and COO for the financial institution, to succeed the outgoing president. Hehman first arrived at the Federal Home Loan Bank in 1977, when he left his position as assistant professor of economics and finance at Xavier University.

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Existing-Home Sales Climb 5% in December: NAR

Existing-home sales climbed by 5 percent in December as more consumers felt the confidence needed to move forward with home purchases. The National Association of Realtors reported the figures Friday, showing that total existing-home sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô those sales in the process of closing ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô moved forward to 4.61 million in December, up from 4.39 million in November. The trade group said that existing-home sales arrived at 4.26 million, reflecting a 1.7 percent rise from 4.19 million last year. All-cash sales reflected about 31 percent of purchases in December, up from 28 percent in November.

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Economy, Housing Market a Mixed Bag in 2012: Forecast

Freddie

The economy and housing market enter the New Year with mixed results, and will likely remain that way for at least the first part of 2012, Freddie Mac forecasted in a report Thursday. Citing numerous indices in his outlook, Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist with Freddie Mac, predicted that economic growth will likely hit 2.1 percent in the first quarter, up from the doldrums during the financial crisis. He said that U.S. unemployment will likely remain around 8.5 percent following a reversal for seasonal job growth.

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More Originators Fear Effects of Legislation: Survey

A survey released Wednesday found that more mortgage originators fear the effects of legislation for their industry than from any other challenge. Releasing the Second Annual Survey of Originator Opinions, mortgage industry recruiting firm Hammerhouse LLC polled about 400 active loan originators across the country on issues that ranged from regulation to technology. Asked which challenge felt the greatest for loan originators in 2012, 51 percent said oversight and legislation could crimp the industry.

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Housing Starts Fall 4.1% as Single-Family Starts Rise

Housing starts declined by 4.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, even while figures for single-family homes climbed year-over-year, offering signs that it may unseat multifamily construction after several months. Single-family housing starts went up 4.4 percent at a seasonally adjusted rate of 470,000, with the December rate for building construction with five units or more hovering around 147,000. Building permits crept forward to an annual rate of 679,000, a 7.8-percent increase year-over-year and 0.1-percent annual increase month-over-month.

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Mortgage Rates Reach New All-Time Lows. Again

Interest rates for mortgage loans plunged to new lows Thursday, as debt crises in Europe continued to weigh heavily on investors. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage company Freddie Mac released separate surveys signaling all-time lows for mortgage rates. For Freddie, the 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 3.88 percent, down from 3.89 percent last week. Bankrate.com revealed rates for the 30-year mortgage staying the same at 4.18 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage went up a percentage point for Freddie, reaching 3.17 percent, up from 3.16 percent last week.

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Veros Adds New Strategic Initiatives SVP

Adding to its management lineup, Veros Real Estate Solutions has announced the appointment of Charles Rumfola as the company's senior vice president of strategic initiatives. Veros will capitalize on Rumfola's extensive industry experience to enhance its activities in the secondary market.

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Homebuilder Confidence Climbs for Fourth Straight Month: NAHB

Confidence among homebuilders for new single-family homes climbed for the fourth straight month in January, as a pickup in housing starts and sales continued seemingly unabated. The National Association of Home Builders reported the figures Wednesday in a Housing Market Index it released in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The results: Homebuilder confidence escalated to the highest level seen since June 2007, ascending by four points to crest at 25 on the index. Prospective buyer traffic also posted the highest increases since June 2007.

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