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NAREB Hosts Forum to Address State of Housing in Black America

In Washington, D.C., the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) is preparing to host its State of Housing in Black America Issues Forum. The group, which is the oldest African American trade association of real estate business owners and professionals in the U.S., will present commentary from members of Congress, minority businesses, and granting agencies during the event on May 2.

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Banks Resume Tight Mortgage Lending Standards

With an upsurge in demand, banks resumed tightening standards for residential mortgage loans, the Federal Reserve said Monday in a quarterly survey for bank lending standards. According to the survey, a net 30.2 percent of bank surveyed in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey saw increased demand in the first quarter for traditional mortgage loans compared with a net 3.8 percent reporting stronger demand in the fourth quarter. The survey found that a net 1.9 percent of survey respondents also reported tightening loan standards.

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Homeownership Rate Plummets to 15-Year Low

Homeownership rates dropped to 65.4 percent in the first quarter, reaching lows not seen in fifteen years, the Census Bureau said Monday. According to government data, the homeowner vacancy rate also fell to 2.2 percent nationwide, down from 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and the rental vacancy rate dropped to 8.8 percent from 9.7 percent one year earlier. The median asking sale price for a vacant home fell to $133,700 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the lowest level since second quarter 2005 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô from $133,800 in the fourth quarter and $143,700 one year earlier.

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Twenty-Four Groups Call on CFPB to Make QM Rule Safer

Twenty-four trade groups and associations signed off on a comment letter Friday that calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to give creditors more legal leeway when it comes to Qualified Mortgages. The two-page letter ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô headed up by the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, and National Association of Realtors, among others ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô framed forthcoming rules around credit availability and sound home loans. Influential trade groups continue to criticize the rule.

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Appraisal Institute Responds to FinCEN Report

The Appraisal Institute has submitted its response to a recent report released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010.

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Transwestern Hiring, Promoting in Midwest

Transwestern has announced the appointment of a new president for its Midwest region. The company recently named Mike Watts to the leadership role, and Watts will take over responsibilities for overall strategy, business development, recruitment, and financial performance for the region.

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MetLife Exits Reverse Originations, Selling Portfolio to Nationstar

Life insurer MetLife announced Thursday that it will exit the reverse mortgage origination business, with plans to sell the division responsible for these loans to Nationstar Mortgage LLC. It was not immediately clear how much Nationstar paid to buy the reverse mortgage portfolio from MetLife. The life insurer also said that it would cease receiving any new reverse mortgage loan applications and registrations. MetLife said that retail banking, including reverse mortgages, accounted for less than 2 percent of operating earnings for the company last year.

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Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows . . . Still

Debt crises in Europe once more left interest rates for mortgage loans near record lows. Finance Web site Bankrate.com found 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.09 percent, down from 4.10 percent last week, alongside a 15-year loan that hit 3.28 percent this week, down from 3.32 percent. Bankrate.com found said that 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages meanwhile fell from 3.05 percent last week to 3.03 percent this week. News out of Britain this week found that the bulwark economy slipped into a double-dip recession during the first quarter.

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Budget Hearing Spotlights Concerns With FHA, GSEs

Talk of reform for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration featured prominently at a hearing convened by the Senate Banking Committee Thursday to address HUD├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós budget for the next fiscal year. The FHA has fallen under scrutiny in recent years over an inability to meet the 2 percent capital ratio buffer required by law. GSE also reform remains a dead issue this election year, despite numerous proposals for reform from lawmakers and public outcry over more than $180 billion in taxpayer funds sunken into conservatorship.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Dip But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance remained over 380,000 for the third straight week for the week ended April 21, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the highest levels of the year. According to the report there were 388,000 initial claims, down from the revised 389,000 one week earlier.

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