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Garrett Proposal Clears House Committee

Reform may be on the way for the housing finance system in the United States if a bill cleared by the House Financial Services Committee makes its way to the Senate. Rep. Scott Garrett hailed the passage of his legislation ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the Private Mortgage Market Investment Act ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô which cleared the committee by an 18-15 margin. The move by Garrett follows a similar push by Sen. Bob Corker, who advanced legislation to consolidate assets from the GSEs and create a Mortgage Finance Agency over the next 10 years.

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Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows. Again

Lack of action from the Fed on monetary policy, wrangling in the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Capitol, and ongoing problems overseas helped push mortgage rates to new record lows this week. Finance Web site Bankrate.com recorded an all-time low for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which slammed into 4.19 percent, down from 4.24 percent. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac countered with rates for the benchmark loan that again fell to 3.94 percent, down from 3.99 percent from the week before.

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LendingTree Releases Report on Closing Timelines

LendingTree is reaching out to originators and borrowers with an information release that focuses on consumer preparedness during the mortgage loan process. Citing borrowers' frustration with the pace of loan originations, LendingTree put out a report cataloging the top five documents that those seeking and selling mortgages can use to help facilitate faster processing.

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Bipartisan Policy Center Adds New Commission Members

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission has added a new member, with the announcement that Alfred DelliBovi will join the organization. DelliBovi's appointment to the commission continues the development of the group's leadership roster, which includes numerous national business and civic leaders. Other members of the commission include Henry Cisneros and former U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, both of whom have previously acted as HUD secretaries; Senator Kit Bond; and George Mitchell, who co-founded the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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Freddie Mac Releases 2012 Economic Outlook


Mortgage giant Freddie Mac revealed its December outlook Wednesday, forecasting that U.S. economic growth would likely climb to 2.5 percent over 2012 and that mortgage rates would stay at record lows. The GSE also pitched ideas that housing activity will scale upward but fail to reach ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£robust├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø levels seen in years prior. The company said that mortgage rates would stay low, with 4 percent for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage leading the way recently.

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AllianceBernstein Releases White Paper on Housing Finance

The relationship between housing finance and the government has been a hotly debated topic from Wall Street to Main Street since the mortgage crisis began, and the recently released white paper from AllianceBernstein provides a critical look at the role of private capital in reducing the housing market's dependence on Capitol Hill.

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California Leads U.S. in Mortgage Fraud: Study


California tops a list of states for mortgage fraud activity, as the state├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós courts pursue more cases against alleged frausters, MortgageDaily.com found in an index it released Wednesday. The Web site documented activity in FraudBlogger.com, a mortgage fraud blog. While California claimed the top spot, New York and Florida also found themselves perched considerably high on the index, followed shortly by South Carolina and Minnesota. New York ranked second by dollar volume in mortgage fraud at $199,600,000.

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FOMC Keeps Interest Rates at 0%

Acknowledging improvements in the larger economy, the Federal Open Market Committee said Tuesday that it would keep a heel on zero interest rates and continue shepherding funds from mortgage-backed securities into agency mortgage-backed securities. The rate for federal funds remains between zero interest and .25 percent since December, and follows an earlier decision by the Fed to buy up $400 billion in Treasuries to ensure lower borrowing costs.

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Mortgage Applications Top Off at 4.1%: MBA

Mortgage application volume leapt to 4.1 percent from the week before on the strength of a boom in refinance applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group released its data in a Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week. The MBA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Market Composite Index noted a 4.2-percent increase on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week before, with 9.3 percent for the Refinance Index and 8.2 percent in declines for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index.

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FHFA IG Addresses Senate Banking Committee

Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, the inspector-general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency portrayed the agency as one beset by failures to adequately monitor and validate controls for executive compensation, examinations, and more. IG Steve Linick referenced a recent report from his office that found the FHFA needs to improve by taking measures to independently validate executive compensation packages. Compensation approval methods proved controversial last month.

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