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U.S. House Passes Extension of G-Fee Increase for Immigration Reform

A controversial bill that would extend an increase on guarantee fees (g-fees) on mortgages backed by the GSEs or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has passed in the House of Representatives. The bill, H.R. 6429 (STEM Jobs Act of 2012), proposes reforms for immigrant visas offered to immigrants who possess advanced training in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. A section added to the bill calls for a one-year extension of g-fee hikes to help pay for the program, changing the end date on the fee increases from October 2021 to October 2022.

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Mortgage Insurance Shows Renewed Strength in October

After experiencing a one-month lull, mortgage insurance activity picked up in October. According to data from Mortgage Insurance Companies of America (MICA), member companies wrote 42,833 insurance policies in October. In dollar volume, members reported $11.5 billion in insurance written throughout the month. October's volume was a significant step up from September, which saw 37,554 policies totaling $10.1 billion. A year ago, member companies reported 26,293 policies written for $5.1 billion.

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NAR Predicts 2013 Decline in Commercial Vacancies

Amid an improving commercial real estate market, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts declining vacancy rates in all sectors of commercial real estate in the coming year. The greatest vacancy decline is expected among office properties. Office vacancies should fall about one percentage point over the year, dropping from 16.7 percent to 15.7 percent. While the smallest vacancy decline is expected in the multifamily sector, NAR states there is "a full recovery already in the multifamily market."

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More Banks Interested in Expanding, Few Want to Sell

It seems more banks are eyeing the possibility of expansion in 2013, according to a survey sponsored by Crowe Horwath LLP. According to the results, 57 percent of banks intend to make some form of acquisition in the next year, up from last year's survey. Furthermore, many bankers expressed interest in acquisitions outside of their core banking franchises. Out of the banks that are looking at expanding, 28.8 percent said they intend to acquire a residential mortgage origination business in 2013.

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