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Mortgage Rates Lift on Greek Bailout, Housing

Interest rates for mortgage loans climbed close to 4 percent this week as a second Greek bailout sowed more confidence in the investor crowd and signs emerged that housing may see an upswing. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage company Freddie Mac each released separate surveys, with analysts attributing the rise to different causes. The GSE found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage lifting to 3.95 percent, up from 3.87 percent. Bankrate.com saw rates for the loan hit 4.16 percent, up from 4.10 percent last week.

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FHFA’s Fourth Quarter Findings a Mixed Message

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has released its data from the fourth quarter of 2011, and findings from the government organization├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós survey show that U.S. home pricing was slightly on the decline during the period. The FHFA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós seasonally-adjusted, purchase-only house price index (HPI) demonstrated a 0.1 percent drop in pricing between quarters, and year-over-year, the statistics displayed a decrease of 2.4 percent. In spite of the national trend, however, HPI findings from the FHFA indicated that 27 states and the District of Columbia recorded a rise for the fourth quarter of last year.

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Pro Teck: February Forecast Shows Positive Trends

Releasing its February Home Value Forecast, Pro Teck Valuation Services revealed research that indicates that many core based statistical areas (CBSAs) around the U.S. are showing positive momentum. While Pro Teck's report acknowledged market data that demonstrates weak or soft status for many CBSAs, the company's recent statistics point toward a slow improvement for negative conditions throughout the country. Ranking CBSAs from "hot" to "distressed," Pro Teck also rolled out a new evaluation system with its February survey.

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Initial Claims Flat While Continuing Claims Fall Lower

First time claims for unemployment insurance were unchanged at 351,000 for the week ended February 18, following upward adjustments for numbers recorded the previous week which represented a four-year record low. The U.S. Department of Labor also reported that continuing claims fell 52,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the fourth drop observed during the first six weeks of the year. Total claims including emergency and extended federal programs fell 178,619 to 7,502,791 for the period, while extended claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô based on individual state unemployment rates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô increased.

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Mortgage Application Volume Fell 4.5%: MBA

Mortgage application volume contracted by 4.5 percent from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The Market Composite Index, a measure of volume for loan applications, fell 3.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the MBA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós weekly survey. Seasonally adjusted purchases declined by 2.9 percent from the week before and rose by 1.4 percent on an unadjusted basis. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity declined from 5.4 percent of total volume to 5.3 percent.

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Existing-Home Sales Up in January as Prices Fall: NAR

Existing-home sales rose in January for the third time in the last four months, according to the National Association of Realtors. January sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô completed transactions ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô were up 4.3 percent from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million. December├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós total was revised downward to 4.38 million from 4.61 million. The January 2012 sales pace was up 0.7 percent from January 2011. The median price of an existing-home was $154,700 in January, down 2.0 percent from January 2011, falling to lows from 2001.

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Carwin Advisors Forecasts Recovery for Las Vegas, Phoenix

Revealing results from its predictive modeling survey of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoneix, Arizona, Carwin Advisors is forecasting the recovery timeline for both metropolitan areas. According to Carwin, Las Vegas will have a longer wait for housing market improvement, while Phoenix is expected to be well on the way to recovery by 2013. Carwin predicts that the housing market will eventually normalize to levels of new and existing home sales that were average for the metro area during the early 2000s.

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DRI Adds New Sales Position, Promotes Schaefer to SVP

Bolstering support for its executive sales and client activities , DRI Management Systems, Inc., is enhancing its leadership lineup. The technology solutions company has hired Michael J. Bailin to the newly added position of regional sales executive for the western states division, and DRI also announced the recent promotion of Nancy Schaefer to the role of senior vice president of client operations.

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Ex-Linebacker, Realtor, Many Others Nabbed for Fraud

A Realtor and mortgage broker, his wife, and several others found themselves in the crosshairs of prosecutors Tuesday, along with a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker and nine co-conspirators. MReport sourced the stories from two news outlets to create the mortgage fraud blotter for Tuesday. According to one news source, former linebacker William Tisdale received convictions along with nine co-conspirators for their involvement in millions of dollars in mortgage fraud from the North Texas area.

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