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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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Senate Committee Approves FHA, Fed Nominees

Members of the Senate Banking Committee voted Tuesday to send nominees for top posts at the Federal Housing Administration and Federal Reserve Board to the full Senate floor. Lawmakers approved FHA Acting Commissioner and former BRIDGE Housing CEO Carole Galante 13 to 9 on a largely party-line vote, with only Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) breaking ranks with GOP faithful to cast in favor of the nominee. Thomas Hoenig meanwhile moved to the Senate floor on a unanimous vote.

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FHLB Recognizes West Coast Bank With Community Award

In Seattle, Washington, one lender has cause for celebration as we head into the new year. West Coast Bank has been named as the recipient of the 2011 Community Spirit Award, which is given annually by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. The special honor is extended yearly to a financial institution that is recognized as exemplifying the spirit of community partnership in creating affordable housing and economic development opportunities in its immediate region.

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Commercial Sector Forecasts Show Uptick in 2012

The commercial real estate market in the U.S. appears set for an uptick in 2012, but don't expect a headline-making rise. According to recent research from Jones Lang LaSalle, economic indicators are pointing to a modest improvement in the commercial segment, and data from the company also reveals that rumors of a double dip in the sector during the coming year were premature. Numbers from the survey call for an increase in total transaction volume of 15 to 20 percent.

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NAHB Criticizes Mortgage-Fee Raise in Payroll Tax

At least one key trade group opposes plans by some lawmakers to introduce a raise for mortgage fees in a payroll tax extension. Congress is essentially proposing to raise taxes on millions of potential home buyers in order to pay for a payroll tax cut and other non-housing legislative initiatives, NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement. Lawmakers are busy cobbling together a payroll tax plan this week that would extend current rates for employees and their employers.

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DebtX Announces Sale of $334M in Non-Performing Loans

DebtX announced Monday that it is now the exclusive agent for a sale involving $334 million in loans from a real estate fund that collapsed and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a statement, the company said that loans involved in the sale primarily involve Acquisition, Development and Construction loans backed by land from nine U.S. states. Eighteen loans will go for sale. This includes tens of millions of dollars in non-performing loans from California and Wyoming.

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Five Mortgage Fraudsters Make Monday Fraud Blotter

Joining a list of other mortgage fraudsters Monday, three Cleveland residents received jail time for their role in a multi-million-dollar scheme while two others in Maryland and Virginia saw their names in fine print over $700,000 in fraud. Home went into foreclosure as a result of much of the alleged crimes. MReport collected the stories from a bevy of news sources that include the FBI and a Cleveland news outlet. This comes on the heels of other mortgage fraud activity as it increases nationally.

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Online Mortgage Resource Promises 24-Hour Quotes

Borrowers using Mortgage Lenders USA will now have the advantage of faster quotes when seeking a mortgage. The company announced recently that it would initiate a 24-hours or less policy in extending a mortgage quote to inquiring parties.

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