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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Still Popular with Consumers: Freddie

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Fixed-rate mortgages remained largely popular with consumers over the third quarter, according to Freddie Mac, despite the willingness by some lawmakers and policymakers to part ways with the loan product. The GSE found that more refinancing borrowers opted to contract their mortgage terms over the course of the second quarter. Forty percent of borrowers with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage exchanged their old products for 15- and 20-year mortgages, topping off the most such since 2003, Freddie found.

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Lawmakers Target Fannie, Freddie Over ‘Questionable’ Practices

A minibus bill cobbled together by House lawmakers would slash spending from several federal agencies, including HUD, and limit a hike in conforming loan limits to the Federal Housing Administration. House lawmakers drafted the stopgap bill to resolve funding needs for the federal government and avoid a shutdown for the remainder of the fiscal year a step in the direction of an agreement reached by White House officials and member of Congress earlier this year.

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DeMarco: $13M in GSE Exec Bonuses Help Protect Taxpayers

Pressure from Congress over some $13 million in bonuses for GSE executives crystallized in a hearing Tuesday that saw Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco defend himself and the controversial pay packages against critical questions from lawmakers. Members of the Senate Banking Committee largely took turns criticizing the FHFA's decisions and probing for statements about the housing finance system. The head of the agency responsible for regulating the GSEs portrayed his decision as one that would ultimately help keep taxpayers off the hook.

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New General Counsel Announced for ServiceLink

ServiceLink has appointed a new general counsel, with the announcement that Donald Blanchard will join the company. The end-to-end origination provider plans to capitalize on Blanchard's experience in corporate, contract, and real estate law to enhance their legal support.

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Bank of America’s CEO on a GSE-Free Future

The current complexion of the national housing market is prompting Bank of America Corp. to focus on new lending measures, including taking steps toward facilitating loans that are not backed by the government-sponsored enterprises. BofA's CEO Brian Moynihan highlighted future initiatives from the financial institution during his speech at the BofA Merrill Lynch conference in New York recently, and his remarks revealed the bank's key interest in pursuing changes related to the influx of investor cash into real estate markets around the country.

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National Home Prices Tumble 3.8% Over August: LPS

Closely following figures from a market peak in 2006, home prices across the country trailed south by 3.8 percent year-over-year in August, according to a recent home price index. Lender Processing Services reported findings from a home price index that connected the dots from 13,500 ZIP codes, which it gauged on five qualitative levels. LPS valued total U.S. housing inventory at $10.6 trillion at the peak of the crisis ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a number that now stands at $7.65 trillion by the end of August this year. The price declines follow similar data reported by CoreLogic in September.

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Q3 Hiring Spree Trumps Layoffs for Mortgage Professionals

More mortgage professionals received a desk and day job as hiring rose and layoffs fell over the third quarter, according to a recent study. In releasing the Third-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Employment Index, industry data offered up a net gain of 2,738 jobs for mortgage lenders and other professionals. New hires leapt ahead to 5,240 over the third quarter, offering considerable contrast to 2,502 layoffs over the same time frame. Of these last third-quarter gains, Texas emerged as the state with the most at 699 job gains.

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International Partners Target Housing in the Philippines

In international real estate news, True Green Energy Group (TGEG) is teaming up with the president and CEO of Universal Resources Development Incorporated (URD) to create housing projects in the Philippines. TGEG, which is based in the country, will become partners with Paul Lu of URD in the development, in collaboration with CJ Consortium Group, Inc., and its various partners.

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Flagging Numbers Show Faltering Market in San Diego

In California, one city is on the decline, with San Diego reporting an 8 percent drop in home sales year-over-year for the month of October. The survey from The Berkland Group notes that the shrinking housing numbers in the city didn't discriminate, affecting all price ranges, but having the greatest impact on the upper end of the real estate market among homes priced between $500,000 and $900,000.

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Home Sales Expected to Lift in 2012: NAR

Today├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós record-low mortgage rates and southerly home sales will post gains into next year, according to the economist with one trade group. Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, predicted at the 2011 Realtors Conference and Expo that home sales and existing-home sales would rise, along with mortgage rates. He said that GDP would climb from a 1.8-percent slump to 2.2 percent over next year, as job growth marches toward 2.2 million and the unemployment rate falls to 8.7 percent.

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