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New Pilot Program Targets Affordable Housing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development recently announced a new pilot program targeting reduced regulatory burdens for those developing affordable housing. In conjunction co-creators of the project, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the initiative focuses on helping developers and individual owners, in addition to easing the way for state and federal agencies to serve low-income renters. The USDA-RD and HUD have approved a first draft of a Memorandum of Understanding.

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Bernanke On the Fed’s Future Economic Initiatives

The Federal Reserve has gone on record again regarding the current state of the U.S. economy. Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, spoke out recently confirming the organization's commitment to take whatever steps necessary should the nation's economic standing continue its slide. Noting the Fed's willingness to make non-traditional decisions and policy changes in light of the country's challenging economy, Bernanke emphasized efforts to fiercely monitor price trends during a speech in Cleveland, Ohio.

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CFPB’s New Mortgage Disclosure Initiatives Gaining Traction

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a strong supporter in the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. Recently reviewing the updated mortgage disclosure forms produced by the CFPB, the NAEBA responded to the organization with a letter of commendation. Though citing the CFPB's thorough assessment of borrowers' needs within the project, the NAEBA also submitted some suggestions based on its evaluation of the mortgage disclosure initiative, which is part of the "Know Before You Owe" program.

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SEC Rolls Out New Legal Tactics Targeting Civil Suits

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced a new game plan when it comes to targeting companies and individuals under fire for allegations stemming from the mortgage meltdown. The SEC will now update enforcement procedures; moving away from difficult to prove filings that are geared to prove purposeful wrongdoing, recklessness, or fraud, the SEC will reduce its burden with civil cases that require only proof of negligence. The SEC has utilized similar tactics as as supplement to more intensive accusations.

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20 Floridians, Former Company Exec Accused of Mortgage Fraud

A former mortgage company executive and 20 South Floridians found themselves in a hot seat Thursday as authorities pressed charges for roughly $8 million and $40 million in mortgage fraud activity, respectively, according to multiple news outlets. The news follows a mortgage fraud report that forecasts $73 billion in mortgage fraud over the rest of the year. MReport culled information from two news sources for the mortgage fraud blotter Thursday.

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Freddie: Plunging Mortgage Rates Smash New Records

Mortgage rates again smashed records Thursday by falling to new lows as investors continued to flee Europe, buying up safer U.S. Treasury debt, keeping interest rates low, and setting up all-time highs for housing affordability. Finance Web site Bankrate.com differed by posting slight upticks for the benchmark 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. According to the GSE, rates for the 30-year loan collapsed to 4.01 percent, while Bankrate.com duly noted a rise in interest rates for the 30-year loan to 4.30 percent.

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Mortgage Fraud Declines as Perps Bilk Lenders in New Ways

Experts anticipate that fewer fraudsters will move on residential mortgage originations over the remainder of the year, drawing a contrast with the number of times alleged perpetrators bilked lenders and homeowners over 2010, according to a new report. Releasing the study, CoreLogic offered up predictions that originations will fall to $7.4 billion over 2011 even as more people find new ways to defraud their victims. CoreLogic chalked up less fraud to simple economics.

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Pending-Home Sales Dip by 1.2% Over August

Alongside somewhat stable home prices, pending-home sales slid back over August with a few regions inching up over others, according to an index recently compiled by the National Association of Realtors. Even so, the numbers reflect a better balance sheet for lenders and sellers, who bore the brunt of sales much worse for the wear over the same period last year. The trade group found the numbers for pending-home sales plunging by 1.2 percent to hit 88.6 percent in August, down from 89.7 percent over the month before.

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Basel Committee Carrys Out Rules Despite Criticism

New regulations targeting capital requirements are challenging big banks in the U.S. and abroad. While large American financial institutions have been grappling with more strenuous capital rules since the Dodd-Frank Act was released, European banks are set to experience similar adaptations with the news that The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision chose to ignore stringent lobbying, in favor of mandating extended capital funding for mega banks. The committee moved forward with capital surcharges from 1 to 2.5 percent for the biggest banks worldwide.

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SEC Puts S&P on Notice

Standard & Poor's is coming under heavy scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission for it alleged misconduct in handling valuations for a $1.6 billion mortgage-bond deal. Regulators for the SEC are focusing on the company's possible exploitation of fictitious assets when rating the transaction in question. The bond deal became a debacle during the financial crisis, and this week, S&P's parent company, McGraw-Hill Cos., received notice from the SEC that it could be facing civil charges related to its potentially fraudulent actions.

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