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Bernanke Remarks Promise No Action, Send Yields Falling


Delivering highly anticipated remarks in Wyoming Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke promised no new stimulus measures, opting instead to offer an optimistic view of fundamental strength of the economy, coupled with a blistering critique of fiscal management by policymakers and an overview of the housing sector. In response to his speech, Treasury bonds rose, forcing a downward shift in yields and likely mortgage rates for next week, following continuing fiscal distress.

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MBA Names Top Banks in Loan Categories

The Mortgage Bankers Association came out Thursday with a list that ranks commercial and multifamily mortgage servicers on the basis of their loan size, financial balance, and amount lent to borrowers midyear 2011. Wells Fargo achieved the number-one spot for both master servicing and commercial mortgage-backed securities. According to a statement, the MBA said that Wells Fargo, PNC Mortgage Real Estate, and Bank of America topped the master and primary servicing list for commercial and multifamily CMBS loans.

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NYT: Obama Administration Floating Refi Proposal

On Wednesday the New York Times broke a story suggesting that Obama administration officials are floating proposals to inject the ailing housing industry with needed relief, encourage the markets, and potentially energize the broader economy. If it passed with recommendations from a Columbia Business School proposal, the refinance plan could potentially infuse the economy with $118 billion in savings and add to historic highs for mortgage applications.

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FHFA: Q2 Home Prices Decline by 0.6%

Home prices for the second quarter dropped 0.6 percent beneath figures reported during the first quarter this year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which released a price index for seasonally adjusted home purchases Thursday. Quarterly declines in prices amounted to 5.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Seasonally adjusted prices plunged by 5.9 percent over the past year, according to the FHFA, with a quarterly decline occurring despite an uptick in seasonally adjusted house prices month-over-month.

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Mortgage Rates Post Mixed Results

After beaching on a 50-year low last week, mortgage rates posted mixed results this week, either raising costs for mortgage borrowers or lowering costs. Weekly surveys by Freddie Mac and Bankrate disagreed with each other about the benchmark 30-year loan, with the GSE posting spikes and the company showing declines to new lows. No matter which rates went up and down, analysts said in past interviews that borrowers are unlikely to return to the market. According to Freddie, the 30-year loan jumped from 4.15 percent to 4.22 percent.

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A Familiar Face Returns to Prudential Mortgage

Newark-based Prudential Mortgage Capital Company announced Thursday the return of one Curtis Brunton to an originations principal position at the firm's San Francisco location. After serving in a past role with Prudential, leaving it for another lender, and now returning to his old haunts, Brunton will originate commercial mortgage-backed securities with funds from a number of securitizing companies. Bruton will work with a more recently announced joint venture with Liberty Island Group, an affiliated fund of Perella Weinberg Partners' asset-based value strategy.

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GSEs Revise Guidelines for Lenders, Servicers

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac recently upgraded a number of quality control guidelines for financial institutions doing business with it. New features for lenders and servicers include the ability to submit mortgage files over electronic media, with a number of other provisions aimed at collecting mortgage insurance coverage. The GSE follows in the footsteps of Fannie Mae, which also recently amended the guidelines it approves for insurers, servicers, and lenders.

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Experts: Future for CMBS Markets Still Mixed

Even as economic uncertainty and fears of a double-dip recession continue to rile the markets, some say that commercial mortgage-backed securities, recently on a downdraft, could either slowly recover over 2011 or see a fallback. According to experts, ongoing concerns about debt crises overseas and at home could dent a rebound for the CMBS markets. Stories by Bloomberg News, Retail Traffic magazine, coupled with data from Trepp Inc. and Barclays Capital, portray gray skies for CMBS.

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Mortgage Applications Hit 15-Year Bottom Despite Low Rates

Cresting on low tides in credit supply and buyer confidence, fewer first-time and repeat homebuyers filed mortgage applications last week, according to a weekly survey released by the Mortgage Bankers Association Wednesday. The MBA said that overall mortgage loan application volume dropped 2.4 percent, with purchases slamming into a 15-year low. The Market Composite Index, which the MBA uses to gauge loan application activity, showed a seasonally adjusted squeeze in loan volume.

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