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Author Archives: Heather Cernoch

First American Data Tree Receives Patents for Property Search Inventions

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently awarded two patents to First American Data Tree LLC, a provider of digital land records. The company received the first for an invention that allows users searching an electronic real estate database to select from several similar entries suggested by the system by using a specific type of search logic. The company's second invention involves collecting and validating property data at its source, whether locally or remotely, by using a mobile device.

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Massachusetts Foreclosures Drop Sharply in April

For the month of April, Massachusetts foreclosure activity remained at levels dramatically below those recorded last year, according to data released this week by the Warren Group in Boston. However foreclosure petitions, which mark the first step in the foreclosure process in the Bay State, posted their highest number so far this year.

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California Non-Profit to Purchase Foreclosed Properties with HUD Grant

California's Inland Empire Economic Recovery Corporation (IEERC) recently announced it will receive a $1 million grant from HUD. The non-profit, which works to stabilize real estate values in distressed neighborhoods, will use the grant to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties. IEERC recently made its first offer to purchase 34 foreclosed houses from Fannie Mae.

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Orlando’s Home Inventory Shrinks to Level of Six Years Ago

According to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA), the Florida city's once-monolithic housing inventory was down to 11,480 homes available for purchase last month, a level not seen since 2005. Foreclosures and short sales represented a lion's share 65.49 percent of all home sales in April, although that figure is down 5 percent from March.

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Mortgage Fraud Up 44% in First Quarter: Report

The first three months of 2011 saw a 44 percent increase in the volume of mortgage fraud case activity, according to industry data released this week. The cases reported represent fraud on an estimated $1.2 billion in real estate loans, rising from $0.9 billion in the final period of last year. The report notes that loan repurchases are largely responsible for the increase, with smaller firms forced to buy back loans from housing agencies or correspondent lenders conducting their own investigations and uncovering more fraudulent activity.

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RealtyTrac Adds Feature to Show Potential Appreciation on Foreclosures

RealtyTrac recently integrated the property-rating system HomeScore on nearly 2 million foreclosure and for-sale properties on its Web site. Created by SmartZip Analytics, HomeScore is designed to allow users to pinpoint properties with the best potential for appreciation over time. The higher the HomeScore rating, the greater the home's investment potential. While properties scored above 50 are expected to outperform the market, those scored below 50 are expected to underperform.

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Losses Piling Up in Collateralized Debt Obligations of CRE Loans

Delinquencies and losses on commercial real estate loan collateralized debt obligations (CREL CDOs) increased notably in April, according to the latest U.S. CREL CDO index results from Fitch Ratings. Asset managers reported approximately $164 million in realized losses from the disposal of defaulted and credit-impaired assets, which is substantially higher than March's total of $73 million. The agency says many of the realized losses stemmed from foreclosure or deed-in-lieu actions that wiped out subordinate positions.

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Allonhill Hires New Director of Regulatory Compliance

Scott McNulla is the new director of regulatory compliance at Allonhill, an independent third-party review firm specializing in mortgage due diligence and credit risk management. McNulla will work with executive management to define Allonhill's review requirements related to regulatory compliance to ensure they meet all federal and state regulations and Allonhill standards.

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Bipartisan House Bill Would Put Private Firms in GSE Role

House lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan plan that would replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a group of private firms to fill the role of issuing government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities. The bill's authors say it would not only protect taxpayers but would ensure financing for home loans and products like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remain available to middle-class families. Market observers say the proposal is the only one so far that could win sufficient support from both sides of the aisle.

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Indiana Restricts Wall Street Home Resale Fees

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recently signed legislation to restrict Wall Street home resale fees, also known as private transfer fees. Indiana is the 28th state to ban the use of these fees. The fees require that a private third-party receive a percentage of the final sale price of a home every time the property is sold, typically for 99 years. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has issued a proposed rule that would prevent the GSEs from investing in mortgages with these fees.

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