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Wells Fargo to Sell $39B MSR Portfolio to Ocwen

Ocwen's servicing segment is set to acquire mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) on a $39 billion portfolio from Wells Fargo, the two companies announced Wednesday. The loans underlying the MSRs in the portfolio are primarily in private label securities, the companies said, and they were not originated by Wells Fargo. They represent about 2 percent of Wells Fargo's total residential servicing portfolio as of the end of 2013.

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Berkshire Hills Completes Acquisition of BofA Branches in Central New York

deal closed, agreement, acquisition

Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc., announced Tuesday that its banking subsidiary, Berkshire Bank, has completed the previously announced acquisition of 20 retail bank locations from Bank of America, effective January 17, 2014. As a result of the transaction, Berkshire acquired approximately $450 million in deposits and $4 million in loans as of January 14, 2014, bringing the total number of branches in Berkshire's footprint to 91 across New England and New York.

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Housing and Mortgage Outlook: Expect Declines in 2014

Outlook, Fitch Ratings

Following a year of fast-paced appreciation, Fitch Ratings expects home price gains to slow to a more moderate pace in 2014 in the United States, according to its Global Housing and Mortgage Outlook released Tuesday. The ratings agency also predicts mortgage volume will decline and delinquencies and shadow inventory will decrease, albeit slowly, while liquidation timelines continue to rise.

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Stewart Continues Expansion of Capital Markets Group with Hiring of New Director

Movers & Shakers, people, Stewart Lender Services

Stewart Lender Services hired John Desmond as director of regulatory compliance, capital markets. Desmond is responsible for overseeing the compliance and regulatory aspects of operations within Stewart’s capital markets group. Desmond has more than 19 years’ mortgage experience with a particular focus on origination operations and origination-related compliance. He has an additional five years’ legal experience in commercial litigation, corporate finance, and secured transactions.

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Survey: Mortgage Hurdles Least of Consumer Concerns

As analysts continue to watch market indicators for trends that might hamper the borrowing experience, a recent poll shows that borrowers themselves are more focused on customer service problems. The poll, conducted by real estate search engine Qazzoo.com, asked new homebuyers which aspect of the experience they found the most frustrating, from agent interaction to the loan application process.

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MIAC Brings Fannie, Ginnie Portfolios to MSR Market

Mortgage Industry Advisory Corporation (MIAC) announced two new mortgage servicing rights (MSR) portfolios totaling more than $694 million. The first offering is a $669.22 million portfolio from a seller with originations focused mostly in the Northeast. The portfolio contains a mix of Fannie Mae (47 percent) and Ginnie Mae (50.9 percent) loans, with warehouse loans making up the rest. The second offering is a $24.96 million portfolio featuring 79.8 percent Ginnie Mae and 20.2 percent Fannie Mae loans.

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CFPB Targets Missouri Lender over Alleged Kickbacks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) last week ordered a Missouri-based mortgage lender and its president to pay more than $80,000 for funneling illegal kickbacks in exchange for real estate referrals. According to CFPB's complaint filed in mid-January, Fidelity Financial Mortgage Corporation (FFMC) in 2010 entered into an agreement with a Missouri bank in which Fidelity would lease an office at the bank in exchange for business referrals.

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DocMagic Addresses Compliance Woes Related to ECOA Valuation Rule

DocMagic, Inc., says it has a variety of solutions available that support lenders' compliance with the ECOA Valuation Rule, no matter what the lender's business rules are. Under the ECOA Valuation Rule, a creditor must provide an applicant with a copy of the appraisal and other written valuations upon completion, or three business days prior to consummation of the transaction, whichever is earlier.

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Analysts Revise 2014 Price Forecasts Upward

Home price expectations have been revised upward for 2014, but indicators still point to a slowdown in appreciation, according to Veros Real Estate Solutions. For 2014's five strongest markets, Veros is looking west. The top projected market for the year is the San Francisco area, which is expected to see price growth of 13.4 percent. San Jose is slotted for the second-most growth (10.7 percent), while Seattle and Los Angeles are rated for 10.2 percent and 9.6 percent increases. Growth is those areas will be driven by their relatively lower unemployment rates, Veros said.

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Interactive Mortgage Advisors Opens Dallas Office

Interactive Mortgage Advisors (IMA), a firm focused on the valuation and trading of mortgage servicing rights (MSRs), has added to its operational network with the opening of a new office in Dallas. With its new expansion, the company hopes to gain a foothold in the Lone Star State, which is home to a large number of originators and servicers.

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