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FHFA Index Shows 1.6% Drop in Third-Quarter Home Prices

Home prices in the U.S. continued to fall in the third quarter, with declines in most parts of the country, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFA's purchase-only house price index is calculated from mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was 1.6 percent lower in the third quarter when compared to the second. Analysts warn that we may have entered a second downturn, although likely shorter and less severe than the one that brought the financial system to its knees.

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Investigation Reveals Convicted Real Estate Professionals Still Licensed

Though the California Department of Real Estate's motto is ""Providing Service, Protecting You,"" the site has a major flaw when it comes to protecting consumers. The Sacramento Bee ran the names of more than 250 people who had been charged with a real-estate related crime in the past year through the Department of Real Estate's licensee database. What they found was shocking.

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Florida Housing Extends Eligibility for Hardest Hit Fund Pilot

In October, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation launched a program designed to help unemployed and underemployed homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. The pilot program is currently being offered to Lee County homeowners but will be expanded statewide in early 2011. This week the corporation announced they will open the eligibility requirements for the program, allowing homeowners who are up to 180 days delinquent on their mortgages to qualify for the service.

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New FTC Rule Aims to Protect Homeowners from Mortgage Relief Scams

A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule bans providers of foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they decide is acceptable. The rule also requires mortgage relief companies to provide their clients with a document describing the key changes to the mortgage that would result if the consumer accepts the offer. They must also remind consumers of their right to reject the offer without any charge.

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Three More Community-Based Lenders Closed by Regulators

State and federal regulators stepped in to close the doors on three community banks this weekend, in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They bring the number of insured institutions on the FDIC's failed bank list to 149 for the year. By comparison, in all of 2009 there were 140 banks shuttered. First Banking Center in Burlington, Wisconsin, was the largest of this weekend's closings, with $664.8 million in deposits and $750.7 million in assets.

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D.C. Mayor Signs Emergency Act to Slow Foreclosures

In another attempt to save struggling homeowners from avoidable evictions, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has signed an emergency act that amends several sections of the District of Columbia Official Code. Most prominent in the new piece of legislation is the addition of a ""foreclosure mediation"" section, which has specific requirements banks must meet before proceeding with a foreclosure. Foreclosure sales resulting from a process that skipped a step or proceeded incorrectly will be considered void.

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Servicers with Widespread Paperwork Errors May Face Regulatory Fines

Federal banking regulators are in the process of conducting an in-depth review of foreclosure practices at the nation's largest mortgage servicers, which includes on-site evaluations and examinations of loan files. Officials say in cases where problems are found, regulators will require lenders and servicers to correct not only the faulty documents but the faulty systems that allowed them to occur. One Federal Reserve governor says institutions with ""widespread problems"" could also be subject to fees and penalties.

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New York City Comptroller Wants Banks to Perform Independent Audits

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu has called on the directors at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup to conduct an independent audit of their mortgage and foreclosure practices. Liu, who is a trustee of the New York City Pension Funds called upon the banks to perform the audit on behalf of the group.

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Fannie Mae’s Chief Finance Officer to Step Down at Year-End

David Johnson will resign from his position of EVP and CFO at Fannie Mae by the end of the year, the GSE said in a regulatory filing this week. Until a successor is named, Johnson's No. 2, Deputy CFO David Hisey, will assume his responsibilities. Johnson stepped into the role two months after Fannie Mae was seized by the federal government in September 2008.

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HAMP’s Progress Remains Sluggish, Officials See Other Gains in Housing

Fewer than 500,000 homeowners have received permanent assistance through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and are still current on their new payments. During the month of October, only 23,750 permanent modifications were granted. Many have called HAMP's results disappointing, but administration officials assert that the full spectrum of housing policies have helped bring stability to a very challenging housing market.

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