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Banking Groups Sound Off Against RESPA

Eight banking groups led by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) are calling for the government to throw out the new Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), claiming that changes to the regulation are needed to ensure mortgage disclosures truly benefit borrowers.

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Economy Shrinking Faster Than Estimated

According to government officials, the economy contracted at an alarming 6.2 percent during the last quarter of 2008 — the worst showing in 26 years. The Commerce Department released the revised gross domestic product (GDP) number on Friday, showing that the national economy deteriorated much faster than the 3.

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Gov. Perry Addresses Texas Realtors

Texas Gov. Rick Perry addressed the board of directors of the Texas Association of Realtors during the organization’s annual Winter Meeting held in Austin this week. The meeting included discussions relating to the statewide real estate market and Texas economy, legislative issues affecting Texas homeowners, commercial real estate trends, and professional standards for Realtors.

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Mortgage Rates Inch Up

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) for the week ending February 26, 2009, showing little change in mortgage rates this week with only slight upticks in three of the four categories of loan products analyzed.

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Treasury: Capital Assistance Now Available

The U.S. Treasury Department has released plans for its Capital Assistance Program (CAP), a core element of the government’s Financial Stability Plan. The Treasury issued terms and conditions for CAP on Wednesday, saying that the new program is intended to support confidence in the health of the nation’s financial institutions and in the system as a whole, and promote lending to creditworthy borrowers.

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Bank Rescue Open to Fraud

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the $700 billion federal purse formerly known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), told congressional leaders on Tuesday that the government’s bank rescue efforts could be vulnerable to fraud, potentially stripping taxpayers of tens, maybe hundreds of billions of dollars.

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Home Price Declines Hit Record in Q4

Home prices in the United States posted record declines in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA’s) House Price Index (HPI). The agency’s purchase-only HPI, based on data from home sales, was 3.

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Appraisers Rally Against BPOs in Foreclosure Relief Plan

The nation’s four largest organizations of professional real estate appraisers—the Appraisal Institute, American Society of Appraisers, American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, and the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers urging the federal government to require that market values of homes rescued under President Obama’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Program be determined by professional appraisers who are state certified and licensed.

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Bernanke: No Bank Nationalization

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dispelled rumors about nationalizing the U.S. banking system when he testified before congressional leaders on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Bernanke said nationalization of major financial institutions isn’t needed to ensure their viability, and could even erode their business value.

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