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HUD Launches Online Tool to Fight Loan Modification Scams

Loan modification scams are on the rise, but HUD is taking action to put these con artists out of business. Preventloanscams.org was recently launched by the federal agency in partnership with a national coalition of public and private enterprises. The new system allows for better analysis of fraud trends across jurisdictional lines, which HUD says will likely lead to an increase in private enforcement action filings. Officials estimate that this online tool will assist approximately 50,000 homeowners who've been victimized by loan modification scams.

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Nevada, Washington Banks Closed by Regulators

Regulators shut the doors on Carson River Community Bank in Carson City, Nevada and Rainier Pacific Bank in Tacoma, Washington over the weekend. So far in 2010, 22 FDIC-insured institutions have landed on the agency's failed bank list. A separate FDIC list holds the names of banks the federal agency considers to be at-risk of failure. This ""problem list"" grew 27 percent from the third to fourth quarters of last year, to 702.

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Industry Voices Concern over New Securitization Rule

The FDIC has requested comments from the industry on a new regulation that would limit safe harbor protections for assets, including mortgages, which have been securitized by failed banks. FDIC officials say the rule would return some confidence to the tenuous secondary market, but industry trade groups argue that it could have a counter effect of creating ""substantial uncertainty"" for investors and stifle an important financing channel.

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Local Market Price Trajectories Provide Look Into FHA Profitability

According to a recent article written by Andrew Jakabovics, an associate director for housing and economics at the Center for American Progress, the Federal Housing Finance Administration's (FHFA) house price index (HPI) is a reminder that local markets behave differently over time, which strongly affects both lenders' and insurers' profitability, or lack thereof.

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Freddie Mac to Cease Purchases of Interest-Only Mortgages

In an announcement Friday, Freddie Mac said effective September 1, 2010, it will no longer buy or securitize interest-only mortgages, including initial interest fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. The GSE reported earlier in the week that interest-only and Alt-A loans collectively accounted for 44 percent of its credit losses in 2009.

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Obama Considers Foreclosure Ban

President Obama and his administration are floating an idea to prohibit lenders from foreclosing on a home unless the borrower has been considered for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The proposal would also halt any foreclosures already in process once a borrower has been accepted into the trial phase of the program. A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that a foreclosure ban is under consideration, but stressed that it is one of many ideas on the table and has not been approved yet.

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Debate Continues over Fannie and Freddie’s Future

The debate over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continues to heat up. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released an unpublished proposal to DS News this week that advocates converting the two GSEs into government-chartered, non-profit corporations. Fannie and Freddie's own supervisory agency acknowledges that operating in conservatorship is not a long-term solution for the two companies, but the administration says it will not unveil its plan for the GSEs until 2011.

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Industry Pushes for Extension of Admin’s Refinance Program

The administration's Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is set to expire June 10. It's a central component of the government's foreclosure prevention efforts and is currently one of the only mortgage relief programs to help underwater borrowers. With the sunset date looming, several industry trade groups have joined forces to urge officials to extend HARP for another year, and they say a decision needs to be made quickly to prevent foreclosures on creditworthy borrowers.

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Freddie Mac Reports $7.8B Loss for Q4

Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that it lost $7.8 billion, or $2.39 per diluted common share, in the fourth quarter of 2009. The three-month results pushed the GSE's full year net loss to $25.7 billion. For the third consecutive quarter, the mortgage financier said it doesn't need any additional capital from the Treasury, but indicated that might change as early as next month, and warned that conditions could worsen with a ""potential large wave of foreclosures"" still expected.

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MBA Develops Forbearance Program for Unemployed

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has put forth a concept for a new forbearance program that would allow borrowers who've lost their jobs to remain in their homes for up to nine months. MBA cites recent statistics that show it takes the average unemployed worker six to seven months to find a new job. MBA says once new employment is secured, the program would serve as a ""bridge"" for the borrower to be considered for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

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