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Regulators Issue Final Guidance on New Securities Accounting Rules

Federal banking regulators issued a final risk-based capital rule last week outlining how lenders are to account for assets, including mortgages that have been repackaged and sold to investors. Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) had previously been excluded from banks' balance sheets, but new industry-wide accounting standards force lenders to move these securitized assets back onto their books.

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BofA Signs on as First Servicer of HAMP’s Second Lien Program

Bank of America announced Tuesday that it is the first mortgage servicer to sign an agreement formally committing to participate in the second-lien component of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Bank of America, which services 3 million second liens, says it will modify eligible home equity loans and lines of credit regardless of whether the first lien is serviced by Bank of America or another participating servicer.

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Launch of NMLS Consumer Access Announced by State Regulators

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), a mortgage licensing system operated by state financial regulators recently announced the launch of NMLS Consumer Access This fully researchable Web site allows the general public to view information concerning state-licensed mortgage companies, branches, and individuals currently licensed through the NMLS.

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FHA Takes Action Against Multiple Lenders

Based upon serious violations of FHA requirements, the Federal Housing Administration's Mortgage Review Board (MRB) announced Tuesday that it is immediately and permanently withdrawing FHA approval of four mortgage lenders and is suspending a fifth. The MRB withdrew FHA approval of Strategic Mortgage Corporation, ProMortgage,Inc., Americare Investment Group, Inc., and Premium Capital Funding, LLC, doing business as TopDot Mortgage. In addition, the MRB has suspended the FHA approval of Home Mortgage, Inc., (HMI).

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Florida Lawmaker Investigating Lenders for Home Equity Loan Fraud

Florida's incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos is calling for a round of hearings to investigate claims that banks are ""squeezing"" borrowers by fraudulently reducing Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) to improve their bottom lines. Federal regulations permit HELOC suspensions when properties suffer a significant decline in value - which is certainly the case in Florida markets. But Haridopolos says homeowners are claiming banks have been using false pretenses to freeze lineS of credit and call in home loans.

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TAVMA Opposes New Consumer Protection Bill

In an announcement Monday, the Title/Appraisal Vendor Management Association (TAVMA), a nonprofit professional organization that represent more than 75 companies, said it opposes the proposed federal and state legislation that would dismantle new federal safeguards designed to protect appraiser independence and provide unbiased appraisals to homebuyers and lenders.

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House Leader Pushes for GSEs’ End

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank says he will be recommending Congress close the doors on the government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and rebuild the nation's housing finance system from ground zero. According to Frank, who has long been one of the GSEs' biggest proponents on Capitol Hill, the two firms cannot continue in their current form and his committee plans to propose killing off the enterprises completely rather than taking a ""piecemeal"" approach to their restructuring.

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Regulators Seize Control of Five Community Banks

The number of regional bank closures has already begun to pick up speed. Regulators have shuttered five more community-based financial institutions - in Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. The FDIC is making moves that indicate it expects another year of elevated bank closings. The agency is opening a satellite office in suburban Chicago to help manage receiverships and liquidate assets from failed institutions in the Midwest, similar to offices it has already set up in California and Florida.

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Government Agency Sees Moderation in Reports of Mortgage Fraud

After six straight years of double-digit growth, lenders' reports of suspected mortgage fraud remained relatively flat during the first half of 2009, according to a new government report. The Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said depository institutions reported 32,926 cases of possible mortgage fraud in the first six months of last year - just a 1 percent increase over filings during the same period in 2008.

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FHA to Provide Early Relief to Struggling Homeowners

In an announcement Friday, HUD said homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) who are experiencing financial hardship are now eligible for loss mitigation assistance before they fall behind on their mortgage payments. Previously, these homeowners were not eligible for such assistance until after they had missed payments.

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