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Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program to Undergo Rule Changes

At a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, 2010, the Nevada Supreme Court will consider amendments to the rules governing the state's Foreclosure Mediation Program (FMP). If the amendments are approved, this will be the third set of rule changes since the FMP was enacted on July 1, 2009.

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Advantage Title Introduces GFE Rate Calculator

In response to the new regulations under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Advantage Title, Inc. has launched GFEz--a RESPA-compliant Good Faith Estimate (GFE) rate calculator that delivers easy online calculation of title- and escrow-related fees.

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Legislated Risk Retention Is No Substitute for Good Underwriting: Report

Both the House bill for financial regulatory reform and the draft Senate bill currently being debated include across-the-board risk retention provisions for home mortgages. The idea is to ensure lenders have more ""skin in the game,"" to prevent the risky practices that ignited the housing crisis. But according to a new study by the Community Mortgage Banking Project, such mandated risk retention is ""no substitute"" for good underwriting and could significantly raise the cost of home mortgages.

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Appraisal Organizations Oppose Use of BPOs in HAFA Program

Several appraisal organizations, representing more than 35,000 real estate appraisers, are voicing their opposition to the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, set to take effect April 5, 2010. The program allows broker price opinions (BPOs) to be used to determine the value of properties to establish a minimum offer for a short sale. The trade groups argue that the use of BPOs will not protect all parties interests and is likely to open the door for fraud.

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SAFE Act Concerns are Voiced

Many lending groups have expressed serious concerns about several proposed regulations under the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE Act). To address these concerns, a number of national and local trade groups, led by the Mortgage Bankers Association, filed a comprehensive comment letter with HUD on Friday. While the groups support aspects of the proposal, the letter says HUD is exceeding its statutory authority under the SAFE Act by establishing a backup system and determining whether state laws meet the SAFE Act's minimum requirements.

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Congressman Calls for Second Lien Write-Downs

As servicers step up efforts to modify loans and keep borrowers in their homes, many are tripping over stumbling blocks in the form of home equity loans and other second lien mortgages. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank has sent out a petition to some of the nation's largest junior lien holders demanding that they take ""immediate steps to write down second mortgages"" to create a clear path for sustainable loan restructurings, especially since the prospect for any real return on these seconds is negligible, Frank says.

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Mortgage Litigation Surges in Fourth Quarter

Driven by legal actions against mortgage modification firms, overall mortgage litigation hit its highest level yet last quarter, according to recent industry study by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs, LLP. The firm's analysis shows that loan modification cases more than doubled in the last three months of 2009 - and it appears the trend will persist as state and federal agencies continue to crack down on foreclosure rescue fraud.

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Regulators Shut Down Four Community Banks

The FDIC's failed bank list continues to build. It now stands at 26 for the year, after regulators shut the doors on four more institutions over the weekend - in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Utah. Just over two months into the year, and already 2010's failures exceed the 2008 full-year total of 25. This latest round of closures is expected to cost the FDIC an estimated $304 million.

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Federal Reserve Report Paints Brighter Picture of U.S. Economy

According to the Federal Reserve's well-recognized Beige Book, U.S. economic conditions have shown signs of improvement through the first part of this year. Data from nine of the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that economic activity improved, but in most cases the increases were ""modest."" Residential real estate markets improved in a number of districts, while nearly all characterized commercial real estate as weak. Stronger home sales were attributed to the federal tax credit for homebuyers.

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Frank Commentary Raises Questions about GSE Investments

One of the nation's most visible and vocal lawmakers has cast some doubt on the safety of doing business with the nation's two largest mortgage financiers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued a public statement Friday which essentially warns investors that have lent money to the two GSEs and those that have purchased their mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to expect to incur some losses.

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