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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 The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released an unpublished proposal to DS News this week that advocates converting the two GSEs into government-chartered, non-profit corporations.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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Stewart Offers Short Sale and Deed-in-Lieu Services

Stewart Lender Services is offering a new solution to help mortgage servicers meet the requirements of the federal government's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program. The company says it is providing servicers with an effective alternative to costly in-house processing, while improving communication among all parties involved and accelerating transaction completion.

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Fannie Mae Opens Mortgage Help Center in Miami

Fannie Mae announced Monday the opening of a mortgage help center in Miami to help distressed borrowers in South Florida with loans owned by the GSE. The Miami facility is the first in a series of local centers that the mortgage financier plans to open across the country. Fannie Mae says the goal is to accelerate the response time for struggling homeowners and improve the company's resolution of problem loans.

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IMS Expedites Loan Modification Process

Integrated Mortgage Solution, a Houston-based provider of collateral protection resources for the mortgage servicing sector, recently announced its electronic document retrieval and indexing capabilities, which the company says will help servicers increase permanent loan modifications.

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Regulators Shut Doors on Four Banks

Last week came and went without the typical news of several FDIC-assisted bank closures, but the reprieve was short-lived. This weekend, regulators shut down four institutions - one each in California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. These latest bring the number of failures on the FDIC's list to 20 for the year, and nearly all of the crashes have been linked in some way to bad mortgages or construction and development lending.

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Mortgage Insurers Receive GSE Approval

Fannie Mae has approved four new mortgage insurers to provide mortgage insurance for conventional first mortgage loans, according to a lender letter released Thursday. Two of these mortgage insurers also received approval to do business with Freddie Mac.

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Obama Pledges $1.5B for Unemployed and Underwater Homeowners

The administration unveiled a new initiative to help the nation's hardest hit housing markets. President Obama is allocating $1.5 billion for states where unemployment is high and home prices have fallen more than 20 percent. While national indicators point to housing stabilization, local conditions vary considerably. Obama is setting up an ""innovation fund"" for state agencies to develop their own loan modification assistance programs for underwater and unemployed homeowners.

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