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SEC Adopts New Rules for Credit Rating Agencies

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved its final rules for credit rating agency reform. The commission is calling for changes to the practices of credit ratings agencies because it says agencies’ ratings of securities that were backed by subprime mortgage loans contributed to the recent turmoil in the credit markets.

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Realtors, DOJ Reach Antitrust Settlement

A federal court in Chicago recently approved a settlement agreement between the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Department of Justice, ending antitrust charges against the association and its members filed by the federal government more than three years ago.

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HUD Releases Final RESPA Rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its final rule under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) yesterday to improve disclosures in the home financing process. RESPA, a law originally enacted in 1974, now includes new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms, which require lenders and mortgage brokers to clearly disclose key loan terms and closing costs.

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Treasury, Fed, FDIC Urge Banks to Start Lending

In its latest attempt to thaw the country’s credit freeze, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a joint statement yesterday urging banks to start lending again.

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Treasury Scraps Plan to Purchase Troubled Mortgages

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced this afternoon that the government’s plan to purchase financial institutions’ under-performing mortgages has been put on hold. In fact, based on Paulson’s remarks, it is unlikely that the Treasury will conduct any auctions to purchase bad loans and other troubled assets – the original intention of the $700 billion bailout package.

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Beware of Down Payment Schemes Not Permitted by HUD

As mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), as of October 1, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) stopped accepting seller-funded down payments. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently issued a report warning about programs being created to get around this new requirement.

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Fed Rule Adds Mortgage Rate Disclosures

The Federal Reserve recently approved new regulatory statutes requiring mortgage lenders to disclose to borrowers how much interest rates differ between prime mortgages and the higher-priced subprime loans offered to less-affluent borrowers.

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