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Loss Mitigation

Housing and Mortgage Outlook: Expect Declines in 2014

Outlook, Fitch Ratings

Following a year of fast-paced appreciation, Fitch Ratings expects home price gains to slow to a more moderate pace in 2014 in the United States, according to its Global Housing and Mortgage Outlook released Tuesday. The ratings agency also predicts mortgage volume will decline and delinquencies and shadow inventory will decrease, albeit slowly, while liquidation timelines continue to rise.

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Stewart Continues Expansion of Capital Markets Group with Hiring of New Director

Movers & Shakers, people, Stewart Lender Services

Stewart Lender Services hired John Desmond as director of regulatory compliance, capital markets. Desmond is responsible for overseeing the compliance and regulatory aspects of operations within Stewart’s capital markets group. Desmond has more than 19 years’ mortgage experience with a particular focus on origination operations and origination-related compliance. He has an additional five years’ legal experience in commercial litigation, corporate finance, and secured transactions.

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New Lending Rules Inspire Criticism

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the new lending rules that went into effect on January 10 are meant to take a back-to-basics approach to mortgage lending and lower the risk of default and foreclosure among borrowers. However, many industry veterans feel the rules may hurt those they are designed to protect, primarily low income borrowers.

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Lenders Continue to Lower Credit Requirement Thresholds

A new report from Ellie Mae shows credit standards ended 2013 at their lowest level all year. The company found that by December, criteria for first-lien mortgages had relaxed considerably, with the average FICO score at 727, loan-to-value ratios averaging 82 percent, and debt-to-income ratios at a yearly high of 39 percent. The company also found that loans originated in December took an average of 43 days to close, down from 55 days a year earlier.

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Homeowners Still Access Referral Services in Post-Crisis Period

With the lingering effects of the housing crisis, many homeowners still find themselves in need of assistance for home-related services or other basic requirements. MortgageKeeper Renewal Services recently issued its 2013 Homeowner Needs Status report and found that homeowners received 1,223,000 referrals from the company's products last year.

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BofA Posts $3.4B Fourth-Quarter Profit

Bank of America brought in $3.4 billion in profits last quarter, beating out the previous quarter's $2.5 billion and the previous year's $732 million. The bank says it's entering the new year with one of the strongest balance sheets in its history, largely the result of cost-cutting and declining credit losses. Provisions for credit losses have fallen from $2.2 billion to $336 million over the past year.

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Early Earnings Reports Reveal Effects of Declining Mortgage Volume

As expected, weak origination volume took its toll on earnings at two of the nation's largest mortgage lenders. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both released their Q4 2013 results on Tuesday, kicking off the earnings season. At JPMorgan, mortgage originations were down 42 percent from the previous quarter; Wells Fargo reported a 37 percent quarterly decline in new mortgage activity.

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Radian Offers Training and Resources on QM Compliance

Radian Guaranty Inc., the mortgage insurance (MI) subsidiary of Radian Group, announced the availability of additional training and resources to help lenders comply with the new Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule that went into effect on January 10. Radian's 45-minute webinars discuss how QM impacts MI and the company's QM-compliant product options.

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Freddie Mac: Short Sales More Attainable Than Homeowners Think

When a homeowner is unable to make their mortgage payments or owes more on the home than it's worth, a short sale can be a viable option that avoids the negative implications of a foreclosure for both the homeowner and the mortgage-holder. However, common perceptions of short sales as difficult, lengthy, restricted to specific circumstances, and harmful to personal credit cause many to shy away from the option.

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Credit Plus Expands Debt Verification Offerings

Credit Plus, a mortgage information company with headquarters in Maryland, announced it has expanded its Undisclosed Debt Verifications service to offer updates from all three credit bureaus.

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