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Loss Mitigation

First-Time Jobless Claims Drop, Continuing Claims at 5-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped for only the second time in the last six weeks, falling 16,000 to 339,000 for the week ending April 20, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The report offered final numbers for the week ending April 13, the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report to be released May 3.

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Fannie Economists Project 1.8M Borrowers Could Regain Equity in 2013

The broadening housing recovery has firmed up home prices around the country, with the potential to restore many underwater mortgages to a position of positive equity, according to Fannie Mae's economic and strategic research group. Citing data from CoreLogic, the GSE notes that 1.7 million properties moved from negative to positive equity last year. Provided the home price gains seen so far this year continue, Fannie's economic analysts anticipate another 1.8 million properties will rise out of their underwater positions by the end of 2013.

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Commentary: DeMarco Disappoints with New Streamlined Mod Program

Starting July 1, large numbers of non-paying borrowers will have the opportunity to modify existing mortgages through a more streamlined process. This sounds like a good way to reduce foreclosures and prop up home prices, but as we will shortly see the proposed program is oddly risky and likely to encourage additional defaults. The program is open to borrowers who have already modified their loans once, perhaps a few years ago when rates were higher. This, at least, is a good idea. So what's the big difference between the new program and the modifications offered previously?

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Non-Current Inventory Hits 5-Year Low, Slips Below 5M Mark

The total number of outstanding mortgages in the nation fell below the 5 million mark for the first time since 2008, according to data from Lender Processing Services. In March, non-current loans totaled 4,997,000, down from 5,104,000 in February. The figure for non-current loans includes 3,308,000 million properties past due 30 days or more but not in foreclosure, as well as 1,689,000 properties sitting in foreclosure inventory.

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MortgageDocs Announces New CEO

MortgageDocs, a national notary signing services company based in California, has named Christian Redmond as its new CEO. Prior to his appointment at MortgageDocs, Redmond was VP of business development at the Walz Group, a case management and document fulfillment firm that handles critical communications between the mortgage servicing community and borrowers such as default and foreclosure notifications as well as loss mitigation packages.

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NAR: Prices Up, Existing-Home Sales Down in March

With a sharp jump in prices, existing-home sales fell 0.6 percent in March--the steepest drop since December--to 4.92 million units, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday. Economists had expected a 1.0 percent increase to 5.03 million from February's original report of 4.98 million sales. The median price of an existing single-family home jumped to $184,300, the highest level in seven months. The inventory of homes for sale edged up to 1.93 million units--a 4.7 month supply, both the highest level since November.

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Bay Area Sales Down from Year Ago, Median Price Sees Double-Digit Gain

Overall Bay Area home sales were up month-over-month but down from a year ago, according to DataQuick's March home sales report for the region. Home sales-which include new and resale houses and condos-totaled 7,263 in the nine county Bay Area in March. The figure represents a 34.4 percent increase from the month before, but sales were still down 6 percent March 2012, according to the San Diego-based company.

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California Flipping Activity at Highest Level Since 2005

Real estate sales have been weakening in California, but ForeclosureRadar found flipping activity in the state reached its highest level since September 2005. In March 2013, sales for distressed and non-distressed transactions decreased 12.9 percent from a year ago, according to a property report from the analytics firm. On the other hand, flipping activity, which ForeclosureRadar defined as reselling a property within six months, nearly tripled over a one year period ending in March after accounting for 5.2 percent of total sales.

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Radar Logic: Best Markets for Single-Family Rental Investors

As the rise in single-family rents slows and operating costs increase, Radar Logic stressed the need for institutional investors to focus on properties sold at steep discounts in order to yield a profit from rentals. While institutional investors tend to pay less for single-family homes compared to individual homebuyers since they buy in bulk, the discounts offered for properties vary widely, depending on the market, Radar Logic explained. In order to pinpoint markets where investors are finding the biggest discounts, Radar Logic tracked prices paid by large-scale investors in some 300 metro areas.

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Hearing Acknowledges FHFA’s Progress, Points to Shortcomings

As the GSEs approach their fifth year in government conservatorship, Congress held a hearing Thursday to evaluate the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA's) role as regulator and conservator. Acting Director Edward DeMarco offered testimony detailing the agency's achievements, and Steve A. Linick, inspector general at the FHFA Office of the Inspector General, highlighted some areas in need of improvement at FHFA. Linick praised the FHFA as it has ""accepted and begun to implement the vast majority of our audit and evaluation recommendations."" He also addressed areas that could use improvement.

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