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Waters Introduces Bill Calling for Mandatory Loss Mitigation

Mortgage servicing practices have taken center stage on Capitol Hill, with a flurry of bills being penned to make servicing reforms the law of the land. Rep. Maxine Waters of California has revised a bill she's brought to the table several times before that would compel lenders to engage in what she says are ""reasonable loss mitigation activities"" for all delinquent homeowners. The legislation would place responsibility for modifying first and second liens with the servicer of the primary mortgage and would institute several reforms outlined in recent settlements with regulators.

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Foreclosures Account for 43% of Twin Cities Home Sales

Foreclosure sales accounted for roughly 43 percent of home sale closings in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota last month, and 40 percent of pending home sales contracts. While those market shares are in line with recent trends, Brad Fisher, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, says they're still higher than what he'd like to see. While overall purchase activity in March was down 17 percent, the foreclosure segment saw a 30 percent jump in closed sales.

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Regulators Shut Down Six Lenders in Biggest Single-Day Run of the Year

State and federal regulators closed the doors of six community-based lenders on Friday - two in Alabama, two in Georgia, and one each in Minnesota and Mississippi. This latest round of closings brings the total number of FDIC-insured bank failures to 34 for the year, and represents the most shut-downs in a single day since mid-December. Birmingham's Superior Bank was the largest of the closings and marks the first multi-billion dollar bank failure of 2011.

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Ginnie Mae Announces New Policy for Pooling Delinquent Loans

Ginnie Mae, which provides a guaranty on mortgage securities backed by Federal Housing Administration loans, has announced a new policy regarding the pooling of past-due loans. For single-family securities with an issue date of June 1, 2011, and after, servicers can no longer package loans that are delinquent by more than the monthly installment of principal and interest that is due on the issue date. This fall, the federal agency will also begin requiring issuers to supply new data elements, such as loan-to-value ratios and pre-modification qualities.

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MountainView Hires Managing Director for Mortgage Sales and Trading

MountainView Capital Holdings has announced the hiring of Robert Wellerstein as a managing director in its mortgage and fixed income sales and trading units. Wellerstein is an industry veteran with a broad range of experience in sales and trading of mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights, and fixed income securities. He joins MountainView from Banc of Manhattan Capital, after 17 years with Countrywide Securities Corporation.

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Washington State Restricts Wall Street Home Resale Fees

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire recently signed legislation to restrict Wall Street home resale fees - also known as private transfer fees. The new law, sponsored by Sen. Nick Harper, places a ban on these fees. Rep. Roger Goodman sponsored the companion bill in the state's House of Representatives. Washington is the 25th state to restrict the use of these fees.

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Lawmakers Move to Make Servicing Reforms Law

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are seeking to legislate changes to servicing practices. On the heels of the cease and desist orders issued by federal regulators to a handful of mortgage servicers to address process deficiencies uncovered by robo-signing investigations, four bills have been introduced aimed at reforming the way delinquent borrowers are handled industry-wide and aligning servicer incentives with those of investors and homeowners.

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Mortgage Issues Lead to 39% Drop in Income for Bank of America

Bank of America said Friday that it turned a profit of $2.0 billion for the first quarter of 2011. That's down 39 percent from the lender's earnings a year earlier, largely due to continuing losses tied to its legacy mortgage business. Bank of America took a $4.9 billion hit related to foreclosure delays and other out-of-pocket expenses that the company does not expect to recover, as well as higher litigation costs and loss mitigation expenses. The bank has also confirmed plans to lay off 1,500 mortgage employees.

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Congress Eliminates $88M in Funding for Housing Counseling

The budget resolution approved by Congress to keep the federal government running through September includes a package of cuts to federal agency budgets, one of which is HUD's Housing Counseling Program. In lawmakers' efforts to trim agency expenditures, $88 million slated to fund counseling efforts on foreclosure and reverse mortgages has been zeroed out. A HUD spokesperson described the curtailment as ""painful cuts,"" noting that the program provides grant funding to about 2,000 agencies across the country.

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Fannie Mae Opens Two New Mortgage Help Centers in Florida

Fannie Mae announced the opening this week of two facilities in Florida to provide free education and counseling services to struggling homeowners - the Tampa Mortgage Help Center and the Jacksonville Mortgage Help Center. Available to borrowers with Fannie Mae loans, the centers offer one-on-one consultations with experienced housing counselors to review mortgage loans and financing options, explain the range of options available, and help borrowers apply for loan workouts and other alternatives to foreclosure.

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