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Foreclosure Activity Sinks to Three-Year Low

New data from RealtyTrac shows that foreclosure filings nationwide dropped 14 percent between January and February, as overall activity last month sunk to its lowest level since February of 2008. RealtyTrac says total foreclosure filings - including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions - were reported on 225,101 properties in February, a 27 percent decrease from a year earlier and the biggest year-over-year decline since the company began issuing its report in 2005.

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Committee Advances Bills to End Two More Foreclosure Aid Programs

The House Financial Services Committee voted Wednesday to send two bills to the full House that would terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The committee says the bills would prevent $30 billion in taxpayer funds from being spent on ""ineffective"" programs. Already, the House has cleared the way to begin deliberations this week on the two bills advanced by the committee last Thursday to end FHA's Short Refi Program and the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program.

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Proposed Servicer Settlement Met With Resistance

As predicted following the recent settlement proposal from state attorneys general and several federal agencies, servicers are not reacting with enthusiasm to the terms offered. One of the biggest conflicts in coming to an agreement is the proposed punishments servicers will have to face as consequences for their role in last year's robo-signing mess. Though nothing has been confirmed, hefty fines and/or principal reductions are projected to be in development. The reaction from banks and other industry participants has been less than receptive.

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Green River Capital, Atlas REO to Support Sales of Freddie Mac’s REOs

Freddie Mac said Wednesday that it has selected Green River Capital and Atlas REO Services to provide sales and disposition support to HomeSteps. HomeSteps is the GSE's real estate sales unit. It markets Freddie Mac-owned REO homes nationwide through local real estate brokers. Freddie Mac says it has contracted the two firms to expand its capacity to handle expected increases in REO inflow volumes.

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California Officials Issue Warning About Modification Scams

The California State Department of Real Estate (DRE) focused its attention on upfront fees this week as it continued to warn consumers of persons illegally offering loan modification and mortgage relief services. Since 2008, the DRE has pursued more than 4,500 cases that involved loan modification complaints, resulting in 244 ""desist and refrain"" orders to stop illegal operations that name 785 separate respondents. The agency has also made more than 100 referrals to the California State Bar identifying attorneys involved in unlawful loan modification activities.

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HUD Losses From Noncomplying FHA Loans Top $11M

HUD's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reviewed more than 250 loans from 15 lenders and found that nearly half of those loans did not meet the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) guidelines. The OIG launched Operation Watchdog in January 2010 to examine loans from the lenders and found areas of noncompliance, including misstatements of a borrower's income, liabilities, and credit history, which resulted in actual or expected FHA losses on default claims of more than $11 million.

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AARP Sues HUD over Reverse Mortgage Foreclosure Actions

AARP, the nation's largest nonprofit membership organization established to support the social wellbeing of individuals over the age of 50, filed a lawsuit this week against HUD on behalf of three surviving spouses of reverse mortgage borrowers who are now facing foreclosure. The lawsuit names HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as the defendant and alleges that the federal agency has made changes to federal rules that offer protection for surviving spouses to allow its lenders to initiate foreclosure and eviction actions against the plaintiffs.

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Maponics to Offer Real Estate Subdivision Boundaries Solution

Maponics, a provider of location-based data, plans to offer a subdivision boundaries product for vast U.S. coverage, mapping more than 500,000 subdivisions by year-end. According to the company, the real estate industry has long recognized that the immediate area surrounding properties significantly impacts home values, but up until now has had no reliable and systematic source for subdivision boundary data.

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BofA to Double Outreach Staff but Fixing Legacy Issues to Take 3 Years

Bank of America said Tuesday that it is stepping up efforts to help distressed homeowners before they fall into foreclosure, with plans to double its borrower outreach staff in 2011, open new regional homeowner assistance centers, and increase collaboration with nonprofit housing counselors. But company officials warned shareholders that same morning that BofA's $1 trillion portfolio of problem assets -- loans that are already delinquent and those risky home lending products that the company has taken off the shelf -- will take three years to work through.

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Short Sale Success Faces Hurdles in California: Survey

Ninety-four percent of Realtors surveyed by the California Association of Realtors participated in a short sale transaction during 2010, demonstrating the growing presence of short sale listings in today's distressed real estate environment. Despite increased market interest in the short sale as an alternative to foreclosure, the survey found that fewer than three out of five actually close in California. The trade group says this fact illustrates ""the complexity and difficulty of navigating lenders' and servicers' short sale procedures.""

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