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NRT REOExperts Announces Executive Appointments

NRT REOExperts LLC, a full-service REO service provider and member of the NRT family of companies, announced the appointment of several new members to its executive team last week. Stephen Benetz was named president of the company. Benetz appointed Walter Mullen, Mary Gomez, and Ximena Wolf to leadership positions at NRT REOExperts, and promoted Kathy Jeffers Volk and Phil Collier to new positions from within the NRT REOExperts management team.

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Default Risk Index Finds Plateau, Lower Risk Expected as Inflation Rises

The mortgage default risk index from University Financial Associates (UFA) registered a reading of 141 for the first quarter of 2011. The index's baseline of 100 correlates to the default risk of the 1990s. Translation -- investors and lenders should expect defaults on loans originated in Q1 to be 41 percent higher than that of loans originated in the 1990s. UFA says the most important story behind the numbers is that the default risk index has found a plateau, and if inflation rates continue to rise, default risks will improve more rapidly.

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SEC Rules Banks Must Allow Audit of Foreclosure Practices

New York City Comptroller John Liu has announced a victory for the members of the New York City Pension Funds who have long been calling for banks to conduct an independent audit of their mortgage foreclosure practices. The NYC Pension Funds requested an audit of the banks' practices in November and again in January to no avail, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ruled that the banks must put the group's request on the ballot at their annual shareholder meetings this spring.

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BofA Partners with Detroit to Assist Homeowners, Rehab Vacant Homes

In a partnership with the city of Detroit, Bank of America will open two customer assistance centers in the area to provide homeowners at risk of default or foreclosure with counseling and on-site decision making for mortgage modification programs or other payment assistance. The bank also plans to donate and refurbish 10 vacant homes for the city's ""Project 14"" program, and will work with the city to identify up to 100 low-value and vacant properties for demolition.

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Safeguard Announces Four Executive and Management Appointments

Safeguard Properties issued a notice Thursday announcing the appointments of four individuals to its executive and management teams. Michael Greenbaum has been named to the newly created position of VP, REO. Apryl Seide was appointed as the company's general counsel. Jennifer Anspach has been promoted to director of finance and accounting, and Russ Klein has been named director of quality control.

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Radar Logic’s Home Price Index Hits Lowest Mark Since 2007

Radar Logic's latest RPX Composite, which tracks home prices in 25 major metros, declined to $179.50 per square foot in January, its lowest level since 2007. The company says the rapid decline suggests weak market fundamentals, including a high supply of homes coupled with high rates of mortgage defaults. The report also notes that sales of foreclosed homes by financial institutions, or ""motivated sales,"" made up 35 percent of all home sales as of January 20, the second highest share of motivated sales that Radar Logic has observed.

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Fannie Mae’s South Florida Mortgage Help Center Celebrates One Year

Fannie Mae and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) celebrated the one-year anniversary of Fannie Mae's South Florida Mortgage Help Center on Thursday. Since opening its doors in March 2010, the South Florida Mortgage Help Center has worked with more than 1,000 struggling families with loans owned by Fannie Mae. Of these, more than 64 percent received a retention solution that allowed them to remain in their homes.

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Allonhill Names New Chief Operations Officer

Allonhill, an independent third-party review firm specializing in mortgage due diligence and credit risk management, has hired Craig Wildrick as COO. Wildrick, a 20-year financial services veteran, is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations as well as the implementation and management of the company's due diligence and credit risk management services. He was formerly COO for Aurora Bank.

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Survey: Nearly Half of Economists See Double-Dip Before Year-End

Almost half of the 111 economists and real estate experts polled this month by MacroMarkets are forecasting a double-dip in home prices to happen this year, and not a single panelist expects property values to recover to the pre-bubble trend for at least the next five years. MacroMarkets was founded by Robert Shiller, namesake of the closely-watched Case-Shiller Home Price Index. He says the deteriorating outlook among panel members has been influenced by the unabated foreclosure crisis and persistently weak market fundamentals.

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Report: Mods Often More Beneficial Than Foreclosures for Investors

A push for servicers to implement principal write-downs and provide screening for as many modification options as possible before proceeding to foreclosure has been met with stiff resistance from servicers and some lawmakers. Meanwhile, the number of loan modifications pales in comparison to the number of foreclosures. But new data suggests that modifications and even write-downs in certain cases might actually be more beneficial to investors as well as struggling borrowers.

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