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Crisis Panel’s GOP Members Fault Government for Housing Bubble

After more than a year-long investigation, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has pushed the release date of its findings to January 2011, instead of December 15, 2010, as mandated by Congress. The four Republican members of the 10-person committee, though, broke ranks and published their own report this week. They are placing blame for the housing bubble that brought the nation's economy to its knees squarely on the shoulders of the federal government, going all the way back to the mid-1990s.

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More Increases in CMBS Delinquencies, Particularly Office: Reports

Moody's rating service and Fitch Ratings both reported increases in defaulted commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) last month, of 24 and 18 basis points, respectively. Both companies show the office sector with the greatest increases in delinquencies across the five core property types in November.

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LPS: Number of Loans Delinquent, in Foreclosure Dips Below 7 Million

Lender Processing Services (LPS) offered the media a sneak peek at its upcoming November mortgage market report Thursday. Based on the company's assessment, the number of home loans in the United States 30 or more days delinquent or in foreclosure declined slightly. LPS' study will show that 6,925,000 mortgages were past due or already winding their way through the foreclosure pipeline as of the end of November. The previous month, the company's analysts put the figure at 7,043,000.

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Mortgage Rates Continue to Climb, Closing in on 5% Mark

Borrowing costs on home loans continue to increase, with mortgage rates rising sharply for the past five weeks in a row. New data from Freddie Mac shows that the average rate for a 30-year mortgage jumped 22 basis points over the last seven days to 4.83 percent. The 15-year rate climbed 21 basis points to 4.17 percent. A separate study by Bankrate shows that the average 30-year rate offered by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 U.S. markets already hit the 5 percent mark this week.

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Software Systems Exempt from FTC’s Ban on Upfront Mod Fees

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will enact a ban on advance fees charged for loan modification and mortgage assistance rescue services starting January 31, to prevent providers of such services from collecting upfront fees from homeowners without successfully securing a loan modification. The new rule, however, exempts fees charged in advance for loan modification products, such as software systems that produce modification documentation like the technology offered by loss mitigation software provider the Loan Post, Inc.

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CoreLogic Home Price Index Shows Decline for Third Straight Month

National home prices in October were down 3.93 percent from year-earlier levels, CoreLogic reported Thursday, marking the third month in a row the company's index has recorded an annual drop in residential property values. October's reading follows a 2.43 percent annual decline reported for the month of September and a 1.08 percent drop in August, signaling that the deterioration in home prices is getting progressively steeper with each passing month.

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Bank of Commerce Chooses ComplianceOne for Loan Transactions

Bank of Commerce in Oklahoma has selected Wolters Kluwer Financial Services and the company's ComplianceOne solution to document its lending transactions. ComplianceOne is a single, integrated documentation solution that Wolters Kluwer says will allow Bank of Commerce to manage compliance with loan and deposit account transactions faster and more efficiently.

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Ohio AG to Head Enforcement at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The U.S. Department of the Treasury added three members to its senior leadership lineup for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will lead the enforcement team. In addition, Federal Reserve Director Leonard Chanin will oversee the rule writing team, and former AFL-CIO Director David Silberman will head the card markets division.

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Foreclosures Fall to Lowest Level Since 2008 on Robo-Signing Delays

Data from RealtyTrac shows that foreclosure activity last month fell to a level not seen since November 2008, after problems with paperwork prompted case reviews, foreclosure suspensions, and re-filings of affidavits by mortgage servicers. Foreclosure filings nationwide dropped 21 percent from the previous month and 14 percent from a year earlier. For the first time since February 2009, RealtyTrac says the total number of filings for the month dropped below 300,000.

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FinCEN Announces 7 Percent Rise in Mortgage Fraud Related Reports

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said this week that suspicious activity reports (SARs) indicating mortgage loan fraud increased seven percent in the first half of this year. Banks and thrifts filed 35,135 mortgage-related SARs from January to June 2010. The federal agency found that reports referencing the term short sale appeared 827 times, and SARs referencing broker price opinion appeared 41 times during the first quarter of this year alone.

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