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Fed Issues Final Rule on Escrow Account Changes for Jumbo Loans

The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday issued a final rule and proposed a second rule to revise the escrow account requirements under Regulation Z, and requested public comment on the second rule. The revisions would revise escrow account requirements for certain home mortgage loans.Under the final rule issued Wednesday, the escrow account for first-lien loans would only be required if the loan's annual percentage rate is 2.5 percentage points or more above the average prime offer rate.

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Fannie Mae Turns a Profit for First Time in Three Years

Fannie Mae has released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2010 earnings results. The GSE reported net income of $73 million for the last three months of 2010. It's the first time the company's been in the black in over three years. Still, after a hefty $2.2 billion fourth-quarter dividend payment to the U.S. Treasury, Fannie Mae had a net worth deficit as of the end of last year and has requested $2.6 billion more in taxpayer dollars. For the full year of 2010, Fannie Mae recorded a net loss of $14 billion, compared with a loss of $72 billion for 2009.

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RE/MAX: Home Sales Continue to Rise, Prices Remain Stressed

For the first time in six months, home sales in the 54 U.S. markets surveyed by RE/MAX are greater than one year ago, the company said in its newly released January housing report. RE/MAX says the year-over-year sales difference has improved for three consecutive months now with several cities experiencing double digit growth to lead the trend. Home prices, however, were 4.6 percent lower than in January 2010.

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Default Resource Offers Property Preservation, Hazard Insurance Claims

Default Resource, a provider of REO management, valuation, and loss mitigation services, has entered into a strategic partnership with Mortgage Specialists International (MSI) that allows Default Resource to add property preservation and hazard insurance claims to its list of services. MSI is a national property preservation, field services, and hazard claims provider that offers customized services while maintaining compliance with HUD or other investor and agency regulations.

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Four Federal Foreclosure Mitigation Programs on the Chopping Block

Rep. Spencer Bachus, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced this week that he has scheduled a subcommittee hearing and full committee markup of four bills that will terminate what he says are ""failed and ineffective housing foreclosure programs."" On the chopping block are the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Short Refi Program, and the Emergency Homeowner Relief Fund passed under the Dodd-Frank Act.

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Fannie Mae Unveils Servicer Achievement Program

Fannie Mae this week unveiled the Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards (STAR) program, which will measure and evaluate mortgage servicers' performance in supporting the housing recovery. The program will examine how the servicers help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and will feature incentives, awards, and an annual scorecard, as well as a monthly snapshot so servicers can track their progress. It will directly link servicer performance to the customer experience and the number of homeowners the servicer has helped.

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Freddie Mac Needs $500M More from Taxpayers after Q4 Loss

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that it lost $113 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The loss, compounded by the company's $1.6 billion quarterly dividend payment to Treasury for bailout money, left the GSE with a net worth deficit again. Freddie's regulator is requesting another draw from Treasury, this time to the tune of $500 million. The company's fourth-quarter shortfall was actually the smallest of 2010 and brings the GSE's losses for the full year to $14 billion.

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Wingspan Reaches Growth Milestone with 300 Employees

Dallas-based Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, which specializes in severely delinquent loans and managing foreclosure alternatives to reduce loss severity, offers proof of the demand for special servicing outsources with its recent company growth announcement. The company, which began operations in 2008 with a small group of former GSE and servicing executives, reached 300 employees this month.

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Mortgage Rates Edged Down Further This Week

For the second week in a row, mortgage rates continued to drop. Freddie Mac reported the rates of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.95 percent (0.6 point), and Bankrate reporting a drop as well, from 5.16 percent last week to 5.09 percent (.45 point) this week. The 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.22 percent (0.7 point) this week, down from last week's 4.27 percent.

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InHouse Launches New BPO Ordering Capability

InHouse Inc., a California-based appraisal management company and provider of appraiser management technology for banks, lenders, servicers, credit unions, and other mortgage originators, now offers technology to manage multiple broker price opinion (BPO) vendors, including BPO companies, appraisers, and individual real estate agents and brokers, via its Connexions appraisal management system.

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