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Credit Still Tight Among U.S. Lenders: Fed Survey

Banks have yet to loosen their tight grip on credit. The Federal Reserve's latest survey of senior loan officers found that most banks maintained stringent lending standards in the first quarter, while some tightened lending terms further. Compared with the previous quarter, a larger percentage of banks indicated that demand for first lien mortgages and home equity loans had weakened further. On the commercial side, a significant portion of lenders said they have increased their use of extensions for loans at or near maturity.

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Mortgage Assistance Provided to Troubled New York Homeowners

In an effort to assist struggling homeowners with their mortgages, HOPE NOW, the administration's Making Home Affordable Program, and NeighborWorks America co-sponsored a three-day homeownership preservation event last week in Uniondale, New York. The event had representatives from 16 mortgage servicers and more than a dozen local HUD-approved housing counselors on hand to provide assistance to the 2,353 at-risk borrowers in attendance.

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Office Market Tenants May Have Fewer Options Than Once Thought

With vacancy rates in the office market at record-high levels, it would seem that the options for tenants are endless. But that might not be the case. According to Grubb & Ellis, a real estate services and investment firm based in Santa Ana, California, the amount of available space in the U.S. office market may be overstated, giving tenants fewer realistic alternatives than previously indicated. In a phenomenon dubbed ""zombie buildings"" by Grubb & Ellis researchers, there are many properties that have significant capital constraints and are therefore unable to fund market-level tenant improvement allowances and commissions.

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Mortgage Application Volume Jumps 4% as Purchase Applications Soar

Bolstered by purchase applications in the days leading up to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit, total mortgage application volume increased 4 percent for the week ending April 30, 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Wednesday. According to MBA's Weekly Mortgage Application Survey, the seasonally-adjusted purchase index surged 13 percent from the week prior, marking the third consecutive weekly increase in purchase applications and the highest purchase index recorded in the survey since the week ending October 2, 2009.

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Mountain Real Estate Capital Closes Five Distressed Asset Acquisitions

Mountain Real Estate Capital, the newly formed acquisition and investment affiliate of Mountain Funding, announced this week that it has closed on its first five acquisitions. Historically, Mountain Funding has focused on value-added residential and commercial opportunities, but the company says in the current environment, it is zeroing in entirely on acquiring assets at distressed values.

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First Quarter Mortgage Volume Tumbles, Two Top-10 Players Unseated

Residential mortgage originations by U.S. lenders in the first quarter of 2010 retreated 19 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to industry data released Wednesday. It was the third consecutive quarterly decline in residential mortgage production. With the fall off in origination numbers, the data also revealed that two top-10 originators were unseated in the mortgage lender rankings - MetLife Inc. and Flagstar Bank.

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Justice Department Investigating Discrimination in HAMP

The U.S. Department of Justice says in light of the mortgage crisis, it has made fair lending a top priority and will be reviewing the Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) for possible violations. Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told lawmakers that the Justice Department is focusing on potential fair lending violations ""where much of the lending activity is occurring today - in mortgage modifications."" With HAMP being the largest loan modification undertaking in history, that makes it a prime target for scrutiny.

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Countdown To Buy Enters the Georgia Market

foreclosure

Countdown To Buy announced Tuesday that it has entered the Georgia marketplace and will be featuring recently foreclosed properties throughout the state. This sampling of properties comes after Countdown To Buy successfully matched buyers in 25 days or less with an initial set of pilot properties located in Texas, Connecticut, and Illinois. As a result of this success, a leading institution expanded their multi-state pilot into the Georgia market.

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Freddie Mac Reports First Delinquency Decline in Three Years

Delinquencies on single-family loans guaranteed by Freddie Mac fell to 4.13 percent in March, down from 4.20 percent in February. It's the first monthly decline reported by the mortgage giant since April 2007, and some say a sign that efforts to improve loan performance are finally gaining ground. Freddie Mac attributed the drop in delinquencies to a higher volume of mortgage modifications and completed short sales.

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Administration Picks up Push for TARP Tax on Big Banks

President Obama's proposal to tax the nation's largest banks is back on the table, and stirring up quite a debate. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged members of Congress to approve the president's levy on big banks, which is expected to generate $90 billion over a 10-year period to cover the costs of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). But some lawmakers are concerned that the fee could lead to tighter credit. Even community banks are siding with the big guys in this fight.

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