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Mortgage Demand Falls for Second Straight Week

Consumer demand for home mortgages declined last week, according to industry data released Wednesday. It marks the second consecutive week that the number of home loan applications has dropped, as long-term mortgage rates came in above the 5 percent threshold yet again. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its measurement of application volume slipped 9.5 percent for the week ending February 11. The trade group's gauge has hit its lowest point in more than two years.

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Mortgage Contracting Services Unveils ‘REO Check’ Inspection Service

Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS) announced Tuesday the availability of REO Check, an inspection service to assist servicers with ongoing, independent on-site assessments of their foreclosed inventory throughout the REO lifecycle. Whether done on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis, MCS' REO Check provides information about each property's overall interior and exterior condition, noting such things as the presence of any hazardous conditions or posting of code violations.

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Rowell Auctions Names Doug Dennison National Sales Coordinator

Rowell Auctions, Inc. has announced the hiring of Douglas G. Dennison as national sales coordinator for the firm. Dennison has 20 years of auction experience and has specialized in large real estate government auctions throughout the country. He has served as auction project manager for the FDIC, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Marshals Service, Small Business Administration (SBA), Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), and U.S. bankruptcy auctions in more than 30 states.

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FHA Raises Annual Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is wasting no time putting at least one of the Obama administration's housing finance reforms into place. The agency announced this week that it is implementing a new premium structure for FHA-insured mortgage loans. The agency is increasing its annual mortgage insurance premium by a quarter of a percentage point on all 30- and 15-year loans. The new structure applies to new loans insured by FHA on or after April 18, 2011.

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FHFA Defends Paying $162M Legal Bill for Former GSE Execs

In late January it was revealed that taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives in court, with $132 million of that money going to the defense of Fannie execs. This week at a congressional hearing, members of several government agencies defended the spending, claiming a refusal to cover the court costs would have been illegal. But Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine condemned the use of taxpayer dollars to defend executives he says defrauded the system and broke the rules.

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West Coast Foreclosure Sales Climb to Pre-Robo-Signing Levels

Foreclosure auction sales in states along the West Coast have bounced back to levels not seen since robo-signing moratoriums went into effect last fall, the California-based tracking firm ForeclosureRadar reports. The company's coverage area includes the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. ForeclosureRadar says it recorded ""significant increases"" in activity on the courthouse steps in all five states during the month of January, with foreclosure sales jumping more than 50 percent in most areas.

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Veros White Paper Highlights Interagency Appraisal Guidelines

Veros, a provider of collateral valuation technology, enterprise risk management, and predictive analytics, recently released a white paper titled ""Interagency Appraisal & Evaluation Guidelines: Insights into Understanding and Integrating the New Guidance."" The white paper seeks to clarify the expanded language in the guidelines issued by federal regulators last December.

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Former Treasury Official Rejoins Center for American Progress

Michael Barr has rejoined the nonprofit think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) as a senior fellow. From 2009 to 2010, Barr served as the U.S. Department of the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial institutions and was a key architect of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

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SEC Files Fraud Lawsuit Against Former IndyMac Executives

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged three former executives at IndyMac Bancorp with securities fraud for misleading investors about the lender's failing financial condition. The executives, former CEO Michael Perry and former CFOs A. Scott Keys and S. Blair Abernathy, allegedly filed false and misleading disclosures about the financial stability of IndyMac and IndyMac Bank F.S.B. and continued to sell millions of dollars in new stock. Abernathy is the only one of the three who has reached a settlement with the SEC.

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California’s Million-Dollar Home Sales Gain Traction

Despite a decline in California home sales last year, the number of homes sold in the Golden State for $1 million or more in 2010 rose for the first time since 2005, according to a study from San Diego-based DataQuick Information Systems. Million-dollar sales peaked in 2005 at 54,773 and then declined each year through 2009. In 2010, 22,529 homes sold for $1 million or more in California, a 21 percent increase from 18,621 in 2009. The most expensive confirmed purchase last year was a Bel Air residence for $50 million.

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