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BofA to Offer Principal Forgiveness to Some Underwater Homeowners

In an effort to encourage greater homeowner participation in modification programs, Bank of America has launched a new approach to modify severely underwater loans. The bank announced Wednesday that it will first look at principal forgiveness -- ahead of an interest rate reduction -- when modifying certain subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). BofA expects to slice off an estimated $3 billion from loan balances through this initiative.

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Mortgage Applications Decline as Interest Rates Rise

Marking the second consecutive week of decreased activity, mortgage application volume fell 4.2 percent for the week ending March 19, 2010, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Wednesday. The slump coincided with 30-year mortgage rates inching above the 5 percent mark.

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Community Activist Group ACORN Closes Its Doors

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) said Monday that it is closing down its operations. The organization's board, over the weekend, decided to dismantle the 40-year old grassroots activist group. ACORN's exit comes after Congress cut off the organization's federal funding and it began to experience trouble raising funds and donations, following a widely publicized scandal involving members posing as pimps and prostitutes, hidden cameras, and questionable ""advocacy.""

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Freddie Mac Approves PMAC as Eligible Mortgage Insurer

PMI Mortgage Assurance Co. (PMAC) has been approved by Freddie Mac as a direct issuer of mortgage guaranty insurance. Pursuant to Freddie Mac's approval, PMAC may write new mortgage insurance business in certain states in the event that MIC is required to cease operations in those states due to its inability to meet applicable regulatory capital requirements.

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Homeowners Sue BofA for Failing to Permanently Modify Loans

Homeowners in Washington are suing Bank of America, alleging the nation's largest lender is intentionally thwarting borrowers' requests to make loan modifications that would prevent homes from being foreclosed. As of the end of February, Bank of America had permanently modified nearly 21,000 mortgages under the Home Affordable Modification Program. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the suit say BofA has made an affirmative decision to slow the loan modification process for reasons that are solely in the bank's financial interest.

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Encore Retail Appoints Senior Property Manager

Encore Retail, LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Encore Enterprises, recently named Daniel Underwood as senior property manager of the firm. In his new position, Underwood will oversee the day-to-day property management services function of monitoring the physical operation and condition of each property, and he will be in charge of the coordination of tenant improvements, collection of revenue, expense control, and financial reporting for existing and new retail assets.

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LAMCO Ramps up Short Sale Services in Preparation for HAFA

On Tuesday, Lenders Asset Management Corporation (LAMCO) announced the company's approach to help mortgage servicers fully comply with the federal government's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, set to take effect April 5. In efforts to respond in a timely fashion to the inevitable influx of short sale requests expected as a result of HAFA, LAMCO says it is prepared to execute accelerated short sale transactions through its quality management system.

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Service 1st Provides Commercial BPOs

Due to an overwhelming need in the marketplace, Service 1st Valuation and Settlement Services, an appraisal management company based in Pittsburgh, has added commercial broker price opinions (BPOs) to its list of services. The company has been providing commercial BPOs to a select list of current valuation clients for several months and received an extremely positive response. As a result, it will now offer this service on a nationwide level.

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CMSA Switches Gears as CRE Finance Council

The board of governors of the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association (CMSA), a trade organization dedicated to the commercial real estate capital markets finance industry since 1994, has transformed CMSA into a new organization that will serve all constituencies within commercial real estate finance. CMSA is now the CRE Finance Council.

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