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Home Prices Edge Up in June, but Appreciation Already Slowing: S&P

Home prices rose in June for the third consecutive month - a precipitate of the homebuyer tax credit that sparked a flurry of purchase activity in the spring. Buyer demand, though, has now dropped off substantially, and it's a trend that will likely rob the market of the recent rebound in home prices. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday, home prices rose 1.0 percent in June compared to May. While June itself was positive, growth rates have already decelerated in 14 of the 20 metros included in S&P's study.

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Dodd-Frank Reform Act Includes Stricter Rules for Appraisals

The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act includes new appraisal management rules as well as stricter laws and firmer penalties for lenders. The bill's appraiser independence standards will give lenders new options on managing appraisers, and lenders are scrambling to evaluate options to decide what will benefit their businesses. An October deadline is looming for the issuance of new appraiser independence rules, which are expected to be more stringent than the Home Value Code of Conduct (HVCC).

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Servicers Fail to Deliver on Loan Mod Best Practices: J.D. Power

U.S. consumers are less satisfied with their experience during the loan modification process than they are during loan origination, namely because mortgage servicers are missing the mark when it comes to delivering on best practices, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The company's survey found that mortgage servicers fail to adhere to a time frame for approval, don't provide the customer with status updates, and repeatedly ask borrowers for the same information. BB&T ranks highest in customer satisfaction among mortgage servicers.

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Housing Supply and Demand Won’t Balance until 2012: Moody’s

Moody's Investors Service says it expects home price appreciation to be ""soft"" for the next couple of years. The company says there were 1.8 million more vacant homes sitting on the market than what is considered the norm at the end of the second quarter, reflecting a rise in the number of homes that lenders are repossessing. According to Moody's, it will not be until 2012 that demand and supply conditions are balanced enough to drive price appreciation that matches the pace of inflation.

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Pause in Closings, but Number of Problem Banks May Be Stabilizing

In a rare break from what has been the norm throughout the recession, this weekend saw no bank closings. Since January 2008, more than 280 banks and thrifts have collapsed, most as a direct result of problems in the real estate markets. The research firm Foresight Analytics estimates that 200, and possibly 300 to 400, banks are at risk of failure over the next 12 to 24 months, but the company says a number of community banks have begun to shed some of their problem commercial real estate loans.

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Marix Acquisition to Create Top 10 Subprime Mortgage Servicer

Marix Servicing LLC, a Phoenix, Arizona-based specialty mortgage servicer, will be acquired by Walter Investment Management Corp. through an agreement with Marix's parent company Marathon Asset Management. The acquisition, which is expected to close in the next 30 to 60 days, will create one of the nation's top 10 servicers of subprime mortgages.

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Collateral Values Backing GSEs’ Loan Purchases in Q2 Rose 3%

Freddie Mac released the results of its second quarter Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index (CMHPI) Monday. The index measures property values based on home loans originated in Q2 and purchased by Freddie and its sibling mortgage financier Fannie Mae. The CMHPI Purchase-Only Series for the United States registered a 3.1 percent increase in the second quarter relative to the first quarter. For the first time since the second quarter of 2009, prices rose in all nine Census divisions.

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Accounting Firm Combination Creates Largest Non-Big 4 in NY Metro

Accounting firms Eisner LLP and Amper, Politziner & Mattia, LLP, recently merged to create EisnerAmper LLC's real estate group, doubling the size of the firm's real estate practice. The New York-based firm is now the largest non-Big 4 firm in the greater New York metropolitan region and the 14th largest in the nation. The company now offers developers, property owners and managers, and others in the industry a broader array of professional services.

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Will the Administration Bring Back the Homebuyer Tax Credit?

After a worse than expected falloff in home sales during the month of July, buzz about a possible revival of the federal homebuyer tax credit has begun to surface. Sales of previously owned homes plummeted 27 percent last month, hitting their lowest mark in 15 years. New home sales also took a dive, dropping nearly 13 percent. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says the July numbers were worse than was expected and are cause for concern, and he's not ruling out a return of the tax credit incentives.

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Fannie Mae Places Ban on ‘Appraisal Cutting’

Fannie Mae is implementing a new policy this week regarding home appraisals. Beginning Wednesday, lenders will be prohibited from making changes to appraisers' valuations - a practice that has become more widespread and is commonly referred to as ""appraisal cutting."" Fannie officials say they have identified cases where the lender reduced the opinion of market value in the appraisal report based upon underwriter judgment or automated valuation models, prompting the GSE to place a ban on so-called appraisal cutting.

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