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Senate Scales Back Risk Retention for Bundled Mortgages

Senators unanimously approved an amendment to the financial reform package that would exempt qualified mortgages from the 5 percent risk retention requirement on loans bundled and sold to investors. The amendment requires regulators to establish a category of well-underwritten loans called ""Qualified Residential Mortgages"" using back-to-basics standards proven to reduce consumer defaults, such as income documentation and established payment-to-income ratios.

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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Dominate Among Refinancing Borrowers

Borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter of 2010 overwhelmingly chose fixed-rate loans, regardless of whether their original loan was an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or fixed-rate, Freddie Mac reported Wednesday. In fact, according to Freddie Mac's quarterly Product Transition Report, fixed-rate loans accounted for more than 95 percent of refinance loans during the quarter.

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BofA Completes Almost 24,000 Permanent HAMP Mods in April

Bank of America announced Thursday that it has completed a total of 56,400 permanent mortgage modifications under the administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), including nearly 24,000 in April alone. ""We were able to convert close to 24,000 Bank of America customers from trial to permanent modifications in the past month, completing the process for more homeowners than in any previous month,"" said Jack Schakett, credit loss mitigation strategies executive for Calabasas, California-based Bank of America Home Loans.

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Major Banks Under Investigation for Mortgage Investment Fraud

Prosecutors are investigating eight major banks, including Citigroup and Credit Suisse, to determine if they provided misleading information to credit ratings agencies in order to deceive investors about the quality of mortgage-backed securities. Ratings agencies have been blamed for missing the mark in their assessments of mortgage bonds that ultimately tanked when the housing market came crashing down. But New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo seems to think the agencies were duped, and he's putting Wall Street banks on the hook for flexing their big-business prowess in order to cloak sour mortgage deals as AAA-rated sound investments.

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Mortgage Rates Fall Again, Hit Lowest Level of the Year: Freddie Mac

Mortgage rates continued to inch down for the week ending May 13, 2010, hitting the lowest level seen so far this year, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.93 percent, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages sank to 4.3 percent.

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Foreclosure Activity Drops 9% in April: RealtyTrac

One in every 387 homes in the United States was in some stage of foreclosure last month, RealtyTrac reported Thursday. The company's data shows that foreclosure filings were issued on 333,837 properties in April. While still elevated, that figure represents a 9 percent drop from the previous month and a 2 percent decline compared to a year ago. It's the only month in the history of RealtyTrac's report where foreclosure activity fell on an annual basis.

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FDIC Approves Proposal of Safe Harbor for Securitizations

The FDIC approved a formal proposal Tuesday that would impose stricter rules on banks that package loans as mortgage-backed securities (MBS). In order for the bundled mortgages to be protected from seizure in the event the FDIC steps in to shut down the institution, lenders would be required to retain at least 5 percent of the securities on their own books. Some critics say the rule creates an uneven playing field since applies only to banks and not to other financial firms.

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Titanium Opens Loan Servicing Business in Puerto Rico

Titanium Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Titanium Solutions, Inc. and Excellen REO, has expanded its presence into Puerto Rico with the launch of Titanium Loan Servicing of Puerto Rico. Titanium Loan Servicing PR is a full service loss mitigation, home retention, short sale services, and REO provider servicing the island's mortgage market.

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$306 Million HUD Portfolio Sold by KDX Ventures

KDX Ventures, a joint venture between Boston-based DebtX and Hillsborough, North Carolina-based KEMA Advisors, announced Wednesday that it successfully auctioned a HUD portfolio containing $306 million in non-performing multifamily and healthcare loans. The portfolio consisted of 25 multifamily commercial real estate loans and one healthcare loan, ranging in size from $1.6 million to $44.3 million.

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Illinois Home Sales Surge in the First Quarter, Prices Fall Slightly

Bolstered by low interest rates and the homebuyer tax credit, the Illinois housing market continued to stabilize in the first quarter of 2010, according to a report released Tuesday by the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR). On a year-over-year basis, first quarter home sales were up in 54 of 99 Illinois counties. And 43 of 99 counties across the state posted median price increases from last year.

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