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Fed’s Beige Book Points to Housing as Recovery Stumbling Block

The Federal Reserve's latest rendition of its popular Beige Book shows that economic conditions across the country continued to improve. Housing markets, though, remain ""depressed,"" according to district contacts in the field. Many brokers, most notably in Florida, reported that recent servicer moratoriums on distressed sales led to a stall in activity. Areas in the Dallas and New York districts noted weakened demand for lower-priced properties but increased interest for high-end homes.

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Hartford National Title Launches Free GFE and HUD-1 Calculator

Hartford National Title, Inc., a provider of title insurance and real estate closing services in Milford, Connecticut, has launched OneSourceQuote, a new good faith estimate (GFE) and HUD-1 title calculator, as a free online application. According to a statement from the company, OneSourceQuote was developed due to the lack of free, accurate title calculators available to mortgage brokers and retail lenders.

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Freddie Mac Suspends Evictions During Holiday Season

Freddie Mac said Wednesday that it has ordered all foreclosure evictions involving occupied single-family and 2-4 unit properties to be suspended from December 20, 2010 to January 3, 2011. The policy applies to all homes with Freddie Mac mortgages. It's become a common practice for lenders to temporarily halt evictions during the holiday season. Fannie Mae and most other large mortgage providers are expected to follow suit.

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Calls to Homeownership HOPE Hotline Down 14 Percent

The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has reported a 14.2 percent decrease in calls to its Homeowners' HOPE Hotline during the month of October. The hotline provides free homeownership education and foreclosure prevention counseling. The organization says it is seeing fluctuations in call volume, often related to the number of foreclosures, which decreased during the month. The state with the most calls coming into the hotline was California.

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GSEs’ Delinquency Numbers Tell Different Stories

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have seen a steady falloff in the rate of loans 90 or more days overdue since early this year, but their latest figures show the rate continuing to head down for one, up for the other. Both GSEs have dialed up the pressure lately for big banks to buy back bad loans. But the lenders themselves are doing their own dialing up, only it's in the form of stronger resistance to repurchase requests. The two mortgage giants are planning to implement new lending guidelines and fee structures for riskier loans.

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Congressional Budget Office Lowers TARP Price Tag to $25B

Although economists say the country would be in far worse shape without it, the federal government's $700 billion bailout package approved by Congress in October 2008 was widely criticized at the time for the cost taxpayers would be forced to bear. That projected price tag, though, has been steadily declining as the financial sector has found firmer footing. The Congressional Budget Office now puts the cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) at just over 3 percent of the $700 billion initially allocated - $25 billion.

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Las Vegas Home Sales Drop Nearly 22% from Year-Ago Levels

The Las Vegas region experienced a dip in home sales and median sale price in October, according to new figures from MDA DataQuick. A total of 3,961 new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area in October, down 7.4 percent from September and down 21.8 percent from a year earlier. The overall median sale price for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the region dropped nearly 4 percent from a year ago to its lowest level in more than a decade.

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Defaulted Borrowers File Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo

The law firm of Harwood Feffer, LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank and its servicer, America's Servicing Company (ASC). The suit alleges that ASC induced borrowers to default on their mortgages by telling them they would not be eligible for a loan modification if they were current on payments. Harwood Feffer claims ASC was looking to boost its revenue by assessing additional penalties and fees and collecting interest on the nonperforming loans it services.

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S&P Case-Shiller Index Records Broad-Based Declines in Home Prices

Home prices in the United States fell 2.0 percent in the third quarter of 2010, breaking what had been a trend of fairly steady gains since early last year, Standard & Poor's reported Tuesday. The company's closely watched national index had recorded quarter-over-quarter increases in four of the last five three-month periods, including a 4.7 percent rise in the second quarter of this year. Many analysts are expecting that dreaded double dip to set in before next spring.

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Valuation Provider Adds Home Price Trends to BPOs

The Texas-based valuation firm eMortgage Logic (EML) said Tuesday that the company has aligned itself with what EML describes as a ""leading real estate analytics innovator"" to provide clients with a complimentary home price trends chart. This visual aid will now appear on all broker price opinions (BPOs) to illustrate the dynamics of the subject market's volatility.

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