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Regulators Shut Down Four Community Banks

The FDIC's failed bank list continues to build. It now stands at 26 for the year, after regulators shut the doors on four more institutions over the weekend - in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Utah. Just over two months into the year, and already 2010's failures exceed the 2008 full-year total of 25. This latest round of closures is expected to cost the FDIC an estimated $304 million.

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CMBS Delinquencies Propelled by Five-Year Loans

The 29 basis-point (bp) increase in delinquencies to 6.26 percent at the end of February was driven in large part by upcoming maturities from U.S. commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) deals originated in 2005, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency says these five-year loans will have difficulty refinancing this year as liquidity remains limited, and warns that in many cases, sponsors will have to either contribute additional equity or look to their servicers for extensions and modifications.

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RE/MAX Enhances Educational Platform

Although 2010 is expected to be a better year than 2009, the downturn in real estate isn't over yet. In an effort to prepare agents for challenges in the market, RE/MAX, a global real estate company based in Denver, has expanded and enhanced its educational platform--RE/MAX University.

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KBW Hires New Head of Real Estate Investment Banking

Investment bank KBW, Inc. is bolstering its real estate business with the addition of Michael Errichetti as managing director and head of its real estate investment banking team. Errichetti previously spent over 25 years at JP Morgan, advising clients and raising capital for large real estate transactions.

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Federal Reserve Report Paints Brighter Picture of U.S. Economy

According to the Federal Reserve's well-recognized Beige Book, U.S. economic conditions have shown signs of improvement through the first part of this year. Data from nine of the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that economic activity improved, but in most cases the increases were ""modest."" Residential real estate markets improved in a number of districts, while nearly all characterized commercial real estate as weak. Stronger home sales were attributed to the federal tax credit for homebuyers.

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Frank Commentary Raises Questions about GSE Investments

One of the nation's most visible and vocal lawmakers has cast some doubt on the safety of doing business with the nation's two largest mortgage financiers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued a public statement Friday which essentially warns investors that have lent money to the two GSEs and those that have purchased their mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to expect to incur some losses.

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Gil Borok Promoted to CFO at CB Richard Ellis

CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc., a commercial real estate services firm headquartered in Los Angeles, announced Friday that is has promoted Gil Borok to CFO. He takes over the CFO responsibilities from Bob Sulentic, who will continue as president of the company.

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CalHFA Plans to Put $700 Million in Funding to Good Use

The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) will receive nearly $700 million in new federal funding to help the state's most troubled homeowners stay in their homes. CalHFA is one of five housing agencies slated to receive a total of $1.5 billion in aid for states where unemployment is high and home prices have fallen more than 20 percent. CalHFA says it will submit its program plans to the federal government by April 16 and expects the new initiatives to be ready for implementation by mid-year or sooner.

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Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 9.7%

For months, industry experts have lamented the nation's poor job market as a stranglehold on the housing market's recovery and a dead weight dragging down occupancy rates and new development in the commercial real estate sector. But according to data released by the Department of Labor Friday, the national unemployment rate was flat from January to February at 9.7 percent. Employers shed just 36,000 jobs during the month - far fewer than economists were expecting.

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