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Unemployment Rate Holds at 9.7%

The U.S. Department of Labor released new numbers Friday, and although the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent, the still-elevated number of jobless Americans continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to recovery in both the residential and commercial real estate markets. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview ahead of the labor report, ""The unemployment rate is still terribly high, and it's going to stay unacceptably high for a long period of time.""

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Fannie Bars Foreclosure Actions in the Name of MERS

In new policy guidelines released this week, Fannie Mae told servicers that they can no longer name MERS as the plaintiff in any foreclosure action, whether judicial or non-judicial, on a mortgage loan owned or securitized by the GSE. MERS is widely used by the industry to keep track of the servicing rights on home loans, and is often listed as the ""mortgagee of record."" But the system has become the centerpiece of a number of lawsuits, with foreclosed homeowners challenging the naming of the electronic system as mortgagee.

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Execs Expect Commercial Property Values and Rents to Keep Falling

The real estate outlook for the remainder of 2010 is grim. According to a recent online survey of real estate executives conducted by Deloitte, 76 percent of executives expect commercial property values to continue to fall this year, and 73 percent predict asking rents will follow the same trend. When the market will recover still remains unknown, but it will undoubtedly take time. This was echoed by survey respondents, with 92 percent predicting that it will be at least two to four years - some say even longer - before we see a full market recovery.

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ISGN Implements New Interface for LenStar Default Network

ISGN Corporation has implemented a new user interface for its LenStar technology, a Web-based attorney and referral communication system for default management that the company says gives servicers access to lenders and attorneys servicing over 25 percent of the residential loans in the United States.

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Maryland Gives HOPELoanPort the Green Light

At a briefing of state housing counselors held this week at the HomeFree-USA office in Prince George's County, Maryland, Congressman Steny Hoyer and Raymond Skinner, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development secretary, both expressed their support for HOPE LoanPort, making Maryland the first state in the nation to publicly endorse the program.

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FDIC Finds Taker for $490 Million in Home Loans

The FDIC announced Thursday that Charlotte, North Carolina's Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation placed the winning bid for an equity interest in a portfolio of 3,373 residential mortgage loans. Collectively, the loans have an unpaid principal balance of $490.7 million. They were seized by the federal agency from 19 failed banks between August 2008 and March 2009, and half are delinquent.

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Mortgage Investors Outline Steps to Restore Securitization Market

The Association of Mortgage Investors recently released a detailed set of guiding principles to Congress and regulators for how to overhaul the beleaguered securitization market in a manner that will ensure private sector demand for mortgages in the future, which the association says is crucial to the recovery of the global economy.

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Vermont AG Reaches Settlement With Countrywide

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced Wednesday that Countrywide Financial Corporation, now a part of Bank of America, has entered into a settlement with his office to resolve claims concerning Countrywide's origination of home loans in past years. The agreement calls for Countrywide to pay $100,000, which will be disbursed to borrowers in the state whose Countrywide loans were foreclosed upon and used for general foreclosure prevention efforts.

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Credit Reporting Agency Offers Access to FHA TOTAL Scorecard

Credit Plus, Inc., a credit reporting agency based in Salisbury, Maryland, recently announced that its customers can obtain direct access to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Technology Open to Approved Lenders (TOTAL) Scorecard though the company's innovative technology.

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