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BofA and Citi Weakest Among Large Banks: Weiss Ratings

Twenty months after the massive, multi-billion dollar federal bailouts designed to shore up the nation's largest banks, Weiss Ratings finds that Bank of America, Citibank, and thousands more are still vulnerable to financial difficulties or even possible failure. Weiss Ratings says major U.S. banks continue to be plagued by toxic assets and an inability to raise capital. As a result, the company has given 2,259 banks, controlling $5.8 trillion or 43.8 percent of the industry's total assets, a rating of D+ or lower, which translates to ""weak.""

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Treasury Lowers Projected TARP Cost by $11.4 Billion

New figures released by the U.S. Treasury indicate that the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will wind up costing taxpayers $105.4 billion when all is said and done. That projection is $11.4 billion lower than previously estimated. The total expense of TARP can be directly attributed to the government's foreclosure prevention programs, as well as assistance provided to the auto industry and AIG. Programs that were designed to assist banking institutions will result in a net gain to the taxpayer.

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Mortgage Rates Drop to Lowest Level of the Year

Mortgage interest rates have fallen to their lowest level of the year. Economists say homebuyers have the financial turmoil in Europe to thank for that, as overseas investors have put their dollars instead towards what they see as safer U.S. Treasury securities, which are closely tied to rates for home loans. Freddie Mac puts the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage this week at 4.78 percent. Bankrate says 30-year fixed-rate home loans are averaging 4.92 percent at the nation's 10 largest banks.

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Point2 Technologies Appoints Chief Sales Officer

Point2 Technologies Inc., an inventory management and marketing software developer for the real estate industry, recently announced that board member Walter T. Baczkowski Jr. will join Point2's executive management team as chief sales officer and VP of industry relations for the company's real estate business, effective June 1, 2010.

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Federal Reserve’s MBS Purchases Could Lead to Record Earnings of $70B

A report released this week by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the U.S. Federal Reserve more than doubled the size of its asset portfolio to over $2 trillion through its purchases of mortgage-backed securities and other crisis-mode acquisitions, and assumed far more risk than is considered ""normal"" for the central bank. But the risk-taking Fed is proving to be a savoir-faire investor. According to CBO estimates, the central bank will turn a record $70 billion profit this year.

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Prudential Names Leaders of Its Freddie Mac Program Plus Platform

Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential Mortgage Capital Company, the commercial mortgage lending business of Prudential Financial, Inc., recently appointed John DeWitt and Marty Fayer as managing directors and joint leaders of the company's Freddie Mac Program Plus platform. Together, DeWitt and Fayer will be responsible for managing all aspects of the platform, including originating new loans. Additionally, they will arrange multifamily loans on behalf of Prudential's other capital sources.

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Florida’s Existing Home, Condo Sales Surge Once Again in April

April marked yet another month of increased sales activity in Florida's residential real estate market. According to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors, existing home sales surged 27 percent in April from the same month last year, and during the same period, existing condo sales soared 55 percent. Homebuying conditions in the Sunshine State remain favorable, with a variety of housing options available in local markets at attractive prices.

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Poor Risk Management, Unrealistic Optimism Collapsed Housing: MBA

It's hard to pinpoint just what brought the nation's thriving residential real estate market to its knees. Everyone's got an opinion, but trying to nail down the exact trigger in order to prevent a sequel is a difficult task. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is attempting to do just that. According to a study released Wednesday by the trade group, it was poor risk management habits, coupled with a short-term focus and unrealistic optimism among senior business managers that brought down the U.S. housing and mortgage markets.

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NAR Predicts Peak in Commercial Real Estate Vacancies Near Early 2011

The commercial real estate market continues to be plagued with rising vacancy rates. But according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, vacancies should level out in most markets by the end of this year or early 2011. The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), in its SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, an attitudinal survey of nearly 700 local market experts, confirmed that significant fallout from the recession remains, but to a lesser extent.

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