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Treasury Releases Guest List for Next Week’s Housing Finance Forum

Undoubtedly, the model of home financing is in for a change. And the structural bastions of the nation's mortgage system - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - are at the very center of the debate. Ideas range from completely eliminating the two GSEs to turning them into official government agencies. Next week, Treasury will host a conference in Washington, D.C. on the subject, to gather input and suggestions from industry stakeholders. On Thursday, the administration released its guest list for the event.

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Efficient Practices Produce Faster Short Sale Turnaround for Servicelink

ServiceLink reports dramatically reduced short sale approval and closing timelines, thanks to the company's short sale business model. The Fidelity National subsidiary cites completed package and contract acceptance in less than 30 days, a far cry from the industry's 90-day delays just a year ago. ServiceLink also reports a total short sale completion time of fewer than 75 days, a process that once took more than five months.

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Mortgage Rates Again Drop to New Record-Lows

Just how low can mortgage interest rates go? Lately it seems like there's no bottom in site. For months now, rates have been falling to new record-lows week after week, and this week, they headed even lower. Freddie Mac reported Thursday that interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are now averaging 4.44 percent, and 15-year fixed-rate home loans are at 3.92 percent. Bankrate's weekly survey puts the average rate for 30-year mortgages at 4.57 percent, and 15-year mortgages at 4.06 percent.

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Foreclosures Deviate from Downward Trend, Jump 4% in July

RealtyTrac reported Thursday that foreclosure filings increased four percent in July -- an abrupt departure from the previous three months, which saw consecutive declines in foreclosure activity. However, even with filings on a total of 325,229 properties during the month, July's numbers represented a 10 percent decrease compared to July 2009. It was the 17th consecutive month with a foreclosure activity total exceeding 300,000. One in every 397 U.S. homes received a filing in July.

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Record-Low Rates Do Little to Increase Mortgage Demand

Mortgage interest rates have been hovering at their lowest levels in decades, but that's done little to sway consumers to buy a home or refinance their mortgage to take advantage of the interest savings. The economists at Freddie Mac point to several reasons for the ""missing"" originations, which they trace back to deteriorating home values. Many borrowers' home equity is so badly eroded that they don't qualify for a refinance, and potential buyers remain nervous about investing in a home absent big incentives.

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Vendor Resource Management Names New Director of Strategic Planning

Vendor Resource Management (VRM) announced Joe Morrow has been promoted from operations director to senior director of strategic planning for the company. As senior director of strategic planning, Morrow is responsible for the development, implementation and subsequent measurements of performance of VRM's default servicing strategies.

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Software Company and Subservicer Join to Improve Borrower Experience

Mortgage Builder Software, a Southfield, Michigan based loan origination software (LOS) company recently announced an alliance with Cenlar FSB, a mortgage loan subservicer. The two companies have joined forces to provide a process for boarding closed mortgage loans from Mortgage Builder Software's LOS system directly to the Cenlar servicing platform.

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NAR Sees Broad Stabilization in Metro Area Home Prices in Q2

Homes prices across the country gained ground in the second quarter, with more metropolitan areas showing increases from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). New data released by the trade group Wednesday shows that during the April to June timeframe, 100 out of 155 metros included in the NAR survey had higher median existing-home prices compared to the second quarter of 2009, including 14 with double-digit increases. NAR say it's evidence that the trend of firming home prices is solidifying.

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Government Earmarks $3B for Unemployed Homeowners

The Obama administration said Wednesday that it will provide additional support to help unemployed homeowners through two targeted initiatives. The Treasury will make another $2 billion available to housing finance agencies in 17 states and the District of Columbia to implement local programs for unemployed homeowners. HUD is also launching a $1 billion program to provide up to 24 months of assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure because of lost income.

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PMI Says Risk of Home Prices Heading Lower Diminished Slightly

The chances of home prices falling further lessened in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the previous quarter, according to a new study from mortgage insurer the PMI Group. The company's U.S. Market Risk Index assesses the probability that the price of homes will be lower at the end of the next two years, and it dropped by nearly two full basis points. It was the third consecutive quarterly decrease in the overall reading, and PMI says it signals ""continued improvement in the housing market.""

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