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Existing Home Sales Beat Expectations with 7.6% Jump

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday that sales of previously owned homes rose 7.6 percent in April compared to March, reflecting a surge in activity as buyers sought to close deals ahead of the contract deadline for the federal homebuyer tax credit. Last month's numbers pushed the annual sales rate to 5.77 million units, up from a 5.36 million sales rate in March, and far exceeded analysts' expectations. They were projecting an increase, but somewhere between a 5.60 and 5.65 million-unit sales pace.

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Housing Recovery Starts in 2011, Says Panel of Industry Experts

The housing recovery is just around the corner - at least that's the consensus among a panel of 92 well-known industry economists and analysts. The analytics firm MacroMarkets LLC, founded by Robert Shiller, real estate sage and father of the closely-watched Case-Shiller Home Price Index, polled the group of housing market experts and strategists from the likes of Alliance Bernstein and Columbia Business School. Based on their responses, the onset of price recovery in U.S. single family real estate is widely expected by 2011.

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Countrywide Picks Up Pace Resolving Troubled Loans: Barclays

Liquidation and modification rates on Countrywide-serviced residential loans have edged higher in the past few months, with a larger percentage of mortgage restructurings encompassing principal forgiveness, according to a study just released by Barclays Capital. The research firm examined loans within residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) serviced by Countrywide, now Bank of America Home Loans, and found that while historically, the once-subprime leader claimed lower-than-average mod rates and long liquidation timelines, that has begun to turn around in the past few months.

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Allonhill Appoints Director of Its New Commercial Due Diligence Service

Denver-based Allonhill, an independent third-party review firm specializing in mortgage due diligence and credit risk management, recently named veteran underwriter Ross Gammill as director of the firm's new commercial due diligence offering. Gammill comes to his new position with more than seven years' experience in the financial services industry, most recently serving as as underwriter for Bridger Commercial Funding.

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MPS Integrates Its Loan Pricing System Into Calyx Point Software

Mortgage Pricing Systems (MPS), a developer of sophisticated pricing solution for mortgage lenders, recently announced that it has integrated its flagship mortgage product and pricing system - LEAP! - into Calyx Point, a loan origination application for mortgage brokers and bankers offered by Calyx Software, a provider of loan marketing, originating, and processing software. With this integration, MPS can now provide instantaneous loan pricing to Point users.

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Investors Send Commercial Mortgages to Special Servicers at Rapid Pace

The number of loans pooled in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that require a ""special"" touch as they edge dangerously close to default is rapidly increasing. Fitch Ratings reported Friday that the risk of default is spreading so quickly through the secondary commercial market that the volume of specially serviced CMBS loans grew to approximately 5,000, totaling $81.7 billion during the first quarter.

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S&P and Fiserv Team Up to Further Implement ASF’s LINC Initiative

S&P Valuation and Risk Strategies and Fiserv, Inc. have joined forces to further industry implementation of the American Securitization Forum's (ASF) Loan Identification Number Code (LINC) initiative. Fiserv is the first technology provider to integrate ASF LINC in its loan servicing platform. By doing so, the company hopes to provide increased disclosure and transparency to the mortgage and asset-backed securities marketplace.

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GSEs to Launch Complaint Process for HVCC Violations

In a letter to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Edward J. DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will deploy a complaint process for violations of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. This process will be implemented in lieu of funding for the Independent Valuation Protection Institute, which was called to be established and funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the cooperation agreements between Attorney General Cuomo's office, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (now FHFA), and the government-sponsored enterprises.

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Homeowners ‘Overconfident’ About Home Values: Zillow

In just one quarter, homeowners have gone from being overly cynical about their own home's value to being overly confident. According to the Q1 Homeowner Confidence Survey conducted by Zillow, 50 percent of homeowners nationwide believe the value of their own home declined in the past year. But in reality, 65 percent of U.S. homes have dropped in value in the last 12 months. Zillow's chief economist says it is clear that there's a lag between market realities and public perceptions of home values.

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Windermere Acquires California REO Brokerage

Windermere Services of Northern California announced this week a partnership and merge of the Schubb Group, a three-office real estate brokerage specializing in REO properties. The Schubb Group operates out of Northern California offices in Pleasant Hill, Stockton, and Nice. Windermere also plans to launch a new default services division, which will be run out of the newly acquired business.

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