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BofA Signs on as First Servicer of HAMP’s Second Lien Program

Bank of America announced Tuesday that it is the first mortgage servicer to sign an agreement formally committing to participate in the second-lien component of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Bank of America, which services 3 million second liens, says it will modify eligible home equity loans and lines of credit regardless of whether the first lien is serviced by Bank of America or another participating servicer.

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Launch of NMLS Consumer Access Announced by State Regulators

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), a mortgage licensing system operated by state financial regulators recently announced the launch of NMLS Consumer Access This fully researchable Web site allows the general public to view information concerning state-licensed mortgage companies, branches, and individuals currently licensed through the NMLS.

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Rising Redefaults Could Prompt More Principal Reductions

Despite the income verifications and trial modification periods being carried out by mortgage servicers, modified loans continue to redefault at extremely high rates. The debt ratings agency DBRS estimates that more than half of all restructured mortgages become delinquent or fall into foreclosure again within six months. As a result, DBRS expects modifications that forgive mortgage debt to become the preferred loss mitigation strategy for many servicers during 2010.

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FHA Takes Action Against Multiple Lenders

Based upon serious violations of FHA requirements, the Federal Housing Administration's Mortgage Review Board (MRB) announced Tuesday that it is immediately and permanently withdrawing FHA approval of four mortgage lenders and is suspending a fifth. The MRB withdrew FHA approval of Strategic Mortgage Corporation, ProMortgage,Inc., Americare Investment Group, Inc., and Premium Capital Funding, LLC, doing business as TopDot Mortgage. In addition, the MRB has suspended the FHA approval of Home Mortgage, Inc., (HMI).

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Florida Lawmaker Investigating Lenders for Home Equity Loan Fraud

Florida's incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos is calling for a round of hearings to investigate claims that banks are ""squeezing"" borrowers by fraudulently reducing Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) to improve their bottom lines. Federal regulations permit HELOC suspensions when properties suffer a significant decline in value - which is certainly the case in Florida markets. But Haridopolos says homeowners are claiming banks have been using false pretenses to freeze lineS of credit and call in home loans.

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TAVMA Opposes New Consumer Protection Bill

In an announcement Monday, the Title/Appraisal Vendor Management Association (TAVMA), a nonprofit professional organization that represent more than 75 companies, said it opposes the proposed federal and state legislation that would dismantle new federal safeguards designed to protect appraiser independence and provide unbiased appraisals to homebuyers and lenders.

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Illinois Home Sales Surge in December

As low interest rates and the tax credit stimulus helped to reduce inventories through the end of 2009 and more markets reported median price increases in December, the Illinois housing market is beginning to show signs of stabilization. Totaling 8,197 transactions, statewide total home sales in December 2009 were up 20.

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