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Metro Foreclosure Hot Spots Buck National Trend with Annual Declines

Data released by RealtyTrac Thursday shows that cities in the typical foreclosure hot spots of California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona once again accounted for the nation's 20 highest foreclosure rates in Q1. But it's their long track record of debilitating foreclosure numbers that have locked them into those rankings. RealtyTrac says many of the hardest-hit cities are actually posting significant declines from a year ago. Instead, foreclosure activity now is running rampant in cities outside the Sun Belt.

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Refinancing Borrowers Benefit from Low Interest Rates

Borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter of 2010 reaped the benefits of low interest rates. In fact, one-half of borrowers who refinanced their conventional loans during the first three months of this year lowered their mortgage interest rate by at least 16 percent, according to Freddie Mac's quarterly refinance report. In addition to lowering their interest rate, 72 percent of borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter kept their loan balance largely unchanged or reduced their loan balance outstanding as a result of the refinance.

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Florida Submits Detailed Proposal for Utilization of Hardest Hit Funding

Due to the high levels of home price declines and unemployment in the Sunshine State, Florida Housing Finance Corporation was selected as one of five state agencies to receive federal funding from the administration's Hardest Hit Fund. Of the initial $1.5 billion allocated for these markets, Florida Housing is slated to get $418 million. Pending approval of its proposal, the state plans to use the money to pay up to nine months of mortgage payments for unemployed homeowners and cover legal fees for some borrowers to fight foreclosure.

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Mortgage Rates Remain Flat

Mortgage rates seem to be in a holding pattern. While still relatively low, rates remained flat for the second week in a row, Freddie Mac and Bankrate reported Thursday. According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.06 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending April 29, 2010, barely budging from last week's average of 5.07 percent. And 15-year fixed-rate mortgages showed no movement from last week, holding steady at 4.39 percent with an average 0.7 point.

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United Western Bank Sues Countrywide for MBS Losses

The legal wranglings continue for what was once the nation's premier subprime mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. The company was hit with another lawsuit Wednesday, this time from United Western Bank. The bank is suing Countrywide for losses it incurred on six private-label mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchased from the subprime lender. Bank of America, UBS Securities, and certain officers of Countrywide are also named as defendants.

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Safeguard Properties Launches New Web Site

Safeguard Properties has announced the launch of its new marketing Web site SafeguardProperties.com. The new site was developed based on feedback and input from Safeguard's key audiences - clients, vendors, employees, and industry partners. New feature highlights include an ""Ask the CEO"" section and expanded information about Safeguard's services.

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eMASON Announces Loan Mod Upgrades to Clarifire Software

Software provider eMason, Inc. has made key enhancements to its Clarifire application that the company says will allow servicers to respond more rapidly to federal loan modification guidelines. Specifically, eMason says the upgrades provide automatic decision-making and processing for borrowers who ""fall out"" of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), including consideration for Fannie Mae's recently announced Alternative Modification (Alt Mod).

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Five Brothers Launches Two New Service Offerings

Warren, Michigan-based Five Brothers, a nationwide provider of commercial and residential mortgage default management solutions, recently announced the release of two new service offerings, including a data input service and a document storage system. The QuickData HUD P260 bid data input service provides efficient data entry, including photo transfers, into the new HUD P260 Portal. And the IntelliStorageTM Web-based document storage system provides secure electronic storage of business-critical documents.

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Twin Cities Housing Market Shows Signs of Stabilization

March was a positive month for the Twin Cities housing market, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR). Using data from the regional multiple listing service of Minnesota, MAAR found that the number of new listings, active listings, pending sales, and closed sales in the Twin Cities all experienced positive gains from February to March.

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Arizona Plans to Assist 4,000 Households With Hardest Hit Funding

The Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), one of five state housing finance agencies slated to receive federal funding through the administration's Hardest Hit Fund, has submitted a proposal to the U.S. Treasury Department detailing how it plans to use this financial aid. According to the proposal, the funding has the potential to assist approximately 4,000 households across Arizona and will be used for permanent mortgage modifications, second mortgage settlement, temporary mortgage assistance, and homeowner advocacy through HUD counselors.

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