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Fitch Sees Greater Stability for RMBS…When Drought Ends

More traditionally underwritten and higher credit quality loans will be the norm when the U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market for newly-originated loans re-opens, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency says investors can expect better performance because lenders are returning to a more traditional style of lending, with loans containing better credit, full documentation, and less leverage.

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Federal Watchdog Questions Treasury’s Actions to Preserve GMAC

The Congressional Oversight Panel recently released a report finding that throughout the federal bailout of GMAC, Treasury missed opportunities to increase accountability and better protect taxpayers' money. Despite the $17.2 billion investment the government has made in the company, the panel says there is still no clear business plan for GMAC, and questions why the Treasury didn't just allow the lender to go into bankruptcy. Administration officials estimate that $6.3 billion of the funds given to GMAC may never be repaid.

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HUD Issues Guidance on Appraisals for Agency REOs

HUD released a Mortgagee Letter this week announcing the validity period for appraisals used to establish listing prices for the federal agency's REO properties. The letter also outlines situations when a second appraisal is permitted for purchasers of REO properties utilizing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financing.

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Connecticut Home Sales and Prices on the Rise: Report

The median price for single-family homes in Connecticut climbed more than 6 percent in January compared to a year earlier, while sales increased for the fourth consecutive month, according to a report from the Warren Group, which tracks the New England real estate markets.

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Freddie Mac Readies Mezzanine Refinancing for Multifamily Mortgages

As the commercial real estate market continues to deteriorate, economists warn that overleveraged apartment owners may find it near to impossible to refinance their outstanding debt. Freddie Mac is keenly aware of the impact this lack of credit could have on the marketplace, and the GSE is taking steps to implement a new lending program that taps third-party mezzanine lenders to ensure funding is available for those multifamily property owners facing loan maturities.

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Interthinx Takes Action Against Occupancy Fraud Risk

In an effort to help detect occupancy issues related to mortgage fraud, California-based Interthinx has enhanced its flagship FraudGUARD product. These changes come in response to a disturbing trend the company uncovered in its quarterly fraud risk report, showing a 16 percent increase in fraud risk associated with occupancy status.

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FHA Commissioner Defends Low Downpayments

With defaults on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) continuing to mount, lawmakers are pressing the federal agency to raise its minimum downpayment requirement from 3.5 percent to 5 percent. But in testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday, FHA Commissioner David Stevens flatly rebuffed the idea, citing statistical evidence that shows such an across-the-board increase would result in a 40 percent drop in the agency's loan volume.

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Foreclosure Specialist Admonishes HAFA Program

President Obama's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) program has been under intense fire this week. On Monday, a coalition of appraisal groups sent a letter to the Treasury opposing the program's use of BPOs, and on Thursday, the chief foreclosure expert at Ushud.com warned that HAFA is ""rife with problems that will adversely impact real estate professionals and consumers alike.""

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Economic Fallout Propels Commercial, Multifamily Delinquency Rates

In the fourth quarter of 2009, delinquency rates continued to increase for most commercial and multifamily mortgage investor groups, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Thursday. Although delinquencies are still rising, MBA said earlier this week that commercial and multifamily mortgages are performing better than all other types of loans.

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Colliers International Moves Up in the Rankings

Colliers International, a global real estate services company headquartered in Boston, recently secured the No. 2 spot in the annual Lipsey Survey of the top 25 brands in the commercial real estate industry. The firm jumped a notch from its third place position, which it has held since 2004.

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