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First Quarter Mortgage Volume Tumbles, Two Top-10 Players Unseated

Residential mortgage originations by U.S. lenders in the first quarter of 2010 retreated 19 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to industry data released Wednesday. It was the third consecutive quarterly decline in residential mortgage production. With the fall off in origination numbers, the data also revealed that two top-10 originators were unseated in the mortgage lender rankings - MetLife Inc. and Flagstar Bank.

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Justice Department Investigating Discrimination in HAMP

The U.S. Department of Justice says in light of the mortgage crisis, it has made fair lending a top priority and will be reviewing the Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) for possible violations. Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told lawmakers that the Justice Department is focusing on potential fair lending violations ""where much of the lending activity is occurring today - in mortgage modifications."" With HAMP being the largest loan modification undertaking in history, that makes it a prime target for scrutiny.

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Countdown To Buy Enters the Georgia Market


Countdown To Buy announced Tuesday that it has entered the Georgia marketplace and will be featuring recently foreclosed properties throughout the state. This sampling of properties comes after Countdown To Buy successfully matched buyers in 25 days or less with an initial set of pilot properties located in Texas, Connecticut, and Illinois. As a result of this success, a leading institution expanded their multi-state pilot into the Georgia market.

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Freddie Mac Reports First Delinquency Decline in Three Years

Delinquencies on single-family loans guaranteed by Freddie Mac fell to 4.13 percent in March, down from 4.20 percent in February. It's the first monthly decline reported by the mortgage giant since April 2007, and some say a sign that efforts to improve loan performance are finally gaining ground. Freddie Mac attributed the drop in delinquencies to a higher volume of mortgage modifications and completed short sales.

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Administration Picks up Push for TARP Tax on Big Banks

President Obama's proposal to tax the nation's largest banks is back on the table, and stirring up quite a debate. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged members of Congress to approve the president's levy on big banks, which is expected to generate $90 billion over a 10-year period to cover the costs of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). But some lawmakers are concerned that the fee could lead to tighter credit. Even community banks are siding with the big guys in this fight.

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Top Treasury Official Visits Cleveland to Find Foreclosure Solutions

Hoping to obtain advice on how to improve government foreclosure prevention programs, the Department of Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, Herb Allison, made an unprecedented stop in Cleveland on Monday to hold a roundtable and hear from local homeowners and housing advocates first-hand. Allison, who is second to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, oversees both the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Hardest Hit Fund program that is providing more than $2.1 billion to address the foreclosure crisis in 10 states. Ohio is receiving $172 million through this program, the sixth highest allocation.

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Miami Metro Area Home Sales Surge in March

The Miami metro area housing market is heating up. According to a report recently released by MDA DataQuick, a San Diego-based provider of property data, 6,658 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in March in the metro area encompassing Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties. This was the highest number of total escrow closings for March since 2007. As a result, total home sales were up 43.3 percent from February and were 43.1 percent higher than March 2009.

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Foreclosure Law Firm Faces State Probe in Florida

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has launched a civil investigation into one of the state's largest foreclosure law firms. McCollum says Florida Default Law Group, P.L. in Tampa appears to be fabricating and presenting false and misleading documents in thousands of foreclosure cases per month. The case highlights flaws in the documentation of loan ownership that is impeding a number of foreclosure proceedings across the country.

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Pending Home Sales Continue to Climb

In yet another sign of stabilization within the U.S. housing market, pending home sales continued the climb upward in March, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Tuesday. NAR's Pending Homes Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, rose 5.3 percent from February and was 21.1 percent above March of last year. This increase follows an 8.3 percent jump in February, and NAR says it affirms that a surge of home sales is unfolding for the spring home buying season.

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