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Homeownership Rate Falls to 10-Year Low

In the first quarter of 2010, the national homeownership rate fell to its lowest level since the first quarter of 2000, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The seasonally-adjusted homeownership rate of 67.2 percent in the first quarter of this year was 0.2 percent lower than the first quarter of 2009 and 0.1 percent below last quarter's rate. The last time the homeownership rate was this low was exactly 10 years ago in the first quarter of 2000 when the rate was at 67.1 percent.

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Home Price Data Mixed – Up for the Year, Down for the Month

Home prices in February dipped from the previous month but were higher than year-ago levels for the first time since December 2006, according to industry data released Tuesday. From January to February, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite dipped 0.9 percent, but on an annual basis, was up 0.6 percent. Analysts at S&P expect home prices to improve over the next few months as an aftereffect of the homebuyer tax credit. But with foreclosure activity the highest it's been in five years, they say a new influx of distressed properties will dampen any short-term gains.

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Lender Processing Services Turns $72.5 Million Profit in Q1

Mortgage technology provider Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) reported net earnings for the first quarter of $72.5 million, or 75 cents per diluted share. That compares to a profit of $50.0 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier. The Florida-based company sees its Q1 results as a ""strong start"" for 2010 despite difficult market conditions, and expects the momentum to continue through the remainder of the year.

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Senate Probe Finds Goldman Won Big Betting on Housing Collapse

Goldman Sachs is battling allegations that it misled investors in its mortgage securities business. That battle may have just gotten a little tougher. The firm maintains that like everyone else, it suffered heavy losses from the mortgage meltdown. But a Senate investigative committee has released several internal documents obtained from the Wall Street firm that reveal it made ""some serious money"" betting against the housing market, as Sachs' top execs' put it.

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PLATINUMdata Updates its Automated Appraisal Review Tool

In an effort to better assist lenders and investors in scrutinizing the valuation accuracy of their appraisals, Aliso Viejo, California-based PLATINUMdata, a collateral solutions provider to the financial industry, has updated its appraisal review product - REALview - to REALview Plus. In addition to providing all the capabilities of REALview, REALview Plus provides an automated method of ""best comparable"" selection and an appraisal quality score based on sales comp relevance, which can be used for bump logic workflow applications.

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MDA MindBox Enhances its Risk Management Technology Platform

Los Angeles-based MDA MindBox, a division of MDA Lending Solutions that provides advanced-decisioning solutions to the mortgage lending industry, recently announced an update to ARTAdvisor, an automated portfolio review tool. This technology platform, which provides risk management from early risk detection through loss mitigation by automating the review, analysis, and management of any size portfolio, now includes short sale, foreclosure, and deed-in-lieu analysis.

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Mortgage Fraud Continues to Climb, Up 7% in 2009: Report

Incidents of mortgage fraud and misrepresentation by professionals in the industry continue to climb. According to a report released Monday by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), such cases increased 7 percent for the 2009 fiscal year when compared to the previous 12 months. The pace has slowed thanks to improvements in industry reporting and policing, but MARI's research shows foreclosure rescue and loan mod scams are on the rise, and now the company is seeing a significant increase in short sale scams.

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Home Price Index Posts First Annual Increase in Three Years

In yet another sign of stabilization within the housing market, national home prices increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in three years in February, according to the LoanPeformance Home Price Index (HPI) released Monday by First American CoreLogic. Despite the year-over-year increase in prices, the HPI forecast for the coming months turned less optimistic in First American's latest update, showing a softer recovery than in previous forecasts.

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PMI Loses $157 Million in the First Quarter

The PMI Group is still in the red. The California-based residential mortgage insurer released its first quarter 2010 earnings report Sunday, posting a net loss of $157 million, or $1.90 per share. The company's net loss widened from a deficit of $115.3 million, or $1.41 per share, during the same period one year ago. PMI said this year-over-year change was primarily due to the increase in fair value of the company's corporate debt.

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Treasury Gives Green Light to Sell 1.5 Billion of Taxpayers’ Citi Shares

The U.S. Treasury is moving ahead with a plan to sell off taxpayers' 27 percent ownership stake in Citigroup Inc. The Wall Street bank was one of the biggest bailout recipients among financial institutions, and the Treasury's decision to pull out is being viewed as a testament to just how quickly the big lenders have been able to recapitalize. Treasury has authorized Morgan Stanley to sell up to 1.5 billion shares of Citigroup common stock - the first offering in a larger plan to dispose of all the Treasury's 7.7 billion common shares in the bank.

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