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Rhode Island’s Annual Home Sales Soar in 2009

Marking the first year-over-year increase since 2004, single-family home sales in Rhode Island jumped nearly 12 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, according to The Warren Group, a Boston-based provider of real estate data in New England. With a total of 7,669 single-family home transactions recorded in 2009, sales were up 11.9 percent from 2008.

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Veros Adopts ASF LINC Loan Identification System

Veros Real Estate Solutions, a Santa Ana, California-based provider of enterprise risk management and collateral valuation services, announced Thursday that the company has adopted the American Securitization Forum (ASF) Loan Identification Number Code (ASF LINC).

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Bernanke Confirmed for Second Term as Fed Chairman

The Senate has chosen the nation's foremost central banker for the next four years, and he's a familiar face already. In a 70 to 30 vote Thursday afternoon, senators confirmed Ben S. Bernanke to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman. Many lawmakers have criticized the Fed chief for failing to nip the financial crisis in the bud, but fellow economists have credited him with pulling the U.S. economy back from the brink of collapse and preventing a sequel of the Great Depression.

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Retail, Apartment Sectors See Upturn in Prices

Despite negative reports regarding commercial real estate, this down market may be a window of opportunity for investors. According to the CCIM Institute and the Real Estate Research Corporation (RERC), commercial real estate is positioning itself to be an attractive investment on a risk-adjusted basis in 2010 and 2011. Property prices in the retail and apartment sectors, in particular, showed moderate increases in the fourth quarter of 2009, breaking the string of significant price declines during the previous 12 months.

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Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall

Marking the fourth consecutive week of declines, mortgage rates inched down once again this week, both Freddie Mac and Bankrate reported Thursday. According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates for 30-year fixed mortgages averaged 4.98 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending January 28, 2010, down 0.01 percent from last week. Compared to the same week last year, rates are down 0.12 percent.

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Treasury Announces Documentation Changes to Expedite Permanent Mods

Treasury said Thursday that it will begin requiring servicers to obtain all required documentation upfront, prior to evaluating a borrower for a trial plan under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) - an about-face from the current process where trial mods can be initiated based on stated, not verified, income. Treasury officials also fielded speculation that they might make principal reduction a more central component of the program. They currently have no plans to address negative equity under HAMP, but called it a ""serious policy concern.""

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Equator Now Accepting Agent-Initiated Short Sales

Technology provider Equator has announced the launch of its new agent-initiated short sale feature, which gives agents the ability to request a short sale on behalf of their homeowner clients, initially bypassing the lender to open up the process on their own. The company says agent initiation makes the progression easier for both the borrower and the lender, and brings short sales to fruition in dramatically less time.

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Ellie Mae Exec Appointed to MISMO Governance Committee

Ellie Mae announced Wednesday that Stephanie Berger, the company's director of e-mortgage solutions, has been appointed to the Mortgage Bankers Association's MISMO (Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization) residential governance committee.

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NAR Teams Up With NCST to Help Rebuild Foreclosure-Ridden Communities

In an effort to rebuild communities devastated by the foreclosure crisis, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has partnered with the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST), a nonprofit organization that facilitates the transfer of foreclosed and abandoned properties from financial intuitions to local housing organizations. The collaboration will bring more than 1,400 state and local Realtor associations into a side-by-side relationship with nonprofits and state and local leaders to develop targeted plans to bring stabilization to struggling neighborhoods.

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Sun Belt Cities Continue to Lead Foreclosure Stats

Cities in the Sun Belt continue to post the nation's highest foreclosure rates. According to a year-end report released by RealtyTrac Thursday, four states accounted for all top 20 metro foreclosure rates in 2009. Las Vegas, Nevada registered the nation's highest rate - more than 12 percent. California claimed nine of the 20 metros with the highest percentage of foreclosures. Florida was home to eight, with the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area in Arizona also landing a spot on the list.

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