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Foreclosures for Sale: 34% Off

Foreclosure homes sold for 34 percent less than the average price of a non-distressed home during the third quarter of 2011, according to new data released by RealtyTrac Thursday. The average sales price of homes in the process of foreclosure or bank-owned was $165,322 over the July-to-September period last year. RealtyTrac says third parties purchased a total of 221,536 residential properties classified as foreclosures or REO during the third quarter of 2011, representing just 20 percent of all residential sales during that timeframe.

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Pending Home Sales Decline Monthly, Rise Annually

After reaching a 19-month high in November, pending home sales declined 3.5 percent in December, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Wednesday. November's pending home sales stood at 100.1 for the nation, just above the ""historically healthy"" average of 100, designated by NAR. The rate ticked down to 96.6 in December. Despite the decline, December's pending home sales are 5.6 percent higher than the rate recorded in December 2010.

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DBRS Expects a Year of Reform for Mortgage Servicing

The ratings agency DBRS says mortgage servicers are going to continue to see ""much needed reform"" in 2012 as the industry moves to standardize the servicing business. The first go at such standardization will center around implementing the directives of regulators' consent orders, according to DBRS. The agency does expect the U.S. government to institute some of the REO programs currently being vetted, but doesn't foresee any tangible benefits in terms of loss recoveries until 2013.

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Housing Inventory Down 22% From Year-Ago Levels

At the national level, the inventory of for-sale single-family homes dropped by 22.29 percent over the last year, according to new statistics released by Realtor.com. The site concludes that at the close of 2011, there were 1.89 million single-family homes on the market, down 6 percent from just one month prior. Realtor.com views the development as a positive sign the market is holding its own at the national level, but notes that the weight of foreclosures is keeping the market in a fragile state.

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DataQuick Launches Nationwide Distressed Property Analysis Tools

One of the keys to the housing market's recovery is managing and ultimately clearing out the inventory of distressed properties, according to DataQuick, a real estate data provider headquartered in San Diego, California. The company released its new RiskFinder Distress at the American Securitization Forum on Monday.

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Investors With Cash Place Downward Pressure on Home Prices

Homebuyers with enough cash in hand to cover their offer price in full are able to bid significantly lower on properties and according to a new industry report released Monday, because they offer a shorter and more reliable closing timeline without the impediments of a mortgage, they often win out with that lower bid. The study found that this low-bid-winning dynamic is particularly true for distressed properties because mortgage servicers selling foreclosed or REO homes generally prefer transactions that can settle within 30 days.

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Loan Modifications Are on the Decline: Moody’s

As robo-signing reviews reach completion, servicers are beginning to work through some of their foreclosure backlogs, according to a third-quarter report from Moody's Investors Service. At the same time, the ratings agency found that loan modifications are on the decline. Servicers are now turning to loss mitigation alternatives such as short sales and deeds in lieu, Moody's says. The agency is also forecasting longer timelines this year to move properties from foreclosure sale to REO liquidation.

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Rise in Home Sales Signifies Strengthening Market: Economists

The long-awaited housing recovery is beginning to blossom, according to industry experts taking a look at recent existing-home sales data. While admitting home sales are ""still very low,"" the chief economist at Capital Economics says it is clear the housing recovery is now well underway. The evidence: home sales have been on the rise for the past three months, posting a 5 percent increase in December, according to the latest market study released by the National Association of Realtors.

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Firms Launch $450M Program to Convert REOs Into Rentals

Government officials are in the process of reviewing 4,000-plus recommendations for turning repossessed homes into rental properties in order to trim the REO inventory held by federal housing agencies. The administration says it is pursuing potential ideas for REO-to-rental pilot programs ""with a sense of urgency,"" but two California firms don't plan to wait on the government's involvement. Carrington Holding Company and Oaktree Capital have partnered to buy up $450 million in REOs and convert them into rentals.

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Clayton Holdings Closes Green River Capital Acquisition

Clayton Holdings LLC announced Wednesday it has completed its acquisition of Green River Capital. No financial details were disclosed. Green River has a staff of approximately 200 and a nationwide network of more than 5,000 real estate brokers, providing REO, short sale, and BPO services to investor, financial institution, and GSE clients. Green River will continue to operate as a standalone business, under its current brand and led by its current management team.

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