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U.S. Commercial Real Estate Suffers Worst Fall on Record: IPD

Commercial real estate in the United States has suffered its worst annual capital return on record, according to Investment Property Databank (IPD). The global real estate analysis firm reported that its U.S. property index fell 23.9 percent in 2009. While the pace of market value decline eased over the final quarter, IPD says cap rate pressures and weakening rental fundamentals are curbing optimism that 2010 is the year of recovery for the commercial sector.

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Pennsylvania Bolsters Mortgage Enforcement Actions in 2009

As a result of regulatory reforms signed into law by Gov. Edward G. Rendell in 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking increased enforcement activity in the mortgage industry in 2009. Last year, the department suspended 542 mortgage companies and professionals for violations such as failure to obtain bonding, inadequate supervision of employees, and not completing criminal background check and education requirements.

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Private Equity Group Completes Acquisition of MortgageDashboard

Catalizador Private Equity Fund, a team of Texas-based venture capitalists, announced this week the completed acquisition of MortgageDashboard. MortgageDashboard provides loan origination systems that enable paperless mortgage processing. Catalizador took control of MortgageDashboard last fall when the technology firm lost an important line of credit and was on the brink of insolvency.

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Global DMS Makes Software Compliant with FHA Appraisal Rules

Global DMS has enhanced its appraisal management technologies to comply with new appraisal requirements of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which went into effect on Monday. All lenders submitting loans to FHA are now required to comply with the agency's new guidelines, which have some similarities and several differences to the HVCC already adopted by the GSEs.

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California Named No. 1 State for Mortgage Fraud Risk

In the fourth quarter of 2009, California had the highest mortgage fraud risk, according to the latest fraud report from Interthinx, a provider of risk mitigation and regulatory compliance tools. California nudged Nevada into the No. 2 spot on the company's list. Arizona was third and Florida was fourth. Interthinx's study shows that the most common type of mortgage fraud these days relates to property valuation schemes involving short sales, REOs, wholesale flipping, and refinancing.

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Mortgage Insurers Receive GSE Approval

Fannie Mae has approved four new mortgage insurers to provide mortgage insurance for conventional first mortgage loans, according to a lender letter released Thursday. Two of these mortgage insurers also received approval to do business with Freddie Mac.

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Obama Pledges $1.5B for Unemployed and Underwater Homeowners

The administration unveiled a new initiative to help the nation's hardest hit housing markets. President Obama is allocating $1.5 billion for states where unemployment is high and home prices have fallen more than 20 percent. While national indicators point to housing stabilization, local conditions vary considerably. Obama is setting up an ""innovation fund"" for state agencies to develop their own loan modification assistance programs for underwater and unemployed homeowners.

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Delinquencies, New Foreclosures Fall: Is this the Beginning of the End?

The national residential delinquency rate and new foreclosures initiated both dropped in the fourth quarter. Is it a sign that the industry has finally turned the corner on the housing crisis? The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) says yes. ""We are likely seeing the beginning of the end,"" Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist, said. According to MBA, the delinquency rate has fallen to 9.47 percent, down 17 basis points from the third quarter of 2009. Foreclosure starts are down 22 basis points.

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