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A U.S. appeals court on May 23 overturned a $1.27 billion penalty against Bank of America, voiding a jury's finding that the bank was liable for selling toxic mortgage loans to the government-sponsored enterprises, Reuters reported. The government had accused the bank of fraud over a loan origination process known as “Hustle.”
Fannie Mae on May 17 lowered its full-year economic growth forecast to 1.7 percent, down from 1.9 percent noted in a previous forecast and 2.2 percent reported at the beginning of the year. However, growth is expected to recover with a boost from home sales and low mortgage rates.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced May 16 that more than 3.4 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgage loans via the Home Affordable Refinance Program, including more than 19,000 in the first quarter. HARP expires Dec. 31, and more than 325,000 borrowers are still eligible to refinance.
In a bid to boost mortgage access, the government-sponsored enterprises, banks and other lenders are pitching programs and providing more credit for “non-traditional” borrowers, including those considered “credit invisibles” and “boomerang borrowers,” and individuals with little or repaired credit, MBA NewsLink reported on May 19.
Average fixed mortgage rates during the past week once again remained near yearly lows, Freddie Mac reported May 19 in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Cash sales made up 35.7 percent of all home sales in February, accounting for the smallest portion of total home purchases since the start of 2008, according to a report from analytics firm CoreLogic, HousingWire reported May 19.
The number of foreclosed vacant or “zombie” homes on the books through May dropped 30 percent compared to the same point last year, analytics firm ReatyTrac reported May 19 in its the Zombie Foreclosure Report. Nearly 1.4 million U.S. properties are in foreclosure.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has advised large national banks to curb their commercial real estate lending in anticipation of market “froth” in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, Fortune reported May 17.
Institutional investors continue to rate commercial real estate higher than alternative investments such as stocks, bonds and cash, but CRE ratings declined in the first quarter while ratings for cash improved, according to a report from real estate valuation and consulting firm Situs RERC, MBA NewsLink reported May 23.
A boom in the biotech and pharma industries has sparked substantial interest and growth in certain laboratory and office markets, and investors reportedly should find these properties to be “very sticky, long-term investments,” National Real Estate Investor reported May 19.
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