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Biggest Mortgage News in March
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Conforming Appraisal Overhaul
In an effort to curb the use of inflated appraisals, sweeping changes have been made to residential appraisal requirements on conforming mortgages. Among the changes is the prohibition of appraisals ordered by mortgage brokers and loan originators.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have entered into cooperation agreements with New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to only purchase loans that meet a new home valuation protection code, Cuomo announced today. The code is effected on Jan. 1, 2009.

Under the new code, mortgage brokers and loan originators are prohibited from choosing or communicating with appraisers. In addition, lenders cannot use in-house staff appraisers to conduct initial appraisals, are prohibited using appraisal management companies that they own or control and cannot allow originators to work in the same unit as anyone who chooses appraisers.
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Most Admired Mortgage Companies
A number of troubled firms rank among the top ten most admired mortgage-related companies.

FORTUNE magazine recently published America's Most Admired Companies of 2008.

The ranking was determined through a survey of 3,700 people from dozens of industries. FORTUNE conducted the survey with Hay Group.
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N.Y. Foreclosure Case Sends Shockwaves
New York's Supreme Court has blocked a mortgage lender from foreclosing on a borrower who committed mortgage fraud because of violations to the state's predatory lending laws by the originating mortgage broker.

Former Countrywide Exec Launches New Co.
A former senior executive of Countrywide Financial Corp. has launched his own company to acquire mortgage portfolios from stressed mortgage lenders.

Increased FHA, Conforming Limits Published
The new maximum loan amount that can be insured by the Federal Housing Administration will apply in 14 California counties, one Florida county and 10 counties in New York. In addition, FHA limits have been raised to a lesser degree in numerous other counties and also impact conforming limits.

Worst Mortgage Fraud States
Four of the five states with the highest level of mortgage fraud last year were also among the five states with the highest foreclosure rates. And an analysis of recent loan applications indicates fraud activity is still very heavy.

Death of a Branch Operation
A Florida-based net branch operation that previously promoted itself as a haven for mortgage brokers looking to avoid companies that would eventually collapse has itself collapsed.

Argent Exec Charged in Massive Fraud Scheme
A former vice president of Argent Mortgage Co., an account executive and two mortgage brokers have been charged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving hundreds of loans.

Brokers May Fight New Appraisal Requirements
Mortgage brokers are threatening to file legal action in response to new appraisal guidelines on conforming mortgages.

FHA Lender Adds 300 Employees
A New York-based company has ramped up its staff as it prepares to handle an onslaught of government-insured mortgage originations.

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Sam Garcia
Mortgage Industry News

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