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Record Rates Resume
Mortgage rates experienced another record-low week, and dormant applications finally woke up -- this kind of environment will spur housing to more greatness in 2003, but don't expect rates to get much lower than they are, some experts say.

Fed Cautions in Valuation of Servicing Assets
Banks and thrifts involved in mortgage activities, especially those with exposure to mortgage-servicing assets, should expect greater scrutiny of their activities during examinations, according to an advisory letter jointly issued by federal regulatory agencies this week.

Freddie Business Falls
Freddie Mac's new business purchase volume for January took an almost 40% dive from December.

2002 Thrift Production Record $536 Billion
The thrift industry set a loan origination record during the fourth quarter and the year, the Office of Thrift Supervision announced. The industry also experienced an increase in troubled assets during the year, however.

How Historical Can They Go?
Mortgage rates took another dip into history while applications remain strong, proving that housing is an energizing zap for the lethargic economy.

Personal Bankruptcies at Record Level
Bankruptcy filings jumped 5.7% in calendar 2002 from the previous year and continue to break historic records, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

More to Honesty Than Avoiding Fraud
Industry commentary by Dave Hershman

Former Texas House Candidate Pleads Guilty to Mortgage Fraud
Two Houston mortgage brokers, one a former state House candidate for the GOP, have pleaded guilty in a case the government says involved more than $11 million in loans on flip real estate transactions.

January Purchases $57.2 Billion at Fannie
Fannie Mae's portfolios continue to stretch at the seams, according to its first financial summary for 2003. Its duration gap also continues to be running behind, however.

Rate Outlook Unclear
Fewer consumers sought to refinance or purchase a home last week even though mortgage rates have remained near historically low levels. And with global events in such an unpredictable state, only a crystal ball could say whether those rates will sink further or spike, experts say.

CA, MO Among States With Most Fraud Activity Recently
Mortgage fraud decreased nationally overall during the fourth quarter, according to the quarterly National Fraud Report from a fraud-prevention company. Some states remain constant offenders, however.

Florida Mortgage Company First to be Charged for Violating OK Telemarketer Act
Oklahoma's attorney general filed suit Monday against Mortgage Investors Corp. for violating the state's new Telemarketer Restriction Act. The company is the first to be charged with breaking the state law.

January Production off at Countrywide
Countrywide Financial Corporation's production in January skyrocketed past last year's -- but it didn't quite match December's grand funding finale.

Cendant Production Jumps
Cendant Corporation's fourth quarter mortgage loan production beat both its third quarter and previous-year figures, the company announced.

Record $16.5 Billion 4th Quarter Production at Principal
Principal Financial, Inc. reported record mortgage loan production during the fourth quarter, less than a week after the company announced it would phase out its traditional residential mortgage operation and lay off 500 employees.

Rates Holding Steady
Even with America practically marching toward war with Iraq, mortgage rates only barely budged this week. But that's not all bad, because the one-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage is still a the record low.

What Unemployment?
Rates, refis, and the overall mortgage industry aren't the only things that rolled into 2003 at high speed -- broker and banker jobs didn't show signs of slowing down in January, either. Experts say other factors will have to play in for this to be a trend and not a blip on the flat economic radar.

Federal Charter to Keep Wells Funding Calif Mortgages After License Suspension
California's finance authority announced that it's intending to revoke the residential mortgage lending license of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. because of repeated violations of state code, according to the Department of Corporations.

Chase Suing Actor Wesley Snipes
Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. sued movie star Wesley Snipes for failing to make mortgage payments on his mansion in the posh Orlando, Fla., community of Isleworth, the Associated Press reported.

COFI Heads Lower Again
The cost of funds for west-coast financial institutions fell again, bringing a popular mortgage index down to its lowest point in decades -- again.

$4.5 Billion Quarterly Production at Option One
Option One Mortgage Corp. reported increases in origination and in it servicing portfolio during what was the company's third quarter.

Fannie's Bid for Conseco Servicing Portfolio Draws Concern
Fannie Mae's bid last week on the manufactured housing servicing platform of bankrupt Conseco, Inc. has the mortgage industry worried about the government entering the competitive marketplace. But Fannie says it would win the bid only in the unlikely event that no one else wants the loans, and even then Fannie intends to find an outside servicer.

CA Company, Executives Banned from Brokering in Washington
After charges of various state violations were upheld earlier this month, Washington state's financial agency has ordered a California mortgage company to pay fines and consumer restitution totaling more than $1 million. A lawyer for the company's president said the violations were the work of a rogue broker and that the legal proceedings were tainted.

Subprime Fundings Edge Down at Countrywide
Countrywide Financial Corporation announced its January subprime funding total, which was just an arm's length away from December's production.

New Century Production Falls From Record Levels
New Century Financial Corporation posted its mortgage loan production for January, which was just shy of December's record volume.

Option One Took $2.3 Mil Loss on Fraud Loans
Option One Mortgage Corp. has taken a loss on fraudulent loans made against properties from a New York builder. The head of the company's fraud unit defended giving loans to co-conspiring family members of the builder, who are accused of providing lenders with bad appraisals.

Former PinnFund CEO Sobs at Sentencing
PinnFund U.S.A.'s former chief executive officer reportedly sobbed as he was sentenced for one of the biggest fraud cases in southern California history.

2002 Impac Production Doubles
Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. announced it more than doubled total loan production during 2002.

Lenders Lose FHA Lending Authority
Four single-family FHA lenders lost the approval of HUD and will pay fines for violating agency requirements, according to the federal records administration. Seven other companies settled with HUD for violations and were fined but can remain FHA lenders.

FHA Insurance Still High Risk for HUD
Single-family mortgage insurance from the HUD continues to be a high-risk area even though HUD has been working at improvements, the United States GAO said in a recent report.

FHA Risk Management Improvements Sought by Coalition
To help beat the current affordable-housing crunch, a coalition of nine national housing organizations recommended to Congress on Monday that new authorities be established to improve risk management at the Federal Housing Administration and Ginnie Mae.

A Place to Sleep
Recent commercial mortgage transactions

$13.6 Million December Closings at Cambridge
Cambridge Realty Capital Companies released its loan closings for the month of December, which represents less than half the amount in closings from the previous year. The strength of Cambridge's sector this year relies on the strength of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, a company spokeswoman said.

Hotels, Offices and Apartments
Recent commercial mortgage transactions

Future of Commercial Mortgage Lending
San Diego, Calif. -- A few guys sat around drinking Monday, trying to figure out the problems of the world -- the commercial finance world, at least.

Commercial Mortgage Bankers Meet in San Diego
In light of recent bad business practices, it is dangerous for regulatory bodies to react with vigilant, restrictive legislation that ultimately would be "harmful to local economies, harmful for the continuing creation of prosperous neighborhoods," said John A. Courson, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers, at the CREF conference on Monday.

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