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Moves by Jeb Bush add to talk of 2016 candidacy

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush's decision to release a policy-laden e-book and all his emails from his time as governor of Florida has further stoked expectations among his allies that he will launch a presidential bid.

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Ebby Halliday acquires Fort Worth’s Williams Trew

Williams Trew Real Estate of Fort Worth has been acquired by Dallas-based residential real estate brokerage Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc.

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Meridian Bank Texas parent acquired by UMB Financial for $182.5M

Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Financial Corp., the parent company of UMB Bank, said Dec. 15 it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Marquette Financial Companies in an all-stock transaction.

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Cousins Properties to sell 777 Main tower in downtown Fort Worth

Cousins Properties Inc. has confirmed plans to sell the 777 Main office tower in downtown Fort Worth, according to a news release from the Atlanta-based real estate investment firm.

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Glen Garden sale closes, distillery on tap

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. closed late Wednesday on its purchase of the historic Glen Garden Country Club in southeast Fort Worth, with plans to convert it into a whiskey distillery and bucolic visitor attraction.

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Foreclosures fall to 2007 levels

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of homes lost to foreclosure has declined to levels not seen since before the housing meltdown.

Foreclosure filings -- including notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- during the first quarter fell 23 percent from a year earlier, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.

Last month, banks repossessed just under 44,000 homes. In September 2010, repossessions topped 100,000 a month.

"We're getting back to normal and will be there by next year," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

For the past couple of years, foreclosures have been on the decline as homeowners seek alternatives like short sales, in which they sell their home for less than what they owe and the bank agrees to forgive the difference.

The deals are preferred by the banks over foreclosures and have less of a negative impact on a consumer's credit score. But now even the need to turn to short sales is waning.

Government initiatives, like the Home Affordable Modification Program and Home Affordable Refinance Program, have helped millions of borrowers avoid foreclosure. And last spring, under a $25 billion settlement deal with state and federal officials, the nation's largest mortgage lenders agreed to help struggling borrowers by lowering their mortgage rates, reducing their principal and other fixes.

Now, the landscape of foreclosures is starting to look a lot like it did in the pre-bust years, said Blomquist.

A larger percentage of the nation's foreclosure activity is occurring in areas suffering from severe economic problems, such as "Rust Belt" cities like Rockford, Ill. and Chicago, not in the recently-developed, mid-to-upper class neighborhoods of California, Florida and Arizona that were hit hardest when the housing bubble burst, he said.

And many of the people who lose their homes now are dealing with a layoff or personal issue, such as a divorce, illness or death in the family, said Blomquist. During the housing bust, people were forced to default because of plunging home prices and unaffordable mortgage terms.

There are some states that are still struggling with a backlog of foreclosures like Florida, Illinois and Georgia, all states where courts oversee the foreclosure process. Florida had more than twice as many bank repossessions as any other state in March -- nearly 7,600. Illinois, with more than 3,500, was second and Georgia, with 3,350, was third.

With prices expected to continue to rise -- they were up more than 8 percent year-over-year in January -- the number of short sales should continue to fall, and so should foreclosures, according to Blomquist.

 

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