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Super PAC Men: How political consultants took a Fort Worth oilman on a wild ride

The head of a Texas oil dynasty joined the parade of wealthy political donors, aiming to flip the Senate to Republicans. By the time consultants were done with him, the war chest was drained and fraud allegations were flying

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Bon Appétit: New French restaurant dishes out the finest in Fort Worth

Barely open six months, Le Cep, a contemporary French restaurant proffering fine dining, is stirring up Fort Worth’s culinary scene.

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Bridge collapse on I-35 north of Austin

SALADO, Texas (AP) — Emergency crews are responding to a reported bridge collapse along an interstate in Central Texas.

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Bombay Co.'s former HQ building purchased

The Bombay Co.’s former Fort Worth headquarters building has been sold, with private equity fund Diversified International Partners snapping up the seven-story, 122,828-square-foot structure at 550 Bailey St.

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Latin-inspired restaurant set to open in downtown Fort Worth

Downtown Fort Worth’s dining scene is about to get spicier with the opening of a new restaurant featuring Latin-inspired coastal cuisine.

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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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