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Zillow CEO to moderate White House refi forum

Housing secretary to field questions about current, proposed programs

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Seattle-based real estate search portal Zillow, is set to moderate an online White House mortgage refinancing info session geared toward consumers this Thursday at 3:15 p.m EDT.

The forum, which will feature U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and several homeowners, will take place as a Google+ Hangout, a video-conferencing feature of Google’s social media platform.

Donovan will explain some of the Obama Administration‘s current and proposed refinancing programs, including those associated with the Home Affordable Refinancing Program. It will be live-streamed on the White House’s website.

Refinancing is at the forefront of many homeowners’ minds — particularly those who live in one of an estimated 11.1 million U.S. homes that are underwater, according to Core Logic fourth quarter 2011 numbers.

The event may also serve as a forum for the Administration to defend itself against what critics have described as its "dismal" efforts to help struggling homeowners obtain loan modifications.

Consumers can send questions that may be picked for the forum, via Twitter with the hashtag #WHHangout and to Zillow’s Facebook page.

The event puts Zillow in the spotlight, leaving at least one observer wondering about the absence of the National Association of Realtors. Zillow’s public relations coup is "Further evidence the lion (NAR) is over the hill," blogged Greg Robertson, co-founder of a real estate software development company, W&R Studios.

"Zillow is thrilled to moderate this Google+ Hangout," Rascoff said in a statement.

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