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Crucial housing issues headed for hearings

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Two congressional hearings are scheduled Tuesday on issues that could have a big impact on housing markets: a proposal to overhaul rules governing settlement procedures and legislation that would allow the continued use of seller-funded down-payment assistance on FHA-backed loans.RESPA changes Real estate industry trade groups are all but unanimous in their opposition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA.HUD says its proposed changes to RESPA, unveiled in March, would save consumers $8.35 billion a year by helping them comparison-shop for a loan, title insurance and other settlement services. Industry groups say the changes will prove costly to implement and won't help consumers as claimed.At a May hearing before the House Committee on Small Business, the National Association of Realtors argued that HUD's proposal to provide incentives for lenders to package settlement services like title insurance,...