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Daily Dose

JPMorgan to Cut Additional 6,000 Mortgage Jobs in 2014

JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday it plans to cut an additional 6,000 mortgage banking jobs in 2014 as the bank adapts to a continued spiral in loan demand. The announced cuts come on top of an estimated headcount reduction of 11,000 last year, the bank revealed in an investor presentation. At this time in 2013, JPMorgan was shooting to bring the headcount down at its mortgage wing by 13,000-15,000 over the following two years.

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Consumer Outlook Sours in February

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell from a revised 79.4 last month to 78.1 in the most recent release. The individual components making up the index were mixed, with the measure of current conditions rising nearly four points to 81.7 and the gauge of consumer expectations falling more than five points to 75.7.

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Home Prices See Greatest Yearly Gain Since 2005

S&P Dow Jones Indices released Tuesday its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for December, showing national prices up 11.3 percent as of year-end, a slight pickup over the previous quarter’s annual improvement of 11.2 percent. The national index covers all nine U.S. census divisions. While prices were strong in Q4 compared to the previous year, they were down relative to Q3, dropping 0.3 percent.

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Prices Crawl Up 0.1% in December Index

The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services released on Monday its latest Home Price Index (HPI), noting an increase of 0.1 percent in home prices to $232,000 for the month of December. The largest states experienced varying degrees of home price changes: California experienced no change; Florida rose 0.6 percent; New Jersey fell 0.1 percent; New York rose 0.7 percent; and Texas rose 0.4 percent.

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Title Insurers Warned to Stay Vigilant as Credit Metrics Loosen

Noting that “several credit metrics for 2013 vintage deals have deteriorated, including expansion of interest only loans, higher use of subordinated debt and higher LTV [loan-to-value] ratios,” the Fitch Ratings in a release put out Monday urged all title insurers to conduct thorough search and examination processes to head off future losses.

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As Student Debt Rises, Would-Be Homeowners Forced to Choose

In a February survey of nearly 2,000 homebuyers, Redfin found that 16 percent of first-timers (who made up about half of the total survey group) have been held back from purchasing in the past by student loan debts. Out of all homebuyers surveyed, one-third said student debt had led them to put off purchasing for one to two years, while slightly less than that said they had to delay for four years or more.

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Builder Study Shows Signs of Stabilizing Affordability

While most other reports have indicated a decline in Americans’ ability to pay for homes at the national median price ($205,000 as of Q4), NAHB’s latest index actually shows relative stability, with 64.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in Q4 classified as “affordable” to families earning the median income of $64,400. That result is a slight step up from the index reading of 64.5 percent recorded in Q3.

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Mortgage Risk Continues to Climb

Last month’s implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) qualified mortgage (QM) guidelines did little to stem the rise of mortgage risk across the nation, according to the latest from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The group’s National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI), a measure of loan performance under stressful economic conditions, increased to a reading of 11.8 percent in January.

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Feds Finalize New Mortgage Fraud Requirements for GSEs

Per new regulations finalized last week, the GSEs will be required to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) directly with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rather than through their own regulator. Developed in coordination with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), FinCEN’s final rule is intended to provide law enforcement and regulators with a more complete picture of mortgage fraud than that offered by less detailed reports currently provided to FHFA.

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Declining Affordability: Shock or Not?

Yes, affordability (as measured by the National Association of Realtors' Housing Affordability Index) is down as much as 22 percent from its January 2013 peak, but is still far higher than it was in the early 2000s, says CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming in the company's February MarketPulse report. Moreover, Fleming notes the problem of "unaffordable housing" is one that only really exists for first-time homebuyers.

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