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Analysts Warn of ‘Next Generation’ of Subprime Lenders

Regulators have recently moved to curb growth at non-bank servicers amid concerns about their practices—and that might actually be for the best, say analysts for Moody's Investors Service. At the same time, they worry that companies might attempt to offset any slowdown in growth by shifting business models and originating non-prime mortgages, “a net credit negative.”

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Buying Costs Still Beat Renting, but for How Long?

Despite reports of declining home affordability nationwide, Trulia’s latest data shows purchasing a home still remains more affordable than renting in the largest markets—though the scale is close to tipping in a few. Mortgage rates would have to climb to 10.6 percent before ownership costs eclipsed rental costs on a national scale, Trulia says in its Winter 2014 Rent vs. Buy Report. For some markets, however, that number dips as low as 5.0 percent.

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Mortgage Apps Down for Third Straight Week

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported a seasonally adjusted 8.5 percent drop in loan application volume for the week ending February 21, bringing application numbers even lower after a 4.1 percent decrease the previous week. “[T]his is the time of year we would expect a significant pickup in purchase activity, and we are not yet seeing it,” remarked MBA chief economist Mike Fratantoni.

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Number of ‘Fully Recovered’ Markets Grows

Eighty-nine markets nationwide have "fully recovered" to normalized price levels, Homes.com says in its December Local Market Index. That number is up from 87 in the previous report. Mid-size markets saw a large improvement in recovery efforts; 60 of the top 200 mid-size markets have fully recovered previous losses in home prices.

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New Year Brings Another Decline in Freddie’s Portfolio

After a slight uptick in December, the annualized growth rate of Freddie Mac's mortgage portfolio dipped back into the negatives in January, with growth clocking in a rate of -1.9 percent. The GSE's monthly volume summary notes the unpaid principal balance (UPB) of mortgage-related investments decreased by approximately $7.1 billion in January.

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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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