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Tight Credit Standards Create Up to 1.22M in ‘Lost’ Loans

Tight credit conditions have pushed as many as 1.22 million loans out of the market per year over the last few years, researchers at the Urban Institute (UI) assert in a new commentary. Admitting that their calculation method “likely ... [overstates] the impact of tighter credit,” they also calculated a scaled lower bound estimate of 273,000 “missing” first-lien purchase loans—though they maintain the "true" number is likely on the higher end.

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Builder Confidence Levels in March

After falling in February to the lowest level in nearly a year, builder confidence barely moved in March, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed in its latest Housing Market Index (HMI). According to the group, the index nudged up one point this month, landing on a reading of 47—still a few points shy of the 50 benchmark that separates a market largely perceived as “bad” from one perceived as “good.”

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Fed Officials: Housing Still in Sustainable Rebound

Despite warnings raised by some analysts in the wake of softening data releases, housing is still in the midst of “what appears to be a sustainable rebound,” say officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Included in that group is Richard Fisher, Dallas Fed president and CEO and one of the more hawkish Fed governors who will have a vote in monetary policy issues this year.

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DoJ Watchdog Finds Lax Approach to Mortgage Fraud

An audit conducted by the inspector general for the Justice Department found that, despite public statements to the contrary, mortgage fraud isn't a highly prioritized issue. FBI field offices visited by the Office of the Inspector General, including Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, listed mortgage fraud to be a low priority—if it was listed as one at all.

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More First-Time Buyers Ready to Enter Market in 2014

In 19 of 20 large metros surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics, more than 5.0 percent of local residents indicated they wanted to buy a home in the next year, with current renters showing the greatest interest in ownership. While this optimistic total from Zillow suggests interest is high, actually purchasing a home should prove to be a challenge in the upcoming year.

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Senate Banking Leaders Unveil Proposal for Housing Finance Reform

The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee announced Tuesday plans to move forward on a new proposal to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a new government backstop for private financiers. According to committee chairman Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the newly unveiled reform proposal is the result of months of exploratory hearings and negotiations.

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Credit Availability Up in February

The Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index, a measure of borrower eligibility and underwriting criteria from more than 85 lenders, moved up half a percentage point to 113.5 last month, building on an increase of two points recorded in January. Once again, the expansion in credit offerings in February was the result of offsetting factors, said MBA chief economist Mike Fratantoni.

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Consumer Attitudes Improve on Housing, Weaken on Economy

After starting the year on a low note, consumer attitudes toward housing brightened overall in February, according to Fannie Mae. That renewed confidence in home prices spurred a boost in those saying now is a good time to buy a home; that number was up 3 percentage points to 68 percent. At the same time, though, the share of respondents saying they think it would be easy for them to get a mortgage right now retreated from January's all-time high.

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2013 Originations Down 14%; Wells Fargo Stays on Top

While mortgage origination volumes looked different last year compared to 2012, the list of top lenders looked very much the same. In full-year originations, Wells Fargo held on to its top spot, generating approximately $351 billion in loans—about 19 percent of last year’s total volume, according to Mortgage Daily. JPMorgan Chase followed up at No. 2 at $168 billion.

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Borrower Health Improves in Q4; D.C. Ranks Highest

Compared to the prior period, the nation’s average Borrower Health Score was up 2.8 percent to 82.2, according to LendingTree, rebounding from the third quarter’s 1.6 point drop. The Borrower Health Score is calculated using the weighted average of credit score, loan-to-value ratio (LTV), and overall “lendability” of loan seekers in each state throughout the quarter.

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