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Housing Metrics at 89% of Last ‘Normal’ Levels

Of the nearly 350 metro markets survey in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), the group reports 56 have returned to or exceeded their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity based on housing permits, home prices, and employment. While unchanged from NAHB's June survey, the latest index reflects a yearly increase of seven markets.

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Housing, Economic Sentiments Turn Sour

In its latest National Housing Survey, Fannie Mae found housing sentiment among U.S. consumers was down in July compared to recent months, with fewer expecting continued growth. According to the findings, only 42 percent of Americans surveyed said they expect home prices to keep rising over the next year, continuing a downward trend that started in April.

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As Housing Gains Slow, Some Markets Shine Brighter

In its June National Housing Trend Report, Realtor.com reported the national housing market continued to gain some strength as summer got under way, though the rate of recovery dimmed somewhat. While current and seasonal trends would suggest home sales will see a slowdown in the coming months, national indicators are masking some of the activity happening in individual markets, says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com.

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ATR, QM Aren’t Majorly Impacting Prime Mortgage Market

The ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage (QM) rules that went into effect earlier this year are not having a significant impact on approvals of prime conforming residential mortgage loans, but they are impacting the jumbo and nontraditional loan markets, according to the July 2014 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices conducted by the Federal Reserve.

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New Housing Outlook Ditches Bearish Concerns

In response to recent bearish housing outlooks, Altos Research recently released its own decidedly more positive forecast. "It's scary to be a contrarian, particularly if you're contrarian and bullish. In retrospect, this position is the most fun—if you're right," said Michael Simonsen, co-founder and CEO of Altos.

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July Originations Pick Up, but Will It Last?

Based on data from Bloomberg, investment bank FBR Capital Markets estimates issuance of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) last month came to approximately $90 billion, marking a "significant improvement" from June and May. However, year-to-date originations are at approximately $633 billion, and with the historically stronger summer months done, FBR expects "the strong pace set in July could slow materially in August, September, and beyond."

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