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Report: Wells Fargo Setting Sights Back on Subprime

Wells Fargo is reportedly looking to return to the subprime market by bringing in customers with credit scores as low as 600, according to Reuters. Lenders venturing back into the high-risk loans market are even using a subtle marketing trick to assuage fear and spur demand—subprime loans become "another chance mortgages" or "alternative mortgages," shedding the stigmatized "subprime" label, the report says.

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Non-Distressed Sales Prices Up 0.3% in December

Home prices nationally rose at a seasonally unadjusted rate of 0.3 percent in December, continuing the pace slow, steady monthly gains that started in September, FNC reported in its latest Residential Price Index (RPI). While slightly down from November’s 0.4 percent rate of growth, December’s price gains reflect greater stability in the non-distressed market, FNC says.

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Refinances to See Second Wind?

Noting that interest rates have spent most of the last two months on a downward slope (despite actions from the Federal Reserve to bring down asset purchases), Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, says the refinance segment of the market may be getting its second wind, thus giving a lift to overall applications activity.

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Builder Confidence Plunges as Buyers Shy Away

The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI), released in partnership with Wells Fargo, posted a 10-point decline to 46 in the group’s latest report. It was the first time since May 2013 that the index measured below 50, the “neutral” point between a market viewed as “good” or “bad.” All four regions reported declines in confidence, with losses ranging from seven points in the South to 14 points in the West.

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Construction Spending Inches Up in December, Touches 5-Year High

The Department of Commerce reported Monday that spending in December ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $930.5 billion, 0.1 percent above November's revised estimate of $929.9 billion and 5.3 percent ahead of December 2012's $883.6 billion. December's figure was the highest since March 2009, when spending ran at a rate of $955.0 billion. Residential construction came in at a rate of $357.4 billion, its highest since June 2008.

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Wells Ranks Top Among Commercial Servicers in 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released over the weekend its year-end ranking of commercial and multifamily servicers' volumes--and once again, Wells Fargo topped the list. According to MBA's numbers, Wells Fargo took the No. 1 spot with $434.4 billion in dollar volume and 33,354 in loan volume. Following it were PNC Real Estate ($369.6 billion, up from $337.6 billion the previous year) and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage ($235.4 billion, up from $197.3 billion).

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Consumer Sentiment Index Dips in January

The Surveys of Consumers' Index of Consumer Sentiment, released jointly by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, dropped to 81.2 this month from December's 82.5. The monthly decline stands in contrast to the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which rose for the second straight month in the group's most recent report. The measure of sentiment about current conditions fell slightly to 96.8, while the expectations index was down to 71.2.

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GDP Advances 3.2% in Q4

The nation's economy continued to grow in the fourth quarter, helped along by improvements in consumer spending and business investment. In its "advance" estimate of real gross domestic product (GDP) last quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) put growth at an estimated annual rate of 3.2 percent. Last quarter's increase was driven mostly by positive contributions from personal consumer expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports.

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Report: Majority of Lenders Putting Financial Data at Risk

As companies like Target and Michaels Stores continue to take a drubbing over high-profile data breaches, a report from cybersecurity firm HALOCK Security Labs suggests mortgage lenders may not be doing enough to protect applicants' sensitive financial data. After investigating practices at 63 lenders of varying size, HALOCK found more than 45 companies (70 percent) permitted applicants to send personal and financial information through unencrypted email attachments.

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