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Mortgage Rates Retreat on Tepid Economic Reports

Freddie Mac released Thursday the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending March 6, showing the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) falling 9 basis points to an average rate of 4.28 percent (0.7 point). Bankrate.com’s national survey showed slightly less dramatic movements, but rates were down all the same.

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Quarterly Price Gains Slow; Declines Anticipated

Clear Capital released earlier this week its latest Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, recording only a 1 percent gain in home prices over the quarter ending last month. That figure is down from a 2.5 percent pace of growth for the January quarter. While many price indicators have pointed to slowdowns over the last few months, the latest trend could be the start of something worse, says Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

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Survey Highlights Consumer Need for Clear Lending Guidance

In a survey of 1,500 consumers who purchased a home in the last 10 years, TD Bank found 69 percent would describe their experience with their lender as “excellent” or “very good." Rating specific aspects of their experience, accessibility” and “responsiveness” ranked highest, while relatively fewer respondents were happy with their lender’s efforts to explain options or help them understand the process.

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Four Million Homes Return to Positive Equity in 2013

As of the end of 2013, CoreLogic estimates the number of mortgaged residential properties with equity totaled about 42.7 million, representing a share of about 86.7 percent. Due to a slowdown in the quarterly growth rate of the company's Home Price Index, the share of homes with equity versus underwater homes was mostly unchanged from Q3 to Q4.

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HUD Unveils 2015 Budget; Expects No Further FHA Bailout

In a conference call Tuesday, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan discussed the agency's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, which is up 2.6 percent from current levels to $46.66 billion. Joining Donovan was Carol Galante, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which last year was forced to accept its first-ever Treasury draw—an incident her agency is expected to avoid this year.

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Credit Risk Down to Post-Crash Low

TransUnion released its Credit Risk Index (CRI) Wednesday, concluding that credit risk dropped at the end of 2013 to the lowest level since 2005. "With credit risk at such low levels, there is a possibility that consumers in higher risk segments may see more credit offers, as some lenders decide they have the room in their profit models to take on greater risk," said Ezra Becker, VP of research and consulting for TransUnion.

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Mortgage Master Opens New Texas Location

Mortgage Master, a Massachusetts-based super-regional mortgage bank, announced the opening of its newest retail location deep in the heart of Texas. Leading the new office is Michael Marlow, a lifelong Houston resident with 26 years of experience in the residential mortgage industry.

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Fed: Winter Weather Softens Economic Growth

The Federal Reserve released Wednesday the Beige Book report summarizing economic conditions across its 12 districts from January through early February—and the word of the day was, naturally, “weather.” According to the Fed, reports from all districts indicated economic conditions continued to expand at a “modest to moderate” rate in most areas of the country, with only the New York and Philadelphia districts experiencing a decline in activity.

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Finance Execs Maintain Cautious Optimism for 2014

Out of more than 900 respondents to Fiserv’s 2014 Boardroom Series Outlook Survey, 50 percent expressed “somewhat” or “very optimistic” expectations for economic growth this year, with another 42 percent expecting the year to follow more or less the same track as 2013. A combined 9 percent said they are “somewhat” or “very pessimistic.”

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Purchase Application Volumes Down to 18-Year Low

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) application data for last month showed a 0.1 percent bump in total application volume, down from a gain of 2.5 percent in January. Growth was toppled by a 9.0 percent drop in applications for home purchases, which were at their lowest level in more than 18 years in February—despite a 9 percent week-over-week improvement to close out the month.

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