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The Economic Link: Job Creation = Home Price Increases

The health of the labor market has a far-reaching impact on many areas of housing. When the economy is growing and the number of employed rises, so do home sales and mortgage originations. According to the research firm Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, there's also a definitive link between employment and home prices. The firm's analysts examined metro area job data juxtaposed with price trends for new homes, and their conclusions illustrate that jobs and housing "are joined at the hip."

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Historic Lending Lows Hamper Housing Activity

Mortgage lenders across the country have reported layoffs and substantial downsizing, a consequence of heightened regulatory scrutiny, weak job growth, and brittle markets slumbering in the wake of diminishing consumer confidence. Despite a small spurt in refinancing measures and a drop in lending rates to their lowest ebb since the turn of the century, origination loan volume remains low, and lenders are coming to terms with the fact that they will be financing fewer mortgages over a longer-than-expected period.

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Mortgage Rates Continue Slide

Surveys released by Bankrate and Freddie Mac on Thursday confirm a continuing slide in fixed and adjustable mortgage rates, with analysts attributing the declines to news about weak job growth. Figures in Freddie Mac's report trended alongside those in Bankrate's weekly survey to reveal a decline for 30-year fixed-rate averages to 4.49 percent and 4.65 percent, respectively. Bankrate says its findings reflect a straight nine-week fall for mortgage rates, made more unstable by restive housing markets and long-term government debt.

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Mortgage Applications Down Nationwide

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Mortgage loan applications fell by 0.4 percent nationwide over the last week, spreading unease among lenders concerned about the potential for a dip in the housing market, according to a study released by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) on Wednesday. The decline in loan applications coincides with the lowest rates for mortgages in the last six months and the fewest applications for home purchases in nearly 15 years. Market analysts say people are "nervous," which can preclude signing on the bottom line to buy a home.

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Survey: Americans Still Want to Own Homes

A recent national survey finds that approximately three in every four Americans regard home ownership as an important investment and want to own homes. A survey by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies, found that 2 in 1 Americans who owe more on their homes agreed that home ownership is worth the risk, despite the perception of risk in the housing market. Participants from all age groups also agreed that owning a home is the best long-term investment, according to the survey.

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Twenty Percent Down Payment Not Easy For Consumers

As consumer advocates and mortgage lenders take to the streets fighting the implementation on the Qualified Residential Mortgage Rule. Potential home buyers were polled to see what they think about coming up with 20 percent for a home. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling shows no improvement on the ability for potential homeowners to raise 20 percent for a down payment from 2010 to 2011.

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Risk Mitigation Hot Topic at Chicago Fed Conference

As the Dodd-Frank Act moves slowly to implementation, banking officials speaking at the recent Chicago Federal Reserve Bank's annual conference pointed to the need for continued monitoring of financial services markets to mitigate the risk of future economic crisis. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for regulators to focus on two key types of risk: gaps in regulatory coverage and risks that vary with the economy, such as the buildup of lending leverage.

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Zillow Shows Home Values Plummet

Home values plummeted more in the first quarter of this year than they have in any quarter since 2008, according to Zillow's first quarter Real Estate Market Report. The Zillow Home Value Index fell 3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 and declined 8.2 percent year-over-year to $169,600. Home values have fallen 29.5 percent since they peaked in June 2006.

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ICON Believes in Regional Talent

Icon Residential Lenders recently bolstered the company's West Coast sales team with two notable promotions from within the organization and a new hire joining Icon from 360 Mortgage Group. Rhett Hubbard was promoted to area sales manager for Orange and San Diego counties, and Justin Smith will also take on an upgraded role as area sales manager for Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. New to Icon, Debbie Hood has been appointed as the area sales manager for the Pacific Northwest.

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