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Author Archives: Scott_Morgan

Scott Morgan is a multi-award-winning journalist and editor based out of Texas. During his 11 years as a newspaper journalist, he wrote more than 4,000 published pieces. He's been recognized for his work since 2001, and his creative writing continues to win acclaim from readers and fellow writers alike. He is also a creative writing teacher and the author of several books, from short fiction to written works about writing.

How Loan Limits Have Failed Today’s Housing Market

One way the federal government has accounted for local market differences is through the conforming loan limit: the maximum amount of a home loan that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can guarantee. However, according to Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko, this current system falls far short of reflecting the actual differences in local home prices and ends up favoring borrowers in lower-cost markets.

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Report Offers Second Opinion on March Home Sales

On Thursday, RealtyTrac released its Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which showed modest gains in U.S. residential sales in March. The firm reported that March showed a 0.4 percent uptick in overall transactions compared to February and a full 8 percent increase over sales in March 2013. RealtyTrac’s data clashes with other reports released this week about March sales.

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Home Values Up 5.7% in Q1

Zillow’s Q1 Real Estate Market Report, released Tuesday, shows that home values across the United States are up 5.7 percent (to a national median of $169,800) compared to Q1 2013. This marks the 21st consecutive month that prices, compared year-over-year, have gone up. Even more encouraging is that home values in 527 U.S. cities that saw declines of 10 percent or more during the recession are either at their peak or soon will be.

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FHLBank Advances Surging Among Largest Institutions

Secured loans, or advances, from the Federal Home Loan Banks system to lenders dried up significantly after the market crash of 2008, when the loans peaked at about $1 trillion. But since then, advances have risen to $492 billion, largely due to a flood of secured loans to the system's four largest members—JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citibank. These lenders accounted for $135 billion of the contributions through 2013.

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As Markets Come to Boil, Analysts Dispel Bubble Fears

Pro Teck released its March Home Value Forecast, which ranks the hottest metro markets in the country. California claimed nine of the top 10 slots, while Florida claimed seven of the bottom 10 areas for home value appreciation. Though California has shown impressive gains in valuation recently—a trait that often makes California the subject of “new bubble” talk—Pro Teck CEO Tom O’Grady said he does not foresee trouble over the next five years.

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Asking Prices Up 10.0% Year-on-Year; Urban Areas Lead

Trulia found that month-to-month asking prices nationally in urban markets rose 1.2 percent in March. Quarter-to-quarter, prices rose 2.9 percent in March, reflecting three straight months of solid month-over-month gains. Both calculations were seasonally adjusted. More encouraging is that asking prices are up a full 10 percent since last year, rising in 97 of the 100 largest metros.

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One-Third of Bankers to Only Lend Within QM

The American Bankers Association (ABA) released the results of its latest annual Real Estate Lending Survey. According to the ABA, more than 80 percent of bankers surveyed believe that tightened Dodd-Frank rules will restrict credit, thereby narrowing the pool of candidates able to secure mortgages. More than a third of bankers surveyed said they would only offer qualified mortgages.

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One-Third of For-Sale Homes Considered ‘Unaffordable’

Recovery in the housing market is not without its side effects, particularly in major metro markets on the West Coast and in Florida. A look into 35 major markets by Zillow reveals that buyers making the median income in Southern California, the Bay Area, Portland (Oregon), Denver, and Miami face markets where more than half the available homes are beyond their price range—which could mean the beginning of a new housing bubble.

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Mortgage Fraud Risk on the Rise

Interthinx, a subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation, annually studies loan applications processed by its FraudGUARD system to determine the riskiest places in the country for mortgage fraud. What it found from its study of applications in 2013 was that fraud risk nationally rose by 4 index points to a total of 104. This continues the rising trend in fraud risk observed over the past three years as inventories shrink, prices rise, and markets stabilize.

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Forecast Calls for Economic Thaw

However, according to an economic forecast report released Wednesday by UCLA Anderson, analysts expect the national GDP to growth by roughly 3 percent now that warmer and wetter spring weather is on the way. Moreover, as the GDP rises, increased housing and business investments and consumer spending should keep that growth rate steady through 2016.

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