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Daily Dose

Pending Home Sales Inch Up in November Measure

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a 0.8 percent month-over-month increase in its Pending Home Sales Index to a reading of 104.8 in November. With the most recent increase, the index has now posted annual gains for three straight months, lining up with recent improvements in existing-home sales activity.

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New Acquisitions Drive Up Business at Fannie

The balance of Fannie Mae's gross mortgage portfolio dropped from $436 billion in October down to $424 billion in November, marking the 52nd time in the last 53 months Fannie Mae's portfolio declined month-over-month. With the exception of December 2012, when the portfolio grew in value at a compound annualized rate of 1 percent, the value of the portfolio has declined every month since June 2010.

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New York Lender Settles Over Mortgage Fraud Suit

The Great Neck, New York-based Golden First agreed to pay $36 million to settle a complaint originally filed by the United States in April 2013 and amended in August 2013. In the complaint, the government accuses Golden First of violating the False Claims Act through years of misconduct relating to the mortgage company's participation in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)'s Direct Endorsement Lender Program.

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Home Sales, Housing Starts Expected to See Significant Growth in 2015

Employment grew at a rate higher than the national average (3 percent, as opposed to 2 percent) for the 25 to 29 age group, which is good news for housing, because this age group is the key first-time homebuyer segment. Steadily falling oil prices, which are down 45 percent since June, provide more economic growth tailwind going into next year. The drop in oil prices reduces energy-related expenses not just for driving, but for residential real estate also, according to Khater.

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Consumer Confidence Makes Comeback Heading Into Holidays

November's reading had been a disappointment for the Consumer Confidence Index following a post-recession high of 94.5 for October. The Present Situation Index jumped up to 98.6 in the latest reading from its November level of 93.7, while the Expectations Index fell slightly from 89.3 down to 88.5.

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U.S. Home Price Index Pace Continues Deceleration

Home prices in the U.S. increased at a slower pace in October than in September, although eight cities experienced growth at a faster rate, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released by S&P/Dow Jones Indices on Tuesday.

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The GSEs Under Siege

It has never been more en vogue to be a critic of the GSEs. From politicians to private citizens to watchdogs within the federal government, if you want to score political points or push an agenda, calling for an end to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or just castigating the conservatorship itself as somehow unfair is a popular way to get there.

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