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Daily Dose

Freddie’s Mortgage Portfolio Crawls Upward

According to Freddie's monthly volume summary, released Monday, the company's total portfolio ended November at an estimated $1.9 trillion, up an annualized 0.4 percent. Year-to-date, the portfolio's growth rate is an average -0.7 percent, the result of six straight months of declines through the year's first half and an additional month of contraction in August.

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Leading Economic Indicators Continue to Improve

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) increased 0.6 percent in November to 105.5, the group reported. The increase matched October's improvement and was slightly weaker than September's 0.8 percent growth.

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Regulators Shut Down Minnesota Bank; 2014 Tally Hits 18

The bank, which is Minnesota's first to close in 2014, was shuttered on Friday by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which appointed FDIC as receiver. In a statement, the agency cited lack of capital, continuing operating losses, and a large volume of problem assets as reasons for the forced closing.

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Existing-Home Sales Topple to Six-Month Low

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday that existing-home sales fell 6.1 percent from October to November, landing at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million. Despite the stumble, home resales in November were still up 2.1 percent from year-ago levels, making it just the second month in 2014 to see sales rise year-over-year.

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Home Sales, Inventory Weaken in November

Home sales last month were down 5.2 percent year-over-year in 53 of the country's biggest markets, RE/MAX said this week in its latest National Housing Report. The drop, which the company said is normal for this time of the year, followed gains of 0.9 percent in September and 2.6 percent in October—the only two months so far this year to have seen year-over-year improvements.

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Home Investors Lean Toward Renting Over Flipping

Out of all the investors surveyed by Auction.com in November, 50.5 percent said they're going to rent out their properties, while 46.6 percent plan to flip them to another buyer. The preference toward renting was more evident among one-time purchasers, 72.2 percent of whom said they plan to rent out the auctioned home.

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Senators Pen Letter to FHFA Chief Over FHLB Requirements

The letter, co-authored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), states that "(t)he proposed rule affects long-standing membership rules for the Federal Home Loan Bank system and will negatively affect new and current members in the system." Twenty-five other senators signed the letter.

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Continued Growth Brings U.S. Home Values Up $1.7T in 2014

Looking at the past year of growth, Zillow estimates U.S. homes will be worth a combined $27.5 trillion by the end of 2014, a 6.7 percent increase over 2013. Last year, the company valued the country's housing stock at roughly $25.7 trillion, an improvement of 7.9 percent from the year prior.

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Economic Growth Projected to Lift After Fourth-Quarter Turn

Economists at Fannie Mae are forecasting full-year growth of 2.1 percent for 2014, a full point below 2013's rate of growth, due to the reverse in the final quarter of some unsustainable forces that boosted the economy in the third quarter. However, the group is predicting economic growth of 2.7 percent for 2015.

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Mortgage Rates Continue to Sink

According to figures released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.80 percent (0.6 point) for the week ending December 18, down 13 basis points from last week's survey. Last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.47 percent.

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