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Daily Dose

Builders Blame Mortgage Standards for Lost Home Sales

Persisting tight lending standards may have cost the housing market about 18,700 new home sales in the last six months, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). A large majority—83 percent—of homebuilders surveyed stated they lost sales because potential buyers did not qualify for mortgage loans. The average builder lost nearly 10 percent of sales for this reason, according to the NAHB survey.

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Wells Fargo Settles Over Maternity Discrimination Claims

HUD announced a $5 million settlement with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo discriminated against women who were either pregnant or on maternity leave. Among other accusations, the six complaints allege that Wells Fargo made loans unavailable to families based on familial status and forced women to give up their maternity leave and return to work before their loans closed.

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Mortgage Rates Return to Summer Lows

In its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed interest rate came to 4.12 percent (0.5 point) for the week ending October 9, down from 4.19 percent. A year ago, the average 30-year fixed interest rate was 4.23 percent, the same as it was when rates jumped up in mid-September.

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New Home Purchase Applications Steady in September

In a release on Thursday, MBA estimated new single-family home sales ran last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 425,000 units, just up from a rate of 424,000 units in August. On an unadjusted basis, MBA estimates new home sales last month totaled 32,000, a decrease of 5.9 percent from August's prediction of 34,000.

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Rhode Island Home Sales Plummet in August

Single-family home sales fell annually in Rhode Island for the fifth month this year in August, dropping by double digits even as selling prices came down, the Warren Group reported. Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. called the decline "discouraging," especially after the market gained some steam in July.

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Homebuyer Demand Picks Up in September

Real estate brokerage Redfin reported a 2.2 percent monthly increase in customers requesting tours with the company's agents last month, about half the improvement recorded this time last year. "Though the September uptick in tour requests was not as strong as last year, this late season pickup suggests that housing activity will hold steady through November before the seasonal slowdown in home searches over the holiday," said Chief Economist Nela Richardson.

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HELOC Lending Jumps 21% in 2014

Home equity lending made solid strides in the last year but still has a lot of ground to cover to return to pre-crisis levels, housing data firm RealtyTrac said in a new report Thursday. In its first-ever U.S. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Trends Report, the company revealed that lenders originated an estimated 797,865 HELOCs in the 12 months ending in June, up 20.6 percent from the prior period and the highest level since the year ending June 2009.

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NAR Urges Cordray Not to Cut Out Mini-Correspondents

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently sent a letter to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) urging the agency to adopt a cautious approach as it puts greater scrutiny on brokers operating under the "mini-correspondent" lender model. The letter comes months after the bureau signaled it will be watching out for brokers trying to skirt its compensation rules by operating the same way under a different label.

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California Forecast: Rising Sales, Flattening Prices

In its 2015 housing market forecast, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) calls for existing-home sales in the state to reach 402,500 next year, an increase of 5.8 percent from 2014's projected sales figure of 380,500. Even with the increase, home sales are still expected to fall short of last year's total of 414,300, demonstrating how much California's market has slowed down in 2014.

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President Commends Regulators, Urges More

President Barack Obama met with financial regulators this week to commend them for progress made since the Dodd-Frank Act became law in 2010, the White House announced. The president also exhorted the regulators and participants in the meeting to "consider additional ways to prevent excessive risk-taking across the financial system."

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