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Daily Dose

Texas Housing Gains Momentum as Inventory Increases

The Texas Association of Realtors released Friday its 2014-Q2 Texas Quarterly Housing Report, revealing a 5.9 percent quarterly pickup in home inventory to a months' supply of 3.60—level with where supply figures were at the end of 2013. Despite the quarter-over-quarter increase—the first since 2011, the association reports—inventory remained down 12.2 percent compared to a year ago, holding back growth in home sales.

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July Originations Pick Up, but Will It Last?

Based on data from Bloomberg, investment bank FBR Capital Markets estimates issuance of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) last month came to approximately $90 billion, marking a "significant improvement" from June and May. However, year-to-date originations are at approximately $633 billion, and with the historically stronger summer months done, FBR expects "the strong pace set in July could slow materially in August, September, and beyond."

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Mortgage Closing Costs Up 6% as Fees Climb

According to data from finance site Bankrate.com, closing costs in 2014 are up 6 percent over last year, rising to an average $2,539 on a $200,000 loan (assuming a 20 percent down payment). "New mortgage regulations are the biggest reasons why closing costs went up over the past year," said Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst for Bankrate. "The good news is that some lenders have not increased fees."

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Consumer Sentiment Inches Down in July

A final look at consumer sentiment for the month of July shows American confidence in the economy softened compared to June as expectations for the rest of the year became more tempered. The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters Index of Consumer Sentiment finished July at a reading of 81.8, below the 82.5 recorded in June but better than the 81.3 captured in the month's preliminary survey.

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Homebuilding Outlays Mixed in June

According to the latest figures released Friday from the U.S. Census new home sales, starts, and spending were down in June and for the first half of the year. Spending on private construction in June came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $685.5 billion, 1 percent below the revised May estimate of $692 billion. Residential construction alone was at $356 billion, which is 0.3 percent below the revised May estimate.

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First-Time Homebuyer Age to Rise as Millennials Delay

In a quarterly survey conducted by Zillow and Pulsenomics, a panel of economists, real estate experts, and market strategists agreed that the median age of first-time homebuyers is likely to keep moving up in the next decade as millennials wait until later in their lives to purchase. Among the more than 100 experts polled, a combined 85 percent said they expect the median first-time homebuyer age to rise at least marginally in the coming years.

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House Committee Approves Fed Reform Bill

The House Financial Services Committee passed a reform bill this week to require the Federal Reserve to adopt a "more predictable rules-based" monetary policy. The Fed has already warned of serious trouble if the nation's central bank were held to formal policy regarding its ability to set interest rates.

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CFPB Director Responds to Discrimination Complaints

CFPB Director Richard Cordray appeared before the House Financial Services Committee this week to address allegations of discrimination and a culture of retaliation at the agency. While Cordray would not discuss any individual discrimination complaints, he said, "We take each of these allegations very seriously and we will continue to work diligently to resolve any issues through all appropriate channels."

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Ocwen Reports Second-Quarter Income of $67M

Second-quarter profits at Ocwen Financial fell short compared to last year as costs came up. The company reported net income of $67.0 million last quarter, a decline of nearly $10 million from the year ago period. While revenue was up 2 percent year-on-year to $553.1 million, normalized pretax earnings took a 7 percent hit, which Ocwen chairman Bill Erbey explained was the result of higher regulatory and compliance costs and interest expense.

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