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Daily Dose

Report: For Servicers, a Sea Change

In a recent report, Fitch Ratings notes that new servicing oversight will yield higher fixed costs, as technology and process enhancements are made in order to comply with the new guidelines. This increase in cost will push non-bank servicers to grow their portfolios, and Fitch suggests “strong forces are still in place to further incent both outright MSR sales and subservicing arrangements, thus heightening scrutiny of such transactions."

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Interest Rates Set Back Consumers’ Buying Plans

According to a report released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, consumer sentiment retreated last month to an index reading of 80.0, down 2 percent from February’s 81.6. The most immediate concern, according to the survey, is the ongoing slowdown in home value gains. Given the stall in price improvements and the increase in interest rates over the last year, plans to purchase homes are reportedly on the decline.

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FHFA: Mortgage Rates Slip in February

Contract mortgage interest rates decreased slightly from January to February, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The agency reported late March that the national average contract rate for the purchase of previously occupied homes was 4.30 percent for loans closed in late February, a decline of 0.07 percent. Meanwhile, the average loan amount for all loans was down $8,700 to an average $275,700.

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Overvalued Markets on the Rise; National Prices Still Under

Has the housing market reached bubble status once again? The answer—at least, according to Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko—is both yes and no. In the company’s latest quarterly Bubble Watch report, Kolko estimates national home prices are still around 5 percent undervalued when examining long-term fundamentals like historical prices, incomes, and rents.

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Prices Steady Through Winter’s End; Midwest Growth ‘Nonexistent’

Clear Capital released its Home Data Index Market Report with data through March 2014, noting mostly flatness as the winter came to an end. "Our data through the end of March reveals prices remained steady through the final weeks of winter, a sigh of relief to all market participants," said Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

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New Business Keeps Shrinking at Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac’s book of business declined during both of the first two months of this year with an annualized growth rate of -2.2 percent during the month of February, according to the GSE’s monthly volume summary. Year-to-date, the annualized growth rate for Freddie Mac’s portfolio is -2.0 percent, on par with the growth rate of -2.1 percent reported for the year in 2013.

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Agents Predict Competitive Spring Season for Buyers

A survey released by Redfin showed that nearly half the company's Northeast agents and about 40 percent of its Midwest agents believe competition among buyers will be far more fierce this spring. The bedrock of these beliefs lies in a combination of low inventory and an end to the winter hibernation among potential buyers in areas hit hard by the 2013-14 winter.

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Texas, Florida Metros Top List of Prime First-Time Buyer Markets

Realtor.com released Thursday its list of the top markets for first-time homebuyers for the spring and summer seasons. To compile the list, analysts compared cities across five categories that have the biggest impact on buyers new to the market: list price affordability, time on market, employment rates, supply of inventory (and thus chances of competition), and—as the mantra goes—location, location, location.

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Unsustainable Home Price Growth Leads to Meager Home Sales in Some Counties

Home prices increased over the month and year in February in the majority of the 42 counties reviewed in DataQuick’s latest Property Intelligence Report. Home sales increased in the majority of the large counties over the month but not over the year, according to DataQuick. “While we saw a slight uptick from the extremely low sales levels reported in January, total sales remain far below historical levels,” said Gordon Crawford, VP of analytics at DataQuick.

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Freddie Mac Debuts New Report; Points to Market Instability

Freddie Mac released Wednesday its first Multi-Indicator Market Index, a gauge of market stability based on current levels of purchase applications, payment-to-income ratios, on-time mortgage payments, and employment. Based on a neutral, stable "0" point, the market in January sat at a score of -3.08, according to the index. However, that's still an improvement compared to the prior month and year.

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