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Daily Dose

Refinance Activity Lifts Mortgage Apps in Latest Index

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released on Wednesday its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, reporting a 4.3 percent improvement in loan application volume for the week ending April 11. The headline index was boosted by a 7 percent gain in MBA’s measure of refinance applications, which has been weak over the past few weeks as rising mortgage rates drain the pool of remaining potential refinances.

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Housing Starts Miss Expectations; Permits Fall

Homebuilding across the country lifted slightly in March but still fell short of expectations, while permits for new housing tumbled. According to figures released Wednesday by the Census Bureau and HUD, March housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, 2.8 percent above February’s revised estimate but below a consensus forecast of 970,000 predicted in a survey of economists.

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Ellie Mae: Network Outage Not Triggered by Attack

In a release issued late Monday, tech firm Ellie Mae acknowledged that a network outage in early April did not stem from a possible cyber-attack as originally thought. Instead, the downtime was "triggered by a confluence of factors involving network, hardware, software and demand for service." The company also commented that it has taken steps to prevent future incidents.

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Report: Nevada Housing Poised for Steady Improvement

It would appear that the Silver State is slowly making a comeback, according to a new report from Wells Fargo’s Economics Group. Overall, the group believes that Nevada's housing market is on the right track, fueled by rising employment, higher incomes, and a rapidly increasing population. However, inventories "will have to come down further before residential construction can really take off."

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Analyzing the Rise of Shorter-Term Refinances

According to CoreLogic's data, shorter-term refinances (those with lifespans of less than 30 years) accounted for nearly 40 percent of market share in 2013, a vast leap from less than 14 percent in 2006. Of that total, 15-year loan terms contributed 27.3 percentage points, more than tripling in market share since 2007. However, with rates slowly but steadily climbing, the popularity of shorter-term refinances may be short-lived.

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Builder Confidence Still Tepid

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported a one-point increase in its monthly Housing Market Index (HMI), a measure of builders’ confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes. March’s index was revised down to 46 from an originally reported 47. Registering 47 as of the latest release, the index has now spent three straight months below 50, the threshold between a market viewed largely as “good” and one viewed as “bad.”

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New Home Purchase Applications Up 15%

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released Tuesday its Builder Application Survey for last month, with data showing a 15 percent month-over-month increase in new home purchase applications. Using application from the survey and other market assumptions, MBA estimates sales of new single-family homes in March ran at an adjusted annualized rate of 479,000 units, a decrease of 10.1 percent from February’s anticipated pace of 533,000.

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Consumers Dial Back Home Price Expectations

The latest Survey of Consumer Expectations from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows home price change expectations have declined slightly, falling to a projected 3.8 percent for the year ahead—the lowest level seen since October last year. The Fed found that the pattern did not hold in the West, where home prices are expected to continue at an even stronger pace.

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Former TARP Execs Charged in ‘Massive’ Bank Fraud

Four California men have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and more in a case relating to the collapse of the Sonoma Valley Bank in August 2010. According to a release from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the accused allegedly "skirted the bank's internal controls and defrauded Sonoma Valley Bank by authorizing the bank to lend $9.5 million to a straw purchaser."

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Price Gains Continue to Build Up Steam

FNC, Inc.’s Residential Price Index (RPI) once again picked up its clip in February, rising at the highest annual rate in nearly eight years, the company reported. The national index, created to gauge price movement among “normal” home sales (exclusive of distressed properties), climbed 9.1 percent year-over-year in February, bringing it back to levels last seen at the peak of the housing market in June 2006 as non-distressed sales gain market share.

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