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Millennial Optimism Boosts U.S. Housing Confidence

American consumers' enthusiasm for the housing market rose over the summer from the year's start, but expectations for future market performance have become more subdued, according to survey results released by Zillow. Among the thousands of Americans surveyed, confidence is higher among renters as purchase conditions continue to look favorable and rent prices climb.

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Existing-Home Sales Fall as Investors Retreat

According to transaction data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing-home sales last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, a decrease of 1.8 percent from July's sales pace of 5.14 million and a drop of 5.3 percent compared to last year. The group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, pinned August's slower pace to a decline in all-cash purchases made by investors.

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Mortgage Closing Rate Hits New High in August

Examining a sample of loans initiated in May, mortgage technology provider Ellie Mae calculated a closing rate of 61.1 percent for all loans in its August report, up from 57.7 percent in July's report. "The closing rate in August was the highest since we began tracking this data three years ago," said Jonathan Corr, president and COO of Ellie Mae. "This was further indication that lenders are working every deal and making sure leads don't slip away."

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Builder Confidence Rises to Nearly Nine-Year High

NAHB's Housing Market Index, a gauge of builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes, rose four points in the group's latest reading to 59, nine points above the benchmark separating a market largely viewed as good from one viewed as poor. September's gain brings the index to its highest value since November 2005, NAHB reported.

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Large Lenders Anticipate Slight Easing in Credit Standards

In a survey of mortgage lenders over the third quarter, Fannie Mae found 85 percent of senior executives believe it would be difficult for most Americans to get a home loan in today's environment, up from 81 percent in the second quarter. To compare, only 50 percent of consumers polled in the company's August National Housing Survey said they think securing a mortgage would be difficult. Lenders were also more sour on their outlook for purchase mortgage demand over the next three months.

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