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March New Home Sales Dive to Eight-Month Low

The pace of new home sales plunged in March to their lowest level in eight months, driving down hopes of a seasonal renewal in housing activity. Monthly data released Wednesday by HUD and the Census Bureau shows sales of new homes last month plummeting 14.5 percent from February to an estimated seasonally adjusted yearly rate of 384,000. The last time transactions ran so low was last July, when they came to 383,000.

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Survey: Fear of Rejection Freezing Potential Homebuyers

According to survey results released Tuesday by independent home lender loanDepot, 56 percent of Americans who don’t currently own a home but would like to purchase in the near future say they’re not pursuing it right now “because they fear they won’t qualify for a loan.” Among current homeowners who wish to re-enter the market, 30 percent hold the same fear.

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Existing-Home Sales Continue to Lose Ground

According to estimates from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total existing-home sales in March came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million, a 0.2 percent slip from February’s downwardly revised pace of 4.60 million and hitting a nearly two-year low. Compared to March 2013, the sales rate was down 7.5 percent.

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Mortgage Hassles Spurring More All-Cash Activity

A survey of real estate agents released Monday finds a growing number of homeowners have turned to all-cash financing in order to avoid the red tape that comes with mortgage lending. According to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, an estimated 26.2 percent of home purchases by current homeowners in March relied solely on cash, up from a 12-month low of 22.8 percent recorded last August.

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Spring Brings Uptick in Home Sales, But Inventory Remains Low

Following weak home sales during the first two months of the year resulting from extreme winter weather, March sales picked up 24.6 percent across the 52 metros measured in the RE/MAX National Housing Report. With sales rebounding just in time for spring homebuying season, the market continues to demonstrate its persistent trends of rising prices and low inventory.

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Realtors Anticipate Healthy Market for Spring Buyers

The market is much healthier this year, and with the growth in inventory and days on the market for the buyers and with modest price increases present, the overall outlook is good, according to Realtor.com's National Housing Trends report for March. The stats from Realtor.com showed a 9.5 percent growth over March of last year, with 1,841,844 units at a median price of $199,900, which was also 5.3 percent higher. Last year showed an imbalance with a shorter supply and a heavy increase in home prices.

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Equity Gains Slow; 9.1M Homes Still ‘Seriously Underwater’

RealtyTrac estimates 9.1 million U.S. homes were seriously underwater in the year's first quarter, representing a slow improvement over the past few years. "U.S. homeowners are continuing to recover equity lost during the Great Recession, but the pace of that recovering equity slowed in the first quarter, corresponding to slowing home price appreciation," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.

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Closing Rate Up on March Loans; Time to Close Down

Lenders closed on a greater share of mortgages last month compared to February—and they did it at a faster pace, according to mortgage software provider Ellie Mae. The company’s latest Origination Insight Report, released this week, shows that out of a sampling of loan applications initiated 90 days prior to March, 58 percent closed last month. That rate is up from 55.3 percent in February and from the 2013 average of 54 percent.

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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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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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