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Mortgage Credit Access Declines in April

A report released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows that mortgage credit availability was down slightly in April, which means a tightening of standards in the mortgage industry. The results, which analyze data from the AllRegs Market Clarity product, come through MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). These results showed that the MCAI index decreased by 0.18 percent to 113.8 from March to April.

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Fannie, Freddie Profit from First-Quarter Settlements

Releasing their earnings reports simultaneously, Fannie and Freddie reported first-quarter profits of $5.3 billion and $4.0 billion, respectively—a major step back from incomes reported last year but still a fair amount for what was a slow period for the housing market. Both enterprises have reported profits each quarter for more than two years straight.

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Housing Optimism Climbs as Job Worries Ease

The results of Fannie Mae's April National Housing Survey show 42 percent of Americans believe now is a good time to sell a home. This is the third straight month that the percentage of respondents saying it’s a good time to sell has increased, bringing that percentage to an all-time survey high. Fannie is taking it as a good sign that buying activity will increase in the coming months, as potential buyers may look to shed their homes in order to buy new ones.

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Non-Prime Loan Share on the Rise

Looking back a quarter, TransUnion says new account originations in Q4 2013 totaled just 1.39 million, down by nearly a million from Q4 2012. While overall new loan activity was slow, participation increased among the non-prime population—defined by TransUnion as those with a credit score lower than 700 on the company’s VantageScore 2.0 model.

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FHFA Official Charged with Threatening Ex-Director

A top official for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is looking at a felony charge for allegedly threatening the agency's former acting director, Edward DeMarco. According to a case summary from the District of Columbia Courts website, Richard Hornsby, FHFA's COO, was charged in late April with "[threatening] to kidnap or injure a person," resulting in an order for him to stay away from DeMarco.

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Price Gains Keep Slowing; Expected to Halve by 2014

Home prices continued to rise in March, but at a markedly slower pace compared to February, CoreLogic reported in its latest Home Price Index. According to the company, prices were up 11.1 percent nationally year-over-year in March, with growth expected to slow to an annual rate of 6.7 percent by the same time in 2015. Both figures include distressed sales.

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Homebuyers Prefer New Homes (But Not New Prices)

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, Trulia found an estimated 41 percent “would strongly or somewhat prefer” to buy a new single-family home over an existing one, assuming the prices were equal. Just more than one in five respondents—21 percent—said they would prefer an existing home, while 38 percent expressed no preference. Of course, while the survey set prices on a level field to gauge interest, that’s very rarely the case.

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Best Housing Deals Now in the Mid-Tier Market

As home price growth continues to moderate to a more sustainable pace, real estate data provider Clear Capital sees another promising trend forming: The mid-tier housing sector now has the best deals for buyers, hopefully drawing more interest to the market’s largest segment. Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP and chief economist for Clear Capital, says the shift reflects how market drivers have had an impact on each tier of housing.

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Is Credit Really Loosening? Maybe Not

In a blog post published late last week, Urban Institute’s researchers assert, “A market composition change—not lower lending standards—explains the decrease in average credit scores for conventional and FHA [Federal Housing Administration] mortgages. “Despite rising home prices and gradual housing recovery, the mortgage lending rules have remained tight, inhibiting housing demand and economic growth,” they continue.

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Negative Equity Rate Down to One in 10

In its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, Black Knight Financial Services found one in 10 Americans are underwater on their home loans, down from one in three as recently as 2010. "Two years of relatively consecutive home price increases and a general decline in the number of distressed loans have contributed to a decreasing number of underwater borrowers," said Kostya Gradushy, Black Knight's manager of Loan Data and Customer Analytics.

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