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One-Third of For-Sale Homes Considered ‘Unaffordable’

Recovery in the housing market is not without its side effects, particularly in major metro markets on the West Coast and in Florida. A look into 35 major markets by Zillow reveals that buyers making the median income in Southern California, the Bay Area, Portland (Oregon), Denver, and Miami face markets where more than half the available homes are beyond their price range—which could mean the beginning of a new housing bubble.

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Realtors Urge FHA to Change Rules on Premiums

In a letter addressed Tuesday to FHA commissioner Carol Galante, National Association of Realtors (NAR) president Steve Brown says the administration’s decision to increase annual mortgage insurance premiums and to require mortgage insurance over a loan’s entire life are putting home purchases “increasingly out of reach for many qualified borrowers who rely on FHA financing.”

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Purchase Volumes Fail to Lift March Mortgage Applications

Compiling weekly survey results from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), macroeconomic research firm Capital Economics calculated a 2.9 percent drop in total application volume in March following a meek 0.1 percent increase in February. On the home purchase side, applications came up an estimated 2.7 percent over March (1 percent in the final week) but remained down 16.8 percent year-over-year.

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Originators Outline Struggles in Changing Market

According to results in Hammerhouse’s 4th Annual Survey of Originator Opinions, 44 percent of originators polled said the biggest challenge for the industry in 2014 will be "adding new relationships to support a purchase focused business" with purchase volumes still too weak to support the market. Given these obstacles and the continuing decline in mortgage volumes, 69 percent of originators expect overall volume to drop in 2014.

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CFPB: Consumer Complaints Nearly Double in 2013

According to CFPB’s figures, complaint volume last year totaled 163,700, an 80 percent increase from the 91,000 recorded complaints in 2012. Including this year, the bureau has received more than 310,000 complaints to date. Areas of dissatisfaction range from bank accounts to debt collection to all manner of loans—including mortgages, which represented the greatest share of complaint volume last year at 37 percent.

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Home Prices Up 12.2% in February; Smaller Gains Predicted

According to CoreLogic's latest Home Price Index report, home prices nationwide rose 12.2 percent (including distressed sales) in February compared to the year prior. The change represents 24 months of consecutive yearly gains. On a monthly basis, home prices inched up 0.8 percent from January’s revised index. Moving forward, CoreLogic says indicators point to slower increases.

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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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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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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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Closing Costs Sink Profits at Independent Mortgage Banks

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Performance Report for Q4, independent mortgage banks and mortgage subsidiaries of chartered banks took in an average profit of $150 on each loan they originated, a record low. That number was down from $743 per loan in Q3. “Fourth-quarter production profits were at their lowest levels since [the] inception of the Performance Report in 2008,” said Marina Walsh, MBA’s VP of industry analysis.

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