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Mortgage Rates Steady Amid Mixed Sales Reports

In its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac recorded a 4.13 percent average interest rate (0.6 point) for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) product for the week ending July 24, unchanged from last week's survey results. The latest movement—or lack of movement—among interest rates follows news of mixed activity in the housing market in June.

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Market Index Shows Continued Stall in Housing

The national housing market moved slightly farther away from stability in May as applications for home purchase mortgages remained subdued. Freddie Mac's Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi) for the month slipped to a value of -2.64 in May, indicating a slightly weaker market than in April, when the index measured -2.59.

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Negative Equity Stalls as Home Price Gains Level

Underwater

RealtyTrac released Thursday its latest statistics on home equity for the second quarter, reporting continue declines in the number of U.S. properties considered "seriously" underwater. According to the company 9.1 million homes are now considered seriously underwater, representing 17.2 percent of all homes nationwide. There's still a long way to go, however, especially as annual home price appreciation keeps coming down.

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New Home Sales Tumble in June; May Sales Sharply Revised

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that sales of new homes in June were at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, reflecting a decline of 8.1 percent from May. May's sales rate, originally reported at 504,000, was revised down to 442,000, erasing much of the 18.6 percent gain that had been recorded previously.

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Frank Steps In to Defend Reform Act

Former Congressman Barney Frank testified before the House Committee on Financial Services on Wednesday, dismissing criticisms of his namesake Wall Street reform act. In the more than three hour long hearing, Frank and others faced tough questions on the effect that the act has had on the economy and the value of the changes when compared with the toll it takes on financial services firms.

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Community Banks Argue for Expanded CFPB Exemptions

Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) submitted a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asking the agency to expand the small creditor exemptions set out under its mortgage rules that went into effect in January. ICBA's main request is that mortgage loans held in small creditors' portfolios automatically receive qualified mortgage safe harbor status for as long as the loans are held in those portfolios.

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Despite Housing Woes, Outlook Bright for Minnesota

Wells Fargo's Economics Group recently released its July 2014 economic outlook for Minnesota, reinforcing that while the state's economy is greatly improved, housing still lags behind, with traditional homebuyers in no great hurry to return to the market.

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