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May Jobless Rate Unchanged as Payrolls Rise by 217K

After surpassing expectations in April, the labor market performed slightly better than anticipated in May, according to numbers released Friday by the Department of Labor. According to the government, the economy added 217,000 new jobs last month, beating out a consensus forecast of 213,000 among economists surveyed by Econoday. The gain—a retreat from April's downwardly revised estimate of 282,000 jobs added—left the national unemployment rate unchanged at 6.3 percent.

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More Metros Find Stable Footing

The First American Leading Markets Index (LMI) , a report released Thursday by the National Association of Home Builders showed that 56 of approximately 350 metro markets nationwide have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, as recorded before the recession. The remaining 294 metros are, on average, about 88 percent of the way to where they should be.

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Connecticut Home Sales See First Annual Decline in 13 Months

Despite reaching their highest level so far this year, April home sales in Connecticut disappointed compared to year-ago levels. According to the Warren Group, single-family home sales in the Nutmeg State totaled 1,816 in April, down 7.9 percent from April 2013’s 1,973 but an improvement over 1,589 in March. It was the first time in more than a year in which home sales fell annually.

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Mortgage Rates Move Up from 2014 Lows

In its latest survey results, Freddie Mac recorded the average 30-year fixed rate at 4.14 percent (0.5 point) for the week ending June 5, up from last week's average 4.12 percent. A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 3.91 percent and rising. The 15-year FRM also moved up this week, hitting an average of 3.23 percent (0.5 point).

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Mortgage Credit Availability Increases in May

The Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), a monthly gauge of credit access based on metrics and underwriting criteria from more than 85 lenders, increased 1.14 percent from April to May, reading 115.1 in the latest measure. According to the group, May's gain came "partially as a result of a slight increase in the availability of jumbo loans."

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Borrowers’ Financial Health Declines as LTVs Rise

In its most recent quarterly report, LendingTree recorded a Borrower Health Score of 77.7 in the year's opening months, a decline of 4.5 points from the prior quarter. While the latest drop illustrates Americans still have some ground to make up from the financial crash, Q1's score is still 1.3 points above where it was a year ago, implying "a broader trend of improving borrower qualification levels," the company says.

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Home Flipping Falls in Q1; Average Profit Rises

A recent blog post from RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist found home flipping activity declined in the first quarter of 2014, though the amount of average profit per successful flip rose. According to Blomquist, the average gross profit per flip last quarter was $55,574, a 30 percent return on the initial purchase price. Gross profits increased year-over-year from $51,805 in the first quarter of 2013, a 28 percent return on investment.

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Green Tree Put on Rating Watch Negative Following OSMO Report

In a release, Fitch Ratings announced it is changing Green Tree's servicer grades to "Rating Watch Negative," citing "ongoing concerns with Green Tree's rapid growth and portfolio integration" as well as the results of the latest compliance update from the Office of the Mortgage Settlement Oversight (OSMO), which showed the servicer failed to meet some of the minimum requirements agreed to by some of the nation’s biggest outfits.

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MCS Appoints VP, Assistant VP for Operations Center

Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS), a nationwide provider of property preservation, inspections, and maintenance for the financial services industry, announced the respective appointments of Jeff Thompson and Dan Hoeh as VP and assistant VP of operations for its facility in Ruston, Louisiana.

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