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What Happened to the Spring Recovery?

Housing Spring Recovery 2014

In a report issued earlier this week, Fitch Ratings announced it is tapering its forecast for 2014 in acknowledgement of what has so far been a “subpar spring selling season.” Sales of both new and existing homes in March fell short of expectations, dashing optimistic projections of a rebound following the end of an unusually harsh winter. Housing starts also disappointed as homebuilders remain concerned about the shape of the market.

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Down Payment Percentages Continue to Trend Down

Average down payments for mortgages are on the decline, lending a little bit of relief for affordability-challenged homebuyers around the country. According to a report released this week by LendingTree, down payment percentages for 30-year fixed-rate purchase loans fell in the first quarter to an average of 15.78 percent, down from just higher than 16 percent in the last quarter of 2013.

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Report Offers Second Opinion on March Home Sales

On Thursday, RealtyTrac released its Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which showed modest gains in U.S. residential sales in March. The firm reported that March showed a 0.4 percent uptick in overall transactions compared to February and a full 8 percent increase over sales in March 2013. RealtyTrac’s data clashes with other reports released this week about March sales.

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Mortgage Rates Tick Up Ahead of FOMC Meeting

Despite soft housing news, mortgage rates experienced a moderate increase ahead of next week’s economic policy update from the Federal Open Market Committee. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate came up to 4.33 percent (0.6 point) for the week ending April 24, up from 4.27 percent in the previous week.

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Mortgage Apps Stumble; Loan Amounts Hit New High

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, mortgage applications declined in the last week, though loan sizes are seeing record highs. Meanwhile, the average loan size for purchase applications has reached its highest level in the history of the survey at $280,500, coinciding with the trend in rising purchase activity for larger loan amounts.

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Sun Continues Shining on Florida Housing

According to Florida Realtors, the state's housing market reported higher median prices, more new listings, and a stable level of inventory in March. For 28 months in a row now, statewide median sales prices have risen annually for single-family homes and condos. "What we're seeing is a market we can live with," said Florida Realtors chief economist Dr. John Tuccillo.

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CFPB Report Details ‘Pain Points’ of Loan Closing Process

As part of its "Know Before You Owe" initiative to streamline mortgage lending, CFPB released Wednesday the results of a year of research on the closing process, including comments collected from both consumers and market participants. The findings indicate frustration all around. Among consumers, the most common complaints the bureau saw dealt with the complexity and sheer amount of paperwork required to finalize a loan.

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National Indicators Slip Further Away from ‘Stable’

In the company’s second-ever Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi), analysts at Freddie Mac reported a national index value of -3.11, putting the U.S. market just on the “weak” side of a stable market (ranging from index values of -2 to 2). “Despite a slowdown over the winter months, the housing market continues to show improvement in most states, although at a somewhat slower pace,” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac.

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