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New Business Slips to Five-Year Low at Fannie

Fannie Mae reported further contraction in its book of business for February—the second this year and the third in as many months—as new business acquisitions dropped to a five-year low. According to the enterprise’s monthly volume summary for February, business shrank at a compound annual rate of 1.4 percent, bringing the book’s total growth rate for the year to -2.4 percent.

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Construction Spending Ticks Up; Residential Activity Stumbles

The Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that construction spending throughout February came to an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of $945.7 billion, a 0.1 percent climb from a downwardly revised level of $944.6 billion in January. Year-over-year, February spending was up 8.7 percent. Between both private and public projects, residential construction spending was at an estimated rate of $365.2 billion, down 0.7 percent from January.

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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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Fannie Mae Revises Fees for Late, Inaccurate Loan Reports

Fannie Mae announced Friday revisions to its maximum fee assessment for servicers submitting late or inaccurate loan reports. According to the announcement, Fannie will fine servicers the greater of $250 or $50 per mortgage loan, with maximums starting at $5,000 for the first instance and climbing up to $15,000 for repeated incidents. The new fee structure goes into effect May 1, 2014.

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Interest Rates Set Back Consumers’ Buying Plans

According to a report released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, consumer sentiment retreated last month to an index reading of 80.0, down 2 percent from February’s 81.6. The most immediate concern, according to the survey, is the ongoing slowdown in home value gains. Given the stall in price improvements and the increase in interest rates over the last year, plans to purchase homes are reportedly on the decline.

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FHFA: Mortgage Rates Slip in February

Contract mortgage interest rates decreased slightly from January to February, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The agency reported late March that the national average contract rate for the purchase of previously occupied homes was 4.30 percent for loans closed in late February, a decline of 0.07 percent. Meanwhile, the average loan amount for all loans was down $8,700 to an average $275,700.

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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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Prices Steady Through Winter’s End; Midwest Growth ‘Nonexistent’

Clear Capital released its Home Data Index Market Report with data through March 2014, noting mostly flatness as the winter came to an end. "Our data through the end of March reveals prices remained steady through the final weeks of winter, a sigh of relief to all market participants," said Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

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