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March New Home Sales Dive to Eight-Month Low

The pace of new home sales plunged in March to their lowest level in eight months, driving down hopes of a seasonal renewal in housing activity. Monthly data released Wednesday by HUD and the Census Bureau shows sales of new homes last month plummeting 14.5 percent from February to an estimated seasonally adjusted yearly rate of 384,000. The last time transactions ran so low was last July, when they came to 383,000.

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FHFA Sees Third HPI Increase Despite Harsh Weather

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its monthly House Price Index (HPI) for February, revealing continued growth even as winter weather slowed the market. The broad measure of the movement of single-family home prices in this purchase-only index went up by 0.6 percent, according to FHFA, and with the exception of November 2013, marked nearly two straight years of increases.

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Home Values Up 5.7% in Q1

Zillow’s Q1 Real Estate Market Report, released Tuesday, shows that home values across the United States are up 5.7 percent (to a national median of $169,800) compared to Q1 2013. This marks the 21st consecutive month that prices, compared year-over-year, have gone up. Even more encouraging is that home values in 527 U.S. cities that saw declines of 10 percent or more during the recession are either at their peak or soon will be.

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Survey: Fear of Rejection Freezing Potential Homebuyers

According to survey results released Tuesday by independent home lender loanDepot, 56 percent of Americans who don’t currently own a home but would like to purchase in the near future say they’re not pursuing it right now “because they fear they won’t qualify for a loan.” Among current homeowners who wish to re-enter the market, 30 percent hold the same fear.

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Existing-Home Sales Continue to Lose Ground

According to estimates from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total existing-home sales in March came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million, a 0.2 percent slip from February’s downwardly revised pace of 4.60 million and hitting a nearly two-year low. Compared to March 2013, the sales rate was down 7.5 percent.

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Fannie Mae Sets Growth Forecasts for ‘Slow’

A weaker-than-expected first quarter has researchers at Fannie Mae amending their forecast for growth in 2014, but they still project acceleration as the year progresses. “The April economic forecast is similar to February and March, where slow growth has been the common denominator, but we expect to see a slight pickup beginning this quarter,” explained Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae.

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Leading Economic Indicators Continue Upward Trend

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) was updated Monday, rising for the third straight month. The LEI increased 0.8 percent in March to 100.9, outpacing increases of 0.2 percent in January and 0.5 percent in February. The outlook in the analytic system points more to a peak than a trough in coming months, according to the group.

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Mortgage Hassles Spurring More All-Cash Activity

A survey of real estate agents released Monday finds a growing number of homeowners have turned to all-cash financing in order to avoid the red tape that comes with mortgage lending. According to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, an estimated 26.2 percent of home purchases by current homeowners in March relied solely on cash, up from a 12-month low of 22.8 percent recorded last August.

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