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Realtors Anticipate Healthy Market for Spring Buyers

The market is much healthier this year, and with the growth in inventory and days on the market for the buyers and with modest price increases present, the overall outlook is good, according to Realtor.com's National Housing Trends report for March. The stats from Realtor.com showed a 9.5 percent growth over March of last year, with 1,841,844 units at a median price of $199,900, which was also 5.3 percent higher. Last year showed an imbalance with a shorter supply and a heavy increase in home prices.

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Freddie Mac: ‘Noise’ Disrupting Housing Hopes

With all of its ups and downs in recent months, the housing market is looking "noisy" heading into spring, Freddie Mac says. "We're getting mixed signals as we start the spring home buying season. Tight inventory may pose a significant challenge for home buyers in many markets across the country, which may result in higher home prices and sales being lower than expected," said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist.

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Consumer Spending Gauge Takes Hit as Home Prices Slow

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, a measure of consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending, fell from a revised reading of 4.03 in February to 3.51 in March. Despite the drop, Deloitte maintains that conditions remain positive for consumers. “The outlook for consumer spending remains healthy,” said Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist for the firm, adding, “The Index declined primarily due to a slower increase in median home prices.”

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Price Gains Wane as Inventory Ticks Up

March marked the end of a 17-month streak of double-digit annual price gains—just barely—according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Prices rose 9.9 percent over the year in March, according to Redfin’s data on 19 markets nationwide. Home sales also followed a downward trend in March, but on the bright side, inventory is beginning to grow, according to the brokerage.

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Mortgage Rates Hit Six-Week Low

Average fixed mortgage rates declined for the second straight week, bringing them to a six-week low—and easing affordability conditions slightly as the homebuying season gets under way. Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac, said the latest decline fits with a disappointing—though not dismal—construction report showing homebuilding rising at a rate of 2.8 percent in March.

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PNC Reports Solid First-Quarter Earnings

PNC Financial Services Group released its quarterly earnings, reporting a net income of $1.1 billion, or $1.82 per diluted common share. The group found that consumer lending decreased by $1 billion, from "lower home equity, residential mortgage and education loans as well as seasonal declines in credit card loans partially offset by growth in automobile loans."

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California Home Sales Come in Below Average

According to DataQuick, California home sales were up 28.2 percent in February but down 12.8 percent from March 2013. While many are predicting a recovery in California, last month’s sales were the lowest for a March since 2008, when 24,565 homes sold—a record low for the month of March. Last month's sales were 23.9 percent below the average of 43,251 sales for all months of March since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.

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Equity Gains Slow; 9.1M Homes Still ‘Seriously Underwater’

RealtyTrac estimates 9.1 million U.S. homes were seriously underwater in the year's first quarter, representing a slow improvement over the past few years. "U.S. homeowners are continuing to recover equity lost during the Great Recession, but the pace of that recovering equity slowed in the first quarter, corresponding to slowing home price appreciation," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.

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