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Builder Confidence Levels in March

After falling in February to the lowest level in nearly a year, builder confidence barely moved in March, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed in its latest Housing Market Index (HMI). According to the group, the index nudged up one point this month, landing on a reading of 47—still a few points shy of the 50 benchmark that separates a market largely perceived as “bad” from one perceived as “good.”

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February Stats Point to Increased Seller Confidence

The national median listing price improved to nearly $200,000 last month despite an improvement in inventory numbers, Realtor.com reported in its February Monthly Housing Trend Report. The increase in both list price as well as inventory points to a "strong early beginning to this spring's home buying season," the report said, with Move, Inc., CEO Steve Berkowitz adding, "Overall these figures indicate a continued reinforcement of steady gains and market stabilization that we've been watching since late last summer."

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Fed Officials: Housing Still in Sustainable Rebound

Despite warnings raised by some analysts in the wake of softening data releases, housing is still in the midst of “what appears to be a sustainable rebound,” say officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Included in that group is Richard Fisher, Dallas Fed president and CEO and one of the more hawkish Fed governors who will have a vote in monetary policy issues this year.

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DoJ Watchdog Finds Lax Approach to Mortgage Fraud

An audit conducted by the inspector general for the Justice Department found that, despite public statements to the contrary, mortgage fraud isn't a highly prioritized issue. FBI field offices visited by the Office of the Inspector General, including Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, listed mortgage fraud to be a low priority—if it was listed as one at all.

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Consumer Sentiment Steps Back

The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped to 79.9 in a preliminary March report after finishing February at 81.6. A consensus forecast from economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a slight climb to 81.8. Even with the latest decline, “[c]onsumer sentiment has been weathering the winter rather well,” said Chris Christopher, director of consumer economics for IHS Global Insight.

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Home Sales Fall as Buyers Adjust to ‘New Normal’

Home sales declined for the fourth consecutive month with sharp drops in West Coast markets, according to the latest Real-Time Price Tracker from Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. With the spring selling season about to get underway, the company says March and April should offer insight into buyers’ willingness and ability to adapt to higher costs—as well as sellers’ ability to price appropriately, a skill some are having to relearn to stay competitive.

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More First-Time Buyers Ready to Enter Market in 2014

In 19 of 20 large metros surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics, more than 5.0 percent of local residents indicated they wanted to buy a home in the next year, with current renters showing the greatest interest in ownership. While this optimistic total from Zillow suggests interest is high, actually purchasing a home should prove to be a challenge in the upcoming year.

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Buyer Demand Slow to Recover in February

Redfin released Thursday its Real-Time Demand Pulse, a monthly analysis of home tour requests and signed offers across 23 surveyed markets. According to the company, the number of home tour requests among thousands of its customers grew only 1.9 percent between January and February, falling short of a 6 percent increase over the same months in 2013. Meanwhile, signed offers increased 17.8 percent compared to a 20 percent jump last year.

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January Price Appreciation Climbs to 9%

Real estate tech firm FNC Inc.’s Residential Price Index (RPI) continued to accelerate in January—and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. According to the company, the index, which measures price movements with distressed sales excluded, jumped up 9.0 percent annually in January following an 8.7 percent boost in December. On a monthly basis, the index’s national composite increased 0.4 percent, beating December’s 0.3 percent gain.

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