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Mortgage Credit Access Declines in April

A report released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows that mortgage credit availability was down slightly in April, which means a tightening of standards in the mortgage industry. The results, which analyze data from the AllRegs Market Clarity product, come through MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). These results showed that the MCAI index decreased by 0.18 percent to 113.8 from March to April.

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Fannie, Freddie Profit from First-Quarter Settlements

Releasing their earnings reports simultaneously, Fannie and Freddie reported first-quarter profits of $5.3 billion and $4.0 billion, respectively—a major step back from incomes reported last year but still a fair amount for what was a slow period for the housing market. Both enterprises have reported profits each quarter for more than two years straight.

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Despite Continued Weakness, Analysts See Hope in Loan Apps

According to monthly application data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association and compiled by Capital Economics, total application activity in April was down 4.8 percent month-over-month, slipping further from March’s 2.9 percent decline. The entirety of the decline came from another drop in refinance application volumes, which were down 10.8 percent over the month, the biggest drop so far this year.

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Credit, Financial Doubts Holding Young Renters Back

A breakdown of attitudes among young homeowners and renters by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group finds that while most renters still dream of owning a home, few are taking steps to prepare for a purchase. Even among those who would prefer to own a home, the majority remain pessimistic about their ability to get a mortgage, with down payments and credit scores cited as the top obstacles.

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Housing Optimism Climbs as Job Worries Ease

The results of Fannie Mae's April National Housing Survey show 42 percent of Americans believe now is a good time to sell a home. This is the third straight month that the percentage of respondents saying it’s a good time to sell has increased, bringing that percentage to an all-time survey high. Fannie is taking it as a good sign that buying activity will increase in the coming months, as potential buyers may look to shed their homes in order to buy new ones.

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Non-Prime Loan Share on the Rise

Looking back a quarter, TransUnion says new account originations in Q4 2013 totaled just 1.39 million, down by nearly a million from Q4 2012. While overall new loan activity was slow, participation increased among the non-prime population—defined by TransUnion as those with a credit score lower than 700 on the company’s VantageScore 2.0 model.

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Fed Chair Voices Concerns on Housing Slowdown

While the sudden stop in economic growth in this year’s first quarter might have some market-watchers sending up red flags, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen isn’t especially concerned. One warning sign has caught her eye, however: housing. Faced with recent sales figures, the Fed chief admitted, “[T]he recent flattening out in housing activity could prove more protracted than currently expected rather than resuming its earlier pace of recovery.”

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FHFA Official Charged with Threatening Ex-Director

A top official for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is looking at a felony charge for allegedly threatening the agency's former acting director, Edward DeMarco. According to a case summary from the District of Columbia Courts website, Richard Hornsby, FHFA's COO, was charged in late April with "[threatening] to kidnap or injure a person," resulting in an order for him to stay away from DeMarco.

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