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Consumer Sentiment Backs Off of Nine-Month High

In a preliminary report issued last week, Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan reported a decline in their joint Index of Consumer Sentiment to a reading of 81.8 from April's final reading of 84.1. A large portion of the overall decline came from a decrease in the survey's Current Conditions Index, which may have suffered from concern over a slowing housing market.

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Housing Shows Life After Meek March

In its Real-Time Price Tracker report for April, national brokerage Redfin reported a 12.4 percent monthly pickup in home sales across its 30 surveyed markets, restoring some faith in sales after an unexpected dive in March. However, compared to April 2013, last month's sales fell 7.6 percent short, with nine markets posting double-digit annual declines.

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CFPB Tops List of Lender Concerns for Third Straight Year

Results released in QuestSoft's latest annual survey of lenders shows the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continues to rank high on the list of worries gnawing away at businesses. "Compared to last year's survey, lenders appear more weary than ever of CFPB's rules, as non-CFPB issues are seen as increasingly lower priorities," said Leonard Ryan, founder and president of QuestSoft.

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Illinois Bank Shuts Down in Seventh Failure of 2014

An Illinois bank has closed its doors for good, bringing the national tally of FDIC-insured bank collapses to seven so far this year. The agency announced Friday the closure of AztecAmerica Bank, which was shut down by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. The bank, based in Berwyn, is the state's second failure of 2014.

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Despite Headwinds, Forecasts Remain Hopeful

Despite many beginning-of-the-year predictions about spring growth in the housing market falling flat, and despite a still chugging economy that changes its mind quarter-to-quarter, economists at the National Association of Realtors and other industry groups expect an uptick in the economy and housing market through next year. The key to NAR's optimism, as expressed by the organization's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, last week, is a hefty pent-up demand for houses coupled with expectations of job growth—which itself has been more feeble than anticipated.

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Experts Split on Housing Affordability Concerns

In a survey of 106 experts in housing and investments, Zillow found a slight majority—28 percent—pinned the most blame for declining affordability on stagnant income growth across the country, even as the rest of the economy has moved in a generally positive direction. At the same time, the number of respondents pointing to "abnormally high rates of home price and rent appreciation" as the main problem was only slightly smaller at 27 percent.

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Housing Starts Rise on Multifamily Spike

According to the Commerce Department and HUD, privately owned housing starts last month were at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million, representing a 13.2 percent jump from March’s barely revised pace of 947,000. Unfortunately for the supply-constrained single-family market, most of that spike came in apartment buildings.

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Non-Distressed Prices Rise Slowly as Sales Increase ‘Moderately’

Prices rose 9 percent year-over-year for the first quarter of this year, according to FNC, Inc.'s Residential Price Index, which measures sales activity for non-distressed homes in the 100 largest metros in the country. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.6 percent in March. On an annual basis, Western states continue to lead the nation with drastic price gains.

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Home Prices and the Middle Class

In a recent blog post for the company, Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko notes that certain discrepancies do arise, specifically along the coasts, for middle-class homeownership. Kolko found that the middle class is getting priced out of California but finds more success in the Midwest. In fact, in 80 of the 100 largest U.S. metros, most of the homes for sale are within reach of the middle class.

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Report: Recovery Testing Normal Economic Assumptions

The continued—and oddly sluggish—recovery cycle the U.S is currently experiencing in not, according to a new report by Fitch Ratings and Oxford Analytica, on course to run the typical peaks-and-valleys cycle of the five major economic expansion periods the U.S. has experienced since the early 1970s.

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