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FHFA Reaches 13th Bank Settlement

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced last week the latest in a string of settlements with major banks over residential mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie and Freddie before the economic meltdown. The most recent agreement, struck with Barclays Bank, calls for $280 million in payments to the GSEs.

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Economists: Banks Hold $2T in Excess Reserves; Are Eager to Lend

stress test

While strict lending standards may be precluding some from the housing market, one economist insists banks want to lend. It is lackluster employment and slow household formation among Millennials that is hindering the market now, according to Maury Harris, managing director and chief U.S. economist at UBS during a discussion hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “Banks have over $2 trillion of excess reserves,” Harris said. “Banks would like to put that money to work and increase lending, which would help the economy.”

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Low Supply Drives Bay State Sales Down Further

According to the Warren Group, statewide sales dropped 7.8 percent to 2,749 in March, down from 2,980 from the previous year. Home sales in the first quarter were down overall 2.4 percent to 7,557 from 7,745 in last year's first quarter. Timothy J. Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group, said, “The low inventory of single-family homes in the market is the primary cause of the decreasing sales activity. Motivated buyers, however, are eagerly bidding for the limited supply which accounts for the increasing sales prices. People want to buy homes before prices and interest rates rise further.”

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Six New Markets Rebound Fully in February

The number of markets around the nation that have seen home values recover fully rose by six in February, according to data from Homes.com. “February’s rebound progress illustrates how home prices in most markets across the country are appreciating, even in the depths of winter,” said Brock MacLean, EVP for Homes.com. “This is unusual given harsh weather conditions in most markets, but a positive sign as we enter peak season.”

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Warm Weather Ignites Greater Competition for Homes

In March, 63.4 percent of offers written by Redfin agents across 19 markets faced competition from other buyers, the national brokerage reported. While that percentage is up a few points from February—owing in some part to more favorable weather—it’s a full 10 percentage points down compared to March 2013.

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Wingspan VP Moves Up to Newly Created Role

Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, an award-winning diversified mortgage services company operating in the Dallas area, announced the promotion of veteran Eshna Ghosh to the newly created position of SVP of business development.

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HARP Refinances Continue to Dwindle

Even a slight drop in mortgage rates did both bolster February refinances through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported. Representing 21 percent of all refinances the GSEs completed in February, 26,964 HARP refinances were completed over the month, according to the FHFA's latest Refinance Report.

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What Happened to the Spring Recovery?

Housing Spring Recovery 2014

In a report issued earlier this week, Fitch Ratings announced it is tapering its forecast for 2014 in acknowledgement of what has so far been a “subpar spring selling season.” Sales of both new and existing homes in March fell short of expectations, dashing optimistic projections of a rebound following the end of an unusually harsh winter. Housing starts also disappointed as homebuilders remain concerned about the shape of the market.

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