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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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Fannie, Freddie to Receive $110M in Latest RMBS Settlement

Per a settlement announced with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), First Horizon National Corporation has agreed to pay a combined $110 million to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to resolve alleged violations of securities laws connected to private-label securities purchased by the GSEs from 2005–2007. The settlement is the 14th of its kind, bringing the agency closer to closing the book on 18 suits filed in 2011.

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Nation’s Markets Continue March to Normalcy

According to the National Association of Home Builders' Leading Markets Index (LMI), 59 metros have fully returned or even exceeded their last normal levels of both economic and housing activity. Overall, the nationwide economic score rose slightly to 0.88 from a revised April reading. "This means that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 88 percent of normal economic and housing activity," the group said.

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Price Gains Keep Slowing; Expected to Halve by 2014

Home prices continued to rise in March, but at a markedly slower pace compared to February, CoreLogic reported in its latest Home Price Index. According to the company, prices were up 11.1 percent nationally year-over-year in March, with growth expected to slow to an annual rate of 6.7 percent by the same time in 2015. Both figures include distressed sales.

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Homebuyers Prefer New Homes (But Not New Prices)

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, Trulia found an estimated 41 percent “would strongly or somewhat prefer” to buy a new single-family home over an existing one, assuming the prices were equal. Just more than one in five respondents—21 percent—said they would prefer an existing home, while 38 percent expressed no preference. Of course, while the survey set prices on a level field to gauge interest, that’s very rarely the case.

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