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The Pros and Cons of San Francisco’s Tech Boom

Although rising rents and tight inventories have led to a surge in new construction in San Francisco, the new supply is barely able to keep pace with demand, creating challenges in the region, says Wells Fargo's Economics Group. "Multi-family permits, which include both apartments and condominiums, surged 30.4 percent in Santa Clara County during 2013 and have eclipsed previous highs for this market," the group said. Single-family home building is rebounding, but only "slowly and off exceptionally low levels."

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Settlement Monitor: Most Banks Meeting Compliance Reqs

According to examination results released Wednesday by the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, five of the six banks met or exceeded expectations across 29 different compliance metrics in the third and fourth quarters of 2013. Not faring as well was Green Tree, a wholly owned subsidiary of Walter Investment Management Corp., which has part of ResCap's servicing portfolio.

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Collateral Analytics Joins Data Protection Group

Collateral Analytics, one of the real estate industry’s leading providers of comprehensive automated valuation solutions and analytic products, has joined up with the Real Estate Data Protection Legal Association Nonprofit (REDPLAN), the company announced.

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Household Debt Rises, but New Mortgages Drag

The New York Fed recorded an increase of $129 billion in national outstanding household debt in the first three months of the year, bringing the total debt level up to $11.65 trillion. Leading the increase was a rise in mortgage debt, which was up by $116 billion from the end of 2013, according to the bank. However, with originations dropping to $332 billion—the lowest level since the housing recovery started—there was little to celebrate on that front.

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Housing Affordability Measure Improves in Q1

affordable housing

The National Association of Home Builders, working with Wells Fargo, recently published its Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), which found 65.5 percent of new and existing homes sold from January through March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900. The figure from the first quarter was slightly higher than the 64.7 percent of homes sold that were considered affordable in the fourth quarter of last year.

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Mortgage Apps Rise with Pickup in Refinances

In its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported a 3.6 percent rise in application volumes for the week ending May 9. In a significant turn from recent trends, refinances were entirely responsible for the bump in overall applications. Still, refinance application numbers remain down nearly 80 percent compared to last year.

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FHA Unveils Blueprint to Loosen Credit Access, Lower Risk

As part of its efforts to expand credit access to more borrowers, the Federal Housing Administration has introduced its "Blueprint for Access," which includes a new counseling program for borrowers using FHA-insured financing. The plan has its critics, including the American Enterprise Institute's Edward Pinto, who argues that FHA "has not stood for sustainable homeownership for at least five decades."

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FHFA Updates Plans for Fannie, Freddie

Now that Director Mel Watt's administration is in full swing, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has released its new strategic plan for the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In its outline, FHFA focused on three tenets going forward for the GSEs: maintain foreclosure prevention activities, reduce taxpayer risk, and build a new, single-family securitization infrastructure.

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FHFA Director Lays Out Strategic Vision

After staying quiet for months following his swearing-in as head of the agency, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt took the stage at the Brookings Institution this week to outline his own plans for the GSEs. Like FHFA's original Strategic Plan for Enterprise Conservatorships, the newly unveiled plan is built on three blocks: maintain, reduce, and build. However, Watt's revised plan suggests a shift in focus toward broadening credit access.

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