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Credit Access Opens Up for Jumbo Loans

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) increased 0.44 percent last month to 114.0, the group reported Tuesday, indicating a loosening of credit. “Consistent with past months, many lenders and investors are providing borrowers seeking higher loan amounts with a broader range of financing options by introducing new jumbo loan programs,” explained MBA chief economist Mike Fratantoni.

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One-Third of Bankers to Only Lend Within QM

The American Bankers Association (ABA) released the results of its latest annual Real Estate Lending Survey. According to the ABA, more than 80 percent of bankers surveyed believe that tightened Dodd-Frank rules will restrict credit, thereby narrowing the pool of candidates able to secure mortgages. More than a third of bankers surveyed said they would only offer qualified mortgages.

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Second-Home Mortgage Market Is Alive and Well

Since 1998, second-home mortgages have averaged about 4.76 percent of the total purchase market, but the share is rising, according to Fannie Mae. While the purchase market increased four-fold from 1998 through the bubble years, the second-home mortgage market multiplied by 15 over the same years. The second-home mortgage market did decline significantly during the housing downturn, but today, it’s alive and well.

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HUD Announces Grants for Homeless Assistance Programs

The government renewed its support for homeless assistance programs across the United States with the awarding of $1.6 billion in grants. President Obama’s 2015 budget seeks $2.4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, an increase of $480 million above the 2012 enacted level. As budgetary battles continue to shape policy in Washington, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan urges lawmakers to approve the full funding so local providers can move forward.

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OIG: CFPB’s Supervisory Activities Need Improvement

An audit of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) operational efficiency found the agency is lacking when it comes to the execution of its supervisory activities. In a report, the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Reserve System says CFPB could improve in three areas: reporting timelines, standard compliance rating definitions, and examination reporting policies.

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Analysts: Despite Challenges, Housing Still Attractive

In an analysis gauging the recovery’s progress, Fitch Ratings listed harsh winter weather across the country as one of the biggest factors moderating the housing recovery, though higher interest rates and home prices have also provided some drag. Affordability will likely only deteriorate. Looking at 2014, Fitch expects new home prices to rise between 2.5–3.5 percent, with existing-home prices also moving up.

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Coalition Launches to Protect Fannie, Freddie Shareholders

A new group has launched on the side of shareholders in the ongoing debate for the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Calling itself the “Coalition for Mortgage Security,” the group describes itself as a bipartisan, grassroots organization with the goal of reforming housing finance “in a way that benefits and fairly treats current and future homeowners, taxpayers, and investors across the country.”

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National Recovery Measure Rises to 88%

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) delivered some good news Monday in that 59 of the 350 metro markets have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity. In the NAHB/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), the national average is running at 88 percent, with 11 metros gained year-over-year.

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Americans’ Feelings Mixed on Present, Future of Housing

Fannie Mae released Monday its most recent National Housing Survey, revealing a slight softening in the housing recovery as monthly indicators remain volatile. “The housing recovery continues to proceed in fits and starts,” said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Rising mortgage rates and a lack of supply have dampened housing market momentum.”

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