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Leading Economic Indicators Continue Upward Trend

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) was updated Monday, rising for the third straight month. The LEI increased 0.8 percent in March to 100.9, outpacing increases of 0.2 percent in January and 0.5 percent in February. The outlook in the analytic system points more to a peak than a trough in coming months, according to the group.

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Mortgage Hassles Spurring More All-Cash Activity

A survey of real estate agents released Monday finds a growing number of homeowners have turned to all-cash financing in order to avoid the red tape that comes with mortgage lending. According to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, an estimated 26.2 percent of home purchases by current homeowners in March relied solely on cash, up from a 12-month low of 22.8 percent recorded last August.

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California Housing Sees Improvements in March

Data released last week by the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) shows statewide sales of existing, single-family homes totaling a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 367,000 last month, up 1.4 percent from February but down 12.3 percent from year-ago levels. It was the fifth straight month in which sales came in below 400,000 and the eighth straight annual decline, C.A.R. reported.

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Are Mortgage Underwriters Considered Exempt Employees?

In Davis v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the federal court of appeal in New York, reversing the decision of the district court, held that JPMorgan Chase’s mortgage underwriters were not exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court of appeal, based on the evidence before it, found that the mortgage underwriters’ primary duty was to sell loan products under the detailed directions of a credit guide provided to them by the bank.

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Realtors Anticipate Healthy Market for Spring Buyers

The market is much healthier this year, and with the growth in inventory and days on the market for the buyers and with modest price increases present, the overall outlook is good, according to Realtor.com's National Housing Trends report for March. The stats from Realtor.com showed a 9.5 percent growth over March of last year, with 1,841,844 units at a median price of $199,900, which was also 5.3 percent higher. Last year showed an imbalance with a shorter supply and a heavy increase in home prices.

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Freddie Mac: ‘Noise’ Disrupting Housing Hopes

With all of its ups and downs in recent months, the housing market is looking "noisy" heading into spring, Freddie Mac says. "We're getting mixed signals as we start the spring home buying season. Tight inventory may pose a significant challenge for home buyers in many markets across the country, which may result in higher home prices and sales being lower than expected," said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist.

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Consumer Spending Gauge Takes Hit as Home Prices Slow

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, a measure of consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending, fell from a revised reading of 4.03 in February to 3.51 in March. Despite the drop, Deloitte maintains that conditions remain positive for consumers. “The outlook for consumer spending remains healthy,” said Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist for the firm, adding, “The Index declined primarily due to a slower increase in median home prices.”

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