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Experts Split on Housing Affordability Concerns

In a survey of 106 experts in housing and investments, Zillow found a slight majority—28 percent—pinned the most blame for declining affordability on stagnant income growth across the country, even as the rest of the economy has moved in a generally positive direction. At the same time, the number of respondents pointing to "abnormally high rates of home price and rent appreciation" as the main problem was only slightly smaller at 27 percent.

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Housing Starts Rise on Multifamily Spike

According to the Commerce Department and HUD, privately owned housing starts last month were at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million, representing a 13.2 percent jump from March’s barely revised pace of 947,000. Unfortunately for the supply-constrained single-family market, most of that spike came in apartment buildings.

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Non-Distressed Prices Rise Slowly as Sales Increase ‘Moderately’

Prices rose 9 percent year-over-year for the first quarter of this year, according to FNC, Inc.'s Residential Price Index, which measures sales activity for non-distressed homes in the 100 largest metros in the country. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.6 percent in March. On an annual basis, Western states continue to lead the nation with drastic price gains.

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Home Prices and the Middle Class

In a recent blog post for the company, Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko notes that certain discrepancies do arise, specifically along the coasts, for middle-class homeownership. Kolko found that the middle class is getting priced out of California but finds more success in the Midwest. In fact, in 80 of the 100 largest U.S. metros, most of the homes for sale are within reach of the middle class.

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Report: Recovery Testing Normal Economic Assumptions

The continued—and oddly sluggish—recovery cycle the U.S is currently experiencing in not, according to a new report by Fitch Ratings and Oxford Analytica, on course to run the typical peaks-and-valleys cycle of the five major economic expansion periods the U.S. has experienced since the early 1970s.

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Mortgage Rates Hit 6-Month Low

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year average fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) eased to 4.20 percent (0.6 point) for the week ending May 15, a drop from the last survey. "These lower than expected rates are welcome news with the spring home buying season underway and may even provide those who haven't already refinanced possibly a reason to take another look," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

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Fannie/Freddie Phase-Out Bill Moves Forward

The Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill, which would phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a more limited federal insurer, has passed through the Senate Banking Committee. While the bill always had enough support in the committee to make it to the Senate floor, whether or not it goes any further is the real question.

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LoanLogics Launches LoanHD AppQ Network

In Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, LoanLogics introduced its newly launched LoanHD AppQ Network, a service designed to provide users with service ordering and delivery interfaces to third-party providers all through the company’s single-source LoanHD solution.

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Disappointing Sales Knock Down Builder Confidence

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released Thursday its Housing Market Index (HMI) for May, reporting another slip in builder confidence as single-family home sales continue to disappoint. The index, a gauge of homebuilder sentiment toward the single-family housing market, dropped to 45 from a downwardly revised reading of 46 in April. A score below 50 indicates a market viewed by more builders as “poor” rather than “good.”

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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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