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January Price Appreciation Climbs to 9%

Real estate tech firm FNC Inc.’s Residential Price Index (RPI) continued to accelerate in January—and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. According to the company, the index, which measures price movements with distressed sales excluded, jumped up 9.0 percent annually in January following an 8.7 percent boost in December. On a monthly basis, the index’s national composite increased 0.4 percent, beating December’s 0.3 percent gain.

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February Job Numbers Lift Mortgage Rates

Last week’s improved (though still not great) jobs report brought a little bit of comfort to the financial markets, pushing mortgage rates up for the week. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) came up nearly a tenth of a percentage point to 4.37 percent (0.6 point) for the week ending March 13. Meanwhile, Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey showed increases all around.

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February Data Indicates Continued Gains in New Home Sales

Builder application data from February suggests another increase in new home sales, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Thursday. According to MBA’s Builder Applications Survey (BAS), which tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of homebuilders, applications for new home purchases increased 12 percent in February, pointing to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 533,000 (up 1 percent from January).

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Examining Loan Sales in Today’s Market

In recent months, institutional investors seem to prefer buying non-performing loans instead of more solvent ones, according to David LeBlanc, managing director of capital markets at DebtX. LeBlanc said that this action is thought to be caused by the decreasing margins available in real estate acquisitions. These types of loan sales are expected to increase as a result of new regulations that are forcing depository institutions to shed their bad loans to avoid increased holding costs and reserves.

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Finding Opportunities in Home Equity

In a blog post, CoreLogic's Mark Fleming notes that as of the most recent numbers, mortgage applications are down 54 percent compared to a year ago, with much of that decline stemming from a plunge in refinances (down 65 percent year-on-year). However, while rising interest rates have removed some of the incentive homeowners had to move or refinance, improving home prices have created a greater space for home equity loans. "This is good news for the home improvement industry and mortgage lenders who focus on home equity lending, as both will benefit from the resurgent consumer demand," he said.

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New Residential $900B Mortgage Pool from Springleaf

Real estate investment trust (REIT) New Residential Investment Corp. announced a commitment to purchase interests in a $900 million pool of non-agency loans. According to a release from New Residential, the loans involved in the deal were previously securitized by an affiliate of Springleaf Financial Corporation, which was previously affiliated with AIG until it was acquired by Fortress Investment Group managed funds in 2010. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, New Residential expects to settle the acquisition by the end of this year's first quarter.

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Senate Confirms Deputy Treasury Secretary

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Sarah Bloom Raskin as deputy secretary of the Treasury. In a statement, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said he is pleased the Senate showed broad support in confirming Raskin, adding, "The Treasury Department is gaining a proven and experienced leader who is dedicated to promoting economic prosperity, and enhancing business and consumer confidence."

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Consumer Expectations Stay Steady in February

According to responses in the New York Fed's most recent Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE), consumers last month indicated a median home price change expectation of 4.0 percent, reversing an increase to 4.6 percent in January. Price change expectations hovered around 4.5 percent for much of last year's second half, coming down only when national reports indicated a slowdown.

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