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Monthly Home Payments Up 21% in Q4

RealtyTrac released Thursday a new housing affordability analysis, noting an average 21 percent increase in monthly house payments from a year ago. The report showed that the average house payment of a home purchased in the fourth quarter of 2013 rose to $865. That figure is based on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate of 4.46 percent and a 20 percent down payment.

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Boost in Inventory Slows January Home Value Growth

A report released Thursday by Zillow shows national home values rose just 0.2 percent in January from December. Inventory rose in 22 of the nation’s 35 largest metros, explaining some of the slowdown in home value gains. Year-over-year, home values rose 6.3 percent in January, down from previous gains of 7.1 percent as recently as August 2013. Home values are expected to rise another 3.4 percent to $175,301 in the next 12 months.

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Allstate Appraisal to Host Vendor Management Compliance Webinars

The new year has brought with it an entirely new set of guidelines from regulators on third-party vendor management. For those lenders still scrambling to get their oversight right before disciplinary actions kick in, Allstate Appraisal announced upcoming webinars to delve into the topic of appraisal management companies (AMC).

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Mortgage Rates Up for Second Week

Freddie Mac released Thursday its Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending February 20, showing the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) coming up 5 basis points to a rate of 4.33 percent (0.7 point). This time last year, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.56 percent. Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac, said the change reflects market forecasts of what the Federal Reserve’s next move might be.

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Report: Borrowing Up Among Younger Consumers

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed Tuesday that aggregate consumer debt rose in 2013's final quarter, citing an increase of $241 billion dollars. The figure represents the largest quarter-to-quarter increase since 2007. The report commented, "All groups, even those with subprime credit scores, increased their mortgage balances in 2006. Now, the modest mortgage balance increases we see are mainly coming from high credit score borrowers."

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Winter Storms Take Another Bite Out of Home Sales

While home sales were down nearly 27 percent over the month, they were down 7.1 percent from January last year, according to the RE/MAX report, which includes data from 52 metros across the nation. “We usually expect to see fewer home sales in the winter months, but January experienced particularly severe storms in large parts of the country, which disrupted appraisals, inspections and closings,” said Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX.

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Refinances Up, Standards Down in January Origination Report

Examining a sample of applications passing through its network, Ellie Mae reports refinance mortgages made up 47 percent of originations in January, up slightly from December. Refinance share bottomed out at 39 percent in October 2013 and has slowly risen since. The increase in refinances compared to purchase loans matches Freddie Mac’s latest outlook, which observed a “second wind” for remortgaging as interest rates resist lifting factors.

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January Housing Starts Plummet

The Census and HUD announced jointly Wednesday that housing starts in January ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000, a 16 percent decline from December. The drop in starts came during a month in which homebuilder confidence in the single-family market (as measured by the National Association of Home Builders) measured at an index value of 57, reflecting general optimism.

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