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Borrower Health Improves in Q4; D.C. Ranks Highest

Compared to the prior period, the nation’s average Borrower Health Score was up 2.8 percent to 82.2, according to LendingTree, rebounding from the third quarter’s 1.6 point drop. The Borrower Health Score is calculated using the weighted average of credit score, loan-to-value ratio (LTV), and overall “lendability” of loan seekers in each state throughout the quarter.

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Energy Sector Growth Boosts Recovery

Nationwide, the economy and housing market are functioning at a level about 87 percent of their pre-crisis normal levels, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American’s Leading Markets Index. Fifty-nine of the 350 metro markets are at or above their pre-crisis norms, according to the index, up from 58 metros last month. At the same time, 130 markets are at least 90 percent of their pre-crisis levels, according to NAHB.

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Employers Add 175K Jobs in February; Unemployment at 6.7%

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in February, beating expectations after two weak months but still failing to impress. While more promising than December and January—which showed upwardly revised payroll growth of 84,000 and 129,000, respectively—February’s numbers still fell well short of 2013’s average monthly growth of 194,000.

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Regulator Calls Nationstar on ‘Explosive Growth’

A regulator who recently took actions to curb growth at Ocwen has now turned his eye to Nationstar. In a letter addressed to the company, Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, said his agency has concerns "that the explosive growth at Nationstart and other nonbank mortgage servicers may create capacity issues that put homeowners at risk."

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Mortgage Rates Retreat on Tepid Economic Reports

Freddie Mac released Thursday the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending March 6, showing the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) falling 9 basis points to an average rate of 4.28 percent (0.7 point). Bankrate.com’s national survey showed slightly less dramatic movements, but rates were down all the same.

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Quarterly Price Gains Slow; Declines Anticipated

Clear Capital released earlier this week its latest Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, recording only a 1 percent gain in home prices over the quarter ending last month. That figure is down from a 2.5 percent pace of growth for the January quarter. While many price indicators have pointed to slowdowns over the last few months, the latest trend could be the start of something worse, says Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

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Survey Highlights Consumer Need for Clear Lending Guidance

In a survey of 1,500 consumers who purchased a home in the last 10 years, TD Bank found 69 percent would describe their experience with their lender as “excellent” or “very good." Rating specific aspects of their experience, accessibility” and “responsiveness” ranked highest, while relatively fewer respondents were happy with their lender’s efforts to explain options or help them understand the process.

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Four Million Homes Return to Positive Equity in 2013

As of the end of 2013, CoreLogic estimates the number of mortgaged residential properties with equity totaled about 42.7 million, representing a share of about 86.7 percent. Due to a slowdown in the quarterly growth rate of the company's Home Price Index, the share of homes with equity versus underwater homes was mostly unchanged from Q3 to Q4.

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HUD Unveils 2015 Budget; Expects No Further FHA Bailout

In a conference call Tuesday, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan discussed the agency's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget, which is up 2.6 percent from current levels to $46.66 billion. Joining Donovan was Carol Galante, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which last year was forced to accept its first-ever Treasury draw—an incident her agency is expected to avoid this year.

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Credit Risk Down to Post-Crash Low

TransUnion released its Credit Risk Index (CRI) Wednesday, concluding that credit risk dropped at the end of 2013 to the lowest level since 2005. "With credit risk at such low levels, there is a possibility that consumers in higher risk segments may see more credit offers, as some lenders decide they have the room in their profit models to take on greater risk," said Ezra Becker, VP of research and consulting for TransUnion.

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