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Homeownership Rate Plummets to 15-Year Low

Homeownership rates dropped to 65.4 percent in the first quarter, reaching lows not seen in fifteen years, the Census Bureau said Monday. According to government data, the homeowner vacancy rate also fell to 2.2 percent nationwide, down from 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and the rental vacancy rate dropped to 8.8 percent from 9.7 percent one year earlier. The median asking sale price for a vacant home fell to $133,700 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the lowest level since second quarter 2005 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô from $133,800 in the fourth quarter and $143,700 one year earlier.

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Consumer Spending Enters Sharp Slowdown in March

Consumer spending grew just 0.3 percent in March, down from the 0.9 percent growth in February, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Monday. Economists had expected spending to be up 0.4 percent. At the same time, personal income grew 0.4 percent in March, BEA said, slightly faster than February├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós 0.

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Appraisal Institute Responds to FinCEN Report

The Appraisal Institute has submitted its response to a recent report released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010.

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Transwestern Hiring, Promoting in Midwest

Transwestern has announced the appointment of a new president for its Midwest region. The company recently named Mike Watts to the leadership role, and Watts will take over responsibilities for overall strategy, business development, recruitment, and financial performance for the region.

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First-Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 2.2% With Spending Drop

The U.S. economy grew at a disappointing 2.2 percent rate in the first quarter, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from the 3.0 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter and below expectations. Economists had expected GDP to grow at 2.5 percent in the first quarter. A drop in government spending was the biggest factor in the slowdown in growth. In dollar terms, GDP increased $73.4 billion, most of which was an increase in personal consumption - $68.1 billion.

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Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows . . . Still

Debt crises in Europe once more left interest rates for mortgage loans near record lows. Finance Web site Bankrate.com found 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.09 percent, down from 4.10 percent last week, alongside a 15-year loan that hit 3.28 percent this week, down from 3.32 percent. Bankrate.com found said that 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages meanwhile fell from 3.05 percent last week to 3.03 percent this week. News out of Britain this week found that the bulwark economy slipped into a double-dip recession during the first quarter.

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PNC Financial Elects New President

PNC Financial Services Group has announced the appointment of William S. Demchak as the company's president of the corporation. The board of directors elected Demchak, who will also serve as PNC's president for its principal banking subsidiary, PNC Bank.

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Pending-Home Sales Leap Ahead in March: NAR

The Pending Home Sales Index rose sharply in March to 101.4 from February's revised 97.4, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Economists had expected the Index to increase 1.0 percent from February. The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3. The index improved for the third straight month and fifth time in the last six month. The March reading is up 12.8 percent from March 2011, the strongest year-over-year gain since last July. The PHSI has been drifting upward, albeit modestly for most of the past two years.

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Mortgage Applications Fell 3.8% Last Week: MBA

application

Mortgage applications fell 3.8 percent from the week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group found that application volume waned by 3.3 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week before. Purchases went up 2.7 percent from one week earlier, climbing by a seasonally unadjusted 3.6 percent in the same vein. Refinance applications declined on the whole. The Refinance Index dipped by 5.6 percent from the week before, as conventional refis slipped by 6.1 percent and government refis climbed down by 2.1 percent.

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