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Home Sales Rose 5.7% in November: RE/MAX

Home sales helped end the year on an upswing by rising 5.7 percent in November, real estate company RE/MAX said in a report Monday. The company also found that sales ticked up by 1.1 percent year-over-year in December, the sixth straight month to post an increase. Homes for sale declined for the eighteenth consecutive month, with a 25.7-percent loss year-over-year. Home prices aligned with figures for the same in November, down 0.35 percent month-over-month and year-over-year.

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Huntsman’s Departure Highlights Politics of Housing Finance

And then there were five. Republican presidential hopeful and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman threw his support Monday behind frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Not unlike his fellow candidates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô or the incumbent himself ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô Huntsman left out any mention of housing finance reform and homeowners as issues for voters in the 2012 general election. Recent polls suggest that the political will exists to make housing finance policy a platform issue. MReport speaks with the experts to better understand housing finance policy and politics.

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Redwood Alters Executive Roles, Adds New President

A new president has been appointed at Redwood Trust, with the company's announcement that Brett Nicholas would take on the executive role. Replacing CEO Martin Hughes in the position, Nicholas was previously Redwood's chief investment and chief operating officer.

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Consumer Sentiment Ticks Up in January

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index polls an estimated 500 households per month to calculate the consumer sentiment values, and the U.S. is rebounding off of low recordings seen as recently as August 2011, at which time consumer sentiment sat at only 55.

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Bank Shares Slide on S&P’s Eurozone Downgrades

Stocks and shares for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós four largest banks slid back Friday on news that ratings agency Standard & Poor's slashed credit ratings for several debt-saddled euro zone countries, including France, Italy, and Spain. A 0.4-percent dip led the Dow Jones Industrial Average to end the day at 12,422 points, a 48.96 loss from the day before. The S&P 500 went south in a 0.5-percent tizzy, losing 6.41 points to close at 1,298. S&P ignited an investor selloff in the markets earlier Friday by announcing credit changes for 16 European countries. S&P slashed U.S. sovereign credit last fall.

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Economy Will Improve With Home Sales, Starts: ABA

Eleven chief economists forecasted Friday that the U.S. economy will continue to improve modestly as job growth steadies, along with easing declines in home prices, sales, and starts. The 11 economists all from banks and members of the American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee said that GDP growth rose to 2.5 percent in 2011. The committee also said home sales and starts could catch an upward draft seen in 2011 that lasts this year, with home prices likely continuing to stagger.

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Home Sales, Housing Markets Will Lift in 2012: Fannie Mae

The economy will drift upward in 2012 as incremental changes take place in the housing market, with a divisive and uncertain policy environment the darkest cloud on the horizon, Fannie Mae said in an economic outlook Friday. Doug Duncan, VP and chief economist with Fannie, offered up the outlook from the GSE's Economics and Mortgage Analysis Group. Fannie Mae said that total home sales could hit 4.7 million in 2012, reflecting a 3.5-percent boost from total sales, new and existing, last year. The forecast said that home sales could reach as many as 5 million come 2013.

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Total Mortgage Adds New National Sales Manager

Total Mortgage Services, LLC, has announced the appointment of a new national retail sales manager. Joining Total Mortgage with more than 25 years of industry experience, Neil Bader will now be responsible for leading the company's retail origination channel.

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Mortgage Applications Rose 4.5% Last Week: MBA

Mortgage applications shot up 4.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, above averages seen year-over-year but far below gains in overall volume that occurred over the last several months. Releasing the figures in a weekly survey Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported mortgage application volume expanding 34.4 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The refinance share of mortgage activity contracted to 80.8 percent of application volume.

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Three in Four Voters Back Federal Housing Aid: NAHB

Americans from both political parties overwhelmingly value a role for the federal government in housing and oppose any efforts by lawmakers to eliminate traditional home buying incentives, according to a recent survey. The National Association of Home Builders polled more than 1,500 likely voters from swing states across the country in early January, with help from conservative-leaning Public Opinion Strategies and left-leaning Lake Research Partners. Three out of four voters agreed that it is appropriate and reasonable for the federal government to back homeownership.

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