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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Hold at or Near Record Lows

Homebuyer affordability is at a record high, and a big driver of that underlying market denominator is the fact that mortgage interest rates continue to hover close to 60-year lows. Data released Thursday by Freddie Mac puts the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 3.88 percent, and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low of 3.13 percent. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist, says that due to these factors, the typical family had more than double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home in January.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Rise For Third Straight Week

According to data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, first time claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 in the week ended March 2. The report marks the third straight weekly increase, following revisions to earlier statistics. Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, increased 10,000 to hit 3,416,000, representing the second straight weekly increase. The four week moving average for initial claims edged up modestly to 355,000 from 354750 while the average for continuing claims fell.

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More Americans Feel Confident About Housing: Survey

More Americans feel confident about their household finances, the housing recovery, and the prospect of an economic upturn, Fannie Mae said Wednesday. The mortgage giant drew on poll data from some 1,000 respondents to sketch a blend of guardedness and hopefulness in a National Housing Report. Thirty-five percent of Americans now believe the economy is on the right track, an increase from 19 percent in November, compared with 57 percent who still feel damp about the state of recovery. Fewer respondents fielded layoff concerns.

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Report Slams FHFA, Freddie for Poor Servicer Oversight

Freddie

The inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency released a report Tuesday that criticizes the agency, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac for a series of ongoing oversight problems with mortgage servicers. The document charges that the FHFA failed to implement service guidelines for the mortgage company last year and portrays today├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós environment as one in which the agency, GSEs, and servicers all punt responsibility down the ladder. It also alleges that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac routinely fail to swap servicer information.

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Falling Loan Applications Tilt Toward Still-Nascent Recovery

In signs that a stable housing rebound may still be ways off, mortgage applications contracted by 1.2 percent last week, even while the Home Affordable Refinance Program offered a still-steady buttress for refinance activity. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that mortgage application volume also declined by 10.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. The Purchase Index went up by a seasonally adjusted 2.1 percent from last week, while it climbed by 14.7 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis.

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