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Origination

Remodeling Stayed Flat During First Quarter: NAHB

Remodeling activity fell flat during the first quarter this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The trade group recently released a Remodeling Market Index that found remodeling activity dropping to 47 from 48 over the last quarter. Anything below 50 for the index indicates that more remodelers say that market activity is less than high. The index climbed down by one point to 49 over the first quarter, with future indicators of remodeling business down two points to 44. Three components shifted differently.

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Green Homes Could Account for Nearly 40% of Construction by 2016

The residential construction market could tilt toward green homes if today's preferences persist, with one recent study estimating that energy-efficient residences could account for anywhere from 29 percent to 38 percent of the playing field by 2016. Unveiling the report at a homebuilders' conference Tuesday, McGraw-Hill Construction estimated that green homes amounted to 17 percent of the construction market last year. The study said that green homes could represent anywhere from $87 billion to $114 billion in gains to be had by the construction industry.

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Experian Reports Rise in Mortgage Fraud Abroad

In the United Kingdom, Experian Identity & Fraud is reporting another annual uptick in mortgage fraud, recently revealing statistics that showed an eight percent rise in incidences of fraud during 2011. The company's survey marks the fifth consecutive year during which the rate of mortgage-related fraudulent activity has increased. Experian's findings indicate that an estimated 34 of every 10,000 mortgage applications contained false information in 2011. The results of the study represent a significant elevation of numbers seen in 2006.

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Costco Launches Online Mortgage Loan Program

As anticipated, Costco will now begin offering consumers access to mortgage loans through the company├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós online presence. The discount retailer will move ahead with its initiative to extend residential mortgage to borrowers through partnerships with 11 U.S lenders.

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Stocks Swell for Big Four as Construction Spending Rises

Shares swelled for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós four largest lenders Tuesday, with analysts crediting a rise in construction spending over March for a climb by the stock market to levels not seen in four years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average cleared an important psychological hurdle by rising 65 points to 13,279, the highest in four years. Media outlets and analysts attributed the boon to a leap ahead in confidence for the Chinese and U.S. economies, with a slight rise in construction spending over March responsible for the latter. Construction spending arrived at $171.2 billion.

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NAREB Hosts Forum to Address State of Housing in Black America

In Washington, D.C., the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) is preparing to host its State of Housing in Black America Issues Forum. The group, which is the oldest African American trade association of real estate business owners and professionals in the U.S., will present commentary from members of Congress, minority businesses, and granting agencies during the event on May 2.

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Banks Resume Tight Mortgage Lending Standards

With an upsurge in demand, banks resumed tightening standards for residential mortgage loans, the Federal Reserve said Monday in a quarterly survey for bank lending standards. According to the survey, a net 30.2 percent of bank surveyed in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey saw increased demand in the first quarter for traditional mortgage loans compared with a net 3.8 percent reporting stronger demand in the fourth quarter. The survey found that a net 1.9 percent of survey respondents also reported tightening loan standards.

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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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Twenty-Four Groups Call on CFPB to Make QM Rule Safer

Twenty-four trade groups and associations signed off on a comment letter Friday that calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to give creditors more legal leeway when it comes to Qualified Mortgages. The two-page letter ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô headed up by the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, and National Association of Realtors, among others ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô framed forthcoming rules around credit availability and sound home loans. Influential trade groups continue to criticize the rule.

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