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CredAbility’s Q3 Consumer Distress Index Shows Declines

CredAbility has released its third-quarter findings, and the news is less than ideal. The company's consumer distress index displayed the most significant drop in consumer financial health on record since 2008, largely due to increases in mortgage delinquencies, late payments by renters, and an uptick in housing expenses. Citing rising pricing for food, gasoline, and other necessities coupled with the increase in under-employment, CredAbility's final evaluation of distress among U.S. households totaled 66.7 on the company's 100-point scale.

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Mortgage Application Volume Plummets 10%: MBA

With homeowners largely staying on the sidelines, mortgage application volume underwent a seasonally adjusted 10-percent squeeze last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. In releasing the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, the trade group found that declines overwhelmingly led most of the survey components. The MBA found the Market Composite Index declining by 19.6 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week before.

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Homebuilder Confidence Highest Since 2010: NAHB

Homebuilder confidence shot up over November, revisiting a high previously seen in May 2010, according to a recent index. The National Association of Home Builders released a monthly housing market index in association with Wells Fargo that tracks homebuilder sentiment about the market by quantifying it on a 100-point index. The index found a three-point lead on 17 from October, boosting homebuilder confidence in the single-family home market to 20 points, last seen more than a year ago. The surge in confidence nevertheless remains below average.

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Report: FHA Could Require Bailout by Next Year

The Federal Housing Administration submitted an annual actuarial report to Congress Tuesday that suggests diminishing returns from a fledgling growth strategy could lead the agency to a taxpayer-funded bailout next year. The reason why? The FHA currently fails to meet a 2-percent capital reserve ratio mandated by federal law, with cash reserves on hand falling to less than an eighth below the required threshold. The report said that cash reserves on hand fell accordingly from $4.7 billion last year to $2.6 billion over 2011. Estimates predict that it could require $50 billion.

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GSE Leaders Address Bonuses, Profits Before Congress

The GSEs are making headlines, with Fannie Mae's CEO appearing before Congress to address the entity's possible profitability and Freddie Mac's CEO providing testimony on the controversial executive bonuses within the organization. Both leaders spoke to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to field questions regarding various aspects of Fannie and Freddie's practices and financial standing. The high-profile hearing follows considerable outcry by lawmakers over $13 million in bonuses for 10 senior-level executives.

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SunTrust Transitions Board Leadership

SunTrust Banks, Inc., has announced a new chairman for its board of directors, naming the company's president and CEO to the position. William H. Rogers, Jr., who has served as president and CEO of SunTrust since June, will take over as chairman of the board on January 1.

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Fannie, Freddie Release New HARP 2.0 Guidelines

Freddie

The same day that lawmakers deluged the GSEs and their regulator with criticism, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac finally released guidelines Tuesday for lenders and servicers about modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Obama administration ended weeks of speculation when it announced the modifications ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô specific to HARP 2.0, as dubbed by the media ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô in October. New guidelines effectively took lenders and servicers off the hook by nixing their legal culpability for original loans before homeowners refinance with the GSEs.

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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Still Popular with Consumers: Freddie

application

Fixed-rate mortgages remained largely popular with consumers over the third quarter, according to Freddie Mac, despite the willingness by some lawmakers and policymakers to part ways with the loan product. The GSE found that more refinancing borrowers opted to contract their mortgage terms over the course of the second quarter. Forty percent of borrowers with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage exchanged their old products for 15- and 20-year mortgages, topping off the most such since 2003, Freddie found.

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Lawmakers Target Fannie, Freddie Over ‘Questionable’ Practices

A minibus bill cobbled together by House lawmakers would slash spending from several federal agencies, including HUD, and limit a hike in conforming loan limits to the Federal Housing Administration. House lawmakers drafted the stopgap bill to resolve funding needs for the federal government and avoid a shutdown for the remainder of the fiscal year a step in the direction of an agreement reached by White House officials and member of Congress earlier this year.

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DeMarco: $13M in GSE Exec Bonuses Help Protect Taxpayers

Pressure from Congress over some $13 million in bonuses for GSE executives crystallized in a hearing Tuesday that saw Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco defend himself and the controversial pay packages against critical questions from lawmakers. Members of the Senate Banking Committee largely took turns criticizing the FHFA's decisions and probing for statements about the housing finance system. The head of the agency responsible for regulating the GSEs portrayed his decision as one that would ultimately help keep taxpayers off the hook.

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