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Once Common Loan Products Not So Common in Southern California

The Southern California housing market continues to inch slowly toward recovery with a 5.1 percent increase in home sales year-over-year in April and the first year-over-year price increase reported in 16 months, according to DataQuick, a San Diego-based analytics firm. However, the market still relies heavily on investors as credit remains tight. Previously common mortgage loan products continue to make up a much smaller percentage of the market than they did over the last several years, according to DataQuick.

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Mortgage Rates Fall to New Record Lows as Greece Titters

Interest rates for mortgage loans saw new, all-time lows this week as investors fled debt crises in Europe. Freddie Mac found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sliding to 3.79 percent, down from 3.83 percent last week and a far cry from 4.61 percent last year. The 15-year loan fell from 3.05 percent to 3.04 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages went up. The finance Web site Bankrate.com likewise saw new record lows for mortgage rates, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropping below 4 percent for the first time by arriving at 3.97 percent.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Creeping Up

First time claims were unchanged at 370,000 for the week ended May 12 after the number of initial claims filed for the previous week was revised upward, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected initial claims would decrease to 365,000. The Labor Department had initially reported 367,000 claims filed for the week ended May 5. The revision turned that report to an increase of 2,000 from a previously reported decline of 1,000. Continuing claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a one week lag ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô increased 18,000 to 3,265,000.

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Commercial Sector Predicts Rocky Ride for 2012

The Real Estate Roundtable's new quarterly survey demonstrated a lack of confidence in the outlook for 2012 among commercial real estate executives. According to data from the group's Sentiment Survey, the market improvements seen on a year-over-year basis aren't mitigating concerns surrounding global economic risks and tax issues in the commercial sector.

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RE/MAX Tops Rankings in Two National Reports

Colorado-based RE/MAX is being recognized for the expertise and efficiency of its agents. According to statistics from the 2012 REAL Trends 500 survey and the RIS Media Power Broker Report, RE/MAX's agents were the most productive in the business during 2011.

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Fed Governor: Uncertainty Is the Market’s Greatest Hindrance

Uncertainty is the greatest hindrance to the housing recovery today, according to Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth A. Duke, who speak before the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday. Duke called on policymakers to "move forward with the difficult decisions that will affect the future of the mortgage market," deeming this the "most important solution" to today├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós struggling market. While the economy and the housing market are beginning to see some signs of ripening, Duke pointed out that lending remains tight.

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Connecticut Home Sales Rising, Prices Still Falling

Home sales in Connecticut rose on an annual basis in March for the third month in a row, according to data released Wednesday by The Warren Group. The same report revealed that single-family home sales in Connecticut rose on a quarterly basis for the first time since the second quarter of 2010. Single-family home sales rose more than 5 percent in the first quarter of this year to 4,157 from 3,950 in the same quarter last year. Conversely, median prices declined 6.5 percent over the first quarter of the year in Connecticut, slipping from $230,000 in the first quarter of last year to $215,000.

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Mortgage Applications Ride 9.2% Increase on Low Interest Rates

A rash of new concerns in debt-saddled Europe drove investors to U.S. Treasury debt, keeping mortgage rates at all-time lows and leading mortgage application volume to tick up 9.2 percent. The Mortgage Bankers Association recorded an 8.7 percent increase in applications for the Market Composite Index on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Analysts credit an upset in Greek elections last week with the rush by investors to U.S. Treasury debt, with policymakers in the Mediterranean country likely seeing elections next week.

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Housing Permits Drop as Starts Increase in April

Housing permits dipped in April for the first time in four months, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported jointly Wednesday but housing starts improved. Both indicators remained far above year-earlier levels. The month-over-month increase in starts in April appeared still larger because of a downward revision to March's report. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected permits to drop month-over-month and starts to increase over the same time.

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FHFA Unveils Changes to Reform Plan for Secondary Market

The Federal Housing Finance Agency unveiled new additions to the strategic plan it released in February this year, with many changes focused on moving the secondary mortgage market back to private capital sources and creating infrastructure needed to replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The additions include four principles, such as safety and security for the residential mortgage market, stability and liquidity in housing finance, and preservation of current enterprise assets. The plan, due for enactment if passed by Congress between the years 2013 and 2017.

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