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Rising Home Values Bring Equity to Highest Level Since 2008

Rising home values in September brought homeowner equity to its highest level since the third quarter of 2008, according to the Obama administration's latest Housing Scorecard. According to the report, homeowner equity increased $406 billion, or 5.9 percent, to $7.3 trillion in the second quarter of 2012. After experiencing a turnaround into growth in the year's first quarter, total equity has grown $863 billion, or 13.5 percent, since the end of 2011.

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Markets, Commentators React to Unemployment Drop

Experts across the country wasted no time in responding to Friday's unemployment report, and the responses ranged from celebration to healthy skepticism. As pundits waged a war over the significance of the report, Capital Economics focused its view less on politics and more on its own breakdown of the data, noting that while the growth was modest, the overall report was encouraging. Wall Street also reacted, with banks and construction firms seeing stock upticks.

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Oscar-Winning Actress Lists Pacific Palisades Home

Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank has listed her Los Angeles abode for $9.495 million. Swank has called the expansive estate, located in the city's Pacific Palisades area, home since 2007, when she purchased the property for a reported $5.8 million.

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Rushmore Announces Acquisition of ICON, Appoints New CEO

Grand Bank, N.A., has announced that it will be selling its ICON Residential Lenders unit to Rushmore Loan Management Services, according to a recent release. The sale is still subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012 or the first quarter of 2013.

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New COO, Head of Investment Banking Appointed at NewOak

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Donald McGuire will be pulling double duty at NewOak as COO and head of investment banking, the company announced. McGuire comes to NewOak with more than 27 years of experience in finance and operations, having worked in the major investment banking, pharmaceutical, and technological industries.

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Improving Markets Index Touches New High in October

The number of markets listed on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) broke the triple-digit mark in October, NAHB reported. A total of 103 housing markets across the country qualified for the list in October, up from 99 in September and the highest level since the list started a year ago, NAHB said. At its October level, the number of qualifying markets approaches nearly 10 times the number from when the index was first created.

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Trulia: 2012 Looking Good for Overall Price Growth

If current trends persist, this year may be the first year since 2006 the housing market records an annual price increase, according to a report released Thursday by Trulia. At the current rate of change, the year could close with a 4 percent price annual price increase. Asking prices rose 2.5 percent year-over-year in September. When foreclosure sales are excluded, prices were up 3.5 percent. Month-over-month, asking prices were up 0.5 percent in September.

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Unemployment Slips Below 8% for First Time Since 2009

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September--the lowest level since January 2009--as the economy added a below-average 114,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday. The 0.3 percentage point improvement in the unemployment rate is the largest since January 2011, when the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent to 9.1 percent.

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