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Mortgage Rates Set New Lows as Economy Tilts Here, There

A decline in interest by homebuyers shaved just 0.2 percent off mortgage applications last week, with refinance activity climbing. The Mortgage Bankers Association, which unveils the figures in a weekly survey, found application volume upward-bound by 24 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Refinance applications started to swell last week. The Refinance Index went up 1 percent, with the refinance share of mortgage activity cresting at 81 percent of total applications, up from 80 percent last week.

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Existing-Home Sales Soar to 27-Month High in August

Existing home sales rose 7.8 percent to 4.82 million in August the highest level since May 2010 the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The median price of an existing single in August was $187,400, down $400 from July but up $16,200 or 9.5 percent from August 2011. Economists had expected the sale pace to be 4.55 million. The percentage gain in sales was the strongest since last August when sales improved 8.9 percent month-over-month, the strongest month-month gain of the year.

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Single-Family Starts Reach Two-Year High in August

Single family starts increased 28,000 in August to 535,000, the highest level since April 2010, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Wednesday. Despite the increase total, housing starts improved just 17,000 as multi-family starts fell. Despite the increase total, housing starts improved just 17,000 as multi-family starts fell. Housing permits meanwhile dropped 9,000 to 802,000. Economists had expected total starts to increase to 768,000 and permits to slip to 803,000.

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Survey: 24% of Loan Officers Consider Firm Leaders ‘Illogical’

Twenty-four percent of loan officers think their firm leaders lead with "unclear" and "illogical" visions, according to a recent survey. Hammerhouse, LLC, a recruiting and strategic growth firm for the financial services industry, recently released a survey it conducted with loan officers. The findings touched on leadership, culture, business, and technology for loan officers from around the residential mortgage lending industry. Thirty-two percent of mortgage industry professionals believe their firm's technology needs an upgrade.

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August Home Prices Rise 6.3% Year-Over-Year: RE/MAX

Home prices skimmed close to the bottom during July this year but climbed 6.3 percent year-over-year by August, according to RE/MAX. The real estate company revealed in its latest National Housing Report that median home prices ticked up from last year over the last seven straight months. Home sales jumped 8.5 percent year-over-year, continuing its ascent from over the last fourteen consecutive months, and 2.5 percent on a monthly basis in August. Home inventory dipped 29.7 percent below levels from August last year.

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Fannie Mae Loses Confidence in Growth for 2012

Economic growth isn't looking good for the rest of the year, according to Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group. According to the GSE's most recent Economic Outlook report, downside risks such as the European debt crisis, the fast-approaching fiscal cliff, and the recent slowdown in hiring have created a drag on the second quarter's modest economic growth. Fannie Mae is setting growth expectations to 1.8 percent, a slight increase from Q2, but under Q1's projected 2.0 percent pace.

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Mortgage Rates Slip as Markets React to Fed’s Stimulus

Fed

Financial markets reacted to the Federal Reserve's announced stimulus last week, with investors dumping their money in more safe-haven Treasury debt, lowering mortgage rates accordingly. According to real estate website Zillow, which releases weekly surveys on the subject, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell from 3.38 percent to 3.34 percent last week. Rates for the 15-year home loan slid to 2.71 percent, while those for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages inched down to 2.45 percent.

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CAI Confirms Support for FHA’s New Guidelines

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is receiving industry support for its revisions to mortgage-related guidelines on condominium properties. Having been adamant about the need for changes to the previous standards, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) recently spoke out in support of the FHA's decisions, which the group says will create greater stability in the condo market.

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A10 Capital Adds Commercial Mortgage Leader

Lending specialist A10 Capital has announced the appointment of a new head of business development for the company's Tri-State market. Adding industry veteran Bruce Dashevsky, A10 is gaining a new leader for development efforts throughout Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

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CFPB Names CEO of HOPE to Consumer Advisory Board

The CEO of Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE),Bill Bynum, has been appointed to a leadership position with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Bynum was named the vice chairman of the organization's new initiative, the Consumer Advisory Board.

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