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Homeownership Rate Edges Up in Q2 After Hitting 15-year Low

The nation's homeownership rate rose to 65.5 percent in the second quarter, according to the Census Bureau. The rate for the first quarter, however, was revised downward from the originally reported 65.5 percent to 65.4 percent, the lowest since Q1 1997 when the rate was also 65.4 percent. The Census Bureau also reported the number of housing units for sale fell to 1,595,000 in the second quarter, a drop of 364,000 from a year earlier. Over the same period, the number of housing units held off the market increased 265,000 to 7,612,000.

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2Q GDP Growth Slows to 1.5% With Drop in Spending

The U.S. economy grew at a disappointing 1.5 percent in the second quarter, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from an upwardly revised 2.0 percent growth rate in the first quarter but better than expected. Economists had forecast GDP to grow at 1.2 percent in the second quarter. A drop in government spending ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô primarily at the state and local level ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô held growth down. The growth pace is below the 3.0 percent level need to add jobs to make a dent in the nation's unemployment rate. Between 2008 and 2011, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent, Labor said.

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Mortgage Rates Streak Past Records to Hit New Lows

Lingering worries about the European debt crisis continue to drive investors to U.S. government bonds, sending fixed mortgage rates down to another record low. According to Freddie Mac├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending July 26, down from 3.53 percent the previous week. At the same time in 2011, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.55 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages actually saw a small boost, with the 5-year ARM averaging 2.74 percent (0.6 point), an increase from 2.69 percent the previous week.

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Initial Jobless Claims Fall Sharply as Changes Befall Auto Industry

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell 35,000 for the week ended July 21 to 353,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 380,000 initial claims. The prior week├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós total was revised up to 388,000 from the originally reported 386,000. The surprisingly strong report came just two weeks after initial claims had plunged to a four-year low ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô 352,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reflecting seasonal adjustments to account for annual auto industry furloughs as car makers retool for a new model year.

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Hawaii Pushes New Laws for Originators, Servicers

The Aloha State recently passed three new bills related to mortgage servicing and mortgage origination. All three went into effect at the beginning of this month. The first requires the Office of Consumer Protection to educate consumers regarding fraud schemes aimed at homeowners facing foreclosure. The second offers adjustments to loan originator registration fees and amends Hawaii's Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act to comply with a host of recent changes to federal law.

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June New Home Sales Plunge to Five-Month Low

New home sales fell to 350,000, setting a five-month low in June, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Wednesday. Economists had expected sales to inch up slightly from the preliminary sales report in May. May sales were revised up to 382,000 from the originally reported 369,000. Both the average and median price of a new home fell in June from May. The median price was also down from June 2011 while the average price was up slightly. The average price of a new home fell in June to $273,900.

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Refinance Applications Reach Highest Level Since 2009

More applications ticked up as record-low mortgage rates spurred refinance applications to their highest level since April 2009. The Mortgage Bankers Association found that applications increased 0.9 percent from the week before. The Refinance Index climbed by 2 percent to reach the highest level in three years, with the refinance share of activity ticking up to 81 percent of application volume from 80 percent last week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity amounted to 4 percent of total volume from the week before.

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Sources: Low Sales Reveal Recovery ‘Lost a Little Momentum’

Compared to the two-year high for new home sales in May, June's figures were met with disappointment. On Wednesday, the Census Bureau reported new home sales dropped 8.4 percent month-over-month to 350,000 in June compared to an upwardly revised 382,000 for May. In an IHS Global Insight commentary, economists Patrick Newport and Michele Valverde pointed out that figures for March, April, and May were all revised up, and that sales were up in the Midwest and West, but down in the Northeast and South.

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WGS Completes Integration of ULDD Standards

As the deadline for implementation of the uniform loan delivery dataset arrived on Monday, Wipro Gallagher Solutions announced its adoption of ULDD standards. The company noted that clients using its loan origination systems will now be able to seamlessly interface with the GSEs, as per ULDD's objectives.

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