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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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Grammy Winner Lists Hollywood Hills Estate for $15.95M

Singer Sheryl Crow has listed her 11-acre California estate for $15.95 million. According to RealEstalker.com, the Grammy-winner's property in Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills boasts three houses, as well as resort-style grounds with expansive views of the city's skyline.

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Mortgage Rates Crash Through Record Lows

Fed

For the second week in a row, mortgage rates hit new record lows, and for the first time since mid-October 2009, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is lower than the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rate. Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac, attributes the falling rates to "mortgage securities purchases by the Federal Reserve and indicators of a weakening economy," such as slow personal income growth in August and last quarter's downwardly revised Gross Domestic Product.

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Obama, Romney Spar over Dodd-Frank at First Debate

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has seemed particularly enthusiastic about discussing housing on the national stage, but Wednesday's debates saw a brief skirmish between the two candidates about regulation for the mortgage industry. The fleeting exchange on banking and mortgage regulation comes at an apt time, as New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit earlier in the week against JPMorgan Chase over mortgage securities fraud committed by a former Bear Stearns unit.

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Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company Appoints Division Leader

New

Nichole Guthneck will help to lead Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company as its newly-appointed division leader, the company announced. In her role at Guaranteed, Guthneck is responsible for training, hiring, oversight, marketing, and policy for Guaranteed Direct, the firm's web-based residential mortgage platform.

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First-Time Unemployment Claims Inch Up, Stop Short of Expectations

Unemployment

First-time claims for unemployment insurance edged up by 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended September 29, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week's report was revised upward to 363,000 first time claims from the originally reported 359,000. Although initial claims appear to have plateaued (occasional weather-related spikes notwithstanding) first time claims fell in only five weeks during the third quarter, with a wide range: As high as 388,000 in the week following the July 4 holiday week and 385,000 in each of the two weeks following Hurricane Isaac, but as low as 352,000 when the quarter began.

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