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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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AREAA Announces New Chair-Elect for Directorship

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The Asian Real Estate Association has named Ivan Choi as its chair-elect. Choi will assume the leadership post following the AREAA's national convention in September, where he will be officially installed as the organization's chairman of the board.

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CFPB Director Talks Mortgage Lending Reform

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, laid out the agency├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós aims to reform mortgage lending standards before a congressional subcommittee Monday. Speaking before House lawmakers, Cordray acknowledged that although the Dodd-Frank Act has had a hand in improving most consumer lending markets, tight mortgage lending standards have kept creditworthy borrowers out of homes. In an effort to fix these issues, Cordray said that CFPB is proposing ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£clear rules of the road├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø to address each stage of the mortgage process and to rebuild consumer and investor confidence.

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