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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Builder Confidence Up for Q4 Single-Family Home Sales

Homebuilder confidence in the single-family market ended the fourth quarter last year on a climb uphill as the wider economy showed improvement. The National Association of Home Builders released a market index Tuesday that recorded a four-point increase year-over-year to 18 for homebuilders in the single-family sector. The index fielded improvements across the board year-over-year, with confidence about current sales ticking up four points to 17 and anticipated sales for the next six months up two points to 26.

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Nearly Half of Refinancing Q4 Borrowers Reduced Payments

Nearly 85 percent of refinancing homeowners with first-lien loans maintained or reduced their current payments by paying in additional cash in the fourth quarter last year. Of these, according to recent analysis by mortgage giant Freddie Mac, 49 percent of borrowers slashed their principal payments by refinancing at current rates, compared with 37 percent who preserved their payments. So-called cash-out borrowers accounted for 15 percent of all refinance loans, the lowest percentage in the 26-year history of the GSE's analysis.

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Housing Plays Small Part as Economy Adds 243K Jobs

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A still-brittle economic recovery picked up steam in January as the private sector added 243,000 jobs, driving unemployment figures to lows not seen in three years. The Labor Department said that the national unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, also signaling a fifth straight month for declines in the number of jobless Americans. Construction added 21,000 jobs from December, with gains for nonresidential construction and specialty trade contractors. Financial services lost some 5,000 jobs from last month by comparison.

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Mortgage Rates Plummet On Fed Action, Economy

Mortgage rates yet again slammed into all-time lows, with signs emerging that the economy may still need to improve and action from the Federal Reserve to keep a heel on interest rates until 2014. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage giant Freddie Mac offered up reports on interest rates for mortgage loans in two separate weekly surveys. The former found rates for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage falling to 4.12 percent, down from 4.25 percent last week, while the GSE said that it declined from 3.98 percent to 3.88 percent over the same time frame.

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Home Prices Fell 4.7% in 2011: CoreLogic

Home prices for transactions fell by 4.7 percent year-over-year in 2011, making last year the fifth straight one in which prices underwent declines, according to CoreLogic. The data and analytics provider released the latest figures Thursday in a home price index that also recorded year-over-year declines by 2 percent over November last year. Those with the steepest declines in home prices included Illinois, Nevada, Georgia, Ohio, and Minnesota, each by 11.3 percent, 10.6 percent, 8.3 percent, 7.7 percent, and 7.5 percent, respectively.

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Refi Applications High as Overall Volume Drops 2.9%: MBA

Mortgage application volume contracted by 2.9 percent from the week before, even while refinance volume continued to soar amid signs that more homeowners are seeking to take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that mortgage loan application volume simultaneously went up 9 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The trade group├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Purchase Index climbed by 17.1 percent but remains 4.3 percent lower than figures seen during the same week last year.

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Gingrich Rout Shows How Housing Remains a Political Bludgeon

Republican presidential candidates used housing issues in Florida to trump up their bona fides in separate addresses Tuesday. With nearly all precincts reporting in Florida, former Gov. Mitt Romney routed former House speaker and rival Newt Gingrich by 46.4 percent to 31.9 percent. The Dodd-Frank Act, new mortgage rules and regulation, and foreclosures all made appearances in addresses by Gingrich and Romney. Numerous analysts credit housing-related ads helping the former Masschusetts governor head off a primary threat.

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Obama Unveils New Refi Plan, Homeowner ‘Bill of Rights’

The Obama administration rolled out an ambitious package of benefits and structural changes Wednesday for homeowners who want to refinance their loans. The plan would cost anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion and pay for itself with fees exacted from financial institutions. If it makes it into law, the bill would significantly expand refinancing opportunities for underwater borrowers, shift appraisal responsibilities in distressed neighborhoods to an automated system under the GSEs, and offer new servicing reforms.

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Cordray Fends Off Continuing Concerns, Criticism at Hearing

Newly appointed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray fended off another round of concern and criticism at a congressional hearing Tuesday even as he portrayed Congress as an important check on the bureau├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós power. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stayed true to their parties├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó positions by alternately casting Cordray├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós recess appointment as a potentially dangerous abuse of presidential power and as a needed solution to congressional gridlock.

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Homeownership Rates Wallow at Nearly 15-Year Lows

Homeowners moved closer to the sidelines last year, buying fewer homes than in 2010 and edging homeownership toward lows not seen since the 1990s. The Commerce Department released figures Tuesday that posted 66 percent for homeownership rates last quarter, reflecting declines by 0.5 percent year-over-year and 0.3 percent on a quarterly basis. Homeownership vacancy rates hovered around 2.3 percent last quarter, 0.4 percentage points lower than in 2010.

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