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Tag Archives: Housing Affordability

Mortgage Applications Jump 4.9% from Week Earlier

Mortgage application volume leapt forward by 4.9 percent from the week earlier despite flailing numbers for purchase applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association released the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for last week, with findings that include a seasonally adjusted 4.9-percent increase and an unadjusted 4.8-percent increase in terms of total mortgage application volume. Mike Fratantoni, VP with the MBA, tells MReport that application volume remains historically low due to low job growth, among other things.

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New Home Sales Strike a 5.7% September Stride

New single-family home sales snagged a September updraft to crest at their highest perch in nearly half a year, but remain below sales seen during the same period last year. The Commerce Department reported that new residential home sales ticked up to an annual rate of 313,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, reflecting a 5.7-percent revision above the 296,000-unit rate from August. The median sales price for a new house sold over September came out to $204,400, with the average for the same cresting at $243,900.

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Obama Refi Proposal Takes Shape in HARP Changes

Federal regulators announced their intentions Monday to expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program available via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Among other modifications, the FHFA said it plans to eliminate a number of risk-based fees for short-term mortgage borrowers, take off the 125-percent loan-to-value ratio for loans guaranteed by the GSEs, and void requirements for new property appraisals in lieu of automated estimates. Market watchers around the industry offered reactions that ranged from skepticism to optimism.

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Reports: Expect Obama’s Housing Finance Plan Soon

A declaration by President Barack Obama to end the war in Iraq helped drown other news Friday, including apparent moves by the White House to float a housing finance stimulus plan in the next few weeks. Some of the initiatives currently under wraps include an expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program and a selloff in mortgage-backed bonds by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to invite private-sector investment back into the housing finance system. The Federal Housing Finance Agency plays a major role for either proposal.

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Senate Passes Bill to Raise Conforming Loan Limits

A bill squeaked by the Senate Thursday that would reverse lower limits for conforming loans backed by the federal government and reinstate the $729,750 threshold until 2013. Lawmakers adopted the amendment to a federal spending measure by a count of 60 to 38, giving backers of the bill the supermajority needed to avoid wrangling over the issue. Multiple news outlets reported that Congress had allowed the higher limits for conforming loans to ease in October despite a massive lobbying effort by companies and trade groups.

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Lawmaker Questions the 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Lawmakers called into doubt the role of the historic 30-year fixed-rate mortgage Thursday, with Senate committee witnesses alternately arguing for and against it. At issue: whether the benchmark loan, available since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, stabilizes the housing finance system or weakens it. Witnesses alternately upheld and criticized the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with the former characterizing it a buttress of wealth for homeowners and the latter calling for more consumer choice and clarifying its role in the crisis.

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Mortgage Rates Remain Unchanged Amid Mixed News

Interest rates for mortgage loans hovered at around the same numbers this week seen last week, even while the construction sector celebrated with boons in starts and confidence. Freddie found the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage cresting at 4.11 percent, slightly down from 4.12 last week but not far from 4.21 percent seen during the same time last year. Bankrate.com disagreed with the mortgage giant by few turns, offering an increase from 4.21 percent to 4.37 percent this week.

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Bill Reintroduces Energy Costs to Underwriting Process

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle introduced a bill in the Senate that would require mortgage lenders to consider energy costs for borrowers when underwriting their federally insured loans. Sen. Michael Bennett and Sen. Johnny Isakson introduced the bill, titled the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, as a way to restore energy cost calculations for government-backed mortgages. Sources in the know tell MReport that the bill could save billions for homeowners and create 83,000 jobs by 2012. A broad coalition backs the legislation.

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