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  • Fri, Aug 6 2010
  • 2:21 PM » FHA Refinance of Borrowers in Negative Equity Positions
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 2:21 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    This is the introduction of the program originally back in March. From the FHA: In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today provided details on the adjustment to its refinance program which was announced earlier this year that will enable lenders to provide additional refinancing options to homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. Starting September 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain 'underwater' non-FHA borrowers who are current on their existing mortgage and whose lenders agree to write off at least ten percent of the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage, the opportunity to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage. The FHA Short Refinance option is targeted to help people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth - or 'underwater' - because their local markets saw large declines in home values. ... Today, FHA published a to provide guidance to lenders on how to implement this new enhancement. Participation in FHA's refinance program is voluntary and requires the consent of all lien holders. To be eligible for a new loan, the homeowner must owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth and be current on their existing mortgage. The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal to or greater than 500. The property must be the homeowner's primary residence. And the borrower's existing first lien holder must agree to write off at least 10% of their unpaid principal balance, bringing that borrower's combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115%. In addition, the existing loan to be refinanced must not be an FHA-insured loan, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent. The FHA insured first is less than current...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 2:21 PM » Jobs: The Most Important Housing Market Driver
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 2:21 PM by Google News
    Friday's weak jobs report is more bad news for the housing market, which has been in a funk following the expiration of the federal tax credits for home buyers at the end of April.
  • 2:21 PM » Shared housing: How to live close to, and remain close with, the neighbors
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 2:21 PM by Washington Post
    Melissa Danielson doesn't mind hearing the occasional dog barking on the other side of the wall. She enjoys the chance to bump into neighbors as they come and go. And she laughs when little ones toddle up to the wrong house because they all look alike. - - - -
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Washington Post
  • 11:29 AM » "Livability" Lift-Off: What Does it Mean to You?
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 11:29 AM by National Housing Conference
    Regular readers have probably noticed our focus on , transit, , and recently. NHC and the Center are working to get local, state and national lawmakers ahead of the curve on what appears to be an emerging shift in housing demand, where more and more folks are moving back into the dense, inner-areas in America’s metro regions, and away from the sprawling suburbs. Today, we are officially launching an extended, Open House discussion of “Livability” to look at the topic and its many angles. Coming on the heels of the innovative, landmark livability legislation that’s , we’ll be discussing ways to make communities more affordable, greener, more walkable, and overall, better-suited to meet the needs of their residents in a sustainable way. There will be guest posts from experts in sustainability, regular input from the research team at the Center for Housing Policy, and in depth discussions of specific, timely issues in the world of livability. We’ll also be making an effort to feature comments and thoughts from readers. So to kick things off, why don’t use the comments section below to let us know what you livability means to you ? Is it more metro stations? Affordable housing? Clean water? Better schools? Play space for the kids? A Chipotle on every corner? We're dying to hear.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Housing Conference
  • 10:26 AM » Up, Up, and Away: Housing Inventory Grows in Western Markets
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by Google News
    Is this what the beginning of a double-dip feels like? The number of homes listed for sale grew in many U.S. cities in July, a month when inventory typically declines.
  • 10:26 AM » Real Estate News: A Glass House, Fannie’s Losses and Low Mortgage Rates
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by Google News
    Here's a look at real-estate news in today's WSJ:
  • 10:26 AM » State/Local Job Cuts Accelerate
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by WSJ
    State and local governments shed 48,000 jobs in July, the biggest drop in a year and almost double last month’s drop, according to today’s employment report.
  • 10:26 AM » Fannie exploited homeowners to make money, a whistle-blower says:
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by
    A Fannie Mae consultant said in a lawsuit that the U.S. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 10:26 AM » BP Says It Has Sealed Off Gulf Oil Well With Cement
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by CNBC
    BP Says It Has Sealed Off Gulf Oil Well With Cement
  • 10:26 AM » FHFA Proposes Rule Establishing Office of Ombudsman
    Published Fri, Aug 06 2010 10:26 AM by FHFA
    August 5, 2010: FHFA Proposes Rule Establishing Office of Ombudsman
  • Thu, Aug 5 2010
  • 7:07 PM » Fannie Posts Smallest Quarterly Loss in 3 Years
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:07 PM by WSJ
    Fannie Mae posted a $1.2 billion net loss for the second quarter, the smallest loss in three years. But Fannie still asked the U.S. government for an additional $1.5 billion.
  • 7:07 PM » Federal Officials: No Plans for Expanding Refinance Programs
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:07 PM by Google News
    Obama administration officials knocked down rumors on Thursday about any plan for new programs--dubbed an "August Surprise" --to streamline refinancing or cut mortgage balances for homeowners in a bid to stimulate the economy without asking Congress for money ahead of the midterm elections.
  • 1:22 PM » Addressing the Financing Needs of Small Businesses: Board of Governors Organizes Capstone Forum
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 1:22 PM by
    The Board of Governors organized a capstone forum, Addressing the Financing Needs of Small Businesses, held July 12, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 1:06 PM » Jobs Report May Hold Key to Fed Action
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 1:06 PM by WSJ
    The U.S. jobs report may hold the key to whether the Federal Reserve decides to take new steps to support the economy.
  • 1:06 PM » Does Education Stop at Kindergarten?
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 1:06 PM by NY Times
    A good kindergarten class may be worth a $1,000 a year in future income. A good education is worth much more.
  • 8:55 AM » HECM TPOs- Why HUD's Interpretation is Subject To Doubt
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 8:55 AM by
    Two have outline the language of the Housing & Economic Recovery Act 2008 and the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act 2009. They are so you can quickly compare the relevant statutory language. It is important to keep in mind that the use of words is the key to establishing meaning to any law, regulation or policy. If certain action is specifically required/permitted under prior law, the most efficient way to eliminate that activity under subsequent law, is to refer to the subject activity (under the prior law) that is now being repealed. This is neat, clean and efficient. When this is not done, any interpretation of a repeal is arguably full of doubt. And so it seems to me that HUD's interpretation is full of doubt. I can strongly suggest that the language of HERA (HECM specific) and HFSH ( non HECM specific) are NOT reconcilable. The assumption has been made that Congress by the later legislation, intended to modify the relevant language in HERA. You can drive a Mack truck through the exception HUD claims HFSH made to HERA. A mere 5 words - "EXCEPT AS AUTHORIZED BY THE SECRETARY" is relied upon by HUD as the key for changing the entire structure of the approval process. It seems to me that a more prudent approach, a more sensible approach, a more spot on approach, a more deterministic approach would have been for Congress to repeal "The Requirements On Mortgage Originators section ( (n) 2 section of HERA ). Congress did not do this. Had they taken this route, things would have been quite clear. There would be no second guesing. It seems to many in our indutry that HUD has merely bootstrapped the uncertain and rather amorphous "AS DETERMINED BY THE SECRETARY" to get to the result it wanted. If my memory serves me correctly, HUD wanted to put its "limited" resources elsewhere. Was not this the main factor for wanting out of "approving" all originators? HUD'a statutory interpretation effectively abrogates FHA approval...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 8:55 AM » REIT Funds Are Flying High
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 8:55 AM by Google News
    Strong performance of real estate exchange-traded funds reflect the improving economy and the commercial sector.
  • 8:55 AM » Home Builders Yearn for Normalcy
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 8:55 AM by Google News
    Tax credits and other incentives stirred abnormal demand levels making business planning difficult for builders.
  • 7:41 AM » China's Stress Tests: 60% Decline in House Prices
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:41 AM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From Bloomberg: Banks were instructed to include worst-case scenarios of prices dropping 50 percent to 60 percent in cities where they have risen excessively ... Previous stress tests carried out in the past year assumed home-price declines of as much as 30 percent. At least they are realize prices can fall sharply. In some European countries the assumed steady prices was a worst-case economic scenario!
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 7:40 AM » Compensation Study: Employers Pay More, Employees Make Less
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:40 AM by WSJ
    Employers might be paying more for compensation but employees aren’t taking home the extras, according to a new study.
  • 7:39 AM » Personal Bankruptcies Rise, Reversing Trend
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:39 AM by WSJ
    U.S. personal bankruptcies rose 9% last month, reversing a trend of declining filings over the previous three months and highlighting the continuing financial struggles of many consumers.
  • 7:38 AM » How Much Debt Should Households Have?
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:38 AM by
    Or, how much household debt is now sustainable in this post-crisis era?
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 7:37 AM » Geithner: Extending tax cuts for the rich would do more harm than good
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:37 AM by
    U.S. --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 7:36 AM » N.Y. Fed might try to force banks to buy back bad securitized loans
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:36 AM by
    Major investors have long said banks should be required to repurchase defaulted loans that they securitized, and the Federal --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 7:36 AM » Bank of England Holds Rates; Asset-Buying Unchanged
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:36 AM by CNBC
    Rates remained at a record-low 0.5 percent and the bank announced no new quantitative easing steps.
  • 7:36 AM » ADP vs. BLS Job Reports - Who to Believe?
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:36 AM by Google News
    The report is out. Let's take a look. Private sector employment increased by 42,000 from June to July on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report® released today. July’s rise in private employment was the sixth consecutive monthly gain. However, over those six months increases have averaged a modest 37,000, with no evidence of acceleration. click on chart for sharper image Large Businesses Added Zero Jobs The chart shows that small and medium businesses added jobs while large businesses added a grand total of zero. If small business hiring turns down, and I think it will, ADP is going to start reporting negative job growth. Small Business Sentiment The reason I expect a relapse in that small business jobs is small business sentiment is in the gutter as evidenced by recent Gallup Polls. If large businesses are not hiring and small businesses do not increase hiring (or worse yet stop hiring), it's quite hard to be optimistic about jobs. Hiring Not Improving One of the things in the ADP report that caught my eyes was this short paragraph: " July’s rise in private employment was the sixth consecutive monthly gain. However, over those six months increases have averaged a modest 37,000, with no evidence of acceleration. " The key words in that paragraph are "no evidence of acceleration". It is consistent with the small business surveys mentioned above. ADP vs. BLS Reports Inquiring minds may be interested in seeing a comparison between ADP and the BLS (government) reports. A direct number to number comparison using the standard BLS report is inaccurate because ADP reports private nonfarm jobs while the BLS reports all nonfarm jobs. The latter is tremendously skewed this year by census hiring and firing. It is also skewed by normal government hiring and firing. Fortunately, the BLS does provide the private numbers in Excel format, so with minimal work an accurate comparison is possible. Let's go...
  • 7:36 AM » FHFA Sends Proposed Rule on Practice and Procedure to Federal Register
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:36 AM by FHFA
    August 4, 2010: FHFA Sends Proposed Rule on Practice and Procedure to Federal Register
  • 7:36 AM » Livability Law Moves Along in the Senate
    Published Thu, Aug 05 2010 7:36 AM by National Housing Conference
    Senator Chris Dodd’s Livable Communities Act passed out of committee yesterday, hopefully sending the bill to the Senate floor before Dodd retires at the end of the year. We’re getting our first glimpses of the bill's newest language, and its looking like it would be a significant success for NHC, our partners, and sustainable development advocates of all stripes. Generally, the bill would coordinate Federal strategy to help communities address transportation, affordable housing, land use, and economic development issues together – in other words, make neighborhoods more . One of NHC’s main concerns in our discussions with Congress has been keeping affordability a . A few key provisions to keep an eye on: Transit Oriented Development (TOD): The bill would create both competitive grants for planning and challenge grants for implementing investments in public transportation, affordable housing, TOD, and more. A Federal “Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities” would oversee these grants. Affordability: NHC is particularly excited about the committee including affordability in the bill. The reason why affordability is a must is simple: when cities start to build high quality, convenient transportation options, particularly in urban areas, it will increase housing prices to a level that could put working families in a bind. So any responsible “livability” agenda must include affordability strategies. In its current language, this bill encourages affordability throughout. Long Term Affordability: Quality transportation doesn’t just increase prices in the short term. Keep in mind, these subway stations, rails, etc, will be in place for a long time. So localities should build long term affordability into their planning. While the specific time frame isn’t defined in the bill, long term affordability is a consideration for receiving some of the assistance the legislation would provide. Regeneration Planning Grant: Would authorize a demonstration program to help support...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Housing Conference
  • Wed, Aug 4 2010
  • 3:30 PM » $26 Billion State Aid Measure Survives Senate Vote
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 3:30 PM by Business Week
    Senate Democrats defeated efforts to block a plan to provide state governments with $26 billion in assistance, a victory for the party’s long-stalled jobs agenda.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 3:30 PM » N.Y. Fed May Require Banks to Buy Back Faulty Mortgages, Assets
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 3:30 PM by Business Week
    The Federal Reserve Bank of New York may require banks to buy back faulty mortgages and other assets acquired through the rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc., a spokesman said.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Business Week
  • 3:30 PM » Real Estate News: Foreclosed On, By the U.S.
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 3:30 PM by Google News
    Here is a look at real-estate news in today's WSJ
  • 3:30 PM » Last-Ditch Attempts by State and Local Government to Save Jobs
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 3:30 PM by Google News
    In a welcome but choppy and exceptionally slow start in terms of what needs to happen, some public unions are agreeing to pay cuts in order to save jobs. In other cases, cities are imposing their will with unions fighting every step of the way. Please consider the New York Times article The furloughs that popped up during the recession are being replaced by a highly unusual tactic: actual cuts in pay. Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are squeezing their employees to work the same amount for less money in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs. A new report on Tuesday showed a slight dip in overall wages and salaries in June, caused partly by employees working fewer hours. Though average hourly pay is still higher than when the recession began, the new wage rollbacks feed worries that the economy has weakened and could even be at risk of deflation. Pay cuts are appearing most frequently among state and local governments, which are under extraordinary budget pressures and have often already tried furloughs, i.e., docking pay in exchange for time off. Warning that they will have to lay off people otherwise, many governors and mayors are pressing public employee unions to accept a reduction in salary of a few percentage points, without getting days off in exchange. At the University of Hawaii, professors have accepted a 6.7 percent cut. Albuquerque has trimmed pay for its 6,000 employees by 1.8 percent on average, and New York’s governor, David A. Paterson, has sought a 4 percent wage rollback for most state employees. State troopers in Vermont agreed to a 3 percent cut. In California, teachers in the Capistrano and Pacheco school districts have accepted salary cuts. “We’ve seen pay freezes before in the public sector, but pay cuts are something very new to that sector,” said Gary N. Chaison, an industrial relations professor at Clark University. Outsize pension costs and balanced budget requirements are...
  • 2:27 PM » Fed Research Supports Mortgage Cram Downs
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 2:27 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    Thomas J. Fitzpatrick IV and James B. Thomson at the Cleveland Fed provide new research that supports residential mortgage cram downs: . A few excerpts: [One proposal is] to revise Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code to allow judges to modify mortgages on primary residences. The type of loan modification under consideration is known as a loan cramdown or loan stripdown because the judge would reduce the balance of the secured claim to the current market value of the house, turning the remaining balance of the mortgage into an unsecured claim (which would receive the same proportionate payout as other unsecured debts included in the bankruptcy petition). And the authors discuss how this worked for farm loans: The actual negative impact of the farm stripdown legislation was minor . Although the legislation created a special chapter in the Bankruptcy Code for farmers and allowed stripdowns on primary residences, it did not change the cost and availability of farm credit dramatically . In fact, a United States General Accounting Office (1989) survey of a small group of bankers found that none of them raised interest rates to farmers more than 50 basis points. While this rate change may have been a response to the Chapter 12, it is also consistent with increasing premiums due to the economic environment. This suggests that the changes in the cost and availability of farm credit after the bankruptcy reform differed little from what would be expected in that economic environment, absent reform. What was most interesting about Chapter 12 is that it worked without working. According to studies by Robert Collender (1993) and Jerome Stam and Bruce Dixon (2004), instead of flooding bankruptcy courts, Chapter 12 drove the parties to make private loan modifications . In fact, although the U.S. General Accounting Office reports that more than 30,000 bankruptcy filings were expected the year Chapter 12 went into effect, only 8,500 were filed in the first two years. Since then, Chapter...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 2:27 PM » House Prices Declining from Peaks Around the World
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 2:27 PM by The Big Picture
    Any explanation of the Housing boom and bust should be able to explain why it was global in nature. Hence, our on issues such as interest rates, lending standards, securitization, scramble for yield, etc. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in the : “Once and for all, let us nail the lie that the global credit crisis was basically a US sub-prime property bubble that went wrong, and that Europe was merely an innocent bystander hit by shrapnel. This is the property bubble chart on Page 12 of the IMF’s latest report (Article IV) on France. If you read the whole report – (click “Staff Report” here) – note the horrendous decline in French export share. But that is another story. As you can see, France had the most extreme price rises from 1997 to 2009, followed by Spain and Italy some way below. The Anglo-Saxons were more moderate. The US bubble was tame by comparison (measured by price: inventory overhang is another matter) and has largely corrected. This the American way, a short sharp purge. The Club Med bubbles have not corrected, by a long shot.” > House Prices Declining from Peaks Around the World chart courtesy of > Sources : IMF Executive Board Concludes 2010 Article IV Consultation with France International Monetary Fund, July 30, 2010 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph, August 3rd, 2010
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 2:26 PM » A Look on the Bright Side for Jobs
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 2:26 PM by WSJ
    The mediocre growth in the jobs market remains one of the biggest concerns about the recovery, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • 8:49 AM » China overtakes the U.S. as the world's largest energy consumer
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 8:49 AM by
    China's emergence as the top consumer of energy, overtaking the U.S., is a major turning point for the world, according to Th --
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 8:48 AM » PulteGroup reports profit for second quarter
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 8:48 AM by Reuters
    BOSTON (Reuters) - No. 2 U.S. homebuilder PulteGroup Inc swung to a profit in the second quarter, helped by tax benefits and lower land-related charges, as the nation's housing market pulls out of a prolonged slump.
  • 8:46 AM » Understanding Context: The Housing Boom & Bust
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 8:46 AM by The Big Picture
    Over at , Harvard economics professor Ed Glaeser looks at the ultra-low interest rates of the aughts, and does not find them to be much to blame for the US Housing boom and bust. Professor Glaeser unfortunately overlooks many of the causal and exacerbating factors of the housing boom and bust. Let us go over some of these factors for the benefit of those who may somehow have missed them. I have in the past, but given the prof’s 30 year chart, why don’t we walk him through the entire context of what took place historically. (Note: this is exhaustively detailed in ) 1. A medium Housing boom and bust began in 1989, following the Fed’s rate reaction to the ‘87 crash. Nationally, residential RE did not get back to break even until about 1996-97 (it varied by region). 2. The mid-1990s also saw the build out of numerous industries: Mobile, Software, Semi-Conductors, Internet, Storage, Telecom, Networks, etc. Huge amounts of wealth was created: Employment was running near capacity, wage gains were substantial, and employee stock options did extremely well. 3. Stock markets had been making enormous gains. As someone who worked on Wall Street then, I witnessed first hand investors taking partial cash outs of huge equity gains and rotating them into Real Estate. This included major upgrades to primary residences, and purchases of vacation/investment properties. 4. Then came Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, the dot com crash, analyst banking scandal, etc. The Equity party appeared to be over. 5. Starting in January 2001, the FOMC began lowering rates, eventually to 1%. Rates were below 2% for 36 months, and at 1% for over a year. This was unprecedented . 6. Homes are a leveraged credit purchase , and lowering the cost of that credit has an inverse effect on prices — i.e., cheaper mortgages = more expensive houses . People budget monthly, and those carrying costs are more important than actual purchase prices. An outsized drop in interest rates can cause a spike in home prices, with monthly...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 8:45 AM » HAMP Steps Into the Spotlight
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 8:45 AM by National Housing Conference
    The administration’s anti-foreclosure plan, the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP), is no stranger to the media spotlight. The program has been facing a heap of less than shining reviews lately, including reports that the in their mortgage, and the some say the administration had used to evaluate the program. Now, HAMP has stepped into the limelight to push its own message. The Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with some help from the Ad Council, have launched a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to promote the . Amid horror stories of folks losing their homes as they applied for loan modifications, for some homeowners the incentive to apply for HAMP assistance has declined in recent months. The administration remains proud of the program, with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner : “Even though the economy is getting stronger, many Americans are still facing the fear and uncertainty of losing their home to foreclosure. The Administration’s loan modification programs have given more than a million responsible homeowners a chance to stay in their homes, and we want to do all we can to help make sure that struggling homeowners know about these free resources for help.” By focusing on the program's success stories, the hopes to encourage others at-risk to apply (free of charge with no upfront fee).
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Housing Conference
  • 8:44 AM » Congress Departs for August Recess
    Published Wed, Aug 04 2010 8:44 AM by National Council of State Housing Agencies
    On July 30, the House adjourned for August recess for six weeks. The House will again be in session on Tuesday, September 14.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: National Council of State Housing Agencies
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Mortgage Rates:
  • 30 Yr FRM 2.80%
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  • 15 Yr FRM 2.30%
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  • Jumbo 30 Year Fixed 3.30%
MBS Prices:
  • 30YR FNMA 4.5 108-16 (-0-02)
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  • 30YR FNMA 5.0 110-15 (-0-01)
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  • 30YR FNMA 5.5 111-08 (-0-01)
Recent Housing Data:
  • Mortgage Apps 1.06%
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  • Refinance Index 1.40%
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  • Purchase Index 1.81%