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Protect yourself against the loss due to title defects. Insist on title insurance policies from American Title Guaranty, Inc.

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New-home sales fall 8.1% in June

Doug Carroll, USA TODAY4:03 p.m. EDT July 24, 2014

usatoday7-25-14Sales of new single-family homes fell 8.1% in June, and May’s previously reported surge was slashed by a record revision.

Paired with June’s slippage, newly updated sales figures for March, April and May show the industry’s spring performance was weaker than previously estimated, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

June sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, the second-weakest pace of the year, Census said. May’s level was cut to 442,000 from the 504,000 annual pace Census reported a month ago.

Instead of rising nearly 19% from April, May’s sales were only up about 8%. The magnitude of the change was a single-month record for new-home sales data, according to Census records on revisions that date to 1996.

Economists were bracing for lower June sales, but they anticipated an annual sales rate of 480,000, based on the median forecast in Action Economics’ survey.

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A Father, a Daughter, and the Housing Market

By Lorraine Woellert July 17, 2014

David Stevens, chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association, has spent his career making the case for homeownership—crunching loan data, selling houses, and lobbying Congress to shore up the market in the chaos of the financial collapse. Yet one person still isn’t buying his pitch: his daughter. Sara Stevens, 27, understands that interest rates are low, rents are high, and a home can build wealth. But she also witnessed up close the worst real estate slump since the Great Depression. “The world has changed,” she says.

Six years since the financial meltdown, a psychology of uncertainty has altered the homeownership calculation for young adults. It’s more than the weight of student loans, an iffy job market, and tight credit. Even those who can buy are hesitant. The doubt is so pervasive that it’s eroded entry-level sales. In May, the share of first-time buyers fell for the third month, to 27 percent of primary home purchases, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Historically, it’s been about 40 percent. “We have a younger generation that has sat on the front lines of this housing recession,” says Stevens, 57. “They’re clearly being more thoughtful about it, and they’re clearly deferring that decision.”

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Time to downsize? Not for baby boomers

Mary Umberger
On Real Estate
11:32 a.m. CDT, July 6, 2014

Not ready to downsizeThe baby boomer who’s itching to ditch the responsibility of a single-family home and move into an apartment – now, there’s a relatively rare bird.

That may be something of a surprise, given the media reports and demographic prognostications that have painted an impression of a stampede of downsizing boomers into apartments, condos and town houses. But that’s just not happening — yet, according to Fannie Mae researcher Patrick Simmons.

In an edited interview, the director of strategic planning for Fannie Mae’s economics group said that though such a wholesale change probably is inevitable, boomers these days show little inclination to leave the single-family home lifestyle that, to an extent, has defined their generation:

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First-Time Buyers and New-Home Demand: Reverting to Normal

By Brad Hunter

Our forecast of rising new-home demand is founded on a reversion to long-standing typical behavior patterns.

One of these relates to the “doubling-up” of households during and after the recession.  We are seeing some evidence that young people who had moved in with their parents or relatives are now finding the means and the motivation to move out and get their own place.

The Current Population Survey for 2013 showed a drop in the percentage of twenty-somethings living with parents. This was the first decline since 2005, back when the speculative foundations of the housing market started to crumble.  The decline may seem tiny when you look only at the percentages: the percentage of people in the group aged 18 to 24 living with parents or a related subgroup fell from 56 percent to 55 percent in one year.  One should bear in mind that the magnitudes associated with these percentages are huge. The one-percentage-point decline amounts to 300,000 people who are now looking for a place of their own who were previously living in their parents’ house.

More improvement can be expected.  A recent study by the Harvard Joint Center on Housing shows that last year 2.1 million more people between in their 20′s lived with their parents than would have typically been the case based on normal headship rates.

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Rates on 30-year mortgages down from last year

Teke Wiggin Staff Writer Jul 3, 2014

inmannews7-10-14For the second straight week, homebuyers enjoyed rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages that were lower than they were at the same time last year, Freddie Mac reported.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.12 percent with an average point of 0.5 for the week ending July 3, down from 4.14 percent last week and 4.29 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac, said the rock-bottom rates should help with home affordability in many markets.

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Picking the Right Mortgage

By ANNAMARIA ANDRIOTIS
Updated July 4, 2014 5:11 p.m. ET

wallstreetjournal7-8-14Banks are hoping a little variety can bring some life to the ailing mortgage market.

They are starting to ease their stringent requirements and offering a wider range of loans. The options being dusted off—many of them dormant since the housing bust—include interest-only mortgages and so-called piggyback loans. They also are promoting adjustable-rate mortgages and rolling out more-attractive terms.

These options can make it easier to purchase a home or lower your monthly payments for years, and they may be appealing options in certain circumstances if you understand the risks. Yet some loans that lenders are promoting now could cause major problems down the road, as many borrowers learned during the financial crisis.

In most cases, experts say, plain-vanilla, fixed-rate mortgages remain the best choice.

Since the 2008 subprime-mortgage meltdown, lenders have for the most part approved only borrowers with near-perfect credit scores and significant assets. Now—as the Mortgage Bankers Association forecasts a 42% decline in the dollar amount of new and refinanced mortgages this year—lenders are broadening their pitch to include home buyers with slightly weaker credit and offering more options for borrowers who can’t afford to make a 20% down payment.

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Fourth Of July 2014: 9 Trivia Facts About Independence Day

By Maria Vultaggio
on July 02 2014 3:45 PM

internaionalbuisnesstimes7-3-14The Fourth of July is a spectacular day: barbeques, fireworks, fun in the sun (one hopes) and music, all in the name of our country’s freedom. While you’re out celebrating with family and friends, here is some strange Independence Day trivia to share, courtesy of ABC News, History.com and Fourth of July Trivia.

What day did most signers of the Declaration of Independence actually sign the document?

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Fed’s Williams sees no rate hike until after mid-2015

BY ANN SAPHIR
SUN VALLEY Idaho Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:36pm EDT

Williams, president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, takes part in a panel discussion in Beverly Hills(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve will probably need to keep interest rates near zero for at least another year, a top Fed official said on Monday, even as he expressed optimism the economy is well on its way to health.

“As things get better we can kind of get back to our normal approach to policy,” San Francisco Fed President John Williams told members of the Utah and Montana Bankers Association, predicting full employment and normal inflation by the “early part” of 2016.

The Fed has bought trillions of dollars of long-term securities and kept interest rates near zero since December 2008 in an effort to boost employment and keep the economy from becoming mired in a growth-sapping, downward price spiral.

Now, with economic growth picking up, unemployment falling, and inflation showing signs of rising back to more healthy levels, the Fed is winding down its massive bond-buying program with plans to end it this fall.

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Housing Market Fake-Outs Stump Economists

by CHRIS ARNOLD
June 29, 201412:31 PM ET

npr7-2-14Many homebuyers have been throwing down cold hard cash for their entire house purchase in recent years. Some are baby-boomers who sold a bigger house and are downsizing. Some are investors. Others are from outside the U.S.

“Top of the list in terms of cash sales in the first quarter was Florida, with 64 percent of all sales going to cash buyers, followed by New York, 59 percent; Alabama, 56 percent,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, which did a study on cash purchases.

Many housing economists, however, think the numbers in that study are overstated — which suggests that even some experts aren’t certain about exactly what’s happening.

More than six years after the housing crash, economists are still trying to figure out what exactly is going on with the housing market.

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Surprise! Baby boomers aren’t downsizing

BY KIMBERLY MILLER
Cox Newspapers June 21, 2014

HOUSTON — Baby boomers aren’t dashing to downsize, choosing instead to stay in largish single-family homes and defy popular perceptions that their retirement years will include shedding possessions and square feet.

A report released by federal mortgage backer Fannie Mae found that despite retirement and becoming empty-nesters, the proportion of baby boomers residing in a single-family home has remained stable and was at least as high in 2012 as at any time since the beginning of the recession.

The findings, released Thursday, were reinforced at a Houston conference last week of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, where some housing experts said not only are new homes getting bigger in general, but that retirees want as much home as they had during their child-rearing years.

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