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Housing starts recovered from last month’s unexpected drastic drop, rising to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.173 million in November, which is 10.5% above the revised October estimate 1.062 million, the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.

This is 16.5% below the November 2014 rate of 1.007 million.

“The housing market continues to show signs of durability and resilience with November housing starts rebounding from a disappointing drop in the previous month,” Quicken Loans Vice President Bill Banfield said.  

“The choppy monthly numbers have been on a gradual trend in a positive direction and the strong monthly permits bodes well as we enter the new wave of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve,” said Banfield.

Meanwhile, building permits in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.289 million, up 11.0% from the revised October rate of 1.161 million and up 19.5% from the November 2014 estimate of 1.079 million.

Privately owned housing completions in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 947,000, down is 3.2% from the revised October estimate of 978,000 but up 9.2% from the November 2014 rate of 867,000.

This is one of the last housing reports before the Federal Reserve announced whether or not it will raise interest rates.

According to the most recent speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen in a Congressional committee hearing on the U.S. economy, Yellen said the current outlook and the...

Read more: Housing starts bounce back in November

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, conservator to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released the third-quarter “Foreclosure Prevention Report” showing that efforts to do just that reversed trend.

In other words, the first quarter and second quarter reports noted decreases in foreclosure starts.

The third quarter prevention report, on the other hand, shows an increase.

However, this may reverse again, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac placed a moratorium on evictions going into the last weeks of 2016.

“Third-party sales and foreclosure sales decreased 10% to 26,989 while foreclosure starts increased 6% to 66,192 in the third quarter,” the report notes.

Also, Fannie and Freddie can’t seem to get the vacant properties up to speed fast enough to keep pace with demand, the report notes.

“REO inventory declined 11% during the quarter to 77,204, as property dispositions continued to outpace property acquisitions.”

In the first quarter, third-party sales and foreclosure sales declined 4% to 34,873 while foreclosure starts decreased 5% to 70,267.

This compared to the second quarter where third-party sales and foreclosure sales declined 14% to 29,945 while foreclosure starts decreased 11% to 62,364.

Still, the FHFA reports gains in other levels of distressed mortgage servicing at Fannie and Freddie.

The total number of American families saved from foreclosure at the government-sponsored enterprises are staggering. From the FHFA report:

The Enterprises completed 54,744 foreclosure...

Read more: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac switch gears and increase foreclosures


Lynn Effinger is a veteran of more than three decades in the housing and mortgage servicing industries. He serves as president of Effinger Consulting and is the author of the inspiring memoir, Believe to Achieve – the Power of Perseverance.

With the imminent raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve later today, I felt compelled to weigh in with my thoughts prior to their actions, so that I am not confused with those housing industry observers, pundits, analysts, and others, who will be more comfortable commenting after Yellen and her crew do the deed... finally.

Because the Fed waited too long to raise rates, hoping (wishing almost) that a “real” economic recovery was in play, which it absolutely, indisputably has not, they boxed themselves into a corner to have to raise rates now. This is despite growing concerns that they are doing so when many economic indicators reveal that the economy not only has not been in recovery, it is on the verge of another recession -- even as we never really came out of the last one. Not news here.

To repeat once again, the only beneficiaries from zero or near-zero overnight interest rates during the tenure of the disastrous Obama Administration have been those working on Wall Street, those connected and investing on Wall Street, and those of the ruling class in America (kind of redundant, don’t you think?).

Many economists believe strongly that the lack of liquidity caused by over-regulation and the strangulation of businesses,...

Read more: Fed will absolutely raise interest rates – despite being "too late"

Mortgage applications once again posted little weekly change, rising 1.1% for the week ended Dec. 11, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association said.

This isn’t too far from the 1.2% rise reported last week.

The refinance index increased 1% from the previous week, while the adjusted purchase index decreased 3% from one week earlier.

Overall, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 60.7% of total applications, up from 58.7% a week ago. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6% of total applications.

The Federal Housing Administration share of total applications remained unchanged from 14% the week prior. The Veterans Affairs share of total applications jumped from 10.8% the week prior to 11.2%. The Department of Agriculture share of total applications decreased to 0.6% from 0.7% the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) stayed frozen at 4.14%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dropped slightly to 4.01% from 4.02%.

In addition, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA barely moved, falling to 3.90% from 3.91%.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.38% from 3.39%, while the average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.25% from 3.23%.

For added perspective...

Read more: MBA: Mortgage applications remain stagnant

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