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Pending home sales continued their upward trajectory and increased for the third month straight, staying at the highest level since June 2013, according to the most recent report from the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, grew 1.1% to 108.6 in March from an upward revision of 107.4 in February and is now 11.1% above March 2014 (97.7).

The index has now increased year-over-year for seven consecutive months and is at its highest level since June 2013, when it was 109.4.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says contract signings picked up in March as more buyers than usual entered this year’s competitive spring market.

“Demand appears to be stronger in several parts of the country, especially in metro areas that have seen solid job gains and firmer economic growth over the past year,” he said. “While contract activity being up convincingly compared to a year ago is certainly good news, the increased number of traditional buyers who appear to be replacing investors paying in cash is even better news. It indicates this year’s activity is being driven by more long-term homeowners.” 

Yun expects a gradual improvement in home sales in the months ahead but says insufficient supply and accelerating prices could be a drawback to sales reaching their full potential.

“Demand in many markets is far exceeding supply, and properties in March sold at a faster rate than any month since last summer,” he...

Read more: Pending home sales continue upward trajectory in March

Mortgage applications decreased 2.3% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 24, 2015.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2% compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 4% from the previous week.

The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was unchanged from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 1% compared with the previous week and was 21% higher than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 55% of total applications, its lowest level since September 2014, from 56% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.7% of total applications. The average loan size for purchase applications rose to a survey high of $297,000.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.7% from 13.6% the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.3% from 11.0% the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.8% from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 3.85% from 3.83%, with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio...

Read more: Mortgage applications decline 2.3%

Ohio-based A2Z Field Services announced the promotion of Amie Sparks-Beebe to president and chief executive officer. Previously, Sparks-Beebe was a senior vice president for the nationwide field services provider.

Sparks-Beebe (pictured above) replaces Bill McMullen (pictured below), who is retiring as A2Z’s president. McMullen will maintain his ownership of A2Z, but will not be involved in the management of the business moving forward.

“It's with mixed emotion that I leave my position at A2Z, but there is a time for everything, and I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Amie that she will continue to move our business forward," McMullen said.

Prior to her promotion, Sparks-Beebe was responsible for core business operations including resource & organizational planning, process improvement, sales & service development and technology integration.

The company said that it anticipates the transition between McMullen and Sparks-Beebe will be seamless. In her new role, Sparks-Beebe will also be charged with growth strategies & initiatives, as well as financial planning.Bill McMullen

"I take great pleasure and pride in promoting Amie Sparks-Beebe to CEO of A2Z," McMullen said. "Amie’s accomplishments over the past eleven years have made her the obvious choice for this position. Her talents, energy and commitment to excellence have been a driving force within our organization, and I look forward to the continued growth of A2Z under her leadership.”

Read more: A2Z Field Services promotes Amie Sparks-Beebe to president/CEO

Freddie Mac announced Tuesday that it is preparing to auction off a $233 million pool of non-performing loans, which are serviced by Ocwen Financial (OCN).

Ocwen said in December that it plans to exit agency servicing entirely and has been selling off pools of agency servicing rights by the truckload lately, including the recent sale of a $25 billion MSR portfolio to Nationstar Mortgage (NSM), just over a month after agreeing to sell another $9.8 billion portfolio of agency servicing to Nationstar.

Now, Freddie Mac is seeking to sell off a $233 million pool of “geographically diverse, deeply delinquent” non-performing loans, which are currently serviced by Ocwen Loan Servicing.

The move to sell a pool of non-performing loans is becoming more commonplace for Freddie Mac, which recently announced a new program for auctioning off pools of deeply delinquent non-performing loans from its mortgage investment portfolio.

The new program, called Extended Timeline Pool Offering, or EXPO, will target smaller investors by making smaller pools of non-performing loans available in addition to the larger pools of NPLs that Freddie recently began selling.

Last week, Freddie Mac also made its first EXPO offering available. According to Freddie Mac, the first EXPO offering is a pool of deeply delinquent NPLs that carry an aggregate unpaid principal balance of $35 million.

The loans offered for sale are all located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The Ocwen-serviced pool is a Standard Pool...

Read more: Freddie Mac selling $233 million pool of Ocwen-serviced loans

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