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Obama Focuses on Jobs, Wages in State of the Union

Anyone combing through President Obama's State of the Union address hoping for a hint on housing policy in the year ahead surely came away disappointed. Instead, much of Obama's focus went toward addressing wages, which have been slow to move as home prices continue to climb higher. Also on Obama's mind Tuesday was the country's unemployment situation, which looked grim as of the end of December.

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As Broncos, Seahawks Face Off, Analysts Compare Markets

As the Super Bowl approaches, the sports world is abuzz with comparisons of the two teams facing off Sunday as analysts compare everything from the number of veteran players to yards gained during the season. At the same time, ZipRealty, a national online real estate brokerage based in Emeryville, California, looked at the stats to compare the two teams’ home housing markets. Denver’s market pulls ahead of Seattle at least marginally in four out of five categories.

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Business Ticks Up at Freddie Mac

According to Freddie Mac's December volume summary, the GSE's total mortgage portfolio grew at an annualized rate of 0.4 percent for the month, bringing 2013's average rate to -2.6 percent. The portfolio grew in four out of last year's 12 months and shrank in eight, including a streak of declines from July through November. As of the end of the year, the portfolio was valued at approximately $1.91 trillion.

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Borrowers Struggle Despite Equity Gains

The ongoing price recovery and rise in positive equity around the country has been cause for celebration among many industry commentators--but they’re not much comfort to those who continue to struggle to pay their mortgages, Fitch Ratings says in a new release. Over the last two years, Fitch estimates the percentage of borrowers entering foreclosure with positive equity has roughly doubled. “It is clear that rising home prices have had a positive influence on borrower behavior. However, some portion of borrowers still exhibit an inability to recover as the economy has moderately improved,” the agency said in its analysis.

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Case-Shiller Indices Up 13.7% Year-on-Year

Despite seeing their first monthly downturn in a year, home prices were strong in November, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller report released Tuesday. On a yearly basis, the 10- and 20-city composites were up 13.8 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively. Dallas outperformed with an annual return of 9.9 percent—the highest since its inception in 2000. Also standing out was Chicago, which posted an increase of 11.0 percent, its highest since 1988.

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Delinquencies Down Nearly 10% in 2013

Delinquencies picked up slightly in December, according to early data released by Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS)--but overall trends indicate 2013 was a year of improvement. As of month-end, BKFS puts the total U.S. loan delinquency rate at 6.47 percent, an increase of 0.26 percent from November. The figure includes loans that are 30 or more days overdue but not in foreclosure. On an annual basis, however, delinquency was down 9.85 percent in 2013.

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Home Prices Push Up, Remain 14% Down from Peak

The latest Home Price Index (HPI) report from Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS) shows prices rising in November to a national index value of $232,000, up 0.3 percent from October. Compared to November 2012, the recent index was up 8.5 percent. Nationally, home prices remained down 13.9 percent compared to their peak of $270,000 in 2006. At the state level, Florida experienced the biggest increase at 1.0; the Sunshine State also dominated at the local level, accounting for nine of the top 10 markets for appreciation.

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Report: Slow December Growth Paints Promising Picture

Home price growth bucked recent trends in December as sales numbers continued on a slower course, analytics provider DataQuick reported Monday. The firm's Property Intelligence Report (PIR) for December show month-to-month home price growth was positive in 36 out of 42 reporting counties, a downturn from months of growth across all markets. While the slowdown in growth was a change from the last few months, it's not necessarily a bad sign, says DataQuick's VP of analytics, Gordon Crawford. In the latest report, Crawford maintains that the previous pace of growth "was not sustainable given the fairly weak underlying economic drivers."

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Homeowners, Buyers Maintain High Hopes in Survey

A recent survey from LendingTree shows the majority of current and potential homeowners have a bright outlook on the nation's housing market and economy for 2014—which may translate to a more active market. According to the findings, more than two-thirds—69 percent—of respondents have a positive outlook on housing this year, and 71 percent of current homeowners are thinking of selling their homes if trends remain positive.

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FDIC Marks Second Bank Collapse of 2014

The Bank of Union in El Reno was forced to shutter its doors Friday by the Oklahoma State Banking Department, which appointed FDIC as receiver. To protect depositors, FDIC announced a purchase and assumption agreement with Oklahoma City’s BancFirst, which will assume all of the failed bank’s $328.8 million in deposits (as of Q3 2013) and $225.5 million of its assets. The collapse was the second one in the United States so far in 2014 and the first one in Oklahoma since June 2012.

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