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Foreclosures Lowest Since Q2 2007 as Starts Plummet to 7-Year Low

There were a total of 376,931 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the third quarter of 2013, RealtyTrac reported Thursday. The Q3 figure represents a 7 percent decline from the previous quarter and a 29 percent decline from the third quarter of 2012. By RealtyTrac's calculations, one in every 348 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing last quarter, which puts Q3 foreclosure activity at its lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.

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Shadow Inventory Falls to Lowest Level Since August 2008

Overall residential shadow inventory, as of July 2013, was 1.9 million homes, according to CoreLogic. That's the lowest shadow inventory tally reported since August 2008. The industry's current shadow inventory carries a value of $293 billion, down from $380 billion in July 2012. It represents 3.7 months' of supply and accounts for 85 percent of the 2.2 million properties that were seriously delinquent, in foreclosure, or bank-owned at July month-end.

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As Refi Activity Fades, LPS Predicts Rise in Home Equity Loans

The number of homeowners eligible for refinancing has shrunk from about 10 million in December 2012 to about 5.7 million as of August, according to Lender Processing Services' (LPS) latest Mortgage Monitor report. LPS cites heightened refinance activity over the past few years and rising interest rates as reasons for the decline and sees a market ripe for home equity lines of credit as a result of rising prices.

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Weak Third Quarter Expected for Mortgage Banks

Investment bank FBR Capital Markets released its preview of third-quarter earnings for major U.S. banks Monday, with a cloudy outlook for mortgage banking. In general, bank stocks have underperformed the broader market by about 2 percent over the third quarter; and zeroing in on the mortgage market, FBR is not optimistic about Q3 results.

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FHFA and Zillow Talk HARP

Zillow partnered with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Thursday to review eligibility requirements for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and respond to borrowers confused about the program. Meg Burns, senior associate director for housing and regulatory policy for FHFA, joined Zillow for a Google Hangout session to field questions from underwater homeowners and explain HARP's finer points.

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FHA to Take First Ever Bailout

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be accepting a bailout of more than $1 billion to make up for losses sustained from the agency's legacy books and its reverse mortgage program. Following reports last week that FHA's financial situation would require a Treasury draw in the neighborhood of the Obama administration's $943 million forecast, Commissioner Carol Galante revealed in a letter to the Senate Banking Committee that the agency is taking an appropriation of approximately $1.7 billion.

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Pending Sales Index in 3rd Straight Monthly Drop

Continuing to respond to higher mortgage rates, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) slipped for the third straight month, dropping 1.6 percent in August to 107.7 the lowest level since April, the National Association of Realtors which compiles the index reported Thursday.

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1st Time Jobless Claims Continue to Drop

Continuing the drop in first time claims for unemployment insurance, initial filings fell 5,000 for the week ended September 21 to 305,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the number of claims to jump up to 330,000, from the 309,000 originally reported for the week ended September 14.

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Report Shows Home Price Rebound in Nearly 25 Percent of Key Markets

July property data from Homes.com shows that property values in nearly one-quarter of the top 100 U.S. markets have fully recovered. According to the site’s latest report, 22 of the top 100 markets in the United States reported price increases of more than 100 percent from their respective troughs, up from 19 the month prior.

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