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Home Equity Jumps 2.5% in Q1

Household net worth jumped by $3 trillion in the first quarter as real estate values grew $836 billion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday in its quarterly Flow of Funds report. With a drop in mortgage debt, owners' equity in real estate increased a sharp 2.5 percentage points to its highest level since 2007. Owners' equity as a percentage of real estate value has been on a steady upward trajectory since dropping to 36.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

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Shadow Inventory Looms Large for GSEs, HUD

Shadow inventory held by the GSEs and HUD "vastly" outnumbers REO properties the groups maintain, according to a joint report from the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency and HUD. The report further warned HUD and the GSEs must pay close attention to shadow inventory, which threatens to increase their supply of REOs. For the GSEs, the ratio of shadow inventory to REO inventory was about 6-to-1, while shadow inventory for HUD was 19.9 times greater than REO inventory.

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Foreclosures, Short Sales Decline in Q1

Over the last year, sales for distressed properties showed steep declines amid a backdrop of slower foreclosure activity and rising prices, according RealtyTrac's foreclosure and short sale report. The share of foreclosure-related sales represented 21 percent of all sales in Q1, down from 25 percent a year ago. At its peak in Q1 2009, foreclosure-related sales accounted for 45 percent of all sales. In addition, the share of properties that were not in foreclosure but sold as a short sale fell to 15 percent, down 10 percent from Q4 2012 and down 35 percent from a year ago.

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LPS: Home Prices Climb 2.9% from January to March

In its latest reading on home values, Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) reported strong price gains in March and increases in every state and metro the data provider tracks. In dollar terms, the LPS Home Price Index (HPI) averaged $213,000 in March. The figure represents a 1.4 percent increase from February and a 7.6 percent improvement from March 2012. From January of this year to March, prices have climbed 2.9 percent.

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Report: Short Sales Replacing Mods as New Norm

Among the available foreclosure prevention tools, short sales are becoming the weapon of choice for servicers while the use of loan modifications has slowed, data from Fitch Ratings revealed. For example, among bank servicers, the percentage of resolutions in the loan modification category decreased to 26 percent in the last half of 2012 from 57 percent in the first half of 2010, according to Fitch's latest quarterly index. Meanwhile, short sales showed significant increases over the last couple of years. In 2012, short sales represented 51 percent of resolutions for bank servicers, up from a low of 20 percent in 2010.

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Case-Shiller Indices Show Strongest Gain Since 2006

Home prices posted their strongest yearly gain in almost seven years in March, with both the 10- and 20-city indices seeing double-digit gains, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. The national index, reported quarterly, was up 10.2 percent. From February to March, prices increased in 15 of the 20 cities surveyed, falling in two and staying flat in the remaining three. Month-over-month, the 10- and 20-city indices improved 1.4 percent in March, the fastest gain for each index since last July. The national index advanced 1.2 percent for the quarter.

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Survey: Distressed Sales Fall, Investors Increase Short Sale Activity

In April, the share of sales involving foreclosures and short sales maintained their downward path, falling to the lowest level since 2009, according to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking survey. Using a three-month moving average, the survey found distressed sales accounted for 33 percent of home purchases in April, a decrease from 35.6 percent in March and 43.6 percent in April 2012. As expected, investor activity also slowed during the same time period.

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Existing-Home Sales, Prices Jump to Multiyear Highs

Existing-home sales rose 0.6 percent in April to an annual sales rate of 4.97 million, the highest level since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The median price of an existing single-family home jumped $8,900 in the month to $192,800, the highest since August 2008. The inventory of homes for sale rose to 2.16 million--its highest level since last September. The supply of homes for sale rose to 5.2 months, the highest since October. Inventory has been a persistent concern to NAR, which says the low supply of homes for sale has reduced the number of transactions.

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Report: High Sold-to-List Price Ratio Confirms Bidding War Activity

Last year, some analysts were speculating the large supply of REOs and shadow inventory would keep the market depressed, but instead, the market is dealing with a lack of inventory available for sale, ProTeck Valuation Services noted in its May Home Value Forecast (HVF). ""[I]n reality the shortage of housing inventory has led buyers to bid more competitively against one another leading to significant home price increases and tighter housing conditions,"" said Tom O'Grady, CEO of Pro Teck.

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