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Mortgages are faring well according to recent figures from several sources. Not only are national foreclosure rates at their lowest in 15 years, but some encouraging underlying economic figures indicate that these trends could continue. There are seasonal factors, however, that could impact delinquencies in the short-term.

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The Trump Administration recently released a proposal suggesting massive changes to certain areas of the Federal government. While many news stories focused on the recommended privatization of the U.S. Post Office and the combination of the existing Department of Education with the Department of Labor, by far the most meaningful change for the mortgage market is the recommended privatization of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).

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America's cities are facing a growing problem related to vacant homes. Some of our nation's oldest cities have areas that are suffering from blight, which is creating a drain on resources. How each city is economically impacted by this issue might vary. What is also different is how some are choosing to address the problem.

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Cities nationwide are battling a phenomenon driven in part by the aftermath of the 2008-2009 foreclosure crisis and in part by the population decline of once-robust industrial cities: abandoned homes. In cities from Baltimore, Maryland to Fresno, California, homes are abandoned either because owners who could no longer afford the houses left without selling or because the owners simply moved away…and no buyer has ever stepped up.

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The most recent housing and mortgage data indicate that foreclosure rates are declining nationwide with the exception of certain markets. This is welcome news even as those rates are expected to rise slightly in another year or two. Although home price appreciation remains strong, foreclosures and other factors are putting some constraints on the current housing market.

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The U.S. economy continues to move in the right direction in spite of a stock market correction and some threats related to overseas trade wars. The truth is that employment figures are up as is consumer confidence related to housing. While this is good news for now, rising home prices and soaring interest rates are already having an impact on the loan market.

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Multiple factors are affecting rent versus buy trends across the nation, including age group, local real estate market conditions, and taxes.

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The United States has once again entered a seller's market, with homeownership on the rise. While we haven't seen numbers that rival pre-recession levels, young adults are increasingly fueling this housing market as the economy improves. Homeownership rates among Millennials is now at 36 percent, which is the largest gain within any demographic group in 2017. Lenders must be ready to meet the needs of these young adults as they look to purchase their first homes.

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Millennial Homeowners Are Coming of Age

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The total household debt in the United States advanced 1.5% in the last quarter of 2017. Total household debt climbed $193 billion to reach $13.15 trillion, a new record. The figure closed 2017 as the fifth consecutive annual increase in debt growth.

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A rise was seen across almost all loan types. Mortgages rose a significant $139 billion quarter over quarter, even as the median credit score shown by new applicants dropped. Auto loan and student loan balances also increased. Auto loan balances have now gone up steadily for the sixth consecutive year.

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President Donald J. Trump recently announced a plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The announcement was big news simply as a major policy initiative by the administration. In terms of the financial industry, though, it’s important to look at the potentially significant effect on the U.S. housing industry and the American consumer.

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