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Homebuilder outlook rallies in June

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WASHINGTON (6/17/14)--For the first time this year, homebuilder confidence is on the upswing, according to the June National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) housing market index, released Monday.

All three subcomponents in June increased, with the composite index jumping to 49 from 45 and current sales surging by 6 points ( Economy.com June 16).

However, the index--which gauges overall confidence among homebuilders--still falls below 50, indicating high levels of pessimism within the homebuilding market.

"Consumers are still hesitant, and are waiting for clear signals of a full-fledged economic recovery before making a home purchase," David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist, told MarketWatch (June 16). "Builders are reacting accordingly, and are moving cautiously in adding inventory."

The West region saw the strongest rebound, climbing nine points in June after an abysmal start to the year, according to Moody's analysts.

The only region not to post strong gains in builder confidence was the Northeast, where the index dropped even further to 33 from 35.

"Since the NAHB's composite index generally tracks single-family housing starts, (the positive report) increases the chance that single-family residential construction will hasten as we enter the summer," said Gregory Bird, Moody's Analyst ( Economy.com ). "However, this is no slam dunk, as the headline number remains below 50, albeit barely, signaling that on net more builders view single-family housing market conditions as poor than good."

Mortgage rates to rise for HAMP holders

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WASHINGTON (6/17/14)--Homeowners who received loan modifications on their mortgages to reduce their monthly payments after the housing bubble burst in 2008 will soon see those mortgage payments begin to climb ( Bankrate.com June 13).
 
About 30,000 homeowners who modified their mortgages through the government-operated Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) will see their rates and payments begin to tick up this year as the initial five-year terms draw to an end.
 
Payments for more than 290,000 homeowners will follow suit next year.
 
When the loan modification program was being designed, many forecasters predicted a quicker recovery for the economy than what has occurred, so the terms, which in some cases knocked mortgage rates down to 2% annually, carried five-year terms.
 
Once the five-year term ends, rates can only rise 1% every year until they have returned to the average market rate at the time of the modification.
 
As part of the program, the Treasury requires mortgage lenders to send notice to borrowers that their rates are going to step up at least four months prior to the increases. 
 
Second notices are also required 60 to 75 days before the rates reset, according to Bankrate.com .