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Canny Australians build a bulwark out of housing debt

By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - The adage "safe as houses" has been an oxymoron since the global financial crisis. But it still has a resonance for Australians who use their homes as a piggy bank, salting away money by paying down their mortgages at a breakneck pace.

OSFI issues proposed new rules to govern conduct of mortgage insurers

OTTAWA - Canada's financial regulator is looking to issue new guidelines governing high-risk mortgages in the country's housing market. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has asked for comments on the guidelines that would compel mortgage insurers to do due diligence on the ability of borrowers to service their debts and also require them to tighten monitoring procedures.

Activists block entrances to branches of Spanish bank

Anti-eviction activists blocked Wednesday the entrance to 12 branches of Spain's Banco Popular bank, which they accuse of not doing enough to prevent struggling mortgage holders from losing their homes. Dozens of demonstrators, many wearing matching green t-shirts, gathered at the doors of the branches of Spain's fifth-largest bank in the centre of Barcelona, chanting slogans against evictions and preventing clients from entering.

Mortgage applications fell last week as refinance down: MBA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as refinancing slipped, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 1.6 percent in the week ended April 4. The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 4.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 2.7 percent.

U.S. mortgage applications fell last week: MBA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week on lower refinancing demand, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, declined 1.2 percent in the week ended March 28. The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 2.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 0.9 percent.

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 4.40 pct; 15-year loan up to 3.42 pct.

WASHINGTON - Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose this week in the wake of comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen suggesting that the Fed could start raising short-term interest rates by mid-2015. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.40 per cent from 4.32 per cent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.42 per cent from 3.32 per cent. A key home-price index showed Tuesday a robust 13.2 per cent increase in January compared with 12 months earlier. But the Standard

U.S. mortgage applications fell last week: MBA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications slipped, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 1.2 percent in the week ended March 14.

San Francisco increases amount it will lend to first-time homebuyers to $200,000

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco will now lend as much as $200,000 to some homebuyers toward a down payment on their first house or condominium. Mayor Ed Lee's decision to double the previous limit of $100,000 was intended to help middle-class residents who have been hit hard by the housing crunch. The new loan limit goes into effect this month, The San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/Nm9Mdg ) reported Monday.

Democratic lawmakers ask to meet Holder on mortgage fraud

By Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three Democratic lawmakers on Monday asked to discuss with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder the Department of Justice's efforts to prosecute mortgage fraud after a watchdog report last week said the FBI had ranked it low priority.

U.S. retirees return to reverse mortgages, big banks stay away

By Peter Rudegeair and Michelle Conlin (Reuters) - U.S. baby boomers desperate for retirement income are increasingly turning back to a financial product that, after the housing bust, had been left for dead: the reverse mortgage. Many retirees haven't saved enough to cover expenses for the rest of their lives. But many of them have one major asset - a home. A reverse mortgage allows them to borrow against that, and they don't have to make any payments on the loan until they move or die.
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