The foreclosure front received some good news today as Lender Processing Services (LPS) reported that the number of Americans in the foreclosure process continues to decline as the housing markets recover, down almost 25% in the past year. LPS went on to say that total delinquency for loans 30 days or more past due, but not yet in foreclosure, dropped below 6.5% for the first time since July of 2008.
The past few weeks have seen a rise in home loan rates to the highest level since March, which led to a decline in mortgage applications in the latest survey. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, fell by nearly 10% as the downward trend continues. The refinance gauge dropped 12% while the purchase index fell 3%.
Over in the home purchase markets, home resales rose to the highest level in three and a half years in April as the sector continues to recover. The National Association of Realtors reported that Existing Home Sales rose to an annual rate of 4.97 million units to the highest level since November of 2009, but was slightly below the expectation of 4.98 million. When compared to last year, sales climbed nearly 10%. The rise has been due in part to tighter supplies in parts of the country, but with the rise in home prices, sellers have come back into the market.
In an expected move, Lois Lerner, head of the tax exemptions department at the IRS, took the 5th today in front of the House Oversight Committee investigating the agency's increased scrutiny for tax exempt status for conservative groups. Ms. Lerner stated that she has done nothing wrong and did not break any laws. But she followed the advice of her attorney to not answer any questions.