Mortgage Market News

U.S. companies across the nation announced fewer planned layoffs in December than in November as the labor markets continue to improve. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported on Thursday that planned layoffs were down 9% from November, while planned cuts in 2014 were at the lowest levels since 1997. Challenger said, "This bodes well for job seekers, who will not only find more employment opportunities in 2015, but will enjoy increased job security once they are in those new positions."
Due to the recent rise in home prices, American households that were underwater in their mortgages in the third quarter of 2014 was 21% lower compared to the same period in 2013. CoreLogic reported on Thursday that there were 5.1 million mortgages underwater in the third quarter of 2014, well below the 6.5 million recorded in 2013. As home prices rise and the housing markets improve, home buyers will see it easier to sell their existing properties. In addition, rising home values make it easier to refinance current mortgages.
The Labor Department reported on Thursday that Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 in the latest week to 294,000, further evidence of an improving job market. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, fell marginally to 290,500 last week. The latest figures are well below the near 700,000 seen in early 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.
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