Trending Thursday is a roundup of the stories shaping the week and what’s yet to come through the weekend — also taking into account social media reaction. Think of it as a midweek Monday Morning Cup of Coffee, but with extra caffeine.

U.S. home sales increased 11.4% in June compared to the same time last year, leaving buyers with the lowest supply of homes for sale on record, according to Redfin.

June was also the fastest month for home sales on record, with median days on market falling to 26, breaking the record of 27 days set in June 2013.

Despite high buyer demand and low inventory, price growth was strong but still moderate at 5.1% year over year in June. Cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco are bringing up the average with double-digit year-over-year price increases. Competition was also strong in June, with 23% of homes sold over asking price, up 2 percentage points year over year, and edging closer to the record high of 27.4% seen in June 2013.

The median sale price in San Francisco fell 2.8% month over month to $1.07 million. Year over year, prices were up 16.3%, the highest increase of any metro area. New listings in San Francisco declined 10.6% from June 2014. San Francisco hasn’t seen year-over-year growth in new listings since February 2014.

Speaking of home sales, Zillow says that a seller with 16 to 21 listing photos is most likely to sell their home quickly.  Having fewer than nine significantly decreases a home’s chance of selling within 60 days.  

That’s one finding in Zillow’s latest report, a look behind the numbers at what makes one home fly off the market and another languish without a buyer. Of course, there are a lot of factors, but highlights include:

  • As a rule, homes under 1,100 square feet sell fastest. Homes priced more than 12% above the Zestimate are half as likely to sell in the first 60 days.
  • Listings that get 280 or more page views in the first week are three times as likely to sell within 60 days than those with fewer than 100 views.

Learn more in their national report here, and find more detail – down to the local level – in this research post.

Did someone mention David and Goliath? Some in the trade and mainstream press want to ignore it. Some in the government want to keep it quiet. But day by day, the shareholder activists fighting the third amendment sweep and the perpetual conservatorship seem to be gaining ground.

It’s going to be interesting to see where this leads as more layers are peeled back.

A copy of the motion to dismiss the government’s claim of privilege in the Fairholme lawsuit can be read here. Decide for yourself whether wanting the government to be transparent in its financial maneuvering is a reasonable thing, but I’m not remembering any good that ever came from a cover-up.

As Todd Sullivan’s ValuePlay put it, here’s what the government wants so desperately to keep from the public in the Fairholme lawsuit.

In Mario Ugoletti’s (FHFA) and Anne Eberhardt’s (Grant Thornton) depositions, they made several statements that directly contradict previous statements made by the government.  Fairholme claims these statements not only undercut but directly contradict the arguments the Government made before Lamberth, arguments his final decision to dismiss was based on and they argue the Appeals Court should see them.

The government argued the NWS was necessary because the GSE’s were in a “death spiral” in which they were unable to pay the 10% dividend and would have to continually borrow from the government to pay it making the future payments only higher. They argued that the payment in kind provision was a “penalty” and Lambreth bought into it in his decision ruling the GSE’s were in fact in the claimed “death spiral” and the NWS was justified. It would seem an email from Ugoletti counters the “penalty” claim.

Read the full take here.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center has posted a comment letter submitted to the Federal Housing Administration yesterday regarding FHA’s proposed revisions to the certification that lenders must provide for FHA mortgage insurance.

In Revisions to Application for FHA Insured Mortgage the authors, including HFPC Director Laurie Goodman and two HFPC Senior Fellows, argue that the current certification encourages lenders to tighten credit, rather than improve their underwriting.

The employment situation continues to be a bipolar mess. Yes, the unemployment rate is down, but no it’s not good because it’s driven by people dropping out of the workforce, and the bulk of job gains have been in crappy part-time and low-paying jobs.

But where there is good work to be had, there’s a shortage of labor — that is, construction.

Ed Stansfield, chief property economist for Capital Economics, looks at how it’s affecting housing.

“Recent survey data suggest that the recovery in housing starts would have been stronger if not for shortages of labor within some specialized trades. But although a scarcity of labor may be preventing builders from constructing as many homes as they would like, they are not so severe that the recent rise in housing starts will grind to a halt,” he says in a client note. “Indeed, the current shortages provide further evidence that demand for new homes is rising strongly. That can only be positive for homebuilding."

“…(S)trong demand for skilled construction workers will eventually lead to an acceleration in wage growth. This should encourage more workers who left the industry during the recession to return. As labor shortages subsequently begin to ease, homebuilders will be able to increase their output at a faster pace,” he says. “Combined with the boost to demand from an improving labor market and looser credit conditions, this supports our view that housing starts are set to grow strongly over the next two to three years.” ?

Do you like those unverified, unvetted reviews on Yelp? Then you’ll love the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s new consumer complaint database, wherein the only thing verified is that a consumer had an interaction with a company, and the company has absolutely no way to defend itself.

A consumer can basically say anything about a company, but the company can’t respond specifically because it could violate financial privacy rules by presenting evidence in its defense.

The first monthly report from the CFPB is out, and for what it’s worth (the paper it’s written on, give or take a penny — okay take a penny) here’s what the CFPB has to say.

“These monthly reports will enable us to share that data with the public more regularly, so that everyone can benefit from the information,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a written statement.

Complaint volume: For June 2015, the most-complained-about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 32 percent of complaints submitted. Of the 23,400 complaints handled, over 7,400 of them were about debt collection. The second most-complained-about consumer product was mortgages, accounting for over 4,700 complaints. The third most-complained-about financial product or service was credit reporting, accounting for over 4,300 complaints.


Most-complained-about companies: While company-level information should be considered in the context of company size, the top three companies that received the most complaints from CFPB for February through April 2015 were Equifax, Experian, and Bank of America. Equifax experienced the greatest jump in complaints over the same period last year, up 8 percent. Mortgage servicer Ocwen experienced the greatest decrease in average monthly complaint volume, down 29 percent from the same period last year.

Purchase loan activity climbed 3 points to account for 61% of lenders’ overall mortgage volume, according to the latest Origination Insight Report released by Ellie Mae.

This marks the first time that purchase loans have reached 60% since October 2014. Meanwhile, lenders’ closing rate on all purchase loans rose to 69%, the highest level since Ellie Mae began tracking this data in August 2011. 

According to the latest report, the average 30-year rate on a closed loan rose from 4.013% to 4.118%. The data also showed that the average FICO score on a closed loan in June fell three points to 727, the lowest this year.

 “With a surging housing market and U.S. home sales at their highest level in years, lenders remained busy in June,” said Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae. “The improving closing rate is a continued sign that borrowers are being approved and following through with purchases.”