Taking the Bait

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Th e M Rep o RT | 53 O r i g i nat i O n s e r v i c i n g a na ly t i c s s e c O n da r y m a r k e t ANALYTICS the latest Prices Up 11.3% in Q4 CoreLogic's Case-Shiller Indexes record new price peaks in a growing number of cities. c oreLogic released its own quarterly Case- Shiller Indexes, assem- bled using the company's proprietary data supplemented with statistics from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The analysis differs from the monthly S&P/Dow Jones Case Shiller Indices in that it covers a wider range of markets over a different time frame. While price percentages nation- wide were up by double-digits in Q 4, seven cities managed to shoot up into the 20 percent range year- over-year, with Las Vegas lead- ing at 25.6 percent growth. The remaining six cities were all in California: Riverside (+23.8 percent), Oakland (+23.3 percent), Sacramento (+23 percent), Los Angeles (+20.3 percent), San Jose (+20.1 percent), and San Francisco (+20 percent). The sharp increase comes as no surprise for the region, which has suffered from low inventory levels throughout the recovery. "Limited construction of new homes and low inventories of existing homes for sale contrib- uted to the jump in prices," said Dr. David Stiff, principal econo- mist for CoreLogic Case-Shiller. "Developers remain cautious about building too many new houses until they see stronger demand in their markets." Additionally, prices climbed up to new peaks in a number of metros, including Houston, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, and Pittsburgh. "These cities have never achieved price levels quite this high, not even in the record year of 2006," Stiff said. Even with so many markets re- maining hot, CoreLogic is among those industry analysts calling for a drop-off in price gains this year. Through December, the company predicts price appreciation will slow to 5.3 percent nationally, though that still comes in above the long-term annual average of 4.5 percent. "For the remainder of 2014, investor demand and sales of foreclosed properties should drop off quickly. Traditional buyers are returning slowly to the market but cannot replace demand from investors who led the market in recent years," Stiff said. survey Finds consumer credit knowledge lacking Few Americans know anything about credit scores beyond the most basic facts. F or the latest annual survey, the fourth of its kind, more than 1,000 representative American consumers were asked 19 questions designed to gauge their knowledge of credit scoring. The study was commissioned in partnership between VantageScore Solutions and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). While the findings illustrate respondents are aware of a hand- ful of facts surrounding their credit score—for example, nearly nine in 10 know credit card issuers and mortgage lenders use them, and the vast majority know that a spotty financial his- tory can affect their score—there are still some major gaps in their knowledge. For instance, only half of consumers surveyed demon- strated a solid understanding of the three instances when lenders who use generic scores are required to inform borrowers of the credit score used in the lending decision: after a mortgage loan application, whenever a loan application has been rejected, or whenever the best terms are not available for the borrower. Moreover, only 42 percent understand that a credit score actually measures the risk of not repaying a loan and is not a measure of credit attitudes or knowledge—a statistic CFA ex- ecutive director Stephen Brobeck called "most troubling." "Consumers should be aware that they can take steps to reduce this risk and improve their scores, most importantly by making all loan payments on time," Brobeck said. Calculating results by age, VantageScore and CFA found millennials (those age 18–34) tend to have less understanding than older consumers. Among other findings, fewer than half of millennials seem to compre- hend that age is not a factor in calculating credit scores, and less than two-thirds know that the three main credit bureaus collect the information on which their scores are based (compared to three-quarters of older adults). That gap comes as worrying news for VantageScore Solutions CEO Barrett Burns, who notes that younger consumers tend to start their adult lives with mas- sive amounts of student debts that pose a threat to their credit profiles. "We know that education can help consumers improve their scores, and whatever the con- sumer's age, our aim is to arm him or her with accurate, unbi- ased information and resources to help them become good credit managers," Burns said. To that end, VantageScore and CFA have partnered to launch, a website designed to mimic the survey and inform consumers about how credit scoring works. "This year's survey clearly demonstrates a need to deliver educational resources to younger consumers and we're pleased to again partner with VantageScore Solutions on the survey and to our broader educational pro- gram," Brobeck said.

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