Archive for July, 2010

Comments Off on 30-Year Mortgage Rates Make New Lows, But Look Ready To Spike

30-Year Mortgage Rates Make New Lows, But Look Ready To Spike


2010
07.30

Freddie Mac mortgage rates (January - July 2010)

No doubt you’ve heard that mortgage rates are low. They’re lower than they’ve ever been in history.  The news is everywhere.

Just check out some of these headlines from the last 24 hours:

  • Mortgage rates set new lows for the 6th straight week (Reuters)
  • Mortgage rates fall again; 30-year fixed at 4.54% (Wall Street Journal)
  • Mortgage rates hit another low : 4.54% (NPR)

Fixed mortgage rates are now down more than 1/2 percent from the start of the year, and 3/4 percent from just 1 year ago. The drop has dramatically improved home affordability for home buyers in Scottsdale while creating refinance opportunities for existing homeowners.

From a payment perspective, a conforming, 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now cheaper by $41.94 per month per $100,000 borrowed versus July 2009.

A homeowner with a $300,000 mortgage, therefore, is saving $45,295.20 over 30 years.

Low mortgage rates rarely last long and rates appear to have troughed. After a big downhill between April and July, they’re now flat. This could mean rates have finished falling, or that they’re gearing up for another drop lower. Either way, if you haven’t talked to your real estate agent about home affordability, or your loan officer about refinancing, it may be time to make that call.

If today’s market marks the end of low rates, rates are expected to rise quickly.

Comments Off on Falling Consumer Confidence Helps Drag Mortgage Rates Lower. For Now.

Falling Consumer Confidence Helps Drag Mortgage Rates Lower. For Now.


2010
07.29

Consumer Confidence Index July 2008-July 2010For the second consecutive month, U.S. consumer confidence is plunging. July’s official reading is its lowest since July of last year and the figures run in stark contrast to just two months ago, when the index touched a multi-year high.

According to The Conference Board, July’s figures are reflective of a more pessimistic consumer; one concerned about “business conditions and the labor market”.

Falling confidence numbers are presumed to be poor for the economy. For homeowner and home buyers in Mesa , however, they can create opportunity.  Low confidence can influence the mortgage market in a positive manner, driving mortgage rates down.

Mortgage rates are already at their lowest levels of all-time.

The link between consumer confidence and everyday mortgage rates roots in consumer spending.

Consumer spending accounts for close to 70% of the overall U.S. economy so, the thought goes that, a less confident consumer is less likely to spend money, thereby retarding economic growth. This harms the stock markets and drives cash to bonds, including mortgage-backed bonds.

More bond demand leads bond prices to rise which, in turn, pushes mortgage rates lower.

The other side of lagging confidence is that Americans may be less likely to take new financial risks when they’re feeling unsure, including buying a new home. This can then drag on the housing market, negatively impacting home prices across AZ.

Falling home values can help buyers, harm sellers, and stymie would-be refinancers.

It’s tough to predict how consumer confidence data will work its way through the economy, but in the near-term, it appears to be helping mortgage rates stay low. If you’re floating a mortgage rate with your lender, or contemplating a refinance, the time may be right to lock in a rate.

Low rates can’t last forever.

Comments Off on Case-Shiller Shows Home Price Improvement In 95% Of Cities

Case-Shiller Shows Home Price Improvement In 95% Of Cities


2010
07.28

Case-Shiller Change In Home Values April-May 2010

Standard & Poors released its Case-Shiller Index Tuesday. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, between April and May 2010, home prices rose in 19 of Case-Shiller’s 20 tracked markets.  It’s the second straight month of strong Case-Shiller findings.

Also, May’s numbers are a mirror-image of February’s. In February, 19 of 20 markets lost value.

In its press release, the Case-Shiller staff resisted calling May’s data proof of a housing recovery, noting that home values remain flat as compared to October of last year. However, there are some noteworthy numbers in the Case-Shiller report.

  1. 13 of the 20 tracked cities are showing home price improvement year-over-year
  2. Foreclosure posterchlld San Diego has now shown 13 straight months of improvement
  3. San Diego, San Francisco and Minneapolis are showing double-digit annual growth

These are all good signs for the housing market, but the Case-Shiller Index is not without its flaws. Most notably, the data is limited to just 20 cities nationwide — and they’re not even the 20 largest ones

Cities like Houston, Philadelphia, and San Jose are excluded from Case-Shiller, while cities like Tampa (#54) are not.

Another Case-Shiller flaw is that it reports on a 2-month delay.

Therefore, today is several days from the start of August but we’re now reflecting on data from May. Given the speed at which the Scottsdale real estate market can change, May’s data is almost ancient.  Today’s values may be higher or lower than what Case-Shiller reports.

For home buyers, reports like the Case-Shiller Index may not be useful in making a “Buy or Not Buy” decision, but can aid in watching longer-term trends in housing.  For real-time data, talk to a real estate agent with access to local figures instead.

Comments Off on New Homes Sales Gain in June, But Gains Are Relative

New Homes Sales Gain in June, But Gains Are Relative


2010
07.27

New Home Supply June 2009 - June 2010

After a down month in May, the sales of newly-built homes appears back on track.

As published by the Census Bureau, June’s New Home Sales report showed:

  1. A 24 percent sales volume increase from the month prior
  2. A 2-month drop in the supply of newly-built home

There are now just 210,000 new homes for sale nationwide.

June’s data is a major improvement over May, but it’s possible that the true “new home market” may be softer than the statistics suggest.  This is for several reasons.

First, we’re comparing June’s sales data to the worst month in New Home Sales history.

In May, sales of new homes totaled just 267,000 units nationwide. That’s one-quarter fewer sales than in the previous worst month in New Home Sales history. May’s sales levels were awful by any measure but June’s improvement to 330,000 units remains second-worst sales levels ever posted.

Second, although much improved, June’s new home supply of 7.6 months is elevated versus the historical norm near 6.0 months.  The last year has averaged 7.7 months.

For buyers of new homes in Phoenix , this combination of low sales volume and higher-than-normal inventory may be a positive.  It’s the main reason why homebuilder confidence is reeling and the downturn has opened some doors for big discounts and deals. Free upgrades and closing cost credits can make a well-priced home even more attractive.

Plus, with mortgage rates at all-time lows and expected to rise, home affordability is may never be better.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : July 26, 2010

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : July 26, 2010


2010
07.26

Existing Home Sales June 2009-June 2010Mortgage markets worsened last week for the first time in 6 weeks last week. Investors were pleased with corporate earnings reports and the European bank stress tests results.  Stocks gained on the news, and bonds lost.

Mortgage rates rose last week, but only slightly. Rate are still hovering near their lowest levels of all-time.

Of the bigger stories last week was Existing Home Sales. As reported by the National Association of Realtors®, sales volume was down in June and home supplies were up. But figures were a bit better than expected, giving some hope for housing.

Notably, the number of move-up buyers outnumbers first-timers and the national median home price rose, suggesting that mid-to-upper home prices are getting some support.

This week, the market gets additional two pieces of housing data to add to the mix:

  1. New Homes Sales (Monday)
  2. Case-Shiller Index (Tuesday)

Both will have an impact on mortgage rates. In general, better-than-expected data should cause rates to rise in AZ ; worse-than-expected data should cause rates to fall.

Also this week, there’s two consumer confidence reports, the Fed’s Beige Book, and late-in-the-week inflationary data.  Mortgage markets should remain volatile with so much news headed down the pipe.

It’s too soon to declare the current 3-month rally over, but it’s been 3 weeks since rates dipped. This can be a signal that mortgage rates have finally bottomed and that it’s time to lock your rate.

If you’re floating a mortgage rate, or thinking about a refinance, it’s time to get locked in. Rates may drop this week, but then again, maybe they won’t.  There’s little sense gambling on a bet as big as a mortgage.

Comments Off on Existing Home Sales Drop In June But Hint At Higher Price Tier Support

Existing Home Sales Drop In June But Hint At Higher Price Tier Support


2010
07.23

Existing Home Supply (June 2009 - June 2010)Consistent with most post-home buyer tax credit housing news, the National Association of Realtors® says Existing Home Sales eased lower last month.

An “existing home” is a home that cannot be considered new construction.

The 5 percent drop in sales from May to June was expected, but a closer look at the month’s data reveals some interesting trends.

First, repeat buyers accounted for 44 percent of home resales in June, up from 40 percent in May. That’s a healthy increase for just 4 weeks’ time and the tax credit is a likely catalyst. First-timer buyers bought starter homes owned by former first-timers, who were then free to “move up” to larger, more expensive property.

Housing markets can be trickle-up and, not coincidentally, the jumbo/luxury housing market is now in the midst of rebound.

Second, June’s “distressed sales” accounted for 32 percent of all home resales, up from 31 percent in May.

A figure like this hints at the large role foreclosures continue to play in a Mesa home buyer’s home search strategy.  And why not? The National Association of Realtors® suggests that distressed homes are sold at a 15 percent discount.

Lastly, take note that home inventories are rising. June’s 8.9 months of supply is the highest in 10 months. Excess supply leads home prices lower, all things equal.

Overall, the Existing Home Sales data from June is a mixed bag. There’s support for the middle- and upper-price tiers, but a growing overhang of supply. The market looks favorable for buyers given low mortgage rates and strong negotiation leverage.

Comments Off on Yes, You Can Still Get A Mortgage If You’re Pregnant

Yes, You Can Still Get A Mortgage If You’re Pregnant


2010
07.22

The New York Times ran an important story this week concerning pregnancy and mortgage approvals. Titled “Need a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant“, the article discussed the difficulties that expecting and recently-expanded families are having with their mortgage financing.

NBC’s The Today Show picked up the story as well, as shown in the 3-minute clip above.

The crux of the issue is that maternity/paternity leave often leads to a change in household income and mortgage lenders will no longer assume one or both parents will go back to work full-time.  The loss of income can raise a household’s debt-to-income ratio to unlendable levels.

Now, your loan officer cannot ask you about a pregnancy; such questions would be in violation of Equal Credit Opportunity Act. But he can ask if whether you expect your future employment and income situation to change. This would be a perfect time to broach the topic. And you should. If you’re found to have withheld employment and income information from your lender at a later date, it could result in an immediate loan denial plus a loss of earnest monies paid.

Across both pieces, though, the prevailing message is this: Families concurrently planning to (1) have a baby and (2) buy a home should be up-front and forthcoming with their loan officers. Financing is often still available for families expecting an addition — there’s just some extra paperwork though which to work.

Be prepared for that paperwork and you’re more likely to get your loan.

Comments Off on Housing Starts Ease 0.7 Percent In June — 7x Better Than The Headline Data

Housing Starts Ease 0.7 Percent In June — 7x Better Than The Headline Data


2010
07.21

Housing starts July 2008 - June 2010

Single-family Housing Starts eased lower last month, falling by 0.7 percent from May, or 3,000 units nationwide.

A “housing start” is a home on which construction has started.

June’s Housing Starts data is somewhat soft and may partially explain why home builder confidence dropped to its lowest level since April 2009, but for buyers and sellers in Scottsdale , the Housing Starts report is not nearly as bad as headlines say.

This is because when the press reports on Housing Starts, it doesn’t single out single-family homes. The press lumps every type of home into a single, giant reading. As a result, news outlets are reporting Housing Starts down 5 percent — a somewhat misleading figure.

The 5 percent figure is actually a combination of 3 separate housing types:

  1. Single-Family Housing Starts
  2. Multi-Unit Housing Starts (2-4 Units)
  3. Apartment Building Housing Starts (5 or more units)

But, single-family homes are what most Americans purchase. This is why the single-family starts data is more relevant than the combined figure commonly reported by the press. 2-4 units and apartment buildings are a different realm of buyer.

That said, though, we can’t even be sure that June’s Single-Family Housing Starts report is accurate. As noted in the Department of Commerce’s press release, the data’s margin of error is 10.7 percent which means the reported results are of “no confidence”.

In other words, there is no statistical evidence to prove the actual change was different from zero.

If Housing Starts did, in fact, drop in June, it will help to reduce the housing inventory, which will provide support for local home values. For home sellers, this could be good news. Fewer homes for sale means less competition for buyers.

Comments Off on Sagging Homebuilder Confidence Opens The Door For Good Deals

Sagging Homebuilder Confidence Opens The Door For Good Deals


2010
07.20

NAHB Housing Market Index July 2008-2010Builder confidence in the housing market slipped this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ monthly Housing Market Index.

The Housing Market Index is actually a weighted composite of 3 separate surveys. One measures current single-family sales; one measures projected single-family sales; and one measures traffic of prospective buyers.

All three surveys were down in July:

  • Single-Family Sales : From 17 (June) to 15 (July)
  • Single-Family Project : From 22 (June) to 21 (July)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : From 13 (June) to 10 (July)

The HMI’s July reading of 14 puts confidence at its lowest point since April 2009.

For home buyers in Phoenix , a drop in builder confidence could create an opportunity for negotiation.

Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that most builders were flush with home inventory, unable to find willing buyers. To help move product at that time, builders dropped prices and offered incentives including free upgrades. If confidence continues to sag going forward, home purchase deals of that nature may return — especially as the foreclosure market gets larger.

See, in the past, builders’ main competition for buyers were the existing home sellers.  Today, builders compete with the existing home sellers and the banks with REO. 

It’s a terrific time to be a home buyer, in other words — sellers are fighting for you. It’s no wonder sellers have little leverage anymore. Couple that with all-time low mortgage rates and affordability for homes is at an all-time high.

If you’re planning to buy a home later this year, you may want to consider moving up your time frame. The market looks ripe for good deals this summer.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : July 19, 2010

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : July 19, 2010


2010
07.19

Housing starts June 2008 - May 2010Mortgage markets improved for the 5th straight week last week as consumer confidence waned and inflation data tamed. Investors ignored the news that 19 of 23 reporting S&P 500 companies beat their respective earnings estimates and sold off on stocks.

There’s concern about a potential economic slowdown for the months ahead and it may be well-founded.

Despite an improving jobs situation and booming retail sales, households are less optimistic about the future and so is the Federal Reserve. In its post-meeting minutes released last week, the Fed revised its U.S. growth estimates downward for 2010 and 2011.

For rate shoppers in Arizona , this is excellent news.

Because of the weakness, conforming mortgage rates fell again last week, extending the current rally in rates to 16 weeks. Mortgage rates are lower than at any time in measured history.

This week, data will be housing market-heavy and mortgage rates could rise or fall.

  • Monday : National Association of Home Builders Index
  • Tuesday : Building Permits and Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Existing Home Sales

Strength in any, or all three, of these housing-related reports should push mortgage rates higher on higher hopes for the economy. Weakness, on the other hand, should have the opposite effect. 

Overall, though, mortgage markets are trending better.  Momentum is in effect and refinance activity is soaring. That said, it doesn’t mean that rates won’t rise — they could absolutely. It just takes a change in market sentiment. And that could happen quickly.

Mortgage rates are artificially right now so even the slightest jolt could cause them to spike. It would be similar to what happened in June 2009 when rates rose 1.125% in just 10 days’ time. Therefore, if you’re shopping for a mortgage and like the rate you’ve been quoted, consider locking in as soon as possible.

There’s very little room for rates to fall further but a lot of room for rates to rise. Make sure you’re on the right side of that bet.