Archive for October, 2011

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 16, 2011

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 16, 2011


2011
10.17

Mortgage bonds suffered through another tough week last week as rising optimism that Eurozone leaders will “rescue” Greece plus stronger-than-expected economic data in the U.S. led bonds lower for the second straight week.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates in AZ moved sharply higher. After reaching an all-time low just two weeks ago, 30-year fixed mortgage rates are now at a 2-month high.

There were several big stories in the mortgage bond market last week. Each was bad for consumer mortgage rates.

The first big story was tied to Greece. As meetings continue between Eurozone leader and rhetoric heats up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Greece will receive its next wave of debtor aid. The planned rescue of Greece is undoing the safe haven buying that characterized the mid-summer financial markets. 

With investors more willing to take risks, mortgage bonds are selling off, and rates are rising.

The next big story was the release of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting minutes. The central bank’s meeting recap showed that the Fed considered additional stimulus beyond its Operation Twist, even as inflationary pressures are increasing. Because inflation lowers the value of outstanding mortgage bonds, rates climbed post-release.

Lastly, last week we learned that the U.S. consumer will not be deterred. Retail Sales grew 1.1 percent in September — much more than Wall Street’s expectation. This, too, caused a mortgage bond sell-off and led to a late-Friday surge in rates.

Markets should open worse this morning, pressuring rates higher yet again. However, there’s plenty of data this week for which rate shoppers should be watching :

  • Tuesday : Producer Price Index; Housing Market Index
  • Wednesday : Consumer Price Index; Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Existing Home Sales

In addition, there are 8 Fed speakers this week. Each can move markets.

Despite rising rates, mortgage rates remain low nationwide. If you’ve been shopping for a rate, it’s not too late to lock in. Talk to your loan officer and make a plan to get locked, and get closed. 

Comments Off on Fed Minutes : A Fed Divided Reaches Comprise

Fed Minutes : A Fed Divided Reaches Comprise


2011
10.14

Fed Minutes

Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its 2-day meeting September 20-21, 2011.

The release shows a divided Fed in disagreement about the current U.S. monetary policy. The group reached compromise for new economic stimulus, however, and maintained its commitment to accommodative interest rates.

Wall Street reacted tepidly to the minutes. Mortgage rates in Mesa worsened slightly post-release.

The Fed Minutes gets less press than the FOMC’s post-meeting press release, but it’s every bit as important. Because it details the conversations that take place among voting and non-voting Fed members at FOMC meetings, the Fed Minutes is an inside-look at the debates and discussion that lead to new monetary policy.

As examples, here are some of the topics covered at the September FOMC meeting :

  • On growth : Economic growth was slow, but “did not suggest a contraction”
  • On housing : The market continues to be “depressed by weak demand”
  • On rates : The Fed Funds Rate will remain low until mid-2013

Then, with Fed members divided on whether the central bank should add new stimulus, it reached a compromise instead, launching the $400 billion “Operation Twist” program. Operation Twist is meant to lower longer-term interest rates, including mortgage rates.

Since Operation Twist began, mortgage rates are higher by nearly 0.375%.

Also noteworthy within the Fed Minutes was concern for an economic slowdown and how the Federal Reserve may react. According to the record, a slowdown may prompt the Fed to introduce its third round of qualitative easing, or QE3. An out-sized stimulus plan would likely lead rates higher.

Nothing will happen until the Fed’s next meeting, however. Chairman Ben Bernanke & Co meet next November 1-2 for a 2-day meeting..

Comments Off on Retail Sales Expected To Rise; Mortgage Rates Should Rise, Too

Retail Sales Expected To Rise; Mortgage Rates Should Rise, Too


2011
10.13

Retail Sales 2008-2011

The American Consumer is alive and well, it seems.

Friday morning, the Census Bureau will release its Retail Sales figures for September. The report is expected to show an increase in gross receipts for the 15th straight month with analysts predicting a 0.6 percent increase from August.

The projected increase represents the largest jump in Retail Sales in six months and would likely lead mortgage rates higher for buyers in Mesa and   nationwide.

The connection between Retail Sales and mortgage rates is fairly straight-forward. Retail Sales are the majority component of “consumer spending” and consumer spending represents the majority of the U.S. economy — up to 70 percent, by some estimates.

And, as the economy goes, so go mortgage rates.

10 months ago, mortgage rates shot forward to start the year. This is because expectations were high for a strong economic rebound. Conforming and FHA rates crossed 5 percent at the time and were headed toward six.

By mid-April, though, it was clear that economic data was falling short of predictions. As a result, mortgage rates declined, kicking off the 2011 Refi Boom. Then, by August, on ongoing economic softness, mortgage rates in AZ fell further, making new all-time lows.

Expectations for a recovery have returned. Rates are now rising.

Last week’s strong jobs report sparked hope for the U.S. economy and investors have been voting with their dollars. Mortgage rates are now up 7 consecutive days and Friday’s Retail Sales report could cement the trend.

If you’re shopping mortgage rates today, there’s risk in “floating”. You may want to lock your rate before Friday’s Retail Sales report drives rates even higher.

The Retail Sales report will be released at 8:30 AM ET.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 11, 2011

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 11, 2011


2011
10.12

Unemployment Rate (2008-2011)Mortgage markets worsened last week as safe haven buying eased and demand for mortgage-backed bonds dropped. As in most weeks since March 2011, Greece and U.S. jobs dictated market direction.

Conforming mortgage rates in AZ rose last week, lifting rates off their all-time lows and causing consternation among the nation’s would-be buyers and refinancers.

Last week’s action may surprise you. After all, Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey said average, 30-year fixed rate mortgages had dipped, dropping to 3.94% — the first time the average rate reported sub-4 percent.

A keen eye, however, revealed the another truth.

Yes, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage did go sub-4 percent, but, in order to get those rates, applicants were suddenly required to pay 0.8 “discount points”. This is an increase of 0.1 discount points from the week prior, a change in loan cost thatr reduces the benefit of falling mortgage rates.

1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

All of that is history now, however,. Rates climbed each day last week and are now at their pre-Labor Day levels. The Refi Boom may not be over, but it may be stalled.

This week, mortgage rates may continue to climb. There is talk within the Eurozone that Germany and France will come to Greece’s aid, and that a plan will be solidified prior to November 3. This would boost stock markets at the expense of bonds, leading to higher mortgage rates.

In addition, last week’s strong employment data has renewed speculation that the U.S. economy is, in fact, healthy so analysts are now watching for Friday’s Retail Sales data. 

Because consumer spending is an economic catalyst, if Retail Sales shows strength, mortgage rates should rise.

And, lastly, there is a 10-year Treasury auction Wednesday. Mortgage bonds don’t mirror the treasuries, but when demand is strong for treasuries, it’s often strong for mortgage-backed bonds, too. Therefore, a strong auction of government debt will help hold mortgage rates down.

A weak auction should lead rates higher.

Comments Off on Should I Refinance My Home?

Should I Refinance My Home?


2011
10.11

With mortgage rates at all-time lows, you may be asking “Is now a good time to refinance?”. This short interview from NBC’s The Today Show offers good insight.

Refinancing a mortgage is about more than just “low rates”. For example, there are costs associated with giving a new mortgage and even with the average, 30-year fixed rate mortgage near 4 percent, the costs of a such a move can outweigh the benefits — both in the short- and long-term.

The video originally ran in September when mortgage rates averaged 4.09%. Rates are different today, but the offered advice remains relevant.

Some of the key points raised include :

  • The lowest rates come with the highest costs. Consider a slightly higher-rate option from your bank.
  • Falling home values may make it harder to qualify for a refinance in the future. Your best time to act may be now.
  • If you’re many years into a 30-year loan, you can consider switching to a 15-year mortgage to avoid “resetting” your term.

And, lastly, the interviewee makes a strong point that your refinance should save you enough money to make paying the closing costs “worth it”. Make sure the break-even point on your closing costs versus your monthly savings occurs within a reasonable time frame.

At 4 minutes, the The Today Show video is short, but dense with quality information. For follow-up on whether a refinance makes sense for your situation, be sure to talk with your loan officer.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 11, 2011

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 11, 2011


2011
10.11

Unemployment Rate (2008-2011)Mortgage markets worsened last week as safe haven buying eased and demand for mortgage-backed bonds dropped. As in most weeks since March 2011, Greece and U.S. jobs dictated market direction.

Conforming mortgage rates in AZ rose last week, lifting rates off their all-time lows and causing consternation among the nation’s would-be buyers and refinancers.

Last week’s action may surprise you. After all, Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey said average, 30-year fixed rate mortgages had dipped, dropping to 3.94% — the first time the average rate reported sub-4 percent.

A keen eye, however, revealed the another truth.

Yes, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage did go sub-4 percent, but, in order to get those rates, applicants were suddenly required to pay 0.8 “discount points”. This is an increase of 0.1 discount points from the week prior, a change in loan cost thatr reduces the benefit of falling mortgage rates.

1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

All of that is history now, however,. Rates climbed each day last week and are now at their pre-Labor Day levels. The Refi Boom may not be over, but it may be stalled.

This week, mortgage rates may continue to climb. There is talk within the Eurozone that Germany and France will come to Greece’s aid, and that a plan will be solidified prior to November 3. This would boost stock markets at the expense of bonds, leading to higher mortgage rates.

In addition, last week’s strong employment data has renewed speculation that the U.S. economy is, in fact, healthy so analysts are now watching for Friday’s Retail Sales data. 

Because consumer spending is an economic catalyst, if Retail Sales shows strength, mortgage rates should rise.

And, lastly, there is a 10-year Treasury auction Wednesday. Mortgage bonds don’t mirror the treasuries, but when demand is strong for treasuries, it’s often strong for mortgage-backed bonds, too. Therefore, a strong auction of government debt will help hold mortgage rates down.

A weak auction should lead rates higher.

Comments Off on Freddie Mac : Mortgage Rates Sub-4 Percent

Freddie Mac : Mortgage Rates Sub-4 Percent


2011
10.07

Freddie Mac PMMS average rates

Mortgage rates have dropped past 4 percent.

For the first time in more than 40 years, data from Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling below 4 percent, dropping to 3.94 percent nationwide. It’s the lowest average 30-year fixed reading in the survey’s history.

In addition, Freddie Mac shows the 15-year fixed and 5-year ARM making new all-time lows, too, falling to 3.26% and 2.96%, respectively.

It’s a great time to be shopping for a mortgage or buying a home in Phoenix. Because mortgage rates are dropping, housing payments are dropping, too. As compared to 8 months ago, for every $100,000 borrowed, homeowners now pay $66 less principal + interest each month.

On a $300,000 mortgage, that’s $71,280 saved in 30 years.

Mortgage rates have been lower for several reasons, some of which include :

  • U.S. economic growth has been slower-than-expected
  • Uncertainty surrounds Greece and the Eurozone
  • The Federal Reserve’s “Operation Twist

In general, demand for mortgage bonds has been high and that’s caused mortgage rates to fall. It should be noted, however, that although the 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell below 4 percent this week, the amount of discount points required to lock that rate rose by 10 basis points, or $100 per $100,000 borrowed.

Homeowners in AZ are paying bigger fees for these lower rates. If you plan to move within a few years, these fees may wipe out your low-rate savings.

As you shop for a mortgage, pay attention to more than just rates. Low rates are great, but not when they come with high costs. Talk to your loan officer for help with making a plan than works for you.

Comments Off on A Mortgage Rate Strategy Ahead Of Friday’s Jobs Report

A Mortgage Rate Strategy Ahead Of Friday’s Jobs Report


2011
10.06

Estimated NFP results September 2009

Mortgage rates are prepped to make big moves in the next 36 hours. Is it time for you to call in your rate lock?

Friday, at 8:30 AM ET, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the Non-Farm Payrolls report for September. Issued monthly, the “jobs report” offers sector-by-sector job creation figures from the month prior, and reports on the national Unemployment Rate.

Last month, exactly zero net new jobs were created, the government said. This month, economists expect a net 60,000 new jobs created.

Depending on where the actual monthly figure falls, FHA and conforming mortgage rates in Phoenix may be volatile. The jobs reports tends to have out-sized influence on the mortgage bond market.

The connection between the jobs market and the mortgage market is fairly straight-forward. As jobs go, so goes the economy. This is because more working Americans leads to a stronger economic base.

  1. When more people work, consumer spending grows
  2. When more people work, governments collect more taxes
  3. When more people work, household savings increases

Each of these items are strengths to a recovering economy.

For rate shoppers, Friday’s job report could cause mortgage rates to rise — or fall. If the actual number of jobs created exceeded the 60,000 consensus estimate, look for mortgage rates to climb.

Conversely, if new jobs fell short of 60,000, expect that rates will drop.

Home affordability is at all-time highs because mortgage rates are at all-time lows. If you’re under contract for a home or looking to refinance, eliminate some of your interest rate risk. Lock ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls release.

Get your rate lock in today.

Comments Off on Home Values Rose For the 4th Straight Month

Home Values Rose For the 4th Straight Month


2011
10.05

Home Price Index from April 2007 peak

The government is confirming what the private sector has already shown —  home values are on the rise.

The Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index shows home values rose 0.8% in July.

July marks the fourth straight month that home values climbed and the FHFA’s Home Price Index is the latest in a series of “rising home values” reports — an encouraging trend for buyers and sellers in Scottsdale and nationwide.

Last week, the S&P Case-Shiller Index showed home value up nearly 1 percent in July. CoreLogic reached a similar conclusion.

Nationwide, values are back to their highest levels since November 2010. Clearly, the housing market in AZ is moving in the right direction. Or is it?

Although the data from the government and from private firms such as CoreLogic is encouraging, it’s also flawed. As such, we have to be careful about the conclusions we draw from the data.

The flaws of Home Price Index are glaring :

  1. Only homes backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are included in the index. In today’s market, because of the FHA’s popularity, that leaves 1 of 3 homes “uncounted”.
  2. Only home resales are counted. New home sales are omitted entirely.
  3. The data comes with a 60-day delay. The October market is different from July’s.

Despite these shortcomings, however, the Home Price Index remains relevant. It’s among the most through home valuation models and it’s often used by economists and policy-makers.

When the Home Price Index is rising, Wall Street and Capitol Hill take notice. For residents of “Main Street”, however, the data may not be as important. To get local, up-to-date market statistics , talk with a professional real estate agent.

Since peaking in April 2007, the FHFA’s Home Price Index is off 17.6 percent.

Comments Off on Conforming Loan Limits Drop In High-Cost Areas

Conforming Loan Limits Drop In High-Cost Areas


2011
10.04

Conforming Loan Limits lowered in 2011

For homeowners in high-cost areas nationwide, conforming and FHA loan limits have dropped by as much as 14 percent.

Effective October 1, 2011, the temporary mortgage loan limits that allowed for non-jumbo loan sizes of up to $729,750 are no longer.

$729,750 is above the “normal” loan limit of $417,000.

The elevated limits were put in place in 2008 as the economy and financial sector entered its crisis. At the time, there was little private money to serve buyers and would-be refinancers whose loan sizes exceeded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s maximum $417,000 loan limits.

For most people whose loan sizes exceeded that threshold, mortgage financing was unavailable. There were no lenders to back the loan size.

This was of particular importance in places such as New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. where home prices routinely top $1 million. For people in these areas, unless they had a downpayment that could lower their respective loan sizes to $417,000 or lower, mortgages were mostly unavailable.

Congress recognized this and, as a result, gave Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac temportary authorization to purchase and securitize home loans of up to $729,750 in value, depending on where the subject property was located.

The program helped housing, leading Congress to pass more permanent, location-specific loan limits. Later that same year, Congress passed the Housing and Recovery Act of 2009 which, in part, made high-cost loan limit pricing permanent, albeit at $625,500.

The $729,750 temporary limits expired Friday, September 30, 2011. Today, the maximum allowable conforming loan size is $625,500.

If you live in a high-cost area, therefore, take note. Mortgage rates may be low, but the amount of loan for which you qualify may be less than you expect, and you may find yourself ineligible.

The complete list of high-cost areas is available online.