Archive for April, 2012

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 16, 2012

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 16, 2012


2012
04.16

Retail SalesMortgage markets improved last week as a global flight-to-quality continued. With Spain facing questions on its sovereign debt, investors continued to pare exposure to risky assets, sparking demand for the relative safety of U.S. government-backed mortgage-backed bonds.

As a result, conforming and FHA mortgage rates slipped for the third straight week last week. 

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage available to borrowers in AZ is down to 3.88% nationwide with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus “typical” closing costs.

Last week’s reported 3.88 percent rate for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is within one-tenth of one percent of the lowest, average mortgage rates in Freddie Mac survey history. However, the last time conforming rates were reported in this range, the accompanying, required discount points were higher than last week’s 0.7.

Meanwhile, at 3.11% nationwide with 0.7 discount points plus closing costs, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate is equally low. It, too, set a record last week.

It’s a good time to be looking for a mortgage in Phoenix. Rates and fees are great.

Last week, markets moved on momentum. This week, they’ll move on data. The economic calendar is busy.

  • Monday : Retail Sales; Housing Market Index
  • Tuesday : Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Weekly Jobless Claims; Leading Indicators; Existing Home Sales

In addition, two Federal Reserve members offer prepared remarks Monday. They will be the last public Fed comments before next week’s 2-day FOMC meeting.

Mortgage rates remain low. Consider calling or emailing your loan officer to learn more about your current financing options.

Comments Off on Mortgage Rates Fall For Third Straight Week

Mortgage Rates Fall For Third Straight Week


2012
04.13

Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates

After a brief surge north of 4 percent last month, mortgage rates have settled down, near their lowest levels of all-time.  

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, for applicants willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a complete set of closing costs, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to 3.88 percent this week.

0.7 discount points adds $700 to your mortgage closing costs for each $100,000 borrowed.

Mortgage rates are down this week on “safe haven” buying. The move is triggered by Wall Street’s concern that Spain and Italy will have trouble servicing their respective sovereign debt. In response, investors are selling risk-heavy assets and using the proceeds to purchase U.S. government-backed bonds.

This creates demand for mortgage bonds which, in turn, pressures mortgage rates lower.

The storyline is similar to what transpired in Greece last year, and, at least for now, it gives Mesa home buyers reason to cheer. So long as economic uncertainty remains, mortgage rates may stay low.

Of course, like all things in real estate, though, mortgage rates are local. Rates offered by banks varied by region.

Freddie Mac’s survey of 125 banks showed the following regional breakdown :

  • Northeast Region : 3.88% with 0.8 discount points 
  • West Region : 3.85% with 0.8 discount points
  • Southeast Region : 3.91% with 0.8 discount points
  • North Central Region : 3.89% with 0.6 discount points
  • Southwest Region : 3.90% with 0.8 discount points

The best mortgage “deals” are currently available to North Central Region residents. The most expensive loans are for those in the Southeast.

Relative to history, though, all mortgage rates look inexpensive. Conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have never been as low as they are today. It’s a bonus for home buyers because cheap mortgage rate yield cheap mortgage payments. Home affordability remains near all-time highs.  

If you’re unsure of whether now is a good time to buy or refinance, the answer is yes. Talk to your loan officer to review your mortgage options.

Comments Off on Tax Tips : What To Do With Your Tax Refund

Tax Tips : What To Do With Your Tax Refund


2012
04.12

The typical U.S. taxpayer will receive roughly $3,000 in federal income tax refunds this year — an average of $250 per month. So, what would you do with an extra $250 monthly? This segment from NBC’s The Today Show offers some advice. 

Whether you’ve already filed your annual taxes for 2011, filed an extension, or will squeak by on the deadline, you could probably be doing more with your taxes. The above video shares some tips. It’s four minutes of solid insight on tax refunds, tax withholdings, and reducing your household’s overall “bad debt”. There’s something for everyone.

Among the points covered in the tax refund piece :

  • Consider changing your personal payroll exemptions so your 2012 refund is $0
  • Remember that refunds are not “free money” — it’s your money. Spend wisely.
  • Use your tax refund to fund retirement accounts

Advice is also shared about how to use your tax refund to fund a reserve account, or emergency fund. As a homeowner or home buyer in Phoenix , applying tax refunds to a savings accounts in this manner can go a long way. When you’re a homeowner, maintenance costs can be sudden and unexpected. A furnace can explode, for example; or, a roof could spring a leak. Having money set aside for crisis is essential.

Having a savings account will also improve your household’s long-term financial stability. 

As a reminder, in most years, federal income tax is due April 15. However, with Tax Day falling on a Sunday and with the federal government closed for a holiday the following Monday, U.S. taxpayers in AZ and nationwide get a reprieve until Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Comments Off on The Top 10 Cities In Which To Raise A Family

The Top 10 Cities In Which To Raise A Family


2012
04.11

Great places to raise a familyLooking for a great place to raise a family? Forbes Magazine has a list that may help you.

Titled “The Best Cities For Raising A Family“, Forbes has compiled and analyzed data from America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, accounting for seven lifestyle factors including cost of living, commuting ease, school quality, crime density, and home affordability.

Given these selection criteria, it’s no surprise that Grand Rapids, Michigan took top honors. The area’s low median income is offset by an extremely low cost of living and a school system that’s among the best in the nation. Nearly 90% of the homes in Grand Rapids are affordable families earning the median income — the seventh-highest affordability ranking in the country — and commutes are quick.

Since the housing peak, home prices are down just 12% in Grand Rapids — a figure below the national average.

The complete Top 10 list for the Forbes “The Best Cities For Raising A Family” piece were:

  1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Provo, Utah
  4. Youngstown, Ohio
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina
  6. Poughkeepsie, New York
  7. Omaha, Nebraska
  8. Ogden, Utah
  9. Cincinnati, Ohio
  10. Worcester, Massachusetts

Now, before you make a home-buying decision based on the Forbes report, remember that real estate is a local market and even city-wide statistics can be too broad to be helpful to everyday home buyers in Mesa. Even within Grand Rapids, there are some neighborhoods that outperform in terms of home valuations and school quality, for example; and some areas from which a daily work commute may be more cumbersome. 

For accurate, real-time housing data for any of the above markets , be sure to ask a real estate professional.

Comments Off on Homes Get More Affordable On March Jobs Data

Homes Get More Affordable On March Jobs Data


2012
04.10

Unemployment Rate

Americans continue to get back to work.

Last Friday, in its Non-Farm Payrolls report for the month of March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 120,000 net new jobs created, plus combined revisions in the January and February reports of +4,000 jobs.

The March report marks the 18th straight month of job growth nationwide — the first time that’s happened in 5 years.

The Unemployment Rate dipped in March, too, falling one-tenth of one percent to 8.2%. This is its lowest national Unemployment Rate since February 2009.

Clearly, the jobs market is moving in the right direction. Yet, after the Non-Farm Payrolls report was released Friday morning, stock markets dropped and bond markets gained — the opposite of what a casual market observer would expect.

It happened because, although job growth was strong, Wall Street decided it just wasn’t strong enough. The market expected 200,000 jobs created in March at least and the actual reported figure fell short.

Lucky for you, Wall Street’s pain is Main Street’s gain. After the jobs report was released, mortgage rates immediately dropped to a 3-week low, making homes more affordable in AZ and throughout all 50 states.

The market’s reaction is an excellent example of how important jobs data can be to home affordability — especially in a recovering economy.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008-2009 and has since added more than half of them back. Wall Street pays close attention to job creation because more working Americans means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more economic growth.

Rate shoppers caught a bit of a break on the March payroll data. By all accounts, the labor market recovery in underway and, as it improves, higher mortgage rates are likely nationwide. For now, though, there’s a window for low mortgage rates that buyers and would-be refinancing households can try to exploit.

If you’re actively shopping for a home or a mortgage, today’s mortgage rates may be at “last chance”-like levels. Once rates rise, they’re expected to rise for good.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 9, 2012

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 9, 2012


2012
04.09

Spain mortgage ratesIn a week of up-and-down trading, mortgage markets improved for the second consecutive week last week. Weaker-than-expected jobs data plus evidence of a slumping Eurozone took mortgage bonds lower, capped by a furious Friday morning rally that dropped mortgage rates to near-record levels.

Once again, volatility ruled the bond pits.

Tuesday afternoon, after the release of the Fed March Minutes, mortgage rates spiked. Some products climbed as much as 0.250 percent. The surge stemmed from the Fed Minutes showing Federal Reserve members hesitant to begin new rounds of market stimulus without a demonstrated, national economic slowdown. 

Wall Street hadn’t expected the Fed’s verbiage to be so well-defined. With little evidence that such a slowdown was underway — the economy has shown two straight seasons of consistent, steady growth, after all — equity markets rallied and bond markets sunk, causing mortgage rates to rise.

By Wednesday, however, rates had started to fall. 

Civil unrest in Spain plus concern that the nation will fail to meet its debt obligations drew global investors away from equities and into the relative safety of U.S. government-backed bonds — including mortgage-backed bonds. This is a common investment pattern during times of economic uncertainty and one of the major reasons why mortgage rates have been so low, for so long.

If the scenario in Spain sounds similar to what transpired in Greece between mid-2010 and late-2011, that’s because it is. Mortgage rates in AZ may benefit in the medium-term.

Also helping rates last week was the March jobs report.

The U.S. government reported 120,000 net new jobs created in March, well short of the 200,000 figure that analysts expected. Market sold off sharply on the news, giving rate shoppers another chance to capture low rates.

This week, with the economic calendar light, look for Europe to dictate market action. Mortgage rates may move lower but there’s more room for rates to rise than to fall. Rates remain near all-time lows.

Comments Off on Jobs Report Due Friday; Mortgage Rates Expected To Change

Jobs Report Due Friday; Mortgage Rates Expected To Change


2012
04.05

Non-Farm Payrolls estimateIf you’re out shopping for a home this week, or trying to lock a mortgage rate, with Friday comes home affordability risk. Consider locking your mortgage rate today.

The March Non-Farm Payrolls report is due for release Friday morning and mortgage rates are expected to move. Unfortunately for the home buyers and rate shoppers of Phoenix , we can’t know in which direction that will be.

The prudent play may be to lock your mortgage rate today.

On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly called “the jobs report”, the release is a bona fide market-mover, month after month. 

Depending on how the March jobs data reads, FHA and conforming mortgage rates could rise — or fall — by a measurable amount post-release. This is because today’s mortgage market is closely tied to the economy, and the economy is closely tied to job growth.

The connection between jobs and mortgage rates is basic.

More workers leads to higher levels of consumer spending nationwide and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy.

In addition, when more workers are paid, more taxes are paid, too. Local, state and federal governments collect more monies when payrolls are rising which, in turn, benefits projects that purchase new goods and services, and, in many cases, results in the hiring of additional personnel.

Job creation can be a powerful, self-reinforcing cycle. 

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs. It has since recovered half of them. Friday, analysts expect to count another 200,000 jobs created. If the actual number of jobs created exceeds estimates, look for stock markets to gain and bond markets to lose. This leads to higher mortgage rates — especially with the Federal Reserve zeroed in on the labor market.

If the actual number of jobs created in March falls short of expectations, however, mortgage rates may fall.

Unfortunately, by the time the report is released, it will be too late to act on it. The release is made at 8:30 AM ET and bond markets are closed for Good Friday.

Comments Off on Fed Minutes Causes Mortgage Rates To Rise Suddenly

Fed Minutes Causes Mortgage Rates To Rise Suddenly


2012
04.04

FOMC Minutes March 2012The Federal Reserve has released the minutes from its last FOMC meeting, a 1-day affair held March 13, 2012. Mortgage rates in AZ are rising on the news.

For the un-indoctrinated, 3 weeks after it meets, the Federal Open Market Committee, the sub-group within the Federal Reserve that votes on U.S. monetary policy, publishes its meeting minutes.

Similar to the minutes from a corporate event, or condominium association meeting, the Fed Minutes recounts the conversations and debates that transpired throughout the meeting.

The Fed Minutes is a lengthy publication, often filling 10 pages or more. By contrast, the more well-known publication from the FOMC — its post-meeting press release — tends to span 6 paragraphs or less.

The extra detail contained within the Fed Minutes is Wall Street fodder, especially given the current economic uncertainty. Investors look to the Federal Reserve for clues about what’s next for the U.S. economy.

Lately, the minutes has made an out-sized impact on mortgage rates. The Fed’s words continue to swing the mortgage-backed bond market.

Today is no different.

March’s Fed Minutes is a dense one and markets are reacting. The text shows a central bank softly divided on future U.S. economic policy, and in debate about whether existing market stimulus should be removed.

The Fed has said that it’s expecting high levels of unemployment and low levels of inflation in the coming months, an outlook that leaves little reason to introduce a third round of stimulus. This is the primary reason why mortgage rates in Scottsdale have been climbing since the Fed Minutes’ release.

Since mid-March, mortgage rates dropped on speculation that the Federal Reserve would introduce a mortgage bond purchase program this quarter. Today, those expectations have reversed.

According to the minutes, the Federal Reserve believes that additional market stimulus would only be necessary “if the economy lost momentum”, or if inflation remained too far below 2 percent per year. Currently, Core PCE — the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation — is running slightly below 2 percent.

The Federal Reserve’s next scheduled meeting is April 24-25, 2012 — its third of 8 scheduled meetings this year.

Comments Off on FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums Increasing April 9, 2012

FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums Increasing April 9, 2012


2012
04.03

FHA MIP increasingPlanning to use an FHA-backed mortgage for your next home loan? You might want to get your application in gear today.

Beginning next week, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is changing the way it charges mortgage insurance to U.S. homeowners. For the fourth time since 2010, FHA mortgage insurance premiums are rising for all FHA-backed homeowners.

For FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, Monday, April 9, 2012, there are two planned changes.

First, FHA Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premiums (UFMIP) will increase by 75 basis points to 1.75%, or $1,750 per $100,000 borrowed. Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium is paid at closing, and typically added to an FHA borrower’s loan size.

The current UFMIP rate is 1.000 percent.

Second, annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums are rising. All new FHA-backed loans will be subject to a 10 basis point increase in annual mortgage insurance premiums, costing homeowners an extra $100 per $100,000 borrowed per year.

The new FHA annual mortgage insurance premium schedule follows :

  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value > 90% : 0.60% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 90% : 0.35% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 78% : 0.00% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value > 95% : 1.25% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 95% : 1.20% MIP per year

In addition, for loans above $625,500, beginning with FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, June 11, 2012, there will be an additional 25 basis point increase in annual MIP.

To calculate your monthly MIP obligation as a FHA homeowners, multiply your starting loan size by your insurance rate from the list above, then divide by 12.

Note that the FHA mortgage insurance changes apply to new FHA Case Numbers only. If you have an FHA mortgage approval in-process, or an existing FHA home loan, you are not subject to the new MIP schedule. To avoid paying the FHA’s new MIP schedule, therefore, begin your FHA mortgage application today.

Once your FHA Case Number is assigned, you’re locked in to today’s lower premiums.

Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 2, 2012

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 2, 2012


2012
04.02

Jobs growth can influence mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved last week on renewed concerns of a European debt default, and Federal Reserve rhetoric.

Conforming mortgage rates in Arizona dropped on the news, one week after posting a 5-month high.

A major strike in Spain and growing unrest in Italy, both in opposition to recent austerity measures, have re-ignited fears that the Eurozone may lapse into recession.

These are similar beginnings as with last year’s events in Greece. The difference is that Spain and Italy represent a larger share of the Eurozone’s overall economy, and a debt default could trigger faster contagion.

Mortgage markets gained on the news in a bid of safe haven buying.

Bonds also gained as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke clarified his position on the economy with respect to Fed-led stimulus. Summarized, he said that the Federal Reserve is inclined to keep its accommodative policies in place until the labor market is more fully recovered.

In addition, Chairman Bernanke alluded to making direct mortgage market intervention if U.S. economic growth were to stall in the near future.

The news helped push mortgage rates back below 4.000 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to 3.99% for applicants willing to pay an accompanying 0.7 discount plus closing costs.

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

This week’s mortgage market activity will be holiday-shortened so expect volatility — especially surrounding Friday’s March Non-Farm Payrolls report.

More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls details national employment rates and gains or losses in the workforce size. Lately, what’s been good for jobs has been good for the economy so if the actual number of jobs created exceeds the 200,000 projected by economists, or if the Unemployment Rate drops off its current 8.3% reading, look for mortgage rates to rise.

In general, economic expansion is bad for mortgage rates throughout Phoenix and the nation.

Other market-moving news this week includes Tuesday’s FOMC Minutes release and Thursday Jobless Claims data.