Archive for July, 2012

Comments Off on Foreclosure Starts Rise For Second Straight Month

Foreclosure Starts Rise For Second Straight Month


2012
07.17

Foreclosure changes June 2012

The number of U.S. homes receiving foreclosure notices topped one million through the first six months of 2012, according to RealtyTrac.

There were 1.046 million foreclosure filings between January – June 2012, says the foreclosure-tracking firm in its Midyear 2012 Foreclosure Market Report. The tally represents a 2 percent increase from the immediate six months prior.

A “foreclosure filing” includes all of the following foreclosure-related actions : (1) Default notices, (2) Scheduled auctions, and (3) Bank repossessions. 

One notable fact from within the report is that, even as the number of repossessed homes dropped nationwide, the number of homeowners receiving a Notice of Default or lis pendens rose. These notices are the first step in the foreclosure process which means that we should expect the national foreclosure pipeline to fill later this year.

It’s no coincidence that foreclosure starts are rising now, either.

Earlier this year, a $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement provided banks with the necessary framework and rules by which they can foreclose upon a home. Prior to the this settlement, fearing legal liability, some banks chose to slow — or halt — foreclosure starts entirely. Since the settlement’s announcement, though, foreclosure activity has resumed.

For today’s Mesa home buyers, the foreclosure market represents an interesting opportunity. Homes purchased while in the various stages of foreclosure can often be purchased for a lower price than homes which are not in foreclosure; one reason why foreclosed homes account for 25 percent of all home resales

However, be careful that you don’t confuse “less expensive with “less costly.

Foreclosed homes are often sold as-is and may be in various stages of disrepair at the time of purchase. Spending money to repair a foreclosed home in order to make it habitable could wipe out the money saved on its sales price. Your best real estate “deal”, therefore, may be a non-distressed home in sound, move-in ready condition.

If you’re buying foreclosures — or even considering it — be sure to talk with a real estate agent. The process of buying a foreclosed property is different from buying a “regular” home. You’ll want somebody experienced on your team.

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

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


2012
07.16

Retail SalesMortgage markets improved last week on slowing economic growth worldwide and investor thirst for “safe” investments.

China’s economy posted to its weakest growth since 2009 and economic activity in the Eurozone continued to sag. Both events resulted in a broad-based sell-off of equities and non-U.S. bonds. Mortgage bonds benefited from last week’s flight-to-quality as bond pricing moved higher.

When mortgage bond prices rise, mortgage rates fall.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now down to 3.56% nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. The 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 2.86%, on average.

Both mortgage rates are all-time records, rewarding today’s Mesa home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers. The principal + interest mortgage payment on a $200,000 mortgage is now just $904.80 per month.

Low rates may not last forever.

One reason why low rates may not last is that, also last week, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its June 2012 meeting. In it, the Fed appeared more ready to add new market stimulus than Wall Street had expected. The market’s initial reaction was to push mortgage rates higher because new stimulus would encourage risk-taking among traders, and invite inflation.

This week will see the release of a number of key data points for the U.S. economy :

  • Monday : Retail Sales
  • Tuesday : Consumer Price Index
  • Wednesday : Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Existing Home Sales; Initial Jobless Claims

If any of these reports show better-than-expected results, mortgage rates are expected to rise. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke begins a 2-day congressional testimony beginning Tuesday. The chairman’s words can move mortgage markets.

Mortgage rates remain at historical loans. If you have not yet locked a mortgage rate, talk to your loan officer soon.

Comments Off on Revisiting Housing Market Predictions For 2012

Revisiting Housing Market Predictions For 2012


2012
07.13

Revisiting predictions for 2012When the calendar flips to a new year, analysts and economists like to make predictions for the year ahead.

So, today, with the year half-complete, it’s an opportune time to check back to see how the experts’ predictions are faring (so far).

If you’ll remember, when 2011 closed, the housing market was showing its first signs of a reboot. Home sales were strong, home supplies were nearing bull market levels, and buyer activity was strong.

Homebuilder confidence was at its highest point in 2 years and single-family housing starts had made its biggest one-month gain since 2009. 

In addition, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates had just broke below the 4 percent barrier and looked poised to stay there.

There was a lot about which to be optimistic in January 2012.

Yet, there were obstacles for the economy. The Eurozone’s sovereign debt issues remained in limbo, oil prices were spiking, and the Unemployment Rate remained high — three credible threats to growth.

At the time, analyst predictions for the economy occupied both ends of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Freddie Mac said home prices would rise in 2012, for example, whereas analysts at CBS News said they’d fall. Both made good arguments.

As another example, American Banker said mortgage rates would rise in 2012. The LA Times, however, said just the opposite. And, the problem with these predictions is that each party can make such a sound defense of their respective positions that it’s easy to forget that a prediction is really just an opinion.

Nobody can know what the future holds.

A lot has changed since those predictions were made :

  • Job growth slowed sharply after a strong Q1 2012 
  • Oil costs dropped rapidly beginning in early-May
  • Spain and Italy have joined Greece as potential sovereign debt trouble-zones

Now, none of this was known — or expected — at the start of the year yet each has made a material change in the direction of both the housing and mortgage markets.

Today, home prices remain low and 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates now average 3.56% nationwide. Home affordability is higher than it’s been at any time in recorded history and, at least for now, low downpayment mortgage products remain readily available.

The experts never saw it coming.

6 months from now, the markets may be different. We can’t know for sure. All we can know is that today is great time to be a home buyer in Mesa. Home prices and mortgage rates are favorable.

Comments Off on Fed Minutes Suggest Fiscal Stimulus Later This Year

Fed Minutes Suggest Fiscal Stimulus Later This Year


2012
07.12

FOMC Fed MinutesThe Federal Reserve released the minutes from its June Federal Open Market Committee meeting, revealing a Fed divided on the future of the U.S. economy. Mortgage rates are higher after the release of the minutes.

The Fed Minutes is the detailed recap of an FOMC meeting. It is the companion piece to the more brief, more well-known post-meeting FOMC press release.

For a comparison, whereas the Fed’s June 20, 2012 press release contained 5 paragraphs and 490 words, the same meeting’s minutes contain 62 paragraphs and 7,508 words. The extra detail afforded by the extra words Wall Street gives insight into the nation’s central banker.

The June Fed Minutes, for example, suggest that the Fed may soon add new economic stimulus. 

Recent data suggests that the U.S. economy is expanding, but more slowly that it was at the start of the year. The Fed acknowledged that this, in part, is the result of “below-trend” growth in Euro-area economies, plus a general slowdown in China.

The Fed also said that “strains in global financial markets” continue to pose “significant downside risks” to the U.S. economy. The Fed expects U.S. growth to “moderate over coming quarters”.

Other notes from with the Fed Minutes included : 

  • On housing : Home sales, construction and prices suggest improvement
  • On inflation : Prices are stable, and inflation will remain “subdued” through 2014
  • On new policy : Rapid fiscal tightening poses a “downside risk” to the economy

In addition, there was discussion about whether the Fed is missing its dual mandate of low inflation and low unemployment. Several Fed member discussed the need for new stimulus to raise employment and to raise the rate of inflation. This action could occur as soon as next month.

If the stimulus was enacted, mortgage rates would likely rise because inflation, in general, is a threat to low mortgage rates.

The next Federal Open Market Committee meeting is a 2-day affair scheduled for July 31-August 1, 2012. 

Comments Off on 84 U.S. Markets Improving In July

84 U.S. Markets Improving In July


2012
07.11

Improving Market Index July 2012

Where economic growth goes, housing growth often follows.

That’s why it’s good news for homeowners that 84 U.S. metropolitan areas are showing “measurable and sustained growth” this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ Improving Market Index.

The Improving Market Index is a derivative report, based on the results of three separate data series which examine a city’s local economy.

The data series used in the IMI are :

  1. Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Home price data from Freddie Mac
  3. One-unit building permits from the Census Bureau

The NAHB compiles this data monthly, assigning a given metropolitan area the label “improving” if the following two conditions are met. First, all three data series above must show growth or expansion in the current month.

Second, at least six months must have passed since any of the above that area’s most recent economic “bottom”.

Because of this second clause, the IMI is focused on long-term trends in city growth, singling out only those markets in which sustained economic growth is occurring. The six-month requirement causes “blips” of growth remain ignored, and uncounted. 

The July IMI showed 84 improving markets nationwide, a 4-city increase over June 2012. 11 new cities were added to the index including Jackson, Michigan; Springfield, Massachusetts; and, Houston, Texas. Seven cities fell off the list.

32 states are represented in this month’s IMI, and the District of Columbia, too.

For CA home buyers, there isn’t much actionable information in the Improving Market Index. We don’t see how many homes were sold in the month prior, for example. Nor do we see how quickly homes are selling in a particular ZIP code. But what the IMI can provide is a broad look at whether a local economy has found its footing. 

When economies are strong, it can create competition for homes which can drive up home sales prices. 

The complete Improving Markets Index is available for download at the NAHB website. But, for a better feel of what’s happening in Mesa on a local level, talk to a real estate agent.

Comments Off on Home Purchasing Power Jumps To New Highs

Home Purchasing Power Jumps To New Highs


2012
07.10

Purchasing power grows in Q2 2012

With mortgage rates down to all-time lows, you can buy a lot more home for your money. Home affordability is at an all-time high.

According to last week’s Freddie Mac mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped to 3.62% nationwide. This is down from 4.08% in March, and down from 4.60% from one year ago.

Mortgage rates are “on sale”.

Falling mortgage rates can make one of two changes to the way a Phoenix home buyer looks at properties. They can either make a given home’s monthly housing payment that much more affordable to a buyer, or they can expand that buyer’s home purchasing power to a higher, maximum price point.

Since July 2011, that maximum price point increase has been significant.

Assuming a principal + interest payment of $1,000 per month and a 30-year loan term, a category that includes 30-year fixed rate mortgages and most adjustable-rate mortgages, here’s a maximum loan size comparison of the last 12 months : 

  • July 2011 : A payment of $1,000 affords a maximum loan size of $197,130
  • July 2012 : A payment of $1,000 affords a maximum loan size of $219,409

With an increase in maximum loan size of more than $22,000 in just 12 months, it’s no wonder that multiple-offer situations are becoming more common — today’s buyers know that low home prices and low mortgage rates are combining to make home buying more affordable than at any time in recent history.

However, the buyer-friendly environment can’t last forever.

First, home prices have started to rise nationwide. Demand for homes has outpaced home supply in many U.S. markets and that leads home prices higher. Second, low mortgage rates can’t last forever.

A recovering economy will lift mortgage rates back above 4 percent, a scenario that will hit home affordability hard.

Home-buying conditions are optimal this season. If you’re in the market for a new home, talk to your real estate agent and loan officer about maximizing your home purchasing power.

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

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


2012
07.09

Unemployment RateMortgage markets improved last week as concerns for U.S. economic growth wrestled attention away, albeit temporarily, from the Eurozone. Mortgage bonds improved to record prices, lowering mortgage rates across Arizona and nationwide.

The biggest news of last week’s holiday-shortened trading week was the Friday release of last month’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

In it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the economy added 80,000 net new jobs in June, and that the initial tallies for April and May were overstated by a combined two thousand jobs. Wall Street had expected to see at least 100,000 jobs created in June.

When the actual number of jobs fell short of expectations, stock markets sold off and bond markets gained.

According to Freddie Mac, last week’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate averaged 3.62% nationwide for borrowers with conforming mortgages willing to pay 0.8 discount points at closing, plus a full set of closing costs.

For every $100,000 borrowed on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll pay just $456 per month — the lowest in history.

15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 2.89% with 0.7 discount points.

Both products set record-low mortgage rates, based on Freddie Mac’s data. However, by the week’s end, after the jobs report, both rates had moved lower still to the benefit of Scottsdale home buyers and rate shoppers. 

This week, with little new economic data set for release, mortgage markets are expected to turn attention back to Europe. Early Monday, Greece’s new government won a key confidence vote in Parliament which ends a period of uncertainty during which the nation-state was without a clear leader.

This is one step toward resolving the debt issues that have plagued Greece but not the last step. How markets respond to Greece’s next actions will, in part, shape the direction of mortgage rates here in the United States. With optimism, mortgage rates will rise.

Should Greece falter, mortgage rates will fall.

Mortgage rates are expected to remain volatile for at least the next 3 weeks. If you’re floating a mortgage rate or wondering whether it’s time to lock a rate with your lender, consider locking in. With mortgage rates at 3.62% on average, rates have much more room to rise than to fall. 

Comments Off on 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates Fall To 3.62% Nationwide

30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates Fall To 3.62% Nationwide


2012
07.06

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates30-year fixed rate mortgage rates made new, all-time lows once again this week.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey of more than 125 banks nationwide, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell 4 basis point to 3.62% nationwide.

The rate is available to conforming, prime borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.8 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. A “prime” mortgage applicant typically has excellent credit, verifiable income, and at least 25% equity in their home.

And, it’s not just the 30-year fixed rate mortgage that made new lows in this holiday-shortened week, either. The 15-year fixed rate mortgage did, too, falling 5 basis points to 2.89%, on average.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage requires 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

Discount points are a one-time, up-front closing cost, based on loan size. If your loan requires 1 discount point, that means that your loan has a closing cost equal to 1 percent of your loan size. If your loan requires two discount points, the fee would be equal to two percent of your loan size; and so on.

So, based on this week’s Freddie Mac survey, a home buyer in Phoenix opening a $200,000 mortgage and paying 0.8 discount points would face to a one-time $1,600 fee to be paid at closing.

The good news is that discount points are optional. 

To avoid paying discount points, simply ask your lender for a “zero points” loan. You’ll get a higher mortgage rate than what Freddie Mac shows in its survey, but you’ll pay fewer closing costs.

Today’s low rates are terrific for both home buyers throughout CA and existing homeowners looking to make a refinance. As compared last year at this time, mortgage rates are down by 98 basis points — nearly one full percentage point.

Mortgage payments are much lower today as compared to July 2011 : 

  • July 2011 : $512.64 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed
  • July 2012 : $455.77 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed

Today’s rates yield an 11 percent payment discount as compared to last year.

Mortgage rates are unpredictable so there’s no guarantee that low rates will last forever, much less through the summer. If today’s rates meet your household budget, consider locking something in.

Comments Off on Mortgage Rate Risk Ahead Of Friday Morning’s Jobs Report

Mortgage Rate Risk Ahead Of Friday Morning’s Jobs Report


2012
07.05

Non-Farm Payrolls Since July 2010

Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly market-mover.

Depending on the strength — or weakness — of the data, mortgage rates will change. Perhaps sharply. Unfortunately, we can’t know in which direction.

If you’re actively shopping for a mortgage in Mesa , therefore, today may be a prudent day to lock a mortgage.

The job report’s connection to mortgage rates is straight-forward. As the number of U.S. citizens earning paychecks increases, reverberations are felt through the economy.

First, higher levels of income are tied to higher levels of consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. More working citizens, therefore, builds a larger overall economic base.

Next, as the overall economic base grows, businesses produce and sell more goods, necessitating the hiring of additional personnel and the purchase of more raw materials — both positives for the economy.

And, lastly, as more paychecks are written, more taxes are paid to local, state and federal governments. These taxes are often used to fund projects and purchase goods and services which, in turn, grow the economy as well.

Tying it all together, the health of the U.S. economy is a major factor is setting day-to-day mortgage rates across AZ. This is why rate shoppers face risk with tomorrow’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs. It has since recovered 3.9 million of them and, Friday, analysts expect to see another 100,000 jobs created in June. If the actual number of jobs created exceeds this estimate, look for mortgage rates to rise. 

If the actual number of jobs created falls short of 100,000, mortgage rates may fall.

The government releases Non-Farm Payrolls data at 8:30 AM ET Friday.

Comments Off on Pending Home Sales Index Hits A 2-Year High

Pending Home Sales Index Hits A 2-Year High


2012
07.03

Pending Home Sales IndexHomes are going under contract at a quickening pace.

In May, for the second time in 3 months, the Pending Home Sales Index crossed the 100 barrier, stretching to 101.1. A “pending home sale” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet sold.

Statistically, the Pending Home Sales Index reading is significant for two reasons.

First, the index’s reading is at its highest since April 2010. From this, we infer that today’s pace of home buying in Arizona and nationwide is approaching the “stimulated” levels of two years ago — but without the federal stimulus.

This is a positive signal for the housing market.

Second, because the Pending Home Sales Index is a relative index; and, because it was assigned a value of 100 upon its inception in 2001, readings higher than 100 imply that the housing market is performing better than it did during the index’s first year.

2001 happened to be a strong year for housing. 2012, it seems, is shaping up to be a better one.

And, there’s another reason why the Pending Home Sales Index matters so much to buyer and sellers of Scottsdale — the Pending Home Sales Index is among the few “forward-looking” housing market indicators.

Rather than report on how the housing market looked 30-60 days in the past, as the Case-Shiller Index does; or the Existing Home Sales report, the Pending Home Sales Index looks 30-60 days to the future.

80% of homes under contract sell within 2 months so, as the Pending Home Sales Index goes, so goes housing. Based on May’s data, therefore, we can assume that home sale figures will rise through the summer.

If you’re shopping for homes right now, consider going under contract while the market remains somewhat soft. Mortgage rates are low and so are home prices. It makes for good home-buying conditions.