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How To Fight Mortgage Rate Volatility

2009
06.19

Initial Jobless Claims for week ending June 13 2009Mortgage rates are suffering through another volatile week, causing problems for rate shoppers and home buyers.

After falling Monday and Tuesday, mortgage rates surged Wednesday and Thursday. The momentum higher appears to be carrying into the weekend, too.

There are several data-related reasons for the mortgage market’s spastic activity this week:

  1. Unemployment claims fell
  2. Leading Economic Indicators rose
  3. Inflation readings are tame

But while each of the data points above fueled mortgage rate volatility, it’s not the data that’s making markets move the most. It’s the psychological impact of the data.

See, data tells us about the past. It measures and reports on what’s already happened. Unfortunately for rate shoppers, mortgage markets are not made on data from the past — they’re made on the expectations of what will happen next.

Mortgage rates reflect Wall Street’s opinion of the future.

In reading the papers and watching the news, you’ll notice ongoing debate about the U.S. economy. It’s unclear whether the recession is worsening or improving.

On one hand, data is weak and sub-optimal. On the other hand, the data is not nearly as weak as it was 6 months ago and, in some cases, it’s strong. To some, this is a signal that a recovery is already underway.

Or, it may just be a blip.

We can’t be certain in which direction the economy is headed and the same can be said for mortgage rates. Because sentiment is changing so often, though, it forces us to be on our toes.

The last few months have been marked by large mortgage rate swings across small windows of time. A rate that’s offered in the morning, for example, is rarely available in the afternoon. Therefore, do your rate shopping in a compressed period of time and be ready to lock your rate at a moment’s notice.

When markets move, they tend to move quickly.

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