What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 9, 2013Last week brought several indicators of a strengthening economy. New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates rose.

The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent.

Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a “blip.” October’s reading for construction spending was the highest since 2004.

CoreLogic released data that home prices rose by 0.20 percent, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.50 percent for home prices.  Pending home sales were suggested that November sales are expected to hold steady as compared to October, and projected year-over-year sales for November at 12.20 percent.

Slower growth in home prices was attributed to higher mortgage rates and a fear of a housing bubble in the West, where demand for homes far exceeds the number of available homes.

Not wanting to buy at the top of the current housing market, some potential buyers may be waiting for the talk of another housing bubble to subside before buying. Robert Shiller, co-author of the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, noted that home buyers may not be “psychologically ready” for another housing bubble.

New home sales for October were higher than expectations of 419,000 homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October’s reading of 444,000 new home sales was 21.60 percent higher than September’s reading of 354,000 new homes sold. The national median home price fell by 4.50 percent to $245,800 in October; this was the lowest month-to-month reading since November 2012.

The number of available homes fell to a 4.90 month supply in October. This may cause buyers to put their home searches on hold as they wait out the winter months and hope for supplies of available homes to increase.

U.S. Employment Improving, Mortgage Rates Rise

ADP a private-sector provider of payroll services reported 215,000 new jobs added in November as compared to October’s reading of 184,000 jobs added. Weekly jobless claims supported the ADP reading as new jobless claims fell to 298,000 against expectations of 325,000 new claims and a prior reading of 321,000 new claims.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics brought more good news with its Non-Farm Payrolls report and Unemployment Rate for November. Non-Farm payrolls added 203,000 jobs in November against expectations of 180,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 200,000 jobs added.

The National Unemployment rate dipped to 7.00 percent in November against expectations of a 7.20 percent reading and October’s reading of 7.30 percent. The Federal Reserve has set a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as an indicator of economic recovery.

Last week’s strong economic news boosted mortgage rates; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 17 basis points to 4.46 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also gained 17 basis points at 3.47 percent with discount points at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 5 basis points to 2.99 percent with discount points at 0.4 percent.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s report of average mortgage rates.

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Maine Mortgage Market Update 12.09.2010

After record low interest rates for 7 months, mortgage rates are rising quickly. Mortgage rates rose for the fourth straight week this week, hitting 4.61 percent. Could this surge slow refinancings and further hamper the housing market? Absolutely.

Today, Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan increased sharply from last week’s rate. And it is well above the 4.17 percent rate hit a month ago — the lowest level on records dating back to 1971. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.96 percent. Rates hit 3.57 percent last month — the lowest level since 1991.

Currently, investors are selling Treasury bonds in anticipation of an extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits that could boost the economy next year. Investors are also dumping the bonds because they believe budget deficits will grow over the long term because of the deal. The sell-off is raising the yield on Treasury bonds. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.

The increase in rates already is discouraging homeowners interested in refinancing their homes. Refinance activity fell for the fourth straight week last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Rates may see some short improvements, but will likely remain at present levels and continue to rise over time. And when you include the stimulative action of extending the present tax rates and the extension of unemployment benefits, it becomes really tough to see Bonds improving much further.

Freddie Mac requests $1.8B in aid after 2Q loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac is asking for $1.8 billion in additional federal aid after posting a larger loss in the second quarter.

Freddie Mac said Monday it lost $6 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the April-to-June period. The company is required to pay a 10 percent annual dividend to the Treasury Department on money it has received from the government. That made up $1.3 billion of the company’s second-quarter losses.

The company lost $840 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

The government rescued McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae from the brink of failure nearly two years ago. The new request means they have needed $148.2 billion to stay afloat, about $63.1 billion of which is being used by Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac is losing money from bad loans it backed, many of them before the housing market went bust. It had $118 billion in bad loans at the end of June, up from $103.4 billion at the end of last year. It owned more than 62,000 foreclosed properties in June, up from about 35,000 a year earlier.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both lost tens of billions of dollars during the past two years and both are asking the government to prop them up. Last week, Fannie Mae requested $1.5 billion after posting a loss of $3.13 billion, or 55 cents per share, in the second quarter.

Still, the two companies are taking different approaches to their situations. Fannie Mae sounded optimistic about its future. Freddie Mac offered a more tempered view.

“We recognize that high unemployment and other factors still pose very real challenges for the housing market,” CEO Charles Haldeman said in a statement. “With that in mind, we continue to focus on the quality of the new business we are adding to our book to be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds.”

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion. They buy home loans from lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors.

During the housing boom, Fannie and Freddie faced political pressure to expand homeownership and competitive pressure from Wall Street to back ever-riskier loans. When the market went bust, defaults and foreclosures piled up, and the government had to take them over.

Over the next year, lawmakers plan to review the nation’s mortgage-lending system and consider a potential replacement for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The financial overhaul signed by President Barack Obama didn’t address that issue, despite protests from Republicans that it was incomplete without a such a plan. The administration is holding a public conference on Aug. 17 in Washington to discuss the mortgage system.