FOMC Statement Shows “Moderate” Economic Growth

FOMC Statement Shows The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee met last week and Janet Yellen held her first press conference as Fed chair. According to the FOMC statement released after the meeting, the Fed cited severe winter weather conditions as a reason for slow economic growth in recent months.

FOMC members will continue to monitor economic conditions and developments as part of any decision to change the Fed’s change monetary policy. Highlights included:

“Moderate” Economic Growth; Asset Purchases Reduced For April

FOMC made the predicted cut to its asset purchase program and reduced April’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bills to $55 billion. Citing moderate economic growth and modest improvement in labor markets, the FOMC expects to continue tapering the Fed’s monthly asset purchases in the coming months.

The FOMC statement indicated that the committee’s policy concerning asset purchases is not set in stone and can be adjusted in response to economic developments

Monthly asset purchases are part of the Fed’s economic stimulus program and are intended to hold down longer-term interest rates such as mortgage rates. If the Fed tapers its asset purchases too quickly, mortgage rates could potentially rise too quickly.

The FOMC statement noted that the U.S. housing market recovery has slowed. It is likely that FOMC members will continue to monitor mortgage rates as part of their “forward guidance” for tapering monthly asset purchases.

FOMC members also voted to maintain the federal funds rate at 0.000 to 0.250 percent. The FOMC said that inflation rates consistently below the committee’s target rate of two percent could pose risks to economic growth, but that the committee will wait and see if inflation moves closer to FOMC’s target reading over the medium term.

Unemployment Benchmark Removed

FOMC members voted to remove the previously established benchmark of 6.50 percent national unemployment rate as a criterion for changes to its stimulus programs. Going forward, the committee will rely on “forward guidance,” which indicates that the FOMC will change monetary policy according to global and domestic economic news and developments.

Chair’s Press Conference

FOMC and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave her first press conference after the FOMC meeting statement was released. Ms. Yellen said that the FOMC decision to remove the benchmark unemployment rate was not an indication of change in the Fed’s monetary policy, but said that it would clarify how FOMC would evaluate its monetary policy after the national unemployment rate falls below 6.50 percent.

FOMC expects the national unemployment rate to fall between 6.10 and 6.30 percent by the end of 2014.

Chair Yellen said that weather conditions in January and February interfered with FOMC’s ability to assess the underlying strength of the economy. She added that economic conditions were broadly in line with the committee’s expectations in December 2013. Stronger economic conditions were seen as supporting growth in labor markets.

Chair Yellen said that the committee expected to maintain the federal funds rate at current levels “well past” the time the national unemployment rate falls below 6.50 percent. Inflationary pressures and expectations, labor market conditions and readings on financial developments.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 4, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week November 4, 2013Last week’s economic news came from a variety of sources. Most significant was the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee statement after its meeting ended Wednesday. The statement indicated that the Fed saw moderate economic growth. FOMC did not taper its purchase of MBS and Treasury securities.

The FOMC statement announced the committee’s intention to closely monitor economic and financial developments “in the coming months,” which suggested that the FOMC is taking a wait-and-see position on reducing its $85 billion monthly asset purchases.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

The Fed’s asset purchase program, also known as quantitative easing, was implanted in 2012 with a goal of stabilizing mortgage rates and other long-term interest rates.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales fell by 5.60 percent in September. Uncertainty over the FOMC’s decision concerning tapering its asset purchases during its September meeting and concerns over a then potential government shutdown.

These were noted as primary reasons for the drop in pending home sales, which are measured by signed real estate contracts. Pending Home Sales are used for estimating future closings and mortgage loan activity.

Tuesday’s economic reports included the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for August. Home prices increased by 12.80 percent year-over-year in August as compared to 12.30 percent year-over-year for August 2012. August’s reading shows a dampened pace of rising home prices.

The Conference Board, a research organization, reported that consumer confidence fell from a reading of 80.2 in September to 71.2 in October. A reading of 75.00 was expected, but consumer confidence crashed as the government shutdown and its consequences diminished consumer and investor confidence.

According to ADP, a payroll administration firm, private-sector payrolls came in well shy of the expected 150,000 new jobs with a reading of 130,000 jobs. October’s reading was also lower than September’s reading of 145,000 new jobs.

Weekly jobless claims brought good news; new jobless claims came in at 340,000 and fell by 10,000 new claims from the previous week’s 350,000 new jobless claims. Expectations had been for 335,000 new jobless claims.

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by three basis points to 4.10 percent, with discount points down from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.20 percent, with an uptick in discount points from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

Whats Coming Up

There is no housing or mortgage economic news scheduled this week other than Freddie Mac’s PMMS due on Thursday.

Reporting for this week includes Leading Economic Indicators, Weekly Jobless Claims, Non-farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate will be posted. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index will be released Friday.

This week’s economic reports are expected provide a general gauge of the economy and information about how consumers are responding to recent economic events and news.

Recent Government Activity And Its Effect On Mortgage Interest Rates

Recent Government Activity And Its Effect On Mortgage Interest RatesMortgage rates typically are tied more to the yields on the 10-year Treasury note more than any other indicator. With the government in flux as the shutdown happened and ended, mortgage rates are also changing.

Overall, mortgage rates have decreased because of a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to get its finances under control.

Although rates spiked in September when the Fed hinted that they would not be purchasing as many bonds, they quickly released an announcement that they would actually be maintaining their current purchasing habits.

The Time Is Ripe For Homeowners

Since then, mortgage interest rates have been dropping back down to their previous levels. With 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates continuing at very low levels, the time is ripe for homeowners to purchase or refinance.

In the day following the reopening of the government, mortgage rates continued at their low levels, which surprised some economists. The stock market went down and yields on the 10-year Treasury note also decreased, which both suggest a lack of confidence in the government.

Despite their ability to come to an agreement, investors and economists note that it is just a temporary fix, and there will likely be anothershowdown looming. Rates may remain low for a little while, but as the government begins releasing more economic data, mortgage interest rates could increase if the data shows growth in the economy.

Buyers Expect An Increase Of Applications

The government shutdown did have an effect on the volume of applications for government mortgages, like FHA and VA loans. Both reached a six-year low, largely because there were no staff on hand to answer questions over the phone and the offices were running on skeleton crews.

As the offices are back up and running again, buyers are expected to increase their volume of applications because those who had been delaying their applications now need to get the ball rolling on their home purchases.

Amidst all of the uncertainty, one thing is quite clear. It’s unlikely that interest rates will drop significantly lower than they are now, so buyers looking to get a mortgage and homeowners looking to refinance may be best off locking a rate soon rather than waiting.

Beware Of Zombie Titles

Beware Of Zombie TitlesWith the economic downturn, anyone dealing in real estate quickly became familiar with previously little-known terms such as foreclosure and short sale. Now that the housing market is picking back up and people are moving on, a new term is coming to light — zombie titles.

The Zombie Title

This is when a home has been vacated because the owners defaulted on their loan and their bank started the foreclosure process. However, for some reason or another the bank never completed the foreclosure and sold the home.

So, when the city starts fining someone for the overgrown grass and dilapidated structure, the homeowner who thought they were finished with the property gets the bill.

A Home That Keeps Haunting

Homeowners think they don’t own the property any longer and therefore try to move on by rebuilding their credit score and finding a new place to live. It can be a rude awakening to find out that not only do they still own a home they could have been living in, but also its long vacancy has caused it to fall into disrepair.

Its Spooking The Neighborhood

These vacant homes can decrease the value of a neighborhood. If the bank or the un-suspecting homeowner are neither one taking care of the property, then it can become overgrown and an eyesore on the block. It becomes a problem with no solution because the owner won’t want to invest any money in fixing up the property when the bank could come back with the foreclosure at any time.

Nail Shut The Foreclosure Coffin

Homeowners who have foreclosed on a home should double check that their bank actually followed through to closing on a sale. They could contact their lender or check public property records just to make sure. Otherwise, they could be haunted by their housing nightmare all over again.

Don’t let the zombie title of a past property haunt your future! Check with your bank to make sure you’re free and clear of your foreclosure. If you’d like more information on zombie titles or have other questions, please contant your trusted mortgage professional.

Don’t Let Confusion With Mortgage Jargon Cost You

No More Confusion About Mortgage Jargon, Understand ItA recent study of US and UK home buyers, conducted by the London based Nationwide Building Society, found that more than 40% of people buying homes were confused by the jargon that lenders used to describe mortgages.

When it comes to taking out a mortgage on your home, could confusing mortgage jargon be costing you money and causing you to make ill-informed choices?

According to the study, only 31% of home buyers understood what the term “LTV” meant, an acronym that stands for “loan to value” and describes the ration between the amount of the mortgage and the value of the home.

Not only did the survey show that many mortgage borrowers were confused about what the terms meant, but they also were shy about asking for explanations of various words that they didn’t understand.

In order to make a wise financial decision and choose the right mortgage for you, it is essential to do your research and understand exactly what you are signing up for. If you are unsure of what a mortgage term means, don’t be afraid to ask your lender for clarification.

Here are a few of the common mortgage jargon words that many homebuyers don’t understand:

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

This is a loan that has an interest rate which will fluctuate over time, such as every three years or every year after the first five years. This type of mortgage can be advantageous if you plan to sell the home within the first few years of owning it. Another option is a fixed rate mortgage, which does not fluctuate.

Qualifying Ratios

This is a calculation that your mortgage lender will make in order to determine the largest mortgage that you could possibly afford to obtain. The calculation is made by looking at your income, your existing debt and other factors.

Stips Or Stipulations

If your mortgage lender mentions “stips” they are probably talking about stipulations, which are the requirements that are submitted in order to clear your mortgage to close. This includes verifications of your bank statement as well as proof of employment and rent. Verification of Rent and Verification of Employment are often abbreviated as VOR and VOE.

HUD

This refers to the US Department Of Housing Development Settlement Statement that you will be required to sign when taking out a mortgage. This document contains the details of the arrangement, including all fees agreed upon.

These are just a few examples of mortgage jargon that you might not be familiar with. If you have any more questions about taking out a mortgage on a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

4 Quick Tips On Becoming A Young Maine Real Estate Investor

4 Quick Tips On Becoming A Young Real Estate InvestorInvesting in property at a young age seems like a bit of a daunting prospect sometimes. Most young people don’t have a lot of disposable income, often have poor credit and perhaps even student loans.

When you are in your early 20s, you are not likely thinking about investing in property and are probably focusing on other things. However, investing in property at a young age can bring you a lot of advantages.

It requires a different approach and style and you might be the only one of your peers who is doing so, but you will definitely reap the benefits later on in life. When you invest long-term, you will start building your financial independence.

Some might believe that it is impossible for a young person to start investing so early in life, but investing in your 20s is completely possible.

You are not “too busy”, in fact you will find that you have even less spare time as your responsibilities grow when you get older. You will need a little bit of money to get started, but often you can purchase your first property with as little as 3.5% down.

If you want to get started early, here are some tips that will help you along the way:

  1. Get into very good saving habits from a young age by putting aside your money from first jobs. When you want to take out a mortgage, you will typically need to be able to show savings of 3% of your purchase price.
  2. Maintain a clean credit history and pay all of your bills on time in order to build a great credit rating, so that you can obtain a mortgage with a good rate.
  3. Make the most of technology and social media to learn more about investing in property and to find the best opportunities. You have a wealth of information on investing, all at your fingertips.
  4. Find an older mentor – someone with successful experience who can give you tips on how to choose the right investment.

Another main advantage to investing when you are young is that if anything goes wrong, you will have more time to make mistakes and still recover without affecting your retirement. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not get started?

Highest Existing Home Sales Since February 2007

Highest Existing Home Sales Since February 2007Sales of existing homes reached their highest volume in almost six years in August. The National Association of REALTORS reported Thursday that sales of existing homes rose 1.70 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million existing homes sold.

This was the highest number of existing home sales since February of 2007.

August’s results exceeded estimates of 5.20 existing homes sold, which was based on July’s unrevised reading of 5.39 million existing homes sold.

The NAR also reported that the national median home price increased to $212,100 in August. This represents a year-over-year increase of 14.70 percent and was the largest annual increase in the national median home price since October 2005.

Sales concentrated in areas with higher home prices contributed to this significant increase in the national median home price.

Homebuyers Increase Despite Higher Home Rates

The reading for existing home sales in August suggests that homebuyers are not shying away from higher home loan rates; it may also indicate that the recent shortage of existing homes for sale is beginning to ease.

August’s higher number of existing home sales was attributed to home buyers anxious to lock in lower loan rates in an environment of rising mortgage rates. Also, economists had expected the Federal Reserve to begin reducing its monthly securities purchases, which did not happen.

Had the Fed tapered its securities purchases, long-term interest rates including mortgage rates, would likely have continued rising. The Fed may have decided not to reduce its monthly securities purchase in an effort to slow rising mortgage rates.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has increased by more than one percentage point since May. Home buyers may respond to rising mortgage rates by delaying their home purchase to see if mortgage rates will fall, or they may rush to buy a home before rates go higher.

Mortgage Rates Affect Home Buyers In Three Ways:

1. As rates increase, monthly house payments also rise, which can impact affordability for first-time and moderate income buyers.

2. National unemployment rates remain higher than the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 6.50 percent. While home prices are increasing and other facets of the economy are showing improvement, jobless claims remain higher than average.

3. Mortgage credit requirements are strict; this keeps some would-be buyers from qualifying for a home loan.

These factors are offset by high demand for homes and short supplies of available homes and developed lots in some areas.