What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week — September 23, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 23, 2013Last week’s economic news was dominated by the Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper its $85 billion in monthly securities purchases.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted in a scheduled statement after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting that economic conditions were not yet adequately improved to withstand any decrease in the federal quantitative easing program.

The Fed also reaffirmed that the target federal funds rate would remain at 0.00 to 0.25 percent until the national unemployment rate reached 6.50 percent and inflation reaches 2.00 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 7.30 percent and the Fed projects that inflation will remain under 2.00 percent through 2015.

In both the FOMC statement and his press conference, Chairman Bernanke repeatedly emphasized that the Fed would take no action to reduce QE until the economy strengthens. No automatic reduction of QE purchases would take place without full consideration of the nation’s economy.

The QE program is intended to keep long-term interest rates low, and the announcement that QE would not be tapered brought mortgage rates down after they had increased by more than one percent since May.

Builder Confidence High, Mortgage Rates Lower

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for September revealed that home builder confidence in housing market conditions remained stable at 58; a reading of 59 was expected. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders are confident about market conditions than not.

Housing starts for August did not reflect the high level of builder confidence and fell short of expectations at 891,000. Expected housing starts were estimated at 921,000. There was good news in that August’s reading surpassed the July reading of 883 housing starts. Building permits for August also dropped to 918,000 against expectations of 955,000 and July’s reading of 954,000 building permits.

Higher labor and materials costs and concerns over tight mortgage credit and rising mortgage rates likely contributed to the lower than expected readings for housing starts and building permits.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that average mortgage rates dropped across the board on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.50 percent with discount points moving from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points from 3.59 percent to 3.54 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by 11 basis points to 3.11 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. This provides a break for home buyers who’ve been faced with rising mortgage rates and home prices amidst a shortage of available homes in many areas.

This Week

Economic news scheduled for this week includes the Case/Shiller Home Price Index for July, the FHFA Home Price Index also for July. New home sales and the pending home sales index will be released.

Freddie Mac will release its weekly summary of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released Thursday. The week will end with consumer related data including personal income and consumer spending for August along with the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for September.

Advertisements

Home Builder Confidence Has Far Outpaced Actual Home Construction

Home Builder Confidence Has Far Outpaced Actual Home ConstructionHome builder confidence was unchanged for September according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index HMI released Tuesday. After four months of rising confidence, September’s HMI reading came in at 58, which was not far from expectations of a reading of 59.

August’s reading of 58 was revised from 59. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders view housing market conditions as being positive than negative.

Housing Market Index Readings Rise

Components of September’s HMI include readings for home builder views of current market conditions, which maintained August’s reading of 62. The September reading for buyer foot-traffic rose to 47 from 46 in August.

Builder expectations for housing market conditions within the next six months slipped from a reading of 48 in August to 45 for September. Lower expectations for market conditions within the next six months likely take into consideration the coming winter months when weather conditions slow construction and home sales.

Home builder confidence has far outpaced actual home construction on a year-over-year basis; the HMI increased by 45 percent since September 2012.  Investors expect a seasonally-adjusted reading of 921,000 housing starts for August on Wednesday. This figure represents a year-over-year increase of 23 percent for housing starts.

Rising mortgage rates affected September’s reading. In addition, David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB also cited consumer credit restrictions, a low inventory of lots available for development and rising labor costs as factors contributing to a plateau in builder confidence. 

Fed Decision On Quantitative Easing Tapering Expected

Wednesday’s highly anticipated statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has created a “wait-and-see” mood among home buyers, home builders and investors. The Fed is expected to announce whether or not it will begin tapering its $85 billion monthly purchases of securities.

This program, which is called quantitative easing, was designed to keep long-term interest rates low. Speculation on the Fed’s upcoming decision about reducing its securities purchases has caused mortgage rates to rise since May.

Economists are expecting the Fed to announce moderate tapering of QE to $75 billion in monthly purchases. Reducing or not reducing the fed’s securities purchases has become an elephant in the room to those concerned with mortgage rates; in recent months, the Fed has hinted at its intention to taper QE purchases before year-end.

If the Fed reduces its securities purchases, the demand for securities (bonds) is expected to fall, along with bond prices. When bond prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise. The good news is that once the Fed announces a decision on QE, the guesswork will be done for a while.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 16, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 16, 2013Last week didn’t feature any housing-related news other than Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage interest rates.

Reports on consumer credit, job openings and weekly jobless claims suggest that without some relief in the jobs market, Americans may be taking a “wait-and-see” stance toward buying homes.

Consumer Credit Rose By $10.40 Billion In July

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that revolving credit fell by an annual rate of 2.60 percent as compared to an annual decrease of 5.20 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer credit such as vehicle and education loans rose at an annual rate of 7.40 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey indicated that mortgage rates were unchanged for both 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgage loans. The average rate for a 30-year FRM was 4.57 percent with discount points of 0.80 percent; this was higher than last week’s 0.70 percent.

Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 3.57 percent with 0.70 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points from 3.28 to 3.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Mortgage rates are likely to change next week in response to any announcement by the Federal Reserve regarding its plan for reducing the amount of monthly bond purchases in its current quantitative easing program.

Mortgage rates would likely rise if the Fed begins tapering its $85 billion monthly purchase of securities, but if the Fed maintains its current rate of purchases, mortgage rates could remain steady or fall in response to the news.

Retail sales fell short of expectations on Friday. The Department of Commerce reported a seasonally-adjusted growth rate of 0.20 percent in August against an expected reading of 0.50 percent and July’s revised reading of 0.40 percent, which was initially reported at 0.20 percent.

The University of Michigan/Thompson Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for September fell to its lowest reading since April. The September reading was 76.80 percent as compared to expectations of 81.50 percent and August’s reading of 82.10 percent.

What’s Coming, Will The Fed Taper Its Securities Purchases?

This week’s economic news is highlighted by the Fed’s FOMC statement scheduled on Wednesday after its two-day meeting. The announcement is expected to include an indication of the Fed’s intention concerning its QE program and whether or not monthly securities purchases will be reduced. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

Other scheduled economic news for this week includes the Consumer Price Index and Home Builders Housing Market Index on Tuesday; Wednesday brings reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits in addition to the FOMC statement and press conference. Thursday’s economic reports include Weekly Jobless Claims and the Freddie Mac PMMS along with Existing Home Sales and Leading Indicators.

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

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 9, 2013Last week was relatively calm due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday providing little mortgage and housing related news. However, there were several positive indicators for overall economic conditions.

Construction spending rose by 0.60 percent in July and surpassed economists’ expectations of 0.30 percent and June’s zero percent growth. While this may seem a small increase, any indication that construction spending is increasing could indicate that residential construction is ramping up.

This would be good news for home buyers, who’ve been facing a shortage of available homes in many areas of the U.S.

The Fed Released Its Latest Beige Book Report

Federal Reserve districts reported rising consumer spending in most districts, modest expansion in manufacturing and moderate residential real estate sales. Higher mortgage rates may have dampened home buyer enthusiasm, but an ongoing shortage of available homes is also likely to have contributed to slower sales.

Mortgage rates will likely rise if the Fed tapers its $85 billion monthly purchase of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds as demand for bonds is expected to decrease. When bond prices fall, mortgage rates usually rise.

ADP released its report on private sector jobs added for August; 176,000 jobs were added against expectations of 185,000 jobs added and July’s 198,000 jobs added. The three-month rolling average of private sector jobs added shows steady job growth as jobs added rose from 140,000 in May to 188,000 jobs for August.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.57 percent with discount points unchanged at 9.70 percent. 

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.59 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.28 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Non-Farm Payrolls Report for August, 169,000 jobs were created, which fell shy of expectations of 173,000 new jobs. Expectations were based on the original number of 162,000 jobs created in July, but July’s number was revised downward to 104,000 jobs created.

The unemployment report for August was 7.30 percent, down 0.10 percent from July’s reading of 7.40 percent.

The combination of higher mortgage rates, persistently high unemployment and fewer jobs created could signal the Fed to postpone its plan to start reducing its monthly securities purchases.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s scheduled mortgage and housing news is relatively flat, but Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will provide the last indication of mortgage rates’ direction before the FOMC meeting on September 18.

The Fed will also likely be watching the Weekly Jobs report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index as part of its decision-making process on whether to taper or maintain current QE securities purchases.

Pending Home Sales Indicates That The Housing Recovery Is Progressing

Pending Home SalesThe National Association of REALTORS reported Wednesday that pending sales of existing homes fell by 1.30 percent in July.

According to the organization’s Pending Home Sales Index, this was the second straight month that pending home sales dropped. July’s Pending Home Sales Index reading was 109.50.

Signed Purchase Contracts For Existing Homes Tracked In The U.S.

  • ·Northeast:  – 6.60 percent
  • ·Midwest:    – 1.00 percent
  • ·West:        – 4.90 percent
  • ·South:       + 2.60 percent

Pending home sales were 6.70 percent higher year-over-year on a national basis. This indicates that the housing recovery is progressing, but at a slower pace.

Short supplies of available homes have also impacted sales. In some areas homebuyers are facing competition from multiple buyers for individual homes.

Another report released earlier in the week showed that the pace of rising home prices also slowed. This connects with fewer pending home sales, as when demand for homes cools, prices are likely to fall as well.

Pending home sales serve as an indicator for future home sales, as purchase contracts typically lead to completed home sales within two to three months.

Housing Market Developments Could Delay Fed Stimulus Decision

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it may begin reducing its stimulus program of buying $85 billion per month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

The Fed has repeatedly stated that continued monitoring of economic trends would weigh heavily on its decision if and when to modify its current stimulus program.

Mortgage rates have risen more than a percentage point since May when the Fed began discussing potentially “tapering” its monthly bond purchases.

The Fed may interpret the slower pace of rising home prices and pending home sales as a sign that it’s not yet time to reduce its stimulus program. This could help with lowering mortgage rates, which are expected to rise when the Fed reduces its monthly securities purchases and eventually ends its stimulus plan.

Housing has led the economic recovery; faltering indicators in the housing sector suggest that the overall recovery is a fragile process.

Case Shiller Price Index Shows Home Prices Are Still Increasing

Case Shiller Price Index Shows Home Prices Are Still IncreasingHome prices are still rising, but at a slower pace according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June.  Home prices for the cities surveyed in the HPI rose by 12.10 percent on an annual basis as compared to May’s reading of 12.20 percent.

This is the highest rate of monthly growth for home prices since the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. 

June’s home prices remained approximately 23 percent lower than peak prices, but economists consider the bubble peak an anomaly and caution against comparing current home prices to the peak prices seen in 2006.

Overall Housing Price Increase Strongly

Regional home prices reported in June’s HMI were mixed. Case-Shiller publishes a 10-city Index and a 20-city Index of home prices. 13 of 20 cities saw their rates of rising home prices decline from May to June.

Atlanta posted the highest month-to-month gain in home prices at 3.40 percent. Washington, D.C. posted the slowest month-to-month gain in home prices at 1.00 percent.

New York City posted a monthly gain of 2.10 percent in home prices in June; this was its highest rate of increase since 2002.

Both S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June showed annual growth in home prices. The 10-city index posted an annual gain of 11.90 percent and the 20-city Index posted an annual growth rate of 12.10 percent. Las Vegas enjoyed the highest annual rate of home price growth at 24.90 percent.

In year-over-year price gains, Las Vegas and San Francisco’s gains exceeded 20.00 percent, while Atlanta, Detroit and Phoenix posted year-over-year gains of 19.00 percent, 16.40 percent and 19.80 percent respectively.

These figures suggest there’s plenty of room before prices begin to fall, but David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee and S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that “the monthly city-by-city data show the pace of price increases is moderating.”

Rising Mortgage Rates, Limited Supply Of Homes Slowing Home Price Growth

Mortgage rates remain historically low, but have risen sharply over the last few weeks. This trend, coupled with persistently low inventories of available homes is seen as a significant reason for slower growth in home prices. 

Investors and would-be home buyers are also waiting to see if the Federal Reserve reduces its monthly stimulus program; such a reduction would likely cause mortgage rates to rise further.

The Fed has not set a date for “tapering” its monthly stimulus, but has indicated it will do so soon if economic conditions continue to improve.

 

How To Choose The Right Maine Neighborhood When Buying A Home

How To Choose The Right Neighborhood To Buy A Home

The old real estate cliche’ about “location, location, location” is true, as the area of the city where your home is located will have an impact on its future value as well as your lifestyle.

So what factors should you consider when you are choosing which neighborhoods to house hunt within?

Proximity to Your Daily Needs

If you work downtown, living out in the suburbs means that you will be adding time for a commute onto your day.

While this might be worth the cheaper prices for properties out of the town center, it is something to consider when making your decision.

You will also need to consider whether the house is near shopping centers, schools, doctors, dentists and other services that you will need regularly.

Planned Developments

When you are choosing a neighborhood to buy in, do some research into what developments are planned in the future for that part of town.

For example, you might be able to get a cheap price on a home that is out of the way, but a new proposed highway leading straight into the town center that will be built in the next five years could increase property values considerably.

Overall Atmosphere

Take a walk around the neighborhood where you are considering buying and get a sense of the overall atmosphere. Are there a lot of families living there? Are there green places to relax? Are people friendly and saying hello to you?

You want to live in a place where you feel welcome and comfortable.

Property Values

Different neighborhoods will have a range of house prices and you will want to look for something with the right balance of value.

Some areas of town will be very expensive but very nice; other areas will have cheap house prices but might not be as pleasant to live in. Take the time to find the neighborhood that is in the middle, where you will find the right house, and neighborhood, at a good price.

These are just a few of the factors to consider so that you can choose the right neighborhood to buy in.

For more information about buying a Maine home, feel free to contact your Maine mortgage professional today.