The Federal Open Market Committee Holds Steady With Mortgage Backed Security Investments

The Federal Open Market Committee Holds Steady With Mortgage Backed Security Investments

June 21, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve decided to continue its current policy of quantitative easing (QE) based on current economic conditions. The Fed currently purchases $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in Treasury securities monthly.

Objectives for the QE program include:

  • Keeping long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low
  • Supporting mortgage markets
  • Easing broader financial conditions

FOMC repeated its position of evaluating QE policy based on inflation, the unemployment rate and economic developments.

Members of the FOMC determined that keeping the federal funds rate between 0.00 and 0.25 percent until the following conditions are met:

  • National unemployment rate reaches 6.50 percent
  • Inflation is expected not to exceed 2.50 percent within the next one to two years
  • Longer term inflation expectations are “well-anchored.”

Committee members agreed to consistently review labor market conditions, inflationary pressures and expected rates of inflation and other financial developments for determining their course of action on QE.

In its post-meeting statement, FOMC asserted that any changes to current QE policy would be taken in consideration of longer range goals for maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

Fed Chairman Gives Press Conference

After the FOMC statement, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held a press conference which provided details about the future of QE and how the Fed will “normalize” its monetary policy. Chairman Bernanke noted that as QE is reduced and eventually stopped, the Fed will not be selling its MBS holdings.

This is important, as demand for MBS is connected to how mortgage rates perform. If the market is flooded with MBS, demand would slow, and prices would fall. When MBS prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise.

According to Chairman Bernanke, the FOMC does not see any immediate reason for changing its purchase of Treasury securities and MBS in the near term, but will continue to monitor conditions. Using the analogy of driving a car, the chairman indicated that the Fed’s intent regarding QE and the federal funds rate would be better compared to easing up on the accelerator rather than putting on the brakes.

Chairman Bernanke also characterized benchmarks cited in connection with increasing the federal funds rate as “thresholds, and not triggers.” This suggests that even if national unemployment and inflation reach Fed targets, that other economic conditions occurring at that time could cause the Fed to alter its plan for raising the federal funds rate.

The Fed chairman said that during Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, 14 of 19 participants did not expect changes to the federal funds rate until 2015, and one member didn’t expect a change until 2016.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 17, 2013

What's Ahead This Week - June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Last week’s news was relatively quiet with no data significant to the mortgage lending released until Wednesday, when the federal government announced a $138 billion budget deficit for May.

According to the U.S. Treasury this figure is 11 percent higher than for May of 2012, but the federal budget is expected to come in with less than a -$1 trillion deficit for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs from October to September.

The Treasury estimates that the 2013 budget deficit will come in at approximately -$642 billion, well below fiscal 2012′s deficit of -$1.1 trillion. The federal budget has been running deficits over -$1 trillion since 2008.

Employment Market Continues To Strengthen

On Thursday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report brought good news; jobless claims fell from the prior week’s 346,000 jobless claims to 334,000 jobless claims. This was also less than expectations of 350,000 jobless claims. As more workers gain steady employment, this will enable more would-be home buyers to become active buyers.

May Retail sales also showed slight improvement as they moved from 0.60 percent from April’s 0.10 percent.

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average mortgage rate for a 30year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.91 percent to 3.98 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.03 percent to 3.10 percent with discount points holding at 0.70 percent.

Whats Coming Up This Week

Next week’s economic news schedule has a number of reports due including Wednesday’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s press conference. This meeting and press conference are significant as any move by the Fed to reduce or cease its current quantitative easing (QE) program could cause mortgage rates to rise further.

Monday’s news includes the Home Builders Index for June. Tuesday brings the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May and the Core CPI, also for May. The indices measure prices paid by consumers for goods and services; the Core CPI eliminates the volatile food and energy sectors included in the CPI. Rising or falling consumer costs influence how much discretionary income consumers have for saving toward buying a home.

No news is scheduled for Wednesday other than the FOMC statement and press conference.

Thursday brings the Existing Home Sales Report, Weekly Jobs Report, Freddie Mac PMMS and Leading Indicators. These reports are expected to provide news about U.S. housing markets, mortgage rates and economic influences impacting consumers.

There is no economic news scheduled for Friday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week — June 10, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -- June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Last week’s economic reports provided a mixed bag of results. On Monday, the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending increased by 0.40 percent in April and fell shy of the expected reading of 1.0 percent, but exceeded the March reading of -0.80 percent.

Home Prices Increase Fastest Since 2006

On Tuesday, CoreLogic released its Home Prices reported that the national average home price had increased by 12.10 percent year-over-year in April. The comparable year-over-year reading for April 2012 was 11.00 percent. This represents the fastest pace of home price increases since 2006.

The national average home price expanded by 3.20 percent as compared to March,  but average prices grew faster in the West, which is experiencing a pronounced lack of available homes and developed land for building.

New Jobs Created Showing Improvement Over April Revisions 

ADP released its private-sector Payrolls Report for May on Wednesday; 135,000 new private sector jobs were added as compared to investor expectations of 170,000 jobs added in May. The May reading surpassed April’s downwardly-revised reading of private-sector jobs added.

Friday’s Jobs Report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consists of the Non-Farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. Non-Farm Payrolls added 175,000 public and private sector jobs and surpassed both the consensus reading of 164,000 new jobs and the prior week’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The National Unemployment Rate ticked up from 7.50 to 7.60 percent. The Department of Labor attributes this increase to more people joining or returning to the labor market.

Investors Watching Fed Mortgage Backed Security Buying Activity Closely

The Federal Reserve Beige Book Report was also released Wednesday. It contained no surprises and noted modest to moderate economic growth in 11 of 12 Federal Reserve Districts. The Dallas Federal Reserve District reported strong growth, but investors will be watching next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting closely for proposed changes to the Fed’s current policy of buying bonds and mortgage backed securities (MBS) with the goal of keeping long term interest rates lower.

Thursday’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought disquieting news of rising mortgage rates. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage had risen from the prior week’s rate of 3.81 percent to 3.91 percent. Discount points fell slightly from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent with buyers paying all of their closing costs. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s average rate of 2.98 percent to 3.03 percent with discount rates remaining the same at 0.70 percent for buyers paying all of their closing costs.

Whats Ahead for Next Week

There is no news scheduled for release on Monday. The rest of the week’s calendar includes the NFIB Small Business Index on Tuesday and the Federal Budget for May on Wednesday. Thursday’s scheduled releases include Weekly Jobless Claims, Average weekly mortgage rates as reported by Freddie Mac, and Retail Sales for May. Friday’s schedule includes the Producer’s Price Index for May and June’s Consumer Sentiment Report.

Case-Shiller Reports Energetic Annual Home Price Gains Nationally

Case-Shiller Reports Energetic Annual Home Price Gains Nationally

May 30, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The most recent S&P/Case-Shiller Index showed all three composites posting double-digit increases over the last four quarters.  The national composite, which is the broadest based index, showed an increase of 10.2% annually. The 20-City composite posted even stronger annual growth at 10.9%.

Click Here To Download The Full Report

The Case-Shiller Index measures changes in home prices by tracking same-home sales using 10-City, 20-City and national housing markets; and the change in sales price from sale-to-sale. Detached, single-family residences are used in the Case-Shiller Index methodology and data is for closed purchase transactions only.

12 Of 20 Metro Markets Notch Double-Digit Annual Growth

Between March 2012 and March 2013, home values rose in all 20 Case-Shiller Index markets. Phoenix, Arizona (+22.5%) once again was leading the national price recovery, quite possibly due to its precipitous fall during the onset of the housing crisis.

Another notable gainer was San Francisco (+22.2%), followed by Las Vegas, Nevada (+20.6%)  On the weaker end were Boston (+6.7%), Cleveland (+4.8%) and New York (+2.6%), but it is important to note that even these smaller numbers still represent significant gains across the board.

There were a total of 12 year-over-year double digit gainers in home value which included those mentioned above as well as Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Tampa.

All 20 Metro Markets Show Positive Growth For 3 Consecutive Months

In another very strong supporting point for the housing recovery, all 20 metro markets measured showed positive home price growth for at least 3 consecutive months.  This consistency in growth contributes to an overall indication of strength in the housing sector rebound.

The only potential back-pedaling in the report came from noting that higher than normal multi-family housing numbers, large numbers of homes still in the foreclosure process, and significant investor activity may demonstrate that the housing recovery is not yet complete.

This latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report seems to indicate that the housing market continues to show positive growth.

Now may very likely be the best time to move forward with your next real estate transaction.  A positive next step is to call your local, trusted mortgage professional for advice today.

Simple Ideas To Create An Outdoor Living Space For Your Home

Create an Outdoor Living Space for Your Home

May 29, 2013  by Leave a Comment

As the weather gets warmer, the desire to get outside and enjoy the fresh air begins to take hold. Having a place to entertain or just unwind can add a new dimension and enjoyment to your home.

First, you have to decide what type of space you want to create. Whether you want to have an outdoor living room, a vacation-like spot or a place to meditate and enjoy nature, how you extend your living space is limited only by your imagination — and possibly your budget.

Start with your vision and make a list of the things you want to have there. Then go for it!

Choose a Theme

  • Vacation spot – Decorate with bright colors for a festive, tropical look.
  • Zen garden – Add a water feature, such as a fountain, for a calming effect.
  • Nature hideaway – Surround a patio or porch with plants and trees to bring nature closer to your home.

Find Elements to Enhance Your Space

  • Furniture – If your outdoor zone isn’t completely under cover, then make sure to choose all-weather furniture. Comfortable seating is key, so add pillows or cushions for extra luxury.
  • Lighting – String lighting throughout the trees, under umbrellas or around fencing to create atmosphere. It also helps to make sure you can see where you’re going once the sun goes down.
  • Outdoor kitchen – Bring the food with you! Keep it simple with a BBQ grill or add other elements like a refrigerator, sink and food prep area. And, don’t forget the beverages!
  • Fireplace – Extend your outdoor evenings into the fall by adding a fireplace for friends and family to gather around.
  • Borders – Define the borders of the area to increase privacy and separate the space from the rest of the yard or neighbors.

Your home is an extension of your personality. Creating an outdoor oasis can give you an opportunity to find your inner child, Zen master, or beach bum!

Make it as simple or elaborate as you desire, and open it up to friends, or keep it all to yourself. Follow these simple tips and create a wonderfully relaxing place right at your home for the summer.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Pricing Your Home To Sell

Don't Make These Common Mistakes When Pricing Your Home For Sale

May 21, 2013  by Leave a Comment

It can be very difficult to determine what your property is worth in the current marketplace, because you are biased by what the property is worth to you. These emotions can get in the way of impartially evaluating a property and often cause sellers to overprice their home.

When pricing your property, you need to be objective and reasonable so you can come up with a selling price that will capture the interest of buyers.

Here are a few examples of common mistakes people make when pricing their house for sale.

Reading Too Much Into Online Comparable Properties

Avoid relying too much on online pricing information of sold houses. They can be a perfect place to start for getting a general idea of how much real estate is worth, but they are not always accurate.

Overestimating The Market

Don’t assume that you can sell your house for the same price at which you purchased it. Unless you bought your house a few weeks ago, the real estate market may have changed — sometimes significantly — and the purchase price will not reflect the appropriate pricing for today.

Overpricing To Pad For Future Negotiation

Don’t overprice your home in order to be able to negotiate to the price you want to settle on. Of course, you want to get an appropriate value from it, but many first-time buyers are on tight budgets and will rule out higher-priced houses. Your over-priced property may sit on the market longer and then the price will have to be reduced anyway.

Factoring In The Cost Of Your New Home

Don’t factor in the cost of your next house. Your listing price should not reflect how much money you’d need to purchase your next property. The price of the house should be the same whether you are wealthy or broke. Your financial situation is irrelevant to the potential buyer of the property.

These are just a few common mistakes you should avoid when determining the price of your home. Listed at the right price, you will get a fair amount from the sale of the house and the buyer will be getting a reasonable price too.

As always, your local real estate professional will have the best advice on getting your home ready for the market and selling for the best price.  Call them today to find out the details!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 20, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 20, 2013May 20, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Last week was jam-packed with economic news; here are some highlights with emphasis on housing and mortgage related news:

Monday: Retail sales for April increased to -0.1 percent from the March reading of -0.5 percent and also surpassed Wall Street’s downward forecast of -0.6 percent. Retail sales are important to economic recovery as sales of goods and services represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Tuesday: The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April with encouraging results. April’s index rose by 2.6 points to 92.1. A reading of 90.7 indicates economic recovery. This index is based on a survey of 1873 NFIB member businesses.

Wednesday: The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May matched investor expectations with a reading of 44. At three points above the March reading of 41, this report suggests that builders are slowly gaining confidence in national housing markets.

Thursday: The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts fell by 16.5 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 853,000 from 1.02 million housing starts in March. This reading fell short of investors’ consensus of 965,000 housing starts, however, this decrease was caused by the volatile apartment construction sector.

Friday: Consumer sentiment for May surpassed investor expectations of +0.3 percent and came in at +0.6 percent. As consumer sentiment improves, it’s likely that more consumers will buy homes.

Rising Interest Rates Show Strengthening Economy

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.42 percent to 3.51 percent with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

15-year fixed rate mortgages rose from 2.61 percent last week to 2.69 percent this week with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

This news is consistent with a strengthening economy, but is narrowing opportunities for home buyers seeking both affordable home prices and low mortgage rates.

Federal Open Market Committee Minutes To Be Released This Week

Looking ahead, economic news for this week includes the Existing Home Sales report for April with an expectation of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against the March tally of 4.93 million homes sold.

Also set for release on Wednesday are the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes for the meeting held April 30 and May 1. The FOMC meetings typically include discussions of the Federal Reserve’s current policy on quantitative easing (QE) which consists of the Fed buying $85 billion per month in MBS and treasury bonds.

When the QE program ends, mortgage rates will likely increase as bond prices decline due to lesser demand.

Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims Report along with New Home Sales for April. The consensus for new homes sold is 430,000 as compared to the March reading of 417,000 new homes sold.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will release its Home Price Index for March on Thursday.

Home Builder Future Sales Confidence Rises To New Highs

Home Builder Confidence Surges In May 2013

May 16, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Home builders are gaining confidence in current and future market conditions for new homes, but continue to see below-average foot traffic in new homes.

The reading for May’s National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) increased by three points to a reading of 44 as compared to April’s revised reading of 41. The HMI measures builder confidence in current sales conditions for newly built homes, buyer foot traffic in new homes and builder expectations for future sales conditions.

Builder Confidence In Future New Home Sales Highest Since February 2007

The HMI reading for current sales conditions for newly built homes rose from 44 to 48. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes rose from 30 to 33, and builder confidence in future sales of new homes rose from 52 to 53, which is the highest reading posted for builder expectations since February 2007.

A reading of more than 50 indicates that more builders consider housing markets good than bad.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson noted that home builders are facing challenges including rising costs for building materials, lots and labor as supply chains recover from the recession. He also said that builders took note of “urgency” among home buyers wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates, but who are facing a dwindling supply of available homes.

Regional Housing Market Index Unchanged Except In West

HMI readings for three of the four geographical regions used in the HMI survey of builders remained unchanged with the Northeast at 37, Midwest at 45 and South at 42.

The reading for the West declined by five points to 49, and likely reflects the shortage of building space and available new homes for sale. The regional HMI figures are calculated as a three-month rolling average.

In some areas of the West, home sellers are again receiving multiple offers for homes, a clear indication of diminishing inventories of homes for sale.

As an example, the Sacramento Bee recently reported the dilemma of builders faced with fewer available construction-ready lots alongside an increasing demand for homes. As inventories of both new and pre-owned homes shrink, demand for homes is growing as buyers take advantage of low mortgage rates.

With builders feeling confident about the future and poised to ramp up their home building efforts, it is a great time to consider buying or selling a home.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss your options right away to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.

 

May 2013 RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows Strength For The US Housing Market

May 2013 RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows Strength For The US Housing Market

May 10, 2013  by Leave a Comment

RealtyTrac recently reported that national foreclosure filings are down while foreclosure filings are seeing marked increases in some states.

There are two systems for foreclosing residential real estate in the United States; judicial and non-judicial foreclosure. The states individually decide which foreclosure process will be followed in their state.

Click Here To Download An Overview Of The Foreclosure Process

Judicial foreclosure requires action by the courts because the mortgage is not written including a “power of sale clause”. Judicial foreclosure proceedings generally take longer than non-judicial processes due to this court involvement.

A log-jam of delayed judicial foreclosures are beginning to move through backlogged courts with the result of higher numbers of foreclosures started, foreclosure auctions scheduled, and properties either sold to third parties at foreclosure auctions or repossessed by mortgage lenders.

In states allowing non-judicial foreclosure, the matter may be handled outside of the judicial system as the mortgage is written with the power of sale clause which allows the lender to take control of the mortgaged property to satisfy the outstanding lien.

Here are highlights of April’s foreclosure report:

Nationally, 144,790 foreclosure filings were made in April, a decrease of 5 percent compared to March and representing an annual decrease of 23 percent year-over-year.

Overall, April’s residential foreclosure activity was at its lowest since February 2007. About one of every 905 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing during April.

Due to the aforementioned backlog of judicial foreclosures, scheduled foreclosure auctions hit a 30-month high in April rising by 22 percent between March and April.

Some states had markedly higher rates of foreclosure sales scheduled in April 2013 as compared to April 2012. Examples include Maryland (+199 percent), New Jersey (+91 percent), Ohio (+73 percent), Oklahoma (+57 percent), and Florida (+55 percent)

Foreclosure auctions scheduled in non-judicial states were 7 percent lower in April as compared to March, and were an encouraging 43 percent lower in April 2013 as compared to April 2012; this was the lowest reading for non-judicial foreclosure sales scheduled since December of 2005.

Non-judicial foreclosure sales were impacted in some states as the result of legislation affecting foreclosure procedures. Affected states included Arkansas, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

70,133 U.S. homes went into foreclosure in April 2013, which is 40 percent lower than for March 2013 and 28 percent lower than during April 2012.

With home values increasing and large numbers of delayed foreclosures clearing the books, this data offers further evidence that the U.S. real estate market is steadily improving.  As more foreclosures are removed from the housing inventory, home prices should continue to stabilize and increase.

What Women Want In Homes This Mother’s Day

Home-Ideas-Mothers-Day-2013

May 9, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Whether you’re looking to buy a new house this month or do a little remodeling, take advantage of the opportunity to give the mom in your life a present she’ll appreciate every day.

Below are a few ideas for housing priorities and renovation projects that typically rate high on women’s wish lists for their homes.

Open Living Areas

The open floor plan is usually a big plus for any mother. They want to be able to cook dinner in the kitchen while monitoring their children’s schoolwork at the dining table.

So look for a house that affords this visual luxury or consider the generous gift of getting dirty and knocking down some walls.

Large Closets

What woman doesn’t need more room for her clothes, shoes and purses? If you’re looking at houses, keep in mind how much closet space will work for your wife or mother.

If it’s not enough, see if there’s another area you could convert to create a custom closet. Another great gift would be to upgrade your mom’s closet with a new shelving and organizing storage system.

And great storage doesn’t stop in the bedroom. Most women like to keep the family’s things organized and put away, so think about upgrading some of the other cupboards and closets in the home as well.

Low-Maintenance Living

Some women are expert gardeners or love home-improvement projects; however, many just want to leave those tasks to someone else.

Many moms love easy-to-wipe-down granite counters and hardwood floors.  These can be beautiful and functional home upgrades all at the same time.

And especially if you’re shopping real estate for an elderly mother, consider looking at homes that are new construction, have easy-to-care-for landscaping and maintenance-free siding or brick.

Easy-to-Use Security System

While security is important to everyone, it ranks high on most women’s list of priorities. As a Mother’s Day gift, research providers and have a security system installed.

Whether your mother is living alone or your wife is worried about the family’s safety, this practical present will give everyone peace of mind.

Make a big gesture this Mother’s Day by giving the woman in your life that renovation project she’s been pining over.

And, if looking at buying a new home, keep in mind what’s important to Mom.

Finally, if you’d like more tips on Mother’s Day home shopping or upgrades, call your favorite real estate professional for advice.