Last week’s economic news offered a variety of indications that the economic recovery continues, but some readings missed their expected levels. The Philadelphia and New York branches of the Federal Reserve Bank reported higher than anticipated manufacturing for their respective regions and new jobless claims were lower than expected.
Fed Chair’s Senate Testimony Hints at Coming Interest Rate Hike
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified that the Fed might have to raise interest rates sooner than expected if the economy continues to outperform the Fed’s projections. Ms. Yellen said that the central bank presently estimates that the first rate increases will take place approximately one year from now.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Fed has repeatedly stated that members will continue to review data and economic conditions changing monetary policy. Ms. Yellen said in last week’s remarks that this holds true whether economic conditions improve or decline.
In other Fed-related news, the Philadelphia Fed released its manufacturing index for July with higher than expected results. The Philly Fed’s reading for July was 23.90 as compared to expectations of 16.50 and June’s reading of 17.80.
The New York Fed reported a similar trend for July with a reading of 25.60 as compared to an estimated reading of 17.50 and June’s reading of 19.30. This is good news after the Northeast’s economy was slammed by severe weather last winter. Weather conditions stalled area housing and labor markets.
Weekly jobless claims were lower at 303,000 than expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 305,000 new jobless claims.
Home Builders Post Positive Confidence Reading for July
The National Association of Home Builders posted its highest builder confidence reading in six months for July with a reading of 53 against the expected reading of 50 and June’s reading of 49. Numbers above 50 indicate that more builders surveyed have a positive outlook than not.
Housing Starts for June were reported lower than expected at an annual level of 893,000 against an expected reading of 1.02 million and May’s reading of 985,000 housing starts.
Mortgage Rates Lower
According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, average mortgage rates were slightly lower last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 4.13 percent. Discount points were 0.60 as compared to the prior week’s reading of 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.23 percent as compared to the previous reading of 3.24 percent.
Discount points for a 15-year mortgage averaged 0.50 percent against the prior week’s reading of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.87 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for July fell just short of expectations at 81.3. Analysts expected a reading of 83.0, based on June’s reading of 82.50. Analysts said that although labor markets are improving, consumers continue to face rising costs for gasoline and food, which likely explained the dip in confidence for July.
This week’s economic news releases include Existing Home sales from the National Association of REALTORS®, New Home Sales from the Department of Commerce and the FHFA House Price Index. The Chicago Fed is set to release its National Activity Index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and New Jobless Claims will be released Thursday as usual.
Is it always the best idea to pay off a mortgage over 30 years? While it may help a homeowner lower his or her monthly payment, it can mean paying more in interest and waiting several more years to build sufficient equity in the home.
The question is…how can a homeowner reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off a mortgage by refinancing his or her loan? A few methods for reducing your mortgage term are explained below.
Refinance From A 30-Year Mortgage To A 15-Year Mortgage
For those who don’t want to wait any longer than necessary to pay off their home loan, it may be possible to refinance to a shorter-term mortgage. Instead of taking 30 years to pay off the loan, a homeowner can opt to pay off the loan in 10 years or 15 years. The shorter the term, the less interest will be paid on the loan.
Get A Lower Interest Rate With A Shorter-Term Mortgage
Another good reason to shorten a mortgage term is because it could lower the loan’s interest rate. Instead of paying 4.5 percent over 30 years, it may be possible to pay 4 percent over 15 years. This gives the mortgage holder the chance to build equity in the home faster as they are paying more of the principal balance with each payment. While a mortgage holder can pay more than the minimum amount on a longer-term mortgage each month, it could still end up costing more overall due to the terms of the loan. Be sure to ask your mortgage professional about your options here.
Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance
Those who are paying mortgage insurance could be paying $200 or more per month for nothing more than the right to protect the lender against default. Homeowners who could qualify for a conventional loan should attempt to refinance to a conventional loan if possible to avoid making this payment. Instead of going toward mortgage insurance, put that money toward the principal balance on the loan. There are, of course, risks involved with this approach so be sure to fully discuss them with a professional.
How Can Someone Refinance A Loan?
Now that you know how to pay off your mortgage faster through a refinance, how can someone go about refinancing a home loan? Fortunately, refinancing is similar to the process of securing the home’s first loan. All a borrower will need to do is find a lender that he or she wants to work with, find an offer that works for that borrower and then close on the deal. Although there may be closing costs associated with the new loan, some lenders may be willing to waive some or all of them on a refinance.
Paying off a mortgage as soon as possible can help a borrower save money while building equity in the home at a faster pace. This gives a homeowner financial strength as well as the flexibility to sell the house in the future without worrying about losing money in the deal. To find out more about refinancing options, talk to a mortgage lender. I have a few excellent local choices, if you need a recommendation for one.
An article by Derek Templeton, of DSNews.com, July 15th, 2014
As the unemployment rate and other economic measures continue to improve, American consumers appear to be gaining a greater ability to meet their credit obligations.
As the unemployment rate and other economic measures continue to improve, American consumers appear to be gaining a greater ability to meet their credit obligations.
A report released Tuesday by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian showed a decline in default rates among five of the largest cities in the nation to historically low levels.
The national composite for all types of credit default posted 1.02% in June, its lowest reading since the organization began collecting the data ten years ago.
Consistent with recent reports that payment priorities may be shifting among Americans back to pre- downturn norms, mortgages lead the way with first mortgages clocking in at just 0.89 percent default. The default rate at second mortgages was even lower at 0.57 percent.
“Consumer credit default rates continue to drift lower and have reached a historical low,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“Recent economic reports are encouraging with the unemployment rate now at a six year low and strong job creation in recent months. The continued declines in consumer default rates confirm other indicators of an improving economy. Credit standards for mortgage loans continue to be somewhat restrictive and may be contributing to low first mortgage default rates”.
Of the large metropolitan areas surveyed, Dallas, Texas was the only city to actually see a rise in default levels. However, the slight increase comes on the heels of the city’s lowest rate of default recorded in the history of the survey the previous month.
Concerns about the direction of the economy and the effect that is has on the credit market are not unfounded but even as the housing recovery slows, the lack of significant default in the market can only be seen as a positive indicator.
Last week brought news from the Fed as two Federal Reserve Bank Presidents made speeches and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Fed released the minutes of its last meeting. The minutes reveal the Fed’s intention to wrap up its bond-buying program in October with a final purchase of $15 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and Treasury bonds. No economic news was issued Monday following of the 4th of July holiday.
Further indications of a strengthening labor market were seen. May job openings reached their highest level since June 2007, and quits and layoffs fell from April’s reading of 4.55 million to 4.50 million. Weekly jobless claims fell to 304,000 against expectations of 320,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 315,000 new jobless claims.
Fed Speeches Address Inflation, Banks Too Big to Fail
Tuesday’s speech by Minneapolis Fed Bank president Narayana Kocherlakota calmed concerns over inflation; Mr. Kocherlakota said that the Fed expects inflation to remain below its target rate of two percent for several more years. He tied low inflation to the unemployment rate and said that the nation’s workforce is not fully utilized in times of low inflation, and cautioned that June’s national unemployment rate of 6.10 percent “could well overstate the degree of improvement of the U.S. labor market.”
Stanley Fischer, the Fed’s new vice-chairman, spoke before the National Bureau of Economic Research last Thursday. Mr. Fischer addressed the issue of breaking up the nation’s largest banks to eliminate the government’s exposure to banks too big to fail. He said that it wasn’t clear that breaking up the largest banks would end federal bailouts of banks considered too big to fail. Mr. Fisher also said that breaking up the biggest banks would be “a complex task with an uncertain payoff.”
Mr. Fischer also said that any efforts to prevent a housing bubble should focus on the supply side and cautioned that “measures aimed at reducing the demand for housing are likely to be politically sensitive.”
FOMC Minutes Reveal End Date for Bond Purchases
The minutes of the Fed’s last FOMC meeting indicate that the Fed plans to continue bond purchases at the rate of $10 billion per month with a final purchase of $15 billion in October. FOMC members re-asserted their oft-stated position that the Fed’s target interest rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will not change for a considerable time after the bond purchase program ends.
Mortgage Rates Rise
Average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by three basis points to 4.15 percent; discount points were also higher at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.24 percent with discount points higher at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.99 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes retail sales and retail sales without the auto sector, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony, the Fed’s Beige Book report and the NAHB Homebuilder’s Market Index. Housing Starts, Consumer Sentiment and Leading Economic Indicators round out the week’s economic reports.
Here is the latest real estate market report from my favorite local economist, Steven Thomas:
July 6, 2014
The first two quarters of 2014 are in the rearview mirror and this year is
unquestionably different from prior years.
Mid-Year Update: This year’s market is marching to the beat of its own drum.
From 2007 through 2011, the Great Recession brought housing to its knees. The market was dictated by lenders and their new strict guidelines; plus, they controlled the market with the unbelievable numbers of foreclosures and short sales. Distressed properties were the norm. However, by mid-2011, housing began to mend. It was undetectable to anybody participating in the market, at first, but slowly but surely, the active listing inventory began to drop as fewer homes were placed on the market, including foreclosures and shorts sales.
In 2012 the green light was switched and, initially, investors flooded the market. They were quickly followed by a relentless stream of normal buyers. The inventory continued to drop as demand grew. Multiple offers were generated and cash was king. Homes flew off the market at prices that beat the socks off of the most recent comparable sales. Appreciation was rampant.
The first half of 2013 was nothing short of crazy. The inventory dropped to a ridiculous, anemic level. There were not enough homes coming on the market as most homeowners sat back and watched their homes appreciate, restoring just about all of the losses from the Great Recession. Buyers and investors wanted to take advantage of the incredible values and historically low interest rates; they were willing to pay any price for a home, even if that meant paying thousands more than the most recent closed sales. The uncontrollable appreciation slowed by the midpoint of 2013. Suddenly, homeowners no longer got away with overpricing their homes and they began to sit. By August, buyers were unwilling to pay extra for a home; instead, they wanted to pay as close to the Fair Market Value as possible. The inventory climbed from mid-March through October on the backs of overpriced sellers.
The second half of 2013 paved the way for 2014, a year that has been marked thus far with a relentless increase in the active inventory. Let’s take a closer look at the major changes in 2014 that have differentiated itself as a unique year:
- Active Inventory – after starting the year at 4,733, the active listing inventory has increased by 60% and now sits at 7,550 and is still climbing. The long term average for Orange County is about 8,500 homes and within site. Even if that level is not reached this year, the added inventory has created quite a bit of breathing room for buyers. So many homes are overpriced, that buyers’ sense of urgency has just about vanished, unless a home is properly priced. The vast majority of sellers learn the hard way that overpricing is a front row ticket to sitting on the market without success.
- Demand – there is demand for housing, but there just are not enough realistically priced homes on the market thus far this year. As a result, demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, has been noticeably lower than the past couple of years. Currently, demand is running about 15% less than last year at this time.
- Expected Market Time – with an increasing inventory and less demand, the expected market time has been much higher than the last couple of years. Currently it is at 90 days. Compare that to last year’s 49 days and the overall feel in the streets is palpably different. At three months, it is still a seller’s market, but not like 2012 and 2013. Double digit year over year appreciation has been replaced with 3-5% annual appreciation, meaning that any appreciation from month to month is almost undetectable. In other words, sellers can no longer get away with arbitrarily and overzealously pricing their homes. It’s a seller’s market where they get to call all of the shots and may get a few thousand dollars more than the last comparable sale IF AND ONLY IF they price their homes realistically.
- Distressed Properties – for the first two quarters of 2014, there have been 69% fewer foreclosures and short sales. There were only 242 closed foreclosures in the first six months of the year compared to 698 last year and 2,249 in 2012. There were only 624 closed short sales thus far in 2014 compared to 2,091 last year and 3,810 in 2012. With the dramatic rise in values, fewer homeowners are underwater, negating the need for a short sale. Slowly but surely, the distressed market’s grip on Orange County housing has loosened and no longer has an influence on the overall market.
- Equity Sellers – last year was marked by the return of the equity seller. It was up 42% from 2012 to 2013. In comparing 2014 to 2013, the number of equity sellers is pretty similar, just 2% more so far this year. There are a lot more equity sellers that are actively listed right now, but many are unsuccessful because they just are not approaching the market realistically. The difference from year to year would be much greater if sellers would just price their homes closer to their Fair Market Value. Unfortunately, by the time most sellers will realize the error in their approach, both the Spring and Summer markets will be in the past, the best time of the year to sell.
From here, we can expect more of the same, an increasing inventory through the end of summer, an increase in the expected market time, and a slow move away from a seller’s market to a balanced market.
Active Inventory: The active inventory increased by 3% in the past two weeks.
The active listing inventory added an additional 187 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 7,550. Keep in mind, in order for the active inventory to grow, more home need to be placed on the market than are coming off as pending sales. Last year at this time there were 4,727 homes on the market, 2,823 fewer than today.
Demand: Demand dropped by 10% in the past two weeks.
Demand, the number of new pending sales over the past month, decreased by 276 and now totals 2,477. It typically drops considerable at the start of July, which includes the slowing due to the end of the school year, graduations, and the beginning of summer vacations, all of which distract buyers from pulling the trigger and looking at homes. Demand will improve in August prior to dropping for the Autumn and Holiday Markets.
Last year at this time there were 2,909 pending sales, 432 more than today.
Distressed Breakdown: The distressed inventory increased by 7% in the past two weeks.
The distressed inventory, foreclosures and short sales combined, increased by 18 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 264. In 2014, the distressed inventory started the year at 271 and really has not changed much at all. The long term trend is for it to remain at a very low level. Last month, they represented less than 6% of all closed sales.
In the past two weeks, the number of active foreclosures increased by 6 homes and now totals 69. Less than 1% of the active inventory is a foreclosure. The expected market time for foreclosures is 58 days. The short sale inventory increased by 12 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 195. The expected market time is 40 days. Short sales represent less than 3% of the total active inventory. ( End of Steven’s report.)
Steven Thomas, Quantitative Economics and Decision Sciences
Last week’s economic news was mixed, but economic reports for Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment rate suggest a strengthening labor sector. Pending Home Sales surpassed expectations in May and conversely, construction spending was lower than expected. Here are the details.
Pending Home Sales Reach Highest Level in Eight Months
The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales in May rose by 6.10 percent over April’s reading. May’s reading was 5.20 percent lower than for May 2013. The index reading for May reached 103.9 as compared to April’s index reading of 97.9. Results for all regions were positive for May:
- Northeast: 8.80%
- West 7.60%
- Midwest 6.30%
- South 4.40%
An index reading of 100 for pending home sales is equal to average contract activity in 2001; pending home sales are a gauge of upcoming closings and mortgage activity.
CoreLogic Home Price Index Reflects Slower Price Gains
National home prices rose by 1.40 percent in May and 10 states posted new month-to-month highs, while year-over-year reading slipped from 10.00 percent in April to 8.80 percent in May. Home prices remain about 13.50 percent lower than their 2006 peak.
The overall rate of construction spending slowed in May to an increase of 0.10 percent from April’s reading of 0.80 percent and against expectations of 0.70 percent. Residential construction spending dropped by 1.50 percent in May.
Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of average mortgage rates brought good news as the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 4.12 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.22 percent, as was the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage at 2.98 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount rates rose from 0.30 to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Jobs Up, Unemployment Rate Lower
ADP payrolls, which measures private-sector job growth, reported 281,000 new jobs in June as compared to a reading of 179,000 new private-sector jobs in May. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Non-Farm Payrolls report for June surpassed expectations of 215,000 jobs added with an increase of 288,000 jobs against May’s reading of 224,000 jobs added.
The national unemployment rate fell to 6.10 percent against predictions of 6.30 percent and May’s reading of 6.30 percent.
No news was released on Friday, which was a national holiday.
This week’s scheduled economic is lean with no events set for Monday. Job Openings, the minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting, along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims round out the week’s economic news.