Last week’s economic news included the minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that the Fed’s monetary policymakers are eyeing a potential increase in the target federal funds rate, but don’t expect to do so immediately.
Members of the Federal Open Market Committee expressed concerns about lagging housing markets and noted that inflation has not yet achieved the Fed’s two percent goal. When the Fed decides to raise its target federal funds rate, which now stands at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, Interest rates and mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.
Mortgage Rates Lower, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.66 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by six basis points to 2.93 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was nine basis points lower at 2.83 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims rose to 281,000 against projections of 285,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 267,000 new claims. Analysts said that the Easter holiday week affected weekly jobless claims, and that the varied dates of the Easter holiday and spring break weeks for schools can impact weekly readings for new unemployment claims.
The four-week rolling average of jobless claims fell to its lowest reading since June 2000. The four-week rolling average is considered a more dependable source for identifying labor force trends, as it lacks the volatility associated with holidays and one-time events that can cause great variation in weekly readings for new jobless claims.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include retail sales, retail sales not including the automotive sector, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which includes anecdotal reports of economic conditions reported to the Fed, and Housing Starts. The usual reports for weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey will be released Thursday.
On Friday, the University of Michigan will release its Consumer Sentiment report, which provides indications of how American consumers view current economic conditions. While general in scope, consumer sentiment can suggest how consumers view buying homes.
A lack of positive sentiment about the economy in general and jobs in particular suggests that fewer Americans may be ready to buy homes. Increasing positive sentiment indicates less concern about economic conditions and could point to more Americans entering the housing market as the peak home- buying season gets underway.
Last week’s events included the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index, which fell to its lowest reading since last summer. Other news included reports on housing starts and building permits, the FOMC meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference.
Home Builder Confidence Falls, Building Permits Rise
The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell by two points for a reading of 53 in March. The expected reading was 57. Analysts said that this proves that lower mortgage rates and steady job growth aren’t fueling housing markets as expected. NAHB chief economist David Crowe also cited supply chain issues such as a shortage of available lots, labor shortages and tight mortgage underwriting standards. Home builders remain optimistic that as labor markets continue to improve and more home buyers enter the market during the traditional spring and summer buying season, that builder confidence will also grow.
The Department of Commerce reported that building permits for February rose from January’s reading of 1.06 million to 1.09 million. This represents a 3.00 percent increase and was the highest reading since October. Permits fell for single family homes fell by 6.20 percent in February, but were 2.80 percent higher year-over-year. Single family permits account for 75 percent of building permits issued.
Housing starts fell dramatically due to bad weather. The Northeast saw housing starts fall by 56 percent due to extreme snowfall; Housing starts in the Midwest fell by 37 percent and the West saw housing starts decline by 18.20 percent in February. The South reported a 2.50 percent decrease in housing starts, but since nearly 50 percent of housing starts are in the South, this decline is more significant than it appears.
Fed Rates Hold Steady, Mortgage Rates Fall
The Federal Reserve noted in its post FOMC meeting statement that the Fed is in no hurry to raise rates. Citing ongoing concerns about low inflation and a sluggish housing market recovery, the Fed’s policymakers indicated that they don’t plan to rush on raising the target federal funds rate. In her press conference held after the FOMC statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to raise rates only when domestic and global economic developments warrant.
Mortgage rates fell according to Freddie Mac with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage eight basis points lower at 3.78 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was four basis points lower at 3.06 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at an average rate of 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s housing-related news includes new and existing home sales, the FHFA home price index and FHFA’s home price index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released as usual on Thursday.
Last week’s economic reports included Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Index reports for November along with new and pending home sales for December. Freddie Mac reported on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims dipped unexpectedly. The details:
Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in November
Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for November indicated that home prices continue to slow across the nation. Seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth slowed to 4.30 percent from October’s reading of 4.50 percent. Slowing momentum in year-over-year home price growth placed downward pressure on month-to-month readings. Several cities, including Atlanta, Georgia, Boston Massachusetts and Cleveland Ohio reported lower home prices in November as compared to October. Chicago, Illinois surprised analysts with a -1.10 percent drop in home price growth for November. Although mortgage rates have fallen in recent weeks, analysts cited tough mortgage approval standards, lower demand for homes and growing inventories of available homes as factors contributing to sluggish housing markets.
New and Pending Home Sales: Mixed Readings
New home sales jumped to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 481,000 sales in December against expectations of 455,000 sales and November’s revised reading of 431,000 new homes sold. The original reading for November was 438,000 new homes sold. New home sales were 8.80 percent higher in December year-over-year. The median price of new homes was $298,100 in December, which was an increase of 8.20 percent year-over-year.
Pending home sales reflected sluggish market conditions in December with pending sales lower by -3.70 percent as compared to November’s reading of +0.60 percent. This lull will likely impact completed sales as pending sales generally forecast completed sales within the next 60 days. The National Association of Realtors® said that home prices rose in some areas as supplies dwindled. Fewer homeowners list homes for sale during the fall and winter months than during spring and summer. Analysts also said that home sales trends rely on the willingness of homeowners to list their homes and move up. Although the economy continues to grow, homeowners can impact supplies of available homes if they wait to move up to larger homes.
Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 3.66 percent; the average rate for 15-year mortgages rose by five basis points to 2.98 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 2.86 percent. Discount points fell to 0.60 percent for 30-year mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year mortgages. Discount points were unchanged at0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 265,000; this was lower than the expected reading of 296,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 308,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that the short work week likely contributed to the drop in weekly jobless claims, which was the largest drop in new jobless claims since November 2012. As labor markets improve, more consumers can afford to buy homes. January’s Consumer Confidence Index rose more than expected in January with a reading of 102.9 against expectations of 96.90 and December’s reading of 93.10.
This week’s scheduled reports include Construction Spending, Personal Income, Core Inflation, and several employment reports including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report and new unemployment claims will be released on Thursday as usual.
Here’s a recent article from Colin Robertson of TheTruthAboutMortgage.com
The Mortgage Crisis Created Nearly 7.3 Million Potential Boomerang Buyers
It has now been roughly seven years since the devastating housing crisis rocked our great nation.
Between 2007 and 2014, foreclosure activity ran well above historical norms after exotic lending and sky-high home prices eventually brought down the entire real estate market.
But the foreclosure rate has since fallen to pre-crisis levels as problem loans were dealt with in one way or another. For some, a loan modification has meant a second chance to erase past mistakes.
For many others, the outcome wasn’t as positive. Their homes were lost via short sale or foreclosure and they must start anew. Of course, this may have been deliberate in some cases thanks to a phenomenon known as strategic default.
Regardless, many of those who lost their homes will now be able to get another crack at homeownership over the next several years. These folks are known as “boomerang buyers,” and are primarily Gen Xers or Baby Boomers.
Well, foreclosure waiting periods enforced by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, and so on generally bar previously foreclosed homeowners from obtaining mortgages for seven years. For short sales, the wait is only two to four years in many cases.
Yes, there are exceptions to the rule that shorten these windows, and even programs that allow for mortgages just one year after such a negative event (or even one day!). There are also those who can buy a home with cash.
But generally it takes a considerable amount of time to bounce back and improve your credit history, regardless of the rules that are in place.
Seeing that it’s now 2015, the potential pool of boomerang buyers is growing in numbers.
A new analysis from RealtyTrac reveals that some 551,000 individuals will be able to buy a property again this year, assuming they still favor homeownership.
The number of boomerang buyers is expected to rise year after year until 2018 when the number peaks at over 1.3 million, then slowly decline through 2022, just as foreclosure rates have done.
This means the housing market might get an unexpected boost in demand at a time when supply is still low. Hello higher home prices?
Where Are All These Boomerang Buyers?
As you might expect, the areas hit hardest by the crisis should have the largest number of potential boomerang buyers.
That explains why Phoenix, Arizona leads the nation with nearly 350,000, followed by Miami with 322,000 and Detroit and Chicago each with over 300,000.
The largest share of potential boomerang buyers (as a percentage of total housing units) can be found in former foreclosure hotbeds such as Las Vegas, Merced, Stockton, Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, and Modesto.
Of course, in order for a potential boomerang buyer to become an actual homeowner the conditions need to be just right, kind of like conditions here on Earth.
RealtyTrac notes that the “trifecta of market conditions” includes an area where a high percentage of homes were lost to foreclosure, where home prices are still within reach to median income earners, and where the population of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers has held steady or increased.
The company found 22 metros (with a population of at least 250,000) meeting these criteria. The top five are Las Vegas, Tampa, Orlando, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, and Charlotte.
Phoenix wasn’t on the list because it’s Gen X/Baby Boomer population fell by 2.64% from 2007 to 2013. Miami isn’t ideal either because its housing payment to income ratio is over 28%.
In any case, the toughest part will be convincing these individuals to buy again seeing that home prices are already back near peak levels.
Your mortgage payment may be among the largest payments you make every month. While certainly an important part of your budget, this payment is also critical to helping you build equity in your home because it attributes to mortgage principal reduction. Managing your mortgage payments can be challenging, but there are some incredible apps available for use with Android or iPhone smartphones that can simplify your mortgage management tasks.
This app is available for both iPhones and Android devices, and is designed to be compatible with all types of mortgages. It can calculate PMI for adjustable rate and variable rate mortgages, and it can help you to determine the true cost of a mortgage. Through the use of this intelligent app, you can track your account information in real-time, or you can manipulate the numbers to help you to make more thoughtful and intelligent decisions about your finances.
Loan Calculator Pro
This app is only currently available on iOS devices, but those with this operating system may want to download it today. It has some of the same capabilities as Mortgage Mentor, but it goes a step above and beyond by providing you with mortgage payment notification reminders. It also has a unique feature that allows you to set a final payoff date for your mortgage, and it will calculate how much money you need to pay per month toward your mortgage to accomplish this goal.
Bill Payment Log
The Bill Payment Log app is a unique program that can entirely replace the outdated manual entry checkbook balancing task. It is suitable for use with iOS, Android and even Windows. You can use it to monitor and track payments for all credit accounts, including mortgages. While it does not have the analytical tools associated with some of the other mortgage apps, those who are looking for an all-in-one app that facilitates bill payment tasks for all accounts, this may be a great option to consider.
Making your mortgage payments on time is important, but you also may need to know if you need to pay extra each month and what the effects of that will be. You may also be concerned about “what if” scenarios for your adjustable rate mortgage. There are numerous apps available on the market today that can help you to facilitate your efforts, and these are among the leading choices available.
Case-Shiller reported that home prices hit their lowest pace in two years. According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for October, home prices fell in 10 cities, rose in eight cities and were unchanged in two cities.
In other news, pending home sales increased and weekly jobless claims rose. The details:
Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in Two Years
According to its 20-City Home Price Index, Case-Shiller said that home prices dropped by 0.10 percent to a reading of 4.50 percent year-over-year as compared to September’s reading of 4.80 percent year-over-year. Analysts expected home price growth to drop to 4.70 percent in October.
David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that 2014 could finish on a strong note with price growth accelerating in 2015. Home price growth hasn’t hit double digits since April, but there is encouraging news on the horizon.
More than half of states’ average home prices are set to surpass housing bubble peaks in 2015. Through October, home prices were approximately 15 percent below a 2006 peak. Higher inventories of available homes and lower mortgage rates are seen as stabilizing influences on housing markets, and could also encourage more buyers into the market.
Pending Home Sales Up, Mortgage Rates Mixed
The National Association of Realtors® reported that November pending home sales rose to a reading of 0.80 percent from October’s reading of -1.10 percent. The seasonally-adjusted index reading for November was 104.8.
Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist noted that steady economic growth and hiring contributed to home buyer confidence. Regional readings for pending home sales were +1.40 percent in the Northeast, +1.30 percent in the South and +0.40 percent in the South. Pending home sales declined by -0.40 percent in the Midwest.
Fixed mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30-year and 15-year mortgages rose to 3.87 percent and 3.15 percent respectively; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.01 percent.
Discount points for all types of mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Jobless Claims Up
Weekly jobless claims rose to 298,000 new claims against expectations of 290,000 new claims and 281,000 new claims filed the previous week. This was the highest reading since Thanksgiving.
Analysts said that seasonal hiring fluctuations and the volatility of week-to-week claims cause weekly reports to be less reliable than the four-week rolling average of jobless claims, which fell by 250 claims to a reading of 290,750.
Continuing claims fell by 53,000 to a reading of 2.35 million in the week ending December 20. This reading was close to a 14 year low.
Overall, analysts viewed stronger labor markets and economic growth as positive signs for 2015.
Next week will resume a full schedule of economic events including construction spending, ADP employment, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate. The Federal Reserve will release the minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).