South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

No wonder I’m optimistic and feel good about the market in my area

Posted in home affordability, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 28, 2010

This, from Jon Lansner, in today’s Orange County Register:

For the 22 business days ending February 5 – freshest numbers from DataQuick — our region-by-region analysis of homebuying shows Orange County slices up geographically speaking this way …

  • DataQuick identified 570 homes selling in Orange County’s north-inland ZIP codes in this most recent period, +12% from a year ago. Median selling price? $450,000 in these 23 ZIPs. This most recent median price change was +8.4% vs. a year ago.
  • Mid-county ZIPs — median selling price $352,500 – had 630 sales, -12% from a year ago. In these 24 ZIPs, the freshets median price change was +4.9% vs. a year ago.
  • Combined, total homes sales in ZIPs in the north and mid-section of Orange County were -2.2% vs. a year ago as homebuying in the rest of the county ran +31.3% vs. 12 months earlier.
  • North/mid-county homes accounted for 57% of residences sold in the most recent period vs. 64% a year ago.
  • 325 homes sold in beach cities’ 17 ZIP codes in the most recent period, +16% from a year ago. Median selling price? $722,500 in these 17 ZIPs. Newest median price change was +4.9% vs. a year ago.
  • South inland ZIPs — median selling price $493,250 – had 578 sales, +41% from a year ago. In these 19 ZIPs, the latest median price change was +16.7% vs. a year ago. ( This is the area where I’ve done most of my business, for the past 33+ years.)
  • All told, countywide sales were +8% vs. a year ago. The median selling price was +15% in the past year.

End of Jon’s article.

I can feel the hubbub of activity, and see the multiple offers on properties, but it feels good to see it in print.

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The Home Price Index Shows Some Regions Up, Some Regions Down

Posted in home affordability, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 26, 2010

Earlier this week, the private-sector Case-Shiller Index showed home prices slightly lower between November and December. Thursday, the public-sector Home Price Index showed the same.

Publishing
on a 2-month lag, the Federal Home Finance Agency said home prices fell
by 1.6 percent nationally in December. And that’s an average, of
course. Some regions performed well in December as compared to November, others didn’t.
    Values in the Middle Atlantic states improved slightly
    Values in New England were essentially unchanged
    Values in the Mountain states sagged, down 3.5%
These
aren’t just footnotes. They’re an important piece toward understanding
what national real estate statistics really mean. In short, “national
statistics” are just a compilation of a bunch of local statistics.

For
example, if we dig deeper into the FHFA Home Price Index 70-page
report, we find that cities like Terre Haute, IN, Buffalo, NY,
Amarillo, TX all posted year-over-year home price gains even though the
national data just state it. The gains in these cities were offset by
losses in other cities nationwide.

Furthermore, it’s a sure bet
that those same cities, you could find neighborhoods that are thriving,
and others that are not. Just because the city shows higher home
values overall, it won’t necessarily be the case for every home in the
city.

Every street in every neighborhood of every town in
America has its own “local real estate market” and, in the end, that’s
what should be most important to today’s buyers and sellers. National
data helps identify trends and shape government policy but, to the
layperson, it’s somewhat irrelevant.

So, when you need to know
whether your home is gaining or losing value, you can’t look at the
national data. You have to look at your block — what’s selling and
not selling — and start your valuations from there.

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The jumbo mortgage market is beginning to thaw

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on February 25, 2010

The meltdown sent interest rates soaring and availability shrinking, but rates are declining and lenders are more willing to make loans that top the limits for Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the FHA.

By E. Scott Reckard        The Los Angeles Times        February 24, 2010

Phil Kelly had 18 more months to go before the fixed rate on his $2.5-million mortgage became adjustable.

But when Kelly, a former computer executive living in Rancho Santa Fe, learned he could knock his interest rate down by a full percentage point by refinancing, he went for it.

“It’s always tough to pick the exact bottom or top of anything,” Kelly said. “But I think this rate is about as low as you’re going to get.”

Rates on jumbo mortgages — loans of more than $729,750 in counties with the highest-cost housing — shot up during the financial crisis as lenders and loan investors shunned anything tainted with even a whiff of higher risk. Rates on big mortgages were especially high relative to those on smaller loans.

But in a boon for borrowers in California’s expensive housing markets, the jumbo-loan market is starting to return to normal.

Two weeks ago, the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate jumbos dropped to 5.79%, a nearly five-year low, according to rate tracker Informa Research Services of Calabasas. It edged up to 5.88% on Tuesday, still very attractive by historical standards. The average is down from well above 7% in late 2008.

Rates are even lower on so-called hybrid adjustable mortgages, on which the rate is fixed for, say, five years and then adjusts annually. Kelly’s new loan is a five-year hybrid adjustable identical to his old one, except that he’s paying about 5%, down from 6%.

Banks are also relaxing slightly some of their requirements for jumbo loans. That’s an encouraging sign because the market for jumbos, in contrast with the rest of the mortgage business, isn’t being propped up by Uncle Sam.

The lower rates and somewhat easier terms reflect newfound confidence among banks in the housing market. That’s because, by definition, jumbos are too big to be bought by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae or to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Plus, the private market for mortgage-backed bonds dried up when the meltdown hit. So lenders making jumbo loans these days must be willing to take the risk of keeping them in their portfolios.

The maximum amounts for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae “conforming” mortgages, and for FHA mortgages, are set by Congress. The cutoff for single-family homes was $417,000 from 2006 until February 2008, when lawmakers increased it temporarily to $729,750 in certain high-cost areas, including Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties. Conforming loans top out at $500,000 in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and $697,500 in San Diego County.

The increased upper limits, which have been extended until the end of this year, have created a three-tier system in expensive areas, mortgage professionals say: loans of up to $417,000, which are the easiest to obtain and carry the lowest rates; “conforming jumbos” from $417,000 to $729,750, which are somewhat harder to get and have slightly higher rates; and true jumbos, with the toughest standards and highest rates.

In the boom years of 2005 and 2006, interest rates were typically no more than a quarter of a percentage point higher on jumbo loans than on conforming loans, according to Informa Research. That widened as the mortgage meltdown intensified and home prices dropped in late 2007. The spread ballooned to nearly 1.7 percentage points in early 2009 after the entire credit system froze.

But this year the rate spread has narrowed to less than a percentage point. It could shrink more if conforming-loan rates rise as expected after the Federal Reserve wraps up a $1-trillion-plus program to support the market for conforming loans next month.

In addition to lower rates, down-payment requirements are being relaxed in some cases. For example, to write a jumbo loan in coastal areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage looks for a 20% down payment or that percentage of equity, down from 25% last year, said Brad Blackwell, a national mortgage sales manager at the lender.

The reason: Wells believes high-end home prices are stabilizing in those coastal counties. But the bank still requires higher down payments in the Inland Empire and other battered housing markets such as Florida, Nevada and Arizona, where prices for jumbo-size homes don’t appear to be stabilizing, he said.

Jumbo loans remain much harder to get than before the credit crunch and recession. Borrowers typically must have a credit score of at least 700, compared with boom-era minimums in the 600s, though Laguna Niguel mortgage broker Jeff Lazerson said at least one lender was again making sub-700 jumbos available.

What’s more, unless their down payments are very large, borrowers must provide evidence of high income, have sizable bank accounts as a cushion against the unforeseen and occupy the houses themselves.

But there are clear signs that the jumbo market has loosened. One is an increasing availability of “stated income” loans — those that don’t require proof of income — of as much as $2 million to borrowers with at least a 40% down payment, said mortgage broker Gary Bluman, owner of Real Estate Resources in Brentwood.

Also, instead of a true jumbo loan, some “piggyback” second loans are available again to help certain borrowers with 25% down payments pay for high-priced homes, Lazerson said.

Of course, adjustable, stated-income and piggyback loans were big contributors to the mortgage meltdown. But such provisions are less risky if a borrower has 25% to 40% equity.

Despite the confidence in the market that such terms imply, lenders and mortgage investors are still dealing with piles of bad jumbos made during the boom.

Delinquencies of 60 days or more on prime jumbo loans that were packaged into securities jumped to 9.6% in January, up from 3.7% a year earlier, Fitch Ratings reported this month.

The jumbo delinquency rate in California climbed to 11.3% from 4.1% a year earlier.

For now, the jumbo market remains limited to the volume of loans that banks are willing and able to keep on their books. But there is hope for a return to private outside funding.

Although no jumbos have been turned into securities for at least two years, packages of delinquent jumbos have begun to be sold again to “vulture” investors, a sign that the secondary market for the loans may revive, said Michael Fratantoni, vice president of research at the Mortgage Bankers Assn.

“The ice sheet,” he said, “is starting to crack here and there.”

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Saving Face, If Not the House. Alternatives are expanding.

Posted in Foreclosures, home affordability, Real estate, short sales by southorangecounty on February 25, 2010

Saving Face, If Not the House   ( From Tuesday’s American Banker Internet.)

After years of talking about “preserving homeownership,” the mortgage servicing industry has a new buzzword: finding a “graceful exit” for seriously delinquent homeowners who do not qualify for loan modifications.

To move these borrowers out of their homes with a minimum of delay, friction or embarrassment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are telling servicers to increase the use of alternatives to foreclosure such as short sales and deeds-in-lieu.

“Some people just are unwilling or unable to be helped,” Eric Schuppenhauer, a Fannie senior vice president, said Wednesday at a Mortgage Bankers Association servicing conference in San Diego. “They now must go to some form of liquidation and hopefully a graceful exit from the home.”

Foreclosure timetables “got a little crazy last year,” he said, as servicers held off on filing default notices or taking title to properties while offering borrowers a chance to rework loan terms through the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program.

Ingrid Beckles, Freddie’s senior vice president of default asset management, told the conference there is greater “recognition that we need to come to some closure on the decisioning process.”

More than 30% of the seriously delinquent loans held by Freddie are backed by vacant homes, she said. Many states have courts clogged with foreclosure filings.

“We’re standing in line in Florida,” Beckles said.

MBA Asks for a ‘Bridge’ Loan.

None of this is to say the industry has given up on keeping borrowers in their homes — or on getting more government assistance in that endeavor.

The MBA unveiled a proposal Tuesday to have the Treasury Department lend money to servicers so they can grant forbearances to homeowners who have involuntarily lost their jobs. Such borrowers could get their payments reduced for as long as two years (though their situations would be periodically re-evaluated). The MBA called the plan a “bridge to Hamp”: borrowers would be considered for the loan-mod program once they found new jobs or when the forbearance period ended.

During that period servicers would need to advance principal and interest to mortgage investors, taxes to municipalities and premiums to insurers. That’s where the Treasury financing would come in. “There are hundreds of smaller servicers who won’t have the cash or capital to make pass-throughs over a prolonged period,” said John Courson, the MBA’s president. The size of the proposed facility is yet to be determined.

Can such a plan fly given the public rage over government assistance to the financial industry and to delinquent homeowners? “This is not a bailout,” Courson said. “This is a loan” that servicers would repay with interest. And while “strategic defaulters” who walk away from their homes are raising hackles, “I don’t sense any pushback to trying to help the unemployed.”

John Denney, the MBA’s associate vice president of public policy, said the Treasury had not yet committed to the proposal.

Quotable …
“If we don’t get a suicide threat once a week, it’s a good week.”

— John Parres, the first vice president of customer service and collections at OneWest Bank FSB, at the conference, on dealing with distressed homeowners. OneWest, built from the ashes of IndyMac, has recently outperformed most other servicers in this rough-and-tumble business. ( End of article.)

This is just one additional factor ensuring that the alleged “shadow inventory” will disappear for good – in the shadows.  Any buyers waiting for that prediction of a “tsunami of foreclosures” is going to have a  v e r y  l o n g wait.  At least here in South Orange County, California.

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As The Supply Of New Homes Grows, So Does The Opportunity For A “Good Deal”

Posted in home affordability, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 25, 2010

The
housing recovery showed particular weakness in the New Homes Sales
category last month — good news for homebuyers around the country.

A “new home” is a home for which there’s no previous owner.

New Home Sales fell 11 percent
from the month prior and posted the fewest units sold in a month since
1963 — the year the government first started tracking New Home Sales
data.

Right now, there are roughly 234,000 new homes for sale nationwide
and, at the current sales pace, it would take 9.1 months to sell them
all. This is nearly 2 months longer than at October 2009’s pace.

The reasons for the spike in supply are varied:
    The original home buyer tax credit expired in November
    Weather conditions were awful in most of the country in January
    Weak employment and consumer confidence continue to hinder big ticket sales
Now,
these might be less-than-optimal developments for the economy as a
whole, but for buyers of new homes, it’s a welcome turn of events. Home
prices are based on supply and demand, after all.

As a result,
this season’s home buyers may be treated to “free” upgrades from home
builders, plus seller concessions and lower sales prices overall.

It’s
all a matter of timing, of course. New Home Sales reports on a 1-month
lag so it’s not necessarily reflective of the current, post-Super Bowl
home buying season. And from market to market, sales activity varies.

That said, mortgage rates remain low, home prices are steady, and the federal tax credit gives two more months to go under contract. It’s a favorable time to buy a new OR a resale home.

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Are you being stymied by the “Buy & Bail” policy of your lender?

Posted in Foreclosures, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 24, 2010

I learned something interesting from my preferred lender this morning.

About a year ago, enterprising people started a new phenomenon which later became known as a “Buy and Bail”. Some, who were increasingly upside down in their present home, saw how low prices were getting on a bigger or better house, ( maybe even across the street.) and so they made an offer on the new house, stating to the lender that they would be renting out their former house – a common, and valid tactic – until last year.

After closing escrow on the new house, however, they simply stopped making the payments on the old one, making that lender foreclose on the property. Hence buy, ( new.) then bail.( from the old property.)  After about 6 months of this situation, lenders wised up and instituted new tougher guidelines, wherein a buyer had to have at least 25% verifiable clear equity in both properties – that qualification brought buy and bail transactions to a screeching halt – and rightfully so.

This new stricter policy has ended buy & bail, but it has also stopped a lot of people who would really have rented their old place out, from being able to qualify for such a transaction.  Most move-up buyers are pulling equity from their old place, to use as a down payment on the new one, and in most cases, doing so didn’t leave at least 25% equity in the old property, or provide a 25% down payment on the new property.

Stymied by such a scenario?  Here’s a different thought, and possible solution.

If you move out of your present house, and put a tenant in it, say on a year’s lease – after 6 months, the buy & bail policy no longer applies – meaning you DON’T need 25% equity in the house you moved out of – in order to obtain your financing on a new house.

So, where do you live for the 6 to 9 months it takes to establish that “seasoning”? Well, you can either lease a house for a year, and after the obligatory 6 months have passed, be in a perfect position to purchase the new house with no such restriction – and NO contingencies.

OR, if you’re really lucky, you could find a house that is suitable, now, and if it’s on both the rental and for sale markets – as many houses are, these days – make them a lease option offer, planning to close escrow well after the 6 months of renting the old house.

You could also put a stipulation into a regular one year lease, that, towards the end of the lease, if the owner was interested in selling, they would give you the first opportunity to buy the property. That happens more frequently than you might imagine.

Looking for a Realtor capable of thinking outside the box?  With over 33 years of successful local experience, it would be my extreme pleasure to add your name to my list of happy clients.

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December 2009 Case-Shiller Data Shows Battered Markets In Bona Fide Recovery

Posted in home affordability, Real estate by southorangecounty on February 24, 2010

Using
data compiled in December, Standard & Poors released its
Case-Shiller Index Tuesday. The report shows home prices down just 2.5% on an annual basis, a figure much lower than the 8.7% annual drop reported after Q3.

According
to Case-Shiller representatives, the housing market is “in better shape
than it was this time last year”, but some of the summer’s momentum has
been lost. 15 of 20 tracked markets declined in value between November
and December 2009.

Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note the 5 markets that didn’t
decline — Detroit, Los Angeles/Orange County, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego.
Each of these metro regions were among the hardest hit nationwide when
home prices first broke. Now, they’re leading the pack in price
recovery.
For some real estate investors, that’s a positive signal. But we also have to consider the Case-Shiller Index’s flaws because they’re big ones.
As examples:
    Case-Shiller data is reported on a 2-month lag
    The Case-Shiller sample set includes just 20 U.S. cities
    There’s no “national real estate market” — real estate is local
That
said, the Case-Shiller Index is still important. As the most
widely-used private sector housing index, Case-Shiller helps to
identify broader housing trends and many people believe housing is a
key element in the economic recovery.

If the markets that led
the housing decline will lead the housing resurgence, December’s data
shows that full recovery is right around the corner.

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How You Can Get The Most Accurate, Real-Time Mortgage Rate Quotes Available

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on February 23, 2010

You can’t get your mortgage rates from the newspaper. Last week proved it. Again.
Friday morning, headlines and around the country read that mortgage rates were down 0.04 percent, on average, since the week prior.

A sampling of said headlines includes:
    US Mortgage Rates Drop For 2nd Straight Week (Reuters)
    Mortgage Rates On 30-year US Loans Fall To 4.93% (Business Week)
    30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Falls Farther Below 5% (Marketwatch)
The
story behind the headline was sourced from the Freddie Mac Primary
Mortgage Market Survey, am industry-wide mortgage rate poll of more
than 100 lenders. The PMMS has reported mortgage rate data to markets
since 1971 and is the largest of its kind.

Unfortunately, rate shoppers can’t rely on it.
See,
unlike governments and private-sector firms, when consumers are in need
mortgage rate information, they need the information delivered in
real-time; for making decisions on-the-spot. Consumers need to know
what rates are doing right now.

The Freddie Mac survey can’t offer that.

According to Freddie Mac, the survey’s methodology
is to collect mortgage rates from lenders between Monday and Wednesday
and to publish that data Thursday morning. The survey results are an
average of all reported mortgage rates. The problem is that mortgage
rates change all day, every day. The PMMS results are skewed,
therefore, by methodology.

And, meanwhile, the issue was
compounded last week because mortgage rates shot higher Wednesday
afternoon — after the survey had “closed”. The market deterioration
ran into Thursday, too — again, unable to be captured by Freddie Mac’s
PMMS.

Although the newspapers reported mortgage rates down last
week, they weren’t. Conforming mortgage rates were higher by at least
1/8 percent, or roughly $11 per $100,000 borrowed per month. In some
cases, rates were up by even more.
Newspapers and websites can
give a lot of good information, but pricing is far too fluid to rely on
a reporter. When you need to know what mortgage rates are doing in
real-time, make sure you’re talking to a loan officer. Otherwise, you
may just be getting yesterday’s news.

The loan officer I highly recommend is a direct lender, where the entire loan is processed in his local ( South Orange County.) office, and like me, he has over 33 years of successful local experience. Give me a call ( 949-643-2100 ) or shoot me an email ( BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com ) and I would be happy to give you his contact info.

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The Latest Orange County Market Report

Posted in Real estate by southorangecounty on February 22, 2010

Here is the latest Orange County Market Report from my friend Steven Thomas, the President of Altera Real Estate:

“Short sales, sales of homes for less than what is owed on the mortgage, are creating a backlog of pending sales that seem to take forever to close. Here’s a definite fact: 2010 is rapidly becoming the year of the short sale.

With an enormous glut of foreclosures in 2008, the Federal government stepped in and in 2009 virtually strong armed big lenders to modify loans. The problem is that not everybody qualifies for a loan modification and many successful loan modifications default again on their loans down the road. Yet, there are still a tremendous number of homeowners in trouble. Both the government and banks are in agreement, that they don’t want to foreclose unless there is virtually no other alternative. And, there is a better alternative – short sales.

There are many advantages to short sales for the homeowner; including, the ability to purchase again sooner. For the lender, they get to take advantage of pride in homeownership, the homes are not dilapidated and, unlike foreclosures, do not require thousands of dollars to fix nor do they have significant holding costs. So, at the end of November 2009, the US Treasury put together a short sale directive that outlines a new process that begins on April 5, 2010, for all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. In the interim, lenders have been scrambling to address the new program and modify their current processes that have been ineffective thus far.

Currently, the short sale process is NOT working and has resulted in a deluge of pending sales that take forever to close. There are currently 6,706 outstanding pending sales in all of Orange County. Of those, 4,154, or 62%, are short sales. The problem is that almost 70% have been pending for over one month. Many have been pending for months. The reason these do not close within a short period of time is because they require lender approval. And, if there is a second loan, the process is even longer. Throw in the fact that many short sale homeowners have stopped paying their homeowner association dues, and they too have to sign off on the deal if they are obtaining less than what is owed.

Often, the buyer of a pending short sale grows so frustrated that they cancel and look elsewhere. The short sale is then placed back on the market and is often placed right back into pending status in a short period of time, and the wait for lender approval continues. With short sales, the buyer, seller and offer must all qualify. The buyer must qualify for the new loan. The seller must qualify to obtain the short sale – there must truly be a hardship. Finally, the offer to purchase must be at or near fair market value. With demand so hot, lenders are taking a closer look at value and not willing to sell at a major discount.

The current process for short sales is an absolute crapshoot. Real estate agents, buyers and sellers enter into a pending sale with no definitive timeline. Some lenders are better than others. Some second lenders are better than others. Some Realtors® are better than others. 2010 promises to be the year of the short sale.

It is the year where a lot of the distressed backlog, often referred to as the “shadow inventory,” will finally be properly diminished in the form of short sales. Yes, there will still be foreclosures. Some short sales simply will not go together. Some homeowners will just walk away from their obligations. But, banks and the government have their sights set on going the short sale route. It is in everybody’s best interest. Buyers, sellers and agents have had their sights set on short sales for about a year and half now.

As 2010 rolls along, the process is going to get better and better. It will not be perfect, but it will be better than it is right now. Short sales will finally result in more successful closed sales.

So, how do the rest of the Orange County numbers look? The active inventory increased over the past two weeks by 278 homes, or 4%, to 8,135. The active inventory last year was at 11,541, 3,406 additional homes compared to today. Two years ago it was at 15,392, 7,257 additional homes. Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior 30-days, decreased by 4 to 3,244.

There are 425 additional pending sales compared to last year and 1,424 compared to two years ago. Demand typically rises at a quicker pace in the middle of February, so we will have to see if this trend continues. Part of the problem is that there simply is not a lot of new inventory coming on the market. The biggest complaint from agents down in the trenches is that they need fresh inventory for the many buyers that they are working. The expected market time for all price ranges in Orange County increased slightly from 2.42 months two weeks ago to 2.51 months today. At the current pace, the overall market is a seller’s market without much appreciation at all. The number of distressed homes within the Orange County housing market is keeping a lid on appreciation.

On the other hand, the higher end price ranges are experiencing a deep buyer’s market, the higher the price range, the deeper the buyer’s market. The hottest price range is homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000, with an expected market time of 1.75 months. Contrast that with homes priced above $4 million with an expected market time of 33.89 months. The active distressed home market, all short sales and foreclosures combined, increased by 54 homes to 2,705. The number of foreclosures within the active listing inventory increased in the past two weeks from 377 to 380, a gain of only three.

The expected market time for foreclosures is a sizzling 0.95 months, a deep seller’s market. Foreclosures are HOT. The number of short sales within the active listing inventory increased by 54 and now totals 2,705. The expected market time for short sales is 1.68 months, also a deep seller’s market. There are a lot more short sales than foreclosures. In 2010, short sales are going to be KING.” ( End of Steven’s report.)

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : February 22, 2010

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on February 22, 2010

Mortgage
markets had a terrible, holiday-shortened week last week as Wall Street
responded to worse-than-expected inflation data and action from the
Federal Reserve. Mortgage bonds sold off with force, causing mortgage
rates to rise for the second week in a row.

Last week was a bad week to float a mortgage, to say the least. Rates rose by the largest margin in any week since late-2009.

The two biggest stories from last week both came from the Federal Reserve. The first was the release of the FOMC January meeting minutes
which showed more confidence in the U.S. economy than Wall Street
expected, and the second was the Fed’s surprise
announcement to raise the nation’s Discount Rate to 0.75%. Both sparked risk-taking on Wall Street and bonds sold-off as a result.

Now,
the Fed Funds Rate won’t climb anytime soon and neither will Prime
Rate, but the Fed has sent a clear message to the markets — The Era of
Loose Monetary Policy is over.
This week, there’s a lot of economic data set for release.
    Tuesday : Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Consumer Confidence
    Wednesday : New Home Sales
    Thursday : FHFA Home Price Index, Initial Jobless Claims
    Friday : Existing Home Sales, Personal Consumption Expenditures
With markets already on edge, any better-than-expected results should be bad for mortgage rates.

After
last week’s performance, conforming mortgage rates have now unwound
most their January gains. If you’re waiting for the right time to
lock, it may have been 2 weeks ago. Consider locking in this week to
protect against any further deterioration in price.

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