South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : February 13, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on February 13, 2012

Retail Sales and mortgage ratesMortgage markets were mostly unchanged last week as Greece — once again — was front-of-mind for Wall Street investors. The nation-state is attempting to avoid a debt default, and has been attempting to avoid default since May 2010.

Early in the week, Greece reached a deal with European Union leaders to secure additional financial aid. By Friday, however, the deal was in doubt, as the EU leaders declared that the Greek Parliament would have pass new austerity measures before the aid would be released.

Austerity measures have been unpopular in Greece, giving rise to riots among citizens and resignations among politicians. Markets responded to the potential undoing of the debt deal by seeking safety in bonds — including U.S. mortgage-backed bonds.

The Greek debt default story has helped fuel low mortgage rates in California. Once a final deal is reached, mortgage rates are likely to rise.

For now, though, mortgage rates remain at all-time lows.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average, conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate held firm at 3.87% last week for mortgage borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.8 discount points plus applicable closing costs. 1 discount point is equal to one percent of your loan size.

For borrowers unwilling to pay discount points and/or closing costs, average mortgage rates are higher.

This week, data returns to the U.S. economic calendar.

Greece will still be in play, but the health of the U.S. economy will determine in which direction mortgage rates will go. There are two inflation reports due — the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index.

The former is a “cost of living” indicator for U.S. households; the latter measures the same for business. Inflation is bad for mortgage rates so if either report comes in unexpectedly high, mortgage rates are likely to rise.

The same is true for Tuesday’s Retail Sales report.

Retail Sales account for close to 70% of total U.S. economic activity. An unexpectedly strong Retail Sales figure will suggest that the domestic economy is improving and that, too, would pressure mortgage rates up.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage, or floating one with your lender, consider locking in this week. Mortgage rates don’t have much room to fall and there’s much room to rise.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : February 6, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on February 6, 2012

Jobs growth pushes mortgage rates higherMortgage markets worsened last week as domestic job growth surprised Wall Street and the Eurozone moved yet one more step closer to reaching a lasting Greece sovereign debt solution.

Conforming mortgage rates in California rose on the news, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to 3.87% last week with 0.8 discount points due at closing, plus closing costs. 1 discount point is a fee equal to one percent of your loan size.

3.87% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is the official, all-time low for the weekly Freddie Mac survey, conducted since the 1970s. However, because Freddie Mac gathers its results on Monday and Tuesday only, by the time the survey results were released Thursday morning, mortgage rates were already rising off their lows.

Then, Friday morning, after January’s Non-Farm Payrolls data was released, mortgage rates surged.

The January jobs report exceeded expectations in nearly every fashion possible :

  • Economists expected to see 135,000 jobs created in January. The actual number was 243,000.
  • Economists expected to see the Unemployment Rate at 8.5% in January. The actual number was 8.3%.
  • Revisions added an additional 180,000 net new jobs to the original 2011 tally.

As compared to one year ago, there are 2.1 million more people employed in the U.S. workforce. Figures like this hint at a stronger national economy, and that tends to drive mortgage rates up.

This week, with little economic data due for release, mortgage rates are expected to move on momentum. Right now, that momentum is causing rates to rise.

If you’re shopping for a mortgage rate in Trabuco Canyon and want to know if the time is right to lock, consider that it’s impossible to time a market bottom, but simple to spot a “good deal”.

Mortgage rates remain near historical lows — it’s a good time to lock one in. Call your lender today. 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : January 30, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on January 30, 2012

Net New Jobs, 2010-2011Mortgage markets improved last week as news from the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy, and Europe combined to spur new demand for mortgage-backed bonds.

Conforming mortgage rates rallied from Wednesday through Friday’s close, ending the week near all-time lows set earlier this year.

Last week’s rally was sparked by the Federal Open Market Committee.

After its first meeting of the year, Chairman Ben Bernanke & Co. changed its projection for “exceptionally low rates” to at least late-2014. Previously, the Fed had said its benchmark Fed Funds Rate would remain low until 2013.

This, in conjunction with the Fed’s message that further economic stimulus may be coming, led Wall Street investors to increase their bets on mortgage bonds, pushing up prices and pushing down yields.

Lower yields means lower rates.

Mortgage rates were also helped lower by mixed data on the U.S. economy including weaker-than-expected housing reports, and another setback in the Greece sovereign debt negotiations.

Each time that Eurozone leaders have failed to reach an expected accord with Greece since 2010, mortgage rates have dropped. Last week was no different.

This week, with a large amount of U.S. economic data due for release and a high-profile summit among European Union leaders, mortgage rates are poised to move. Unfortunately, we can’t know in which direction.

Some of the news that will move markets include :

  • Monday : Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • Tuesday : Consumer Confidence; Case-Shiller Index
  • Wednesday : Construction Spending
  • Thursday : Weekly Jobless Claims
  • Friday : Non-Farm Payrolls;Factory Orders

Of all of the economic releases, Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls has the most potential to move markets. More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls details the monthly change in national employment and the national Unemployment Rate. 

Jobs are believed to be the key to U.S. economic recovery so strength in jobs should result in higher mortgage rates throughout California and the country.

Mortgage rates remain very low. If you’re nervous about mortgage rates rising this week or next, it’s as good of a time as any to lock your rate with a lender, and start moving toward closing.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : January 23, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on January 23, 2012

FOMC meets for a 2-day meeting this weekThe outlook for the U.S. economy improved last week, taking the mortgage bond market with it. For the first time this year, conforming mortgage rates rose throughout California from one week to the next.

Data was strong across all categories last week.

In addition, European leaders moved closer to a final resolution on the Greek sovereign debt default situation.

Overall, the action gave investors reason for optimism in the U.S. economy, and economies abroad. This drew money away from the U.S. mortgage bond market, which caused mortgage rates to rise.

Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage slipping 0.01 percentage points to 3.88% nationwide, with an accompanying 0.8 discount points and complete set of closing costs. These costs are slightly higher as compared to the week prior.

1 discount point is equal to one percent of the borrowed loan size.

Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey puts the conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgage under 4 percent for 7 consecutive weeks.

This week, mortgage rates may rise; the week is anchored by a 2-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Whenever the FOMC meets, mortgage rates can be volatile.

The Ben Bernanke-led FOMC is not expected to raise the Fed Funds Rate from its current target range near 0.000 percent, but it’s not what the Fed does that can change mortgage rates as much as it is what the Fed says

After its 2-day meeting concludes Wednesday, the FOMC will issue its customary statement to the markets, to be followed by a press conference led by Chairman Bernanke. Wall Street will watch the press release and conference for clues about the Fed’s next steps and its outlook for the U.S. economy.

If the Fed indicates that the economy is growing, mortgage rates in Coto de Caza are likely to rise. Conversely, if the Fed indicates that the economy is slowing, mortgage rates are likely to fall.

Other factors influencing mortgage rates this week include the President’s annual State of the Union address (Tuesday), the Pending Home Sales Index (Wednesday) and New Homes Sales data for December (Thursday).

Mortgage rates remain low but may not stay that way. If you’re looking for the best rates of the year, this week may be your chance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates : Week Of January 17, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on January 17, 2012

Greece still roiling U.S. mortgage marketsMortgage markets gained last week, picking up momentum into the weekend. Global demand for mortgage-backed bonds helped push mortgage rates to new lows, and closing costs eased somewhat, too.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to 3.89% nationwide. In order to get access to 3.89% mortgage rates, Freddie Mac said, mortgage applicants should expect to pay a full set of closing costs plus 0.7 discount points.

1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

Loans with “low closing costs” or “no closing costs” will be at higher rates than Freddie Mac’s published, average rate.

The biggest reason why mortgage rates fell last week is because — once more — concerns over European sovereign debt resurfaced on Wall Street. This has been an ongoing story for more than a year, and one that won’t likely end soon.

Several Eurozone nations saw their respective credit ratings downgraded last week, a move that sparked safe haven buying of U.S. mortgage bonds. France was stripped of its top credit rating. Slovakia, Italy and Austria were each downgraded, too.

Markets were also influenced by a conflict between Greece’s creditor banks and the nation-state’s government. The breakdown in talks increases the likelihood of the Eurozone’s first sovereign default.

Meanwhile, domestically, in-line Retail Sales figures and rising consumer confidence helped to prop up the U.S. dollar, a move that’s linked to lower mortgage rates.

This week, the markets were closed for the federal holiday Monday, and re-open Tuesday without much data on which to trade. Several inflationary reports are set for release including the Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index; and, in housing-related data, we’ll see the Housing Starts report and Existing Home Sales figures for December.

Expect mortgage rates to follow the Eurozone story this week. Pessimism and weak data will be good for mortgage rates in California and nationwide. Strength will lead mortgage rates higher.

If you’re still floating a mortgage rate or have otherwise yet to lock, mortgage rates are lower than they’ve been in history. It’s an ideal time to make aan interest rate commitment.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : January 9, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on January 9, 2012

Retail Sales 2009-2011Mortgage markets improved last week, pushing mortgage rates in California lower for the second straight week. Conforming fixed and adjustable-rate mortgage cut new, all-time lows, and FHA mortgage rates did the same.

In a holiday-shortened trading week, stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data and ongoing weakness within Europe drove investors into the U.S. mortgage-backed bond market. When demand for bonds is high, mortgage rates improve.

The Refi Boom continues.

Since beginning their descent last February, mortgage rates have shed 114 basis points en route to reaching 3.91%, the current, “average”, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate nationwide and a new all-time low, according to Freddie Mac and its mortgage market survey. If you’re among today’s home buyers or would-be refinancers, on a $200,000 mortgage, the 1.14% rate drop represents a monthly mortgage payment savings of $135 — $1,623 per year.

Larger loans save more, smaller loans save less.

This week, with little economic news set for release, mortgage rates are expected to take their cue from the 8 Federal Reserve members scheduled to speak in public, and from whatever news may bubble up from the Eurozone.

The Federal Reserve said it will communicate its vision for the U.S. economic more openly and more often so Wall Street will be watching the Fed members’ speeches this week, in search of clues about the Fed’s 2012 roadmap.

For example, there has been speculation that a new round of stimulus would be introduced at the Fed’s next meeting later this month. If, after listening to this week’s speeches, investors sense it will happen, mortgage rates may be susceptible to an increase in Coto de Caza and everywhere else.

We’ll also be watching the Retail Sales report this week, due Thursday. Retail Sales are a reflection on consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of the U.S. economy. If Retail Sales make gains, it may spark stock market gains at the expense of mortgage bonds.

This, too, would result in higher mortgage rates.

You can’t time the mortgage market, but with mortgage rates this low, it’s hard to go wrong. Talk with your loan officer to get a live rate quote.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : January 3, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on January 3, 2012

Jobs report due FridayMortgage markets improved last week during a holiday-shortened trading week. The mortgage bond markets were closed Monday for Christmas, and closed early Friday afternoon. Trading volume was light all week long, which contributed to a year-end rally.

Mortgage bonds made their largest one-week gain in two months as conforming mortgage rates in California fell to new lows nationwide.

Because most of the improvements transpired Wednesday and Thursday, Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey failed to capture the action. The survey’s poll of more than 125 banks across the country “closes” Tuesday.

As a result, Freddie Mac reported mortgage rates rising to 3.95% with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs, where 1 discount point equals one percent of your borrowed amount. However, those rates represented the high point for the week.

By Friday, conforming loans “with points” were noticeably lower as compared to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. Loans without discount points were little changed, however. 

The same was true for FHA mortgages.

This week, though, the calendar reads 2012. Unfortunately, we’re still watching the stories that drove mortgage rates for much of 2011 — the Eurozone and its members’ debt obligations, and the U.S. jobs market.

As the year concluded, there were fresh fears of trouble in Italy, which has large amounts of debt due in the early part of the year. There were also stern warnings from Eurozone leaders that a difficult 2012 may be ahead. 

Events like these are often good for U.S. mortgage rates.

And, this week, the government releases its December Non-Farm Payrolls report. The report moves markets — especially when the actual number of jobs created deviates from consensus estimates.

Economists expect that 150,000 net new jobs were created in December.

Momentum may draw rates lower this, or mortgage rates may begin to rise instead. The direction depends on the outlook for 2012, both domestic and international. The safe play is to lock a mortgage rate now.

Rates have more room to rise than to fall.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 27, 2011

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on December 27, 2011

Existing home sales Mortgage markets worsened last week on renewed optimism from the Eurozone, additional evidence of a U.S. economic recovery, and ongoing strength in housing.

The action sparked a stock market rally at the expense of mortgage bonds, sending conforming and FHA mortgage rates meaningfully higher for the first time in more than 2 months.

Markets closed early Friday and remained closed Monday. When they re-open today, conforming mortgage rates will already have bounced off last week’s new, all-time lows.

As reported by Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.91 percent nationwide, with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs. 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size such that 1 discount point on a $100,000 loan is equal to $1,000.

It’s not just the conventional 30-year fixed that made new lows last week, either. All of Freddie Mac’s reported rates fell to new, all-time lows.

  • 30-year fixed : 3.91% with 0.7 discount points
  • 15-year fixed : 3.21% with 0.8 discount points
  • 5-year ARM : 2.85% with 0.6 discount points

These rates are no longer valid, however. FHA mortgage rates rose slightly last week, too.

This week, mortgage rates will be more volatile than usual. There isn’t much economic data on which to trade, and it’s a holiday-shortened week (again). Look for geopolitics and momentum to nudge markets forward, therefore — a potentially bad combination for today’s rate shoppers. There is very little room for mortgage rates to fall, but lots of room for them to rise.

If the stock market rallies to close 2011, mortgage rates will rise right on with it.

For now, rates remain historically low. If you’ve been shopping for a mortgage — waiting for rates to fall — this last week of the year may be your last chance at sub-4 percent, fixed-rate mortgage rates. Don’t wait too long or you might miss it.

It’s a good time to execute on a rate lock.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 12, 2011

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on December 12, 2011

Federal Reserve meets this weekMortgage markets were mostly unchanged for the 6th consecutive week last week as Wall Street’s uncertainty regarding the future of U.S. and global economies remain.

Mortgage bonds made gains made through the early part of the week, which caused mortgage rates in California to drop Monday through Wednesday afternoon. Those gains were erased, however, as 23 of 27 Euro leaders reached agreement on fiscal coordination and budget planning, sparking optimism for the future of the Eurozone, in general.

Mortgage rates rose Thursday and Friday.

This week, the momentum may continue. The main story we’ll be watching is the Federal Open Market Committee’s Tuesday meeting — its 8th scheduled meeting of the year and its last until 2012. 

When the Fed meets, mortgage rates are often volatile.

At its meeting, the FOMC is expected to vote the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current range near zero percent. However, it won’t be the Fed’s vote on the Fed Funds Rate that changes markets. Wall Street is keyed in to two other elements, instead.

The first element is the verbiage of the FOMC’s press release to markets. Issued upon adjournment, the FOMC’s press release identifies strengths and weaknesses in the U.S. economy, and offers an outlook for the future plus potential threats. The “tone” of the press release can change how mortgage bonds trade.

If the Fed describes an economy in recovery with few threat to growth, mortgage rates are likely to rise post-FOMC. By contrast, if the Fed says the economy has slowed, mortgage rates should fall.

The second element on which Wall Street is focused is the likelihood of new, Fed-led economic stimulus. Should the Federal Reserve modify existing support programs, or introduce new ones, mortgage rates are sure to shift. Unfortunately, we can’t know in which direction — it will depend on the size of the program and its expected impact on the U.S. economy.

The Fed adjourns Tuesday at 2:15 PM ET.

Beyond the Fed, there is other rate-moving news, too, including Tuesday’s Retail Sales report, Thursday’s Producer Price Index, and Friday’s Consumer Price Index. Each has the capacity to change mortgage rates throughout Coto de Caza so if you’re floating a mortgage rate, it may be a good time to lock one in. 

Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.99% with 0.7 discount points, plus closing costs.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 5, 2011

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on December 5, 2011

Non-farm payrolls Dec 2009 - Nov 2011Mortgage markets made little change last week for the fifth time in as many weeks.

As Wall Street watched both the Eurozone and the U.S. regain their respective footing, expectations for a new Fed-led stimulus increased, which prevented mortgage rates from rising.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgage rose just 2 basis points last week to 4.00% nationwide with an accompanying 0.7 discount points

1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

For every $100,000 borrowed at 4.00 percent, therefore, today’s California mortgage applicant should expect to pay $700 in “points”. Mortgage rates for “zero-point loans” are higher than Freddie Mac’s published, average value.

This week, with few economic releases set for release, last week’s big stories should carry over into the current one — the biggest of which was a worldwide, coordinated central bank effort to increase system liquidity.

The European Central Bank, Bank of England and U.S. Federal Reserve were joined by the central banks of Japan, Canada and Switzerland in the effort. Stock markets rallied on the news.

Another of last week’s big stories was the sharp drop in the U.S. Unemployment Rate.

After hovering near nine percent since April, the Unemployment Rate broke out of range, dropping to to 8.6% in November. This is the lowest national Unemployment Rate since March 2009, a milestone achieved via the combination of new jobs created (+192,000 in November with revisions) plus a smaller U.S. workforce.

The U.S. economy has added 1.9 million jobs in the last 14 months.

Lastly, last week’s New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Index releases support the growing belief that the U.S. housing market is in recovery. Both reports showed strong growth for October, corroborating what home builders have been saying — the housing market is improving and buyer ranks are growing.

Home supplies are lower in many U.S. markets.

This week, rate shoppers in Rancho Santa Margarita should be on alert. Market momentum changes quickly, and rates are currently anchored by the expectation of new Federal Reserve stimulus. The Fed meets December 13, 2011. As that date approaches, expectations could change, causing rates to rise.

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows. It’s a good time to lock a rate with your lender.

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