South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Fed Meeting Statement Positive For Ongoing Mortgage Sector Support

Posted in Federal Reserve, FOMC, Housing Analysis, Mortgage Rates, The Economy by southorangecounty on August 1, 2013

Fed Meeting Statement Positive For Ongoing Mortgage Sector Support

There was potentially good news for mortgage rates on Wednesday as the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced that its quantitative easing (QE) program would remain unchanged for the present.

Economists expect the Fed to begin tapering the amount of QE toward the end of the year in accordance with Chairman Ben Bernanke’s previous statements that “tapering” would likely begin near year-end.

No specific date for reducing the QE assets purchases was given.

Chairman Bernanke has previously indicated that the Fed will closely review domestic and global economic developments as part of its decision-making process for changing the QE program. Wednesday’s FOMC statement reaffirmed this plan.

Fed Cites Economic Expansion and Improving Labor Conditions

The FOMC statement cited modest economic expansion, improving labor markets and continued high unemployment levels as a basis for continuing its current level of QE.

The Fed’s mandate requires it to support price stability and low unemployment; reversals in these or other economic areas could cause the Fed to continue its QE at present levels. At present, economists expect QE to end in mid-2014.

The FOMC statement also indicated that the target federal funds rate will remain between 0.00 and 0.25 percent at least until the national unemployment rate falls to 6.50 percent. Chairman Bernanke did not give a press conference after Wednesday’s statement was released.

Quantitative Easing: Monthly Purchase of MBS, Treasury Securities Intended to Control Mortgage Rates

The Fed currently purchases $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in Treasury securities monthly. These purchases are intended to control long-term interest rates including mortgage rates.

When the Fed begins tapering and eventually concludes these asset purchases, demand for MBS and Treasury securities are expected to fall and their prices will likely fall as well. When prices for bonds include MBS fall, mortgage rates traditionally rise.

With mortgage rates recently moving up, reducing the level of the Fed’s QE asset purchases is cause for concern. Higher mortgage rates make homes less affordable; the combination of rising home prices and mortgage rates presents challenges for first-time home buyers and others without sufficient funds for meeting higher down payments and monthly mortgage payments.

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27 Months Of Consecutive Job Growth Helping Home Prices Rise

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on January 9, 2013

Job growth helping housing recoveryThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Non-Farm Payrolls report for December exceeded Wall Street’s expectations by 5,000 net new jobs, showing 155,000 positions created in December.

The December tally raised the economy’s 12-month total to 1.84 million net new jobs created nationwide. Jobs added in December mark the 27th consecutive month of job growth.

Job sectors showing the strongest growth to close out 2012 included:

  • Health Care
  • Drinking and Eating Establishments
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

Private-sector hiring is driving the jobs market, too. 168,000 new private sector jobs were added in December. Government jobs fell by thirteen thousand.

Monthly job creation has averaged +153,000 jobs since 12 months ago. It’s a fine measure of growth but economists believe it’s not enough job creation to significantly reduce the national unemployment rate. 14.4 percent of workers are categorized as under-employed.

December’s national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, representing 4.8 million job seekers. This figure matched Wall Street’s expectations and was equal to November revised unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

The improving jobs market and national unemployment rate make an impact on both mortgage rates and South Orange County home prices.

Job creation suggests an expanding economy, which typically leads mortgage rates higher. In addition, with more employed persons nationwide, the potential home buyer pool grows larger, which introduces new demand to the housing market. With more demand, all things equal, home prices rise.

Job growth is one reason why home values climbed more than 5 percent in 2012, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency; and why the national housing supply would be exhausted in fewer than 5 months, at the current sales pace. Demand for homes is high and today’s low mortgage rates are extending buyer purchasing power in California.

For home buyers, the expanding U.S. economy and steady job growth suggests that home prices may not rocket higher this year, but will continue to increase, little by little.

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Post-Fiscal Cliff, Mortgage Markets Turn Attention To Jobs Data

Unemployment RateMortgage rates moved higher Wednesday as congressional leaders voted to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”.

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) fell as investors bid up stock prices. Confidence among investors and consumers typically causes mortgage rates to rise. That’s what happened Wednesday.

For Thursday and Friday, expect jobs data to dictate where South Orange County mortgage rates are headed.

The Federal Reserve has said that the national Unemployment Rate will dictate future monetary policy, with the central banker planning to raise the Fed Funds Rate from its target range near zero percent once joblessness falls to 6.5%. Currently, the jobless rate is 7.7 percent.

As the jobs market improves, equity markets should follow, causing mortgage rates to — again — move higher.

Thursday’s Initial Jobless Claims report has already influenced today’s mortgage rates. New claims rose 10,000 to 372,000 for the week ending December 29, 2012. This is slightly higher than Wall Street expected and mortgage bonds are moving better on the news.

Now, Wall Street turns its attention to Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly publication from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, detailing the U.S. employment situation, sector-by-sector. The economy has added 4.6 million jobs since 2010 and analysts expect another 155,000 added in December 2012.

The Unemployment Rate is expected to tally 7.8%.

As more people get back to work, the nation’s collective disposable income rises, which gives a boost to the U.S. economy. Furthermore, more taxes are paid to local, state and federal governments which are often used to finance construction and development — two jobs creators in their own right.

Furthermore, as the ranks of the employed increase, so does the national pool of potential home buyers. With demand for homes high and rents rising in many U.S. cities, demand for homes is expected to grow. Home supplies are shrinking.

If you’re currently floating a mortgage rate, or wondering whether it’s a good time to buy a home, consider than an improving economy may lead mortgage rates higher; and an improving jobs market may lead home prices higher.

The market is ripe for a refinance or purchase today – let me know if I can be of assistance.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 31, 2012

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on December 31, 2012

Jobs report is due Friday and could move mortgage ratesMortgage bonds improved last week, pushing mortgage rates lower in California and nationwide.

Positive economic news and strong housing data was trumped by ongoing Fiscal Cliff discussions on Capitol Hill.

The “Fiscal Cliff” is meant to represent January 1, 2013 — the date on which mandatory spending cuts are enacted by Congress and on which tax rates increases for many U.S. taxpayers.

Some analysts believe that if these two events are to occur simultaneously, it would derail the current U.S. economic expansion and revert the economy back into recession. That concern has spurred a flight-to-quality which has benefited mortgage bonds and, therefore, U.S. mortgage rates.

For example, last week, Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate at 3.35 percent nationwide for borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. This is a 0.02 percentage point reduction from the week prior.

The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate was unchanged last week at 2.66 percent for borrowers paying an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

In this holiday-shortened week, mortgage rates may fade again.

Congress convened over the weekend in order to discuss the impending Fiscal Cliff, and ways to avoid it. Talks have been ongoing since this year’s election yet it appears unlikely that the simultaneous expiration will be avoided.

How this would affect the economy is unknown but mortgage markets would witness an immediate boost of demand, leading South Orange County mortgage rates lower. Conventional, FHA and VA mortgage rates would all likely benefit.

And then, Wall Street will turn its attention to Friday’s December Non-Farm Payroll report.

Mortgage rates are expected to make big moves upon the report’s release. This is because, earlier this month, the Federal Reserve said it would begin raising the Fed Funds Rate only after the Unemployment Rate reaches 6.5 percent. Currently, the Unemployment Rate is 7.7 percent. If December’s jobless rate slips, moving closer to the Fed’s stated target, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Similarly, if the Unemployment Rate rises, mortgage rates are expected to drop.

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Mortgage Rates Rising On 26 Straight Months Of Jobs Growth

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on December 12, 2012

Non-Farm PayrollsAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its November 2012 Non-Farm Payrolls report, the U.S. economy added 146,000 net new jobs last month.

November’s job growth exceeded Wall Street expectations of 90,000 jobs added for the month, and was a small increase from October’s 138,000 jobs added.

Three job sectors in which employment rose in November include :

  • Retail : 58,000 jobs added
  • Business and Professional Services : 43,000 jobs added
  • Healthcare : 20,000 jobs added

It appears that the effects of Hurricane Sandy were muted, although they may be temporarily overshadowed by seasonal factors.

After losing more than 7 million jobs in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. economy has since recovered more than 4.6 million jobs. Job growth has reached 26 consecutive months and is expected to remain consistent through 2013.

In addition, the BLS report showed the national unemployment rate dropping 0.2 percentage points in November to 7.7 percent. This is the lowest Unemployment Rate since January 2009.

Growing employment is a strong indicator of economic expansion, which traditionally leads to rising mortgage rates.

When mortgage people work, more income is earned and more taxes are paid. This often leads to higher levels of both consumer spending and government spending, both of which spur additional hiring and economic expansion.

When the economy is in expansion, equity markets often gain and bond markets often lose. When bond markets are in retreat, mortgage rates in South Orange County rise. This relationship takes on added importance this week with the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) scheduled to adjourn.

The Non-Farm Payrolls Report is a top economic indicator and is a key part of economic and policy decision made Capitol Hill and within the Federal Reserve. As one example, recent Federal Reserve stimulus has been specifically aimed at lowering the national Unemployment Rate. As the economy improves and as jobs are regained, the Fed may be less likely to support low rates.

If you’re floating a mortgage rate, consider locking in. Rates can’t stay low forever.

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Find A Mortgage Rate Strategy Ahead Of Friday’s Job Report

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on November 1, 2012

Unemployment RateFriday morning, the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report, more commonly called the “jobs report”.

Depending on how the jobs data reads, FHA and conforming mortgage rates may rise, or fall. This is because today’s mortgage market is closely tied to the U.S. economy, and the U.S. economy is closely tied to job growth.

Economists expect that employers have added 125,000 net new jobs to their payrolls in October 2012, up from September’s tally of 114,000 net new jobs. Jobs have been added to the economy over 24 consecutive months leading into Friday’s release, and approximately 4.7 million jobs have been created in the private sector since early-2010.

So, what does this mean for home buyers and refinancing households throughout South Orange County ? It means that mortgage rates may get volatile beginning tomorrow morning.

Improving jobs numbers tend to push mortgage rates up, as it signals to investors that the U.S. economy is strengthening. If the actual jobs reports shows more than 125,000 net new jobs created, therefore, look for mortgage rates to rise.

Conversely, a weaker-than-expected report injects fear into the market, causing investors to purchase safer assets including U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed bonds. This moves mortgage rates lower.

Markets will also watch for the monthly Unemployment Rate. After falling to a 4-year low of 7.8 percent in September, economists anticipate that October’s unemployment rate will rise 0.1 percentage point to 7.9%.  

The good news for rate shoppers is that mortgage rates remain low. Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey puts the 30-year fixed rate mortgage below 3.50% nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points. Furthermore, a forecast from the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that the 30-year fixed rate will remain below 4% for at least the next 8 months and low mortgage rates help to keep home payments low.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the jobs report at 8:30 AM ET Friday.

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U.S. Posts Its 20th Straight Month Of Job Growth

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on June 5, 2012

Non-Farm Payrolls 2010-2012For the second straight year, the jobs market looks to be slowing into the summer.

Last Friday, in its monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report for May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 69,000 net new jobs created, plus a one-tick rise in the national Unemployment Rate to 8.2%.

2012 is shaping up like 2011, it appears.

Last year, between May and August, the jobs market was decidedly worse as compared to the rest of the year, adding just 80,000 jobs on average per month as compared to 190,000 new jobs created on average during each of the other 8 months.

This year, a similar slowdown may be in store. 

Although the May jobs report marks the 20th consecutive month during which the U.S. economy added new jobs, the reported figure fell well short of analyst expectations, which called for 150,000 net new jobs last month.

In addition, it was found that the previously-reported tallies for new jobs created in March and April were overstated by a total of forty-seven thousand jobs. This lowered the overall net new jobs created last month to 22,000.

Mortgage rates in Rancho Santa Margarita are falling on the news.

Since the jobs report’s release, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have dropped below Freddie Mac’s reported 3.75% mortgage rate for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus closing costs; and, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped farther below 3.00%.

The weaker-than-expected data has moved Wall Street investors away from stock markets in favor of the relative safety of bond markets, a market which includes the one for mortgage-backed bonds. When mortgage-backed bonds are in demand like this, it helps to push down mortgage rates nationwide.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Mortgage rates are expected to make new lows this week, in part, because of U.S. employment weakness. Should this year’s jobs market rebound like in 2011, though, look for mortgage rates to climb back shortly.

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Homes Get More Affordable On March Jobs Data

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on April 10, 2012

Unemployment Rate

Americans continue to get back to work.

Last Friday, in its Non-Farm Payrolls report for the month of March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 120,000 net new jobs created, plus combined revisions in the January and February reports of +4,000 jobs.

The March report marks the 18th straight month of job growth nationwide — the first time that’s happened in 5 years.

The Unemployment Rate dipped in March, too, falling one-tenth of one percent to 8.2%. This is its lowest national Unemployment Rate since February 2009.

Clearly, the jobs market is moving in the right direction. Yet, after the Non-Farm Payrolls report was released Friday morning, stock markets dropped and bond markets gained — the opposite of what a casual market observer would expect.

It happened because, although job growth was strong, Wall Street decided it just wasn’t strong enough. The market expected 200,000 jobs created in March at least and the actual reported figure fell short.

Lucky for you, Wall Street’s pain is Main Street’s gain. After the jobs report was released, mortgage rates immediately dropped to a 3-week low, making homes more affordable in California and throughout all 50 states.

The market’s reaction is an excellent example of how important jobs data can be to home affordability — especially in a recovering economy.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008-2009 and has since added more than half of them back. Wall Street pays close attention to job creation because more working Americans means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more economic growth.

Rate shoppers caught a bit of a break on the March payroll data. By all accounts, the labor market recovery in underway and, as it improves, higher mortgage rates are likely nationwide. For now, though, there’s a window for low mortgage rates that buyers and would-be refinancing households can try to exploit.

If you’re actively shopping for a home or a mortgage, today’s mortgage rates may be at “last chance”-like levels. Once rates rise, they’re expected to rise for good.

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Mortgage Rates Expected To Rise On A Strong Job Report

Posted in The Economy by southorangecounty on March 8, 2012

Net New Jobs Feb 2010-Feb 2012With home affordability at an all-time high, buoyed by the lowest mortgage rates ever, it’s been a terrific time to buy or refinance a home using a mortgage.

The good times may not last, though, so today marks an ideal time to lock a mortgage rate. Friday brings risk. Here’s why.

Since 2010, weak economic conditions have been a primary catalyst for low mortgage rates in California. Over the last 12 months, though, manufacturing output has been rising, consumer spending has been climbing, and business investment has increasing.

In other words, the economy is improving. However, it’s the jobs market that’s believed to be the economic recovery keystone. When jobs come back, analysts say, so does the economy.

Assuming that’s true, a recovery may already be well underway.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. jobs market has grown for 16 straight months now, adding 2.5 million net new jobs along the way. It’s one reason why the February jobs report matters so much to housing. 

Rate shoppers would do well to pay attention.

Friday, at 8:30 AM ET, the government will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report for February. Wall Street expects the report to show 210,000 new jobs were created in February, a figure slightly higher than the rolling, 6-month average for job growth. This would be a positive economic indicator.

If the analysts are correct, mortgage rates are likely to rise on the news, harming home affordability.

Furthermore, affordability could be harmed by a lot if the number of net new jobs created exceeds the 210,000 tally expected. It’s not a far-fetched scenario. Wall Street’s “whispers” put the actual jobs figure somewhere between 250,000-300,000. A reading lije this would cause mortgage rates to spike and would add money to a prospective monthly mortgage payment.

If the idea of rising mortgage rates makes you nervous, consider taking your nerves out of the equation. Call your loan officer today. Lock your rate ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls release.

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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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