What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 30th, 2018

What's ahead for mortgage rates april 30 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and existing home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Rise to Near Four-Year High

February home prices rose 6.30 percent year-over-year and 0.50 percent month-to-month. Home prices rose just shy of a record set in 2014. The 20-City Home Price Index reported home prices were 6.80 percent higher year-over-year and rose 0.80 percent month-to-month in February. The year-over-year reading surpassed the peak reading in 2006. Home prices accelerated in contrast to analyst expectations that they nay slow as buyers deal with a short supply of homes for sale.

Cities with the three highest readings in year-over-year home price growth were Seattle, Washington with 12.70 percent growth, Las Vegas, Nevada home prices rose 11.60 percent, and San Francisco, California home prices rose by 10.10 percent according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for February.

Severe shortages of homes and high demand in the west and in areas impacted by the housing bubble burst are driving the rapid rise of home prices; while it appears that homebuyers may be sidelined by high home prices, increasing home sales suggest that buyers may be buying before higher prices cut them out of the market.

Sales of New and Existing Homes Surpass Expectations in March

Sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.60 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.52 million sales based on February’s reading of5.54 million pre-owned homes sold. Sales of new homes also exceeded expectations with a sales rate 0f 694,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected a reading of 634,000 new hone sales. February’s reading was 667,000 new home sales. As with the boost in sales of pre-owned homes, analysts said that buyers are anxious to buy before they’re priced out of the market or cannot qualify for mortgage loans.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates for the third consecutive week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.58 percent and were 11 basis points higher. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 8 basis points higher at 4.02 percent; The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at 3.74 percent. Rising Treasury yields were driven by higher commodity prices drove mortgage rates higher.

Economic indicators have steadily strengthened, which traditionally boosts home prices. While analysts have shown concerns over rapidly rising home prices and mortgage rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported mortgage applications were 11 percent higher year-over-year.

New jobless claims fell to 209,000 first-time claims filed as compared to expectations of 230,000 new claims, and the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate fewer layoffs and strengthening labor markets.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on inflation, job growth, and national unemployment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 16th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 16th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, the minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims. The University of Michigan released its Consumer Sentiment Index for April.

Inflation Grows, Fed Indicates Future Rate Hikes Likely

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting held March 20 and 21 indicate Fed policymakers are likely to increase the target federal funds rate at their June meeting. Economic indicators including strong labor markets and low unemployment rate were cited as contributing to expectations for federal rate hikes throughout 2018.

How the Fed moves on interest rates affects private sector interest rates as financial institutions typically follow the Fed’s lead regarding raising or not raising consumer lending and mortgage rates.

FOMC minutes said that members noted increasing consumer credit card balances, but also said that sub-prime borrowers continued to have trouble in getting adequate credit at favorable interest rates.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, New Jobless Claims Dip

Mortgage rates were little changed last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to an average of 4.42 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.87 percent.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged one basis point higher at 3.61 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower last week with 223,000 claims filed; analysts expected 230,000 new claims filed based on the prior week’s reading of 242,000 new claims filed. In other news, the University of Michigan released its Consumer Sentiment Index with an index reading of 97.8 for April. Analysts expected a reading of 101.8, which was based on the March reading of 101.4

Consumers surveyed were fearful of possible trade wars resulting from recent tariffs on foreign goods; the consumer sentiment index dipped from its March reading of 101.4 to 97.8. Builders have said that tariffs will increase prices on building materials and such increases would drive home prices up.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on builder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and readings on retail sales. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 9th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 9th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on construction spending, mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. Other labor-related claims included ADP payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Construction Spending Rises in February

Construction spending was higher in February according to the Commerce Department. Spending on building projects rose by 0.10 percent in February Reuters reported that construction spending rose 0.10 percent as compared to expectations of an 0.40 percent increase and January’s unchanged reading. Seasonal weather conditions typically cause lulls in building. Analysts said that residential construction spending increased by 0.10 percent to its highest level since January 2007.

Real estate analysts have consistently indicated that building more homes is the only solution to lingering shortages of available homes in the U.S. Recent news about tariffs on foreign building materials may cause builders to wait and see how tariffs will impact business before going all-out on building homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent.15-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.87 percent, which was three basis points lower than the prior week. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.62 percent and were four basis points lower than for the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 242,000 new claims filed as compared to 225,000 new claims expected and 218,0000 claims filed the prior week.

Labor Reports Show Mixed Results

ADP reported fewer private-sector jobs created in March with 241,000 jobs created as compared to February’s reading of 246,000 new private-sector jobs. The Labor Department reported a sharp drop in Non-Farm payrolls, which measures public and private-sector job growth. 103,000 jobs were added in March as compared to February’s revised reading of 326,000 jobs added. Jobs added in March were at their lowest level since fall 2017.

Analysts put the low Non-Farm payrolls reading in perspective; on average 202,000 jobs were added monthly during the first quarter of 2018 and jobs growth was faster than during first quarters of 2016 and 2017. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.10 percent; this was the lowest rate in 17 years. Low unemployment rates typically indicate few layoffs and suggest strong economic growth.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will release minutes from its last meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 2nd, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 2nd, 2018  Last week’s economic releases included readings from Case-Shiller, pending home sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.    

Case-Schiller: Home Prices Continue to Rise

According to Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for January, U.S. home prices continued to rise at a rapid pace with the national home price index rising at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.20 percent. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 6.40 percent year-over-year. Seattle, Washington held the top spot with year-over-year home price growth of 12.90 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada reported year-over-year home price growth of 11.20 percent. After a lull in home price growth, San Francisco, California home prices grew by 10.20 percent year-over-year. The only city to lose ground in the 20-City Index was Washington, D.C., which posted a drop of 0.40 percent in January, but posted a year-over-year gain of 2.40 percent.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Dow Jones S&P Indices Committee, said that rapidly rising home prices were all about supply and demand. Growing demand and slim supplies of homes for sale were again cited as the primary reason for rapidly rising home prices. Faced with limited choices and rising mortgage rates, more buyers could be sidelined until demand subsides or inventories of available homes increase.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported slight drops in average mortgage rates last week. 30-year mortgage rates dropped by one basis point to 4.44 percent; 15-year mortgage rates averaged one basis point lower at 3.90 percent, and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also dropped by one basis point to 3.66 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week with 215,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 230,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 227,000 new claims filed.

Consumer Sentiment dipped lower in March with an index reading of 101.4, which fell below expectations of 102.0 and February’s index reading of 102.0.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, and labor-related readings on ADP payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 26th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 26th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included readings on new and pre-owned home sales and the Federal Open Market Committee’s customary post meeting statement. Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave his first press conference as Chair of the Federal Reserve and FOMC. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

February Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Exceed Expectations, New Home Sales Fall Short

Sales of previously-owned homes exceeded expectations at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million sales. Analysts expected a rate of 5.40 million sales based on January’s reading of 5.38 million sales.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist, said that low inventories of available homes continued to impact rising home prices. Mr. Yun said that he did not expect any let-up on home price growth. February’s inventory of available homes slipped to a 3.4 months supply; a six-months supply of homes for sale is considered average and an indication of healthy housing markets.

Mr. Yun said that he may adjust forecasts for home price growth. First-time buyers are being squeezed out of housing markets due to rapidly rising home prices. The average price for a home was $241,700 in February. First-time buyer participation dropped to 29 percent of buyers as compared to an average of approximately 40 percent.

Regional sales of pre-owned homes were mixed. Sales in the Northeast dipped 12.30 percent; Midwest sales dipped by 2.40 percent. The South posted 6.60 percent growth in home sales, and the West reported 11.40 percent growth in home sales year-over-year.

Sales of new homes dipped in February.to 618,000 sales as compared to expectations of 630,000 sales and January’s reading of 622,000 sales of new homes. Combined effects of seasonal weather and homebuyer concerns over rising mortgage rates and home prices likely contributed to the drop in new home sales.

FOMC Raises Key Rate, New Fed Chair Sees Stronger Economy

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee raised the target federal funds rate to a range of 1.50 -1.75 percent, a move that was widely expected. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that the Fed would continue a modest pace of raising rates in 2018 but indicated a more aggressive pace for raising rates may be appropriate in 2019.

Federal Reserve analysts predicted eight rate hikes between 2018 and the end of 2020; this estimate includes that last three rate increases. Wednesday’s rate hike was the sixth quarter-point rate hike since December 2015.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave his first press conference as Fed Chair after the FOMC post-meeting statement. He indicated he is not fearful of inflation overheating and said that he would protect recent tax cuts.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates ticked up by one basis for all three types of mortgages it tracks. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.45 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.91 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.68 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose last week to 229,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 225,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 226,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts noted that winter readings for jobless claims can be unpredictable and don’t indicate weakening job markets.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, readings on pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 5th, 2018

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 29, 2018Last week’s economic releases included readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and construction spending. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released its monthly statement and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released. Last week’s economic readings wrapped with a report on consumer confidence.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Rise in November

Home prices rose an average of 0.70 percent monthly and 6.20 percent year-over-year according to Case-Shiller’s national home price index for November. Seattle, Washington posted the highest year-over-year home price growth rate at 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada posted year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent and San Francisco, California posted a home price growth rate of 9.10 percent. Home price gains were attributed to slim supplies of available homes in many areas.

While analysts suggested that strong housing markets (as reflected by high demand for homes) were good for the economy, issues of affordability, slim inventories of homes available and obstacles facing builders continue to impact housing markets.

Recent gains in home prices are fueled by artificially high demand caused by low inventories of homes for sale. Builders cited shortages of labor and buildable lots and said increasing materials costs were impacting rising prices for new homes. Construction spending rose 0.70 percent in December, which exceeded expectations of 0.50 percent and November’s month-to-month reading of 0.60 percent growth in construction spending.

Pending Home Sales Rise, Key Fed Interest Rate Unchanged

The National Association of Realtors® reported 0.50 percent growth in pending home sales in December and the highest month-to-month reading since March 2017. Year-over-year pending home sales gained only 0.50 percent. Pending sales reflect purchase contracts signed with sales not yet closed.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced that it would not raise the target federal funds range of 1.25 to 1.50 percent, but indicated that inflation was nearing the Fed’s goal of 2 percent annually. Analysts said this could foreshadow a rate increase at the Committee’s next meeting in March.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Markets Survey. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to an average of 4.22 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.68 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked up one basis point to 3.53 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims dipped by 1000 claims to 230,000claims. Analysts expected 240,000 new claims. The University of Michigan reported a lower reading for consumer sentiment in January with an index reading of 95.7 as compared to an expected reading of 95.0 and December’s reading of 95.90. Consumer sentiment remains near pre-recession highs. Consumers cited tax breaks and large stock market gains as the basis for high confidence.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on job openings and consumer credit along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Planning Ahead For The Federal Reserve’s Next Move

Fed Funds Rate v 30-Year Fixed RateIn Washington, D.C. today, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins a 2-day meeting, its fifth of 8 scheduled meetings this year.

Mortgage rates are expected to change upon the FOMC’s adjournment. Rate shoppers and home buyers would do well to be alert.

The Federal Open Market Committee is a rotating 12-person subcommittee within the Federal Reserve. It’s the group which makes U.S. monetary policy. 

“Making monetary policy” has many meanings but the action for which the FOMC is most well-known is its setting of the Fed Funds Funds. The Fed Funds Rate is the prescribed interest rate at which banks borrow money from each other overnight.

Since late-2008, the Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent.

The Fed Funds Rate and Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate move along different paths. Sometimes, the two converge. Other times, they diverge. They’ve been separated by as much as 529 basis points in the past 12 years, and they’ve have been as near to each other as 52 basis points.

Clearly, there’s no correlation between the Fed’s Fed Funds Rate and the common 30-year mortgage. However, with its words, the Federal Reserve can influence the direction in which mortgage rates move — on occasion, by a lot.

We’ll be witness to this Wednesday.

When the FOMC adjourns, it is expected to announce no change in the Fed Funds Rate. Yet, based on the verbiage of the post-meeting statement, mortgage rates will rise or fall accordingly. If the Fed notes that the economy is sagging and that new stimulus is planned, mortgage rates are expected to drop. This is because new, Fed-led stimulus would be a boon for mortgage markets which would, in turn, drive mortgage rates down.

Conversely, if the Fed acknowledges growth in the U.S. economy and/or little need for new stimulus, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Either way, expect rates to change — we just can’t know in what direction. The FOMC adjourns at 2:15 PM Wednesday.