Are You Locked ? Friday’s Job Report Will Make Mortgage Rates Move.

Unemployment RateIf you’re floating a mortgage rate, or have yet to lock one in, today may be a good day to call your loan officer. Friday morning, the government releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report at 8:30 AM ET.

The Non-Farm Payrolls report is more commonly called the “jobs report” and, lately, it’s been Wall Street’s domestic economic metric of choice. As jobs go, so go markets.

In the 12 months beginning November 2007, the economy shed 2.3 million on its way to losing more than 7 million jobs by the end of 2009.

It’s no coincidence that the stock market has been wayward. Jobs are a keystone in the U.S. economy and the connection between jobs and growth is straight-forward :

  1. Workers spend more than non-workers and consumer spending is the economy’s largest single component 
  2. Workers pay more taxes to governments and, when governments have money, they build and spend on projects 
  3. Additional consumer and government spending creates revenue for businesses which, in turn, hire more workers.

It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. More employees begets more employees.

As a rate shopper , this is an important understanding. Job loss was, in part, behind the big drop in mortgage rates since 2007. A weak economy drives investors away from equities and into safer securities such as mortgage bonds (which are backed by the U.S. government).

The excess demand causes mortgage rates to drop and that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Since late-2007, mortgage rates have been in decline.

In the first 11 months of 2011, though, 1.5 million people went back to work; the economy showed signs of shoring up and economic optimism is returning. Mortgage markets have temporarily ceded to the Eurozone, but with one more strong jobs report to close out the year, momentum could tip and stock markets could roll.

If that happens, mortgage rates will rise. Maybe by a lot.

This is why Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls data is so important. Economists expect that 150,000 new jobs were created in December. If the government’s actual number is larger than that, prepare for higher mortgage rates.

Conversely, if job creation falls short of 150,000, mortgage rates may fall.

If the prospect of rising mortgage rates makes you nervous, remove your nerves from the equation. Call your loan officer and lock your rate ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls release.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : November 7, 2011

Fed Funds Rate 2008-2011Mortgage markets improved last week as optimism for a Greek Bailout program faded, triggering a global flight-to-quality assets. Fear of a Eurozone rift outweighed positive economic remarks from the Federal Open Market Committee and an in-line U.S. jobs report.

Although the Federal Reserve said the economy had “strengthened somewhat“, a statement backed up by Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls data which — with revisions — met analyst expectations, concern that Greece may not receive its aid caused mortgage to fall.

Conforming mortgage rates dropped Monday and Tuesday, pushing rates to near their lowest levels of the year. Rates remained low through Friday.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage market survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.00% nationwide, plus closing costs and an accompanying 0.7 discount points.

A “discount point” is a one-time loan fee paid at closing, where 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

As an example, 1 discount point on a $300,000 home loan costs $3,000.

This week, with no new economic due for release, the fate of mortgage rates again depends on what develops in Europe. If Greece cannot reach accord within its own parliament, and cannot enact the austerity measures as dictated by its aid package, mortgage rates should fall this week, too.

However, if Greece can reach agreement and move forward, it will appease investors worldwide and U.S. mortgage rates should resume rising. Likely by a lot.

Remember : The U.S. economy has shown slow, steady improvement of late and, normally, this would result in higher mortgage rates for consumers. That’s not what we’ve experienced, however. Instead, fears of a Greek debt default have dominated headlines.

As soon as markets are certain that Greece has a way forward, attention will return to the U.S. economy, and mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Therefore, float your mortgage rate with caution this week. Depending on global events, mortgage rates may rise or fall. Eliminate your interest rate risk. Lock your rate today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 24, 2011

Greece may not get its aidMortgage markets improved last week on worries that Eurozone leaders would decline to send aid to Greece. These concerns overshadowed optimism for the U.S. economy, the result of several strong data points.

Conforming rates eased, giving homeowners and rate shoppers yet another chance to nab historically-low mortgage rates. FHA mortgage rates remained low, too.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now 4.11% with 0.8 discount points. For loans with zero points, expect to pay slightly higher rates. 

Rate-shoppers and home buyers would do well to pay attention.

This week’s may be as good as mortgage rates get. Possibly forever. This is because the market conditions that helped rates stay low — a weak U.S. economy and uncertainty in Europe — are eroding.

The U.S. economy has posted strong jobs, spending, and confidence figures in the past 3 weeks and Eurozone leaders appear closing making a deal that will help Greece avoid a sovereign debt default.

Once markets no longer worry about these two events, rates are expected to surge.

Eurozone leads met all weekend and have chosen Wednesday, October 26, as a likely “decision date” for Greece. If that date holds, and if an agreement can be reached, U.S. mortgage bonds will sell-off and mortgage rates will rise.

The housing sector is set to release important news this week, too.

After last month’s increase in Housing Starts and steady Existing Home Sales report, Wall Street will watch for this week’s New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Index and Pending Home Sales Index. If momentum stays strong for housing, that, too, should pressure mortgage rates higher.

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows. If you’ve yet to lock your mortgage rate, or are still shopping, consider that rates have more room to rise than to fall. The “safe play” is to execute a lock today.

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

Eurozone trouble aids mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved last week as a weakening Eurozone and questions about the U.S. economy sparked a global flight-to-quality. Conforming and FHA mortgage rates improved for the second week in a row.

The storylines should sound familiar by now. They are the same ones that have dictated the path of mortgage rates since April 2011. As a result, according to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates nationwide are now at an all-time low.

Not in 50 years of tracking mortgage rates has pricing been so favorable.

Last week’s holiday-shortened week didn’t begin well for rate shoppers. Rates moved higher on the expectation of additional economic stimulus from two separate parts of the government — the Federal Reserve and Congress. 

Wall Street held high hopes for Ben Bernanke’s address to the Economic Club of Minnesota, and for the President’s address to a joint session of Congress. It expected Fed Chief Bernanke to reveal clues about the Fed’s next move; and it expected the President to unleash a massive jobs creation program that would put more Americans to work.

Both outcomes would have harmed mortgage rates as money flowed into stocks. However, neither happened. Bernanke kept mum on the Federal Reserve’s options and the White House announced a jobs program smaller in scope than was expected.

Mortgage rates fell throughout the day Thursday then received a big boost Friday.

Amid rumors of a pending Greek default and the potential credit downgrades of several Eurozone banking groups, safe haven buying picked up and drove mortgage rates down.

Markets open this week with rates lower than they’ve ever been in history.

There isn’t much new data set for release this week so market expectations will continue to set the direction in which mortgage rates go. If concerns for a Eurozone default rise, mortgage rates should fall. Conversely, if Eurozone chatter settles, mortgage rates should rise.

For now, mortgage rates remain at all-time lows and should not be taken for granted. If you see a rate that makes sense for you, consider locking it in.