Case-Shiller Shows Home Price Improvement In 90% Of Cities

Case-Shiller Change In Home Values Mar-Apr 2010

Standard & Poors released its Case-Shiller Index Tuesday.  The index is a monthly home valuation report from select cities and among the private sector's most popular home pricing models.

In reviewing the April Case-Shiller Index and its accompanying analysis, it appears that the housing market's rebound is gathering momentum.

In the index's 20 tracked cities:

  • 18 of 20 improved from March to April 2010
  • Versus April 2009, home prices are up nearly 4 percent
  • The two "down" cities from April -- Miami and New York -- are off just 0.5% and 1.0% annually, respectively

Furthermore, as another sign of strength, San Diego, a city in which homeowners have lost a lot of equity since 2007, has now shown 12 straight months of home price improvement.

However, the Case-Shiller Index must be kept in context. It's far from perfect.

For one, the index reports on a 60-day delay; it's only now showing data from the end of April, when the federal homebuyer tax credit was expiring. Home sales have been weak since then it's been reported.

And second, the Case-Shiller Index is limited to just 20 cities nationwide. Therefore, the index doesn't consider every home sale in every American city -- it only considers a select few. Many more U.S. homes are excluded from the Case-Shiller Index than are included.

But, despite its flaws, the Case-Shiller Index remains important with respect to economic analysis. Much like the government’s Home Price Index, Case-Shiller helps to identify broader trends in housing that shape government and monetary policy.


The 1 Force That Can Really Change A Mortgage Rate

Inflation and mortgage ratesAll day, every day, conforming and FHA mortgage rates in Georgia are in flux.  Rates move in response to hundreds of factors which exact varying levels of influence.

Among the biggest influences on mortgage rates is inflation.  When inflation is unexpectedly high, mortgage rates tend to rise quickly. Conversely, when inflation is unexpectedly low, rates tend to fall quickly.

But what is inflation?

By definition, inflation is when a currency loses its value; when what used to cost $1.00 now costs $1.10.

As consumers, we recognize inflation by the items we buy on a daily basis becoming more expensive.  However, it's not that goods are more expensive -- it's that the dollars we're using to buy them have become worth less.

With respect to mortgage rates, this is a big deal because mortgage rates are directly related to the price of a special type of bond called a mortgage-backed bond.

On Wall Street, mortgage-backed bonds are priced, bought, and sold in U.S. dollars so as inflation renders those dollars less valuable, so it does to mortgage-backed bonds as well. It's a chain reaction by which mortgage bonds lose value, leading investors sell them, causing bond prices to fall on the excess supply.

And, because mortgage rates move opposite of bond prices, as inflation takes hold, mortgage rates rise.

Lately, inflation has been exceptionally low. The Federal Reserve acknowledged as much in its last statement to the markets, and available data backs that position.  This, after predictions that inflation would be "runaway" in 2010.

The Cost of Living is up just modestly this year and it's helping mortgage rates stay low. And, so long as it lasts, the cost of owning a home in Vinings will remain relatively inexpensive.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : June 28, 2010

Non-Farm Payrolls June 2008-May 2010Mortgage markets improved last week in response to mostly negative data about the U.S. economy, and the Federal Reserve's acknowledgement that Eurozone financial ills could cross the Atlantic.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates fell last week, extending a rate rally that dates to early-April.  Mortgage rates have fallen to several, new, all-time lows during this period and last week was no different.

The best rates of last week hit Thursday morning.

This week, mortgage rates should be volatile, and may rise, too.  There's a bevy of data due for release, and market volume will be light with the long weekend looming.

Monday, the Personal Consumptions Expenditures Price Index is published. More commonly known as "PCE", the index is the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge. When inflation is running higher than expected, mortgage rates tend to rise.

Conversely, when inflation is running lower than expected, mortgage rates tend to fall.

Tuesday, the Case-Shiller Index will be released for April's home prices, along with two consumer confidence reports.  As with PCE, strength tends to lead mortgage rates higher and weakness draws them lower.

Thursday, the National Association of REALTORS® releases its Pending Home Sales Index for May and the Department of Labor releases initial and continuing jobless claims number.

Then, Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes June's jobs report, including the Unemployment Rate.  This number is always a market-mover, but with the long vacation weekend looming, it's expected that Friday's volume will be light on Wall Street, creating extra volatility. 

Mortgage rates may be erratic, in other words.

If you've been shopping for mortgages, you've been rewarded with falling rates. However, will rates cutting new lows almost weekly and expected to reverse soon, it may be a good time to lock up your savings.

Talk to your loan officer ASAP about locking in your rate.


Buyers Take The May 2010 New Home Sales Data All The Way To The Bank

New Home Supply May 2009 - May 2010

One month after the federal homebuyer tax credit's official expiration, the New Home Sales report turned in its worst showing ever.

In May 2010, for the first time in 11 months, the inventory of unsold new homes crossed the 8-month marker, posting an 8.5 month supply overall.

Additionally, new homes sales volume fell to 300,000 units nationwide -- a drop of 32% and its lowest level since the Commerce Department started tracking data in 1963.

Now, universally, the press is referring to the May New Home Sales report as "poor".  A closer look, however, shows that may not be the case.

For one, we have to keep New Home Sales in perspective as a percentage of overall home sales. Yes, there were just 300,000 new homes sold in May, but there were also 5.66 million "existing" homes sold.

New Home Sales, therefore, accounted for just 5 percent of the total housing market -- a very small percentage.

Another reason why the weak New Home Sales data isn't so awful is that, when New Home Sales stall, it actually benefits home buyers.  Excess supply puts a strain on sellers which, in turn, gives buyers a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiation.

When home inventories are high, builders are more apt to appease their customers in hopes of making a sale.  For Kennesaw home buyers, this can result in buying a better product at a lower price.

Especially with builder confidence plummeting.

Since February 2009, housing has shown steady gains. There's been both peaks and valleys across units, inventories, and prices, but overall, the market is improving.  May's New Home Sales data shows how now may an opportune time to "buy new".


A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (June 23, 2010 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, in its first meeting in 5 weeks, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. 

The Fed Fund Rate remains within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC said that, since April, "the economic recovery is proceeding" and that the jobs market "is improving gradually". Business spending "has risen significantly", too, with the exception of commercial real estate.

Today's statement is the 8th straight press release in which the Fed shows optimism for the U.S. economy, dating back to June 2009.  Since that time, the Fed has terminated all of the programs it created to support the economy through the economic crisis.

The recession is widely believed to be over.

And, although the Fed's statement acknowledged economic growth, it did highlight lingering threats, too.

  1. Employers are still reluctant to hire new workers
  2. European debt concerns could spill-over to the U.S.
  3. Bank lending is contracting

Also, as expected, the Fed re-affirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for an extended period", citing that "inflation has trended lower" recently.

Mortgage market reaction has been positive thus far. Mortgage rates in Georgia are slightly improved post-FOMC.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is August 10, 2010.

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (June 23, 2010 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, in its first meeting in 5 weeks, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. 

The Fed Fund Rate remains within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC said that, since April, "the economic recovery is proceeding" and that the jobs market "is improving gradually". Business spending "has risen significantly", too, with the exception of commercial real estate.

Today's statement is the 8th straight press release in which the Fed shows optimism for the U.S. economy, dating back to June 2009.  Since that time, the Fed has terminated all of the programs it created to support the economy through the economic crisis.

The recession is widely believed to be over.

And, although the Fed's statement acknowledged economic growth, it did highlight lingering threats, too.

  1. Employers are still reluctant to hire new workers
  2. European debt concerns could spill-over to the U.S.
  3. Bank lending is contracting

Also, as expected, the Fed re-affirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for an extended period", citing that "inflation has trended lower" recently.

Mortgage market reaction has been positive thus far. Mortgage rates in Georgia are slightly improved post-FOMC.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is August 10, 2010.

May 2010 Existing Home Sales Is Better Than The Headline Data Suggests

Existing Home Sales May 2009-May 2010Existing Home Sales dropped in May for the first time in 3 months but still managed to post its second-highest since November 2009, buoyed by the expiring federal tax credit program.

An "existing home" is a home that cannot be considered new construction; a resale of an existing home.  Existing Home Sales fell 2.2 percent in May.

The press is calling the drop in sales "unexpected" and disappointing, but a deeper look at the data shows the news isn't as bad as it first appears.

First, on a regional basis, sales were mostly solid. Only the Northeast region posted a loss. The West even managed a gain.

  • Northeast : -18.3 percent
  • Midwest : 0.0 percent
  • South : +0.5 percent
  • West : +4.9 percent

Second, the supply of homes for sale dropped to 8.3 in May and, because home prices are based on supply and demand, this is a positive for pricing.

By comparison, in 2008, the average existing home inventory was 10.4 months.

And, lastly, in May, first-time home buyers represented 46 percent of all buyers. The number was likely buoyed by the tax credit program but that doesn't damper the fact that first-time buyers provide a support floor for the housing market. 

First-time buyers in Atlanta enable "existing owners" to move-up to bigger homes, which, in turn, trickles up to the mid-size and jumbo markets.

Analysts expected more from May's numbers and that may explain why the reaction to the data is generally negative.  However, in many cities, home resales did just fine.


Making A Mortgage Rate Strategy Ahead Of The Fed's Meeting This Week

Fed Funds Rate June 2007-June 2010The Federal Open Market Committee begins a 2-day meeting today, its fourth scheduled meeting of the year, and fifth overall.

The FOMC is the monetary policy-setting part of the government and its primary tool for that purpose is the Fed Funds Rate

The Fed Funds Rate is the dictated rate at which banks borrow money from each other and, since December 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve has voted to keep the benchmark rate within a target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

This is the lowest Fed Funds Rate in history. A rate near zero-point-zero percent renders borrowing by business and consumers cheap which, in turn, promotes investment and growth.

There's no expectation for the Fed to change the Fed Funds Rate after it adjourns tomorrow, but that doesn't mean consumers in Kennesaw should expect mortgage rates to remain unchanged, too.

To the contrary, mortgage rates tend to be volatile when the FOMC is meeting.  This is because the FOMC issues a press release after each meeting and in that press release, it comments on the economy's unique threats, strengths and weaknesses.

When the FOMC speaks, Wall Street listens. 

The words of the Chairman Ben Bernanke's press release will be dissected and analyzed.  A single mention of higher-than-expected inflation levels, or better-than-expected growth, and traders will rush to dump their bond positions in favor of equities. 

This has a negative effect on mortgage rates.

Conversely, if the Fed is dour on the economy, mortgage rates may fall.

We can’t know for sure what the Fed will say or do tomorrow afternoon so if you're floating a mortgage rate and wondering whether to lock, the safe choice is to lock prior to 2:15 PM ET Wednesday.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : June 21, 2010

FOMC meets this weekMortgage markets improved last week on weaker-than-expected jobless figures, ongoing troubles in Europe, and a tame reading on domestic inflation.

As a result, conforming mortgage rates for Georgia fell last week, drawing loads of new refinance applications.

For a brief moment Thursday afternoon, mortgage bond prices pierced a key support level, dropping rates in Kennesaw to their best levels of the year. 

It didn't last long, however. By Friday morning, pricing was worsening on profit-taking and in preparation for this week -- a week that promises to be heavy on both data and rhetoric.

To mortgage markets, this can be a dangerous combination.

The biggest news of the week is the Federal Reserve's 2-day meeting, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington D.C. 

The Fed is expected to hold the Fed Funds Rate in its target range near 0.000-0.250 percent. It won't be what the Fed does at its meeting that will matter to rates, though. It will be what the Fed says -- about jobs, about growth, about inflation -- in its post-meeting press release.

Remarks that reflect well upon the economy should lead mortgage rates higher. Remarks viewed as negative should lead mortgage rates down.

There's key data due for release next week, too:

  • Tuesday : Existing Home Sales and Home Price Index
  • Wednesday : New Home Sales
  • Thursday : Continuing Jobless Claims
  • Friday : GDP and Consumer Sentiment

Mortgage rates remained relatively tame last week.  This week, volatility should return.

If you're shopping for a mortgage, rates remain very low but could reverse quickly. Your biggest risk is tied to the Fed's adjournment Wednesday afternoon.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Shopping And Paying Bills Online? Here's Methods To Protect Your Online Financial Identity

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

In May 2010, Retail Sales at non-store retailers -- a category that includes Amazon and eBay -- topped $29 billion, up 16 percent from May 2009. Clearly, Americans are doing an increasing amount of shopping online. And we're paying our bills online, too.

But how well are we protecting our identities?

In this 5-minute piece from NBC's The Today Show, you'll learn the basics of online fraud and methods to minimize the likelihood of identity theft. Furthermore, the tips go beyond the basic "choose a challenging password". For example, you'll hear about:

  • Why you shouldn't pay bills from a coffee shop
  • Who might be hiding behind an unprotected public wifi network
  • The dangers of storing credit card numbers with an online retailer

And, although, at one point, the interviewee goes over the top with respect to spyware and anti-phishing prevention, the point being made is a good one -- you can't be too careful with your online financials and common sense goes a long way.


When to lock your Georgia Mortgage Loan

This week is fairly busy with five economic reports scheduled to be released. Two of the five are considered to be of high importance to the markets and mortgage rates. The remaining three are of interest to the markets but likely will not cause a large change in mortgage rates unless they vary greatly from forecasts. None of the relevant data is being posted tomorrow or Tuesday, so look for the stock markets to influence bond trading and mortgage rates again.

The first data of the week comes Wednesday when there are three reports scheduled to be posted. The day's reports are a broad spectrum of data ranging from housing figures to manufacturing output to an important inflation reading. Their importance to the markets also is a wide variety. The first report of the day is May's Housing Starts that tracks starts of new home projects. It is the week's least important report and likely will not affect mortgage rates unless its results vary gr eatly from the 2.8% decline that is expected.

The second is one of the two highly important reports of the week. May's Producer Price Index (PPI) will also be posted early Wednesday morning. It helps us measure inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two readings of this index, the overall and the core data. The core data is considered to be the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. A large increase could raise concern about inflation rising as soon as the economy gains some traction. This would not be good news for bond prices or mortgage rates since inflation erodes the value of a bond's future fixed interest payments. Rising inflation causes investors to sell bonds, driving prices lower and mortgage rates higher. Analysts are expecting to see a decline of 0.5% in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the core data. It will not take much of a variance from forecasts for the markets to re act, which would most likely lead to changes in mortgage rates.

The third and final piece of data scheduled for Wednesday is May's Industrial Production. This report will be released at 9:15 AM ET and is considered to be moderately important. It measures output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities, giving us a fairly important measurement of manufacturing sector strength. If it reveals that production is rising, concerns of manufacturing strength may come into play in the bond market. A larger than expected 0.8% increase would indicate that the manufacturing sector is stronger than expected and would likely help push mortgage rates higher. That is assuming that the PPI doesn't surprise us.

There are two reports scheduled for release Thursday, but one of them is the week's most important and arguably the single most important report we see each month. That is May's Consumer Price Index (CPI). It is very similar to Wednesday's PPI, but measures inflat ionary pressures at the more important consumer level of the economy. It is expected to show a 0.2% drop in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data. A larger than expected increase in the core reading would most likely lead to a noticeable upward change to mortgage rates Thursday.

May's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) will be posted late Thursday morning. The Conference Board, who is a New York-based business research group, will post this data. It attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. Good news for mortgage rates would a decline in this index, but the CPI is much more important to the markets than this index. Therefore, if the CPI reveals any surprises, this data will likely have little impact on Thursday's mortgage rates. It is expected to show a 0.4% increase.

Overall, look for Wednesday to be the biggest day of the week. Not just because it brings the release of three of the five reports, but al so because it brings us the PPI that is considered to be a key inflation reading. Thursday is also very important with the CPI being posted, so look for the most movement in rates during the middle part of the week.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock

Georgia mortgage rates Lowest of the year!

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT
Retail Sales (June 2008 - May 2010)Georgia Mortgage markets posted four good days last week and one awful one. Unfortunately for rate shoppers , that one bad day outweighed the gains of the other four and mortgage rates worsened on the week overall.
Despite re-touching all-time lows on Tuesday and Wednesday, Conforming and FHA mortgage rates moved higher on the week.
There wasn't much domestic data on which for mortgage markets to move so rates took their cues from global economic activity. Strong data from Japan and China, plus an improving outlook from the Eurozone, sparked optimism among Wall Street investors. Cash poured into the stock market and it happened at the expense of bonds -- including the mortgage-backed ones.
It's the primary reasons rates rose and not even the worst Retail Sales report in 8 months could undue the damage.
Often, weak Retail Sales data causes mortgage rates to fall. Last week, however, that wasn't the case.
This week, there's cause for rates to rise again with Wednesday emerging as a "data day".
First, at 8:30 AM ET, the government releases two key housing statistics and one major gauge for inflation -- Housing Starts, Building Permits and Producer Price Index, respectively. Strength in any or all three should lead mortgage rates higher.
Then, at 5:45 PM ET, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke makes a public speech and anytime Bernanke speaks, mortgage rates can move.
Georgia Mortgage rates remain unnaturally low and a lot of Americans have taken advantage already. If you're a homeowner and you've wondered whether or not a refinance makes sense, talk to your loan officer straight away. Low rates like this can't last forever so lock one in while you can.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums Approved To Triple In Cost

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

FHA mortgage insurance premiums approved to triple Starting sometime later this year, the monthly cost to carry an FHA-insured mortgage is expected to rise.

In a near-unanimous vote, the House of Representatives gave the FHA power to raise the monthly mortgage insurance premiums it charges to its borrowers.

Currently, monthly mortgage insurance premiums are 0.55% of the unpaid loan balance, divided by 12. The recently approved Federal Housing Administration Reform Act provides for an increase in monthly premium of up to 1.55 percent, among other details of the bill.

Despite the ability to charge 1.55 percent, FHA officials say an increase to 0.90 percent would be sufficient to self-insure its loans.

In everyday terms, assuming a $200,000 mortgage, the math to a homeowner looks as follows:

  • Current Premium (0.55%) : $91.67 monthly mortgage insurance premium
  • Expected Increase (0.90%) : $150.00 monthly mortgage insurance premium
  • Maximum Increase (1.55%) : $258.33 monthly mortgage insurance premium

A increase in monthly mortgage insurance premiums will reduce home affordability and strain household budgets.

The news isn't all terrible, however.

Because higher monthly insurance premiums are expected to pad the FHA coffers sufficiently, the FHA has said it plans to reduce its upfront mortgage insurance premium paid at closing from 2.25 percent down to 1.000 percent.

On the same $200,000 mortgage, a move like that would reduces closing costs by $2,500.

The bill awaits companion legislation in Senate and final approval into law, but considering the House's lopsided vote Thursday, it could happen rather quickly. If you're planning to buy or refinance a home using an FHA mortgage, you may find that waiting to take the next step could be a costly one, long-term.

The FHA insured close to a quarter of all mortgages made in the first three months of 2010.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Bank Reposessions Reach Record Levels For The Second Straight Month

Posted: 10 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Foreclosure concentration, by state (May 2010)

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.com, bank repossessions reached record levels for the second straight month in May, topping 93,000 properties nationwide.

As compared to May 2009, all 50 states now show an increase in annual REO activity.

Data like that won't surprise today's active home buyers. Foreclosed homes are prevalent, available and accounted for one-third of all home resales made in April.

Furthermore, total foreclosure actions -- the sum of REO, default notices, and foreclosure auctions in May -- topped 300,000 for the 15th straight month.

Foreclosures remain a huge influence on the housing market.

However, two interesting trends emerged in the data:

  1. 9 of the top 10 metro areas for foreclosure posted annual activity decreases
  2. Each of the top 4 states for Foreclosures per Household posted annual activity decreases

We can infer, therefore, that foreclosure activity may be in permanent decline in the areas hardest hit through 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2010, the data shows, foreclosures are waning.

This is reason for optimism -- especially as FHA delinquencies slow nationwide. As fewer homeowners go delinquent, the pace of foreclosures will slow further and that should help boost home values on every block in the country.

If you've been considered bank-owned homes for your own purchase, give a look at the RealtyTrac foreclosure report. It's provides insight on a state-by-state level, and in the nation's largest metropolitan areas.

Then, to complement your research, talk to your real estate about the foreclosure market and what opportunities may exist. Competition for bank-owned homes can be fierce at times, but there's plenty of "deals" out there.

You just have to know where to look.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Conforming Loan Costs Are Rising, Says Freddie Mac

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Mortgage discount points are risingMortgage rates may be dropping, but mortgage costs are not.

According to Freddie Mac, the average required discount points on a conforming mortgage rate are higher by 0.1 percent since early-May.

A "discount point" is prepaid mortgage interest; an up-front fee paid by a borrower in exchange for a lower mortgage rate. In most cases, discount points are tax-deductible.

Tax-deductible or not, though, rising costs are rising costs and Freddie Mac glosses over it. In its weekly press release, the government group offers mortgage rate comparisons to weeks prior, but doesn't do the same for required points.

The press fails to mention discount points entirely.

An increase of 1/10 percent in discount points costs homebuyers and refinancing households an extra $100 per $100,000 borrowed.

The hike reminds us that there's more to a mortgage than just its rate -- costs matter, too. And if you've only been watching the headlines, you would have missed how costs are rising.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Fannie Mae's Loan Quality Initiative : Repulling Your Credit Just Before Closing

Posted: 08 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Fannie Mae adds credit repullsA new loan quality initiative from Fannie Mae is making it harder for home buyers and refinancing homeowners everywhere to close on a mortgage.

Beginning June 1, 2010, with all new applications, Fannie Mae wants lenders to verify that borrowers have not taken on new debt during the underwriting phase of the mortgage.

If new debts are found, the mortgage is subject to a re-underwrite and a possible turndown.

For Fannie Mae, the goal is to reduce the number of loans that go bad because of new, non-disclosed debt. Lenders have the freedom to verify in whatever manner they wish, but in most cases, the verification process will amount to a credit re-pull made just prior to closing.

The underwriters will be looking for 3 things in particular -- even after your loan is approved.

First, your updated credit report will show your current credit card bills and minimum monthly payments. Those numbers will replace your original numbers made at the time of application. If the debts exceed a certain threshold, your loan will be denied.

Second, underwriters will be looking at your updated credit score. If your FICO has dropped below minimum lending standards, your loan will be denied. Or, you may be subject to a new loan-level pricing adjustment.

Loan level pricing adjustments are mandatory loan fee based on your credit score.

And, lastly, underwriters will be looking at your credit report's Credit Inquiry section. The goal is to see if you've been applying for credit elsewhere. Underwriters can use this information at their discretion.

Fannie Mae's Loan Quality Initiative is just one more way that the government-backed group is trying to improve its loan pools. Unfortunately, it'll mean more turndowns for mortgage applicants.

Therefore, take extra care of your credit between the time of application and the time of closing. Don't buy new cars, don't buy new appliances, and -- most definitely -- don't open new credit cards. Be extra safe with your credit because a mortgage application that's supposedly cleared-to-close can be revoked at the eleventh hour.

When in doubt, talk to your loan officer about what may or may not trigger the Loan Quality Initiative. Your loan approval is at stake.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : June 7, 2010

Posted: 07 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Non-Farm Payrolls June 2008-May 2010Rate shoppers caught another break last week as mortgage markets improved on weak jobs data.

The May Non-Farm Payrolls report fell well short of expectations while ongoing jobless claims rose. The two combined to cast doubt on the speed of the U.S. economic recovery, hurting stocks and helping bonds.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates dropped for the fifth time in six weeks and, once again, rates are trolling back near all-time lows.

No doubt you've heard that before -- "mortgage rates at all-time lows". Mortgage rates have dipped to these levels four times in the last 19 months. However, on each occasion, it wasn't long after touching bottom before rates reversed higher.

  • November 2008 : Roughly 90 minutes
  • March 2009 : Roughly 6 hours
  • May 2009 : Roughly 1 day
  • May 2010 : Roughly 3 hours

This week, rates could stay low for a matters of hours, or days -- we can't really know. Especially with no "major" data due for release. Instead, most of this week's economic news is incidental. That means that mortgage markets will move based on trader sentiment and "gut feel".

The good news is that the market momentum is currently in the rate shoppers' favor. We entered the weekend with rates falling and they look poised to open Monday no worse.

Here's a look at what's ahead this week:

  • Monday: Consumer credit, a critical piece of consumer spending
  • Wednesday : The Beige Book, a regional economic report from the Fed
  • Thursday : Initial and continuing jobless claims
  • Friday : Retail Sales and the Consumer Sentiment report

Market sentiment is a strange animal. One minute it can be your friend and, the next, it can be your enemy. Opinions change swiftly on Wall Street and so do mortgage rates.

If you're still not locked in, consider making your move. Rates have a lot farther to rise than they do to fall. You won't want to be on the wrong side of the bet when rates start rising.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

May 2010 Jobs Report Gives A Temporary Boost To Home Affordability

Posted: 04 Jun 2010 08:45 AM PDT

Unemployment Rate 2007-2010On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls data from the month prior.

The release is more commonly called "the jobs report" -- a major factor in mortgage rates and monthly payments.

Especially now.

With the recession officially over and growth returning to the U.S. economy, the recovery's next frontier is jobs. As job growth increases, home affordability should take a hit. Here's why:

  1. As the number of working Americans increases, so should total consumer spending
  2. As consumer spending increases, so should a return to risk-taking on Wall Street
  3. As risk-taking returns to Wall Street, bond markets should start to lose

Mortgage rates, therefore, should rise.

Furthermore, as the jobs market stabilizes and recovers, renters should be more apt to buy their first home, and homeowners should be apt to up-size. More home buyers means more competition for homes and higher home prices typically follow.

Job growth can be trickle-up for housing.

Today, however, the jobs data was not so strong. According to the government, 431,000 jobs were created in May, but of those new jobs, 95.4% represented temporary staffing for the 2010 Census. The number of private-sector jobs created fell well short of expectations and Wall Street is voting with its dollars right now. Mortgage bonds are gaining so, therefore, rates are falling.

The May 2010 jobs report may not reflect well on the economy, but home affordability around the country is improving because of it.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Pending Home Sales Data Shows "Great Deals On Homes" Are Getting Harder To Find

Posted: 03 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Pending Home Sales Oct 2008 to April 2010The Pending Home Sales Index shot higher in April as low mortgage rates and a soon-to-expire federal tax credit spurred home buying across the county.

A "pending home sale" is a home that's under contract to sell but not yet closed.

Region-by-region, April's pending home sales varied versus March's data:

  • Northeast Region: +29.5%
  • Midwest Region : +4.1%
  • South Region : -0.6% (after a +15.9% posting in March)
  • West Region : +7.5%

On an annual basis, the Pending Home Sales Index is higher by 22 percent.

April marks the third straight month that pending home sales are up and today's buyers should take note. This is because, according to the National Association of Realtors®, 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days.

In other words, May and June's existing home sales data should be similarly strong, causing the real estate market to gently shift in favor of sellers. In fact, already, we're seeing home resales touch multi-year highs while new home supplies fall to multi-year lows.

All of it tends to push home prices higher while simultaneously reducing buyer negotiation leverage. That, coupled with the high probability of higher mortgage rates ahead, means that finding "deals" will get tougher for the average home buyer.

In looking at the housing market data, it appears that the best month in which to have bought a home this year was February. The next best time may be right now.

Talk to your real estate agent if you're planning to buy a home this year. It may be sensible to move up your time frame a few months.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Consumer Confidence Hints At Higher Home Prices And Higher Mortgage Rates, Too

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Consumer Confidence Index May 2008-May 2010The Consumer Confidence Index is rising, a potentially double-edged sword for Americans, in general.

According to The Conference Board, economic confidence is as high as it's been since August 2007 -- 4 months before the start of the recession. Americans are optimistic again.

Confidence matters to the economy because as confidence increases, in theory, consumer spending follows. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

It's why Wall Street is responsive to confidence data.

When consumer confidence is rising, households start to make big-ticket purchases they may have otherwise put off indefinitely. Maybe it's a replacing old appliances; or, trading in an old automobiles; or, splurging on a vacation.

Rising confidence can also spur real estate sales.

When confidence is rising, a growing family that chose to "make do" in their 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom starter home may opt to move-up to a 4-bedroom, 3-bath instead at a slightly higher monthly carrying cost. And there are families in every city in every state making those same decisions.

As a result, the housing market gets a boost -- especially in the mid-to-upper price ranges. Values rise on higher demand for homes.

The downside is that growing confidence tends to push conforming and FHA mortgage rates up. This is because an expanding economy draws investment dollars away from bonds and into stocks -- including mortgage bonds.

The reduced demand for mortgage-backed bonds leads bond prices to fall and mortgage rates to rise. Sometimes by a little, sometimes by lot.

So, if you're buying a home or thinking of a refinance, rising confidence in the economy may be a signal to act sooner rather than later. Talk to your real estate agent and/or your loan officer about next steps and get your plan in place.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : June 1, 2010

Posted: 01 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Non-Farm Payrolls May 2008-April 2010Mortgage markets worsened last week as concerned of a global debt crisis lessened and stock markets rebounded. The gains in stocks came at the expense of bonds -- including mortgage bonds.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates rose for the first time in 5 weeks, pulling mortgage pricing off its best levels of the year.

The best mortgage rates of last week were locked Tuesday morning.

This week, mortgage rates may rise even more. In addition to the release of May's jobs report and consumer confidence data, fears of broader economic slowdown appear to be easing.

Day-by-day, the chances of rates rising are real.

On Tuesday, a consumer confidence survey is released. Consumer confidence is linked to economic growth because 70 percent of the economy is based in consumer spending. In theory, as consumer confidence grows, the economy should, too.

Therefore, a strong reading should push mortgage rates higher.

Then, on Wednesday, Pending Home Sales and Auto Sales data is released for last month. Both items are "big ticket" and, again, reflect on consumer confidence. Strong readings should be rough on rates.

Next, on Thursday, jobless claims data hits the wires along with worker productivity stats. Normally, these two releases don't carry much weight, but with the jobs market in focus this year, markets will be watching for clues about Friday's big report -- the May Non-Farm Payrolls.

Anything can happen when the jobs report is released.

In April, an estimated 290,000 jobs were created and, in May, economists think more than a half-million people re-entered the workforce. This is good for the economy, of course, but can drag on mortgage rates. If job growth even comes close to the 500,000 marker, mortgage rates could zoom higher.

Mortgage rates moved higher last week but are still very low. If you've been thinking about refinancing your mortgage, you probably shouldn't put it off much longer. Talk to your loan officer today -- the longer you wait, the more that rates can rise.