Pending Home Sales Point To Seller's Market This Summer

Pending Home Sales (2010-2011)The National Association of REALTORS® Pending Home Sales Index rose for the third straight month last month.

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

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 5 percent in March, posting its second-highest reading since April 2010. Not coincidentally, that month marked the expiration of last year's federal home buyer tax credit.

Home buyers and sellers in Marietta would do well to watch the Pending Home Sales Index each month. This is because -- unlike most government and private data -- the Pending Home Sales Index is a "forward-looking" indicator.

Because 80% of "pending" homes close within 2 months, and a significant share of the rest close within months 3 and 4, the Pending Home Sales Index tends to correlate to future strength (or weakness) in housing.

The Pending Home Sales Index, in other words, is an excellent precursor to the Existing Home Sales report, issued monthly.

By region, the Pending Home Sales Index varied last month.

  • Northeast : -3.2% from February
  • Southeast : +10.3% from February
  • Midwest : +3.0% from February
  • West : +3.1% from February

All 4 regions were worse from a year ago.

As with everything in housing, however, we must remember that real estate is neither national, nor regional. It's local. Sales volume may be higher in areas like the Midwest, but that doesn't mean that all Midwest markets are experiencing similar gains, if any gains at all.

To get local real estate data for BrookStone, for example , talk to a real estate agent that specializes in that area. It's the best way to know what's happening on the street level.


A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (April 27, 2011 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishEarlier today, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The vote was 10-0 -- the third straight meeting after which the FOMC vote was unanimous.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that since its March 2011 meeting, the economic recovery is proceeding "at a moderate pace" and that labor markets conditions are "improving gradually". Household spending and business investment "continue[s] to expand" but the housing sector remains "depressed".

Furthermore, the FOMC's statement discussed the Federal Reserve's dual mandate of (1) Managing inflation levels, and (2) Fostering maximum employment. The statement acknowledged recent inflation pressures on the economy, but it expects those pressures -- because they're related to oil and food prices -- to be "transitory". Unemployment remains "elevated".

The FOMC statement also re-affirms the group's plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for an extended period" of time, and to keep its $600 billion bond market support package -- more commonly called "QE2" -- intact.

The statement's verbiage suggests that a third support package may be created after QE2 ends in June 2011, depending on the needs of the economy.

Mortgage market reaction to the FOMC statement has been positive thus far. Mortgage rates in Marietta are unchanged, but leaning lower. And, as always, market sentiment could shift quickly. If you like today's mortgage rates, consider locking in.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is a 2-day event, June 20-21 2011.

New Home Supply Falls To 16-Year Low

New Home Supply March 2010-March 2011After posting an all-time low in February, New Home Sales rebounded strongly last month.

Based on joint research from the Census Bureau and HUD, 300,000 new, single-family homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in March. It's an 11 percent improvement from February, and right in-line with the 6-month average.

The supply of available new homes improved, too, in March, falling by close to a full month.

At the current pace of sales, the entire new home housing stock would be sold in 7.3 months. This is the second-best reading in a year, a statistic partially-supported by the relatively small number of new homes on the market.

There are now just 183,000 new homes available for sale across Marietta and the country. That's the smallest reading since the Census Bureau started to keep New Home Sales records beginning in 1995.

However, it should be noted that the March New Home Sales data is suspect. The reading's margin of error exceeds it actual measurement by almost double. It's possible that sales volume fell in March instead of rising, therefore. The Census Bureau says as much in its footnotes:

The change [in new home sales] is not statistically significant; that is, it is uncertain whether there was an increase or decrease [in March 2011].

We won't know for certain until future data revisions are made.

If you're a home buyer in BrookStone , though, and want to stay ahead of the market, you won't want to take chances. If the Census Bureau finds its data to be accurate after revisions are made, new home prices will already have started to rise.

You may get your best home value by buying sooner rather than later.


Mortgage Rates -- And Home Affordability -- At The Whim Of The Federal Reserve

Fed Funds Rate and Mortgage Rates 1990-2011

The Federal Open Market Committee starts a two-day meeting today, the third of its 8 scheduled meetings this year.

The FOMC is a special, 12-person committee within the Federal Reserve. It's led by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the group is responsible for voting on our nation's monetary policy. This includes setting the Fed Funds Rate, the rate at which banks borrow money from each other overnight.

The general public tends to confuse the Fed Funds Rate for "mortgage rates" but, as shown in the chart at top, the two interest rates are very different. There is no direct correlation between the Fed Funds Rate and everyday mortgage rates in Atlanta.

Since 1990, the two benchmark rates have been separated by as much as 5.29 percent, and have been as close as 0.52 percent.

Today, the separation between the Fed Funds Rate and the national average for a standard, 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.625 percent. This spread will widen -- or shrink -- beginning 12:30 PM ET Wednesday. That's when the FOMC adjourns and releases its public statement to the markets.

According to Wall Street, there's a 100% chance that the FOMC leaves the Fed Funds Rate in its current "target range" of 0.000-0.250 percent, the same range in which it's been since December 2008. Depending on the verbiage in the press release, plus the comments of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in his scheduled, 2:15 PM ET press briefing, mortgage rates aren't expected to steady as well.

If the Fed projects higher growth in late-2011/early-2012, or hints at new market stimuli, expect mortgage rates to rise on concerns about inflation. Inflation is bad for mortgage rates, in general.

On the other hand, if the Fed indicates that the economy is slowing down, or that it plans to withdraw its existing, $600 billion bond market stimulus, look for mortgage rates to fall.

It's hard to be a home buyer in the Vinings area when the Federal Open Market Committee meets. There's just so much that can change mortgage rates and rising mortgage rates can affect purchasing power in a flash.

In the 6 months since November 2010, home affordability is off 9%.

So, if you're shopping for mortgages, or just floating a rate, consider getting locked in before the FOMC issues its press release Wednesday. Once the statement hits, mortgage rates could soar.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 25, 2011

Federal Reserve 2-day meeting this weekMortgage markets improved slightly through last week's holiday-shortened trading sessions. Better-than-expected housing data led mortgage rates higher Tuesday and Wednesday, but rates retreated Thursday morning in advance of Good Friday.

Markets were closed Thursday afternoon and Friday. They re-open this morning.

Conforming mortgage rates in Georgia ended last week unchanged overall. It's a strange outcome considering that Standard & Poor's issued a downgrade on U.S. debt Monday.

In most instances, a debt downgrade would lead investors away from a particular group of securities -- in this case, a group that includes mortgage-backed bonds. However, Wall Street reacted in the opposite.

When S&P issued its opinion, however, mortgage bonds rallied.

Some say this is because the downgrade will force Congress to address a rising debt-load; others think a downgrade slows growth which, in turn, slows down inflation. Both scenarios are considered a positive for mortgage bonds. Hence, mortgage rates fell.

This week, momentum could reverse. In addition to a slew of housing and economic data including New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales, and Consumer Confidence data, the Federal Open Market Committee is meeting for the third time this year. And this month, the FOMC is meeting a little differently.

Usually, when the FOMC gets together, it adjourns and releases a press statement to the markets at 2:15 PM ET. This month, though, the FOMC will release its statement at 12:30 PM ET, and then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press briefing at 2:15 PM ET to address the aforementioned statement. He's expected to add growth forecasts to the official FOMC release, among other items.

Whenever the FOMC meets, mortgage rates can be volatile. This week, with the new press briefing format, that volatility is even more likely.

If you're floating a mortgage rate or wondering whether to lock, mortgage rates will be at their "calmest" levels of the week Monday and Tuesday. Once Wednesday hits, and the FOMC statements begin, expect for rates to change.



Demand Is Rising, Supplies Are Falling : Home Prices Set To Rise?

Existing Home Sales Mar 2010-Mar 2011Home resales rose 4 percent last month, according to the March Existing Home Sales report. A total of 5.1 million homes were sold on an annualized, seasonally-adjusted basis.

The strong results re-establish the national, long-term trend toward rising home resales.

March marked the 6th month out of eight in which sales volume has increased and sales are up 32 percent from July 2010 lows.

Home supply has resumed its downward trajectory, too.

At the current pace of sales, the entire home resale inventory would be depleted in 8.4 months. This is 0.1 months faster as compared to February, and a full month faster than the 12-month average.

The Existing Home Sales report also included a breakdown by buyer-type.

  • First-time buyers bought 33% of homes, down from 34% in February
  • Repeat buyers bought 45% of homes, down from 47% in February
  • Investors bought 22% of homes, up from 19% in February

35 percent of buyers paid in cash.

And, perhaps most noteworthy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, 40 percent of March home resales were "distressed properties". Distressed homes include foreclosures, short sales, and REO and typically sell at discounts "in the vicinity" of 20 percent.

Home prices in Atlanta are based on the basic economic theory of Supply and Demand. So, with home supplies dropping and demand for homes rising, it's reasonable to expect home values to rise later this year.

If you're in the market for a home, play the recent trends to your advantage. Today, homes are affordable and mortgage rates are low. This may not be the case later this year. The best "deals" of the year may be what you buy now.


Building Permits Rise In All 4 Regions

Housing Starts (Apr 2009 - Mar 2011)According to the Census Bureau, seasonally-adjusted, single-family Housing Starts rebounded in March, increasing 8 percent over February's 2-year low.

We can't put too much faith in the data, however, because for the second straight month, the government reports that the data's margin of error -- 15 percent -- exceeds its actual measurement.

As written in the footnotes, there's no "statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change [in Housing Starts] is different from zero."

In other words, single-family Housing Starts may have dropped up to 7 percent last month, or may have increased by as much as 22 percent. We won't know for certain until several months from now. As the Census Bureau gathers more data, it will revise its initial monthly findings.

Such adjustments are common. February's starts were revised higher by 4.5%, for example.

Also included in the Census Bureau's report is the March 2011 Building Permits tally. As compared to February, permits were higher by 6 percent nationwide. This is a noteworthy development because permits-issued is an excellent forward-predictor for housing.

When permits are issued, 86 percent of them will start construction within 60 days. This means that new home sales and housing stock should follow the Building Permits report trend, but on a 2-month delay.

Permits were strong in all 4 regions last month:

  • Northeast : +2.6 percent from February
  • Midwest : +10.0 percent from February
  • South : +5.3 percent from February
  • West : +5.3 percent from February

With Building Permits rising, we can infer that the housing market is improving.

Therefore, if you're currently looking for new construction, consider that the market may be less favorable for buyers 4-6 months from now than it is today. Especially because homebuilders are already projecting higher sales volume.

The better time to buy new construction -- relative -- may be now.


As Buyer Traffic Grows, Homebuilder Confidence Slips

NAHB Homebuilder Confidence Survey

Homebuilder confidence is falling -- a good sign for buyers of newly-built homes in and around Bridge Mill.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the Housing Market Index slipped one point to 16 in April. It's the 5th time in 6 months that the index read 16 -- a figure exactly in line with the 1-year average, but still considered "poor". The Housing Market Index reports on a scale of 1-100.

Values of 50 or better representing "favorable conditions". Values below 50 are considered "unfavorable".

It's been 5 years since the Housing Market Index read north of 50.

As an index, the HMI is actually a composite of three separate surveys, the results of which can be as telling as the final, compiled results. The surveys focus on specific aspects about a homebuilder's business, and use the broader responses to gauge overall market "sentiment".

The 3 questions are: 

  1. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes today?
  2. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes in 6 months?
  3. How is prospective buyer foot traffic?

In April, interestingly, home builders felt market conditions were worse across the board, but still cited higher buyer foot traffic. This may be the result of a combination of rising mortgage rates and falling home values. Both tend to be bad for builders, and both tend to spur home buyers into action.

As a home buyer this spring, therefore, use the HMI data to your advantage. When home builders feel less confident on housing, buyers can often exact better concessions and/or upgrades during the negotiation process.

And, so long as mortgage rates continue to rise, that pressure on builders should build.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 18, 2011

Gas prices rising, mortgage rates rising, tooMortgage markets improved last week, buoyed by two days of out-sized gains. Mortgage rates bounced off their 8-week highs on much weaker-than-expected inflation data, and debt concerns abroad.

It's an abrupt change in mortgage rate momentum.

Since the Federal Reserve's March 2011 meeting, in which the Fed said rising energy costs are "putting upward pressure on inflation", inflation chatter has figured big for Kennesaw  mortgage rates. With each tick higher in gas prices; in every conversation on U.S. debt load; as fruits and vegetables get more expensive at the supermarket, Wall Street's fears of inflation have grown, and rate shoppers have suffered.

The connection between inflation and mortgage rates is straight-forward. Inflation is the devaluation of the U.S. dollar -- the currency in which mortgage bonds are denominated. As the dollar loses values, so do mortgage bonds, therefore, leading mortgage rates to rise, inevitably.

Leading up to last week, concerns peaked and rates did, too. And then, a strange thing happened. The government's March inflation report showed inflation well under control.

The results surprised Wall Street and the trades that had previously served to pump rate up, last week, ran in reverse.

The biggest gains were made Friday.

This week, inflation takes back-seat to housing data. There's a lot of it coming.

  • Monday : Homebuilder Confidence Index
  • Tuesday : Housing Starts and Building Permits
  • Wednesday : Existing Home Sales
  • Thursday : Housing Market Index

There's no data due Friday with markets closed for Good Friday.

This is a holiday-shortened week so expect low trading volume to render rates more erratic than typical. If you're not yet locked in to a mortgage rate with your lender, consider doing it this week.


Foreclosures Drop 35 Percent Year-Over-Year

Foreclosure concentration by stateForeclosure activity is much slower this year than last.

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, the number of national foreclosure filings plunged 35 percent in March 2011 as compared to March 2010, a statistic that reflects a more healthy housing market and more robust outlook for 2011.

A "Foreclosure filing" is defined as any of the following : a default notice, a scheduled auction, or a bank repossessions. Foreclosures filings were down in all but 8 states last month.

Activity remains concentrated, too. More than half of all bank repossessions can be tied to just a handful of states.

In March, 6 states accounted for 51% of activity.

  1. California : 15% of all repossessions
  2. Florida : 9% of all repossessions
  3. Arizona : 7% of all repossessions
  4. Michigan : 7% of all repossessions
  5. Texas : 6% of all repossessions
  6. Nevada : 5% of all repossessions

At the other end of the spectrum is Vermont. With just 5 repossessions for all of March, Vermont accounted for 0.008% of repossessions nationwide.

Distressed homes remain in high demand among today's home buyers, accounting for almost 40% of all home resales. It's no wonder, either. Distresses home typically sell at a steep, 15 percent discount as compared to non-distressed properties.

Buying foreclosures can be a great "deal". However, make sure you've done your homework.

Buying homes from banks is different from buying a homes from "people". Contracts and negotiations are different, and homes are often sold with defects.

If you plan to buy a Kennesaw foreclosure, therefore, make you you speak with a licensed real estate professional before submitting a bid. You can research a home online and learn a lot of the process, but when it's time to purchase, put an experienced agent on your side.


Inflation Pressures Mounting; Mortgage Rates Rising

Consumer Price Index (March 2009 - February 2011)Inflation pressures are mounting in the United States. And, Friday, the Consumer Price Index should prove it.

More commonly called "The Cost of Living Index", CPI measures cost changes in the typical items bought by American households. Among others, CPI measures goods and service in apparel and recreation; medical care and education; and housing and transportation.

The March CPI data is expected to show an increase in the cost of living for the 17th straight month -- a reading that would take CPI to an all-time high.

If you've filled your gas tank, sent a child to school, or shopped for groceries, you're likely not surprised. Household budgets have been squeezed from all angles lately. The dollar's purchasing power is waning.

This is inflation, defined. And a weaker U.S. dollar is bad for mortgage rates. 

The connection between the U.S. dollar and mortgage rates is direct. When inflation pressures rise, mortgage rates in Atlanta tend to rise, too, because mortgage rates are based on the price of mortgage-backed bonds -- a security bought, sold and paid in U.S. dollars

Inflation, in other words, renders mortgage bonds less valuable to investors, all things equal, so investors sell them as inflation pressures grow. More sellers leads to lower prices which, in turn, causes mortgage rates to rise.

It's why March's Cost of Living data is so important to rate shoppers and home buyers in Bridge Mill. Higher levels of CPI can harm home affordability, and stretch your household budget uncomfortably.

As Memorial Day approaches, gas prices are projected to spike, offering little relief from the inflationary pressures in the economy. It's one reason why mortgage rates should trend higher over the next few months.

If you're wondering whether to lock or float your mortgage rate, consider locking in. At least today's rates are a sure thing. Tomorrow's rates could be much higher.


To stay a Float FHA raises FHA MI Premiums in Georgia Rising 0.25 Percent

FHA Mortgage Insurance Changes
Order to keep FHA a float, aafter this week ends, the FHA is raising mortgage insurance premiums on its new Georgia borrowers and the rest of the county of course. It's the FHA's third such increase in the last 12 months. Since FANNIE and FREDDIE MAC are insolvent the US government must keep FHA the program solid.
Beginning with FHA Case Numbers assigned April 18, 2011, mortgage insurance premiums will be higher by 25 basis points per year, or 0.25%.
Against a $200,000 loan size, the MIP increase adds $500 to an FHA-insured borrower's annual cost of home ownership. All new FHA loans are subject to the increase -- purchases and refinances.
Existing FHA-insured homeowners across Georgia are unaffected.  A very important part of the announcement is that ppremiums do not rise for loans already made! But if you are thinking about a purchase or refi...better move
FHA had to increase its mortgage insurance rates because, as a group, the FHA is insuring a much larger percentage of the U.S. housing market.
In 2006, the FHA held a 4 percent market share. By 2010, that share ballooned to 19 percent and, today, it's estimated to be even higher. Most guess its nearer 45% in some markets
In its official statement, the FHA says that the quarter-point MIP bump will "significantly strengthen" its reserves which are depleted because of delinquencies and defaults. By law, thank  God, the FHA's capital reserves must meet certain levels.
Therefore, to meet these requirements, the FHA is rolling out its new mortgage insurance premium schedule:
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value > 90% : 0.50% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 90% : 0.25% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value > 95% : 1.15% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 95% : 1.10% MIP per year
In order to calculate what your FHA monthly mortgage insurance premium would be, multiply your beginning loan size by your insurance premium in the chart above, then divide by 12.
The FHA also charges a 1 percent, up-front mortgage insurance premium at closing. That figure remains unchanged.


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Downtown Atlanta News | Daily Deals!

Great Place to find daily deals in GA

Report for Retail Sales Should Spell Higher Mortgage Rates For Wednesday

Retail Sales Rising -- 8 Straight Months
Georgia consumers  are  spending. And appears this maybe -- unwelcome news for today's home buyers.
Wednesday, the Census Bureau will release its March Retail Sales figures and the report is expected to show higher sales receipts for the 9th straight month. A strong reading like that should spell higher mortgage rates in Atlanta, Georgia and nationwide.
The connection between Retail Sales and mortgage rates is fairly tight. Retail Sales are "consumer spending" and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy, of course, is a dominant force in setting the direction in which mortgage rates are headed.
For example, in 2010, it was a weak economy and murky outlook that helped drive mortgage rates to all-time lows. Since last year, however, the jobs market has started its recovery, monthly receipts have returned to all-time highs, and the Federal Reserve is revising growth estimates for 2011.
Not surprisingly, mortgage rates have reversed, too.
As compared to 6 months ago, conforming rates are higher by 0.750%. Home affordability across Georgia is taking a hit. Plus, the stronger the economy appears to be, the more likely for mortgage rates to climb more.
It's why tomorrow's Retail Sales report is so important.
If you're under contract for a home in Georgia , or even evaluating the merits of a refinance, there's a lot of risk in "floating" your mortgage rate. The more prudent plan is to find a rate at which you're comfortable with the payment, and lock it in.
And you may want to take that lock sooner in Georgia than you had planned -- if only to protect your monthly payments. Once tomorrow's Retail Sales report hits, it may be too late. Especially if receipts rise for the 10th straight month.
The Retail Sales report is due for release at 8:30 AM ET.


More Mortgage Rate info April 11, 2010

Last Week:
Georgia Mortgage rates climbed higher for the third week in a row.  Mortgage pricing weakened by about 44bps last week (about 6bps in rate), and the benchmark 10yr yield jumped 13bps last week as it tested support levels towards the end of the week at 3.60% before backing off to end the week. 
There was little in the way of economic data last week, and the focus for most fixed rate investors was on comments from the Fed about inflationary pressures and how they would react in the near future as many other countries have began to hike interest rates around the world. 
S&P 500 shed 0.3%, in relatively subdued trade. The modest decline follows a steep 4.2% gain in the previous two weeks.
In overseas news, the ECB raised its benchmark lending rate by 25 bps to 1.25%, as expected. Portugal requested aid from EU officials, also as expected.

Back in the U.S., the looming threat of a government shutdown had a limited impact on stock trading.

The Week Ahead:
The week ahead will have more data to digest as the calendar has significantly more points slated compared to last week.  The highlights of the week will be the monthly inflation reports (CPI and PPI) along with another round of treasury auctions beginning on Tuesday. 

With all of that in mind, the outlook for interest rates this year is a move higher with the 10yr slated to hit 4% by the end of the year as the Fed begins to unwind support currently in place.  We'll hear more from Fed officials in the week ahead as well. 

On Wednesday the administration will layout the spending plan, President Barack Obama and Congress are shifting from short-term budget concerns to debates over the nation's long-term economic future, and everything -- from Medicare and Medicaid cuts to tax hikes for the wealthy -- is on the table.

Economic Calendar:

Monday, April 11th
Tuesday, April 12th
8:30ET    Trade Balance
8:30ET     Import/Export Prices
1:00ET     Treasury Auctions
2:00ET     Treasury Budget

Wednesday, April 13th
7:00ET    MBA Mortgage Applications 
8:30ET    Retail Sales
10:00ET   Business Inventories
1:00ET    Treasury Auctions
2:00ET    Fed Beige Book
Thursday, April 14th
8:30ET   Weekly Jobless Claims   380k
8:30ET   PPI
1:00ET   Treasury Auctions

Friday, April 15th
8:30ET  CPI
8:30ET  Empire Manufacturing
9:00ET  Net Long Term TIC Flows
9:15ET Industrial Production/Capacity Utilization
9:55ET  U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment 

Peter Bright,  NMLS, 167540, GRMA, 247926
404-643-4793 Direct
(770) 217-4574  Efax
See my Blog at http://www.IM4that.com

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK  "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. "

Capital City Mortgage Investments, Inc. Serving Georgia since 1994!
1420 Lockhart Dr. Suite 104
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Georgia Mortgage Residential Licensee,LENDER License #164510  and #7064
Licensed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance.



Mortgage Rates This Week : April 11, 2011

Inflation squeezes mortgage ratesGeorgia Mortgage markets worsened last week in as energy costs remained high, and jobs data looked strong. The previous safe haven buying that characterized the March mortgage market has subsided.
it's driving mortgage rates higher across Georgia.
Conforming and FHA mortgage rates rolled back 8 weeks worth of improvements last week and are now back to mid-February levels. The rise in rates is really hurting refinance activity and home affordability.
One of the  biggest stories from last week figures to carry forward into this one -- the Federal Reserve's take on inflation.
In the minutes from its March meeting, the FOMC was shown to have discussed the possibility of raising the Fed Funds Rate ahead of schedule, and to be watching near-inflation closely. Both developments are in response to a growing economy with rising price pressures.
Mortgage rate shoppers should take note.
Inflation maybe the real killer..now. When inflation is present in the economy, all things equal, mortgage rates rise. Sometimes by a lot. And, usually, just the expectation of inflation is all it takes to make mortgage rates jump. Remember rates fall like feathers and rise like Rockets!
That's what we saw last week.
This week, keep a close watch on new inflation-related data set for release. This includes Tuesday's Retail Sales data, Wednesday's Producer Price Index, and Thursday's Consumer Price Index. Each release can potentially move mortgage rates although, if recent trends are an indication, expect for rates to rise.
Mortgage rates in Atlanta remain historically low.

We advise keeping a close eye on locking in your rate in as soon as possible!

Peter Bright,  NMLS, 167540, GRMA, 247926
404-643-4793 Direct
(770) 217-4574  Efax
See my Blog at http://www.IM4that.com

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK  "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. "

Capital City Mortgage Investments, Inc. Serving Georgia since 1994!
1420 Lockhart Dr. Suite 104
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Georgia Mortgage Residential Licensee,LENDER License #164510  and #7064
Licensed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance.




Military Members : You Have 3 Weeks To Buy A Home, Claim Up To $8,000 In Tax Credits

Military tax credit expirationIf you're an eligible federal employee or qualified military personnel, you have 3 weeks from this Saturday to use the federal home buyer tax credit, and to claim up to $8,000 in federal income tax credits. 

According to the IRS, eligible persons include members and spouses of the uniformed services, members and spouses of the Foreign Service, and intelligence community employees who served at least 90 days of qualified, extended duty service outside of the United States between January 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010, and their spouses.

Eligible persons must be under contract for a new home on or before April 30, 2011, with the home's closing occurring on or before June 30, 2011.

The federal home buyer tax credit is a true credit, too. Eligible buyers receive a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction equal to 10 percent of the subject home's purchase price, not to exceed $8,000 for first-time home buyers, and not to exceed $6,500 for repeat home buyers.

Repeat buyers must have lived in their "main home" through 5 of the last 8 years in order to be eligibke.

Furthermore, both the buyer(s) and the subject property must meet certain minimum eligibility requirements:

  • The home may not be purchased from a parent, spouse, or child
  • The home may not be purchased from an entity in which the seller is a majority owner
  • The home may not be acquired by gift or inheritance
  • The home sale price may not exceed $800,000
  • Buyers may not earn more than $125,000 as single-filers; $225,000 as joint-filers

The complete program description is published on the IRS website.

For additional information regarding your tax credit eligibility, you may want to speak with an accountant or other tax professional. It's often worth the cost.


How Does Your Real Estate Tax Bill Compare To Other Parts Of The Country?

Real Estate Taxes compared to local household income

Mortgage rates may be a function of free markets, but real estate taxes are a function of government. And, depending on where you live, your annual real estate tax bill could be high, low, or practically non-existent.

Compiling data from the 2009 American Community Survey, the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan educational organization in Washington D.C., published property taxes paid by owner-occupied households, county-by-county.

The report shows huge disparity in annual property taxes by region, and by state.

As a percentage of home valuation, Southeast homeowners tend to pay the fewest property taxes overall, while Northeast homeowners tend to pay the most. But statistics like that aren't especially helpful. What's more useful is to know how local real estate taxes stack up as compared to local, median household incomes.

Not surprisingly, real estate taxes are least affordable to homeowners in the New York Metro area. The 10 U.S. counties with the highest tax-to-income ratios physically surround New York City's 5 boroughs. The areas with the lowest tax-to-income, by contrast, are predominantly in southern Louisiana.

A sampling from the Tax Foundation list, here is how select counties rank in terms of taxes as a percentage of median income:

  • #1 : Passaic County (NJ) : 9.7% of median income
  • #6 : Nassau County (NY) : 8.6% of median income
  • #15 : Lake County (IL) : 7.2% of median income
  • #18 : Cheshire County (NH) : 7.1% of median income
  • #70 : Travis County (TX) : 5.0% of median income
  • #90 : Marin County (CA) : 4.6% of median income
  • #110 : Middlesex County (MA) : 4.4% of median income
  • #181 : Sarasota County (FL) : 3.9% of median income
  • #481 : Douglas County (CO) : 2.4% of median income
  • #716 : Maui County (HI) : 1.3% of median income

The U.S. national average is 3.0 percent.

The complete, sortable list of U.S. counties is available at the Tax Foundation website. For specific tax information in your neighborhood or block, talk with a real estate agent.


March Fed Minutes Show Inflation Risks And Rate Hikes On The Horizon

Fed Minutes March 2011The Federal Reserve released its March 15 meeting minutes Tuesday. The notes revealed a Federal Reserve split between optimism and caution for the U.S. economy.

The minutes' official name is "Fed Minutes". It's a periodic publication, published 3 weeks after each meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. The FOMC meets 8 times annually, so the Fed Minutes is published 8 times annually, too.

The Fed Minutes is similar to the meeting minutes released after a condo board gets together, or after a meeting of the Board of Directors at a large corporation. The minutes give a detailed account of the important conversations and debates that occurred among the attendees.

At the Federal Reserve, those conversations are deep and, as such, the minutes are long; much longer than the more well-known, post-meeting press release anyway.

Whereas the press release is measured in paragraphs, the minutes are measured in pages.

Here is some of what the Fed discussed last month:

  • On inflation : Pressures are rising, but largely because of food costs and oil costs.
  • On housing : The market remains "depressed" with large inventory and weak demand.
  • On stimulus : The Fed will keep its $600 billion bond plan in place.

In addition, there was talk about ending the Federal Reserve's accommodative monetary policy (i.e. the near-zero percent Fed Funds Rate). The FOMC's voting members unanimously elected to leave the Fed Funds Rate near 0.000 percent last month, but there was talk of raising the benchmark rate later this year.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates in Kennesaw are mostly unchanged since the Fed Minutes release.


Plan To Sell your home in GA Within a Couple Years? Check out ARM Rates under 4.5%

Comparing 5-year ARM to 30-year fixed
Which is better -- a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable-rate mortgage? It's a common question among home buyers and refinancing households in Georgia.
The answer? It depends.
Fixed-rate mortgages give the certainty of a known, unchanging principal + interest payment for the life of the loan. This can help you with budget-setting and financial planning. Some homeowners say fixed-rate loans they offer "peace of mind".
Adjustable-rate mortgages do not.
After a pre-determined, introductory number of years, the initial interest rate on the note -- sometimes called a "teaser rate" -- moves up or down, depending on the existing market conditions. It then adjust again every 6 or 12 months thereafter until the loan is paid in full.
ARMs can adjust higher or lower so they are necessarily unpredictable long-term. However, if you can be comfortable with uncertainty like that, you're often rewarded with a very low initial interest rate -- much lower than a comparable fixed rate loan, anyway.
Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage survey highlights this point.
The interest rate gap between fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages is growing. It peaked 2 weeks ago, but remains huge at 1.16 percentage points.
On a $200,000 home loan, this 1.16 FRM/ARM spread yields a monthly principal + interest payment difference of $136, or $8,160 over 5 years, the typical initial teaser rate period.
Savings like that can be compelling and may push you toward an adjustable rate loan.
You might also consider a 5-year ARM over a fixed-rate loan if any of these scenarios apply:
  1. You're buying a new home with the intent to sell it within 5 years
  2. You're currently financed with a 30-year fixed mortgage and have plans to sell the home within 5 years
  3. You're interested in low payments, and are comfortable with longer-term payment uncertainty
Furthermore, homeowners whose existing ARMs are due for adjustment might want to refinance into a brand new ARM, if only to push the teaser rate period farther into the future.
Before choosing ARM over fixed, though, make sure you speak with your loan officer about how adjustable rate mortgages work, and their near- and long-term risks. The payment savings may be tempting, but with an ARM, the payments are never permanent.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 4, 2011

Unemployment Rate 2008-2011In a volatile week of trading, mortgage markets closed unchanged last week. Despite economic data proving stronger-than-expected -- a situation that tends to lead mortgage rates higher -- concern for persistently high oil prices tempered Wall Street's excitement and mortgage rates stayed steady.

That's not to say rates weren't volatile, however. From day-to-day, mortgage rates showed huge variance last week and several lenders issued five separate rate sheets Friday.

The 12-month average is slightly less than two per day.

Expect the volatility to continue into this week, too. With little economic data due for release, mortgage rates should move on momentum. This would be good news for rate shoppers and home buyers throughout Georgia because mortgage rates ended last week on a downswing.

It's all because of the March jobs report.

The jobs report is important to the economy because as the number of working Americans grows, so does total earned wages nationwide. In theory, this leads to higher levels of consumer spending, and to larger government tax receipts.

It starts a cycle in which businesses and governments additional workers and the cycle continues.

The U.S. economy added jobs in March for the sixth straight month.

Mortgage rates are 0.69% higher today as compared to their early-November 2010 lows. The jump has added 14 percent to the 30-year, long-term cost of homeownership in Kennesaw. However, as compared to history, rates remain low.

If you're currently shopping for a mortgage, talk to your loan officer about today's market and its risks. Rates may not rise this week, but they're poised to surge along with the economy. Consider locking in today.


How Does Your Work Commute Compare To Other Cities?

Average Commute Times In The US, By County

As part of the Census Bureau's data collection activities from 2005-2009, a number of interesting charts have been published at http://census.gov.

The data should not be confused with Census 2010 -- a separate survey conducted every 10 years. This is the first-ever, 5-year American Community Survey. Based on data from 3 million households, it details social, economic, housing, and demographic data "for every community in the nation".

Among the surveys:

  • Median Household Income, Inflation-Adjusted To 2009 Dollars (Chart)
  • Median Housing Value Of Owner-Occupied Housing Units (Chart)
  • Percent Of Households That Are Married, With Children Under 18 (Chart)

The ACS survey also charts average commute time by county. The chart is shown at top.

Whether you live in a "long commute" town like Richmond, NY (40 minutes), or a "short commute" town like King, TX (3.4 minutes), rising gas prices have made commute times and distances relevant to everyone.

Since the start of 2011, the average price for gasoline is higher by 54 cents per gallon. Assuming 22 miles per gallon on a passenger car, that's an increase of 2.5 cents of gasoline per mile driven in the last 90 days. It's a cost that adds up quickly, and can affect a household budget. Plan for higher pump prices moving forward, too. Historically, gas prices surge between April and June.

The American Community Survey is loaded with charts and data. It can tell you a lot about your current neighborhood, and any neighborhood to which you may want to relocate. Then, to bridge the ACS data with community details such as school performance and typical home prices, talk to a real estate professional.