Foreclosure Activity By Metro Area, Q3 2010

Foreclosures by Metro Area, Q3 2010

Foreclosures are a big part of the housing market, with distressed properties accounting for 35 percent of all home resales last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

But for as common as foreclosures can be, they remain a localized concern. Data from foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac shows that more than half of last quarter's foreclosures came from just 19 metropolitan areas, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale are accountable for the largest number of filings.

A "foreclosure filing" is defined as a default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession.

On a per-household basis last quarter, the Las Vegas area was hardest hit. 1 in every 25 households received some form of foreclosure notice.

The RealtyTrac report features other interesting figures, too:

  • California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada account for the top 10, and19 of the top 20 metro areas for foreclosures
  • Compared to Q3 2009, foreclosure activity dropped in 72 metro areas, including No. 2 Cape Coral/Fort Myers, FL
  • Foreclosure activity dropped 1 percent from Q3 2009 in the nation's 20 most-populated cities

And, despite a 27 percent increase in foreclosures from the second quarter, Utica/Rome, NY posted the lowest foreclosure rate in the nation -- 1 for every 8,003 households.  The next closest city, Charleston, WV, posted 1 for every 2,600 households, by comparison.

Foreclosures, like everything in real estate, are local. And buying them is "different" from buying a typical home resale. If you're planning to buy a foreclosed home, speak with a real estate agent with specific experience with homes in foreclosure. Professional advice is helpful.


New Home Housing Stock Drops To A 5-Month Low

New Home Sales (September 2009-2010)In the same week that the National Association of REALTORS reported home resales up 10 percent in September, the U.S. Census Bureau reported similarly strong results for the new construction market. 

After improving 1 percent in August, New Home Sales popped another 7 percent in September.

It's no wonder homebuilder confidence is at a 5-month high.

  • Sales volume is higher in 4 of the last 5 months
  • New home supply is at a 5-month low
  • Buyer foot traffic is on the rise

For home buyers in Kennesaw , September's New Home Sales data may foreshadow a shift in builder sales strategies and it's something worth watching.

Recall that in April, the month that the federal homebuyer tax credit contract deadline passed for non-military citizens, sales of new homes was strong as buyers rushed to meet the April 30 cut-off date.

When the month ended, there were 216,000 new homes for sale -- an inventory that would have taken 6 months to sell off in full, given April's sales pace.

In May, however, the month after the tax credit deadline, buyers vanished. As a consequence, total units sold dropped 31 percent to their lowest level in recorded history. Coincidentally, at the end of May, there were still 216,000 units for sale.

By contrast, though, at May's sale pace, the inventory would have needed nine months to sell out.

This is why builders are optimistic. The market for new construction is improving so buyers may have a harder time trying to negotiate for items like free upgrades or sales price reductions. So long as New Home Sales improve, home buyers may find themselves paying more money for less house.

Therefore, if you're in the market for a newly-built home somewhere near Vinings , you may want to move up your time frame. The longer you wait, the more it may cost you.


Home Values Up 0.4 Percent In August, On Average

Home Price Index from April 2007 peak

Consistent with the most recent Case-Shiller Index, the government's Home Price Index said home prices rose between July and August. 

The Federal Home Finance Agency's data showed values up 0.4 percent nationwide, on average. Region-by-region, however, the results were scattered. Coastal states tended to perform poorly. Plains states tended to perform well.

A brief look at the regional disparity:

  • West South Central : +1.5%
  • East North Central : +1.2%
  • Pacific : -0.2%
  • South Atlantic : -0.2%

Breakdowns like this are important because they highlight the fundamental problem with national real estate data and that's that home buyers in Marietta don't buy real estate in a national market, or even a regional one.

Buyers buy local.

When we look at national figures like the Home Price Index, it's important to remember that real estate is a collection of tiny markets which, when lumped together, form small markets which, in turn, lump together into larger markets and so forth.

To illustrate this point, a deeper look at August's Home Price Index data shows that, within the aforementioned Pacific Region, in which home values fell 0.2%, the state of California posted a 2.9% increase. You can be sure that within the state of California, there are cities that performed better than the 2.9 percent, and within those cities, there are neighborhoods that did the same.

Real estate is most definitely local.

That said, we can't discount the national report entirely. Broader housing statistics like the Home Price Index reflect on the economy and are often used to help shape policy in the nation's capital. When you need to know what's happening in your hometown, though, your best source of data is a knowledgeable real estate professional.


Existing Home Sales Jump; Housing Market Shows Spark

Existing Home Sales (Sept 2009-Sept 2010)Existing home sales jumped 10 percent in September, the biggest monthly jump on record and a signal that the housing market may be returning to a normal sales pattern post-$8,000 federal tax credit.

Existing Home Sales counts home resales (i.e. not new construction) and 80 percent of home resales close within 45-60 days. It's no surprise, therefore, September's data is strong.

Throughout the July and August, mortgage rates were in free-fall, pushing home affordability to near-record levels. Concurrently, the number of homes available for sale climbed to multi-year highs.

"Deals" were in ample supply this summer and eager Kennesaw home buyers snatched them up.

Some of these deals included "distressed properties", a categorization that includes homes in various stages of foreclosure or short sale, accounted for 35 percent of all sales, an uptick of 1 percent from August.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, home resales split as follows:

  • First-time buyers : 32 percent of all buyers
  • Repeat home buyers : 50 percent of all buyers
  • Investors : 18 percent of all buyers

By contrast, in November 2009, first-timers accounted for more than half of all resales.

For BrookStone home buyers, September's Existing Home Sales report foreshadows a more competitive housing market through the New Year. In addition to rising sales volume, home supplies are down by nearly 2 months from July.

At the current pace of sales, the complete housing stock would be depleted in 10.7 months.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 25, 2010

Existing Home Sales (Aug 2009-August 2010)Mortgage markets improved last week overall, but barely. After making a sizable move lower through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, mortgage pricing jumped Thursday and Friday. Nearly all of the early-week gains were erased.

Conforming mortgage rates in Georgia ended the week slightly improved.

There wasn't much economic news on which for markets to trade last week. In its absence, bond traders took cues from the currency markets, among other things.

Mortgage rates are closely tied to the value of the U.S. dollar. This is because mortgage bond investors are repaid in U.S. dollars and, as the dollar gains value, demand for dollar-denominated bonds tend to grow.

More demand for bonds raises prices which, in turn, lowers rates.

Bond prices and bond yields move in opposite directions.

The dollar was strong in the first part of last week, then weakened through Friday's close with the G-20 meeting looming.  Mortgage rates trended along similar lines.

This week, there's a return to data and mortgage markets should respond -- especially because the week is housing-data heavy. Housing is believed to be a key part of the country's ongoing economic recovery.

  • Monday : Existing Home Sales
  • Tuesday : Case-Shiller Index, Consumer Confidence, Home Price Index
  • Wednesday : New Home Sales
  • Thursday : Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates are near all-time lows and it's unclear whether they'll stay this low, or start rising. Either way, if you haven't talked to your loan officer about a refinance at today's great pricing, set aside some time this week to do that.

Once rates reverse higher, they're unlikely to fall back down.


Time To Refinance? Mortgage Rates Down 1.00 Percent Since April.

Freddie Mac mortgage rates (January - October 2010)

30-year fixed mortgage rates rose last week, marking the first time in a month that rates failed to fall week-to-week.

The data sources from Freddie Mac, one of the government's major mortgage securitizers and a sister entity to Fannie Mae. Each week, Freddie Mac collects mortgage rate data from more than 120 lenders nationwide and publishes the results in a report called the Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to this week's PMMS, the 30-year fixed rate rose 0.02% and now averages 4.21% nationally. The average accompanying cost is 0.8 points.

1 point is equal to 1 percent of the loan size.

Note, though, that these are just averages. Just as real estate markets are local, mortgage rates can be, too. As an illustration, look how this week's rates break down by region:

  • Northeast : 4.22 with 0.8 points
  • Southeast : 4.30 with 0.8 points
  • N. Central : 4.19 with 0.8 points
  • Southeast : 4.23 with 0.7 points
  • West : 4.17 with 1.0 points

The rate-and-fee combination you'd get in your home state of Georgia , in other words, is different from the rate-and-fee combination you'd get if you lived somewhere else. In the West, rates are low and fees are high; in the Southeast, it's the opposite.

The good news is that, as a rate shopper, you can have it whichever way you prefer. If getting the absolute lowest mortgage rate is worth the extra cost to you, have your loan officer structure to structure your loan as such. Or, if you prefer higher rates and lower costs, you can go that route, too.

Banks offer multiple mortgage set-ups to meet every type of budget and, with rates down 1.00% since April 8, there's good cause to call your loan officer about a mortgage refinance. See what set-up will work best for you.


See How Credit Missteps Lower Your Credit Score

The FICO Recipe

The company behind the popular FICO scoring model has published a "What If?" series for common, specific credit missteps.

If you've ever wondered how your credit score would be affected by a missed payment or a maxed-out credit card, now you can use a look-up guide to assess the probable damage.

As published by myFICO.com, here's a few common financial difficulties and how they affect FICO scores.

Max-Out A Credit Card

  • Starting score of 780 : 25-45 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 10-30 point drop

30-Day Delinquency

  • Starting score of 780 : 90-110 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 60-80 point drop


  • Starting score of 780 : 140-160 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 85-105 point drop

Not surprisingly, the higher your starting score, the more each given difficulty can drop your FICO.  This is because credit scores are meant to predict the likelihood of a loan default. People with lower FICOs are already reflecting the effects of risky credit behavior.

Also worth noting that the above is just a guide -- your scores may fall by more -- or less -- depending on your individuak credit profile.  The number and type of credit accounts you hold, plus their respective payments and balances make up your complete credit history.

Read the complete report at myFICO.com.


Atlanta Georgia Jumbo Rates News: Housing Starts Jump In September, Buoyed By Homebuilder Confidence

Housing starts Oct 2008-Sept 2010According to the Commerce Department, the number of single-family Housing Starts increased to 452,000 units in September, a 19,000 improvement over August.
A "housing start" is a new home on which construction has started.
Housing Starts data is surveyed and broken-down by housing type:
  1. Single-Family Housing Starts
  2. Multi-Unit Housing Starts (2-4 Units)
  3. Apartment Building Housing Starts (5 or more units)
The government logs each type separately, but also lumps them into a single, comprehensive figure within its reports. For this reason, headlines surrounding the story seem contradictory.
For example:
  • Marketwatch : Housing starts rise for 3rd straight month, up 0.3%
  • CNN : Housing starts jump to 5-month high
It's single-family homes that most Americans purchase, though, and that's why single-family starts are the numbers worth watching. As 75% of the market, it's more relevant than the joint numbers most commonly reported by the press.
In September, single-family starts did move to a 5-month high but buyers and sellers in Marietta should keep the figures in perspective. Just because starts are rising doesn't mean the housing sector has turned around for good.
The first reason why is because, in September, starts were 75 percent less as compared to 5 years ago at the peak of housing. And if you feel that's an unfair comparison, even as compared to the last 12 months, September's data was tens of thousands below average.
Second, September's Margin of Error happened to exceed its actual measurement. This means that the 4 percent in starts may actually turn out to be a loss of 4 percent (or more!) once the data is collected in full.
If there's a reason to think the New Homes market is coming back, though, it's that home builder confidence is also at a 5-month high. Foot traffic is rising and builders are optimistic about the next six months.  This could mean higher sales prices and less chance for negotiation.
Buyers in search of new homes may find it tougher to make a deal the closer we get to 2011. Atlanta Jumbo rates still are below 5% for the week Of October 18th 2010


As Buyer Foot Traffic Rises, So Does Homebuilder Confidence

NAHB Housing Market Index October 2008-2010

As the "pulse of the single-family housing market", the Housing Market Index is a monthly product of the National Association of Homebuilders. Its scores range from 1-100, with a reading a 50 or better suggesting "favorable conditions" for builders.

Because of its methodology, the Housing Market Index can offer excellent insight into the Marietta market for newly-built homes. This is because its value is a composite of three survey questions:

  1. How are market conditions today?
  2. How do market conditions look 6 months from now?
  3. How is the prospective traffic of new buyers for new homes?

Builder responses are collected, weighted, then presented as the Housing Market Index.

According to the NAHB, October's HMI reading of 16 is its highest value in 5 months. The uptick hints that the market for newly-built homes may rebound more quickly that this summer's weak new homes sales figures would otherwise suggest.

You'll remember that, between April and August, the number of new homes sold per month fell by 30 percent and the available, new home inventory climbed 2.3 months.

This month, though, builders report much better foot traffic and, as a result, have raised their expectations for the next six months of sales. Low mortgage rates are likely aiding the optimism, too.

As compared to 1 year ago, average, 30-year fixed mortgage rates are lower by 0.75 percent, a payment savings of $45 per $100,000 borrowed.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 18, 2010

Housing starts and building permitsMortgage markets worsened last week in back-and-forth trading, pushing conforming mortgage rates higher on the week.

Despite the uptick, however, Freddie Mac reports that rates in Georgia still managed to make new, all-time lows for the third week in a row. The benchmark 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now down 1.02% since April 2010.

The United States is experiencing a Refi Boom.

As compared to 6 months ago, a new, $200,000 home loan costs $124 less per month in principal + interest.

This week, monthly payments may fall some more. It all depends on data.

Early in the week, housing data takes center stage. The National Association of Home Builders releases its Housing Market Index this morning, and, Tuesday, the government prints September's Housing Starts figures.  Both reports figure to influence the bond market.

Strong readings should lead mortgage rates higher; weak ones should lead them lower. Economists expect weakness.

That said, the biggest story of the week -- and the one with the best chance of changing rates -- could stem from the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve officials, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, have observed the recent U.S. economy and have openly discussed the use of "non-conventional means" to spur it forward. As the rhetoric increases, it's widely believed that the Fed will act soon, and that the central bank's plan will include new commitments to U.S. Treasury debt, and, possibly, to mortgage-backed bonds.

Speculation of the Fed's next move has sparked mortgage bond demand which, in turn, has helped drive down mortgage rates. An official Fed announcement could push rates lower still.

For now, though, mortgage rates are as low as they've been in history. Rate shoppers have two choices. (1) Lock in a today's low rates, or (2) Wait and hope that rates fall further. Ultimately, rates may fall, but once they start rising, they'll likely rise quickly.

It's a gamble you may not wish to take.


Avoiding Common Mortgage Scams

Despite tougher mortgage guidelines and better loan disclosures for consumers, mortgage fraud is on the rise, according to the FBI.

Fraud has many varieties and it's estimated cost to the nation is between $4-6 billion annually.  Today, common mortgage fraud scams target homeowners behind in their mortgage payments and/or facing foreclosure. And, despite the hordes of legitimate organizations that dedicate themselves to helping consumers, mortgage fraudsters proliferate.

In this 3-minute piece from NBC's The Today Show, you'll learn to spot common frauds, and to avoid them.

Some of the frauds highlighted include:

  1. The Rent-to-Buy arrangement
  2. The Bait-and-Switch
  3. The "Phantom fees"

With respect to mortgage paperwork, it's always wise to read what you're signing, and to take time to understand what it means. If you're uncomfortable reading mortgage documents, ask for an attorney's help. And don't worry if you don't have the budget -- many states offer free or discounted help via advocacy groups.


Bank Reposessions Top 100,000 In A Month For The First Time Ever

Foreclosure concentration, by state (September 2010)The number of foreclosure filings rose 3 percent in September, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac. The term "foreclosure filing" is a catch-all word for housing, comprising default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions.

September marked the 19th straight month that the number of filings topped 300,000, and the first month in which 100,000 repossessions were logged.

As usual, a small number of states dominated the national foreclosure figures, accounting for more than half of all repossessions.

  1. California : 17% of all repossessions
  2. Florida : 13% of all repossessions
  3. Michigan : 7% of all repossessions
  4. Arizona : 7% of all repossessions
  5. Texas : 5% of all repossessions
  6. Georgia : 5% of all repossessions

Thankfully for home sellers, mortgage servicers appear to be metering the pace at these newly bank-owned homes are made available to the public. RealtyTrac notes that, in doing so, servicers prevent "the further erosion of home prices".

That said, distressed properties still sell at a steep discount.

In the second quarter of 2010, the average sale price of homes in the foreclosure process was 26 percent lower than the average sale price of homes not in the foreclosure process. It's no surprise, therefore, that, based on RealtyTrac's preliminary data, 31 percent of all homes sold in September were "distressed".

There's lot of good deals out there, in other words, but they come with certain risks.

Buying a foreclosed home is not the same as buying a non-foreclosed home. Specifically, you're buying from a corporation and not from a "person". Contracts may vary, and so may terms.

Therefore, Kennesaw home buyers -- even experienced ones -- should talk with a real estate agent before making an offer. It's important to understand the foreclosure-buying process.


Fed Minutes Edge Mortgage Rates Higher

FOMC September 2010 MinutesThe Federal Reserve released its September 21, 2010 meeting minutes Tuesday afternoon. Mortgage rates in Georgia are slightly higher today.

It's unwelcome news for this season's home buyers, and existing homeowners with plans to grab lower rates. Mortgage rates made new lows last week and may have reached a turn-around point.

The "Fed Minutes" is published 8 times annually, and is the official meeting recap for the Federal Open Market Committee. Similar to the meeting minutes released after a corporate conference or condo association gathering, the Fed Minutes details the conversation and debate between meeting attendees.

Minutes are the lengthy companion to the Fed's brief, post-meeting press release.

Because of its content, the Fed Minutes is closely read by Wall Street and economists. It's insight into the talk that shapes our nation's monetary policy and, within the text, there's often clues about the Fed's next move.

Here's some of what the Fed discussed last month:

  • On inflation : It's running at lower-than-optimal levels
  • On housing : Post-tax credit, housing stalled in July
  • On stimulus : The Fed may intervene in open markets within the next few months


The over-riding theme within the minutes was that the U.S. economy is growing a steady pace, albeit slower than what's optimal. The Fed is prepared to push things along if the economy slows further and news like that is helping stock markets.

Bond markets are losing. Rates are rising.

For now, mortgage rates hover near all-time lows.  If you haven't locked a mortgage rate yet, your window may be closing.  Once the economy turns around for certain, mortgage rates will be among the first of the casualties.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 12, 2010

Unemployment Rate 2007-2010Mortgage markets improved last week on mixed messages about the economy, and a growing belief that the government will move to stimulate the economy.

Conforming mortgage rates in Georgia eased lower.

According to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage market survey, average mortgage rates nationwide fell to new all-time lows last week. On the other side of that point, however, is that the accompanying "points" for today's low rates have climbed to their highest levels of 2010.

In other words, mortgage rates are down, but closing costs are up.

There were two main stories driving mortgage rates last week. The first was the Federal Reserve. 

Although nothing has been said specifically, markets are speculating that the government will add new layers of market support to spark the economy.

The prevailing thought is that -- if there's intervention -- the Fed will buy treasuries and mortgage bonds, driving up prices and pushing down yields. Rates dropped last week in anticipation of such a move.

The second factor in falling mortgage rates was Friday's jobs report.

Economists expected the economy to shed 5,000 jobs in September. Instead, it lost 95,000, anchored by the elimination of temporary census workers and job losses in local governments. The private sector didn't fare so poorly, adding sixty-four thousand jobs. However, that, too, fell short of expectations.

The results contributed to a mortgage market rally already in-process.

This week, there's a number of releases that should keep mortgage rates on the move -- up and down -- including Fed Minutes (Tuesday), Producer Price Index (Thursday), and Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales and a confidence survey (Friday).

Mortgage rates are low and may not stay that way. If you're floating a mortgage rate, or wondering whether now is the time to lock, talk to you loan officer. Rates are expected be volatile this week.



Cobb County Atlanta, Georgia: Overall, I am expecting to see a fair amount of mortgage rate movement in mortgage rates this week, especially the latter part of the week. 
GAS IS UP!  MEAT IS UP!  CORN IS UP!  and trend is starting to develop. The key reports come Friday, so we can label it the most important day of the week. But the active week for corporate earnings can also heavily influence trading and mortgage rates any day of the week. Accordingly, please proceed cautiously and maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rates yet. Please see Georgiamortgagerates.emortgageco.com to see competitive pricing we serve all of Georgia now in our 17th year.
This week brings us the release of five economic reports that are of interest to the mortgage market along with the minutes from the last FOMC meeting and two important Treasury auctions. The week also gets heavy in quarterly earnings releases for companies, which could cause significant movement in the stock markets. The earnings results could affect bond trading as investors move funds into stocks if the reports are good. The other possibility is that the earnings reports would generally disappoint, meaning investors may move funds out of stocks and into bonds as a safe-haven. The latter would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.

We are open today helping are clients  but the bond market is closed todayi n observance of the Columbus Day holiday and will reopen Tuesday morning. The stock markets are open for trading tomorrow, so their movement is worth watching as a sizable move up or down in the major indexes may influence bond trading and mortgage pricin g early Tuesday morning. I suspect many mortgage lenders will be closed tomorrow, as will U.S. banks. If anyone is open for business and does post rates tomorrow, you can expect to see an increase of approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point from Friday's morning pricing due to weakness in bonds late Friday afternoon.

The first piece of data comes at 2:00 PM ET Tuesday afternoon when the Fed releases the minutes from their last FOMC meeting. These may be a major mover of the markets or could be a non-factor, depending on what they say. The key will be concerns over inflation and the Fed's next move. If Fed members were concerned about inflationary pressures, we may see the bond market move lower and mortgage rates higher Tuesday afternoon. However, if they repeat recent comments and statements that inflation is not of much concern and that there is still considerable concern about the economy, we should see little reaction in mortgage rates or a small improv ement. Also worth watching is any discussion about the Fed getting more involved with purchasing government or mortgage debt. Any indication of them making more purchases should be taken as very good news for mortgage rates and will likely lead to lower rates Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday's only event is the first of two important Treasury auctions this week. The sale of 10-year Notes will be held Wednesday while 30-year Bonds will be sold Thursday. We often see some weakness in bonds ahead of the sales as the firms participating prepare for them. However, as long as the auctions are met with decent demand from investors, the firms usually buy them back. This tends to help recover any presale losses. But, if the sales are met with a lackluster interest from investors- particularly international buyers, the bond market may move lower after the results are posted and mortgage rates may move higher. Those results will be announced at 1:00 PM each sale day.

September's Producer Price Index (PPI) will be release early Thursday morning. This is one of the two very important inflation readings we get each month. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. Analysts are expecting to see a 0.2% increase in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. A larger than expected increase could fuel inflation concerns in the bond market and push mortgage rates higher. However, weaker than expected readings should lead to lower rates Thursday.

August's Trade Balance report will also be released early Thursday morning. It gives us the size of the U.S. trade deficit but is the week's least important report and likely will have little impact on the bond market and mortgage rates. Analysts are expecting to see a $44.5 billion deficit, but it will take a wid e variance to directly influence mortgage pricing, especially since an important inflation report is also being posted at the same time.

The week closes with three reports being posted Friday morning, two of which are extremely important to the markets and mortgage rates. The first is September's Retail Sales report that measures consumer spending. This data is very important to the markets because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Therefore, any related data is considered to be highly important. If we see weaker than expected readings in this report, the bond market should respond favorably and mortgage rates should drop. However, stronger than expected sales would fuel optimism about the economy and would likely lead to a stock rally that hurts bonds prices and pushes mortgage rates higher. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.4% increase in sales. Good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing would be a smaller increase.

Friday's second major economic release is September's Consumer Price Index (CPI). It measures inflationary pressures at the consumer level of the economy and is one of the most important reports that the bond market gets each month. Analysts are expecting to see a rise of 0.2% in the overall index and an increase of 0.1% in the core data reading. A larger than expected increase in the core reading could raise inflation concerns in the bond market and push mortgage rates higher. Inflation is the number one nemesis of the bond market because it erodes the value of a bond's future fixed interest payments. When inflation is a threat, bonds sell for discounted prices that push their yields higher. And since mortgage rates tend to follow bond yields, this leads to higher rates for mortgage borrowers. This is one of the most important reports we see each month, so its impact on mortgage rates could be significant.

The last report of the week is October's preliminary reading to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment late Friday morning. This index measures consumer willingness to spend and usually has a moderate impact on the financial markets. Good news for the bond market would be a sizable decline in consumer confidence, but due to the importance of the day's other two reports, I suspect this data will have little impact on mortgage rates. It is expected to show a reading of 68.6, up slightly from September's final of 68.2.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days...  This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers. Please call or email if we I can help.


Jobs Data Shows Private Sector Growth, Hints At Lower Mortgage Rates

Net Job Gains Oct 2008 - Sept 2010On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report from the month prior.  This month, though, because the first Friday of the month was also the first day of the month, the report was delayed one week.

The report hit the wires at 8:30 AM ET this morning.

More commonly called "the jobs report", the government's non-farm payrolls data influences stock and bond markets, and, in the process, swings a big stick with home affordability figures in Atlanta and nationwide.

Especially in today's economic climate.

Although the recession has been deemed over, Wall Street remains unconvinced. Data fails to show the economy moving strongly in one direction or the other and, absent job creation, economists believe growth to be illusionary.


  1. With job creation comes more income, and more spending.
  2. With more spending comes growth in business
  3. With growth in business comes more job creation

And the cycle continues.

The prevailing thought is that, without jobs, consumer spending can't sustain and consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy. No job growth, no economy recovery.

But there's another angle to the jobs report, too; one that connects to the housing market. As the jobs market recovers, today's renters are more likely to become tomorrow's homeowners, and today's homeowners are more likely to "move-up" to bigger homes. This means more competition for homes at all price points and, therefore, higher home values.

And that brings us to today's jobs data.

According to the government, 95,000 jobs were lost in September. Economists expected a net loss of 5,000.  However, if public sector jobs are excluded from the final figures, jobs grew by 64,000.  This is a positive for the private-sector, but still trailed expectations.

Wall Street is voting with its dollars right now and mortgage bonds are gaining, improving mortgage pricing.

So, although the September 2010 jobs report doesn't reflect well on the economy overall, home affordability in Georgia and around the country should improve as a result. 


Fannie Mae Rolls Out New Lending Rules December 13, 2010

Fannie Mae changes mortgage guidelinesStarting Monday, December 13, 2010, Fannie Mae is changing its mortgage lending guidelines.

For some mortgage applicants of Georgia , the loan approval process will simplify. For others, it will toughen. How you'll be affected personally will depend on your credit profile and your loan characteristics.

Among the biggest changes from Fannie Mae is a new set of guidelines for gift funds. When the new rules roll out, accepting cash gifts for downpayment will be easier.

Undetr the new guidelines, buyers of owner-occupied, 1-unit properties (i.e. single-family homes, condos, townhomes) can forgo Fannie Mae's typical, minimum 5% personal downpayment contribution. Downpayments on homes meeting the above criteria can be comprised of 100% gifted and/or granted funds.

Buyers of second homes and multi-unit properties, however, are not exempt.

There's also two changes pending with respect to revolving debt.

  1. Debt with less than 10 payments remaining may no longer be waived in debt-to-income ratio calculations
  2. Debt lacking a monthly payment on credit must be assigned a payment equal to 5% of the outstanding balance

Both of the above should increase the number of loan denials in 2011.

And, lastly, Fannie Mae changes some of its documentation requirements, the most noticeable of which will be with respect to income verification. Salaried workers and applicants whose commission/bonus accounts for less than a quarter of their income will have fewer paystubs to produce for underwriting.

Loan applications taken prior to December 13, 2010 are exempt from the new rules.

Fannie Mae's complete guideline changes are available online at http://efanniemae.com.


2011 Conforming Loan Limits : No Change From 2010

Conforming loan limits 2011

Conforming mortgages is so named because, literally, they conform to the mortgage guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Of the many traits of a conforming mortgage, one is "loan size" and loan sizes have limits. Mortgages exceeding this loan size limit cannot be securitized as a conforming mortgage and, therefore, are ineligible for conforming mortgage rates.

Conforming mortgage rates are often the cheapest source of mortgage money for residents of Georgia , all things equal.

Each year, the government re-evaluates its maximum allowable loan size based on "typical" housing costs nationwide. Loans in excess of this amount are often called "jumbo".

Between 1980 and 2006, as home prices increased, so did conforming loan limits -- from $93,750 to $417,000.  Since 2006, however, home prices have retreated but the conforming loan limit has not.

In 2011, for the 6th consecutive year, $417,000 will be the country's conforming mortgage loan limit.

Conforming loan limits very by property type. The complete breakdown is as follows:

  • 1-unit properties : $417,000
  • 2-unit properties : $533,850
  • 3-unit properties : $645,300
  • 4-unit properties : $801,950

Despite the limits, some parts of the country get "loan limit exceptions". In areas considered "high cost", conforming loan limits range from $417,001 to $729,750. High-cost is defined by the median sales price of a region.

Los Angeles County, for example, is a high-cost region, along with a lot of California. There are less than 200 such areas nationwide, though.

You can verify your local market's loan limit via the Fannie Mae website. A complete county-by-county list is published online.


Pending Home Sales Data Points To Higher Home Prices This Fall

Pending Home Sales (Feb 2009 - August 2010)Consistent with calls of a housing rebound, the Pending Home Sales Index rose again in August. It marks the second straight month of improvement after May's post-tax credit drop-off.

A "pending home" is an existing home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4 out of 5 pending homes close within 60 days, and many more close within 90 days. For this reason, the Pending Home Sales Index is an excellent forward-indicator for housing.

As a real-life illustration, after July's 27% plunge to an 11-year low, Existing Home Sales recovered 8 percent in August. This was not a surprise, though, because July's Pending Home Sales Index predicted it.

Region-by-region, the Pending Home Sales Index varied in August, suggesting better sales levels in the South and West markets:

  • Northeast : -2.9% from July
  • Midwest : +2.1% from July
  • South : +6.7% from July
  • West : + 6.4% from July

That said, real estate markets aren't "regional" -- they're local. Just as there are improving markets within the Northeast Region, there's worsening markets in the West. And cities like Atlanta have their own market traits, too.

Overall, buyers are being drawn into housing by low mortgage rates, affordable homes, and ample supply. If the August Pending Home Sales Index is foreshadowing the fall housing market, home prices appear slated to rise.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 4, 2010

Jobs in focus this weekFor the third straight week, mortgage markets showed little conviction in the face of contrasting data. Mortgage bonds ended the week slightly better, but mortgage rates did not.

Conforming mortgage rates in Georgia were up-and-down all week before ending the week with a slight worsening. The inter-day volatility has come to characterize the current mortgage market.

In part, rates are jumpy because of data; it's unclear when the economy is expanding or contraction -- despite the "official call" of the recession's end in June 2009.

Consider the conflicting reports from last week. Separate Consumer Confidence reports showed sentiment falling in September, but on the other hand:

In other words, the economy is in recovery, but the average Kennesaw citizen isn't believing it. That causes purse-strings to stay tight, thereby retarding economic growth.

Wall Street is struggling with the contrast, and constantly changing its outlook.  It's making mortgage rates tough to pin down and this week should reflect that. In addition to a home sales report and new consumer confidence data, the government prints its market-moving Non-Farm Payrolls report.

More commonly called "the jobs report", Non-Farm Payrolls details the workforce, its size, and its Unemployment Rate.  There's expected to be little change from August, a month considered "fair" by recent employment standards. If the jobs report shows improvement and/or strength, look for mortgage rates to rise. If the report does deterioration and/or weakness, look for mortgage rates to fall.

The Non-Farm Payrolls will be released Friday at 8:30 AM ET.


America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes (2010 Edition)

Expensive ZIP codesThe value of a home is based on the basic economic principle of Supply and Demand. When the number of buyers exceeds the number of sellers, home prices rise. Conversely, when sellers outnumber buyers, home prices fall.

There's always a opening price point for negotiation and that figure often factors in specifics like square footage, number of rooms, and finishes and amenities. Location matters, too.

On a ZIP code-by-ZIP code basis, prices can vary wildly and it's tiny, tony 91008 -- located in Duarte, California -- that tops the 2010 Forbes list of America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes. Home to fewer than 1,400 residents of Los Angeles County, the ZIP code's median home cost is $4,276,462.

By contrast, the median home cost across all of Duarte's ZIP codes is just $358,454.

As listed by Forbes, America's 10 most expensive ZIP codes are:

  1. Duarte, CA (91008) : $4,276,462
  2. Atherton, CA (94027) : $4,010,200
  3. Rolling Hills, CA (92074) : $3,892,456
  4. Alpine, NJ (07620) : $3,814,885
  5. New York, NY (10014) : $3,785,445
  6. Beverly Hills, CA (90210) : $3,684,150
  7. New York, NY (10065) : $3,626,001
  8. Belvedere (94920) : $3,283,269
  9. New York, NY (10012) : $3,221,371
  10. Santa Barbara (93108) : $3,151,220

The real estate market is a local one, as evidenced by the Forbes list. Even within large cities like New York, there are areas that stand out from the pack in terms of cost and affordability and the same is true for all cities.

Therefore, when you need local market data for Vinings , look past the "national statistics".  Talk to a real estate agent with local market knowledge instead. It's the most reliable way to get data that matters.