What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 5, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 5, 2014Last week’s economic news included several reports related to housing and mortgages. The NAR started the week on a positive note with its Pending Home Sales Index released Monday. Pending home sales in March were higher with an unexpected increase of 3.40 percent over February for an index reading of 97.40.

This is encouraging news for home sales that were severely affected by a hard winter in many areas, and suggests that as warmer weather approaches, home sales will pick up. Analysts do not expect the rapid rate of price appreciation seen in 2013. The Fed’s tapering of its “quantitative easing” program has caused mortgage rates to rise, and last year’s rapid run-up of home prices has made affordability an issue in many areas.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February performed slightly better than expected with a seasonally-adjusted month-to-month reading of 0.80 percent. The expected reading was 0.70 percent.

The year-over-year reading fell short of January’s reading of 13.20 percent and the expected reading of 13.00 percent at 12.90 percent. Analysts noted the continuing trend of slowing momentum in home price growth, but seem confident that home prices will continue to increase over the spring months.

Fed Continues Tapering Of QE, Mortgage Rates Mixed

Wednesday brought the FOMC’s customary statement after its two-day meeting concluded. There were no surprises as the statement verified another monthly tapering of $10 billion from the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) program of asset purchases.

The tapering was evenly divided with $5 billion less in MBS purchased and $5 billion less in treasury securities purchased. The ongoing tapering was seen as contributing to rising mortgage rates, but the Fed asserted that its asset purchases remain sufficient to dampen rapid increases in long-term interest rates, which include mortgage rates.

The Fed repeated its usual reminder that its decisions are not on a pre-set course and that the committee members would closely monitor economic and financial developments as guidance for future decisions.

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates on Thursday. Average rates rose by four basis points to 4.29 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with discount points of 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.38 percent; discount points steady at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.05 percent; discount points dropped from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims made an unexpected jump to 344,000 as compared to the prior week’s revised figure of 329,000 jobless claims and an expected reading of 320,000 new jobless claims.

Analysts note that week-to-week figures continued to show volatility, but said that on balance, the rolling average for jobless claims appeared consistent with moderate growth in labor markets.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news shows no events related to housing and mortgages. Highlights include Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s appearance before the Joint Economic Committee in Washington, D.C. and the usual releases of mortgage rates and new jobless claims on Thursday.

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Warmer Weather Brings In The Buyers But Is There Inventory?

Warmer Weather Brings In The Buyers, Is There Inventory?After three consecutive months of decline, the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index remained nearly unchanged in February. Year-over-year home prices rose by 12.90 percent in February as compared to 13.20 percent in January.

20 Percent Below Their 2006 Pre-recession Peak

Analysts note that in spite of recent slowdowns in home prices, the year-over-year rates of home price growth remain close to peak price growth attained in 2006. National home prices remain approximately 20 percent below their 2006 pre-recession peak.

13 cities posted lower rates of price gains in February. The Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city indices showed year-over-year price gains of 13.10 and 12.90 percent respectively. Only five cities posted year-over-year gains in price appreciation.

Las Vegas, Nevada continues to lead home price growth but its year-over-year rate of home price growth slowed from January’s reading of 24.9 percent to February’s reading of 23.10 percent. Washington, D.C. posted its eighth consecutive month of home price gains with a year-over-year reading of 9.10 percent, its highest rate of price increases since May 2006.

Dallas, Texas posted a year-over-year rate of 10.10 percent and a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent, which continues the city’s record home price growth.

Home Price Gains Expected To Slow In Coming Months

Analysts said that more homes are expected to come on the market and also noted that the rapid increase in home prices for some areas likely sidelined some buyers. As inventories of homes increase, home prices are expected to rise at more modest rates. Job markets continue to experience ups and downs and incomes are relatively flat.

These factors can cause would-be homeowners to take a “wait-and-see” stance. Price increases in other sectors can also impact home prices, as buyers adjust their home purchase plans to what they can afford to spend.

Pending Home Sales Rise In March

The NAR reported that its pending home sales index rose by 3.40 percent in March as compared to a decrease of -0.80 percent for February. The March reading showed the first increase in pending home sales in nine months, and was the highest reading since November.

Warmer weather allowed more buyers shop for homes, but remains 7.90 percent lower than in March 2013. Higher home prices and low inventories of available homes were cited as reasons for the lower reading.

Pending home sales by region showed mixed results, and suggested the impact of severe winter weather on potential home buyers.

Northeast: +1.40 percent

Midwest:    -0.80 percent

South:       +5.60 percent

West:        +5.70 percent

Based on a slow start during the first quarter of 2014, the NAR forecasts 2014 sales of existing homes at 4.9 million as compared to 5.1 million existing homes sold in 2013.

 

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Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home

Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home Paying your income taxes each year leave your wallet a bit thin? There may be money hiding in your home that lessens your tax burden. Here are four places to look:

1. Home-Office Deduction

If you work from home, you could qualify for a home-office deduction. Taking the deduction can be a bit complicated; so many people who qualify don’t claim the exemption. An estimated 26 million Americans have home offices, but only 3.4 million claim them on their tax return.

Perhaps that’s why the Internal Revenue Service attempted to simplify the process in 2013.

The write-off takes into account depreciation, utilities, insurance, the amount of square footage dedicated for office space, whether you host clients at your house and other factors.

Because the parameters involved in filing a home-office exemption are rather complicated, it’s best to keep all business-related receipts, records of client meetings and other pertinent information to make things easier when you prepare your return.

2. Casualty Loss

Damage to your home from an act of God or a theft or burglary may qualify you for an income tax exemption. To qualify for the write-off, the causality loss must meet the “sudden event test.” That means it must be sudden, unpredictable, have involved some natural force and occur in a single instance.

To claim thefts and burglaries, you must be able to prove that a wrong doing has actually occurred. It can’t just be a case of a lost item that you suspect was stolen. Proof can come in the form of witness statements, police reports or newspaper accounts.

3. Energy Efficiency Upgrades And Repairs

Upgrading your home with energy efficient improvements can qualify you for a tax deduction. New roofs, insulation, windows, doors and a number of additional items qualify for the deduction. The deductions lets homeowners claim 10 percent of the total bill for energy efficient materials. The maximum credit is $500.

4. Real Estate Taxes And Newly Purchased Homes

New home owners should look at their settlement statement a bit closer. If the previous owner prepaid property taxes that cover any of the time you owned the home, you can include the prepaid taxes in your property tax deduction.

Don’t pay more than you have to when you file your taxes each April. Consider these commonly overlooked deductions that can lessen the amount you have to pay.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 7, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 7, 2014Last week’s economic news included readings on February construction spending and multiple reports on employment data.

Private sector employment was higher in March, but The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-Farm Payrolls for March fell short of expectations. According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates ticked upward.

Employment And Unemployment News

ADP’s payrolls report for March was higher than February’s reading, with 191,000 new private sector jobs added. In February, 178,000 jobs were added. February’s reading originally showed 138,000 new jobs added.

While analysts were confident that private-sector employment was showing signs of stability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics swamped excess confidence in labor markets Friday with its March reading for Non-Farm Payrolls.

192,000 jobs were added in March against predictions of 200,000 jobs added and February’s reading of 197,000 jobs added.

The news was not all bad as job gains for January and February were revised upward. January’s job gains were revised from 129,000 to 144,000 and February’s reading was revised from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs added. The revised readings represent a total of 37,000 more jobs added.

As data impacted by severe winter weather “shakes out,” it would not be surprising to see a revision to March’s new jobless claims reading as well.

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady, Workforce Numbers Higher

While readings on employment have been up and down in recent months, the national unemployment rate has held relatively steady, with last week’s reading at 6.70 percent. 503,000 workers joined the workforce this increased the labor participation rate for March from 63 percent to 63.20 percent.

Mortgage rates were incrementally higher last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 4.41 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.47 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.12 percent, which was two basis points higher than the previous week. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.50 percent.

This Week’s Economic News Highlights

Job openings for February, FOMC minutes and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March are set for release this week. As usual, Freddie Mac will post results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey and weekly unemployment claims will also be reported.

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Highest Year-Over-Year Increase In Home Prices Since 2005

Highest Year-Over-Year Increase In Home Prices Since 2005Two major indicators of home price trends showed a slowing momentum for home prices in December. The S&P Case Shiller 10 and 20 city indices reported that of 20 cities tracked, home prices were lower in December than for November.

Case-Shiller’s seasonally adjusted month-to month reading showed that home prices rose by 0.8 percent as compared to 0.90 percent in November.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that “Gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of home price recovery may be over.” He also noted that seasonally adjusted data was showing a loss of momentum for home prices.

December home prices posted a year-over-year gain of 13.40 percent, down from November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. December’s reading reflected the highest year-over-year increase in home prices since 2005.

Analysts note that a slower pace of increasing home prices may allow more buyers to enter the market, and may also encourage more buyers to list their properties for sale.

This would increase inventories of available homes and relieve pent-up demand for homes. Although home price growth is cooling off, average home prices remain 20 percent below their pre-recession peak in 2006.

Home Prices Face Challenges In 2014

Another factor in slower growth of home prices is regional differences in the rate of economic recovery. Cities including Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado recently set records for escalating home prices.

Five states including Florida and Michigan accounted for almost half of foreclosures completed during 2013. Slow job growth and poor winter weather were also blamed for slower gains in home prices.

New mortgage rules and relatively strict mortgage lending standards may continue to dampen housing markets, but there is some good news as some lenders are easing credit standards.

 FHFA: Home Prices Higher For 10th Consecutive Quarter

The Federal Housing Finance Administration reported similar trends in December home price data for properties either financed or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Home prices rose by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading.

Home prices were 7.70 percent higher for the fourth quarter of 2013 than for the same period in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, this reading indicates an approximate year-over-year increase of 7 percent.

FHFA reported higher readings for 38 states in its fourth quarter 2013 Home Price Index, as compared with 48 states in in the third quarter of 2013.  In order of home price appreciation, the top five states with highest growth in home prices were Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon and Florida.

These calculations were seasonally adjusted and based on home purchases only.

Case Shiller Price Index Shows That It’s A Buyers Market

Case Shiller Price Index Shows That It's A Buyers MarketTwo major indicators of home price trends showed a slowing momentum for home prices in December. The S&P Case Shiller 10 and 20 city indices reported that of 20 cities tracked, home prices were lower in December than for November.

Case-Shiller’s seasonally adjusted month-to month reading showed that home prices rose by 0.8 percent as compared to 0.90 percent in November.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that “Gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of home price recovery may be over.” He also noted that seasonally adjusted data was showing a loss of momentum for home prices.

December home prices posted a year-over-year gain of 13.40 percent, down from November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. December’s reading reflected the highest year-over-year increase in home prices since 2005.

Analysts note that a slower pace of increasing home prices may allow more buyers to enter the market, and may also encourage more buyers to list their properties for sale. This would increase inventories of available homes and relieve pent-up demand for homes.

Although home price growth is cooling off, average home prices remain 20 percent below their pre-recession peak in 2006.

Home Prices Face Challenges In 2014

Another factor in slower growth of home prices is regional differences in the rate of economic recovery. Cities including Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado recently set records for escalating home prices.

Five states including Florida and Michigan accounted for almost half of foreclosures completed during 2013. Slow job growth and poor winter weather were also blamed for slower gains in home prices.

New mortgage rules and relatively strict mortgage lending standards may continue to dampen housing markets, but there is some good news as some lenders are easing credit standards.

FHFA: Home Prices Higher For 10th Consecutive Quarter

The Federal Housing Finance Administration reported similar trends in December home price data for properties either financed or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Home prices rose by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading. Home prices were 7.70 percent higher for the fourth quarter of 2013 than for the same period in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, this reading indicates an approximate year-over-year increase of 7 percent.

FHFA reported higher readings for 38 states in its fourth quarter 2013 Home Price Index, as compared with 48 states in in the third quarter of 2013.  

In order of home price appreciation, the top five states with highest growth in home prices were Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon and Florida. These calculations were seasonally adjusted and based on home purchases only.

 

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Existing Home Sales Lowest Since 2012

Existing Home Sales Lowest Since 2012Sales of existing homes fell by 5.10 percent in January according to the National Association of REALTORS.

Pre-owned home sales slowed to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million homes against an expected reading of 4.65 million and December’s reading of 4.87 million existing homes sold.

Rising home prices are reducing the number of affordable homes and a shrinking inventory of available homes were said to be underlying causes to January’s slump in existing home sales.

Severe winter weather also contributed to lower sales.

January’s reading was the lowest for existing home sales since July of 2012. The national inventory of available pre-owned homes was 1.90 million, which represents a 4.90 month supply at the current sales pace.

Real estate pros look for a 6 to 6.50 month supply of existing homes to balance demand and availability between buyers and homes for sale.

High demand against a low supply of available homes suggests that some home sales weren’t completed due to a bottleneck between willing buyers and a low supply of available homes. Rising home prices also limit affordability for first-time and moderate income home buyers.

Regional Sales Of Existing Homes Lower

Existing home sales fell across all four regions:

  • Northeast: -3.10 percent
  • Midwest: -7.1 percent
  • South: -3.5 percent
  • West: 7.3 percent

Slow job growth, new mortgage rules and high loan approval standards were also reported as causes for slower sales. Short supplies of existing homes in high demand locations are causing multiple offers on homes, and in some areas, cash offers are in play. High competition for homes can eliminate home buyers with a limited range of purchasing power.

Reports on new construction and home builder confidence in housing market conditions supported the slower rate of existing home sales in January

Home prices, while still increasing, are not growing at the rapid rates seen in 2013. The national median home price in January rose to $188,900, which represents a 10.70 percent increase year-over-year. Analysts said that existing home sales that weren’t completed due to the winter weather can be expected to recover as warmer weather arrives.

Distressed Home Sales Impact Average Home Price 

Distressed sales of existing homes including foreclosed properties and short sales represented 15 percent of January sales of existing homes, down from 24 percent in January 2013, and higher than December’s reading of 14 percent.

Sales of foreclosed homes averaged 16 percent below market value and short sales were completed at an average of 13 percent below market value. Discounted home prices impact home prices in areas that have larger numbers of distressed homes for sale.

As warmer weather approaches, new home construction will pick up and more homeowners will be likely to put their homes on the market.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 27, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 27, 2014Last week was an action-packed week for economic news, and all of it was packed into Thursday:

Weekly Jobless claims came in at 326,000 which was lower than the expected 330,000 new claims. This week’s claims were higher than the prior week’s 325,000 new jobless claims filed.

The NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report for December; sales of existing homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.86 million.

December’s reading fell shy of estimates of 490 million existing home sales, but the estimate was based on November sales that were later adjusted downward to 4.82 million sales of existing homes. Existing home sales for 2013 came in at 5.09 million sales, a 9.10 percent increase over 2012 sales.

The median price of a pre-existing home reached $198,000 in December, with the median price for all of 2013 at $197,100, which was an increase of 11.50 percent over the average price for an existing home in 2012.

Pent-up demand and a lingering shortage of available homes likely contributed to last year’s rapid rise in home prices.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, FHFA Reports Slower Gain For Home Prices

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for average mortgage rates in its weekly PMMS report. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from last week’s 4.41 to 4.39 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage dipped by one basis point to 3.44 percent; discount points for both 30 and 15-year mortgages were unchanged at 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 3.10 to 3.15 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released its Home Price report for November 2012. This report is based on information gathered about homes with mortgages owned or backed by the two firms. According to FHFA, home prices increased by 7.60 percent year-over-year.

Home prices moved up by 0.10 percent in November as compared to a rate of 0.50 percent in October.

Leading Economic Indicators Suggest Economy Strengthening

The Leading Economic Indicators report for December moved up by 0.10 percent, which pushed the index to a reading of 99.4. December’s reading represented the sixth consecutive month that the index gained ground.

Economists associated with the LEI report note that while steady growth is expected during the spring, the economy will likely encounter a few obstacles including rising interest rates and possible political gridlock over raising the national debt ceiling.

This Week

This week’s economic news is set to include New Home Sales, the Consumer Confidence Index, and Weekly Jobless Claims. Freddie Mac’s PMMS mortgage rates and reports on consumer spending and consumer sentiment round out the week’s news.

The FOMC statement expected after the committee concludes its meeting on Wednesday is expected to provide news of the Fed’s plan for further tapering of its quantitative easing program.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2014Welcome news arrived last week as lower mortgage rates and a higher number of housing starts were reported. Other economic news was mixed:

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book Report released last Tuesday indicated modest economic growth throughout the 12 Federal Reserve districts. Analysts predicted that this would cause the Fed to further reduce the volume of monthly asset purchases made under its quantitative easing program.

The Atlanta, Cleveland and Kansas City districts reported slower home sales, which supported recent expectations of slowing gains in home prices. 

Mortgage Rates Dip, Housing Starts Up

According to Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates fell last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 4.51 to 4.41 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.45 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.56 percent.

Discount points rose from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 3.15 to 3.10 percent; discount points rose from 0.40 to 0.50 percent.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Home Builders Confidence Index dropped slightly in January. Although expectations were for a reading of 59, January’s reading was 56 and lower than December’s revised reading of 57.

The NAHB Index has increased by 19 percent year-over-year and is expected to continue rising in 2014 due to relatively lower mortgage rates, and pent-up demand for homes.

Housing starts for December came in at 999,000 against expectations of 985,000 and November’s revised reading of 1.11 million. Cold weather and concerns over rising mortgage rates in 2014 were cited as causing fewer housing starts. As the Fed tapers its QE program, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Consumer sentiment toward the economy was lower than expected according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for January. The confidence index was expected to rise to 84.0 based on December’s reading of 82.5, but only achieved a reading of 80.4.

Higher gasoline prices and a slower labor market likely contributed to wavering consumer sentiment; rising inflationary expectations were also considered a cause.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes an action-packed Thursday as today is Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and no economic reports are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday.

Thursday’s reports include Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s PMMS, along with Existing Home Prices, FHFA Home Prices and Leading Economic Indicators.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13, 2014The first post-holiday week of 2014 brought mixed economic and housing-related news. CoreLogic reported via its Housing Market Index that November home prices grew by 11.80 percent year-over-year.

This was just shy of October’s year-over-year reading of 11.90 percent. As with Case-Shiller’s recently reported Home Price Indices, a slower rate of home price growth suggested to analysts that the housing market is cooling down.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its December meeting. The minutes reiterated the Committee’s decision to begin tapering its asset purchases this month.

The Fed announced that it would reduce its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. As always, the Fed indicated that it would continue monitoring economic data for determining future actions concerning monetary policy.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac’s Primary Market Survey reported mixed results for average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-yer fixed rate mortgage dropped to 4.51 percent from 4.53 percent with discount points lower at 0.70 percent; the rate for a15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.56; this was one basis point higher than for last week.

Discount fell from 0.70 to 0.60 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage jumped by 10 basis points to 3.15 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Employment, Unemployment Data Mixed

The week’s jobs-related readings provided mixed readings for the labor sector. The ADP Employment report for December showed 238,000 private sector jobs added and matched expectations of 215,000 new private sector jobs. December’s reading also exceeded November’s reading of 229,000 jobs added.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Non-Farm Payrolls report for December; it reported 74,000 jobs added in December against expectations of 193,000 new jobs and November’s reading of 241,000 jobs added.

The sharp drop in new jobs during December was partially blamed on poor weather, but analysts also said that it could be a sign of further ups and downs in the U.S. economy.

In a statement given in connection with the December Non-Farm Payrolls report, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard, a member of the FOMC, said that he did not expect the Fed to stop tapering its asset purchases due to December’s sharp drop in new jobs.

The national unemployment rate improved to a reading of 6.70 percent. This was the lowest reading in five years and only two-tenths of a percent above the FOMC’s targeted unemployment rate of 6.50 percent. 347,000 workers left the workforce, which helps to explain the discrepancy between the lower number of new jobs and the lower unemployment rate.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes retail sales and retail sales except autos, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s PMMS. The NAHB Home Builders HMI and the Housing Starts report will also be released. Friday’s release of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rounds out the week.

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