For the third time in 12 months, the FHA is changing its mortgage insurance costs.
Effective for all FHA case numbers assigned on, or after, April 18, 2011, annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) will increase 25 basis points.
The change will add $250 to an FHA-insured homeowner’s annual loan costs per $100,000 borrowed, and applies to all borrower’s equally. Current FHA borrowers are unaffected.
To understand the FHA is to understand why premiums are rising.
As an institution, the Federal Housing Administration plays a much larger role in the U.S. housing market today than it did just 5 years ago. According to its own records, the FHA’s percentage of purchase money business in Minnesota and nationwide expanded from 4 percent in FY 2006 to 19 percent in FY 2010.
Rapid growth like this has strained the FHA’s capital and, indeed, in its official statement, the FHA alludes to this, stating that the MIP increase will “significantly strengthen” its reserves. By law, the FHA must maintain a certain minimum level of reserves.
FHA mortgage insurance varies by loan term, and by loan-to-value and, beginning April 18, 2011, the new insurance premiums are as follows:
To calculate your monthly mortgage insurance premium, multiply your starting loan size by your insurance premium, and divide by 12.
There is no change planned to the 1 percent upfront mortgage insurance premium charged by the FHA.]]>
Mortgage rates could move higher beginning tomorrow morning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its February jobs report at 8:30 AM ET.
Home buyers and rate shoppers in Minneapolis would be wise to take note. The jobs report is almost always a market-mover.
Consider last month.
Although net job creation fell well-short of expectations in January — just 36,000 jobs were added — the national Unemployment Rate dropped to 9.0%, its lowest level in 2 years. The marked improvement surprised economists and sparked inflationary concerns within the investor community.
This, in turn, caused mortgage rates to rise.
In the days immediately following the jobs report’s release, conforming rates across Wisconsin jumped 0.375 percent. That’s equivalent to a mortgage payment increase of $22 per month per $100,000 borrowed.
A similar spike could occur tomorrow.
Wall Street scrutinizes job growth because with more working Americans, there’s more consumer spending, and consumer spending accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy. A blow-out number tomorrow would change expectations for the future, and lead rates higher again.
The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008 and 2009 and has barely made 1 million of them back. Tomorrow, analysts expect to see 183,000 jobs created. If the actual reading is lower-than-expected, mortgage rates should fall and home affordability will improve.
Anything else and mortgage rates should rise. Likely by a lot.
Therefore, if you’re shopping for a mortgage right now, consider your risk tolerance. Once markets open tomorrow, you can’t get today’s rates.]]>
Last week, Standard & Poor’s released its Case-Shiller Index for December 2010. The index is a home valuation tracker, meant to meausure the change in home prices from one period to the next.
December’s Case-Shiller Index showed major devaluations nationwide. As compared to December 2009, on a year-over-year basis, home values fell in 18 of the Case Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets, and the U.S. National Index dropped 4 percent overall.
The retreat puts December’s home values at similar levels as compared to early-2003.
That said, buyers and sellers would be wise to take the findings lightly. The Case-Shiller Index is inherently flawed. As such, its results are neither practical — nor relevant — to everyday Americans.
There are 3 Case-Shiller flaws, in fact.
The first flaw is the index’s limited sample set. Wikipedia lists 3,100+ municipalities nationwide and we can be certain that real estate is bought and sold in all of them. The Case-Shiller Index, however, measures just 20 of them. That’s less than 1% of all U.S. cities. And then, within those tracked cities, Case-Shiller reports an average, lumping disparate neighborhoods and streets into one big number.
The “national figures” aren’t really national, and the “city data” doesn’t apply to your home, specifically.
The second Case-Shiller Index flaw is how it measures home value changes. The index only consider at “repeat sales” of the same home, so long as that home is a single-family, detached property. Condominiums, multi-family homes, and new construction are ignored in the Case-Shiller Index.
Because distressed properties account for such a high percentage of resales lately — 36% in December –foreclosures and short sales skew Case-Shiller Index worse.
And, lastly, the Case-Shiller Index is flawed by “age”. Because it reports closed sales a 60-day delay, December’s Case-Shiller Index is measuring the values of home sales contracts from September and October. The Case-Shiller Index, therefore, is a snapshot of the not-so-recent past, and does little to tell us about the next 60 days.
Overall, the Case-Shiller Index is helpful tool for economists and policy-makers, but it doesn’t do much good for individual homeowners across the city of Plymouth or anywhere else. For accurate, real-time housing data in your local market, talk to a real estate professional instead.]]>
After a strong run to close out 2010, the market for home resales softened a bit in January.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index dropped 3 percent last month, and December’s figures were revised downward for a loss, too, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
A “pending home sale” is defined as a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.
The forward-looking index is now at a 3-month low on a national level, but still well ahead of its rolling 6-month average.
Unfortunately, national data isn’t overly helpful for buyers and sellers of real estate. The National Association of REALTORS® knows this, of course, and makes an effort to get more granular, supplementing the Pending Home Sales Index report with a region-by-region breakdown.
Between December and January, only the South Region increased in sales volume. The Midwest led the losers:
Even still, however, regional data remains too broad to be practical. The South Region, for example, is comprised of multiple states with thousands of cities and town. The housing market dynamics of a specific neighborhood in a specific regional city will differ from that of another neighborhood in another regional city.
Real estate data must be local to be relevant.
Overall, then, what may be most telling from January’s Pending Home Sales Index is how weather can influence results.
Most of the country faced drastic weather conditions in January, ranging from raging snowstorms to bitter cold. Events like that tend to put a damper on home sales, a contributing factor in why the number of new contracts fell.
Another reason is rising mortgage rates. Conforming and FHA rates rose week-by-week in January, robbing home buyers of 10% of their purchasing power. This, too, can slow down purchase activity as buyers adjust their expectations.
Looking forward, we should expect the Pending Home Sales Index to resume rising. Inclement weather doesn’t kill demand; it just delays it. And mortgage rates have settled somewhat. These two factors should help release pent-up demand just as the Spring Homebuying Season gets underway.
As more buyers enter the market, negotiation leverage will shift to home sellers, pressuring Minneapolis home prices higher. The lowest prices of the year — and the cheapest financing — could be what you see today.]]>
Mortgage markets improved last week as Wall Street’s concerns about the Middle East trumped its fears of inflation. Conforming and FHA mortgage rates in Wisconsin fell to a 3-week low.
Last week marked the second straight week in which mortgage rates fell, a streak that follows four straight weeks of climbing mortgage rates.
It’s been a bout of good fortune for rate shoppers and home buyers.
In addition, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average spread between conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 5-year ARMs has widened further.
The two benchmark products are now separated by 1.15%. It’s the largest interest rate gap in recent history; one that yields a monthly payment difference of $68 per $100,000 borrowed.
This week, it’s unclear in what direction mortgage rates will go.
On one side, there’s ongoing unease related to protests in Libya and its neighbors, and that’s driving safe haven buying.
“Safe haven buying” describes when investors flee risky situations and put their money in the safest places possible. Mortgage bonds are one such place, so when safe haven buying is in effect, bond demand is high so bond yields (i.e. mortgage rates) fall.
On the other side, inflation is ramping up.
Recent economic data shows that the economy is expanding, and the Federal Reserve is maintaining its accommodative growth policies. Therefore, this week, the key economic event will be Friday’s jobs report. if job creation is high, expect inflation fear to re-ignite, and mortgage rates to rise.
Another risk factor for this week’s rate shoppers is that tensions begin to settle in the Middle East, or that Wall Street gets more comfortable with rising oil prices. If that happens, safe haven buying will subside and mortgage rates will resume rising.
There appears to be more reasons for mortgage rates to rise this week than for them to fall. Plan accordingly.
If you have not locked a mortgage rate yet, this week may represent your last chance to get a low one. Talk to your loan officer and make a plan.]]>
Not all housing reports are sunny, it seems.
In its monthly New Home Sales release, the U.S. Department of Commerce showed a 13 percent drop-off in annualized new construction sales between the months of December and January.
It’s the biggest one-month drop in New Home Sales since May 2010.
In addition, the supply of new homes for sale spiked higher to 7.9 months last month. ”Home supply” is defined as the amount of time it would take to sell the complete “for sale” inventory at the current pace of sales.
In December, the supply measured just 7.0 months,
Don’t fret the news, however. For buyers of new construction in Plymouth , falling New Home Sales figures can be terrific. Weaker markets put pressure on the nation’s home builders to sell their respective homes more quickly. To reach that goal, builders often discount prices and/or offer free upgrades to buyers.
Some of that action may already be in effect.
Despite falling volume, the New Home Sales report showed that new homes are selling faster than in recent months. The median time required to sell a newly-built home dropped to 7.8 months in January – a figure well below January 2010′s reading of 13.9 months.
It suggests that builders are getting better at locating buyers, and moving property.
Therefore, if you’re shopping for a new construction and see one worth buying, get to it. Not only will the home likely sell soon if it’s priced right, but an increase in mortgage rates will make the home more expensive to finance.
Every 0.250% increase to rates adds $15 monthly per $100,000 borrowed.]]>
Home resales rose another 2.7 percent last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS® monthly Existing Home Sales report.
An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied and is not considered new construction.
The number of existing homes sold on a rolling 12-month basis is now at its highest point since May 2010, the month before the federal homebuyer tax credit ended. It’s also up some 40% since July 2010, the month after the tax credit ended.
But that’s not the biggest story in the Existing Home Sales report. The precipitous decline in home inventory deserves more attention.
At the current pace of sales, the complete, national home resale inventory will be sold in 7.6 months. This is close to 5 months faster as compared to last year’s peak, and well below the 2-year home supply average of 9.0 months. There more buyers in the market, it seems, and fewer homes from which they can choose.
Total home resale inventory is down to just 3.38 million homes nationwide — the fewest in 12 months.
There were other interesting statistics in the official Existing Home Sales report, including a break-down of purchases by buyer-type.
In addition, distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales — made up 37 percent of the market.
Over the next few days, more housing data will hit the wires and it’s expected to show similar strength to January’s Existing Home Sales report. With falling supplies and a growing base of move-up buyers, home prices in Maple Grove and around the country are expected to rise in the coming months ahead.]]>
Mortgage rates are up 0.875% since mid-November, causing home buyer purchasing power across Plymouth to fall more than 10 percent since.
Persistent concerns over inflation are a major reason why and this week’s Consumer Price Index did little to quell fears. CPI rose for the third straight month last month.
Wall Street was not surprised.
As the economy has picked up steam since late-2010, the Federal Reserve has held the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent, and kept its $600 billion bond plan moving forward. The Fed believes this is necessary to support the economy in the near-term.
Over the long-term, however, Wall Street worries that these programs may cause the economy may expand too far, too fast, and into runaway inflation.
Inflation pressures mortgage rates to rise.
Inflation is an economic concept; defined as when a currency loses its value. Something that used to cost $1.00 now costs $1.05, for example. It’s not that the goods themselves are more expensive, per se. It’s that the money used to buy the goods is worth less.
Because of inflation, it takes more money to buy the same amount of product.
This is a big deal in the mortgage markets because mortgage rates come from the price of mortgage bonds, and mortgage bonds are denominated, bought, and sold in U.S. dollars. When inflation in present, the dollar loses its value and, therefore, so do mortgage bonds.
When mortgage bonds lose value, mortgage rates go up.
Inflation fears are harming Wisconsin home buyers. The Cost of Living has reached a record level, surpassing the former peak set in July 2008. Mortgage rates would be rising more right now if not for the Middle East unrest.
So long as inflation concerns persist, mortgage rates should trend higher over the next few quarters. If you’re wondering whether to lock or float your mortgage rate, consider locking today’s sure thing.]]>
Mortgage markets improved slightly last week, rebounding from the worst 1-week loss in recent history. The gains were geopolitical, however; the result of instability in the Middle East region. Economic data was overlooked as investors made a broad-based flight-to-quality.
For just the second time in 2011, conforming mortgage rates in Plymouth fell on a week-to-week basis.
Rates shouldn’t have dropped, though. Here’s just a sampling of last week’s economic data, all of which can be tied to rising mortgage rates:
Furthermore, the just-released January FOMC Minutes showed an improving economic outlook from members of the Federal Reserve.
Therefore, home buyers and rate shoppers might consider last week’s rate drop a gift. Without the growing unrest in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, mortgage rates would have moved considerably higher.
Instead, rates fell in a bout of what’s commonly known as “safe haven” buying.
In safe haven buying, global investors shun risk in favor of safer investments; usually in response to market uncertainty. Terror threats is one such event. Regime overthrow is another. Because the event’s long-term effect on markets is unknown, investors choose to move cash to safer asset classes until the future is more clear.
The extra demand for such assets drives prices up and, in the case of mortgage markets, drives rates down.
Last week, rates fell because safe haven buying was so strong. That may not be the case this week. As events play out across the globe, mortgage rates at home in Minnesota will be affected.
There’s a lot of economic data set for release this week, including a large series of housing-related figures. Stronger-than-expected data should cause mortgage rates to rise, safe haven buying notwithstanding.
If you’re still shopping for rates, or looking for a last chance to lock a low rate, now may be your best chance. Talk to your loan officer about a rate-locking strategy early in the week. As the situations abroad become more clear, mortgage rates should start to climb once again.]]>
The Federal Reserve released its January 25-26, 2011 meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon. Minnesota mortgage rates have been in flux since.
Fed Minutes are comprehensive recaps of Federal Open Market Committee meetings; a detailed look at the debates and discussions that shape our nation’s monetary policy. As such, they’re released 8 times annually; 3 weeks after the most recent FOMC meeting.
Fed Minutes can be viewed as the unabridged version of the succinct, more well-known “Fed Statement” that’s released to markets immediately post-adjournment.
Just how much more lengthy are Fed Minutes?
If the Fed Statement is an executive summary, the Fed Minutes is a novel. And, the extra words matter.
When the Federal Reserve publishes its minutes, it’s offering clues about the group’s next policy-making steps. As an example, in the January minutes, the Fed improved its outlook for economic growth; lowered its projections for the Unemployment Rate; and removed its concern for deflation.
In addition, the Fed discussed the potential for food-and-energy-cost-induced inflation, but labeled it as a minor economic risk at this point in time.
Bond markets are mixed on the text of the Fed Minutes.
Although the Fed indicates a willingness to allow inflation to occur, it appears ready to act in case inflation goes too high. One way that the Fed responds to rising inflation is to raise the Fed Funds Rate and many economists believe this will start happening by late-2011 or early-2012.]]>