What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 28, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 28, 2013Federal government agencies issued reports that were delayed by the government shutdown; and Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for all types of loans it reports. The National Association of REALTORS issued its Existing Home Sales report on Monday. While 5.30 million home sales were expected an annual basis, September’s reading fell short at 5.29 million sales.

August’s reading was adjusted from an original reading of 5.48 million, which equaled July’s reading. Higher mortgage rates and home prices were cited as contributing to the slip in September’s sales.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued the Nonfarm Payrolls report for September on Tuesday. September’s reading indicated that only 148,000 jobs were created as compared to economists’ expectations of 185,000 jobs and August’s reading of 173,000 new jobs.

National Unemployment Rate Dropped 

Analysts indicated that the modest reading for September was caused by uncertainty over the government shutdown, and also indicated that the economy is growing, but continues to experience ups and downs. The national unemployment rate for September fell from August’s reading of 7.30 percent to 7.20 percent.

According to the Commerce Department, construction spending rose by 0.60 percent in August as compared to expectations of 0.50 percent and July’s revised reading of 1.40 percent, of which 1.20 percent represented spending on residential construction. The Federal Reserve characterized residential construction as growing at a ”moderate pace” in September.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that August sales of homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew by 8.50 percent on a seasonally adjusted year-over-year basis. This represented monthly growth of 0.30 percent and was the smallest rise since September 2012.

Good News! Mortgage Rates Fall

Thursday brought encouraging news with Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Average mortgage rates fell across the board with the average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling from last week’s 4.28 percent to 4.13 percent. 

The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 3.33 percent to 3.24 percent, and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 3.07 percent to 3.00 percent. Discount points rose to 0.8 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and stayed steady for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages at 0.4 percent.

Weekly Jobless claims were higher than expected at 350,000 new claims; analysts had expected 337,000 new claims. The latest reading was below the prior reading of 362,000 new jobless claims.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was released Friday with some telling results. October’s reading 73.2 from September’s revised reading of 77.5. A reading of 74.8 had been expected based on September’s original reading of 75.2. Consumers interviewed for the October CSI indicated that the federal government was the major factor in lower confidence in the economy.

What’s Coming Up

A number of federal agencies are still delaying their reports. Next week’s scheduled economic news includes the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, Consumer Confidence report and ADP’s Employment Report. Weekly Jobless Claims and the Freddie Mac PMMS will be issued Thursday. 

The Government Shutdown And Its Effect On Existing Home Sales

The Government Shutdown And It's Affect On Existing Home SalesExisting home sales for September fell by 1.90 percent from August’s revised reading of 5.39 million sales to 5.29 million sales. Economists had expected 5.30 million sales for September, so a slow-down in existing home sales had been anticipated.

The National Association of REALTORS cited higher home prices and mortgage rates as factors contributing to fewer sales of previously owned homes.

Home Prices Easily Outpaced Income Growth

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, home prices ”easily outpaced income growth.” Consequently, affordability has fallen to a five-year low. Mr. Yun also indicated that a government shutdown was expected to affect home sales in October.  

NAR also cited a ”notable increase” in federal flood insurance premiums as a deterrent to homebuyers in flood zones. The premium increase was set for October 1. 

There is some good news. The NAR reported that existing home sales had increased from 4.78 million in September 2012. As compared to the reading for September 2013, this was an annual increase of 10.70 percent in existing home sales.

This increase represented the 27th consecutive month for increasing sales of existing homes on a year-over-year basis.

Higher National Median Home Price

According to the NAR report, the national median home price increased by 11.70 percent to $199,200 as compared to one year ago. This was the 10th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year increases in existing home prices.

NAR estimated that it would take five months to sell the 2.21 million previously owned homes currently available, which indicates that available existing homes remain in short supply.

Sales of distressed properties rose to 14.00 percent share of existing home sales, up from August’s share of 12.00 percent.  August’s level was the lowest share of distressed properties sold since NAR began tracking monthly sales of distressed properties in October 2008. Sales of distressed properties during September included 9.00 percent foreclosed properties and 5.00 percent short sales.

Distressed properties typically sell for less than market value; fewer distressed properties included in existing homes for sale would contribute to higher prices. September’s percentage of distressed sales is down by 10 percent year-over-year.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week — September 23, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 23, 2013Last week’s economic news was dominated by the Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper its $85 billion in monthly securities purchases.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted in a scheduled statement after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting that economic conditions were not yet adequately improved to withstand any decrease in the federal quantitative easing program.

The Fed also reaffirmed that the target federal funds rate would remain at 0.00 to 0.25 percent until the national unemployment rate reached 6.50 percent and inflation reaches 2.00 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 7.30 percent and the Fed projects that inflation will remain under 2.00 percent through 2015.

In both the FOMC statement and his press conference, Chairman Bernanke repeatedly emphasized that the Fed would take no action to reduce QE until the economy strengthens. No automatic reduction of QE purchases would take place without full consideration of the nation’s economy.

The QE program is intended to keep long-term interest rates low, and the announcement that QE would not be tapered brought mortgage rates down after they had increased by more than one percent since May.

Builder Confidence High, Mortgage Rates Lower

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for September revealed that home builder confidence in housing market conditions remained stable at 58; a reading of 59 was expected. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders are confident about market conditions than not.

Housing starts for August did not reflect the high level of builder confidence and fell short of expectations at 891,000. Expected housing starts were estimated at 921,000. There was good news in that August’s reading surpassed the July reading of 883 housing starts. Building permits for August also dropped to 918,000 against expectations of 955,000 and July’s reading of 954,000 building permits.

Higher labor and materials costs and concerns over tight mortgage credit and rising mortgage rates likely contributed to the lower than expected readings for housing starts and building permits.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that average mortgage rates dropped across the board on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.50 percent with discount points moving from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points from 3.59 percent to 3.54 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by 11 basis points to 3.11 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. This provides a break for home buyers who’ve been faced with rising mortgage rates and home prices amidst a shortage of available homes in many areas.

This Week

Economic news scheduled for this week includes the Case/Shiller Home Price Index for July, the FHFA Home Price Index also for July. New home sales and the pending home sales index will be released.

Freddie Mac will release its weekly summary of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released Thursday. The week will end with consumer related data including personal income and consumer spending for August along with the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for September.