A Look At This Week’s Mortgage Rates : December 3, 2012

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate mortgage ratesLow mortgage rates are pumping up home affordability.

Average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates made a new all-time low in November, continuing this year Refinance Boom and giving fuel to the budding housing market recovery.

At month-end, Freddie Mac’s survey of 125 banks nationwide put the benchmark product’s rate at 3.32% for borrowers willing to pay 0.8 discount points. This is just 0.01 percentage point above the record-low rate establishing prior to Thanksgiving.

The 15-year fixed mortgage is similarly low, posting 2.64 percent nationwide, on average. This, too, is only slightly higher the all-time low set the week prior.

Falling mortgage rates have helped to offset rising home prices in many U.S. cities. 

Steady job creation and rising consumer confidence has swelled the pool of home buyers nationwide, causing home inventories to shrink and home prices to rise. The improving economy has also led to rising rents and now, within many housing markets, it’s less costly to buy and own a home than to rent a comparable one.

A $1,000 mortgage payment affords a $225,000 mortgage payment in Kent.

Last week, the economy was shown to be improving.

  • The Commerce Department showed that the Gross Domestic Product increased at a 2.7% annual rate in Q3 2012
  • The Labor Department showed first-time unemployment filings dropping by 23,000 claims
  • The Pending Home Sales Index jumped to its highest point since April 2010
  • The Existing Home Sales report showed home sales up 2.1%
  • The Case-Shiller Index showed home values making annual gains 

In addition, Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke said that the central bank will take action to speed economic growth, should the U.S. economy start to side-step. 

This week, there is little on the U.S. economic calendar, save for Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls report. Wall Street is expecting to see 80,000 net new jobs created in November, and a rise in the national Unemployment Rate to 8.0%.

If the report’s actual results are stronger-than-expected, mortgage rates will likely climb from their all-time lows. If the report comes back weak, rates should stay unchanged.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 29, 2012

The jobs report puts the economy is focusMortgage markets ended the week slightly better last week. Wall Street took its cues from U.S. economic data, from developments in Europe, and from the Federal Reserve, moving mortgage rates lower in WA and nationwide.

Pricing for both conforming and FHA mortgage rates improved between Monday and Friday, with the majority of gains occurring late in the week.

The timing of the gains explains why Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate report showed the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate rising this week when, in fact, it did not. Because Freddie Mac conducts its mortgage rate survey at the start of the week, its survey respondents had no time to acknowledge late-week improvements.

Freddie Mac said the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate rose to 3.41% for home buyers and refinancing households willing to pay 0.7 discount points at closing plus a full set of closing costs. 

Mortgage applicants choosing zero-point mortgages should expect a higher rate.

The biggest event of last week was the Federal Open Market Committee’s seventh scheduled meeting of the year. The FOMC’s post-meeting press release described the U.S. economy as growing, and inflation as stable. The Fed re-iterated its pledge to QE3, a stimulus program geared at keeping mortgage rates suppressed. The group also said it would hold the Fed Funds Rate low until at least mid-2015.

Lastly, the Fed showed optimism about the broader U.S. housing market — and for good reason. Since October 2011, housing has trended higher and last week saw the release of the September New Homes Sales report and the September Pending Home Sales Index. Both showed strength.

This week, the market’s biggest story is Friday’s release of the October Non-Farm Payrolls report. Jobs are a keystone in the U.S. economic recovery so the monthly jobs report holds sway over mortgage rates. If the number of jobs created exceeds Wall Street expectations, mortgage rates in Kent will rise and purchasing power will shrink.

The U.S. economy has added jobs in each of the previous 24 months. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 22, 2012

FOMC meets this week -- mortgage rates get volatileMortgage markets worsened last week as hope for a European economic rebound and stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data moved investors out of mortgage-backed bonds.

Mortgage rates all of types — conventional, FHA and VA — lost ground last week, harming home affordability in Kent and reducing purchasing power nationwide.

Rising rates also thwarted would-be refinancing households hoping to time a market bottom.

The increase runs counter to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey which showed the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate dropping 2 basis points to 3.37% nationwide.

This contradiction occurred because Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey is conducted Monday through Wednesday, and because the majority of the surveyed banks reply to Freddie Mac on Tuesday. As a consequence, Freddie Mac failed to capture this week’s mid-week movement that took mortgage bonds to a one-month worst.

Access to Freddie Mac mortgage rates is for “prime” borrowers and requires payment of discount points plus closing costs.

This week, mortgage rates may rise again. There is a lot of news on which for Wall Street to trade, beginning with the week’s biggest story — the Federal Open Market Committee’s 2-day meeting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the FOMC’s last meeting, the Federal Reserve introduced a third round of qualitative easing (QE3), a program through which the Fed will work to keep mortgage rates low until the economy’s recovery is more complete.

The Fed is expected to announce no new stimulus in this, its seventh of eight scheduled meetings for 2012, however, mortgage rates are typically volatile in the hours after the FOMC adjourns.

New housing data is set for release this week, too.

Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release September’s tally of New Home Sales. Given the recent strength in Housing Starts and rising confidence among the nation’s home builders, New Home Sales may best analyst calls for 385,000 new home sold last month on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

Strength in housing has recently correlated with rising mortgage rates.

The housing market’s forward-looking Pending Home Sales Index is released Thursday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 15, 2012

Freddie Mac mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved slightly last week. With a dearth of new U.S. economic data due for release, investors turned their collective attention to the Europe, China, and the Middle East.

U.S. mortgage rates fell slightly in the holiday-shortened week.

The combination of civil protests, economic slowdowns, and growing political tensions caused investors to dump risky assets in favor of the relative safety provided by the U.S. mortgage bond market.

According to Freddie Mac, the average conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 3.39% nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. 0.7 discount points is a one-time closing cost equal to 0.7 percent of the borrowed loan size.

As an illustration, a bank’s charge of 0.7 discount points on a $100,000 mortgage would cost $700 to the borrower.

Freddie Mac also reported the average conforming 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate at 2.70% nationwide with an accompanying 0.6 discount points plus closing costs. Loans with zero discount points carry a higher mortgage rate average.

This week, data returns to Wall Street as a series of housing reports are slated for release, in addition to inflationary reports such Tuesday’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The week begins with Retail Sales, released at 8:30 AM ET Monday. On a strong figure, mortgage rates in Seattle are expected to climb. This is because Retail Sales data is closely tied to consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy. 

A growing economy tends to pull mortgage rates higher.

Tuesday’s CPI may do the same.

Inflation erodes the value of a mortgage bond so when inflation pressures grow, demand for mortgage bonds fall which, in turn, causes mortgage rates to rise. If CPI is higher-than-expected, mortgage rates will likely rise.

Then, there’s a flurry of housing data. The Housing Market Index (Tuesday), Housing Starts (Wednesday) and Existing Home Sales (Friday) all hit this week. Strength in housing may lead mortgage rates higher, harming home affordability for today’s home buyers.

At today’s mortgage rates, every 1/8% increase raises monthly mortgage payments roughly $7 per $100,000 borrowed. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 9, 2012

Rates rising on economyMortgage markets worsened last week for the first time in a month as the U.S. economy showed signs of improvement, and the Eurozone stepped closer to launching its $500 billion euro rescue fund.

Conforming mortgage rates in WA rose last week on the whole — even though Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey proclaimed that they fell

This occurred because Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey is conducted between Monday and Tuesday each week and, last week, mortgage rates were lower when the week began. Through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, however, they rose.

According to the Freddie Mac survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage slipped to 3.36 percent nationwide last week, while the 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 2.69 percent. Both rates required 0.6 discount points and both marked all-time lows.

As this week begins, to gain access to the same 3.36% and 2.69% mortgage rates from last week, Renton mortgage applicants should expect to pay more closing costs and/or higher discount points.

Improving U.S. employment data is partially to blame.

Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its September Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly called “the jobs report”, the monthly issuance details changes in U.S. employment by sector and reports on the national Unemployment Rate.

In September, accounting for upward revisions to data from July and August, 200,000 net new jobs were created — far exceeding Wall Street’s estimates for 120,000 net new jobs created. Furthermore, the Unemployment Rate unexpectedly dropped to 7.8%.

Jobs are considered a keystone in the U.S. economic recovery. As a result, when the jobs numbers hit Friday, mortgage rates worsened, building on momentum built earlier in the week as Greece moved steps closer to accepting aid from the Eurozone.

In general, since 2010, weakness in the Eurozone has helped push U.S. mortgage rates lower. As Europe regains its footing, therefore, domestic mortgage rates are expected to rise.

This week, in a holiday-shortened week, there will be little new data to move mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is released Wednesday and some key inflation data is due for Friday release. Beyond that, mortgage rates will continue to take cues from the Eurozone.

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 1, 2012

Jobs report threatens low mortgage ratesMortgage rates dropped to another all-time low last week as concerns for global economic growth helped U.S. home buyers and refinancing households nationwide. 

U.S. mortgage rates responded to non-U.S. events and, for rate shoppers and home buyers in Renton , home affordability improved.

Early in the week, with Greece and Spain debating new austerity measures, and with citizen protests rampant, a flight-to-quality helped to boost demand for U.S. mortgage bonds. So did rumors of a weakening Chinese economy.

“Flight-to-quality” is a trading term for when investors shun investment risk in favor of safer, more high-quality portfolio assets. Typically, this involves selling stocks and buying bonds, including mortgage-backed ones.

When demand for mortgage-backed bonds rise, mortgage rates tend to fall.

Demand for bonds is also receiving a boost from the Federal Reserve’s latest market stimulus program — QE3.

“QE3” is a shorthand term for the Fed’s third qualitative easing, a program by which the nation’s central banker buys mortgage-backed securities on the open market in hopes of driving mortgage rates down.

So far, it’s been working. Since the Federal Reserve announced QE3 in mid-September, conforming mortgage rates have been on steady decline.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate slipped to 3.40% nationwide last week with an accompanying 0.6 discount points plus closing costs. The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate moved to 2.73%, also with 0.6 discount points and closing costs. Both rates are at all-time lows.

This week, mortgage rates have a lot of data on which to trade, and may be poised to bounce higher. 

In addition to the release of manufacturing, construction and retail sales reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will post its September Non-Farm Payrolls report Friday. More commonly called the “jobs report”, the monthly release takes on added significance now that the Federal Reserve has said that its open-ended QE3 program will be linked to the U.S. jobs economy.

Wall Street expects to see 120,000 net new jobs created in September. If the actual reading exceeds this figure, mortgage rates should rise.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : September 24, 2012

Existing Home Sales Mortgage markets improved for the second consecutive week last week as demand for U.S. mortgage-backed bonds remained high. A series of economic reports showed strength in housing and a stability in jobs.

Wall Street looked past it, however, to send mortgage rates to their lowest levels in history.

One week into the Federal Reserve’s newest bond-buying program, the stimulus appears to be working.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate slipped to 3.49% last week for borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.6 discount points at the time of closing. Discount points are a one-time closing costs where 1 discount point is equal to one percent of your loan size.

3.49% marks a new all-time low for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. 

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to a new all-time low last week, too, dropping to 2.77% with the same accompanying 0.6 discount points.

Mortgage rates in WA fell despite strong housing data.

  • Housing Starts rose 5.5% to a 2-year high
  • Existing Home Sales rose 7.8% to a 2-year high
  • Building Permits rose 0.2%

Notably, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, the national existing home supply slipped to 6.1 months last month — very close to the 6.0-month marker which separates a “buyer’s market” from a “seller’s market”.

If supplies continue lower, home prices may rise more quickly than expected into 2013. Median home sale prices are already 9.5% higher as compared to one year ago.

This week, more housing data is set for release including the home value-tracking Case-Shiller Index and FHFA Home Price Index. Both are expected to show rising home prices as compared to the last recorded month, and one year ago. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS® releases its Pending Home Sales Index.

Lastly, and likely most important to mortgage rates and home affordability in Seattle , the government releases its Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report Friday. PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge. An unexpected increase is expected to move mortgage rates higher.