The Lending Coach

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Mortgage Interest Rates and The Federal Reserve

I receive a number of questions regarding mortgage interest rates every time there is a meeting of the Federal Reserve Board. 

Most assume that the Federal Reserve controls mortgage interest rates…and, interestingly, that’s not the case.

I’m linking to a fantastic article by Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports – he does a great job in highlighting what really takes place with mortgage rates.  You can read the entire piece here…and I’ll highlight a few key pieces below.

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) is a rotating, 12-person sub-committee within the Federal Reserve, headed by current Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The FOMC meets eight times annually on a pre-determined schedule, and on an emergency basis, when needed.

The FOMC’s most well-known role worldwide is as keeper of the federal funds rate.

The Federal Funds Rate is the prescribed rate at which banks lend money to each other on an overnight basis.  It is not correlated to mortgage rates.

The FOMC met a few weeks ago and dropped the federal funds rate by .25 basis points to 1.75%.

The Federal Reserve does not control mortgage rates

Here’s a fantastic graph (courtesy The Mortgage Reports) that shows how the Federal Funds Rate does not track with the 30-year mortgage rate (the green section tracks the mortgage rate, while the blue section highlights the Federal Funds rate):

When the Fed Funds Rate is low, the Fed is attempting to promote economic growth. This is because the Fed Funds Rate is correlated to Prime Rate, which is the basis of most bank lending including many business loans and consumer credit cards.

For the Federal Reserve, manipulating the Fed Funds Rate is one way to manage its dual-charter of fostering maximum employment and maintaining stable prices.

The Federal Reserve can affect today’s mortgage rates, but it does not and cannot set them.

The Federal Reserve has no direct connection to U.S. mortgage rates whatsoever.

The Fed Funds Rate and Mortgage Rates

As Dan Green states: “It’s a common belief that the Federal Reserve ‘makes’ consumer mortgage rates. It doesn’t. The Fed doesn’t make mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are made on Wall Street.

Here’s proof: Over the last two decades, the Fed Funds Rate and the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate have differed by as much as 5.25%, and by as little as 0.50%.

If the Fed Funds Rate were truly linked to U.S. mortgage rates, the difference between the two rates would be linear or logarithmic — not jagged.”

With that said, the Fed does exert an influence on today’s mortgage rates.

Fixed Mortgage Rates vs. Treasury Yields

A far better way to track mortgage interest rates is by looking at the yield on the 10 year Treasury bond.  These two seem to track quite closely:

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate and 10-year treasury yield move together because investors who want a steady and safe return compare interest rates of all fixed-income products.

U.S. Treasury bills, bonds, and notes directly affect the interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages. How? When Treasury yields rise, so do mortgage interest rates. That’s because investors who want a steady and safe return compare interest rates of all fixed-income products…and investors move to these type of products to fulfill their needs.

What the Fed Says Impacts Mortgage Rates…and Bond Prices

Dan Green outlines how the Fed impacts rates: “the Fed does more than just set the Fed Funds Rate. It also gives economic guidance to markets.

For rate shoppers, one of the key messages for which to listen is the one the Fed spreads on inflation. Inflation is the enemy of mortgage bonds and, in general, when inflation pressures are growing, mortgage rates are rising.

The link between inflation and mortgage rates is direct, as homeowners in the early-1980s experienced.

High inflation rates at the time led to the highest mortgage rates ever. 30-year mortgage rates went for over 17 percent (as an entire generation of borrowers will remind you), and 15-year loans weren’t much better.

Inflation is an economic term describing the loss of purchasing power. When inflation is present within an economy, more of the same currency is required to purchase the same number of goods.”

Meanwhile, mortgage rates are based on the price of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and mortgage-backed securities are U.S. dollar-denominated. This means that a devaluation in the U.S. dollar will result in the devaluation of U.S. mortgage-backed securities as well.

When inflation is present in the economy, then, the value of a mortgage bond drops, which leads to higher mortgage rates.

This is why the Fed’s comments on inflation are closely watched by Wall Street. The more inflationary pressures the Fed fingers in the economy, the more likely it is that mortgage rates will rise.

Economic Turbulence on the Horizon – Recession, Rates, and Real Estate

It does look like most economists are pointing to a recession (although most do think it will be relatively mild by historical standards) in the next 12 months.

A recession occurs when there are two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, meaning GDP growth contracts during a recession.

When an economy is facing recession, business sales and revenues decrease, which cause businesses to stop expanding.

How do the economists know this?  And what does this mean for interest rates and real estate values?  Read on for more…

Recessionary Indicators

The Yield Curve

One of the major indicators for an upcoming recession is the spread between the 10-year US treasury yield and the 2-year US treasury yield.

While various economic or market commentators may focus on different parts of the yield curve, any inversion of the yield curve tells the story – an expectation of weaker growth in the future.

What does this inverted yield curve look like?  Here’s a good depiction:

Why does inversion matter?  Well, the yield curve inversion is a classic signal of a looming recession. 

The U.S. curve has inverted before each recession in the past 50 years. It offered a false signal just once in that time. 

When short-term yields climb above longer-dated ones, it signals short-term borrowing costs are more expensive than longer-term loan costs. 

Under these circumstances, companies often find it more expensive to fund their operations, and executives tend to temper or shelve investments.

Consumer borrowing costs also rise and consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, slows.

Unemployment

Unemployment is a recessionary factor, too – as economic growth slows, companies generate less revenue and lay off workers to cut costs.

A rapid increase in the overall unemployment levels—even if relatively small—has been an accurate indication that a recession is underway.

Here’s a chart that shows what happens when unemployment starts to trend upward – and notice that recessions follow shortly thereafter:

As you can see, when things in the economy starts to slow down, one of the first things business do is to reduce their labor force.  The curve is flatting now, and unemployment might be ticking up soon.

Mortgage Rates During Recession

When a recession hits, the Federal Reserve prefers rates to be low. The prevailing logic is low-interest rates encourage borrowing and spending, which stimulates the economy.

During a recession, the demand for credit actually declines, so the price of credit falls to entice borrowing activity. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of what mortgage rates have done during recessionary periods:

Obtaining a mortgage during a recession might actually be a good opportunity. As mentioned, when the economy is sluggish, interest rates tend to drop.

Refinancing or purchasing a new home could be a great way to get in at the bottom of the market and make a healthy profit down the road. A borrower should be market- and financially savvy when considering large real estate purchases in a recession

Real Estate During Recession

Believe it or not, outside of the “great recession” of 2007 (which was caused, in part, to a housing crisis), home values and real estate actually appreciate historically during times of recession.

That seems counter intuitive…but because interest rates generally drop during recessionary periods, homes become MORE affordable to potential buyers (even though property values are higher), due to the lower payments provided by those lower rates.

When more people can qualify for homes, the demand for housing increases – and so do home prices.

In Closing

Although no one likes to see recession, you can observe that it actually can be beneficial for homeowners and would-be purchasers to refinance or purchase during these periods.

If you have more questions and or would like to strategize about purchasing or refinancing, don’t hesitate to contact me, as it would be my pleasure to help you!

It’s Time To Seriously Consider a Refinance

Tapping into home equity by refinancing is more of a possibility today and becoming very popular for many borrowers.

As interest rates have moved lower in the last 3 weeks and housing values across the country continue to steadily increase, homeowners now have access to a much larger source of equity and possibly better payment terms!

With current mortgage rates low and home equity on the rise, many think it’s a perfect time to refinance your mortgage to save not only on your overall monthly payments, but your overall interest costs as well.

It’s really about managing the overall assets that you have in order to maximize the returns. Make sure you are working with the right mortgage lender to help in figuring out which product is best.

What is a Cash-Out Refinance?

A mortgage refinance happens when the homeowner gets a new loan to replace the current mortgage. A cash-out refinance happens when the borrower refinances for more than the amount owed on their existing home loan. The borrower takes the difference in cash.

Rates Are Down and Home Equity is Up

Since rising home values are returning lost equity to many homeowners, refinancing can make a good deal of sense with even a small difference in your interest rate. Homeowners now have options to do many things with the difference.

More home equity also means you won’t need to bring cash to the table to refinance. Furthermore, interest rates can be slightly lower when your loan-to-value ratio drops below 80 percent.

Here’s what many of my customers are doing with that equity:

  • Consolidate higher interest debt
  • Eliminate mortgage insurance
  • Purchase a 2nd Home or Investment Property (or a combination of both)
  • Home Improvement – upgrades to kitchen, roof, or pool

Benefits of Cash-out Refinances

Free Up Cash – A cash-out refinance is a way to access money you already have in your home to pay off big bills such as college tuition, medical expenses, new business funding or home improvements. It often comes at a more attractive interest rate than those on unsecured personal loans, student loans or credit cards.

Improve your debt profile – Using a refinance to reduce or consolidate credit card debt is also a great reason for a cash-out refinance. We can look at the weighted average interest rate on a borrower’s credit cards and other liabilities to determine whether moving the debt to a mortgage will get them a lower rate.  Some borrowers are saving thousands per month by consolidating their debt through their mortgage.

More stable rate – Many borrowers choose to do a cash-out refinance for home improvement projects because they want a steady interest rate instead of an adjustable rate that comes with home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.

2nd Home or Investment Property – many borrowers are utilizing the value of the cash in their home to purchase rental properties that cash flow better then the monthly payments of the new loan.

Tax deductions – Unlike credit card interest, mortgage interest payments are tax deductible. That means a cash-out refinance could reduce your taxable income and land you a bigger tax refund.

Reasons NOT to Refinance

Terms and costs – While you may get a lower interest rate than your current mortgage, your cash-out refinance rate will be higher than a regular rate-and-term refinance at market rate. Even if your credit score is 800, you will pay a little bit more, usually an eighth of a percentage point higher, than a purchase mortgage. Generally, closing costs are added to the balance of the new loan, as well.

Paperwork headache – Borrowers need to gather many of the same documents they did when they first got their home loan. Lenders will generally require the past 2 years of tax returns, past 2 years of W-2 forms, 30 days’ worth of pay stubs, and possibly more, depending on your situation.

Enabling bad habits – If you’re doing a cash-out refinance to pay off credit card debt, you’re freeing up your credit limit. Avoid falling back into bad habits and running up your cards again.

The Bottom Line

A cash-out refinance can make sense if you can get a good interest rate on the new loan and have a good use for the money.

Using the money to purchase a rental property, fund a home renovation or consolidate debt can rebuild the equity you’re taking out or help you get in a better financial position. 

With that said, seeking a refinance to fund vacations or a new car might not be that great of an idea, because you’ll have little to no return on your money. 

It would be my pleasure to see if this type of plan might be a good one for you.

2019 Interest Rate and Housing Forecast – Sales and Appreciation

Now that 2019 is here, let’s take a look at what we can expect regarding interest rates and the housing market. 

Experts are predicting some interesting shifts moving into 2019, including continued home appreciation (although at a slower rate) and slight interest rate increases.

Let’s take a look at the key components that drive the real estate market….

2019 Geopolitical/Finance Dynamics

One important way to understand what lies ahead has to do with taking a look at world events and the other issues that drive the economy.  Here are a few things that will impact the market in 2019:

  • Trade issues with China
  • Possible economic slowdown, although early 2019 results have been positive
  • Late 2018 Stock Market pullback – Early 2019 Rally
  • The Federal Reserve – 2 planned hikes in 2019
  • Rates set to rise in year ahead – How much and what will the impact be?
  • Keeping an eye on inflation…watch oil prices and wage pressures
  • Continued stock market volatility?

The Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve raised borrowing costs four times in 2018, ignoring a stock-market selloff and defying pressure from President Trump, while dialing back projections for interest rates and economic growth in 2019.

By trimming the number of rate hikes they foresee in 2019, to two from three, policymakers signaled they may soon pause their monetary tightening campaign. Officials had a median projection of one move in 2020.

The Federal Open Market Committee “will continue to monitor global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the economic outlook,” the statement said.

Here are some things to watch in 2019:

  • Every meeting will have a press conference, making every meeting a live meeting, increasing speculation and volatility.
  • Federal Reserve “Dot Plot” shows 2 hikes in 2019
  • Inflation could rise with higher oil prices and wage pressures
  • Fed scheduled to reduce their balance sheet of mortgage-backed securities and treasury bonds by $50B per month

Prediction: Fed will hike 1 time to get the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) to 2.75%, although they would love to get the federal funds rate to 3% – and they will stay course on balance sheet reduction.

The pause in Fed rate hikes acts as important catalyst to turn the tide in favor of Stocks. 

Interest Rates

It’s not very often that major players across an industry agree, but on this point, almost everyone does.  Nearly all industry experts predict the 30-year mortgage will average above 5% for 2019.

Five percent used to be considered an ultra-low rate. But after years of rates in the 3s and 4s, it seems pretty steep.  Still, affordable home payments won’t be hard to find, even as we adjust to the new normal.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts 30-year fixed interest mortgage rates to average around 5.3 percent in 2019.

“The potential buyer who’s thinking if now is the right time to buy needs to do the math and determine what the impact of potential rising rates would be on their payment,” said Paul Bishop, the NAR’s VP of Research.

Here are some of the key factors for 2019:

  • Inflation is main driver of rates, and inflation should tick higher with oil prices rebounding and wages increasing.  Many states increasing minimum wages.
  • Fed will continue to allow $50B to roll off balance sheet and is no longer buying
  • US Government borrowing more in 2019, which will add supply to the market that will need to be absorbed
  • More supply and less demand = higher rates
  • Stock market increases will most likely hurt rates

Prediction: The 10-year Treasury Note will trade between 2.75% and 3.25% for most of the year.  High point for 10-year is estimated at 3.5%. Mortgage rates will fluctuate in the low-mid 5% range

30-year Fixed Mortgage Rates in the 5% to 5.5% range for most of the year

Housing

Most experts predict the fevered bidding wars and snap home-buying decisions won’t be as big of a factor in most markets. Slower and steadier will characterize next year’s housing market.

That follows a 2018 that started off hot but softened into the fall as buyers – put off by high prices and few choices – sat out rather than paid up.

Affordability issues will remain a top concern going into 2019, exacerbated by rising mortgage rates. But some of 2018’s more intractable issues will begin to loosen up. The volume of for-sale homes is expected to rise and diversify, while the number of buyers is forecast to shrink.

Below are a few of the factors to watch in 2019:

  • Negative media
  • Rocky beginning of the year
  • Stocks begin to stabilize positively
  • Spring market rebound
  • Demographics still favorable – More demand than supply

Prediction: 3.5% – 4% year-over year. Appreciation still creates significant wealth – and the media will get this wrong.

Sales and appreciation moderate slightly, but housing remains healthy, especially after Q1 for much of the US

Finally, more homes to choose from

One of the biggest complaints among buyers in the last several years is that there weren’t enough homes for sale. In fact, the supply of houses hit historic lows in the winter of 2017 and has yet to rebound substantially. That fueled bidding wars, price increases and frustration.

The supply crunch is expected to ease some in 2019 with inventory rising 10 percent to 15 percent, according to many experts. But the increase will be skewed toward the mid-to-high end of the market – houses priced $250,000 and higher – especially when it comes to newly built houses, said Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com.

That’s good news for move-up buyers, but not so much for the first-time millennial buyer. “There’s still a mismatch on the entry-level side,” she said.

If you have more questions about 2019 – and are thinking of purchasing, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, as it would be my pleasure to help!

Home Pricing Data Explained: Continued Appreciation Expected

Many buyers ask me about home prices, interest rates, and if now is a good time to buy.

Some are disappointed that they didn’t make a move 18 months ago and have decided to “wait and see” in hopes that prices and interest rates will actually go down.

The Forecast Data

The graphic shown above is very, very important for current and would-be homeowners, as well as those in the real-estate profession in general.

Home prices are continuing their solid rates of appreciation – and most experts believe they will keep climbing into 2019, although not as rapidly.

The graph above shows that home prices escalated 5.6% year-over-year – and that the CoreLogic forecast for 2019 is that housing will continue to appreciate at a 4.7% clip.

It’s really important to understand that home prices are in no way projected to go down.  They are just increasing at a slower rate than over the last 2 years.

Many potential buyers are sitting on the fence, waiting to see if the market has “topped-out”, but as you can see, this is not the case.

You can find out more about why there is no bubble and why 2018 looks nothing like 2007 here…

The CoreLogic/Case-Shiller indexes help securities investors, mortgage banks, servicing operations, and government agencies make property valuations, assess and manage risk, mitigate losses, and control appraisal quality.

In essence, these guys are the best in the business in real-estate pricing data and forecasting.  Interestingly, their forecasts have actually been quite conservative – they’ve been on the low side when predicting appreciation over the last few years.

Yes, forecasted growth will most likely slow some, but not by much…and remember, this shows that appreciation is increasing at a slower rate, not a loss in value.

Interest Rates

Secondly, based on the latest economic data and comments from the Federal Reserve, there’s very good reason to believe that interest rates will continue their ascent.  You can find out more about that here….

Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines if you are looking to purchase residential real estate.  If you wait another 18 months, I’m sure you will be looking back wondering why you didn’t act in 2018.

If you would like to discuss this more in detail, please do reach out to me, as it would be my pleasure to help!

Rising Interest Rates and Increasing Property Values – Updated Forecast 2018-2019

The question asked to me most often over the last few months is “is now a good time to buy?”

Many potential buyers are concerned about rising rates and property values. And yes – both are going up.

My answer to their question might surprise you – as I truly believe now is a great time to purchase real estate.

Purchasing Today – Why Now?

It was clearly more advantageous to purchase real estate last year, when looking through the rear view mirror.  But I’m convinced that purchasing today will be MUCH better than this time next year.

Why?  Well, for one, property values are increasing at over 5% per year, so that home you are looking at today will most likely be 4-5% more expensive next year.

Secondly, the Federal Reserve has signaled 3 to 4 more interest rate hikes over the next 15 months, the next most likely coming in December of this year.

So, let’s be clear about the fact that most experts agree that both prices and rates will most likely be higher next year versus today.

Why the shift?  Read on for more….

First: The Good News – and There’s Lots of It

Unemployment is at it’s lowest level since 1969.

“This is the best job market in a generation or more,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at recruiting site Glassdoor.

Unemployment rates below 4% are extremely rare in 70 years of modern record-keeping. The two longest sustained periods came during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, when the combination of strong growth and the enlistment of young men from the civilian labor force helped to largely wring unemployment out of the economy.

Real wages were up nearly 3% in August of this year.

Per the Wall St. Journal, the Atlanta Fed’s “wage tracker” showed a 3.2% increase year-over-year for June. Most encouraging is the report of a bounce in labor productivity growth in the second quarter to 2.9%. That’s the best jump since the first quarter of 2015,

Home prices are rising steadily at over 5% year-over-year.

Home price gains are starting to decelerate (they are growing, but at a slower rate than last year)— but they’re still strong and are running well ahead of wage gains and inflation.

Inflation, the arch enemy of bonds and interest rates – is holding at the federal reserve target of 2%.

In a speech last week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell suggested he sees little urgency to accelerate the central bank’s pace of interest-rate increases or to signal a more restrictive policy path ahead, in part because inflation is so low and stable.

Rates Today – and What We Can Expect

The stronger than expected economic data released over the last weeks and months are actually bad news for mortgage rates, and rates reached their highest levels in many years.

Last Wednesday’s bond rout sent the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, a closely watched barometer of investors’ sentiment toward growth and inflation, to its highest level since July 2011. Risky assets rallied, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record and crude-oil prices to multiyear highs.

Together, the moves suggested investors are once again growing more and more about future growth, a shift from the more cautious outlook that many held for much of the year.

Interestingly, mortgage interest rates don’t necessarily move in step with the federal funds rate, as they are more closely tied to the 10-year Treasury Bond. So, borrowers today looking to get a mortgage aren’t directly affected by the latest Fed hike.

However, the federal funds rate does contribute to the longer-term trends of the 10-year Treasury, and long-term fixed mortgages as a result.

Here’s a little perspective on average mortgage rates since 2000:

Graph Courtesy MarketWatch

With the Fed likely lifting rates multiple times over the next year plus, the trend for long-term mortgage rates is up. It would not surprise me to see 6% interest rates in 2019.

Here’s a piece I wrote earlier this year that outlines more regarding rates and what we can expect in 2019…

The Bond Market and Interest Rates

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, its lowest level since 1969, the Labor Department reported Friday. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% from August—the third straight month of solid, inflation-beating gains.

Fed officials raised their benchmark short-term rate last week and penciled in four more quarter-percentage-point increases through the end of 2019. That would lift the rate to a range between 3% and 3.25%. Until recently, many investors doubted the Fed would go that far.

The Fed is raising rates to keep the economy from overheating. If the economy becomes “too strong”, that could send inflation higher, and the Fed doesn’t want that to happen. They combat inflation by raising interest rates.

In essence, the bond market is starting to believe the Federal Reserve.

Finally, I’d invite you to read this article on how rising interest rates are not deterring buyers in today’s market…

What About Another Bubble?

Many clients are talking about a potential bubble, and they don’t want to be on the wrong side of it, if it were to burst.

However, most economists are not the slightest bit concerned about this.

Why? It’s about supply and demand. And the supply is tight. It isn’t forecasted to meet demand until sometime in 2021 or beyond.

Actually, it’s the lack of supply and the accompanying home prices quickly rising are the sources of market headaches.   Remember your Economics 101 class on supply and demand? When supply is down and demand increases, prices move up.

In reality, the supply shortage is a much better problem to have, compared to a demand shortage. The current problem also portends no meaningful price decline nor an impending foreclosure crisis. Rather, there is a good possibility for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is steadily addressed.

As to new home building activity, housing starts did fall by a double-digit percentage in June, as mentioned above, but are up 7.8% year-to-date to June.

More will need to be built, as there is still a shortage. As more homes are built, an additional boost will be provided to the local economy along with more local job creations.

In Conclusion

So, it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage interest rates overall. These increases do look to be gradual for the time being, but consistent and into 2019, for sure.

With that said, home prices are increasing nationally at over 5%, so the increase in interest rate will be more than offset by the increasing value of one’s home!

Secondly, home buying power is still extraordinarily high, despite rising home prices and rate hikes.

Find out more about that here.

In reality, now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bond-investors-catch-up-with-feds-plans-1538767826

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrenceyun/2018/08/02/no-housing-recession-over-horizon/#3d8212a5f79c

https://www.wsj.com/articles/real-wages-are-rising-1536359667

Rising Interest Rates Aren’t Deterring Buyers

Mortgage interest rates have risen consistently over the last year-and-a-half. At that time, rates for the 30-year fixed were just under 4%. Lately, the average is closing in on 5% percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Let’s take a look at the facts and crunch the numbers. You’ll likely find that minor rate fluctuations won’t affect a buyer’s ability to purchase a home

Despite these rising mortgage rates, there’s good news:

  • Rising mortgage rates don’t have to stifle the buyer’s dream of owning
  • In fact, a new study by Redfin shows that rising rates aren’t scaring off many shoppers
  • Rates remain historically very affordable, even if they are a bit higher today

Source: You can find out more here – by reading Erik Martin’s entire piece at The Mortgage Reports

What the research found on interest rates and purchasing patterns

A recent survey of potential buyers by Redfin reveals some interesting findings:

  • Only one in 20 would call off their search if rates rose above 5 percent
  • One in four said such an increase would have no impact on their search
  • Nineteen percent would increase their urgency to find a home before further rate increases
  • Twenty-one percent would look in other areas or search for a more affordable home
  • One-third would slow down their search to see if rates came back down

This means that many buyers understand the environment today – and realize the long-term benefits of home ownership.

How to read the data

Taylor Marr, senior economist at Redfin, says these results are telling.

“Only a small share of buyers will scrap their plans to buy a home if rates surpass 5 percent. This reflects their determination to be a part of the housing market,” he notes.

Marr says buyers are well aware that rising mortgage rates mean slightly higher monthly payments. Yet buyers are willing to make compromises, as they understand that actual wages are higher today, making the purchase more affordable. Also, they know that real estate generally appreciates.  Finally, today’s rates remain very low, compared to historical norms.

“By historical terms, 5 percent mortgages are not that high. A rate below 7 percent is really a good deal on long-term money,” Joshua Harris, clinical assistant professor of real estate at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, says. “Plus, rents are generally high. So even at 5 percent, many buyers will still be saving money on monthly housing costs.”

What buyers can do now

Most experts recommend the following steps:

Buy now if you can afford it – “While rates are going up, so are home prices in most markets,” says Harris. “The job market is great. Many are seeing wage growth in many sectors. These forces will push rates up and give people more money to spend on a house. So waiting can be a very costly decision if you need a house and don’t want to rent.”

Get your financial house together – start the pre-approval process and get qualified for a loan. “Ask questions and understand the monthly payments you’ll need to make,” suggests Suzanne Hollander, real estate attorney, broker and Florida International University instructor. Will your income be able to cover the principal, interest, taxes and insurance? Will it provide enough money to live the lifestyle you prefer?”

Don’t sweat a minor rate hike – “So long as you intend to hold the home for at least five years, these small fluctuations shouldn’t affect your decision to buy,” Harris adds.

With economic gains outpacing mortgage rate interest rates in many markets, you may be better able to buy a home today than at any time over the last 10 years. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and find out more!

The Latest on Interest Rates for 2018 and 2019

The Federal Reserve lifted the federal funds rate last month by a quarter percentage point to a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent. The Fed has indicated that there will most likely be two more rate hikes this year.

Most financial experts expect the Federal Reserve to raise rates at least 3 times in 2019, as well.

Mortgage interest rates don’t necessarily move in step with the federal funds rate, as they are more closely tied to the 10-year Treasury Bond. So, borrowers today looking to get a mortgage aren’t directly affected by the latest Fed hike.

However, the federal funds rate does contribute to the longer-term trends of the 10-year Treasury, and long-term fixed mortgages as a result.

With the Fed likely lifting rates multiple times over the next couple of years, the trend for long-term mortgage rates is up. 

Many experts are forecasting that mortgage rates could move near the 6% range sometime in 2019.

Why is the Federal Reserve raising rates?

Well, it’s a bit complicated, but there are some very good reasons – and they are all designed to help foster stable, economic growth.

‘Quantitative Tightening’

Between 2009 and 2014, the US Federal Reserve created $3.5 trillion during three phases of what was called “Quantitative Easing”.  It was the Federal Reserve’s response to help reduce the dramatic market swings created by the recession about 10 years ago.

This seems to have helped the economy avert disaster, but their impacts were far from ideal. Nonetheless, the economy slowly lifted off as consumers rebuilt their balance sheets and asset values rose.

Today, the Fed is slowly reversing this stimulus program. They’re raising short-term rates and shrinking their bond and mortgage back securities portfolio.

The consensus thinking is that the Federal Reserve members fear that inflation will take hold if they keep interest rates artificially low.

Historically, when the bonds owned by the Fed mature, they simply reinvested the proceeds into new bonds.  It essentially keeps the size of the balance sheet stable, while having very little impact on the market.

However, when quantitative tightening began in October of 2017, the Fed started slowing down these reinvestments, allowing its balance sheet to gradually shrink.

In theory, through unwinding its balance sheet slowly by just allowing the bonds it owns to mature, the Fed can attempt to mitigate the fear of what might happen to yields if it was to ever try and sell such a large amount of bonds directly.

Essentially, the Federal Reserve is changing the supply and demand curve and the result is a higher yield in the 10-year treasury note.

Inflation and Interest Rates

Inflation is beginning to inch up as the labor market continues to improve. Most indicators suggest inflation has been climbing in recent months. If you look at both the Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index, you will see the trends.

This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices, and increased employment.

Rising inflation is a threat to government bond investors because it chips away at the purchasing power of their fixed interest payments. As mentioned earlier, the 10-year Treasury yield is watched particularly closely because it is a bedrock of global finance. It is key in influencing borrowing rates for consumers, businesses and state and local governments.

Positive labor and economic news keeps coming in (as predicted over the last 6 months), and the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

What It All Means

So, it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage interest rates overall. These increases do look to be gradual for the time being, but consistent and into 2019, for sure.

With that said, home prices are increasing nationally at nearly 6%, so the increase in interest rate will be more than offset by the increasing value of one’s home!

Secondly, home buying power is still extraordinarily high, despite rising home prices and rate hikes. Find out more about that here.

In reality, now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

That House Will Probably Cost More The Longer You Wait

Today’s potential home buyers have many questions about local real estate markets and how it relates to the purchase of a new home. The one I hear the most is:

‘Does it make sense to buy a house in now, or would it be better to wait until next year?’

Click on the video above to find out more,

Well, there are some things we just can’t predict with certainty, and that includes future housing costs….however,

most economists and forecasters agree that home values will likely continue to rise throughout 2018 and into 2019. Secondly, these same experts also predict that interest rates will continue to rise.

Houses Are INCREASING in Value and Are Getting More Expensive

As usual, it’s a story of supply and demand. There is a high level of demand for housing in cities across the country, but there’s not enough inventory to meet it. As a result, home buyers in who delay their purchases until 2019 will likely encounter higher housing costs.

According to Zillow, the real estate information company, the median home value for Arizona increased to over $233,000 – a year-over-year increase of 6.7%. In California, the median home value is over $465,000 – an increase of 8.8%. Looking forward, the company’s economists expect the median to rise by another nearly 5% over the next 12 months. This particular forecast projects into the first quarter of 2019.

Other forecasters have echoed this sentiment. There appears to be broad consensus that home values across the country will likely continue to rise over the coming months.

The Supply and Demand for Housing

It is the supply and demand imbalance that’s the primary factor in influencing home prices. So it’s vitally important for home buyers to understand these market conditions.

Most real estate markets, including California and Arizona are experiencing a supply shortage. Inventory is falling short of demand, and that puts upward pressure on home values.

Economists and housing analysts say that a balanced real estate market has somewhere around 5 to 6 months worth of supply. In both California and Arizona today, that figure is in the 2.5 to 3 month range. Clearly, these markets are much tighter than normal, from an inventory standpoint. This is true for other parts of the nation as well, where inventory levels are in the 4-month range.

Interest Rates

There has been a slow increase in interest rates since September of 2017 – and a quicker jump in the last few months.  Bond markets haven’t seen pressures like this in over 4 years – and things are trending higher.

Many investors believe inflation is bound to tick up if the labor market continues to improve, and some market indicators suggest inflation expectations have been climbing in recent months.

This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices and the passage of sweeping tax cuts.  Many think could provide a further boost to the economy – giving consumers more money at their disposal.

If positive labor and economic news keep pouring out (as most analysts believe things will continue to improve), then the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

The Federal Reserve has suggested that they will have 3 to 4 interest rate increases in 2018, and most experts see a .5% to 1% overall increase in mortgage rates this year.

In Conclusion

So, let’s take a look at our original question: Does it make sense to buy a home in 2018, or is it better to wait until 2019?

Current trends suggest that home buyers who delay their purchases until later this year or next will most likely encounter higher housing costs. All of these trends and forecasts make a good case for buying a home sooner rather than later. Please reach out to me for more, as it would be my privilege to help!

Interest Rates in 2018 – Cause and Effect

There has been a slow increase in interest rates since September of 2017 – and a quicker jump in the last few weeks.  Bond markets haven’t seen pressures like this in over 4 years – and things are trending higher.

Many potential home buyers and investors are asking why – and what does the future hold?

First, let’s take a look at what the 10 year treasury note has done since September 2017. The 10-year Treasury note rate is the yield or rate of return, you get for investing in this note. The yield is important because it is a true benchmark, which guides other interest rates, especially mortgage rates.

Note the upward slope of the yield on the graph below…and mortgage rates have essentially followed:

OK – so we see the trend line.  So why has this happened?

Well, there are 3 main reasons – and all of them are pretty decent economic signs, as a matter of fact.

Increased Employment and Potential Inflationary Pressures

Many investors believe inflation is bound to tick up if the labor market continues to improve, and some market indicators suggest inflation expectations have been climbing in recent months.  This is a general reflection better economic data, rising energy prices and the passage of sweeping tax cuts.  Many think could provide a further boost to the economy – giving consumers more money at their disposal.

Rising inflation is a threat to government bond investors because it chips away at the purchasing power of their fixed interest payments. As mentioned earlier, the 10-year Treasury yield is watched particularly closely because it is a bedrock of global finance. It is key in influencing borrowing rates for consumers, businesses and state and local governments.

If positive labor and economic news keep pouring out (as most analysts believe things will continue  to improve), then the prospect of inflation will put pressure on bonds and interest rates.

‘Quantitative Tightening’ by the Federal Reserve

Between 2009 and 2014, the US Federal Reserve created $3.5 trillion during three phases of what was called “Quantitative Easing”.  It was the Federal Reserve’s response to help reduce the dramatic market swings created by the recession about 10 years ago.  It used that money to buy $3.5 trillion dollars worth of financial assets – principally government bonds and mortgage backed securities issued by the government-sponsored mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

When you really think about it, $3.5 trillion is a pretty large amount of money. When that much money is spent over a six-year period, it would no doubt change the price of anything, bond markets included.  By the way, this maneuver has generally been appreciated in the market and (at least at this time) appears to have been a success.

Well, the Federal Reserve has now begun to reduce its balance sheet as the necessity for investment has given way to the possibility of inflation. Over time, the plan is to reinvest less and less – as per the schedule reproduced in the table below – until such a time as it considers its balance sheet ‘normalized’.

Historically, when the bonds owned by the Fed mature, they simply reinvested the proceeds into new bonds.  It essentially keeps the size of the balance sheet stable, while having very little impact on the market. However, when quantitative tightening began in October of 2017, the Fed started slowing down these reinvestments, allowing its balance sheet to gradually shrink.

In theory, through unwinding its balance sheet slowly by just allowing the bonds it owns to mature, the Fed can attempt to mitigate the fear of what might happen to yields if it was to ever try and sell such a large amount of bonds directly.

Essentially, the Federal Reserve is changing the supply and demand curve and the result is a higher yield in the 10 year treasury note.

Stock Market Increases – Pressuring Bond Markets

Generally speaking, stock markets and bond markets move in different directions. Because both stocks and bonds compete for investment money at a fundamental level, most financial analysts believe that a strengthening equity (stock) market attracts funds away from bonds.

By all measures, 2017 was a stellar year for the stock market. As we enter a new year, experts are cautiously optimistic that stocks will continue their hot streak in 2018.

Stocks soared last year on excellent corporate profits and positive economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up by 25%, the S&P 500 grew by 19% and the Nasdaq index bested them both with a 28% gain.

There is clearly more evidence of excitement among investors in 2018. This has everything to do with a strengthening economy and record corporate revenues…and profits that that have been bolstered by the new tax law.

In the short run, rising equity values would tend to drive bond prices lower and bond yields higher than they otherwise might have been.

What It All Means

So, I think it is safe to say that we will continue to see pressures in the bond market and mortgage rates overall. These increases look to be gradual, but consistent.

With that said, home prices are increasing nationally at nearly 6%, so the increase in interest rate will be more than offset by the increasing value of one’s home! Now is a fantastic time to purchase. Contact me for more information, as it would by my privilege to help you.

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