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Tag: interest rates (Page 1 of 3)

March Mortgage Rate Update – COVID-19 Edition

Mortgage rates went from ridiculously low to “still not-so-bad” in just over a week.  I can’t say that I recall ever seeing mortgage backed securities and mortgage rates having such gigantic swings in 6 days.

A flood of demand for refinancing combined with volatile credit markets last week caused mortgage rates to actually spike on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, buyers for mortgage debt had largely stopped making bids.

Borrowers who were looking at a 3.25% or a lower rate on a 30-year mortgage the prior week were quoted 4% on Tuesday and then above 4.25% on Wednesday.

When U.S. mortgage rates spiked last week, the entire market clogged up on Thursday and bidding on mortgage loans essentially stopped.

Secondarily, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds to near zero on Sunday, adding to their earlier rate cut of a half a percent last week.

The Fed has also stated it will purchase $700 billion in bonds and mortgage backed securities on Sunday. Last week’s Fed injection was to allow banks to have the appropriate levels of cash reserves.

This new one is to bolster markets ahead of potential coming weaknesses.

Nearly all of this was in direct reaction to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threat and fears of an economic calamity that could be brought on by the virus.

Stock trading was halted for 15 minutes a few times last week due to a 7% drop in the market.

Treasuries tumbled to levels never seen before and the stock market dropped to a point where the Dow officially entered the bear market, ending the 11-year run in bull market territory.

Given all this, mortgage rates should have seen a serious decline last week. Instead, they’ve climbed nearly 0.75% in the last couple of days.

Why the disconnect?  There are 3 main reasons for this anomaly:

Capacity

Mortgage applications soared 55% last week from the previous week and demand for refinances rose to an almost 11-year high, as borrowers responded to the historically low rates.

Because of this volume, multiple investors actually stopped taking applications due to capacity concerns.  Many mortgage lenders would no longer accept locks less than 60 days for refinances. Their systems are stressed and they do not have the capacity to originate, process, and underwrite such an extremely high influx of loans. 

Essentially, mortgage lenders are trying to put 10 gallons of water in a 2 gallon jug.

So, investors are raising rates to combat the surge in an attempt to slow things down a bit.

Out With The Old and In With The New

The surge in refinances has increased prepay speeds for securities backed by recent mortgages.  This is essentially shortening the term of the investment and reducing the expected return of previous mortgages by the investor and servicer.

With this increased flood of refis, many previously funded and serviced loans are actually money losers now.

These losses for investors and servicers will see their revenue streams from their mortgage servicing rights dry up.  Most mortgage servicers see a break-even of 3 years for each transaction – and most mortgages are kept on an average for 7, so there’s generally a tidy profit for the average loan. 

A vast majority of the loans being refinanced are less than 3 years old – many are less than 18 months old, as a matter of fact..

So, investors are adding in some padded profits to cover those losses…and they do they by increasing mortgage rates they charge to borrowers.

Margin Calls

Because of the intense stock market drop this week, many investors were forced to sell their most easily liquidated assets to cover stock losses.

Many of those assets were mortgage backed securities that had appreciated and were easily available to be sold.

In the short term, that made mortgage backed securities more expensive, forcing rates higher in the short term.

Fed Rate Cut and Mortgage rates

Also, many erroneously believe that Federal Reserve rate cut directly correlates to mortgage interest rates moving downward.  As you can see by the piece I’ve written here, the Fed does not control mortgage rates.  As a matter of fact, there have countless times where the mortgage rates moved higher the day fed cut the federal funds rate.

Note that the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight on an uncollateralized basis.  This is not what drives mortgage rates – it does influence them, but does not “set” them.

Treasury Yields and Mortgage Rates

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

You can find out more on that here…

This week, that relationship seemed to disappear, as the 10-year treasury plummeted and mortgage backed securities increased, due mainly to the 3 factors listed previously.

What Does The Future Hold?

It’s important to understand that mortgage rates are still extremely attractive relative to historical norms.

Until things normalize a bit, we can continue to expect volatility in the marketplace, although yesterday’s Fed actions could move the market in the short term.

If you haven’t locked and started already with a refinance, then I recommend that you get ready to do so, as timing could be everything. Once the investors clear out some backlog and more economic data comes out (especially concerning COVID-19 ), mortgage backed securities will most likely get a boost and mortgage rates should ease back down once again.

My advice is to stay patient and be ready to move when the numbers work for you.

Secondly, inflation (the arch enemy of interest rates) is low, and the latest measures show that pressures are actually easing…again, good news for interest rates in the long term.

What Can You Do Now?

I recommend that you reach out to your mortgage lender right away and put a plan in place for a future drop in rates.  It would be my pleasure to give you some scenarios that might help you in your decisions making to know when/if you should make a move. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more!

March Home Appreciation and Interest Rate Update

Good news for home owners and buyers alike – home appreciation remains strong.

Interest have moved to historic lows due to multiple factors, including the virus scare.

The Federal Reserve has cut it’s funds rate by .50 basis points in an attempt to “provide a meaningful boost to the economy”, per Chairman Jerome Powell.

With these things in mind, make sure you have a solid game plan to navigate the market right now. Think about inventory, equity in your home, second homes, and investment properties as strategies to build wealth.

It’s also a good time to take a look at refinancing any properties you own, as rates have dropped significantly over the last 2 years.

The housing reporting benchmark, CoreLogic, reported that home prices rose 0.1% in January and 4.0% year over year.

The year-over-year reading remained stable from last month’s report. CoreLogic forecasts that home prices will appreciate by 5.4% in the year going forward, which slightly higher pace. from the 5.2% forecasted in the previous report.

This is great news for would be buyers, as they can expect a great return on their investment!

Do reach out to me to find out more, as it would be my pleasure to help you determine the right strategy for today’s environment.

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.

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