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Interest Rates At Yearly Lows Again: Mortgage Backed Securities pricing has moved to the best levels in over 12 months. The last time we were here was for a couple days back on May 29th. Pricing stayed there for a short time and then moved higher quickly. Rate moved up about .25% and then slowly moved lower back to current levels. This is common behavior for a market that does not want to push rates lower but also does not have a lot of confidence in the overall economy. Inflation readings this week calmed fears that this measurement was overheating. Geo-political concerns and a stalling stock market are supporting low interest rates. There is concern of a move higher in rates based on the last visit to these levels but not much concern of a major increase.
"Help! I need somebody." The Beatles. While the Fed has been working hard to help our economy shake off the recent recession, some key reports continue to disappoint.
After six years and over $4 trillion of stimulus geared toward promoting economic growth, the final reading for 2014 first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at an anemic -2.9 percent. This was worse than expected and the worst reading since the first quarter of 2009, the height of the recession. The report showed that consumer spending fell to 1 percent from 3 percent, which is a big concern as consumer spending is a main driver of our economy.
Harsh winter weather early in the year was a key factor in the contraction. GDP is considered the broadest measure of economic activity, so it will be especially important to see if the second quarter data (from months with better weather) shows signs of improvement when it is released at the end of July.
Housing continues to be a bright spot as New Home Sales for May surged by 18.6 percent to an annual rate of 504,000, well above expectations. Existing Home Sales for May were also up 4.9 percent from April, reaching their highest monthly rate since August 2011. Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 10.8 percent in the year ended in April. However, from March to April, the 20-city Index gained just 0.2 percent. A spokesman for Case-Shiller said that overall prices are rising month-to-month, but at a slower rate.
What does this mean for home loan rates? The weak GDP report, tame inflation news and a decline in Stocks boosted Mortgage Bonds last week. Since home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, home loan rates reached some of their best levels this year.
The takeaway is that now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.
Real Estate Miscellaneous Stats
Existing Home Listings May Bring Some Relief In Tight Supply: New NAR data shows more homeowners are putting their homes on the market for sale. The numbers for May are the highest in over 2 years. Despite the gains most markets are still below normal levels. There were 2.28 million existing homes for sales in May which is up from 2.15 million one year ago. In the 5 years leading up to the 2007 peak, there was an average of 2.77 million existing homes for sale. Industry experts confirm that many potential buyers are on the sidelines waiting for more favorable options and possibilities of actually getting an offer accepted. Increased inventory is good news and appreciation rates are still strong so we may see more.
Housing Recovery Reflected In Latest Builder Report: Confidence among U.S. homebuilders rose in June by the most in almost a year, a sign the residential real estate market is stabilizing after reeling from severe winter weather earlier this year. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment gauge climbed to 49 this month from 45 in May, the biggest gain since July 2013, figures from the Washington-based group showed today. Readings greater than 50 mean more respondents report good market conditions. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 47.
Current sales, the outlook for future purchases and prospective buyer traffic all improved this month, this week’s figures showed, indicating mortgage rates close to historically low levels and a strengthening job market are sustaining demand.Improving sentiment comes as the world’s largest economy picks up this quarter following a contraction in the first three months of 2014. The increase "is a welcome sign and shows some renewed confidence in the industry," NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a homebuilder and developer from Wilmington, Delaware, said in a statement. "However, builders are facing strong headwinds, including the limited availability of labor."
The gain this month in the index was the first this year. The measure of the six-month sales outlook improved to 59 in June from 56 which is the highest since January.
By region builder confidence improved in the Midwest, West and South.Seattle Area Prices Continue To Show Strength: The April Case-Shiller Report was released last week and shows continued strength in housing prices ruled most markets. The strength of our housing market is reflected in appreciation rates double the 20 city index average. Year over year appreciation was 11.2% for King and Snohomish Counties and is the 14th consecutive double digit month. Prices increased 2.3% from March to April rebuffing ideas that pricing increases were slowing significantly. Area prices are still 14% below peak levels of 2007. Case-Shiller chairman, David Blitzer, analysis concludes that the markets still have a way to go for full recovery. He points out that price increases are being driven by non-traditional factors: unusually high investor activity, very low existing and new construction inventory and declining foreclosure inventory. He pointed out that first time buyer activity remains below normal levels. First time buyers are often competing with investors. Local foreclosure rates have fallen to 1.4% of all homes with mortgages from 2.1% last year this time.
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