The stock market ended the week moderately lower on continuing trade tensions primarily between the U.S. and China.  The Energy Sector was a notable exception as oil prices reached new four-year highs following a lower than expected U.S. oil inventory report and news the U.S. State Department would seek to enact powerful sanctions on any countries that don’t cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported last Monday that U.S. officials were planning to block Chinese firms from investing in U.S. technology companies plus enacting new limits on U.S. technology exports to China.  Also on Tuesday, the president told a group of White House reporters the government would continue to rely on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in limiting Chinese investments in U.S. technology.  Blocking Chinese access to certain U.S. technologies is not only seen as a deterrent to intellectual property theft, but also appears to be a negotiating tool to craft a more favorable trade deal with China.

 

In housing news, the Commerce Department reported last Monday that New Home Sales remained robust for the month of May, selling at a 6.7% pace higher than in April and 14.1% higher year-over-year for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000.  The median sales price fell 3.3% year-over-year to $313,000 with the average sales price declining 2.6% to $378,400.  Based on the current sales rate, new home inventory declined to a 5.2 months’ supply – down from April’s 5.5 month supply and 5.4 months’ supply from a year ago.  Sales in the Southern Region led the way with 17.9% sales growth with the other regions showing flat to negative sales growth.  The Western Region was lower by 8.7%; the Midwest was flat at 0.0%; and the Northeast was 10% lower.

 

Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported their Pending Home Sales Index fell for the fifth straight month on an annualized basis by 0.5% in May.  NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun commented “Pending home sales underperformed once again in May …coming in at the second lowest level over the past year.  Realtors® in most of the country continue to describe their markets as highly competitive and fast moving, but without enough new and existing inventories for sale, activity has essentially stalled.”  Yun is now forecasting sales for existing homes to decrease 0.4% to 5.49 million in 2018 (down from 5.51 million in 2017) with the national median existing-home price expected to increase around 5.0%.

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decrease in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell 4.9% during the week ended June 22, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 6.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 37.6% from 36.8% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.5% from 7.0% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.84% from 4.83% with points decreasing to 0.42 from 0.48.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 18.8 basis points to close at $101.922 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 4.04 basis points to end at 2.8600%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 309.48 points to close at 24,271.41.  The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 182.52 points to close at 7,510.30.  The S&P 500 Index dropped 36.51 points to close at 2,718.37.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 1.81%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 8.79%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 1.67%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.66% from 4.70%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.11% from 4.15%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 4.00% from 3.99% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.42%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.69% from 4.73%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of July 2, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.922, +18.8 bp) traded within a wider 31.3 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 102.016 on Thursday and a weekly intraday low of $101.703 on Monday before closing the week at $101.922 on Friday.

Mortgage bonds traded in the opposite direction of the stock market, rising into a dual band of overhead resistance at the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level ($101.988) and the 100-day moving average ($102.023).  A new buy signal showed last Wednesday from a positive stochastic crossover, but it appears it wasn’t strong enough to push bond prices above resistance.

 

Therefore, we could see some consolidation between the identified resistance and support levels ahead of this coming week’s significant economic news headlined by Friday’s Employment Report.  If the jobs numbers are as or better than expected we could see the stock market rebound and bond prices slip lower.  On the other hand, if the economic news is worse than forecast or trade talk becomes more antagonistic and the stock market continues to stumble, bond prices could continue to improve along with mortgage rates.

 

 

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Big demand. Small inventory. Spring homebuyers are pounding the pavement at a furious pace, but the pickings are getting ever slimmer, according to news reports.

 

Spring is traditionally the busiest time of year to buy a home, but this year listings are getting snapped with lightning speed as bidding wars have become par for the course. According to an article in NBC News, home prices have now surpassed their last peak, and at the entry level, where demand is highest, sellers are firmly in the driver’s seat.

 

The article cites a Realtor in Burbank, CA, who says, ”I’ve been selling real estate for 25 years and this is the strongest seller’s market I have ever seen in my entire real estate career. A lot of our sellers are optimistically pricing their homes in today’s market, and I have to say in most cases we’re getting the home sold anyway.”

 

As an example, NBC News reported how a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,240-square-foot home in Burbank offered for $789,000 (considered an entry-level home in the LA market) had three offers before the first open house Sunday, drawing more than 100 potential but weary buyers.

 

As is customary in crazy markets like this, most of the listings are intentionally listed a bit low to garner attention. Then the bidding frenzy ensues, often getting a dozen or more offers on one property. According to the article, more homes came on the market in March, but fierce demand made “sold” signs go up quickly. “At the end of the month, the supply of homes for sale nationally was down 6.6 percent compared with a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Unsold inventory is a slim 3.8-month supply. A balanced market between buyers and sellers has a five-to-six-month supply. Properties sold in March were on the market for an average 34 days, down from 45 in February and 47 in March 2016.”

 

All cash offers and contingency removals are common trends because, in such a hot market, homes are appraising well below the sale price, making it even harder for first-time, mortgage-dependent buyers to succeed.

 

All this has caused home prices to hit new peaks each month, with prices nationally up 5.7 percent in February year over year, according to Black Knight Financial Services. Washington, Oregon, and Colorado are seeing the biggest price gains, as buyers flee high prices in California.

 

Big cities are the all-hat-no-cattle losers, however. Real estate brokerage Redfin studied which markets had the most people searching for homes outside their city. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York were the biggest losers. “Fast-growing coastal cities may be generating the high-paying jobs, but they haven’t created enough budget-friendly housing to keep pace,” said Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “The price of real estate and desire for homeownership is compelling many to uproot and seek housing in more affordable communities.”

 

 

Source: NBC News, Redfin, TBWS

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New home sales get a bump despite mortgage rate increase from CNBC.

 

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Although the Nasdaq Composite Index set a new all-time high last Wednesday, the three major stock indexes finished the week lower amid escalating trade tensions primarily between the U.S. and China and the U.S. and the European Union.  The Trump Administration wants to level the playing field when it comes to trade and tariffs by negotiating better deals to protect American workers and the economy.  U.S. tariffs are among the lowest in the world and in our nation’s history.  U.S. trade policy has long favored lower tariffs and fewer restrictions on the movement of goods and services across international borders while our trading partners have been more restrictive.  The U.S. is currently running the following trade deficits:

 

China – $636 billion traded with a $375 billion deficit.

Mexico – $557 billion traded with a $71 billion deficit.

Japan – $204 billion traded with a $69 billion deficit.

Germany – $171 billion traded with a $65 billion deficit.

Canada – $582 billion traded with an $18 billion deficit.

 

In response to all of the tariff and trade war talk, longer-term bond yields slipped marginally lower resulting in relatively stable mortgage rates.

 

There were several housing-related reports released this past week.  Last Monday, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (NAHB) measuring home builder sentiment was reported to have slipped two points to 68 in June.  A reading above 50 is considered to indicate positive sentiment.

 

Yet, June’s decline was attributed to soaring lumber prices that have added almost $9,000 to the average price of a new single-family home since January 2017.  Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, commented “Improved economic growth, continued job creation and solid housing demand should spur additional single-family construction in the months ahead.  However, builders do need access to lumber and other construction materials at reasonable costs in order to provide homes at competitive price points, particularly for the entry-level market where inventory is most needed.”

 

 

Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Housing Starts increased 5.0% month-over-month in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.350 million, exceeding the consensus forecast of 1.323 million.  However, Building Permits declined 4.6% to 1.301 million falling below the consensus estimate of 1.343 million.  Permits are a leading indicator of housing market strength and were lower in May for both single-family units (-2.2%) and multi-unit dwellings (-8.8%).  This suggests we may see some weakness in the June Housing Starts report.

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Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors reported sales of Existing Homes declined 0.4% month-over-month in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million.  This was slightly below the consensus forecast of 5.55 million.  The median existing home price for all housing types jumped 4.9% to an all-time high of $264,800 – the 75th straight month of year-over-year gains.  Existing home inventory for sale at the end of May rose 2.8% to 1.85 million, but this is 6.1% lower than the same period a year ago.  Unsold inventory is currently at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales rate compared to a usual 6.0-month supply associated with a more balanced market.  The song remains the same…limited home inventory coupled with rising prices and mortgage rates is hampering affordability, especially for first-time home buyers.

 

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed an increase in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) rose 5.1% during the week ended June 15, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 4.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index increased by 6.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 36.8% from 35.6% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.0% from 6.8% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance remained unchanged at 4.83% with points decreasing to 0.48 from 0.53.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 9.3 basis points to close at $101.734 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.36 basis points to end at 2.9004%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 509.59 points to close at 24,580.89.  The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 53.56 points to close at 7,692.82.  The S&P 500 Index dropped 24.78 points to close at 2,754.88.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 0.56%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 11.44%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.04%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.70% from 4.65%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.15% from 4.11%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.99% from 3.95% while the FHA 30-year rate rose to 4.42% from 4.38%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.73% from 4.68%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 25, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

 

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Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.734, +9.3 bp) traded within a far narrower 28.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.859 on Tuesday and a weekly intraday low of $101.578 on Thursday before closing the week at $101.734 on Friday.

 

The bond traded along a convergence between the 25-day and 50-day moving averages (MAs).  These MAs act as both short-term support and resistance.  Should the 25-day MA cross above the 50-day MA, it would signal market strength and a buy signal likely resulting in a slight improvement in mortgage rates.  However, technical resistance is also found at the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level at $101.988 so any upward move will have to contend with this layer of resistance plus that from the 100-day MA at $102.087.  These levels may temper any upward move resulting in stable rates.

 

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In addition to some generally positive economic news, there were three major events affecting the financial markets this past week.  There was an historic initial summit between the U.S. and North Korea over denuclearizing the Korean peninsula; a 25 basis point rate hike by the Fed; and further threats of a trade war between China and the U.S.  The three major stock indexes ended “mixed” for the week after the Dow Jones Industrials slid lower on Friday erasing its weekly gains.  The Nasdaq Composite Index managed to set a new record high during the week before falling back on Friday while the S&P 500 ended minimally higher.

 

The stock and bond markets reacted somewhat negatively to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.  Fed officials decided to raise the federal funds rate by another 0.25% as widely expected, but the markets retreated after policymakers provided a more hawkish view for future rate hikes with greater expectations for a total of four rate hikes in 2018, rather than three.

 

Tuesday, the Labor Department reported consumer inflation in May rose 0.2% and had reached 2.8% on a year-over-year basis, its highest level since 2011.  However, most of the increase in inflation is attributed to the rise in oil prices, and core inflation (excluding food and energy costs) remained close to the Fed’s target of 2%.  Thursday, Retail Sales provided an upside surprise with retail sales excluding automobiles increasing 0.9% in May versus expectations for a 0.5% gain.  Friday, the Trump administration declared it would follow through with an earlier warning to implement tariffs on imports of $50 billion worth of goods from China in response to intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.  China quickly responded with proposed tariffs on

$50 billion worth of U.S. goods including beef, cars, poultry, and tobacco.  Hopefully, these tariff announcements are nothing more than strategizing for a negotiated solution that will avoid a full-blown trade war that would end with negative consequences for the world’s two largest economies.

 

There were two mortgage-related reports released this past week.  Tuesday, CoreLogic released its monthly Loan Performance Insights Report for March 2018.  The report showed the number of mortgage loans 30 days or more past due declined from 4.8% to 4.3%.  The serious delinquency rate, defined as those loans 90 days or more past due, dropped to 1.9% in March, the lowest delinquency rate for the month of March since 2007 when it was 1.5%.  The serious delinquency rate a year ago for March was 2.1%.

 

The foreclosure inventory rate, a measure of the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.6% for March – a level that has been holding since August 2017 and the lowest level since June 2007.  Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, remarked

“Unemployment and lack of home equity are two factors that can lead to borrowers defaulting on their mortgages.  Unemployment is at the lowest level in 18 years, and for the first quarter, the CoreLogic Equity Report revealed record levels of home equity growth with equity per owner up $16,300 on average for the year ending March 2018.”  This is certainly good news for the housing industry.

 

 

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decrease in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell 1.5% during the week ended June 8, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index declined 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index also decreased by 2.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 35.6% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.8% from 7.1% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.83% from 4.75% with points increasing to 0.53 from 0.46.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 4.7 basis points to close at $101.641 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.6 basis points to end at 2.924%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 226.05 points to close at 25,090.48.  The NASDAQ Composite Index gained 100.87 points to close at 7,746.38.  The S&P 500 Index added 0.63 of one point to close at 2,779.66.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 1.50%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 12.21%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.96%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.65% from 4.68%; the 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 4.11%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.95% from 3.94% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.42%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.68% from 4.70%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 18, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.641, +4.7 bp) traded within a wider 53.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.797 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.266 on Wednesday before closing the week at $101.641 on Friday.

 

The bond fell to its secondary support level at $101.234 during the first half of the week before bouncing and moving higher just above primary short-term support at $101.586 by the end of the week.  There was a new buy signal on Thursday from a slow stochastic crossover plus the bond is neither overbought nor oversold so we should see prices rise into overhead resistance levels this coming week.  If the bond is able to break above overhead resistance, it should lead to stable to slightly lower mortgage rates in the coming week.

 

 

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There are few more interesting real estate investments than home flipping — seeing an older or run-down piece of property find a fairy godmother to make it beautiful again and then being sold in several months’ time. According to a report in Realtor.com, home flipping activity is increasing across the country, as more investors look to capitalize on the run-up in home prices.

 

There’s limited opportunity to flip houses now: Sidney Torres from CNBC.

 

On par with the highest home-flipping rate since the first quarter of 2012, nearly 50,000 single-family homes and condos were flipped in the first quarter of this year, comprising 6.9 percent of all home sales, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2018 U.S. Home Flipping Report.

 

Even profits were up. with flips in the first quarter of this year selling at an average gross profit of $69,500, up from $66,287 a year ago, the highest average gross profit for flips since ATTOM began tracking such data in 2000. A flip is defined as a property that has been sold more than once in a 12-month period.

 

The data company’s senior VP Daren Blomquist is cited in the report saying, “The 2018 housing market is a double-edged sword for home flippers. Rapidly rising home prices boosted by low inventory of homes for sale or for rent are padding profits at the back end when flippers sell. But those same market realities are eroding flipping returns at the front end by forcing flippers to pay more to acquire homes to flip.”

 

Memphis, TN won the prize for the highest flip rate of the 136 metros with 15.1 percent, followed by Albany, Ore. (11.7 percent); East Stroudsburg, Pa. (11.4 percent); York, Pa. (10.4 percent); and Merced, Calif. (10.3 percent).

 

 

Source: NAR, TBWS

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The major stock market indexes made a solid advance during the week amid strong jobs and economic data resulting in lower bond prices and rising yields.  Tuesday, the ISM Non-manufacturing Index showed a greater than forecast expansion in the services sector with a reading of 58.6 in May from 56.8 in April.  This increase matched the rise in the ISM Manufacturing Index for May, suggesting second quarter GDP growth will show a noticeable increase over GDP growth in the first quarter.

 

Also on Tuesday, the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed there were 6.698 million job openings available in April with only 6.4 million available workers to fill them.  This is the second month in a row where there were more job vacancies than available hires, a phenomenon the American economy has never experienced before until March and April of this year.  Although this situation should create a demand for higher wages, average hourly earnings only increased 2.7% annualized in May, up one-tenth of a point from April.  However, you can bet the Fed will be keeping a close eye on wage growth going forward, and there is no doubt that they will raise interest rates for the second time this year when they announce their rate-hike decision this Wednesday.

 

There was one housing related report released this past week.  Tuesday, CoreLogic reported their latest Home Price Index (HPI) and Forecast for April 2018 showing home prices increased by 1.2% month-over-month in April and by 6.9% year-over-year from April 2017.

 

CoreLogic is forecasting their national HPI will continue to increase 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from April 2018 to April 2019 and will rise another 0.2% for May 2018.  Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic Chief Economist, remarked “The best antidote for rising home prices is additional supply.  New construction has failed to keep up with and meet new housing growth or replace existing inventory.  More construction of for-sale and rental housing will alleviate housing cost pressures.”

 

Analyzing home values in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on housing inventory indicated 40% of metropolitan areas had an overvalued housing market, 28% were undervalued, and 32% were considered at value as of April 2018.  When evaluating only the top 50 markets, 52% were overvalued, 14% were undervalued and 34% were at-value.

 

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed an increase in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) increased 4.1% during the week ended June 1, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 4.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index also increased by 4.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 35.6% from 35.3% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.1% from 6.7% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance decreased to 4.75% from 4.84% with points decreasing to 0.46 from 0.47.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond lost 34.4 basis points to close at $101.594 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 4.8 basis points to end at 2.950%.  The three major stock indexes advanced during the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 681.32 points to close at 25,316.53.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 91.18 points to close at 7,645.51.  The S&P 500 Index added 44.41 points to close at 2,779.03.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 2.42%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 10.75%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.94%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.68% from 4.60%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.11% from 4.04%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.94% from 3.93% while the FHA 30-year rate climbed to 4.42% from 4.38%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.70% from 4.66%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 11, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.594, -34.4 bp) traded within a narrower 42.2 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.938 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $101.516 on Thursday before closing the week at $101.594 on Friday.

 

The bond fell from its position sitting on the 50-day moving average (MA) and continued to slide lower during the week to end just below the 25-day MA.  Technically, the last sell signal from May 31 is still in effect and since the bond is still not “oversold,” there is some continuing risk for further mortgage bond price erosion this week.  A continuing price move toward the next support level will result in a slight increase in mortgage rates in the coming week.

 

 

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The major stock market indexes were “mixed” for the week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average modestly lower while the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 Indexes posted moderate gains.  Early in the holiday-shortened week, investors had to navigate political unrest in Italy and Spain as well as news of U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, the European Union, and Mexico that sent stock prices lower and bond prices higher.  On Tuesday, the turmoil in Italy triggered such a demand for safe-haven securities that a rally in U.S. Treasuries sent the 10-year Treasury note’s yield to its largest one-day decline since June 2016 when Great Britain voted to leave the European Union.

 

However, the stock market bounced back on Friday following news that the summit with North Korea is back on as originally scheduled for June 12, and on a strong Employment Situation report for May.  The Employment Report showed a better than forecast increase in nonfarm payrolls (+223,000) and a lower than expected unemployment rate of 3.8%, an 18-year low.  Average hourly earnings matched expectations showing only moderate wage inflation with a month-over-month increase of 0.3%.

 

There were a couple of housing related reports released this past week.  Thursday, the National Association of Realtors released their Pending Home Sales Index data for April.  This forward-looking indicator based on contract signings showed an unexpected 1.3% decline to 106.4 in April from an upwardly revised 107.8 in March.  The Index was lower on an annualized basis (by 2.1%) for the fourth straight month.

 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, had this to say about the report: “Pending sales slipped in April and continued to stay within the same narrow range with little signs of breaking out… the underlying sales data, reveals that the demand for buying a home is very robust.  Listings are typically going under contract in under a month, and instances of multiple offers are increasingly common and pushing prices higher…For now, the economy is very healthy, job growth is holding steady and wages are slowly rising.  However, it all comes down to overall supply.  If more new and existing homes are listed for sale, it would allow home prices to moderate enough to stave off inflationary pressures and higher rates.”

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey continued to show a drop in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.9% during the week ended May 25, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 5.0% to its lowest level since December 2000.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 35.3% from 35.7% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.7% from 6.8% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance decreased to 4.84% from 4.86% with points decreasing to 0.47 from 0.52.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 7.9 basis points to close at $101.938 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.9 basis points to end at 2.902%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 117.88 points to close at 24,635.21.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 120.48 points to close at 7,554.33.  The S&P 500 Index gained 13.29 points to close at 2,734.62.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 0.34%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 9.43%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 2.28%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.60% from 4.61%; the 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 4.04%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.93% from 3.95% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.40%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.66% from 4.65%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 4, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.938, +7.9 bp) traded within a narrower 75.0 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 102.578 on Tuesday and a weekly intraday low of $101.828 on Friday before closing the week at $101.938 on Friday.  After moving above resistance at the 50-day moving average (MA) and running into the 100-day MA on Tuesday, the bond traded back to the 50-day MA by Friday’s close.  This action resulted in a new sell signal from a negative stochastic crossover from an “overbought” position.  As a result, we could see a move down toward the 25-day MA resulting in lower bond prices and slightly higher mortgage rates.

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Okay. It may sound bureaucratic and boring. But there are a number of precautionary contractual conditions for any purchase agreement recommended by the Realtor community that protects homebuyers from liability as well as poor decision-making. And no matter how competitive the bidding for a home, they’ll advise you to include them. One of them is a home inspection.

 

Even though your Realtor will urge you NOT to waive that contingency and even make you sign a form disclosing they made that recommendation, however, many buyers will still plow ahead and waive the inspection in an effort to make their offers the strongest of the bunch. We do understand: if you’re buying a home in a competitive market, and your offers keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile, it’s hard not to resort to desperate measures — offering more than the asking price, pledging to close on the home in lightning quick speed, or even waiving the financing contingency and risking your entire earnest money deposit.

 

But waiving a physical inspection of a house is never a good idea unless the house is close to brand spanking new, which, of course, ups the odds that nothing costly or bothersome might be revealed during the inspection. The problem is, even in newer homes, what you see is not necessarily what you get. It’s what’s beyond the surface, or items that you can’t identify as problematic, that cause the biggest issues, as anyone who watched rehab/remodel programs on HGTV will tell you.

 

The typical buyer would have a tough time spotting asbestos, knob and tube wiring, lead paint, evidence of termite infestation, a leak inside the HVAC system, how the house is being propped up on jacks, or be aware of how a single toilet flush could change your morning shower from warm and toasty to arctic and shocking. Imagine moving in and trying to turn on the heat, nothing happens, and the fix is $10,000. Picture standing there buck naked in your bathroom, and the power goes off all over the house when you turn on your hairdryer. Traipsing down a flight of stairs to that electrical panel outside the back door semi-dripping wet in 25-degree weather is not something we would wish on our worst family members.

 

We realize bidding wars can cause buyers to spend an inordinate amount of time finding the right home, making them crazy-desperate, asking themselves “how bad can it be?” when considering waiving the home inspection. But when do you ever hear any GOOD stories about people who took that leap? And waiving an inspection can cost you a fortune. But there are a few things you can do to hedge your inspection bets while remaining competitive.

 

If you love the home and the buyer will permit it, inspect it before you make an offer or sign a contract. At best, it passes muster and when you offer you can waive the contingency. At worst, you’ve spent a few hundred dollars on a house you don’t end up buying.

 

If the seller already had their own inspection performed (which is a wise thing to do in order to make a home as marketable as possible), you have the luxury of scrutinizing that report without spending a dime. Even then, however, many buyers will get an inspection of their own because, like an attorney representing a client, the inspector is liable only to the person who paid for and ordered the inspection. And if that person missed something in their report, you would not have any recourse.

 

Because Realtors understand that time is vital for good outcomes, they will encourage you to get your offer in quickly and advise you to pre-schedule an inspection even before the ink is dry on your offer. Seasoned agents have relationships with inspectors at the ready to ring the seller’s doorbell within a day or two of acceptance. And writing in a short inspection contingency timeframe into your offer assures the seller that momentum is alive and well.

 

Bidding wars are rife with emotion as well as fear-of-loss, but it’s wise to keep the bigger picture in mind when purchasing what may well be your life’s biggest asset. Your goal is to wake up in that house morning after morning knowing you did all you could to ensure a mostly problem-free investment in yours and your family’s future. Because money pits are no fun.

 

Source: Zillow/TBWS

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The major stock market indexes managed to grind out some marginal gains as investors reflected on a torrent of uncertain geopolitical news centered on U.S.-China trade negotiations and the U.S.-North Korea summit “canceled” last Thursday by President Trump.  Still, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stated a “pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.”  This uncertainty coupled with a “dovish” set of Federal Reserve minutes from the May FOMC meeting increased demand for “safe-haven” assets such as Treasuries and mortgage bonds to drive bond yields noticeably lower for the week.

 

The FOMC minutes suggested there will be a rate hike at the June Fed meeting, as widely expected, but also implied the Fed may not be as aggressive with its pace of future rate hikes as previously thought.  The minutes indicated Fed officials would be willing to let inflation run temporarily above their stated 2.0% target and this took some pressure off of the bond market.  A sharp sell-off in crude oil prices was also a contributing factor as reports surfaced that Russia and Saudi Arabia would soon boost oil production in response to significantly lower production in Venezuela, a country with the highest known oil reserves in the world, but whose economy is in shambles.

 

There were several housing related reports released this past week.  The Commerce Department reported last Wednesday that purchases of newly built single-family homes fell 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 662,000 in April.  However, economists had forecast a larger 2.2% drop.  Housing market inventory remains extremely tight, helping to drive up home prices. The average new home sales price climbed to $407,300 in April, the highest price since records have been kept beginning in 1963.  At the current sales pace, there was a 5.4-month supply of new homes on the market by the end of March.

Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported Existing Home Sales fell 2.5% month-over-month in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million.  This was below the consensus forecast of 5.57 million and lower than the 5.60 million in March.  Median prices of existing homes for sale for all housing types increased 5.3% to $257,900 while those for existing single-family homes increased 5.5% from a year ago to $259,900.  While the inventory of homes for sale at the end of April increased 9.8% to 1.80 million, this is still 6.3% lower than the same period a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold existing home inventory is only at a 4.0-month supply compared to the more normal 6.0-month supply characteristic of a more balanced market.

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey continued to show a decline in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.6% during the week ended May 18, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0% to its lowest level since December 2000.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 35.7% from 35.9% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.8% from 6.5% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.86%, its highest level since April 2011, from 4.77% with points increasing to 0.52.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 59.3 basis points to close at $101.859 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 12.9 basis points to end at 2.931%.  The three major stock indexes ended modestly higher for the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38.00 points to close at 24,753.09.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 79.51 points to close at 7,433.85.  The S&P 500 Index rose 8.36 points to close at 2,721.33.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 0.14%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 7.68%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 1.78%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.61% from 4.78%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.04% from 4.21%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.95% from 4.00% while the FHA 30-year rate dropped to 4.40% from 4.50%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.65% from 4.80%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of May 28, 2018

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.859, +59.3 bp) traded within a narrower 76.6 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.891 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.125 on Monday and Tuesday before closing the week at $101.859 on Friday.  As predicted in last week’s newsletter, the bond did manage to trade higher during the week to set up a test of overhead resistance now located at the 50-day moving average and the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level.

 

Now approaching “Overbought” levels, it will be difficult from a technical perspective for the bond to pass this test and break above this formidable layer of resistance, and we could see bond prices turned away from the 50-day moving average resulting in slightly worse mortgage rates.  However, there is a plethora of potential market-moving economic news headed our way this week headlined by the May employment report.  Should the week’s economic data disappoint stock investors, we could see bond prices improve and break above resistance resulting in an improvement in rates.

 

 

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