Taxes are due April 15, 2013There was plenty of discussion and debate leading up to the New Year’s looming “fiscal cliff”. Ultimately, the event was avoided, but not before legislation was passed which may benefit homeowners in Richmond and nationwide. 

If you have yet to file your 2012 taxes, take a minute to review the tax limitations and credit extensions, which Congress passed through the HR 8 legislation. You’ll want to ensure you’re paying the proper tax bill come April 15.

Of course, every individual’s tax situation is unique. Review your allowable deductions and credits with your tax preparer.

Energy Updates
The tax credit for homeowners to receive a ten percent deduction, up to $500, for energy efficient improvements to homes is extended for 2013.

Estate Tax
Individual estates valued at up to five million dollars and family estates valued at up to ten million are now exempt from estate tax. After those cutoffs, the rate is 40 percent, which is up from 35 percent.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act
This act was also extended through 2013. It means that debt reduced through mortgage restructuring or debt forgiven in the case of a foreclosure may not be taxable.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums
This deduction for those making under $110,000 is extended through 2013. This deduction is also available retroactive for 2012. Mortgage insurance premiums paid as part of a conventional or FHA mortgage are eligible, as are premiums paid to the USDA.

Pease Limitations
These limitations that reduced the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers. However, they will be re-instituted for individuals making over $250,000, and for married couples making over $300,000 and filing jointly.

As a homeowner, you get access to special tax breaks which are unavailable to renters throughout Virginia and the country. Don’t leave tax dollars on the table. Speak with your accountant to see what claims you may make.

The deadline for filing 2012 federal tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2013.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
by | Categories: Taxes | Tagged: , , | No Comments

Jobs data moves mortgage rates higherMortgage rates in Richmond rose during the first week of 2013.

The fiscal cliff crisis was resolved prior to the market’s opening Wednesday, when legislators voted to approve a deal. While many tax cuts were extended for taxpayers earning less than $450,000 annually, other facets of the fiscal cliff issue are yet to be addressed, including budget cuts for federal government agencies.

Investors were surprised to learn that the Fed may end its third round of quantitative easing (QE3) sometimes in 2013. The FOMC meeting minutes for December 2012 suggested that Fed support for its QE3 program has waned as the economy has improved.

First-time jobless claims increased for the week ending December 29, 2012 to 372,000 from the prior week’s 350,000, worse than Wall Street’s consensus opinion of 360,000 new jobless claims.

The December 2012 Non-Farm Payrolls surpassed analyst expectations, posting 155,000 net new jobs for the month. The report also showed the national Unemployment Rate rising one-tenth of one percentage point to 7.8%. When the jobless rate falls to 6.5%, the Federal Reserve is expected to begin raising the Fed Funds Rate from its current target range near zero percent.

Overall, mortgage rates rose by as much as 0.25 percentage points last week. However, because the increase occurred wholly between Wednesday and Friday, Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey failed to include it.

Freddie Mac reported the previous week’s average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.34 percent for borrowers paying 0.7 percent discount points plus closing costs. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.64 percent for borrowers paying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

As this week opens, mortgage rates are considerably higher.

Date Time (ET) Statistic For Market Expects
01/08/13 01:15:00 PM 3-year Treasury Note Auction    
01/08/13 03:00:00 PM Consumer Credit Nov $10.6B
01/09/13 01:15:00 PM 10-year Treasury Note Auction    
01/10/13 08:30:00 AM Initial Claims 01/05/13 366K
01/10/13 10:00:00 AM Wholesale Inventories Nov 0.10%
01/10/13 01:15:00 PM 30-year Treasury Note Auction    
01/11/13 08:30:00 AM Trade Balance Nov -$41.8B
01/11/13 08:30:00 AM Export Prices ex-ag. Dec NA
01/11/13 08:30:00 AM Import Prices ex-oil Dec NA

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; weekly Jobless Claims report on Thursday; and not much else. There will be planned speeches, however, from five members of the Federal Reserve, including Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker.  Fed President Lacker was the lone dissenting vote among voting FOMC members in each of last year’s policy votes.

US financial markets (stocks and bonds) are due for retrenchments after the rapid changes over the past week. The 10 yr note and MBSs are very oversold in the near term, we expect some improvement this week but it won’t change the bearish outlook for the rate markets. The stock market is equally over-extended on its recent rally, look for some pull-back this week; as with the bond market, any retrenchment won’t likely change the bullish outlook for equities.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Jobs report is due Friday and could move mortgage ratesMortgage bonds improved last week, pushing mortgage rates lower in Virginia and nationwide.

Positive economic news and strong housing data was trumped by ongoing Fiscal Cliff discussions on Capitol Hill.

The “Fiscal Cliff” is meant to represent January 1, 2013 — the date on which mandatory spending cuts are enacted by Congress and on which tax rates increases for many U.S. taxpayers.

Some analysts believe that if these two events are to occur simultaneously, it would derail the current U.S. economic expansion and revert the economy back into recession. That concern has spurred a flight-to-quality which has benefited mortgage bonds and, therefore, U.S. mortgage rates.

For example, last week, Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate at 3.35 percent nationwide for borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. This is a 0.02 percentage point reduction from the week prior.

The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate was unchanged last week at 2.66 percent for borrowers paying an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

In this holiday-shortened week, mortgage rates may fade again.

Congress convened over the weekend in order to discuss the impending Fiscal Cliff, and ways to avoid it. Talks have been ongoing since this year’s election yet it appears unlikely that the simultaneous expiration will be avoided.

How this would affect the economy is unknown but mortgage markets would witness an immediate boost of demand, leading Richmond mortgage rates lower. Conventional, FHA and VA mortgage rates would all likely benefit.

And then, Wall Street will turn its attention to Friday’s December Non-Farm Payroll report.

Mortgage rates are expected to make big moves upon the report’s release. This is because, earlier this month, the Federal Reserve said it would begin raising the Fed Funds Rate only after the Unemployment Rate reaches 6.5 percent. Currently, the Unemployment Rate is 7.7 percent. If December’s jobless rate slips, moving closer to the Fed’s stated target, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Similarly, if the Unemployment Rate rises, mortgage rates are expected to drop.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Existing Home SalesMortgage markets worsened last week amid ongoing discussions budget and tax conversations in Washington, D.C., and the release of key housing and economic data.

Mortgage rates climbed in Virginia and nationwide.

Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate at 3.37 percent nationwide for borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.7 discount points at closing, plus closing costs — an increase of 0.05 percentage points from the week prior.

The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate was listed at 2.65 percent nationwide with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs.

With certain government funding and tax reductions set to expire December 31, legislators appear unlikely to avoid what’s been called the “Fiscal Cliff”. Some economists believe that reaching January 1 with no agreement in place will set the economy in to recession.

Mortgage rates tend to improve on “negative” news for the economy, which partially explains why mortgage rates made a small comeback late in the week.

In other news, according the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales reached their highest point since November 2009, climbing to 5.04 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. In addition, the real estate trade group reports that the Existing Home Supply has dropped to 4.8 months — a figure firmly suggesting a “seller’s market”.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported single-family housing starts rising, too; down 4.1 percent in November but up nearly 23 percent as compared to November 2011.

This week, Fiscal Cliff discussions are likely to dominate mortgage markets. The trading week will be holiday-shortened and volume will be lighter-than-normal. This may lead to volatile pricing and rapid interest rate movements.

Markets close early Monday and remain closed through Tuesday. Wednesday, markets re-open with no new data set for release. Then, Thursday, scheduled economic news events resume Thursday with New Home Sales, Jobless Claims and Consumer Confidence due.

Friday, the Pending Home Sales Index is released.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

FOMC meets this weekMortgage bonds worsened last week as Fiscal Cliff talks moved closer to resolution and as the U.S. economy showed continued signs of growth.

Conforming mortgage rates in Virginia rose slightly, edging off the all-time lows late in November.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgage rate was 3.34% last week for home buyers and refinancing households willing to pay 0.7 discount points at closing plus a full set of closing costs.

Freddie Mac also showed the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 2.67% with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

The two big stories that moved rates worse last week were the Fiscal Cliff talks and the November jobs report.

With respect to the Fiscal Cliff, mortgage rates worsened as Capitol Hill moved closer to a deal which would avoid the dual-event of expiring U.S. tax break and a mandated government spending rollback. These events are both scheduled to occur December 31, 2012.

Some analysts believe that these two events — in unison — could slow U.S. economic growth to the point of recession. Other analysts aren’t so sure. However, Wall Street is choosing to be cautious. This is why a break in talks has been good for mortgage rate shoppers of late; and why steps toward avoiding one or both scenarios has been bad for rate shoppers.

Mortgage rates often rise when economic growth is expected. This explains why November’s jobs report pushed mortgage rates worse Friday, too — Wall Street underestimated the Non-Farm Payrolls report which showed 146,000 net new jobs created, and didn’t expect to see the national Unemployment Rate drop to 7.7%.

This week, mortgage rates may rise again with new inflation data and a Retail Sales report set for release.

This week the Federal Open Market Committee meeting concludes on Wednesday with expectations the Fed will announce it will continue to buy US long dated treasuries when Operation Twist expires at the end of this month. The key economic data isn’t out until later this week with Nov retail sales, PPI, CPI, industrial production and factory use. Treasury will auction $66B of notes and bonds starting Tuesday through Thursday, 3 yr, 10 yr and 30 yr issues will be sold.

The Fed will issue a statement to the markets at 12:30 PM ET Wednesday, and will host a press conference shortly thereafter. Mortgage rates are expected to remain volatile all week.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter