Conforming and FHA mortgage rates improved last week on the combination of weaker-than-expected economic data and new anti-banking rhetoric from the White House.
The S&P 500 shed nearly 4 percent in its worst weekly showing since October 2009 as all 10 sectors fell. As the money left stock markets, it made its way to bonds — including the mortgage-backed variety.
As a result, Arizona mortgage rates fell for the third straight week.
Since shedding 300 basis points in December, mortgage bond pricing has recovered a bit more than half of those losses. It’s helping with home affordability and opening new refinance opportunities in Tucson and around the country.
This week, though, mortgage rates could rise back up. There’s a lot going on.
First, on Monday, the December Existing Homes Sales report will be released. The report is expected to be extremely weak as compared to November. This is because of a combination of factors including:
- The initial tax credit expiration date of November 30, 2009
- Sharply rising mortgage rates throughout the month of December
- A general slowdown from the holidays and from the weather
Therefore, don’t be surprised by the newspaper headlines you see Tuesday morning.
Other data this week includes the Case-Shiller Index — a measure of home prices nationwide — and the New Home Sales report. The Case-Shiller Index has registered mild home price improvement over the past 8 months and its latest report is expected to show the same. New Home Sales should be similarly strong.
But, the biggest news of the week is the first Federal Open Market Committee meeting of 2010.
The Fed meets Tuesday and Wednesday this week and Wall Street will be watching closely. The Fed is not expected to change the Fed Funds Rate from its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent, so, instead, markets will watching for the Fed’s post-meeting press release.
What the Fed says about the economy will be much more important that what it specifically does about the economy for now. If the Fed says the economy is growing as expected, look for mortgage rates to rise. Conversely, if the Fed says the economy is at risk, expect mortgage rates to fall.
The safest rate lock strategy this week is to lock your mortgage rate before the Fed’s 2:15 PM ET adjournment Wednesday. Rates will be bouncy all week, but once the Fed’s press release hits the wires, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.
It’s official! FHA is increasing the up-front mortgage insurance premium to shore up it’s finances. Beginning with case numbers assigned on Apri 5th, 2010 the fee increases from 1.75% to 2.25%. Almost as importantly, the fee for Streamline refinances increases from 1.50% to 2.25%. This makes the FHA loan 1/2 point more expensive than before.
As I’ve said before, FHA is balancing their shortfalls from yesterday’s defaults with tomorrow’s borrower.
The Monthly Mortgage Insurance factors will be increasing “this summer” but nothing official released yet. The remain the same for the time being…
Click here to see the official Mortgagee Letter
Call Todd Abelson and Tyler Ford at Sunstreet Mortgage for all your Mortgage Needs!
A “Housing Start” is a privately-owned home on which construction has started. It’s an important gauge of housing health because it tracks new housing stock nationwide.
In December 2009, starts fell by nearly 7 percent.
The news is mildly disappointing but not too bad. The likely cause for the Housing Starts drop is December’s rough weather conditions. It’s tough to break ground when Mother Nature won’t coordinate and last month was especially hazardous in a lot of parts of the country.
More cheery, however, is that for the second straight month, Housing Permits exploded.
A housing permit is an certification from local government that authorizes construction. After posting a 7 percent gain in November, permits rose by another 8 percent in December.
It’s a signal that housing is, indeed, in recovery — despite the falling number of actual starts. More permits mean that builders plan to bring more homes on the market for what’s expected to be a very busy spring home-shopping season.
According to the Census Bureau, 82% of homes start construction within 60 days of permit-issuance. Therefore, Housing Starts should start rising soon anyway.
For home buyers, the news couldn’t be better.
With more homes coming online, competition among home sellers should increase, and that will suppress the rise in home prices in Tucson and nationwide.
It’s basic economics. When home supplies grow faster than home demand, prices fall.
In an attempt to recoup past losses, reduce the potential for future losses and sure up FHA’s sagging reserves a staggering series of changes will be implemented “soon”. Click here for article
First, and most immediate, the Up-Front MIP for all FHA loans will be increased from 1.75% to 2.25%. The start date for this increase will be announced today but Ianticipate it will begin with case numbers assigned starting February 1st. Following this in “the spring” will be an increase in the monthly MI fee as well.
Second, down payment requirements will be increase for 3 1/2% to 10% for “low FICO score borrowers” (under 580). This change is expected to be implemented “early summer”.
Third, the level of allowable “Seller Concessions” will be cut in half from 6% to 3%; this also will be implemented “early summer”.
Fourth, increased monitoring and enforcement on FHA lenders effective immediately.
These changes are H-U-G-E and will affect the entire market. While just loosening the anti-flipping rules 48 hours ago, this changes tighten – good for taxpayers, bad for sellers, buyers and the real estate markets.
For these and other breaking stories, stay in touch and call Todd Abelson and Tyler Ford at Sunstreet Mortgage in Tucson Arizona.
Securing an FHA mortgage in Arizona is about to get more expensive.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the Federal Housing Authority outlined policy changes to its mortgage assistance program. The shift is meant to both reduce the government group’s portfolio risk while strengthening its overall financials.
For consumers, the changes mean higher costs.
As listed in the official announcement, there are 3 major guideline updates for the FHA:
- Upfront mortgage insurance premiums are increasing to 2.25% from 1.75%
- Minimum downpayments for applicants with sub-580 FICOs are rising to 10 percent
- Seller concessions are being limited to 3%, down from today’s allowable 6%
Furthermore, the FHA has appealed to Congress to raise an FHA borrowers’ monthly mortgage insurance premiums.
To read the FHA’s statement, it’s clear what the group is trying to balance. On one side, the FHA wants to provide affordable financing to families that need it. That’s its mission statement. On the other side, though, the FHA must manage the risk that comes with insuring lesser-quality loans.
To that end, the FHA is stepping up its enforcement of “bad lenders” in hopes of stopping problems where they start.
Also in its new policies, the FHA is introducing a “termination clause”. If banks or loan officers that produce more than their fair share of bad loans, they lose their right to originate FHA mortgages.
As a result, homebuyers in Tucson should expect tougher FHA underwriting in 2010. Not because the FHA says so, necessarily, but because banks don’t want to do “bad loans”. Lenders are incented to turn down at-risk applicants and, already, we’re seeing examples of this. Despite FHA allowing 580 FICOs and lower, many banks have made 620 their minimum.
Some have other guideline overlays, too.
The FHA’s new guidelines don’t go into effect until spring. So, between now and then, the old guidelines will apply. Therefore, if you know you’re going to need an FHA home loan in the next few months, consider moving up your time-frame.
If nothing else, you’ll save some money at closing.
November 6, 2009, Congress voted to extend and expand the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program. There’s 100 days left to claim it.
The expiration date of the up-to-$8,000 tax credit has been pushed forward to spring, requiring homebuyers in Tucson to be under contract for a home no later than April 30, 2010, and to be closed no later than June 30, 2010.
In addition, “move-up” buyers were also added to the program’s eligibility list meaning you don’t have to be a first-time home buyer to be eligible for the tax credit. If you’ve lived in your home for 5 of the last 8 years, you meet the IRS requirements.
Move-up buyers are capped at a total tax credit of $6,500.
The tax credit’s basic eligibility requirements remain the same:
- You can’t purchase the home from a parent, spouse, or child
- You can’t purchase the home from an entity in which they’re a majority owner
- You can’t acquire the home by gift or inheritance
- All parties to the purchase must meet eligibility requirements
The new law includes some notable updates, however.
First, the subject property’s sales price may not exceed $800,000. Homes sold for more than $800,000 are ineligible. And, also, household income thresholds have been raised to $125,000 for single-filers and $225,500 for joint-filers.
And lastly, don’t forget that the program is a true tax credit — not a deduction. This means that a tax filer who’s eligible for the full $8,00 credit and whose “normal” tax liability totals $5,000 would receive a $3,000 refund from the U.S. Treasury at tax time.
The complete list of qualifying criteria is posted on the IRS website. Review it with a tax professional to determine your eligibility. Then mark your calendar for April 30, 2010.
There’s just 100 days to go.
Jack & Margaret Tyrrell, owners of TYCOR Realty in Oro Valley, Arizona, produce a quarterly report on the state of real estate that’s always chock full of quality data. While the report is very local in focus, its the TRENDS that always make this important. Here are a few I’ve pulled to highlight:
“Overall inventory of unsold homes at year’s end sits just below eight (8) months, which is a notable improvement…”
“…internals… continue to show a continuing weakness in the mid and upper home price segments.”
“…both Average and Median Sales Prices have been in substantial retreat for the last 3 years but have staged a recovery in the final half of 2009”.
Click here to view report
Call Todd Abelson and Tyler Ford at Sunstreet Mortgage in Tucson Arizona for all your mortgage needs!
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Effective February 1, 2010 FHA is eliminating a rule that they FINALLY agree has been negatively affecting the Real Estate market given it’s current condition. Previously, a property was not eligible for FHA financing if it was being sold within 90-days of the last sale UNLESS it was a bona fide foreclosure from an institutional lender or non-profit agency (other limitations applied). The goal was to eliminate predatory “flipping” which did little more than jack up the price of housing.
However, there are MANY investors taking advantage of the current market by buying substandard homes acquired through foreclosure, then performing “floor to roof” remodels and selling to occupant buyers. Such ventures clearly helped homebuyers BUT these investors were prohibited from reselling for at least 91 days.
In the current ruling (click here for full excerpt), the 90-day seasoning requirement is being waived with the following new conditions:
- All transactions must be arms length (no relationship between seller and buyer).
- No “identity of interest” deals allowed (no parents-to-kids)
- If the sales price is 20% or more over the last sales price the lender must either: a) provide supporting documentation and/or a 2nd appraisal, and b) order an independant inspection on the property and include it with the loan file.
We await the official FHA Mortgagee Letter, but this is clearly great news guaranteed to help both Buyers and Investors!
Call Todd Abelson and Tyler Ford at Sunstreet Mortgage in Tucson Arizona for all your Mortgage needs!
Mortgage markets showed little conviction last week, carving out just a narrow trading channel. There was very little data on which for markets to move, leaving mortgage rates momentum-bound.
Luckily for rate shoppers, mortgage rate momentum was favorable. Rates were slightly lower Monday through Thursday before breaking downward Friday afternoon. Home shoppers in Tucson this past weekend caught a nice break.
Last week marked the second straight week in which mortgage rates fell.
This week, in holiday-shortened trading and with little economic data set for release, expect mortgage rates to again move on momentum. The biggest report of the week is Wednesday’s Producer Price Index.
Producer Price Index is important to mortgage rates because of its role in inflation. PPI is akin to a Cost of Living-type measurement, but for business. As business costs rise, the thought goes, it’s not long before consumer costs rise, too. Businesses eventually pass on costs, after all.
In this manner, a rising Producer Price Index can foreshadow rising consumer prices, and, therefore, inflation.
Inflation is awful for mortgage rates.
PPI expectations have revised downward this month, especially because last week’s data showed a deceleration in consumer prices nationwide. If PPI isn’t as weak as expected, mortgage rates will rise.
Other influential data this week includes Housing Starts, Consumer Confidence and Initial Jobless Claims.
So far, 2010 has been for mortgage rates in Arizona and around the country. If you’re in need of a rate lock, this week may be a good time to take one.