Unemployment RateMortgage rates moved higher Wednesday up congressional leaders voted to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”.

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) fell as investors bid up stock prices. Confidence among investors and consumers typically causes mortgage rates to rise. That’s what happened Wednesday.

For Thursday and Friday, expect jobs data to dictate where San Jose mortgage rates are headed.

The Federal Reserve has said that the national Unemployment Rate will dictate future monetary policy, with the central banker planning to raise the Fed Funds Rate from its target range near zero percent once joblessness falls to 6.5%. Currently, the jobless rate is 7.7 percent.

As the jobs market improves, equity markets should follow, causing mortgage rates to — again — move higher.

Thursday’s Initial Jobless Claims report has already influenced today’s mortgage rates. New claims rose 10,000 to 372,000 for the week ending December 29, 2012. This is slightly higher than Wall Street expected and mortgage bonds are moving better on the news.

Now, Wall Street turns its attention to Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls report. 

More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly publication from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, detailing the U.S. employment situation, sector-by-sector. The economy has added 4.6 million jobs since 2010 and analysts expect another 155,000 added in December 2012.

The Unemployment Rate is expected to tally 7.8%.

As more people get back to work, the nation’s collective disposable income rises, which gives a boost to the U.S. economy. Furthermore, more taxes are paid to local, state and federal governments which are often used to finance construction and development — two jobs creators in their own right.

Furthermore, as the ranks of the employed increase, so does the national pool of potential home buyers. With demand for homes high and rents rising in many U.S. cities, demand for homes is expected to grow. Home supplies are shrinking.

If you’re currently floating a mortgage rate, or wondering whether it’s a good time to buy a home, consider than an improving economy may lead mortgage rates higher; and an improving jobs market may lead home prices higher.

The market is ripe for a refinance or purchase today.

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U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls 2010-2012

Another month, another good showing for the U.S. economy.

Mortgage rates are performing surprisingly well after Friday’s release of the October 2012 Non-Farm Payrolls report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report beat Wall Street expectations, while also showing a giant revision to the previously-released job tallies of August and September.

171,000 net new jobs were created last month against calls for 125,000 and revisions for the two months prior totalled 84,000.

October also marked the 25th consecutive month of U.S. job growth — a period during which 3.8 million jobs have been reclaimed. This sum represents more than half of the 7.3 million jobs lost between 2008-2009.

Nationally, the Unemployment Rate rose by one-tenth of one percent last month to 7.9%. It may seem counter-intuitive to see unemployment rates rise even as job growth soars. However, it’s a sign of economic strength.

October’s rising Unemployment Rate is the result of more workers entering the U.S. workforce and actively looking for jobs, a manifestation of rising consumer confidence levels and optimism for the future.

Typically, mortgage rates in California would worsen on a strong jobs report like this. This month, however, rates are improving. This is mostly the result of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to create a drag on the U.S. economy with its $50 billion damage tag.

The storm has Wall Street looking past the strong jobs report, positioning itself for the next few months. Investors are moving into less risky assets until the uncertainty surrounding the storm’s effects subside. Mortgage-backed bonds are considered “safe” and are benefiting from this safe haven buying pattern.

For home owners and buyers in San Jose and nationwide, the shift is yielding an opportunity to lock mortgage rates at artifically-low levels. 30-year fixed rate mortgages remain well below 3.50% for borrowers willing to pay discount points, and home affordability is approaching an all-time high.

Home values are expected to rise through 2013 so consider this week’s low rates a gift. If you’re in a position to go to contract and/or lock a mortgage rate, you may want to take that step today.

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Jobs in focus this weekMortgage markets worsened slightly last week as demand for mortgage-backed bonds slacked. There was little surprise in U.S. economic data and the unfolding story lines of the Eurozone continued unabated.

Mortgage rates in California worsened slightly on the news, climbing for the first time in two weeks.

The change was a small one, however, and rates only eased higher Wednesday through Friday. As such, Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey failed to capture the change — Freddie Mac’s survey is conducted Monday and Tuesday. 

According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate slipped to 3.78% last week, on average, down from 3.79% during the week prior. At the same time, the number of discount points charged by banks increased to 0.8 from 0.7.

Stated differently, 30-year fixed rates mortgage rates dropped but mortgage applicants paid higher fees to get access to them. 1 discount point is equal to $1,000 per $100,000 borrowed.

Freddie Mac also reported no change in the 15-year fixed rate and the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage rates. Average mortgage rates for the twp benchmark products remained at 3.04% and 2.83%, respectively, with no change in discount points.

This week, mortgage rates figure to show a bit more movement. It’s a 4-day week because markets were closed for Memorial Day, and there is a glut of new data set for release. Most notably, the May Non-Farm Payrolls report hits Friday morning.

The jobs report affects mortgage rates because mortgage rates are linked to U.S. economic strength. Wall Street is expecting to see 164,000 net new jobs created in May. If the actual results fall short of that estimate, mortgage rates should fall. If the actual number exceeds estimates, mortgage rates should rise.

Other releases include the Case-Shiller Index, Consumer Confidence, the Pending Home Sales Index, and Personal Income and Outlays. 

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Homebuilder ConfidenceMortgage markets worsened slightly last week as positive U.S. economic news overshadowed growing concerns for the Eurozone’s future. Political and economic issues continue to weigh on Greece and Spain, and it’s still unknown how France’s new President will change that nation’s fiscal direction. 

Conforming mortgage rates in California edged higher on the week overall.

Last week was light on economic data, but the figures released suggest an improving U.S. economy.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3.7 million job openings nationwide this past March, marking the highest amount since July 2008. Voluntary separations (i.e. “quit jobs”) increased, too — also at levels not seen since 2008.

Voluntary separations may hint at labor market improvement because employees rarely leave a steady-paying job without the prospect of a new job ahead. Furthermore, the four-week moving average of first-time unemployment claims fell for the first time in a month.

The jobs market is one of two key sectors expected to lead the economy forward this year.

The other is housing and, this week, there will be two key housing reports for Wall Street to review. The first is Tuesday’s homebuilder confidence survey from the National Association of Homebuilders. The second is Wednesday’s Housing Starts data for April.

Mortgage rates may also be affected by the Tuesday release of the Retail Sales report and Consumer Price Index report; and, by the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday release of the FOMC Minutes from its last meeting.

For home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers, mortgage rates remain at all-time lows. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate nationwide is 3.83% for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points and a full set of closing costs — the lowest rate-and-fee combination in Freddie Mac’s recorded history.

However, low mortgage rates may not last much longer — especially if the Eurozone can reverse course on its ailing economies.

Mortgage rates remain volatile and sensitive to changes in market conditions. If today’s mortgage rates fit your budget, consider locking in.

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Unemployment Rate

Americans continue to get back to work.

Last Friday, in its Non-Farm Payrolls report for the month of March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 120,000 net new jobs created, plus combined revisions in the January and February reports of +4,000 jobs.

The March report marks the 18th straight month of job growth nationwide — the first time that’s happened in 5 years.

The Unemployment Rate dipped in March, too, falling one-tenth of one percent to 8.2%. This is its lowest national Unemployment Rate since February 2009.

Clearly, the jobs market is moving in the right direction. Yet, after the Non-Farm Payrolls report was released Friday morning, stock markets dropped and bond markets gained — the opposite of what a casual market observer would expect.

It happened because, although job growth was strong, Wall Street decided it just wasn’t strong enough. The market expected 200,000 jobs created in March at least and the actual reported figure fell short.

Lucky for you, Wall Street’s pain is Main Street’s gain. After the jobs report was released, mortgage rates immediately dropped to a 3-week low, making homes more affordable in California and throughout all 50 states.

The market’s reaction is an excellent example of how important jobs data can be to home affordability — especially in a recovering economy.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008-2009 and has since added more than half of them back. Wall Street pays close attention to job creation because more working Americans means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more economic growth.

Rate shoppers caught a bit of a break on the March payroll data. By all accounts, the labor market recovery in underway and, as it improves, higher mortgage rates are likely nationwide. For now, though, there’s a window for low mortgage rates that buyers and would-be refinancing households can try to exploit.

If you’re actively shopping for a home or a mortgage, today’s mortgage rates may be at “last chance”-like levels. Once rates rise, they’re expected to rise for good.

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Initial jobless claims 2008-2012

Economists believe the strength of the 2012 housing market will be closely tied to jobs. If they’re right, the housing market is ripe for a boost. It spells good news for San Jose home sellers and may mean the end of bargain-basement prices for buyers.

Since peaking in mid-2009, the number of U.S. workers filing for first-time unemployment benefits has dropped 44 percent. Over the same period of time, the U.S. economy has added more than 2 million jobs and the national Unemployment Rate is down more than 1 percentage point to 8.3%.

Employment’s link to the housing market of Cambrian is both economic and psychological.

To make the economic link is straight-forward. A person with a job earns verifiable income and such income is required in order to be mortgage-eligible. For conventional and FHA purchase loans, for example, mortgage lenders want a home buyer’s monthly income be more than double his monthly debts. 

For the formerly unemployed that have since returned to work, having a full-time income makes buying homes possible. It also supports higher home valuations nationwide because home prices are based on supply-and-demand. All things equal, when the number of buyers in a market goes up, prices do, too.

The psychological connection between housing and employment is a tad more complicated, but every bit as important. It’s not just out-of-work Americans that don’t look for homes — it’s fearful Americans, too. People with concerns about losing a job are just as unlikely to shop for homes as people actually without a job. The same is true for people unsure of their prospects for a better-paying job, or their own upward mobility.

A recovering job market can lessen those fears and draw out buyers — especially those who face a loss on the sale of an “underwater” home.

The Initial Jobless Claims rolling 4-week average is at its lowest level since 2008. Fewer Americans are losing jobs, and more are finding permanent placement.

It’s one more reason to be optimistic for this year’s housing market. 

Unemployment RateIf you’re floating a mortgage rate, or have yet to lock one in, today may be a good day to call your loan officer. Friday morning, the government releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report at 8:30 AM ET.

The Non-Farm Payrolls report is more commonly called the “jobs report” and, lately, it’s been Wall Street’s domestic economic metric of choice. As jobs go, so go markets.

In the 12 months beginning November 2007, the economy shed 2.3 million on its way to losing more than 7 million jobs by the end of 2009.

It’s no coincidence that the stock market has been wayward. Jobs are a keystone in the U.S. economy and the connection between jobs and growth is straight-forward :

  1. Workers spend more than non-workers and consumer spending is the economy’s largest single component 
  2. Workers pay more taxes to governments and, when governments have money, they build and spend on projects 
  3. Additional consumer and government spending creates revenue for businesses which, in turn, hire more workers.

It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. More employees begets more employees.

As a rate shopper in California , this is an important understanding. Job loss was, in part, behind the big drop in mortgage rates since 2007. A weak economy drives investors away from equities and into safer securities such as mortgage bonds (which are backed by the U.S. government).

The excess demand causes mortgage rates to drop and that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Since late-2007, mortgage rates have been in decline.

In the first 11 months of 2011, though, 1.5 million people went back to work; the economy showed signs of shoring up and economic optimism is returning. Mortgage markets have temporarily ceded to the Eurozone, but with one more strong jobs report to close out the year, momentum could tip and stock markets could roll.

If that happens, mortgage rates will rise. Maybe by a lot.

This is why Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls data is so important. Economists expect that 150,000 new jobs were created in December. If the government’s actual number is larger than that, prepare for higher mortgage rates.

Conversely, if job creation falls short of 150,000, mortgage rates may fall.

If the prospect of rising mortgage rates makes you nervous, remove your nerves from the equation. Call your loan officer and lock your rate ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls release.

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Fed Funds Rate 2008-2011Mortgage markets improved last week as optimism for a Greek Bailout program faded, triggering a global flight-to-quality assets. Fear of a Eurozone rift outweighed positive economic remarks from the Federal Open Market Committee and an in-line U.S. jobs report.

Although the Federal Reserve said the economy had “strengthened somewhat“, a statement backed up by Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls data which — with revisions — met analyst expectations, concern that Greece may not receive its aid caused mortgage to fall.

Conforming mortgage rates dropped throughout California Monday and Tuesday, pushing rates to near their lowest levels of the year. Rates remained low through Friday.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage market survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.00% nationwide, plus closing costs and an accompanying 0.7 discount points.

A “discount point” is a one-time loan fee paid at closing, where 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

As an example, 1 discount point on a $300,000 home loan costs $3,000.

This week, with no new economic due for release, the fate of mortgage rates in San Jose again depends on what develops in Europe. If Greece cannot reach accord within its own parliament, and cannot enact the austerity measures as dictated by its aid package, mortgage rates should fall this week, too.

However, if Greece can reach agreement and move forward, it will appease investors worldwide and U.S. mortgage rates should resume rising. Likely by a lot.

Remember : The U.S. economy has shown slow, steady improvement of late and, normally, this would result in higher mortgage rates for consumers. That’s not what we’ve experienced, however. Instead, fears of a Greek debt default have dominated headlines.

As soon as markets are certain that Greece has a way forward, attention will return to the U.S. economy, and mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Therefore, float your mortgage rate with caution this week. Depending on global events, mortgage rates may rise or fall. Eliminate your interest rate risk. Lock your rate today.

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Greece may not get its aidMortgage markets improved last week on worries that Eurozone leaders would decline to send aid to Greece. These concerns overshadowed optimism for the U.S. economy, the result of several strong data points.

Conforming rates across California eased, giving homeowners and rate shoppers yet another chance to nab historically-low mortgage rates. FHA mortgage rates remained low, too.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now 4.11% with 0.8 discount points. For loans with zero points, expect to pay slightly higher rates. 

Rate-shoppers and home buyers would do well to pay attention.

This week’s may be as good as mortgage rates get. Possibly forever. This is because the market conditions that helped rates stay low — a weak U.S. economy and uncertainty in Europe — are eroding.

The U.S. economy has posted strong jobs, spending, and confidence figures in the past 3 weeks and Eurozone leaders appear closing making a deal that will help Greece avoid a sovereign debt default.

Once markets no longer worry about these two events, rates are expected to surge.

Eurozone leads met all weekend and have chosen Wednesday, October 26, as a likely “decision date” for Greece. If that date holds, and if an agreement can be reached, U.S. mortgage bonds will sell-off and mortgage rates will rise.

The housing sector is set to release important news this week, too.

After last month’s increase in Housing Starts and steady Existing Home Sales report, Wall Street will watch for this week’s New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Index and Pending Home Sales Index. If momentum stays strong for housing, that, too, should pressure mortgage rates higher.

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows. If you’ve yet to lock your mortgage rate, or are still shopping, consider that rates have more room to rise than to fall. The “safe play” is to execute a lock today.

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Eurozone trouble aids mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved last week as a weakening Eurozone and questions about the U.S. economy sparked a global flight-to-quality. Conforming and FHA mortgage rates improved for the second week in a row.

The storylines should sound familiar by now. They are the same ones that have dictated the path of mortgage rates since April 2011. As a result, according to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates across California and nationwide are now at an all-time low.

Not in 50 years of tracking mortgage rates has pricing been so favorable.

Last week’s holiday-shortened week didn’t begin well for rate shoppers in San Jose. Rates moved higher on the expectation of additional economic stimulus from two separate parts of the government — the Federal Reserve and Congress. 

Wall Street held high hopes for Ben Bernanke’s address to the Economic Club of Minnesota, and for the President’s address to a joint session of Congress. It expected Fed Chief Bernanke to reveal clues about the Fed’s next move; and it expected the President to unleash a massive jobs creation program that would put more Americans to work.

Both outcomes would have harmed mortgage rates as money flowed into stocks. However, neither happened. Bernanke kept mum on the Federal Reserve’s options and the White House announced a jobs program smaller in scope than was expected.

Mortgage rates fell throughout the day Thursday then received a big boost Friday.

Amid rumors of a pending Greek default and the potential credit downgrades of several Eurozone banking groups, safe haven buying picked up and drove mortgage rates down.

Markets open this week with rates lower than they’ve ever been in history.

There isn’t much new data set for release this week so market expectations will continue to set the direction in which mortgage rates go. If concerns for a Eurozone default rise, mortgage rates should fall. Conversely, if Eurozone chatter settles, mortgage rates should rise.

For now, mortgage rates remain at all-time lows and should not be taken for granted. If you see a rate that makes sense for you, consider locking it in.

 | Posted by | Categories: Mortgage Rates | Tagged: , , |