Buy Now Hard Money

Underpromise. Overdeliver.

Browsing Posts tagged Federal Reserve

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within in its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that since November’s meeting, the “economic recovery is continuing”, but at a pace deemed too slow to make a material impact on unemployment rates. It also said that household spending in increasing, but remains constrained by joblessness, tight credit and lower housing wealth.

In addition, the Fed used its press release to re-affirm its plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period” while also opting to keep its $600 billion bond market support package in place.

And lastly, of particular interest to home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers, the FOMC statement devoted an entire paragraph to the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of keeping inflation and employment at acceptable levels.

The Fed acknowledges making progress toward this goal, but calls it “disappointingly slow”. Currently, inflation is too low for what the Fed deems acceptable, and unemployment is too high.

Over time, the Fed expects both measurements to improve.

Mortgage market reaction to the FOMC statement has been negative thus far. Mortgage rates are unchanged post-FOMC, but appear poised to worsen.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day affair, January 25-26, 2011. It’s the first scheduled meeting of 2011.

Case-Shiller Change In Home Values September 2009-2010

Standard & Poors released the September Case-Shiller Index Tuesday. The Case-Shiller Index is a home-value tracker. The report shows home prices down 0.7% from August and values fading, in general.

Case-Shiller representatives assessed the findings as “another weak report; weaker than last month”, citing deterioration in 18 of 20 tracked markets. Upward pricing momentum from the summer is slowing and values remain 30% off the market’s June 2006 peak. It could spell bad news for home sellers this winter.

That said, the Case-Shiller Index is imperfect; its methodology flawed. The index is not meant for use by individual buyers or sellers — for 3 reasons.

First, the Case-Shiller Index reports on a 2-month delay. Today is December 1 and we’re discussing data from September. In the 8 weeks since, the economy has shifted to a net jobs gainer, and the Federal Reserve has committed to $600 billion in re-investment.  These are major developments that weren’t a part of September’s housing market, but are relevant today.

Especially because employment is largely believed to be a keystone to housing.

Second, the Case-Shiller sample set is limited to just 20 cities nationwide. This means that most U.S. home sales are specifically not included in the Case-Shiller Index’s monthly findings.

And that ties into reason number three — all real estate is local. No matter what the Case-Shiller Index says about the country, what matters to your local market is what’s happening in your local market. Each neighborhood has its own housing economy and that’s something that can’t be captured by a national report.

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within in its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that, since September’s meeting, the pace of economic and job growth “continues to be slow”.  Housing starts are “depressed”, income growth is “modest” and commercial real estate investment is “weak”.

With respect to its prior economic stimuli, the Fed deemed the recovery “disappointingly slow”, while, at the same time, noting that growth will come.

The Fed also noted that inflation is running lower that what’s optimal, hinting at the potential for deflation.

Lastly, the Fed re-acknowledged its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”, and also announced a new, $600 billion support package for the bond market. In most instances, a move like this would drive mortgage rates lower, but the Fed’s stimulus had been widely telegraphed, and $600 billion isn’t too far from the initial package estimates.

Mortgage market reaction has been muted thus far. Mortgage rates are unchanged post-FOMC, but looked poised to worsen.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is December 14, 2010. It’s the last scheduled meeting of the year.

I think it’s both good and bad news.  It’s good for some people, (unless you have a lot of cash in a CD) that the Fed is not increasing rates, because it influences mortgage rates, which are staying near historic lows.  It’s bad if you have a lot of cash and don’t know what to do with it (if that’s the case, call me, I’ll tell you what I’m doing with cash) or if you are looking for a sign that the recession is over (again).  Read on for a summary of the meeting…..

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, in its 7th meeting of the year, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. 

The Fed Funds Rate remains at a historical low, within a Fed’s target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC said that the pace of economic recovery “has slowed” in recent months. Household spending is increasing but remains restrained by high levels of unemployment, falling home values, and restrictive credit.

For the second straight month, the Federal Reserve showed less economic optimism as compared to the prior year’s worth of FOMC statements dating back to June 2009. However, the Fed still expects growth to be “modest in the near-term”.

This outlook is consistent with recent research showing that the recession is over, and that growth has resumed — albeit at a slower pace than what was originally expected.

The Fed also highlighted strengths in the economy:

  1. Growth is ongoing on a national level
  2. Inflation levels remain exceedingly low
  3. Business spending is rising

As expected, the Fed re-affirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”.

There were no surprises in the Fed’s statement so, as a result, the mortgage market’s reaction to the release has been neutral. Mortgage rates in Massachusetts are thus far unchanged this afternoon.

The FOMC’s next meeting is a 2-day affair scheduled for November 2-3, 2010.

Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending PracticesThe tightening in mortgage-lending policies that characterized the last 3 years appears to be slowing.  This is good news for those of us who buy, fix and sell houses.

According to the Federal Reserve’s quarterly survey of senior bank loan officers, roughly 1 in 10 lenders added mortgage qualification hurdles between April and June. It’s a huge departure from just 2 years ago when the mortgage industry was facing its first wave of challenges.

During that period, eight in 10 lenders added hurdles.

For mortgage applicants , this quarter’s Fed survey results signals that mortgage lending may have reached its limits of restriction.

Since 2007, mortgage guidelines have become increasingly restrictive. There’s extra scrutiny on assets and tax returns; employment history is given more weight; loan purpose matters.  There’s a bevy of traits that can stand between you and an approval that didn’t exist a few years ago.

That said, lots of homeowners are still getting loans.

Verifiable income, good credit scores and equity are the “magic formula” and banks want to lend to good credit risks. And the best news for those that qualify is that mortgage rates are fantastic right now.

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in history.

So, if your buyers are among the many wondering if now is the right time to buy a home ,  remember that, although mortgage guidelines likely won’t get worse, mortgage rates probably will.   So price the home properly and make it irresistible to the buyers who are out there and able to qualify.