Archive for the ‘Federal Reserve’ Category

Potential Shake Up at the Federal Reserve

August 1, 2017

Janet Yellen’s days may be numbered. She is the current head of the Federal Reserve, and her role is up for renewal by President Trump. While he has been coy in the past about his plans to (or not to) replace her, signs are pointing to the fact he might indeed do so.

Trump has made no secret about his desire for low interest rates. This tends to fuel stock values/growth (something President Trump enjoys), but it could cause problems down the road. It also marks a significant shift in the philosophies of our major political parties:

  • Democrats traditionally want lower rates to encourage job and wage growth.
  • Republicans tend to want the Federal Funds rate to be higher to fight off inflation.

There is another angle to consider: Ammunition for the Federal Reserve when there is another economic down turn. Lowering the Federal Funds rate is a classic monetary policy employed by the Federal Reserve to help stimulate the economy in times of slow growth/recession. We saw the Federal Reserve lower the funds rate after the “.com” bubble burst, and then raise it as the economy recovered. This repeated after the housing collapse, and the Feds are now raising the rate again to have this as a fallback position for next time (there will be a next time). If rates are kept low, the Feds won’t have this as an option. Japan have kept their “federal funds” equivalent at zero for many, many years with little impact. They recently started a “negative” rate policy that has also shown little results in getting their economy back on track.

It is a delicate balance, and will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The question that most people reading this blog want to know is how will this impact mortgage rates. Mortgage rates tend to work in opposite fashion to the Federal Funds rate.

  • the Federal Funds rate directly impacts rates on second mortgages, car loans, credit cards.
  • mortgage rates are determined by the value of mortgage backed security bonds. These bonds (and all bonds) hate inflation. As inflation rises, bond values drop. As bond values go down, mortgage rates go up.

It stands to reason that mortgage rates could improve as the Federal Reserve raises the Federal Funding Rate. That is exactly what has happened as the Fed raised rates. Mortgage rates improved after the Federal Reserve raised rates in December 2015. Mortgage rates skyrocketed after the election (when stock prices went up dramatically). Mortgage rates have improved since the Fed began raising the Federal Funds rate again at the end of 2016 and into 2017 (while stock values have been mostly flat/slightly higher).

It will be fascinating to watch how this unfolds as traditional party philosophies, the economy, monetary policy, and mortgage rates all stand to be impacted by the decision.

How Could Fed Rate Increase Affect Mortgage Rates?

December 20, 2016

For the first time in a year, the United States Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by 0.25%.  How will that impact mortgage interest rates?

Here’s a history lesson:  The last time the FED raised the federal funds rate was in December 2015.  By the end of January 2016, mortgage interest rates actually improved by about a half point.  Mortgage rates then stayed flat (for the most part) until June and July, when they continued to improve.  Mortgage rates stayed at this very low level until election day.  From election day through December 15, 2016,  mortgage interest rates increased about 0.75%.

When trying to analyze mortgage interest rates, it makes sense to look at a mortgage loan as an investment.  Here’s why…Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase most of the conforming mortgages originated in the USA.  They “pool” these mortgages into mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) which are bought and sold on Wall Street just like other investments.  MBS provide investors with regular, predictable income (from the interest payments on the mortgages), so they are considered less “risky” than stocks and mutual funds.

But ultimately, MBS must compete with all other investments for investors’ dollars.  In the recent, post-election period, stock values have increased making equity investments more attractive.  To compete, lenders had to raise mortgage interest rates to provide a greater return and compete with the high-flying equities.

 

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In addition, China has been selling large amounts of its US government debt holdings.  As China sells, that creates pressure to raise interest rates on US government debt.  Again, government debt competes with MBS for investor dollars.  As interest rates on government debt increase, mortgage rates may have to rise to remain attractive to investors.

So what is a home buyer to do?  If you plan to buy soon, you can relax knowing that, once you get a home under contract, your lender can lock your interest rate through your closing date.  This means that if market interest rates rise between the time you lock your rate until closing, you still pay the lower rate specified in your lock.  You are protected against rate increases.

In addition, Dunwoody Mortgage offers a free interest rate float down on some mortgage products.  This means that, if market mortgage rates drop after you lock your rate, we might be able to lower your rate before closing.  With the free float down, after you lock your rate, you are protected should interest rates increase, and you may still be allowed to benefit if market rates decrease.

Ultimately, we at Dunwoody Mortgage are working in the best interest of our borrowers.  If you are looking to buy a house anywhere in Georgia, and mortgage interest rate changes make you nervous, contact me.  We can set you up with a loan program that can help protect you against the ups and downs of mortgage interest rate changes.

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Feds may not raise rates at all this year

October 18, 2016


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Well over a year ago, the Federal Reserve indicated they would begin raising the Federal Funding Rate. This started in December 2015 when the rate increased by 0.250% for the first time in almost a decade. While we didn’t expect a 0.250% increase each time the Feds met this year, surely there would be another increase at some point. Right?

The year is almost over, and the Feds have stood their ground. The comments from the most recent Fed meeting made it sound as if it is doubtful there would be an increase this year, but could be in 2017 as the economy continues to reach employment goals.

Does that mean potential buyers should panic as rates may go up in 2017? No, it doesn’t.

  • The Federal Funding rate does not impact mortgage rates. When the Federal Funding rate increases, rates go up on second mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc.
  • Mortgage Rates go up and down along with the value of Mortgage Backed Security Bonds. To see plenty of previous posts on this topic, do a search for “MBS” in the “search this site” box in the upper right corner of the page.
  • The last time the Feds raised the Federal Funding Rate, Mortgage Rates improved. Rates are roughly 0.500% lower now than they were in December 2015.

So what to make of this? Don’t make home buying plans on what the Feds may or may not do. Don’t buy a home out of fear of rates going up. The best strategy is to get prequalified to buy a home, and purchase a home when the time is right for you… and not what the Feds or media dictates.

Looking to buy a home in Georgia? Contact me today. I’ll get you prequalified and get you ready for your home buying experience.

 

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The Fed holds, but rates went up?!?

November 5, 2015

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The Federal Reserve announced last week that it would not raise the Federal Funding Rate (again), which keeps the rate near 0% as it has been for years now. Guess that means mortgage rates won’t rise.

Well, a funny thing happened since the Fed’s announcement. Mortgage rates have gotten worse. Say what?!? If the Feds didn’t increase rates, why are mortgage rates going higher?

The answer is this – the Federal Funding Rate does not determine mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are determined on the value of mortgage-backed securities. These are a type of bond that trade every day like stocks. Their values can go up (and lower mortgage rates), or their values can go down (and increase mortgage rates). If mortgage-backed security bonds have a dramatic shift during the day, just like the Dow can, then we may see mortgage rates change more than once a day.

This means mortgage rates, like stocks, are driven by the market and not by the Federal Funding Rate. Remember the Quantitative Easing (QE) program from a year or so ago? This was the Federal Reserve purchasing mortgage-backed security bonds to increase their value, and lower mortgage rates. The Fed attempted to influence the rate market, and it couldn’t do that by simply lowering the Federal Funding Rate.

So what does the Federal Funding Rate actually impact? Great question! The Federal Funding Rate impacts car loans, home equity lines, credit cards, etc…. not mortgage rates.

Remember, next time you hear a news article about “rates going up,” it may not have anything to do with mortgage rates. Those can increase at any time depending on the market. More questions? Contact me today and I can answer them for you. If you live in the state of Georgia, I can also help you purchase your new home!

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QE3 Tapering Continues

January 28, 2014

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The first Federal Reserve meeting of 2014 is the last time Ben Bernanke will be the chairman of the reserve. Should we expect any surprises from the  meeting?

Probably not. As unstable as the market has been over the last several months, the last thing anyone wants is a surprise as Bernanke exits stage left. One thing that is on everyone’s mind is the tapering of QE3.

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Please sir, I want some more QE3?

As discussed on this blog, the Federal Reserve is bringing its current Quantitative Easing plan (called QE3) to an end, but there is still more of it to go around before it is gone for good.

The Federal Reserve wants to end QE3, but end it without causing a panic in the markets (unlike May/June 2013). The Tapering plan goes something like this:

  •  the Feds will slowly reduce the amount of bonds they purchase each month. January 2014 marked the first month of tapering.
  • the Feds will reduce the amount of bonds it buys every Fed meeting until they have completely exited the market.

Expect the tapering plan to continue with another $10 billion reduction in bond buying by the Federal Reserve.

What will be a consequence of the reduced bond buying? More on that tomorrow…

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QE4-ever?

October 1, 2013

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Quantitative Easing (or QE) is the government’s unconventional plan to help stabilize the financial markets and the economy. This program began in late 2008 and is ongoing today. It helped push interest rates to historic lows, stabilize the financial markets, and also helped to fuel the stock market. So what exactly is QE?

Basically, it is the government buying. As the government purchased bonds, it helped stabilize and increase the value of those bonds. By doing so, it caused interest rates drop (to help housing market) and allowed the financial markets to “take a breath” instead of panicking about the current state of events.

The first round was announced in late November 2008. On the announcement, interest rates dropped half of a point. Interest rates continued to improve from there. Prior to the recession, the government held roughly $700 million of Treasury notes. Through QE1, QE2, and QE3, their balance sheet got as high as $2.1 Trillion (with a “T”). The goal was to buy bonds to stabilize everything, then slowly sell them off to get back to pre-recession levels. It hasn’t worked out that way.

QE1 gave way to QE2… then we had QE3. Then the goal was to stop QE3 by the end of 2013 or early 2014. The plan to begin taper off bond buying was announced in mid June. Note the use of the word “taper” and not “stop immediately.” How did the market react?

Remember the sudden interest rate spike in June? Well, when this “taper” plan was announced, bond prices dropped drastically. When bond prices drop, interest rates go up. Stocks dropped almost 700 points during the same time period… that is how the market reacted. By the Federal Reserve meeting in mid September, the tapering of bond buying was put on hold with no new end date announced. Stocks and bonds both improved (which is why rates got better in September).

What now? In theory, bond buying can’t go on forever. The market will eventually have to stand on its own. As you can infer from this post, the market can react emotionally at times. If you are thinking of buying a home OR wanting to refinance and think you missed out, a new window has been opened as interest rates improved with the continuation of QE3 (or should it be 4 now?!?).

How long will this window last? With the way bond buying has gone since 2008 (almost 5 years now), maybe forever… or maybe as short as the next Federal Reserve meeting in late October. Those meetings impact the markets. We have less than 30 days until the next meeting. Don’t miss this opportunity and avoid market uncertainty by starting the loan process now. I can help you start the loan process today if the home is located in GA.

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Cuts like a Knife . . . 0.75 point Fed rate cut

January 22, 2008

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This morning, marketwatchers, traders and the general public were caught off-guard by a surprise 0.75% rate cut by the Feds.  This rate cut is the largest since 1991 and was done to help spur on a slumping US economy and ease fears of an economic recession.  The inter-meeting cut (and the size of the rate cut) is an indication of the seriousness and need for the Feds to step in and take action.  The Federal Funds rate has a direct impact on the rate at which banks borrow and lend money, and this morning’s announcement caused banks to lower prime rate — a rate mainly used to determine rates for 2nd mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards and car loans.

On the news, the stock market started the day way down, pushing money in to the bond market (pushing the price of mortgage backed securities up . . . which may push mortgage interest rates down — which is unusual after a Fed cut).  Because most wholesale lenders don’t publish the day’s rate sheets until 10 AM or 11 AM, the real effect of today’s announcement on mortgage rates has yet to be seen.  AND, the lasting effects of today’s cut (post-market-knee-jerk) may take a day or two to sort out.

For now, I will stand by my refinance advice from my previous post for locking-in your rate and for adjustable rate mortgages (see below).

Whatever you do . . . “don’t take it all for granted, cause how were you to know . . . that rates would not always be-eeeee so low . . . yeah, cuts like a knife.”

Let’s hope (for the sake of the US economy and for mortgage rates) that the feeling is right.  And for the sake of the readers of “the Mortgage Blog”, lets hope that this music-lyric thing ends soon.  ha!

Jeffrey Pinkerton is a Mortgage Consultant and President of Hillside Lending, LLC and writer for “the Mortgage Blog.”  Hillside Lending seeks to provide mortgage brokerage services with the highest standards of service, care, honesty, integrity and value; concentrating on owner-occupied, residential financing.  For more information about available programs and interest rates, please visit www.hillsidelending.com.

Another Fed move.

October 31, 2007

Today, the Fed’s announced a cut in the Federal Funding rate by 0.25%.  For a brief idea of what this move will and will NOT do to mortgage rates, check out the posts below.  Remember, usually, DOWN (Fed Funds) means UP (mortgage rates) and UP means DOWN . . . look for mortgage rates to go up for now.  Friday’s job’s report may give the bond market a little more direction for the coming weeks.

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For a full and detailed article on the Fed news from today, go to this article in the AJC.