Archive for the ‘Interest Rates’ Category

Mortgage Rates and the Second Part of the Fed’s Announcement

June 23, 2017

The Federal Reserve’s announcement last week that it was increasing the Federal Funds rate included a second statement regarding the Fed’s bond holdings.  The Fed began buying Treasury and mortgage bonds after the Great Recession to lower long-term loan rates.  In the process, the Fed increased its debt holdings by over five times the previous balance – to over $4.5 trillion.

As part of last week’s announcement, the Fed said it will allow a small amount of bonds to mature without being replaced.  The Fed also said this amount will gradually rise as markets adjusted to the process.  Experts stated, “This process could put upward pressure on long-term borrowing rates.”

With the Fed out of the bond-buying business, the overall demand for Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities will decrease.  A reduction in the demand for these investments should cause their prices to fall.  Remember that when values of mortgage backed securities fall, mortgage rates rise.

 

That is how the second component of last week’s Fed announcement can push mortgage rates higher.  Not by increasing the Federal Funds Rate, but by no longer buying bonds (and also possibly selling the bonds they already own). We could be entering an environment of lowering bond values and rising mortgage rates.

We can assume that Fed will be careful not to shock the markets too dramatically, so we don’t expect rates to dramatically increase. The goal of the Fed would be to complete the second part of their statement without pushing mortgages rates up.

That being said, mortgage rates are currently at their lowest levels of 2017.  Now is a great time to buy a home – from a mortgage perspective.  If you are looking to buy in Georgia and you want focused service with a keen attention to detail, call me at Dunwoody Mortgage Services.  We will do as much of the “heavy-lifting” as possible so your mortgage experience is as pleasant as possible.

 

How Fed Decisions Could Affect Mortgage Interest Rates

June 19, 2017

Yesterday, the United States Federal Reserve increased its short-term interest rate by 0.25%.  From a historical perspective, the “Federal Funds Rate” is still very low.   Many people assume that this increase in the Federal Funds Rate means that mortgage interest rates will rise too.  Not so fast…it’s possible that the opposite could happen.  When the Fed raised this rate in December 2015, mortgage interest rates declined in the weeks following the announcement.  Mortgage interest rates remained very low throughout 2016 until immediately following the Presidential election in November.  The Fed raised rates again in December 2016 and March 2017.  Current mortgage interest rates are about 0.5% lower than their level when the December 2016 Fed rate increase occurred. 

Why do mortgage rates sometime move in opposition to the Federal Funds Rate?  It’s complicated, but at a high level, mortgage interest rates tie more closely to the investment markets than to the Federal Funds Rate.  The majority of American home mortgages are purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Fannie and Freddie then “package” these mortgages into mortgage-backed securities (MBS).  They then sell these MBS as investments. 

So insurance companies, mutual fund companies, and other large investors then buy and sell MBS as a component of their larger investment portfolios.  That means that the MBS must compete with other investments for investors’ attention. 

Many times, if the market for equities increases (as reflected by indices like the Dow Jones or NASDAQ), mortgage interest rates will also increase to keep MBS competitive with the equities.  Similarly, if interest rates on certain Treasury Notes and other bond-type investments increase, mortgage interest rates will follow suit.

Ultimately, it means that in many cases, an increase in the Federal Funds rate does not automatically mean that mortgage interest rates will increase too.  If the stock market reacts negatively to the Fed’s decision or other economic news, mortgage rates can decrease even though the Federal Funds rate has increased. 

Yesterday’s Federal Reserve statement also included another announcement that could affect future mortgage interest rates.  The Fed stated that it will begin reducing its huge holdings of Treasury and mortgage bonds.  Let’s talk about the mortgage impacts of that announcement in another blog post next week.

For now, if you, a friend or family member wants to buy a house and fears that home price appreciation and interest rate increases will hurt your ability to buy, give me a call at Dunwoody Mortgage to discuss your options.  We offer VA, FHA, conventional, jumbo, and Home Ready loans – we offer a mix of mortgage products that can help different buyers’ differing situations.   I would love to explore your options with you.

Geographic Income Limits for Home Ready Program

May 1, 2017


One potentially limiting aspect of the Home Ready program is that income limits are specified by census tract.  (Notice I said “potentially.”  We will get back to that point very soon.)  To qualify for the program, the borrower’s income must be less than or equal to the income limit set for the geographic area of the subject property.  Fannie Mae specifies and publishes the geographic income limits as part of the program.  Many areas in Metro Atlanta have an annual income cap of $67,200, but there are many other areas that do not have an income limit.  Now back to the word “potentially.”  If the home you want to buy lies in a no-income-limit area, you could make a million dollars per year or even per month and still qualify for a Home Ready loan for that house.

Two key points to remember here:  First of all, the income limits are based the subject property’s location, so you can have varying income limits in different parts of the same county.  In fact, the eligibility maps go down to the street level, which means that houses on one side of a street could carry a $67,200 income limit and houses on the other side of the same street could have no income limit.  Secondly, the income limits apply only to borrowers on the loan.  If two employed people plan to live in the home, but only one of you is on the loan, then the other occupant’s income does not count toward the income limit.  Of course that means that the sole borrower must qualify for the loan using his or her income only.   

So how can you determine whether you qualify for the Home Ready program’s low down payment / low-interest rate / low mortgage insurance benefits?  You can call me at Dunwoody Mortgage!!  We will first discuss your income and the geographic area where you want to buy.  I can look up the area online and determine whether your income qualifies for Home Ready in that area.  If you meet the geographic income limits, we will complete your loan application, pull your credit report, and run your application through our Automated Underwriting System (“AUS”).  The AUS findings will then determine if you do qualify for Home Ready’s great benefits. 

Buying a house in Georgia and curious whether you can obtain a Home Ready loan?  Give me a call and we will review Home Ready and your other loan options.  Don’t think you will qualify?  We at Dunwoody Mortgage have secured loans for many customers who initially thought they would not qualify.  Don’t assume you cannot win loan approval!  Call me and let’s discuss your situation.  We might just surprise you!! 

 

 

 

Lock and shop with rate float down

April 25, 2017

Last time we discussed the competitive market for home buyers. I suggested getting underwritten prior to making an offer on a home. That way the offer can say the buyer is “approved” and can close in about two weeks (only need the appraisal!). When I talk about this option with clients, they also ask about whether they can lock the interest rate. Most lenders/banks prefer a buyer be under contract to purchase a home, but that isn’t the case with Lock and Shop.

Buyers can lock in their interest rate today without a purchase contract, and then go out looking for a home. The program typically works like this:

  • We start the loan process as if we have a contract to purchase a home.
  • We submit the loan to underwriting for approval, and can lock the borrower into a 60 day rate lock.
  • This provides plenty of time to find a home, get under contract, and complete the closing

This is a great program for buyers. They can go ahead and get underwritten for a home purchase. They can also lock in a rate now, and not feel so pressured to find a home before rates could possibly get worse. With a 60 day lock, there really isn’t a rush on either side of the equation (finding a house and then getting loan approval). 60 days is more than enough time for both!

On top of that, there is a one-time FREE float down on the rate lock. The window to use the float down is within 30 days of closing (or rate expiration) and 8 days prior to closing (or rate expiration). If interest rates have improved by 0.250% or more, the rate can be lowered to the current market. That’s it. No fees and no tricks. There is a roughly 3-week window to use the float down, and rates must be improved by 0.250% or more.

If you’d like to learn more about the lock and shop program for a home purchase in Georgia, you know where to find me!

3% Down and a Great Interest Rate!

April 24, 2017

National mortgage giant Fannie Mae offers the Home Ready conventional loan program that can be very helpful for qualifying home buyers.  Home Ready enables qualified buyers to obtain a mortgage with a 3% down payment, so it’s great for people with limited available cash.  In addition, when the buyer has an average credit score, Home Ready provides lower interest rates and mortgage insurance premiums relative to standard conventional loans.

One important point is that this program is NOT limited to first time home buyers.  If you have owned a home before or if you have an ownership interest in another property, you may still qualify for a new Home Ready loan, as long as you plan to occupy the new home as your primary residence. 

Home Ready requires that at least one of the home buyers complete an online home buyer education course.  This course costs $75 and takes about 4 to 6 hours to complete.  The course topics include:

  • Home affordability and budgeting
  • Credit ratings and credit improvement
  • Real estate agent selection
  • Mortgages
  • Offer letters
  • Home inspections
  • The closing process

The prospective home buyer will receive a certificate of completion after passing a final quiz and submitting a feedback survey.   Passing the quiz requires a score of 80%, and the buyer receives three attempts to pass the quiz.  If the buyer does not pass the quiz in three attempts, an additional approximately 30 minute telephone educational review session is required.   After obtaining the certificate of completion, the buyer should send a copy to his / her selected lender.

Here are a couple of additional program benefits:

  • Non-occupant borrowers are permitted.
  • Non-borrower household income from a family member (parents or siblings, for example) can be used to support a higher debt to income ratio than the borrower can obtain alone.

Future posts will cover Home Ready’s geographic income limits, and we will give an example scenario to highlight the program benefits.  But keep this in mind for now, if you want to buy a home in Georgia, but your credit score is less than great and you don’t have much available cash for a down payment, Home Ready could be the program that makes home ownership a reality for you.  Call me to discuss Home Ready and other options.  Or if you have a friend or family member who could benefit from Home Ready, forward this blog post to them.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage love to make home ownership a reality for everyone, and it’s especially fun for people who initially think they can’t qualify!

 

Federal Reserve’s impact on rates

March 21, 2017

I feel like I spend a lot of time devoted to the topic of the Federal Funds Rate. The main reason is the misconception out there when it comes to the Federal Funds Rates. Last Wednesday, the Feds raised the Federal Funds Rate again. Every time this happens, I get calls and emails with people worrying about mortgage rates going up. That isn’t necessarily the case.

Mortgage rates are not determined by the Federal Funds Rate… car loans, credit card rates, second mortgages… those are impacted by the Federal Funds Rate.

Mortgage rates are determined by the value of Mortgage Backed Security Bonds (MBS bonds). As these bond values go up, mortgage rates go down. When these bond values fall, mortgage rates go up. Typically, when the Federal Funds Rate increases, it should help mortgage rates improve. Why?

MBS bonds hate inflation… I mean they can’t stand inflation. As inflation rises, MBS bond values plummet and make interest rates worse. As the Feds increase the Federal Funds Rate, it helps fight inflation. This, in turn, helps MBS bond values to rise, and mortgage rates to improve:

  • the Federal Funds Rate increased in December 2015. Over the next few months, mortgage rates improved by 0.500%. Rates stayed around these levels for all of 2016. Rates got worse at the end of 2016 after the election fueled a major stock market rally. That triggered another typical trend with rates… when stock values go up, bonds go down, and mortgage rates go up.
  • The Funds Rate was increased again in December 2016, and mortgage rates improved by 0.125% in the 6 weeks between Fed meetings.
  • We are about a week past the most recent rate increase by the Fed (third time since December 2015). So far, mortgage rates have improved by another 0.125%

What does this mean? When you hear a story about mortgage rates rising because of the Federal Funds Rate going up, don’t panic. The Funds Rate may go up, but mortgage rates could improve.

If you are looking to buy a home in Georgia, contact me today to get started. We have two tools to help you in an ever-changing rate market.

  • Float Down: Should rates improve after we’ve locked your rate, we can float it down at no cost to you one time during the loan process. If rates improve by 0.250% or more, we are within 30 days of closing, but 8 days prior to closing, we can float the rate down to current market value. That’s it. Easy! We have a three-week window to take advantage of this.
  • Lock-and-Shop: Worried that rates might go up? Don’t be. We can lock a rate for 60 days without being under contract to purchase a home. The rate is locked, find a home, and we start the loan process. The Float Down option as described above also applies to the Lock-and-Shop. So, you can get the protection of locking the rate, but also the opportunity to lower the rate should mortgage rates improve. The rate will not get worse so long as it is locked.

It is as simple as that!

Volatility Reigns

January 31, 2017

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Market volatility is going to be the theme for 2017… or at least the theme for the foreseeable future. Basically, I am picking up where I left off a couple of weeks ago. As discussed last time, Wall Street seemed to embrace the idea of a Trump administration as stock values soared after the election… well, so did interest rates. Rates rose over a point in the roughly 2 months after the election. Rates did begin to improve some until…

Stocks hit 20,000 for the first time ever. Rates went back to their higher levels since the election. Then something unexpected happened… Trump signed the executive order for the immigration ban. The Dow is off about 200 points from its all time high, and interest rates improved by 0.250% in the last few days. It is going to be a bumpy ride. If this is too much, then take a deep breath, keep calm, and…

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In addition to keeping calm and loving our pets, is there anything else that can help when buying a home in this volatile market? Yes, there is!

As briefly mentioned in my last post, there is a one time FREE rate float down on locked interest rates with Dunwoody Mortgage Services. After we lock the rate, should rates improve by 0.250% or more, then we can float the rate down to the current market for the home purchase. The rate will NOT increase while locked; it can only improve while it is locked.

Looking to buy a home in Georgia? Like the idea of locking to protect your rate, but having the option to lower should rates improve? If so, contact me today? I can get you prequalified to make an offer, and explain all the details of the float down process.

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Economic Uncertainty and Mortgage Rates

January 17, 2017

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How does economic uncertainty impact mortgage rates? I’m glad you asked!

In general, when the economic outlook is good, investment dollars go into stocks. As money goes into stocks, there is less money available to go into bonds. This flow of money causes stock values to rise, and bond prices to fall. As mortgage backed security bonds (or MBS Bonds) values fall, interest rates rise.

Some recent recent examples:

  • Brexit Vote: when the UK voted to leave the EU, that sent shockwaves through the world financial markets. Stock markets around the world pulled back, and bond prices went up. Mortgage rates improved until…
  • US Presidential Vote: Mortgage rates soared as stocks soared after Trump was elected president of the United States. Seems stocks felt Trump’s election would be a boon for business in the US. Stocks flirted with all-time highs day after day once Trump won the election. With this much money going into stocks, bond prices dropped, and mortgage rates increased by over a full point (from low 3’s to mid 4’s) in the weeks following the election.
  • US Presidential Inauguration: as the nation gets ready for the 45th President of the United States, there are signs the honeymoon period is over. A recent article said Trump would have the lowest approval rating of any President at inauguration. The gains in stocks have slowed, and there is growing concern about the “trade war” rhetoric. Maybe a trade war works out in the long run, but the short run in hurts business, hurts investments, and can cause a recession. With these thoughts in mind, we’ve seen stocks pull back over the past couple of weeks, and mortgage rate have improved.

What does the future hold? For those wanting to see lower rates, economic uncertainty is a main contributor to rates improving. It is no coincidence that all-time lows in mortgage rates occurred during the Great Recession. It is also no coincidence that mortgage rates haven’t dramatically improved since the economic recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and painful for many. And there in-lies a great dilemma… the quickest way for mortgage rates to improve (outside of Governmental influence such as Quantitative Easing) is from economic hardship. While low rates are great, in the long run, a sluggish economy isn’t great either.

Looking to buy or refinance a home? If refinancing, sitting and waiting isn’t a bad idea. I am currently watching rate for several clients in hopes they continue to drop. Once we hit our target rate, we get started. If buying, this is trickier as you can’t sit and wait for a long time on rates when there is a closing date involved! This is where our FREE one time rate float down comes in handy. Ask me about it! If the home is in the state of Georgia, contact me. We can get started today on your loan.

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Interest Rates Jump

November 15, 2016

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One thing that I did not expect from this election was the change in interest rates.  Mortgage interest rates on November 14 were a half a percentage point higher than they were on November 7.  Rates are still close to their historic lows, and still lower than rates back in the second half of 2015, but they definitely have taken a quick upward turn in the last week.  And there’s really no way to predict how far rates may rise.  For a better understanding of what drives mortgage interest rates, take a look at these prior posts:  https://themortgageblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/interest-rates-lower-from-brexit/ and https://themortgageblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/feds-may-not-raise-rates-at-all-this-year/

While I don’t have a crystal ball to forecast interest rates, I will simply apply a bit of common sense.  Interest rates have been very, very low for multiple years now.  There really isn’t much opportunity for rates to go lower.  So logically, if rates are going to move, they will likely go up.  If you are ready to buy a house, how do you protect yourself from a rate increase?  Answer:  You lock your rate.

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When a home buyer goes under contract, I can lock rates for periods from 30 days up to 90 days.  The longer the rate lock period, the higher the price.  Locking your interest rate is the sure way to protect yourself against rate increases.  I locked a refinance on November 8, just before the close of business.  I hate to think that this client’s rate would now be 0.50% higher if we had delayed.  Because she locked for 45 days, her rate will not increase if we close the loan before the end of business on December 23.  As long as you can close before the lock expires, your rate will not change.  If something delays closing past the lock expiration, that might cost you.  (Moral of the story, quickly respond to any request from your loan officer.  Delays can cost you.)

Borrowers also want to know what happens if market rates decrease after they lock their interest rate.  Dunwoody Mortgage can also offer a free rate float down option on some loans.  If your qualifying rate drops by more than 0.25% and we can relock it (1) less than 30 days and (2) more than 7 days before closing, we may be able to do that at no charge.

So if you want to buy a home and you are worried about interest rate fluctuations, know that Dunwoody Mortgage can protect you regardless of which way the market moves.  Moving forward with a Georgia home purchase soon?  Call me here at Dunwoody Mortgage now, before rates go up any more.  We can answer your questions and offer the counsel to best protect you against interest rate changes.

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Interest Rates lower from Brexit

July 12, 2016

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Interest rates have moved lower since the Brexit vote at the end of June sent stocks crashing, the Pound Sterling down to lows versus the Dollar it hasn’t seen in decades, and all of the politician who led the Brexit campaign quit. But how much have interest rates actually moved since the Brexit vote?

I’ve kept up with interest rates daily since 2009. Since the Brexit vote toward the end of June, interest rates have only improved by 0.125-0.250%. Based on the number of “low interest rate” stories out there, you’d think interest rates would have dropped by at least a half point and have set new all time historic lows since the vote. Why all of the stories? I think it has to do with several factors:

  • yields on treasury bonds have experienced some major change, but treasury bonds don’t impact interest rates. As discussed countless times on this blog (do a search for “MBS” or “mortgage backed security” in the search box at the top right of the main page of this blog), interest rates are impacted by the movement of mortgage backed security bonds. Those prices haven’t changed near as much as the treasury yields.
  • the big move on interest rates was back in January of this year when interest rates dropped by over a half point from the start of the month until the end of the month. Interest rates have been about at this level for most of the year.
  • why the “low rate” stories now? Well, in January, stories were focusing more on the Spring market, home sales increasing, new construction startups increasing, etc. By the time we approach July, the Spring Market is over, there is a natural lull in home sales (everyone goes on vacation in July), and something is needed to fill the 24-hour news cycle. The Brexit vote along with rates improving some since that vote provided the needed stories.
  • since this is a normal “lull” period in the housing market, marketing efforts can now be turned to potential refinances.

Are interest rates low? Yes, absolutely.

Should one consider refinancing? Of course!

But don’t get swept away by it. You want to talk with an experienced mortgage loan officer who can give you the pros and cons of refinancing. For example, this morning I spoke with someone who wanted to refinance using a 15 year mortgage and pay discount points to get the rate into the 2’s. After running the numbers, his “break even” point on the monthly savings versus the closing costs for the new loan increased when he paid discount points to lower the rate! That wasn’t a typo… by paying discount points to get a lower rate, the amount of time needed to break even increased.

In the frenzy to secure a low rate, be sure to ask questions. Work with a mortgage loan officer who watches for trends and doesn’t hop onto the bandwagon of recent events. Someone who will discuss loan options with you instead of just quoting a rate and asking you if you are ready to get started. If the home you are looking to refinance is in the state of Georgia, contact me today. I can help you get going!

Besides… interest rates aren’t at their historic lows yet. That means there is still room for interest rates to improve.

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