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National Mortgage Market Update

For the week of March 5, 2012 – Vol. 10, Issue 10

BULLETIN… HUD is set to increase FHA up-front mortgage insurance premiums April 1. This is a significant change — please relay this to your buyers immediately: waiting will be costly. Call or email us for further information.

>> Market Update 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK…“If I had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes… I would load up on them.” –Warren Buffett

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors, appeared live on CNBC last Monday and told viewers: “… if I knew where I was going to want to live the next five or 10 years, I would buy a home and finance it with a 30-year mortgage, and it’s a terrific deal.” He added, “… if I was an investor that was a handy type… I could buy a couple of them… and find renters… and again take a 30-year mortgage…. I think that’s probably as an attractive an investment as you can make now.” Check out the video:
Later that morning, as if on cue, January Pending Home Sales came in UP 2% from December and UP 8% over a year ago. This measure of homes under contract from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) hit its highest level since April 2010. The NAR’s chief economist commented, “the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year.” 

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK…  Apple means innovation. Disney says magic. What’s the one special thing you stand for? Decide on that, then make it the focus of all your marketing efforts.

>> Review of Last Week

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS… Bad news: the Dow suffered its third weekly loss since the start of the year. Good news: during the week, the Dow closed above 13,000 for the first time since 2008; the Nasdaq sailed over 3,000 (but didn’t stay there) for the first time since 2000; and the S&P 500 had its best two-month annual start since 1987. Good news, bad news also describes the economic data we continue to get. The bad news began with Durable Goods sliding 4% in January. This was followed by the good news that Consumer Confidence spiked to 70.8 in February.
More good news came with manufacturing doing well in the Chicago region, followed by the bad news that manufacturing overall is growing, but slower than expected. It was good news that the Q4 GDP 2nd Estimate rose to 3%, February auto sales reached their highest level since before the recession and same-store sales shot up 6.4% at 18 retail chains. But bad news that Personal Spending, up 0.2%, and Personal Income, up 0.3%, were both weaker than expected.
For the week, the Dow ended down 0.04%, at 12978; the S&P 500 closed UP 0.3%, to 1370; and the Nasdaq went UP 0.4%, to 2976.
Better economic data hurt bond prices in the first half of the week, but European worries ultimately drove investors back to the safe haven of bonds. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch ended the week up .01, to $103.14. In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, national average fixed mortgage rates eased this week, staying at or near record lows for the coming spring home buying season. 

DID YOU KNOW?… In 2012, the NAR expects a 1.1% rise in the median price for existing homes, a 2.1% median price rise for new homes and a 3.3% rise in rents. 

>> This Week’s Forecast

ALL EYES ON FRIDAY…  That’s when we get the February Employment Report which will tell us if the jobs situation, vital to the housing recovery, will continue its upward crawl. The consensus among economists is that there will be fewer new jobs for the month, although the Unemployment Rate should remain the same.
Those with jobs are accomplishing more, as Q4 Productivity is expected to be up again. The ISM Services index is predicted to show growth, but the Trade Balance should still have imports exceeding exports by over $48 billion.

>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.
Economic Calendar for the Week of Mar 5 – Mar 9

 Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact

Mar 5

10:00 ISM Services Feb 56.0 56.8 Moderate

Mar 7

08:30 Productivity – Rev. Q4 0.9% 0.7% Moderate

Mar 7

10:30 Crude Inventories 3/3 NA 4.160M Moderate

Mar 8

08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 3/3 355K 351K Moderate

Mar 8

08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 2/25 3.405M 3.402M Moderate

Mar 9

08:30 Average Workweek Feb 34.5 34.5 HIGH

Mar 9

08:30 Hourly Earnings Feb 0.2% 0.2% HIGH

Mar 9

08:30 Nonfarm Payrolls Feb 207K 243K HIGH

Mar 9

08:30 Unemployment Rate Feb 8.3% 8.3% HIGH

Mar 9

08:30 Trade Balance Jan -$48.1B -$48.8B Moderate


>> Federal Reserve Watch   

Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… Everyone still expects the Fed to keep the Funds Rate down for now, since they said they’ll try to keep it there til the end of 2014. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same.

Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%–0.25%

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Mar 13 0%–0.25%
Apr 25 0%–0.25%
Jun 20 0%–0.25%


Probability of change from current policy:


After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Mar 13      <1%
Apr 25      <1%
Jun 20      <1%



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