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A mortgage is there to keep a roof over one’s head

December 27th, 2008

On Wednesday I talked about the benefits of re-engineering mortgages. It seems to me that individual borrowers need to experience a period of stability before they’re likely to feel confident enough to trade up to a better home. Read the rest of this entry »

Mortgage Opportunities from Record Rate Cut

December 16th, 2008

Late yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, the Federal Reserve slashed its target for the overnight federal funds rate to a range of 0 to 0.25 percent. That may sound like meaningless gobbledygook, but it’s not. It’s an all-time record low. Read the rest of this entry »

First the good news, then the bad news.

December 11th, 2008

We’re all happy to learn from Freddie Mac that this week’s rates for 30-year FRMs (fixed rate mortgages) are at their lowest since March 2004. They’re now averaging 5.47 percent, down from last week’s 5.53 percent. This time last year, they were at 6.11 percent.

But there are two pieces of bad news. Read the rest of this entry »

Recession News Might Be Green Light for Mortgage Borrowers

December 4th, 2008

It may only have confirmed what most people already suspected, but the biggest financial news of the week was the official announcement that the United States was already in a recession.

Two very different consequences of the slumping economy could be seen in other news of the week:

While the prospect of unemployment may be enough to give anybody pause, those low mortgage rates should be a green light for many borrowers.

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New Fed Tactic Triggers Dramatic Drop in Mortgage Rates

November 27th, 2008

This week’s mortgage news was dominated by a dramatic drop in mortgage rates triggered by a new Federal Reserve approach to the financial crisis.

Of all the actions taken to address this crisis, none has had such immediate and tangible effects. Neither lowering Fed rates nor providing direct financial support to lenders seemed to make so much as a ripple in the credit markets. However, on news of this latest Fed program, 30-year mortgage rates dropped the better part of a full percentage point, falling near their all-time lows.

The Fed has announced that it will buy $600 billion in existing, mortgage-backed debt. This move both frees up capital for new lending, and gives lenders renewed confidence to make loans. It is the latter especially that accounts for the immediate drop in interest rates.

It is worth a closer look at what this action will and won’t accomplish, but in the short term it is undeniable that it has created a rare opportunity for home buyers and people who want to refinance. 

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Trick for Treat: Mortgage Rates Defy Federal Funds Rate Cut

October 30th, 2008

To much fanfare, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates on October 29th. That was supposed to be this week’s Halloween treat for the markets. The trick came the next day, when Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates revealed that 30-year rates had risen sharply for the week. 

So what gives? A clue to why market rates moved contrary to the federal funds rate could be found in two other pieces of news:

For the time being then, despite the Fed’s actions, things got tougher for borrowers rather than easier. This highlights some realities of what the Fed can and cannot do.

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Mortgage Rates Zig and Zag: This Week It’s Down

October 23rd, 2008

As expected, mortgage rates continued their manic behavior, heading downward this week as focus shifted to the likelihood of recession: 

Certainly, this is the most troubling economic environment in a generation — but one with at least some glimmer of hope.

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Plans, Politics and Mortgage Rates

October 16th, 2008

As national and global economic plans were unveiled, the stock market careened between seven-hundred point losses and nine-hundred point gains, then back to huge losses again. Overall, the losses far outweighed the gains, despite a general impression that world governments were taking all the right steps to address the credit crisis.

Meanwhile, each of the two major-party Presidential candidates came out with mortgage plans of their own, but these didn’t create a ripple in the markets.

Why then? Because the financial markets are starting to focus on the real problem. Meanwhile though, some potential home buyers who understand that problem and how it affects them may find the that the mortgage and housing markets are presenting a compelling opportunity. 

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Mortgage Rates Respond to a Double Dose of Good News

September 11th, 2008

30-year mortgage rates fell sharply over the past week, extending a sustained move into more affordable territory. Two key factors were behind the change:

Is this reason to be optimistic about the housing market? As always, optimism about housing should be tempered with a healthy dose of caution, but this does spell opportunity for certain buyers and home owners who want to refinance — especially those with strong credit histories.

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Mortgage Data: Is that a light at the end of the tunnel, or is it a train?

September 4th, 2008

It was enough to make any mortgage observer recall the old joke about the light at the end of the tunnel turning out to be a train. A steady drip of positive news lately was overshadowed by the news that lender GMAC Financial Services was closing 200 retail offices and laying off 5,000 employees. The move was designed to scale back the firm’s mortgage lending presence in reaction to losses in that sector.

Still, while this story grabbed the headlines, home buyers and mortgage shoppers should not lose sight of some of the more positive news:

While the GMAC story was a reminder of why economic recoveries can take so long to develop, the underlying fundamentals suggest that conditions may be getting better for the housing market.

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