For June, 2013

Surge in mortgage rates may nudge homebuyers


Mortgage rates have suddenly jumped from near-record lows and are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home.

In the short run, the spike in mortgage rates might be causing more people to consider buying a home soon. Rates are still low by historical standards, and would-be buyers would want to lock them in before they rise further.

But eventually, more expensive home loans could price some people out and slow the housing market’s momentum.

Mortgage rates are rising because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for most long-term interest rates.

A buyer who locked in a 3.35% 30-year rate in early May on a $200,000 mortgage would pay $881/month, according to The same mortgage at a 4.46% rate would run $1,008/month. The difference: $127 more a month, or $45,720 over the lifetime of the loan.

The rate hike comes at a critical time. Low mortgage rates have helped fuel a housing recovery that has kept the economy growing modestly despite higher taxes and steep federal spending cuts.

Mortgage rates soar to 4.46%

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Rising interest rates have hit mortgages big time.

Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate home loans spiked 0.53 percentage points to an average of 4.46% this week — the largest weekly increase in more than 26 years, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The 30-year loan, which stood at 3.35% as recently as early May, is at its highest level since July 2011.

Rates for 15-year loans, popular with homeowners refinancing their mortgages, jumped 0.46 percentage points to 3.5%.

An extra percentage point(0.53) will cost homebuyers with 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages $56 more a month for every $100,000 they borrow.

The sudden jump in rates is driven by uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve’s economic stimulus program, called quantitative easing(QE), will continue, according to Keith Gumbinger of, a mortgage information provider.

The recent rate rise might not be enough to discourage most buyers.

详细历史记录请参看:Rates History

Pending Home Sales Soar 6.7 Percent to 6-Year High


Signed contracts to buy previously owned homes rose to the highest level in six years. Rising interest rates may be causing some buyers who were on the fence to get in quickly before they are priced out.

The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors rose 6.7% in May from April, and is now up 12.1% from a year ago. A shortage of homes for sale has weighed on the market this year, even as demand increases. Contracts to buy newly built homes rose to a five-year high in May, according to the U.S. Census.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed conforming mortgage is up about 100 basis points from the beginning of May to around 4.5%. The rate spike the most in the past week, before these May contracts were signed.

Pending sales were highest in the West, where prices jumped the highest. . The index in the West rose 16% monthly but is just 1.1% higher than it was a year ago, due to limited inventory.

The index was unchanged in the Northeast in May month-to-month, but was 14.3% higher from a year ago. In the Midwest, sales jumped 10.2% monthly and were 22.2% higher than in May 2012. The South saw a 2.8% monthly gain, and is 12.3% above a year ago.

US new home sales hit fastest pace in 5 years


New home sales rose 2.1% last month compared with April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000, the highest level since July 2008, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The median price of a new home sold in May was $263,900, up 3.3% from a year ago.

The sales gains in May were led by a 40.7% increase in the Midwest followed by a 20.7% gain in the Northeast. Sales were also up 3.6 % in the West but they fell 9%  in the South.

The National Association of Realtors reported last week that sales of previously occupied homes surpassed 5 million in May. It was the first time that’s happened in 3½ years. The last time sales had exceeded 5 million was in November 2009, a month when the pending expiration of a home-buying tax credit briefly inflated sales.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose in June to 52, up from 44 in May. That was the highest reading in more than seven years and the largest monthly increase in more than a decade.

Home prices jump 12%, new home sales also rise


The housing recovery continues to pick up steam, as home prices jumped in April, and new home sales hit a five year high in May.

But a recent increase in mortgage rates could soon put the brakes on housing.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was up 12.1% in April, compared to a year ago, in the 20 top real estate markets across the nation. That was the biggest annual jump in prices in seven years. Prices climbed 2.5% from March, posting the biggest one-month rise in the 12-year history of the index.

According to a separate government report: new homes sold in May is the best reading since July 2008. The pace of sales was up 2.1% from April, and up 29% from a year ago.

The median price of a new home sold in May was $263,900, down 3.1% from April. Even with the monthly decline, new home prices were up 10.3% from a year earlier.

A drop in foreclosures, coupled with a tight supply of homes for sale and mortgage rates that hit record lows, have fueled the rebound in housing over the last 11 months.

Are Homebuilders Holding Off Construction to Game Rising Prices?


New home construction rose less than expected in May. The Commerce Department said last week housing starts rose 6.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000 units versus expectations of 950,000.

Reuters reports this miss likely reflects labor and material constraints. CNBC Real Estate reporter Diana Olick adds to the list a lack of land and a supply chain for homebuilders that wasn’t ready for this pick-up in demand. But Olick also suggests the holdup in construction may be intentional.

“Believe it or not we’re hearing from some builders – self-admittedly – that they are slowing production of new homes because they want to take advantage of these rising home prices,” Olick tells The Daily Ticker in the accompanying interview. “In the last new home sales report we actually saw a huge spike in new home sale prices, and they like that. Of course they want to sell the homes for more money so they’re actually keeping the supplies lean in some cases.”

And bigger picture there is the question of if the recovery is real and sustainable. All of the data showing a recovery in housing is arguably built on a foundation including massive Federal Reserve support in the form of monetary stimulus.

For April, existing home sales improved modestly but fell short of expectations of 4.98 million units, increasing 0.6% to 4.97 million units. NAR said sales remained below underlying demand because of limited inventory and tight credit.

Mortgage Rates Aren’t Going Back Down: Fannie Mae Economist


Freddie Mac reports rates for home financing are just shy of 4% this week, the highest since the week of April 12, 2012.

What’s different this time around, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, is that mortgage rates aren’t going back down.

Duncan says he does think the Fed will work hard to try to prevent rates from going further up from here and may try to hold them here through the end of the year.

Fannie Mae just released its mid-year economic outlook and sees a strengthening housing market pushing the economy forward at a lethargic 2.1% rate in 2013.

One interesting change Duncan says they’ve found through a survey Fannie Mae conducts is a jump in home sellers’ confidence. Forty percent now say it’s a good time to sell a home – a huge jump over last month and last year. This matters, according to Duncan, because five of eight people who are going to buy a house have to sell one first.

Tight housing supply has helped to fuel recent price gains in housing. One concern is that if people do start selling their homes, supply will increase and home price gains could slow down.

Duncan says this dynamic “will eventually slow the pace of price increase, but not until next year.”

Mortgage rates near 4% barrier


Mortgage rates moved to within a hair of the 4% barrier this week, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The average rate for 30-year, fixed rate loans rose 0.07% point to 3.98%, and is up 0.63% point since the week of May 2. Rates have not been this high since the week of April 12, 2012.

The recent improvement in the employment picture should result in more home buying, which would pressure rates even higher. Rates have also been going up because the Federal Reserve has signaled that it might cut back on buying mortgage-backed securities.

The increase will boost monthly mortgage payments for homebuyers by about $33 for every $100,000 borrowed.

But the soaring rates create a double whammy for would-be home buyers, with home prices also on a rapid rise — up more than 10% in the 12 months ended March 31, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index.

If both trends continue, it could put a damper on a housing market still in a struggle to put the bust behind it.

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