Thursday, September 13, 2012

MARKET TRENDS: Home Prices Rebounding With Low Mortgage Rates

Over the course of several months, home prices in many markets have been rebounding with the consistent level of low mortgage rates. The National Association of Realtors data has shown five consecutive months of home price increases through July 2012. This past week, the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index showed a 1.2% increase during the second quarter of this year. It is obvious that the housing market is recovering at a modest but steady pace as mortgage rates continue to remain affordable, as well as, attractive.

Lending guidelines remain strict for home purchase loans and traditional
 mortgage refinances. Borrowers must qualify per employment, income and asset requirements and need to provide documentation as proof. After examining and verifying the information in the loan file, lenders often request additional information in order to make their decision for an approval or's survey of wholesale and direct lenders shows that mortgage rates remained firm this past week with 30 year fixed mortgage rates at 3.375%, 15 year fixed mortgage rates at 2.750% and 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates at 2.125%, all available with 0.7 to 1% origination fee for borrowers who have maintained a record of good credit.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, HARP, is available through the end of 2013 for underwater borrowers who have loans that were sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. With the removal of loan to value caps, loans above 125% LTV have been increasing since June when it became possible for lenders to securitize these loans.
However, many lenders still have strict overlays on HARP which has made it difficult for many borrowers to refinance. HARP requirements and mortgage rates differ from lender to lender and require borrowers to actively seek which one will give them an approval and the best deal. The fastest results can be obtained with an online inquiry where lenders are willing and available to assist borrowers who receive a response within minutes and without the need of a social security number.

The FHA streamline refinance is, in many ways, the FHA version of HARP. This refinance is available for all FHA borrowers and, with no cash out, does not require an appraisal or other documentation. This works well especially for underwater borrowers or those who have a deduction in income. Now, for borrowers who have FHA loans that were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009, the FHA streamline has a reduced upfront mortgage insurance premium of .01% and annual mortgage insurance premium of .55%.

This reduction was done to entice more borrowers to obtain an FHA streamline at today's low, affordable mortgage rates, thus reducing the cost of homeownership in order to prevent further foreclosures or defaults. Current FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.125%, FHA 15 year fixed mortgage rates are at 2.625% and FHA 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are at 2.625%. FHA still offers several mortgage purchase programs that have low down payment requirements, easier credit qualifying and all the long standing benefits that FHA mortgages have had in place for years.

Although FHA closing costs (APR) are high because of various FHA fees and the upfront front mortgage insurance premium, FHA allows borrowers to add this amount to the mortgage loan or use seller concessions in accordance with guidelines. FHA mortgages can be easily obtained through an online inquiry where approved FHA lenders are available to help borrowers obtain their goals.

Current jumbo mortgage rates also remained stable this week with jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates at 4.250%, jumbo 15 year fixed mortgage rates at 3.125% and jumbo 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates at 2.250%. Borrowers are required to have excellent credit in order to receive these low jumbo mortgage rates with 0.7 to 1% origination fee. Jumbo mortgages are necessary in higher cost areas where the price of property exceeds the loan limits of conforming and FHA mortgages. Often, guidelines can be strict and require substantial funds for larger down payment and reserve requirements.

Without a secondary market since the housing crisis, lenders generally keep these loans within their own portfolio. Even though it is considered risky, many lenders are re-entering the jumbo loan market because it is also profitable. This move is increasing competition which is making some lenders offer flexibility with guidelines. Borrowers who are in need of jumbo mortgages
should shop around for the lowest jumbo mortgage rates and best deal being offered.

Towards the end of last week, MBS prices (mortgage backed securities) started to increase which is good for mortgage rates. Mortgage rates depend on MBS prices and move in the opposite direction. Some data released was not favorable with investors. The Commerce Department reported that demand for U.S. goods fell 3.4% in July which was the most in eight months. The Conference Board's Index indicated a decline to 60.6 in August which is the biggest drop since October and below expectations.

Jobless claims were flat and Chicago PCE Manufacturing came in below expectations at 53.0. The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.4% in July, second quarter GDP was revised higher to 1.7% and new orders for manufactured goods increased 2.8% in July. The biggest event last week was Fed Chief Bernanke's speech which indicated possible further monetary easing to boost the economy which investors are now anticipating to see happen at the Fed meeting which starts September 12th.

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