There is widespread misunderstanding about what drives mortgage rates. Indeed, I read an article recenlty on the National Association of Realtors website which stated that mortgage rates had risen sharply following the increase in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate.
After I published Have Mortgage Rates peaked? last week a reader asked me why I thought the yield on the 10-year Treasury Bill would not continue to increase, so that even if the spread over the 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM) narrowed, the FRM rate itself might still increase.
In Are we already in a Recession?, published on June 18, I wrote: “Just as the yield on 10T has more than doubled since pre-COVID while the Fed Funds rate is unchanged, so the Fed Funds rate can increase sharply – the Fed is forecasting it will reach 3.4% this year, also double its pre-COVID level – without necessarily impacting the yield on 10T. That will depend upon the economic outlook. Ironically, perhaps, the more determined the Fed is to drive down inflation – even at the cost of a recession and higher unemployment – the greater the chance that the yield on 10T – and by extension the FRM – will decline – at some point.”
In the last few days, as more economists talked about a recession after the Atlantic Fed updated its Q2 GDP estimate to minus 2.1% (it was 0% when I wrote on June 18), the yield on 10T has dropped sharply, falling to 2.9% from a peak of 3.5% in the middle of May: (more…)
The recent uptick in mortgage interest rates is having a chilling effect on home buyers at the moment, but Wharton real estate professor Benjamin Keys doesn’t expect that to last.
Mortgage interest rates have increased across all categories in the last several weeks, following the Federal Reserve’s first rate hike since 2018 to fight inflation. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage topped 5% last week, compared with less than 3% a year ago. The jump corresponded with a 40% drop in mortgage applications from a year ago.
“Aside from a few days in 2018, we haven’t seen rates this high persistently since around 2011,” Keys said. “Mortgage rates are the real focus among a lot of people right now, and trying to understand what impact [that is] going to have on housing markets.”
Sky-high rents have been spiraling faster than home prices in the last decade, which will continue to push many Americans toward home ownership. With a fixed-rate mortgage, they can budget a stable monthly housing expense for the next 15 or 30 years. (more…)
As 30-year mortgage rates (FRM) continue their recent vertical ascent, it is worth considering an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).
Here are the latest rates:
ARMs got a bad name in the boom that contributed to the Great Recession, but as in so many different situations, that was the result of lax – or no – underwriting standards – think liar loans – and loans with adverse features such as negative amortisation – payments so low, initially, that the loan balance increased over time.
As expected, the Federal Reserve (Fed) increased its Fed Funds Rate (FF) this week by 0.25% to 0.5%, the first increase since 2018.
What does this mean for mortgage rates and why are they rising? The FF rate affects the lending rate for credit cards, auto loans, adjustable rate mortgages, all of which are impacted by banks’ Prime Rate, which moves with the FF rate. Fixed Rate Mortgages – the typical 30-year mortgage – have a longer life and their benchmark is the closest Treasury security, which is the 10-year (10T).
Five charts explain the factors driving mortgage rates. In all cases the numbers are at the dates that the Fed has changed its FF since 2015: 9 increases followed by 5 decreases before this week’s rise. Because the purpose of this article is to show the link between FF, FRM and 10T the dates shown are only those on which the FF rate changed. Bear that in mind when looking at the charts below – they do not attempt to show all the price movements in between the dates shown. (more…)
As the debate amongst economists continues as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates 3 times, 5 times or 7 times this year, the Federal Reserve continues to do….nothing.
Giving the market advance warning about changes in monetary policy is an excellent idea, but the lack of flexibility from the Fed is alarming. The Fed has consistently said that its decisions as to the timing of the end of its bond buying program – which has glutted stock and real estate markets with cash – and the start of the “lift-off” in interest rates would be “data dependent.”
Well, my question is this: what data are you seeing Mr. Powell that the rest of us are missing? And by the rest of us I mean professional and award-winning economists – and me..
In March 2021, 11 months ago, Chairman Powell said: “We’re not going to act pre-emptively based on forecasts for the most part, and we’re going to wait to see actual data. And I think it will take people time to adjust to that, and the only way we can really build the credibility of that is by doing it.”
When Freddie Mac released its weekly mortgage survey on Thursday it did so with the heading: “Mortgage Rates Drop Below Three Percent Again.”
Which they are not now.
The problem lies with the methodology. Freddie Mac surveys lenders from Monday to Wednesday with the major weighting given to Monday’s rates. As I have explained in many postings over the years (see Mortgage Rates back to 3% – again as an example), the 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM) is priced based upon a premium that investors, when they buy pools of mortgages, demand over the yield on the nearest-equivalent US Treasury – which is the 10-year Note (10T). Thus, if the yield on 10T increases from Monday to Thursday – as it did this week – by the time of Thursday’s announcement the FRM may have changed – as it did this week.
Mortgage News Daily had a great article this week and I am going to use their charts. I recommend signing up for their newsletter, a source of great information and opinion. (more…)
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will eliminate the Adverse Market Refinance Fee for loan deliveries effective August 1, 2021.
Lenders will no longer be required to pay Fannie and Freddie a 50-basis point fee when they deliver refinanced mortgages. The fee was designed to cover losses projected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The success of FHFA and Fannie and Freddie’s COVID-19 policies reduced the impact of the pandemic and were effective enough to warrant an early conclusion of the Adverse Market Refinance Fee.” FHFA’s expectation is that those lenders who were charging borrowers the fee will pass cost savings back to borrowers.
“Santa Claus has come early for homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “The fee had often resulted in an increase of one-eighth percentage point in rate.” (more…)
Applications for Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) increased 12.5% year-to-year for the week ending June 18, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), as the discount from the 30-year FRM has widened in recent weeks.
ARMs dropped in popularity after the 2008 financial crisis, but they are starting to reemerge as buyers contend with record high home prices. “The epic surge in home prices has people looking to save money on monthly payments anywhere they can,” says Matt Graham, chief of operations at Mortgage News Daily.
Former Federal Reserve Chair William McChesney Martin, Jr famously said: “The Federal Reserve…is in the position of the chaperone who has ordered the punch bowl removed just when the party was really warming up.”
This week, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell in effect said “party on, dude.” As the New York Times commented: “The official view of the central bank’s leaders now is that it has been an overly stingy host, taking away the punch bowl so quickly that parties were dreary, disappointing affairs.
The job now is to persuade the world that it really will leave the punch bowl out long enough, and spiked adequately — that it will be a party worth attending. They insist punch bowl removal will be based on actual realized inebriation of the guests, not on forecasts of potential future problematic levels of drunkenness.”
Chairman Powell’s comments
“We will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.” (more…)