Economic Commentary

Employment Report Analysis

At first blush, it appeared that the jobs report was disappointing. The addition of 142,000 jobs in August was much less than the average of over two hundred thousand for the previous six months. Yet, the day of the report, the stock market reacted positively and interest rates did not fall as expected. What could have caused this "adverse" reaction? To us there are three possibilities. First, the same day as the jobs report, a cease fire was signed in Ukraine. As we have said previously, the world news is over-shadowing our domestic economic news this summer. If the truce holds, this is a positive indicator for the stock market but not necessarily positive for the continuation of lower interest rates.

Secondly, the markets may be betting that the lower number of jobs added might be a one-time occurrence. The jobs numbers are often revised in future months and the markets are not likely to get upset over one report. Now, if we get two or three reports below an average of 150,000 jobs each month, this could be worrisome to the markets. Looking at other indicators such as first time claims for unemployment and the ADP private payroll report, there was no indication that the job creation machine slowed down last month.

Finally, even if the production of jobs does slow down, the markets may not be too upset. Slower job growth might cause the Federal Reserve Board to keep short-term interest rates lower for a longer period of time and nothing would boost the stock market more than the prospect for a continuation of lower rates. This factor would apply if the production of new jobs does not slow any further from here. As we indicated last week, it is a good sign with regard to how far we have come in our recovery for the markets to now consider over 140,000 jobs created in a month a poor performance. Which of these factors is correct? There could be a bit of truth in each theory. You can bet on the fact that the Federal Reserve Board's Federal Open Market Committee will be considering these possibilities as they meet this week.

 The Markets

  • Fixed rates ticked up slightly last week, but remained near their lows for the year.
  • Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending September 11, 30-year fixed rates rose slightly to 4.12% from 4.10% the week before.
  • The average for 15-year loans also ticked up slightly to 3.26%.
  • Adjustables rose slightly as well, with the average for one-year adjustables moving up to 2.45% and five-year adjustables increasing to 2.99%.
  • A year ago 30-year fixed rates were at 4.57%.
  • Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac -- "Rates on home loans were up slightly this week, following the increase in 10-year Treasury yields, despite last week's disappointing employment report. The U.S. economy added only 142,000 jobs in August, after a 212,000 gain in July and a 267,000 increase in June. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent the previous month."

Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.


Real Estate News

Breaking NewsMortgage credit availability decreased in August, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. The MBA Mortgage Credit Availability Index, which analyzes data from the AllRegs Market Clarity product, decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 116.1 in August from 116.4 in July. (A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of a loosening of credit. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012). “While overall access to credit tightened in August, we did see some loosening in certain segments of the purchase market,” said MBA Chief Economist Michael Fratantoni. “In particular, lenders instituted additional offerings of loan programs like the FHA 203(k) home improvement program and one-time-close programs for financing new construction.” Source: MBA

The Federal Housing Administration has announced it will be extending its condo approval guidelines through 2016, the administration announced through Mortgagee Letter 2014-17. There will be no changes to condo lending guidelines under the FHA from the most recent guidelines published in Mortgagee Letter 2012-18, FHA stated. Under the changes included in the 2012 mortgagee letter, condo lending requirements were eased slightly for lenders. FHA specified at the time that no more than 15% of the total units in a condo project can be more than 60 days past due on association fee payments and that at least half of the total units in the project must have been conveyed or be under contract for purchase to owner-occupied residences. The changes were welcomed by community associations following the announcement. The extension announced by FHA this week will keep the current guidelines in place until August 31, 2016. Source: Reverse Mortgage Daily Click Here to read the full text of Mortgagee Letter 2012-18

Builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes rose two points in August, bringing the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index to its highest score since the beginning of 2014. NAHB surveys builders across the country and asks them to rate their sales expectations for the next six months, their confidence in current single-family home sales, and their perceptions of prospective buyer traffic. “Each of the three components of the HMI registered consecutive gains for the past three months, which is a positive sign that builder confidence appears to be firming,” NAHB chief economist David Crowe said in a statement. Builder confidence in current sales conditions rose to a score of 58, while expectations for future sales rose to 65. The third index, which gauges expectations for prospective buyer traffic, hit 42. The overall increase in the HMI index can be attributed to factors including sustained job growth, historically low interest rates, and affordable home prices, Crowe said. Source: NAHB

Consumer & Realtor Corner

This news is designed to help you by providing information that will be helpful to provide to your previous clients and other segments of your sphere. Feel free to forward these to your database, post on blogs, websites and more. 

FHA Eliminates Interest Penalty

Recently, the Federal Housing Administration announced that they are halting the policy of allowing lenders to collect interest to the end of the month when the homeowner's FHA mortgage is paid off. Beginning in January of 2015, lenders will be able to collect interest until the day the loan is paid off.

However, it should be noted that for the millions of homeowners who currently have home loans insured through FHA, there is no change in policy. The new policy affects only those who obtain new FHA loans in January of 2015.

What does this mean for present homeowners? It is important to time refinances and sales of houses to allow time to get the payoff to the present lender before the end of the month. Otherwise, the homeowner could owe a full month of extra interest.

The worst time to close on a real estate transaction is the last day of the month because all service providers are especially busy on that day -- from the lender to the settlement company. This rule is more on target for those who have FHA loans because payoffs do not go to the lender the same day. On refinances, the homeowner should close their new loan 10 days before the end of the month because the present loan is not paid off until a three day "right of rescission" expires.  On a purchase, allow at least one full week before the end of the month to make sure you don't have to pay almost a full extra monthly payment on the present loan being paid off.

Note: If you are considering moving up or refinancing your present home and are not sure whether you presently have an FHA loan, we would be happy to help you determine this as well as assisting you with your new transaction.