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Archive for The Economy

Revisiting predictions for 2012When the calendar flips to a new year, analysts and economists like to make predictions for the year ahead.

So, today, with the year half-complete, it’s an opportune time to check back to see how the experts’ predictions are faring (so far).

If you’ll remember, when 2011 closed, the housing market was showing its first signs of a reboot. Home sales were strong, home supplies were nearing bull market levels, and buyer activity was strong.

Homebuilder confidence was at its highest point in 2 years and single-family housing starts had made its biggest one-month gain since 2009. 

In addition, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates had just broke below the 4 percent barrier and looked poised to stay there.

There was a lot about which to be optimistic in January 2012.

Yet, there were obstacles for the economy. The Eurozone’s sovereign debt issues remained in limbo, oil prices were spiking, and the Unemployment Rate remained high — three credible threats to growth.

At the time, analyst predictions for the economy occupied both ends of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Freddie Mac said home prices would rise in 2012, for example, whereas analysts at CBS News said they’d fall. Both made good arguments.

As another example, American Banker said mortgage rates would rise in 2012. The LA Times, however, said just the opposite. And, the problem with these predictions is that each party can make such a sound defense of their respective positions that it’s easy to forget that a prediction is really just an opinion.

Nobody can know what the future holds.

A lot has changed since those predictions were made :

  • Job growth slowed sharply after a strong Q1 2012 
  • Oil costs dropped rapidly beginning in early-May
  • Spain and Italy have joined Greece as potential sovereign debt trouble-zones

Now, none of this was known — or expected — at the start of the year yet each has made a material change in the direction of both the housing and mortgage markets.

Today, home prices remain low and 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates now average 3.56% nationwide. Home affordability is higher than it’s been at any time in recorded history and, at least for now, low downpayment mortgage products remain readily available.

The experts never saw it coming.

6 months from now, the markets may be different. We can’t know for sure. All we can know is that today is great time to be a home buyer in Delavan. Home prices and mortgage rates are favorable.

Categories : The Economy
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Non-Farm Payrolls Since July 2010

Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly called “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly market-mover.

Depending on the strength — or weakness — of the data, mortgage rates will change. Perhaps sharply. Unfortunately, we can’t know in which direction.

If you’re actively shopping for a mortgage in Delavan , therefore, today may be a prudent day to lock a mortgage.

The job report’s connection to mortgage rates is straight-forward. As the number of U.S. citizens earning paychecks increases, reverberations are felt through the economy.

First, higher levels of income are tied to higher levels of consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. More working citizens, therefore, builds a larger overall economic base.

Next, as the overall economic base grows, businesses produce and sell more goods, necessitating the hiring of additional personnel and the purchase of more raw materials — both positives for the economy.

And, lastly, as more paychecks are written, more taxes are paid to local, state and federal governments. These taxes are often used to fund projects and purchase goods and services which, in turn, grow the economy as well.

Tying it all together, the health of the U.S. economy is a major factor is setting day-to-day mortgage rates across Wisconsin. This is why rate shoppers face risk with tomorrow’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs. It has since recovered 3.9 million of them and, Friday, analysts expect to see another 100,000 jobs created in June. If the actual number of jobs created exceeds this estimate, look for mortgage rates to rise. 

If the actual number of jobs created falls short of 100,000, mortgage rates may fall.

The government releases Non-Farm Payrolls data at 8:30 AM ET Friday.

Categories : The Economy
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Non-Farm Payrolls 2010-2012For the second straight year, the jobs market looks to be slowing into the summer.

Last Friday, in its monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report for May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 69,000 net new jobs created, plus a one-tick rise in the national Unemployment Rate to 8.2%.

2012 is shaping up like 2011, it appears.

Last year, between May and August, the jobs market was decidedly worse as compared to the rest of the year, adding just 80,000 jobs on average per month as compared to 190,000 new jobs created on average during each of the other 8 months.

This year, a similar slowdown may be in store. 

Although the May jobs report marks the 20th consecutive month during which the U.S. economy added new jobs, the reported figure fell well short of analyst expectations, which called for 150,000 net new jobs last month.

In addition, it was found that the previously-reported tallies for new jobs created in March and April were overstated by a total of forty-seven thousand jobs. This lowered the overall net new jobs created last month to 22,000.

Mortgage rates in Williams Bay are falling on the news.

Since the jobs report’s release, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have dropped below Freddie Mac’s reported 3.75% mortgage rate for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus closing costs; and, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped farther below 3.00%.

The weaker-than-expected data has moved Wall Street investors away from stock markets in favor of the relative safety of bond markets, a market which includes the one for mortgage-backed bonds. When mortgage-backed bonds are in demand like this, it helps to push down mortgage rates nationwide.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Mortgage rates are expected to make new lows this week, in part, because of U.S. employment weakness. Should this year’s jobs market rebound like in 2011, though, look for mortgage rates to climb back shortly.

Categories : The Economy
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Non-Farm Payrolls 2000-2012

Been shopping for a mortgage rate? You may want to lock something down. Tomorrow morning, mortgage rates are expected to change. Unfortunately, we don’t know in which direction they’ll move. 

It’s a risky time for Wisconsin home buyers to be without a locked mortgage rate.

The action begins at 8:30 A.M. ET Friday. This is when the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its April Non-Farm Payrolls report.

The monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report is more commonly known as “the jobs report” and provides a sector-by-sector breakdown of the U.S. employment situation, including changes in the Unemployment Rate.

In March 2012, the government reported 120,000 net new jobs created — half the number created during the month prior, and the third straight month of declining job creation. The Unemployment Rate fell one-tenth of one percent to 8.2%.

For April, economists expect to see 160,000 net new jobs created, and no change in the national Unemployment Rate.

Based on the accuracy of those predictions, mortgage rates in Lake Geneva are subject to change. If the actual number of jobs created in April exceeds economist expectations, mortgage rates should rise. Conversely, if the actual number of jobs created falls short, mortgage rates should drop.

Job growth’s link to mortgage rates is straight-forward. Jobs are an economic growth engine and mortgage rates are based economic expectation. Therefore, as the number of people entering the U.S. workforce increases, so do Wall Street’s growth projections for the economy. When that happens — especially in a recovering economy such as this one – mortgage rates tend to rise.

So, for today’s rate shoppers, Friday’s job report represents a risk. The economy has created jobs for 18 straight months, a winning streak that has added 2.9 million people to the U.S. workforce. If that winning streak continues and expectations are beat, mortgage rates are likely to rise off their all-time lows, harming home affordability in Geneva National, among other areas.

Categories : The Economy
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Lake Geneva Mortgage - Unemployment Rate

Americans continue to get back to work.

Last Friday, in its Non-Farm Payrolls report for the month of March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 120,000 net new jobs created, plus combined revisions in the January and February reports of +4,000 jobs.

The March report marks the 18th straight month of job growth nationwide — the first time that’s happened in 5 years.

The Unemployment Rate dipped in March, too, falling one-tenth of one percent to 8.2%.  This is its lowest national Unemployment Rate since February 2009.

Clearly, the jobs market is moving in the right direction.  Yet, after the Non-Farm Payrolls report was released Friday morning, stock markets dropped and bond markets gained — the opposite of what a casual market observer would expect.

It happened because, although job growth was strong, Wall Street decided it just wasn’t strong enough.  The market expected 200,000 jobs created in March at least and the actual reported figure fell short.

Lucky for you, Wall Street’s pain is Main Street’s gain.  After the jobs report was released, Lake Geneva real estate mortgage rates immediately dropped to a 3-week low, making homes more affordable in Wisconsin and throughout all 50 states.

The market’s reaction is an excellent example of how important jobs data can be to home affordability — especially in a recovering economy.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008-2009 and has since added more than half of them back.  Wall Street pays close attention to job creation because more working Americans means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more economic growth.

Lake Geneva real estate mortgage rate shoppers caught a bit of a break on the March payroll data.  By all accounts, the labor market recovery in underway and, as it improves, higher mortgage rates are likely nationwide.  For now, though, there’s a window for low mortgage rates that buyers and would-be refinancing households can try to exploit.

If you’re actively shopping for a home or a mortgage, today’s mortgage rates may be at “last chance”-like levels.  Once rates rise, they’re expected to rise for good.

Lake Geneva Mortgage - Non-Farm Payrolls estimateIf you’re out shopping for a home this week, or trying to lock a mortgage rate, with Friday comes home affordability risk.  Consider locking your Lake Geneva real estate mortgage rate today.

The March Non-Farm Payrolls report is due for release Friday morning and mortgage rates are expected to move.  Unfortunately for the Lake Geneva home buyers and rate shoppers can’t know in which direction that will be.

The prudent play may be to lock your mortgage rate today.

On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report.  More commonly called “the jobs report”, the release is a bona fide market-mover, month after month. 

Depending on how the March jobs data reads, FHA and conforming mortgage rates could rise — or fall — by a measurable amount post-release.  This is because today’s mortgage market is closely tied to the economy, and the economy is closely tied to job growth.

The connection between jobs and mortgage rates is basic.

More workers leads to higher levels of consumer spending nationwide and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy.

In addition, when more workers are paid, more taxes are paid, too.  Local, state and federal governments collect more monies when payrolls are rising which, in turn, benefits projects that purchase new goods and services, and, in many cases, results in the hiring of additional personnel.

Job creation can be a powerful, self-reinforcing cycle. 

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs.  It has since recovered half of them.  Friday, analysts expect to count another 200,000 jobs created.  If the actual number of jobs created exceeds estimates, look for stock markets to gain and bond markets to lose.  This leads to higher mortgage rates — especially with the Federal Reserve zeroed in on the labor market.

If the actual number of jobs created in March falls short of expectations, however, mortgage rates may fall.

Unfortunately, by the time the report is released, it will be too late to act on it.  The release is made at 8:30 AM ET and bond markets are closed for Good Friday.

Lake Geneva Mortgage - Retail Sales 2010-2012The U.S. economy is expanding, fueled by a renewed consumer optimism and increased consumer spending.

As reported by the Census Bureau, Retail Sales in February, excluding cars and auto parts, rose 1 percent to $335 billion as 11 of 13 retail sectors showed improvement last month.

February markets the 19th time in twenty months that U.S. Retail Sales increased on a month-over-month basis.

Unfortunately, what’s good for the economy may be bad for Lake Geneva home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers.  Home affordability is expected to worsen as the U.S. economy improves.

The connection between Retail Sales and home affordability is indirect, but noteworthy — especially given today’s broader market conditions.

First, let’s talk about affordability.

Last week, the National Association of REALTORS® released its monthly Housing Affordability Index, showing that homes are more affordable to everyday home buyers than at any time in recorded history.  For buyers with median earnings buying median-priced homes, monthly payments now comprise just 12.1% of the monthly household income.

The real estate trade group considers 25% to be the benchmark for home affordability.  Today’s payment levels are less than half of that.

The reasons why today’s homes are so affordable are three-fold:

  1. Home prices remain relatively low as compared to peak pricing
  2. Fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgage rates remain near all-time lows
  3. Average earnings are increasing nationwide

Rising Retail Sales, however, can derail the trend.  This is because Retail Sales measures consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of the U.S. economy.  As the economy expands, the forces that combined to raise home affordability so high begin to wane. 

First, in a recovering economy, Lake Geneva mortgage rates tend to rise and, throughout 2012 and 2013, home prices are expected do the same.  Second, as average earnings increase, it can spur inflation which is bad for mortgage rates, too. 

Home affordability is at all-time highs today.  But, in part because of February’s Retail Sales data, we should not expect these levels to last.  Lake Geneva mortgage rates are higher by 1/4 percent since the Retail Sales data was released — roughly $16 per $100,000 borrowed — and are expected to rise more throughout the spring home purchase season.

Retail Sales are up 6 percent from a year ago.

Net New Jobs Feb 2010-Feb 2012With home affordability at an all-time high, buoyed by the lowest mortgage rates ever, it’s been a terrific time to buy or refinance a home using a mortgage.

The good times may not last, though, so today marks an ideal time to lock a mortgage rate. Friday brings risk. Here’s why.

Since 2010, weak economic conditions have been a primary catalyst for low mortgage rates in Wisconsin. Over the last 12 months, though, manufacturing output has been rising, consumer spending has been climbing, and business investment has increasing.

In other words, the economy is improving. However, it’s the jobs market that’s believed to be the economic recovery keystone. When jobs come back, analysts say, so does the economy.

Assuming that’s true, a recovery may already be well underway.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. jobs market has grown for 16 straight months now, adding 2.5 million net new jobs along the way. It’s one reason why the February jobs report matters so much to housing. 

Rate shoppers would do well to pay attention.

Friday, at 8:30 AM ET, the government will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report for February. Wall Street expects the report to show 210,000 new jobs were created in February, a figure slightly higher than the rolling, 6-month average for job growth. This would be a positive economic indicator.

If the analysts are correct, mortgage rates are likely to rise on the news, harming home affordability.

Furthermore, affordability could be harmed by a lot if the number of net new jobs created exceeds the 210,000 tally expected. It’s not a far-fetched scenario. Wall Street’s “whispers” put the actual jobs figure somewhere between 250,000-300,000. A reading lije this would cause mortgage rates to spike and would add money to a prospective monthly mortgage payment.

If the idea of rising mortgage rates makes you nervous, consider taking your nerves out of the equation. Call your loan officer today. Lock your rate ahead of Friday’s Non-Farm Payrolls release.

Categories : The Economy
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Consumer Confidence vs Retail Sales (2009-2012)

The U.S. economy continues to show signs of a rebound.

According to the Census Bureau, Retail Sales climbed to $329 billion last month on a seasonally-adjusted basis, excluding automobiles. January’s data marks the 18th time in 19 months that Retail Sales rose, a run that’s increased total sales receipts by 11 percent.

This is big news because Retail Sales accounts for close to 70% of the U.S. economy.

In addition, consumer confidence is rising.

In a separate, joint report from the University of Michigan and Thompson Reuters, it was shown that consumer attitudes toward the economy and the future are improving, primarily the result of recent job gains.  

The Survey of Consumers posted its highest value in 12 months.

It is not a coincidence that Retail Sales and consumer confidence both made multi-month highs — the readings are more than loosely linked. As consumers feel more confident about the economy and their personal prospects for the future, they’re more likely to spend money on goods and services, which leads to an increase in consumer spending.

For the housing market, the ramifications are two-fold.

First, from the financing side, an expanding economy is linked to rising mortgage rates. This is because Wall Street tends to chase risk in a growth economy and the bond market offers little in the way of risk. As demand for bonds drops, then, mortgage rates rise throughout Wisconsin.

Second, rising consumer confidence can lead Delavan home values higher, too.

Confident consumers are more likely than fearful ones to become home buyers. They’re more likely to stop renting and start buying; more likely to list their home and “move-up” to something bigger; more likely to “take the next step”.

So, as more buyers enter the market at a time when the national home supply is shrinking, the supply-demand balance in housing is shifting toward the sellers. This creates price pressures and should lead to higher home valuations in neighborhoods like Geneva National.

If you have plans to buy a home in 2012, the best time to buy may be now. Today’s mortgage rates are low and so are the home prices — a combination that’s unlikely to last.

Categories : The Economy
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Initial jobless claims 2008-2012

Economists believe the strength of the 2012 housing market will be closely tied to jobs. If they’re right, the housing market is ripe for a boost. It spells good news for Delavan home sellers and may mean the end of bargain-basement prices for buyers.

Since peaking in mid-2009, the number of U.S. workers filing for first-time unemployment benefits has dropped 44 percent. Over the same period of time, the U.S. economy has added more than 2 million jobs and the national Unemployment Rate is down more than 1 percentage point to 8.3%.

Employment’s link to the housing market of Geneva National is both economic and psychological.

To make the economic link is straight-forward. A person with a job earns verifiable income and such income is required in order to be mortgage-eligible. For conventional and FHA purchase loans, for example, mortgage lenders want a home buyer’s monthly income be more than double his monthly debts. 

For the formerly unemployed that have since returned to work, having a full-time income makes buying homes possible. It also supports higher home valuations nationwide because home prices are based on supply-and-demand. All things equal, when the number of buyers in a market goes up, prices do, too.

The psychological connection between housing and employment is a tad more complicated, but every bit as important. It’s not just out-of-work Americans that don’t look for homes — it’s fearful Americans, too. People with concerns about losing a job are just as unlikely to shop for homes as people actually without a job. The same is true for people unsure of their prospects for a better-paying job, or their own upward mobility.

A recovering job market can lessen those fears and draw out buyers — especially those who face a loss on the sale of an “underwater” home.

The Initial Jobless Claims rolling 4-week average is at its lowest level since 2008. Fewer Americans are losing jobs, and more are finding permanent placement.

It’s one more reason to be optimistic for this year’s housing market. 

Categories : The Economy
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