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Mortgage Rates Back to 2017 Lows
Posted on Wednesday August 23, 2017

Mortgage rates reversed yesterday's move today, falling back in line with recent lows--also the lowest levels since November 2016.  At this time of year, the bond markets that underlie mortgage rates tend to move more serendipitously.  That worked in our favor today, but it's not indicative of new resolve or meaningful underlying motivations.  In other words, it's just the way the ball bounced.

That "random walk" COULD pause over the next 2 days, to some extent.  The Kansas City district of the Fed is hosting its annual Jackson Hole symposium and there will be several big-ticket speakers including Fed Chair Janet Yellen.  While markets have a pretty good sense of where Yellen and the Fed stand, they're a bit more interested in the European Central Bank (ECB).  ECB President Mario Draghi will also be speaking at the symposium.  While he's not necessarily expected to drop any major hints about European monetary policy, it's possible that markets will pick up on some subtle hints and run with it.

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Mortgage Rates Nominally Higher, But Still Near Long-Term Lows
Posted on Tuesday August 22, 2017

Mortgage rates rose today, but by a small enough amount that it shouldn't crush too many hopes and dreams.  For all intents and purposes, rates remain in line with the lowest levels since November 2016.  Any movement in recent weeks has been limited to "upfront costs" as opposed to interest rates themselves.

That has the potential to be a bit confusing, so I like to break it down from time to time.  Now is one of those times!  

There are upfront costs tied to your interest rate.  They can be positive or negative.  Markets tend not to move enough for rates to change to the next .125% higher or lower (the typical gap between adjacent rate offerings).  The upfront costs allow a sort of "fine-tuning" of the overall cost of financing.  The longer the mortgage is retained, the smaller the impact the upfront costs will have on the overall cost of financing.

...(read more)

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Mortgage Rates Steady at 2017 Lows
Posted on Monday August 21, 2017

Mortgage rates held steady to start the new week.  This keeps them in line with the best levels since November 2016.  There were no interesting developments in financial markets or in terms of economic data today.  Most news coverage was focused on the solar eclipse.  It's a good thing the eclipse happened, because it's not entirely clear what financial media outlets could have possibly discussed otherwise.

But again, with rates at the lowest levels of the year, "boring" and "sideways" are only terms that inconvenience someone trying to write about market movements whereas they're a relative boon to consumers who are buying a new home or refinancing an existing mortgage.  

...(read more)

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More 2017 Lows for Rates; More Trump Drama
Posted on Friday August 18, 2017

Mortgage rates moved lower again.  Drama surrounding the Trump administration was also present.  But this time around, the political theater wasn't responsible for the move lower in rates.  In fact, it resulted in multiple lenders adjusting rate sheets higher in the middle of the day.  Fortunately, rates fell enough in the morning that the net result was still positive.  The average lender is at new lows for 2017 (lowest since just after the November 2016 election, in fact).  

3.875% is now the most prevalently-quoted conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier scenarios, although quite a few lenders remain at 4.00%.

...(read more)

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Trump Administration Drama Pushing Rates Even Lower
Posted on Thursday August 17, 2017

Mortgage rates fell yesterday in response to a tweet about Trump disbanding his councils of CEOs.  Twitter was in play again today.  This time around it was Gary Cohn, Trump's economic advisor.  Rather, it was rumors of Cohn's departure that sent financial markets into a tail-spin.  Terror attacks in Spain may have played a supporting role.  The net effect was heavy losses for stocks and solid gains for bonds.  When bonds improve, rates fall.

Mortgage lenders continue to be slow to pass along the gains in bond markets in general, but they're certainly passing them along. 

...(read more)

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Mortgage Rates Back to 2017 Lows on Trump Tweet
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped today after news broke (first rumors, then confirmation via Twitter) that President Trump was disbanding his councils of CEOs.  The move apparently came in response to attrition among several CEOs following Trump's press conference on recent events in Charlottesville, VA.  In not so many words, Trump disbanded the councils before any more CEOs had a chance to quit.  

Political turmoil--especially that which appears "anti-business" in any way--always runs the risk of hurting stocks and helping bonds.  That's exactly what happened today.  "Helping bonds" in this context means higher demand for bonds among investors.  Excess demand for bonds pushes rates lower.  

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Rates Rising as North Korea Talks Baseball
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Mortgage rates continued higher today as markets reacted to news that North Korea would tactically abstain from launching nuclear weapons at Guam because it was having such a good time watching the "foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees."  Perhaps Kim Jong Un is a Sox fan?  Someone should tell him that series is over and that the Mets might not put up as much of a fight.  

Or perhaps "Yankees" referred to America in general.  Either way, markets took solace in the absence of global nuclear war by buying stocks and selling bonds.  Net selling pressure in bonds pushes rates higher.  Strong economic data in the morning only added to bond market weakness.

...(read more)

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Mortgage Rates Up Slightly From Long-Term Lows
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Mortgage rates rose moderately today as weekend news headlines suggested some measure of de-escalation of nuclear tensions between the US and North Korea.  To be sure, the news wasn't resoundingly conciliatory, but investors took solace in it nonetheless.  

In general, when headlines suggest the world is less likely to end by Monday, investors will be slightly more risk tolerant.  One expression of risk tolerant trading in financial markets is to favor something like stocks as opposed to bonds.  If there is net selling pressure on bonds, it creates net upward pressure on interest rates.  This was the case this morning.

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Mortgage Rates Uninspired at 9-Month Lows
Posted on Friday August 11, 2017

Mortgage rates held near the lowest levels since November 2016 today, after a key economic report showed subdued inflation.  The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the most important metrics relied upon by the Fed when it comes to measuring the impact of its policies.  In general, if inflation is increasing or running higher than expected, the Fed will be more inclined to raise rates.  Although the Fed Funds Rate doesn't directly impact mortgage rates, anything that increases the likely pace of Fed rate hikes would also tend to push mortgage rates higher.

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Mortgage Rates Hold 2017 Lows Despite Market Volatility
Posted on Thursday August 10, 2017

Mortgage rates remained in line with 2017's lows today, despite noticeable improvement in underlying bond markets.  Under normal circumstances, bond market improvement equates fairly directly with mortgage rate improvement, but things aren't exactly normal lately.  

On the simplest level, the timing of market movements over the past 2 days tells the story.  The prices of mortgage-backed-securities (MBS) are right in line with those seen yesterday morning when most of yesterday's rate sheets came out.  Bonds and MBS weakened yesterday, but not enough for most lenders to change rate sheets before the end of the day.  In that sense, today's bond market strength allowed for lenders to keep rate sheets unchanged whereas rates would have been slightly higher had bonds been flat on the day.  

...(read more)

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