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

Posted To: Mortgage Rate Watch

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. The market reaction to the Trump news overshadowed what was set to be the day's big-ticket event up to that point--the...(read more)

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Pitiful Housing Supply Slighted Dampened Q2 Home Sales
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

Headstrong is a rather interesting word, but the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) chose it to describe the continuing imbalance between supply and demand in the housing market. NAR blames this imbalance for slightly tempering home sales as well as pushing continued robust price growth in the second quarter of 2017. NAR says the national median existing single-family home price in the second quarter rose 6.2 percent from the same quarter in 2016, an increase from $240,700 to $255,600. This is a slight moderation from the 6.9 percent year-over-year price growth logged in the first quarter of this year, but the most recent median price still set a new peak , surpassing Q3 2016's median of $241,300. NAR says single-family home prices increased compared to the same quarter of 2016 in...(read more)

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Construction Indicators Slide, Housing Starts Suffer
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

After posting unexpectedly high numbers in June, all three residential construction indicators lost ground in July , and one, housing starts, is now running below its year-ago rate. While the softening is primarily in the multi-family sector, starts have declined in four of the last five months and permits in three of the last four. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said privately owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,155,000 units, a 4.8 percent decline from June's estimate of 1,213,000, which was revised down from 1,215,000. July starts were down 5.6 percent from the 1,223,000-unit annual rate in July 2016. Starts failed to meet even the lowest predictions of analysts polled by Econoday . Their estimates ranged from 1...(read more)

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MBS Day Ahead: How Much Might Today's Fed Minutes Matter?
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

Today's biggest calendar item is the release of the FOMC Minutes at 2pm. The Minutes provide synopsis of the meeting that took place in the 2 days leading up to the official Fed announcement in late July. That announcement was very little changed from the previous announcement, but the Fed did take the opportunity to telegraph September's widely anticipated launch of the balance sheet normalization program. The normalization program was laid out in detail at the Fed's June meeting ( here it is , if you're interested). In a nutshell, the Fed buys between $20-40 bln/month currently in MBS alone The wide range is a factor of the original MBS prices/coupons. The Fed was always buying MBS, even the higher rate stuff in 2013/2014. Clients with higher rates were more and more likely...(read more)

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More and More eClosings; Credit Score Trends: 850 FICO a Goal?
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Posted To: Pipeline Press

I’ve only been in this business since the mid-80s, and as a capital markets person always find it amusing when an owner says, “If it wasn’t for TBA pair off costs, we would REALLY be making money!” For the antithesis of making money, on this date 10 years ago news broke that First Magnus...well... didn't make money. (And just look at those Fed Fund rates!) Vendor updates Here's the latest from The Mortgage Collaborative, which holds its summer "eclipse" conference in Nashville next week. "The Mortgage Collaborative, the nation's only independent mortgage cooperative, announced a new partnership with national compliance solutions provider, Strategic Compliance Partners. The new relationship with Strategic Compliance Partners adds another best-in-class mortgage compliance...(read more)

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Purchases Drag Down Mortgage Application Volume
Posted on Wednesday August 16, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

A decline in applications for home purchases nearly overwhelmed the gain made by refinancing activity during the week ended August 11. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, managed to increase a meager 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis when compared to the previous week. The unadjusted index fell 1 percent. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent from one week earlier and the unadjusted Purchase Index was down 3 percent. The unadjusted index remained 10 percent higher than the same week in 2016. Refinancing rallied yet again, with the Refinance Index rising 2 percent from the week ended August 4. In addition, the refinancing share of applications increased to 47.8 percent from 46.7 percent a week...(read more)

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MBS RECAP: Bonds Threaten Momentum Shift
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

Today was mostly about North Korean de-escalation, and somewhat about stronger economic data. If you haven't heard 43 times already, North Korea graciously decided to hold off on their little plan to nuke Guam (though the little plan of marching up and down the square remains intact for now). Considering that nuking Guam (or more likely, "attempting" to nuke Guam) would have led to Nuclear war or something equally unpleasant, bond markets had some gains to give back. Reason being: bonds benefited from "flight-to-safety" demand as investors shed risk amid last week's nuclear uncertainties. All of the above being the case, most of the day's bond losses were seen in the overnight session (the initial headlines about Guam came out last yesterday). The morning's...(read more)

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

Posted To: Mortgage Rate Watch

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. Fortunately, movement in rates continues to be muted by historical standards. Most consumers would still be seeing the same rates quoted today...(read more)

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Big Landlord Merger Sounds Scary but Probably Isn't
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

One of the many shifts endured by the housing industry during the Great Recession was the entry of institutional investors into the single-family housing market. Hedge funds and other Wall Street types bought up thousands of single family residences (SFRs), largely from lender inventories of foreclosed homes. There were worries in the moment about the competition this presented to potential owner-occupants, and concerns over how disastrous this might be down the road. The difficulties inherent in scattered site property management could threaten neighborhoods, and what might happen once the housing market recovered and investors took their profits and ran, dumping thousands of properties on the market. These fears, to all appearances, have been unrealized . The management issues were overcome...(read more)

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Nice Rebound in Builder Confidence - NAHB
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

Builder confidence made a strong comeback this month , surprising analysts and belying some of the gloom expressed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) earlier this week about construction labor problems. NAHB said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose 4 points from its July reading to 68. "Our members are encouraged by rising demand in the new-home market," said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. "This is due to ongoing job and economic growth, attractive mortgage rates, and growing consumer confidence." The HMI dropped 2 points in July, to its lowest point since last November. At that time NAHB attributed the slippage to concerns over the costs of construction . This week the trade group said labor shortages faced by home builders were, in most occupations, the...(read more)

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Lender's New Capital Partner; Conferences and Training Coast to Coast
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Posted To: Pipeline Press

The science of persuasion? Any good salesperson, or LO, can talk someone into buying just about anything using scarcity, reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, and liking. Here's a good article to share with your loan officers. A good site to review if you want to go to a conference and your company's travel budget is frozen. Upcoming Events, Conferences, and Training On August 16th, learn how to navigate through Plaza Reverse Mortgages with Mark Reeve, Plaza's Reverse Mortgage National Director. This webinar will review Reverse Mortgage basics including Plaza's reverse loan programs, the origination process, compensation, recent industry changes, and more. Would you like to learn more about how to submit condominium loans and help ensure a smooth process with Wells Fargo Funding...(read more)

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MBS Day Ahead: The Blessing and Curse of The Geopolitical Risk Cycle
Posted on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

Geopolitical risk is one of the most intuitive market movers for bonds. Threats of nuclear attacks from North Korea (as well as the rhetorical response from the US) are a classic example of geopolitical risk. Were there to be an actual nuclear attack, it would surely result in massive stock losses and bond market gains. The underlying concept is this: anything that creates uncertainty about the future of world's economies--let alone the world itself--motivates investors to move money to safe havens like cash and government bonds. Although the risks may not be terribly likely to materialize, they have to be accounted for nonetheless. Through this part of the geopolitical news cycle, the headlines are nothing but a blessing for bond markets, even though the underlying events would be a curse...(read more)

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Don't Worry, Housing Only "Feels" Unaffordable
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

Housing, at least according to Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Sean Becketti, isn't unaffordable. It just feels that way . Becketti, in a recent post on the company's Perspectives blog, says the media is full of headlines that decry the costs faced by homebuyers today. He cites several, including a recent one from Business Insider , "An affordable-housing shortage in the US is about to get worse," as an indication of how the current environment feels to most people, but he says, "Housing is at near-record affordability, and I can prove it." His proof is the Housing Affordability Index (HAI) developed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This is perhaps the most-widely-cited measure of housing affordability and is currently at record highs . This means, Becketti says...(read more)

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MBS RECAP: Bonds Lose Ground on Various Headlines
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

Bond markets lost ground today, with all of the weakness arriving during the overnight session. The weakness was driven by a general "risk-on" move in financial markets, which tends to favor stocks at the expense of bonds. In today's case, that was most easily attributable to headlines over the weekend regarding nuclear tension between the US and North Korea. While far from definitive, the headlines made any drastic actions seem less imminent without characterizing the threat as any less serious. Once US trading hours were underway, bonds were little-changed at first . Shortly after the NYSE Open (which can affect bonds due to ETF trading, among other things) bonds began to improve, albeit only moderately. Comments from NY Fed President Dudley put an end to the positive drift...(read more)

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

Posted To: Mortgage Rate Watch

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. In the afternoon, comments from NY Fed President Dudley (one of the 3 most important voices at the Fed) kept pressure on rates , which seemed willing to recover in the late morning...(read more)

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NAHB Says Labor Shortages Worsening
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

About a month ago, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) seized on the May Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey (JOLTs) report as an indication that the tight construction labor market might be loosening. The report indicated a decline in the number of unfilled job openings. The shortage of skilled labor has been cited by NAHB as one reason for the slow recovery of the residential construction industry. This month, it is a different story . Both the June JOLTS report and results of NAHB's most recent survey of home builders are a cause for concern. NAHB said the report shows "the number of unfilled jobs in the construction industry rising significantly in June ." Their builders survey is more specific. Economist Paul Emrath writes in NAHB's Eye of Housing blog that labor and subcontractor...(read more)

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MBS Week Ahead: Risk of Resistance Remains; What Technicals Can Actually Tell Us
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

If you haven't seen/read my primers on various technical analysis topics, they're linked at certain points in the text below, and will be helpful in making the most of this post. If you'd like to read them in advance, here they are: Basic Concepts of Technical Analysis (and some jargon definitions) Pivot Points Support/Resistance Trust the Technicals? Bond markets have traded inside 2 narrow ranges all year (first 2.3-2.6, then 2.1-2.4, roughly). Narrow ranges are to be expected amid uncertainty. Uncertainty is to be expected when 2 of the world's biggest central banks are moving to tighten policy against the backdrop of potentially significant fiscal policy changes in the US. Geopolitical risks only add to the uncertainty. Inside the most recent 10yr yield range (2.1-2.4),...(read more)

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PR and Subservicer Products; FHA, VA, and Ginnie Updates
Posted on Monday August 14, 2017

Posted To: Pipeline Press

Time passes by, and we have one week until the first total solar eclipse crossing the US from coast to coast since 1918. Football fans know that the start of the season is fast approaching. There were 786 touchdown passes in the NFL last season, and 785 of them were thrown from right arms. (The one lefty to complete a touchdown pass in 2016 was Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on a trick play.) What happened to the lefties? Could traditional credit scores go the same way? SALT is a lending program that makes credit scores unnecessary ." Bitcoins, blockchain, and cryptocurrency... truly revenge of the nerds. FHA, VA, USDA, and Ginnie Mae News Earlier this month Wells Fargo agreed to pay $108 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that claimed it charged military veterans fees to refinance...(read more)

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NMLS Makes Biometric Logins Mandatory
Posted on Friday August 11, 2017

Posted To: MND NewsWire

Citing increased fraud affecting its education and testing procedures, the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) is implementing a new biometric password system for use by its instruction providers. NMLS, which handles state licensing of loan officers and mortgage brokers and lenders and provides information about licensees to consumers, says the fraud has primarily been limited to its online continuing education (CE) courses and usually involves the sharing of the course user ID and password for login access. NMLS, in trying to find a solution to the problem, identified three alternatives ; remote proctoring, knowledge-based authentication, and bio-metrics. It issued a request for proposals in 2016, identified three vendors and conducted a pilot study with each. The contract was ultimately...(read more)

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MBS RECAP: CPI Threads Market-Movement Needle
Posted on Friday August 11, 2017

Posted To: MBS Commentary

Bond markets ultimately rallied modestly following today's much-anticipated CPI data. This is a departure from recent norms as the last 3 reports have generated some of the biggest reactions in each of the past 3 months. Still, the result is understandable given the lack of change in annual core inflation. For the 3rd straight month, it came in at 1.7%. Bond bulls like it because it's still low. Bond bears like it because it's not moving lower. Trading ensued accordingly, with multiple lead changes before things finally settled down. At their best levels , 10yr yields were as low as 2.182. At their highs, they were 2.222--a fairly narrow range given the nature of today's data. Fannie 3.5 MBS ended the day up 3/32nds at 103-10. Note: the 2-day chart on MBS Live shows today's...(read more)

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