Are The Markets Moving On?

April 21, 2015
The Federal Reserve Board has said it again and again. They are raising rates this year. While we still don’t know at what meeting the increase will come, the markets have had plenty of time to get used to the fact that rates are going up. So now we find that the markets are now obsessing about what comes next after the Fed fires its first salvo. When will the second move come? How far and how fast will rates be ratcheted up?For their part, the Fed is trying to calm the markets in this regard. For example, Chairwoman Yellen last month made it clear that there will be plenty of notice to the markets before the first increase and that the Fed will not be “impatient” with regard to their moves because the economy is not where it needs to be — “If underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming,” she said. Investors are anxious about the Fed raising interest rates later this year for the first time in about a decade. But Yellen continues to strongly hint that the Fed won’t push interest rates significantly higher anytime soon. (CNN/Money)

Periodically, we remind our readers that the Federal Reserve Board directly controls short-term interest rates. When they raise these short-term rates, it does not mean that long-term rates are going up in direct response. It depends upon how the markets perceive the move. The key factor here will be inflation. If the Fed is moving slowly while the economy is heating up and we see signs of inflation, long-term rates could rise faster than short-term rates. If the markets perceive that the Fed is moving ahead of the inflation curve, long-term rates could move more slowly.


The Markets. Last week rates on home loans were stable during a quiet week of economic reports. Freddie Mac announced that for the week ending April 16, 30-year fixed rates increased slightly to 3.67% from 3.66% the week before. The average for 15-year loans was also up one tick to 2.94%. Adjustables were mixed, with the average for one-year adjustables remaining at 2.46% and five-year adjustables rising to 2.88%. A year ago, 30-year fixed rates were at 4.27%, which continues to be more than 0.50% higher than today’s levels. Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac — “Rates on home loans were little changed following a light week of economic reports and remained low for the spring homebuying season. Of the few releases, the advance estimate of retail sales rebounded 0.9 percent in March though slightly below market expectations. Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index jumped 4 points to 56 in April, suggesting home builders are optimistic and the housing market will continue to strengthen in 2015.” Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.  
Current Indices For Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Updated April 17, 2015
Daily Value Monthly Value
April 16 March
6-month Treasury Security  0.08%  0.11%
1-year Treasury Security  0.22%  0.25%
3-year Treasury Security  0.81%  1.02%
5-year Treasury Security  1.31%  1.52%
10-year Treasury Security  1.90%  2.04%
12-month LIBOR  0.700% (Mar)
12-month MTA  0.146% (Mar)
11th District Cost of Funds  0.700% (Feb)
Prime Rate  3.25%

The latest data volley in the buying-versus-renting debate suggests that a great migration of renters into homeownership will take place this year. According to the latest Zillow Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), more than 12 percent of current renters nationwide–roughly 5.2 million–stated they were planning to buy a house in the next year. This level is almost 25 percent above last year’s levels, when 4.2 million renters said they were ready to part ways with their landlords. Among all renters surveyed nationwide by Zillow, 59.7 percent said homeownership was the long-term investment a person can make, compared to 56.9 percent at the same time last year. And even the ubiquitous Millennials are sharing this emotion: 66.2 percent told Zillow that owning a home was the best long-term investment, compared to 61.4 percent last year. “Renter aspirations for homeownership are on the rise in most cities,” said Terry Loebs, founder of Pulsenomics, which developed the ZHCI for Zillow. “More homeowners are recognizing restoration and growth in the value of what, for most of them, is their largest asset by far – their home. In every market surveyed, both renters and homeowners expect the annual growth rate of local home values to handily beat the rate of inflation within the broader economy over the coming decade. These insights should remove any lingering doubt that the U.S. housing market’s foundation is now solid enough to withstand the Fed’s monetary policy liftoff.” This attitudinal change is being attributed to historically low mortgage interest rates and home values that are still well below their peak levels, coupled with rapidly rising rent levels. Complicating matters is the growing lack of affordable rentals. “We need 300,000 to 400,000 new apartments each year just to keep up with resident demand, yet we’ve chronically under-built for years during and after the Great Recession,” said National Multihousing Council Chairman Daryl Carter, CEO of Avanath Capital Management, in a statement. Source: Zillow

The millennial generation has been slow to embrace home ownership, but their entrance into the housing market may be coming closer than you may think, according to a new survey conducted by Choice Home Warranty of about 1,000 millennials. “For millennials especially, growing up during the housing crisis and recession have shaped their outlook on the future of home ownership,” the survey indicated. “While there have been many reports on the decline of millennials owning property, we sought out to ask them when exactly they see themselves buying their first home.” About 30 percent of millennials plan to purchase a home within five years, the survey finds. Broken down by age, 25 percent of 18 to 24 year olds say they would buy within five years, while only 10 percent of 25 to 34 year olds say they plan to buy within five years. Buying a home may be more appealing to women, according to the survey. Women are more likely to plan for home ownership in the future than men. Nearly twice as many millennial women plan to buy a home within the next six to 10 years compared to men. Source: Choice Home Warranty

Studies have suggested that the addition of solar panels on a home can boost a home’s value. But sometimes those solar panels can sabotage a deal when it comes time to sell. More companies are offering home owners a contract to lease solar panels where they pay no upfront costs for the installation and could start saving on their electricity bills right away. But home owners who sign onto these deals are finding some snags when they go to sell. Potential buyers are leery of taking on the leasing payment contracts for the next 15 to 17 years because they often have to qualify on credit from the solar companies themselves. Also, some buyers are hesitant to sign a contract because they’re concerned the solar equipment will become obsolete or won’t amount to a big savings in the end after paying the leasing fee. Some home buyers are refusing to buy the house unless the seller buys out of the remaining lease payment stream — which could be $15,000 or more.Source: The LA Times

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