Mortgage Business

Why Does The Stock Market Keep Bouncing Back?

20140309-080351.jpgThe stock market has been on quite a run for the past five years or so. Granted, most of this was a rebound from the precipitous drop we experienced during the financial crisis and recession. However, a run this long and this far is hard to ignore. So many times in the past five years we have seen periods of weakness that looked like either corrections or the end of the run, only for stocks to bounce back and hit new highs. Why have stocks been so resilient?
There are a multitude of theories, but the bottom line is that stocks would not be doing well if companies were not doing well. It is that simple. Of course, that begs the next question, why have earnings been so strong when the economy has been in such a slow and painful recovery? One explanation delves into the theory that technology has made companies more efficient. Of course, that also means companies need to hire fewer employees to run their businesses and this is possibly one reason the labor markets have not recovered. Certainly, the growth of online shopping is one of the factors that come into play in this regard. Continue reading

Golf

Listing Shortage: Just The Beginning?

20140309-080351.jpgLast week we wrote about a shortage of listings which has characterized the real estate markets for the last several months. From an economic perspective with bank owned properties still being put on the market, it seems that this shortage is surprising. Yet, it is not. Some three years ago, we reported that several analysts had concluded that we were not building enough houses to meet the demands of population growth. Here is a quote from one article published in Alpha in 2011 … housing starts are going to have to increase by leaps and bounds over the next several years, if only just to catch up to the demands of a growing population… Continue reading

Mortgage Business

Anyone Have a Spare Listing?

20140309-080351.jpgIt really could not be predicted. For years during and after the financial crisis analysts warned that the real estate market would be weighed down by an avalanche of bank-owned properties and short-sales. And these analysts were right, at least for awhile. But quicker than most everyone expected we turned from a buyers’ market to a sellers’ market in many areas of the country. How can it be that buyers can’t find homes for sale when there are still so many foreclosures to deal with?

One reason is that investors have bought every bargain in sight. Those with the money recognize good buys and investor money poured into the real estate sector. Another reason is that home building slowed down to a snail’s pace during the recession and we were not building enough properties to keep up with our muted household growth, let alone older homes which had to be replaced. Finally, the most recent long, cold winter put a lid on new listings. This effect we have hypothesized to be temporary and already we are seeing numbers that support this hypothesis.

But there is another reason and this reason is psychological. Most who list their home are “moving up” to a bigger and better home or if they are closer to retirement, they are trading down. However, if they don’t believe they can find the home they want, they will obviously be reticent to list. So the dearth of listings is actually causing some not to list. Is this temporary? We believe so. As more homes become available, more will list their homes. We are not looking for a flood, but more of a balanced market. Meanwhile, if you are thinking about selling–this may very well be an opportune time. Continue reading

Mortgage Business

What a Week of News!

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If it was the weather we would have called it the perfect storm. Last week we had a confluence of economic news which rarely is seen in a five day period. We started the week with the release of the index of pending sales. This measure has taken on new significance this spring since both existing and new home sales have languished because of the weather. Pending sales give us a peek at the future. On Tuesday the monthly consumer confidence index was released as the Federal Reserve Board started their meeting. Wednesday things really heated up with the release of the ADP private payroll report, the Fed made their announcement at the conclusion of their meeting and the preliminary estimate of the first quarter’s economic growth was also announced.

Thursday brought the weekly first time claims for unemployment, personal income and spending for March and the PMI manufacturing index. We ended the week with a bang with the release of factory orders and the monthly jobs report. So the next question is–how did the data come out? The answer to that is not so simple. We started with an increase in pending home sales, but sales are still slower than they were last year. The economic growth of 0.1% for the first quarter was disappointing, but many seem to think that the number will be revised later and definitely was affected by the weather which is a temporary factor. On Wednesday, the Fed’s optimistic statement about the economy seemed to bear out this hypothesis regarding the slow first quarter. Continue reading

Mortgage Business

It Sure Seems Like Spring

20140309-080351.jpgEven though there has been snow in some parts of the country very recently, it feels like springtime with regard to the economy. We continue to have some fairly positive economic news released. The releases have included a stronger than expected retail sales report and leading economic indicators for March. Any good news regarding consumer spending is good news for the economy as a whole. The news from the real estate sector we received last week was much less promising and again we wonder how much this news was affected by the weather.

This week is a very important week and will go a long way to let us know whether the cold winter slowdown is behind us. We start out with pending home sales then follow with consumer confidence and a meeting of the Federal Reserve and then towards the end of the week personal income and spending numbers are released. And that is just the warm up. After the private payroll data is release by ADP on Wednesday, the jobs report closes out the week.

Lately there has been no report more important than the release of the employment numbers for the month. With the Federal Reserve making their post-meeting announcement on Wednesday, personal spending data on Thursday and the employment report release on Friday, it could be a week with plenty of fireworks. Any one release could give us a surprise that could shake up the markets. At this point, the markets believe that the economy is waking up. We just might see if the economy awakens groggily or with plenty of vigor. Continue reading

Mortgage Business

Why Is China So Important?

20140309-080351.jpgThe past few weeks has seen some major volatility within the stock markets. Some weeks have seen major pullbacks and others we have seen significant bounce-backs. The first ten days of April, the volatility of the markets hit on the downside. One thing which is interesting about this pullback is that it happened as the economy was pulling out of its pause caused by a very cold and harsh winter. For example, the first week in April we saw a stronger employment report and the second week first time claims for unemployment fell to levels not seen for many years.

When stocks drop the analysts are always searching for explanations, yet sometimes there seems to be no logic. One card which keeps coming up in explanations this month is the threat of slower growth in China. So we must ask, why is China so important to us other than it is a huge economy? Certainly at a growth rate of over 7.0%, this is not an economy in trouble. For one thing, the Chinese populace travels overseas to the United States in great numbers — almost two million per year. In 2012, the Chinese spent almost $9 billion in the United States.

Secondly, China helps keep our interest rates low in two ways. Their low cost of manufacturing lowers cost to our consumers. And the profits these manufacturers produce are eventually invested in US Treasuries. Basically, China is helping to finance our Federal budget deficit. More economic growth and lower rates? These are good enough reasons for us to hope that the growth in China continues. And good enough reasons to fret when it appears that the Chinese growth cycle is abating. So, if you are shopping for a home this week and enjoying the fact that rates on home loans are very low — don’t forget to thank the Chinese, as improbable as that may seem. Continue reading

Mortgage Business

It is Finally Happening

20140309-080538.jpgFor years the slow recovery was hampered by the existence of tighter credit. A vicious cycle was created when the recession caused consumer credit to worsen and at the same time banks tightened up on lending standards. For some time we have been predicting that lending standards in the real estate sector would not loosen up until two factors emerged. Factor one was the stability or recovery of real estate values. It makes sense that lenders would be shy about lending in a real estate sector in which the underlying asset was unstable.

Yet, the real estate markets recovered over the past few years without a significant improvement in lending standards. Why? Some blamed it on new legislation aimed at making lenders more responsible with regard to their lending. But most aspects of the legislation were not implemented until recently. In reality, there was a second aspect we cited over the past few years which has now come to fruition. For the past three years lenders were inundated with refinances because of record low rates. Now with rates still really low but a bit higher than they were, the refinance craze has abated. Continue reading