Mortgage Rates Return To Historic Lows Following FOMC Announcement

Mortgages Rates spent 2 days at 4.0% in terms of rounded average “Best-Execution” rates (for detail on what that means, READ THIS POST from a few days ago).  Today, that rounded average has returned to 3.875%.  Although the underlying average isn’t as low as it’s ever been (3.88 vs 3.82), lenders tend to price loans in 1/8th (.125%) increments, meaning that 3.875% has been the lowest sustainable best-execution rate.  In short, we’re back to the promised land. 

The improvements came on the heels of today’s FOMC Announcement (Federal Open Market Committee or simply “The Fed”) which surprised some market participants with it’s inclusion of new verbiage describing how long the Fed anticipated that it would keep its “Fed Funds Rate” at so-called “exceptionally low levels.”  Until today, this verbiage read “through mid-2013,” but is now changed to “through late-2014.”  Markets weren’t necessarily expecting the inclusion of the word “late,” and although mortgage rates would have likely improved with a simple mention of 2014, the “late” part added fuel to that fire.  

While this indeed breaks the sideways trend at higher rates over the past 2 days, it’s up to the rest of the week to solidify the rebound.  In essence, markets will have an opportunity to respond to the eternal question: “is that your final answer.”  While the data through the end of the week doesn’t possess the gravity of today’s FOMC announcement, it could be enough to nudge the Best-Execution rate back to 4.0% depending on how it’s received.  In that sense, the risk posed by one singular event today is replaced by the risk posed by a group of events tomorrow and Friday.  3.875% is just barely back in the picture today, but it’s too soon to say whether or not the past two days at 4.0% were the exception to a long-term trend, or the beginning of a new one. 

Today’s BEST-EXECUTION Rates

  • 30YR FIXED –  3.875% mostly, with a few lenders at 4.0% still
  • FHA/VA -3.75%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED –  3.375% and more 3.25’s
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  2.625-3.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • Rates and costs continue to operate near all time best levels
  • Current levels have experienced increasing resistance in improving much from here
  • There are technical reasons for that as well as fundamental reasons
  • Lenders tend to get busier when rates are in this “high 3’s” level
    and can throttle their inbound volume by raising rates or costs.
  • While we don’t necessarily think rates are destined to go higher,
    given the above facts, there seems to be more risk than reward regarding
    floating
  • But that will always be the case when rates
    operating near historic lows

…(read more)

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Mortgage crimes are focus of new task force

A new special task force to investigate and prosecute those responsible for bad mortgages during the housing boom will be part of President Obama’s 2012 agenda.

Applications Fall 5% during Holiday Shortened Week

Mortgage applications were down during
the week ended January 20 according to the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey
conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The Market Composite Index, a measure of
application volume fell 5 percent on a basis that was adjusted seasonally and
to account for the week shortened by the Martin Luther King holiday.  On a non-seasonally adjusted basis the
Composite fell 13.8 percent from the previous week which ended January 13.

The
seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was down 5.4 percent and the unadjusted
Purchase Index 9.7 percent.  The latter
was 6.5 percent lower than during the same week in 2011.  The index measuring applications for
refinancing was down 5.2 percent. 

The
four week moving averages for all indices remained positive.  The Composite Index was up 4.12 percent, the
Refinance Index increased 4.85 percent and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index
rose 0.47 percent.

Refinancing
continued to represent the majority of mortgage activity, falling slightly from
82.2 percent of all applications the previous week to 81.3 percent.  Applications for adjustable rate mortgages
were at a 5.3 percent level compared to 5.6 percent a week earlier. 

Looking
back at the month of December, MBA found that refinancing borrowers applied for
30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) in 56.6 percent of cases and 24.3 percent of
applications were for a 15-year FRM.   ARMs represented 5.3 percent of applications in
December.  The
share of refinance applications for “other” fixed-rate mortgages with
amortization schedules other than a 15 or a 30-year term was 13.8 percent of
all refinance applications.

Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Click Here to View the Purchase Applications Chart

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Click Here to View the Refinance Applications Chart

The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with
conforming loan balances of $417,500 or less increased to 4.11 percent from
4.06 percent with points down one basis point to 0.47 point.  The effective rate increased from the
previous week.  The rate for jumbo
30-year FRM with balances over $417,500 decreased from 4.40 percent with 0.37
point to 4.39 percent with 0.40 point. 
The effective rate also decreased. 
The rate for FHA-backed 30-year FRM rose to 3.97 percent from 3.91
percent while points were down from 0.59 to 0.57 point.  The effective rate increased.

The
average rate for 15-year FRM increased to 3.40 percent from 3.33
percent, with points increasing to 0.40
from 0.39 and the effective rate increased as well. The rate for the 5/1 hybrid ARM was
up one basis point to 2.91 percent with points decreasing to 0.41l from
0.45.  The effective rate increased.

All
rates quoted are for 80 percent loan-to-value mortgages and points include the
application fee.

 The
MBA survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage
applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990.  Respondents
include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.  Base period and
value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.

…(read more)

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District Court Upholds MERS Rights to Assign and Foreclose

Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. better known as MERS won a significant victory in court on
Tuesday as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit validated
its rights to assign a security deed and/or foreclose on secured property.  The decision upheld the decision of the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Smith V. Saxon Mortgage.

The plaintiff in the original case had
contested the foreclosure of her home on the grounds that:

1).   The assignment of the security deed was
invalid because MERS, as nominee of a defunct lender could not assign the documents
of its own volition.

2.
    The “splitting” of the mortgage and
the note rendered the mortgage null and void and therefore notices of
foreclosure were invalid as not coming from a secured creditor.

In the original District Court opinion in March 2011, U.S. Magistrate Judge
Janet F. King pointed to the standard language in the Georgia security deed
signed by all borrowers at closing which grants MERS the power to act on behalf
of the current and future owners of the loan. 
.   “Unless the instrument
creating the power specifically provides to the contrary . . . an assignee
thereof . . . may exercise any power therein contained,” Judge King wrote.
“[T]he Security Deed . . . transfers rights to MERS, and MERS’ assigns may
exercise any power contained therein.”

The 11th District Court which has jurisdiction over federal cases
originating in the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia, agreed with Judge
King’s recommendation.  “It is not
disputed that plaintiff executed the Security Deed which granted MERS the power
to sell the Property, if plaintiff was not able to comply with the terms of the
Note,” Senior U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley wrote. “Furthermore, the
Security Deed expressly states that it applies to MERS ‘[and] to the . . .
assigns of MERS.’ Pursuant to the terms of the Security Deed, MERS had
authority to assign the Security Deed.”

MERS issued the following statement in response to the District Court
decision. 

“A significant body of clear and specific federal case law is coming
together with this decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, along with
favorable rulings from the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth circuit
appellate courts and U.S. District Courts in a number of states,” said Janis L.
Smith, MERSCORP’s vice president of corporate communications. “The 11th
Circuit’s ruling underscores the soundness of MERS’ business model by
solidifying the legality of MERS’ role in the security deed, explaining how
that role came about, and clarifying MERS’ power to act on behalf of the
lender.”

…(read more)

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Mortgage Rates Sideways Ahead of Wednesdays Important Events

Mortgages Rates are steady to slightly improved today after rising for the first time in a month yesterday.  Although rates change slightly every day, those changes are usually small enough as to only effect the closing costs associated with a particular rate.  Because of this, we track “Best-Execution” as the actual interest rate benchmark, and we talked about it in significant detail yesterday (READ MORE).  So although we are able to report that the rate environment is slightly improved today, those improvements have been mostly relegated to minor decreases in borrowing costs for what will likely be the same rate you would have been quoted yesterday. 

Underlying markets have been fairly equivocal for the past two days with a majority of the damage to mortgage rates having occurred with last week’s market movements that lenders more fully priced into rate sheets yesterday.  Stocks, Bonds, and MBS (the “mortgage-backed-securities” that most directly influence mortgage rates) are all very close to where they were last night, seemingly in preparation and anticipation of several important events tomorrow. These include the FOMC Statement (Fed “rate decision,” although it’s the text of the announcement that is important as no change is expected to the discount rate), the first-ever release of FOMC members forecasts, a post-announcement press conference from Ben Bernanke, as well as the 5yr Treasury Note auction. 

Tomorrow’s events, taken in conjunction with tonight’s State of The Union address presents quite a bit for mortgage markets to digest.  The speech tonight may contain mention of new housing-related initiatives (some have suggested), and similar suggestions have been made about tomorrow’s FOMC Announcement (which would be a MUCH bigger deal as far as influencing mortgage markets).  Conversely, it’s possible that some recent levity for MBS vs Treasuries is due to the EXPECTATION that the Fed will add some extra MBS-Specific quantitative easing in the near future, meaning that rates could face some added pressure if MBS are NOT specifically mentioned, although that’s not likely to cause sufficient movement tomorrow for Best-Execution to rise.  Whatever happens tomorrow, it’s a high-risk set of events that could push rates higher OR lower, but we’ll hopefully come away from it with a clearer sense of whether or not rates will make it back down to a 3.875% Best-Execution any time soon.

Today’s BEST-EXECUTION Rates

  • 30YR FIXED –  4.0%, 3.875% still a contender
  • FHA/VA -3.75%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED –  3.375%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  2.625-3.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • Rates and costs continue to operate near all time best levels
  • Current levels have experienced increasing resistance in improving much from here
  • There are technical reasons for that as well as fundamental reasons
  • Lenders tend to get busier when rates are in this “high 3’s” level
    and can throttle their inbound volume by raising rates or costs.
  • While we don’t necessarily think rates are destined to go higher,
    given the above facts, there seems to be more risk than reward regarding
    floating
  • But that will always be the case when rates
    operating near historic lows

…(read more)

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