What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 24, 2014

Last week’s economic news included several housing-related reports including the Housing Market Index (HMI) for March, a report on housing starts, and building permits for February.

The National Association of REALTORS® also released its Existing Home Sales report for February and the Federal Reserve issued its first FOMC statement under the helm of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

Home Builders Conservative On Housing Market Conditions

The National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose by one point to a reading of 47 in March against a reading of 46 in February and against an expected reading of 50. Readings above 50 signify that more builders have a positive view of housing market conditions than not.

Conditions contributing to the sluggish reading included a lack of lots for development and labor shortages. The NAHB also cited rising home prices and mortgage rates as reasons for builders’ conservative outlook.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts And Building Permits

The U.S. Commerce Department released reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued for February. Housing starts dipped to 907,000 in February against expectations of 908,000 expected housing starts and January’s reading of 909,000 housing starts. Severe winter weather froze construction and transport of building supplies.

Building permits issued increased to 1.02 million on a seasonally adjusted basis against January’s reading of 945,000 building permits issued.

February’s reading represents a 7.70 percent increase over January’s permits issued and was attributed to a sharp rise in plans for condominiums and rental housing projects.

407,000 permits for multi-unit buildings were issued in February and represented a 24.3 percent increase on an annualized basis. Analysts saw the increase in building permits as a sign that construction will pick up as warmer weather arrives.

Existing Home Sales Fall, Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Guidelines Cited

The National Association of REALTORS® reported a decrease of 0.40 percent in sales of existing homes from January’s reading. February’s reading of 4.60 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis was lower than January’s reading of 4.62 million existing homes sold, but exceeded expectations of 4.58 million existing homes sold.

Analysts identified familiar causes such as high mortgage rates and home prices, bad weather and a short supply of available homes for the dip in existing home sales. New standards for “qualified mortgages” became effective in January and were seen as a possible obstacle to would-be home buyers as mortgage lenders keep a tight rein on mortgage credit policies.

Federal Open Market Committee Statement Details $10 Billion Dollar Change

Reports indicate that Fed Policy is expected to stay much the same as it was under its previous chairman. FOMC approved an additional $10 billion reduction in asset purchases designed to keep long term interest rates low.

The Fed will now purchase $55 billion monthly in mortgage-backed securities and treasury bonds as compared to its original level of $85 billion monthly.

Wall Street did not respond well to FOMC’s revised projections for short-term interest rates, which were revised from 1.75 percent by the end of 2016 to a possible short-term rate of 2.25 percent.

FOMC removed the benchmark 6.50 percent national unemployment rate for raising the federal funds rate, which is currently 0.250 percent. Instead, the Fed will review a wide range of economic indicators before changing monetary policy.

Janet Yellen, in her first press conference as fed chair, said that the Fed may consider rising short-term interest rates a few months before its original target of October to December of 2015.

Mortgage Rates Drop

Mortgage rates dropped last week according to Freddie Mac. Average mortgage rates fell from 4.37 percent to 4.32 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans. Rates for 15-year mortgages dropped from 3.38 percent to 3.32 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 3.09 percent to 3.02 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead This Week

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the Case-Shiller and FHFA Home Price Indexes for January. New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 17, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 17 2014Last week’s economic reports provided rays of light as compared to the recent slump in positive economic news.

Unusually severe winter weather conditions affected housing-related indicators as home builders and home buyers stayed on the sidelines.

With spring on the horizon, last week’s economic news showed welcome signs of growth.

Job Openings Up, New Jobless Claims Fall

Employment is a major factor in the decision to buy a home; would-be home buyers received a vote of confidence last week as January’s job openings increased by one million to 40 million as compared to December’s reading of 39 million job openings.

February’s reading will likely reflect a lull in activity due to winter weather conditions in much of the U.S.

Weekly jobless claims fell from 324,000 to 315,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported expectations of 330,000 new jobless claims, so the latest report was good news.

Weekly reports are more volatile than monthly statistics; analysts typically track employment trends by reviewing rolling averages of several weeks’ new jobless claims data.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Rise

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 4.37 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.38 percent; this was an increase of six basis points

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.09 percent, up from the previous week’s reading of 3.03 percent.

Discount points dipped from 0.70 to 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, were unchanged for 15-year and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages at 0.60 and 0.40 percent.

Retail sales increased for the first time in three months according to the Commerce Department.

February retail sales surpassed expectations of a 0.20 percent gain and came in at 0.30 percent. January figures were downwardly adjusted to -0.60 percent. Retail sales exclusive of automotive sales were also higher at 0.30 percent than expectations of 0.10 percent.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index for mark was slightly lower at 79.9 than expectations of 80.8.

This was the lowest reading in four months, and was attributed in part to higher gas prices and consumer concerns over developments in Ukraine.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s economic news includes several housing-related reports.

The NAHB Home Builder Index for March, Housing Starts and Building Permits for February, and Existing Home Sales are set for release.

On Wednesday, the Fed’s FOMC statement will be released and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. The Fed is expected to continue its ongoing tapering of quantitative easing.

Leading economic indicators will be released along with the Weekly Jobless Claims report and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Top 100 Safest cities to live in the USA – NeighborhoodScout

Top 100 Safest cities to live in the USA – NeighborhoodScout.

Our research reveals the 100 safest cities in America with 25,000 or more people, based on the total number of property and violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, murder, forcible rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. Data used for this research are 1) the number of total crimes reported to the FBI to have occurred in each city, and 2) the population of each city. See our FAQ on how we rank the safest cities in America

Click on any city name below to get a report

rank city
100 Windsor, CA
99 San Clemente, CA
98 Upper Arlington, OH
97 Ossining, NY
96 Palatine, IL
95 Leander, TX
94 Soledad, CA
93 Spanish Fork, UT
92 Glen Ellyn, IL
91 New Milford, CT
90 West Chicago, IL
89 Missouri City, TX
88 Lehi, UT
87 Arlington Heights, IL
86 Peachtree City, GA
85 Plainfield, IL
84 Poway, CA
83 Highland Park, IL
82 Chino Hills, CA
81 Mission Viejo, CA
80 Dublin, OH
79 Marshfield, MA
78 Arlington, MA
77 Carol Stream, IL
76 Billerica, MA
75 Park Ridge, IL
74 Yorba Linda, CA
73 Melrose, MA
72 Hanover Park, IL
71 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
70 Laguna Niguel, CA
69 Fair Lawn, NJ
68 Westport, CT
67 Belmont, MA
66 Vernon, CT
65 San Ramon, CA
64 Holly Springs, NC
63 Blacksburg, VA
62 Menomonee Falls, WI
61 Midland, MI
60 Newton, MA
59 Lincoln, CA
58 North Ridgeville, OH
57 Winter Springs, FL
56 Mundelein, IL
55 Foster City, CA
54 Glenview, IL
53 Shelton, CT
52 Milton, MA
51 Wheaton, IL
50 Bethel Park, PA
49 Temple City, CA
48 Dracut, MA
47 Parker, CO
46 Milton, GA
45 Plum, PA
44 Kaysville, UT
43 Long Beach, NY
42 Weston, FL
41 Little Elm, TX
40 Agawam, MA
39 Ridgewood, NJ
38 Danville, CA
37 Moorpark, CA
36 Fishers, IN
35 Los Altos, CA
34 Glastonbury, CT
33 Carmel, IN
32 Friendswood, TX
31 West Linn, OR
30 Westfield, NJ
29 Florence, AZ
28 Keller, TX
27 South Kingstown, RI
26 Needham, MA
25 Syracuse, UT
24 Wellesley, MA
23 Aliso Viejo, CA
22 Andover, MA
21 Cheshire, CT
20 Buffalo Grove, IL
19 Merrimack, NH
18 Rexburg, ID
17 Flower Mound, TX
16 Fort Lee, NJ
15 Bartlett, IL
14 North Chicago, IL
13 Reading, MA
12 Saratoga, CA
11 Bella Vista, AR
10 Shrewsbury, MA
9 Ballwin, MO
8 Sammamish, WA
7 Lexington, MA
6 Johns Creek, GA
5 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
4 Greenwich, CT
3 Parma, OH
2 Bergenfield, NJ
1 Franklin, MA