Tag Archives: Mortgage rates

Understanding The Interest Rate Headwind Facing Housing

There are a large number of public and private services that measure the change in home prices. The algorithms behind these services, while complex, are primarily based on recent sale prices for comparative homes and adjusted for factors like location, property characteristics and the particulars of the house. While these pricing services are considered to be well represented measures of house prices, there is another important factor that is frequently overlooked despite the large role in plays in house prices.

In August 2016, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate as reported by the Federal Reserve hit an all-time low of 3.44%. Since then it has risen to its current level of 4.50%. While a 1% increase may appear small, especially at this low level of rates, the rise has begun to adversely affect housing and mortgage activity. After rising 33% and 22% in 2015 and 2016 respectively, total mortgage originations were down -16% in 2017. Further increases in rates will likely begin to weigh on house prices and the broader economy. This article will help quantify the benefit that lower rates played in making houses more affordable over the past few decades. By doing this, we can appreciate how further increases in mortgage rates might adversely affect house prices.

Lower Rates

In 1981 mortgage rates peaked at 18.50%. Since that time they have declined steadily and now stands at a relatively paltry 4.50%. Over this 37-year period, individuals’ payments on mortgage loans also declined allowing buyers to get more for their money. Continually declining rates also allowed them to further reduce their payments through refinancing. Consider that in 1990 a $500,000 house, bought with a 10%, 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which was the going rate, would have required a monthly principal and interest payment of $4,388. Today a loan for the same amount at the 4.50% current rate is almost half the payment at $2,533.

The sensitivity of mortgage payments to changes in mortgage rates is about 9%, meaning that each 1% increase or decrease in the mortgage rate results in a payment increase or decrease of 9%. From a home buyer’s perspective, this means that each 1% change in rates makes the house more or less affordable by about 9%.

Given this understanding of the math and the prior history of rate declines, we can calculate how lower rates helped make housing more affordable. To do this, we start in the year 1990 with a $500,000 home price and adjust it annually based on changes in the popular Case-Shiller House Price Index. This calculation approximates the 28-year price appreciation of the house. Second, we further adjust it to the change in interest rates. To accomplish this, we calculated how much more or less home one could buy based on the change in interest rates. The difference between the two, as shown below, provides a value on how much lower interest rates benefited home buyers and sellers.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/1-house-inflation.png?itok=naYdkoxQData Courtesy: S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller House Price Index

The graph shows that lower payments resulting from the decline in mortgage rates benefited buyers by approximately $325,000. Said differently, a homeowner can afford $325,000 more than would have otherwise been possible due to declining rates.

The Effect of Rising Rates

As stated, mortgage rates have been steadily declining for the past 37 years. There are some interest rate forecasters that believe the recent uptick in rates may be the first wave of a longer-term change in trend.  If this is, in fact, the case, quantifying how higher mortgage rates affect payments, supply, demand, and therefore the prices of houses is an important consideration for the direction of the broad economy.

The graph below shows the mortgage payment required for a $500,000 house based on a range of mortgage rates. The background shows the decline in mortgage rates (10.00% to 4.50%) from 1990 to today.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2-pay-per-mtge.png?itok=FaM3amlH

To put this into a different perspective, the following graph shows how much a buyer can afford to pay for a house assuming a fixed payment ($2,333) and varying mortgage rates. The payment is based on the current mortgage rate.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/3-payments.png?itok=QlXlfTjL

As the graphs portray, home buyers will be forced to make higher mortgage payments or seek lower-priced houses if rates keep rising.

Summary

The Fed has raised interest rates six times since the end of 2015. Their forward guidance from recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting statements and minutes tells of their plans on continuing to do so throughout this year and next. Additionally, the Fed owns over one-quarter of all residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS) through QE purchases. Their stated plan is to reduce their ownership of those securities over the next several quarters. If the Fed continues on their expected path with regard to rates and balance sheet, it creates a significant market adjustment in terms of supply and demand dynamics and further implies that mortgage rates should rise.

The consequences of higher mortgage rates will not only affect buyers and sellers of housing but also make borrowing on the equity in homes more expensive. From a macro perspective, consider that housing contributes 15-18% to GDP, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). While we do not expect higher rates to devastate the housing market, we do think a period of price declines and economic weakness could accompany higher rates.

This analysis is clinical using simple math to illustrate the relationship, cause, and effects, between changes in interest rates and home prices. However, the housing market is anything but a simple asset class. It is among the most complex of systems within the broad economy. Rising rates not only impact affordability but also the general level of activity which feeds back into the economy. In addition to the effect that rates may have, also consider that the demographics for housing are challenged as retiring, empty-nest baby boomers seek to downsize. To whom will they sell and at what price?

If interest rates do indeed continue to rise, there is a lot more risk embedded in the housing market than currently seems apparent as these and other dynamics converge. The services providing pricing insight into the value of the housing market may do a fine job of assessing current value, but they lack the sophistication required to see around the next economic corner.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Highest Mortgage Rates In 8 Years Unleash Bidding Wars, Home Buying Frenzy

Yesterday when looking at the latest MBA Mortgage Application data, we found that, as mortgage rates jumped to the highest level since 2011, mortgage refi applications, not unexpectedly tumbled to the lowest level since the financial crisis, choking off a key revenue item for banks, and resulting in even more pain for the likes of Wells Fargo.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-16_5-09-36.jpg

Today, according to the latest Freddie Mac mortgage rates report, after plateauing in recent weeks, mortgage rates reversed course and reached a new high last seen eight years ago as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate edged up to 4.61% matching the highest level since May 19, 2011.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/30Year%20freddie%20mac.jpg?itok=OzIa9_LI

But while the highest mortgage rates in 8 years are predictably crushing mortgage refinance activity, they appears to be having the opposite effect on home purchases, where there is a sheer scramble to buy, and sell, houses. As Bloomberg notes, citing brokerage Redfin, the average home across the US that sold last month went into contract after a median of 36 only days on the market – a record speed in data going back to 2010.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/redfin%20days%20market.jpg?itok=jLXe8kQO

To Sam Khater, chief economist of Freddie Mac, this was a sign of an economy firing on all cylinders: “This is what happens when the economy is strong,” Khater told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “All the higher-rate environment does is it either causes them to try and rush or look at different properties that are more affordable.”

Of course, one can simply counter that what rising rates rally do is make housing – for those who need a mortgage – increasingly more unaffordable, as a result of the higher monthly mortgage payments. Case in point: with this week’s jump, the monthly payment on a $300,000, 30-year loan has climbed to $1,540, up over $100 from $1,424 in the beginning of the year, when the average rate was 3.95%.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/median%20sale%20price%20refin.jpg?itok=E_RTfL65

As such, surging rates merely pulls home demand from the future, as potential home buyers hope to lock in “lower” rates today instead of risking tomorrow’s rates. It also means that after today’s surge in activity, a vacuum in transactions will follow, especially if rates stabilize or happen to drop. Think “cash for clunkers”, only in this case it’s houses.

Meanwhile, the short supply of home listings for sale and increased competition is only making their purchases harder to afford: according to Redfin, this spike in demand and subdued supply means that home prices soared 7.6% in April from a year earlier to a median of $302,200, and sellers got a record 98.8% of what they asked on average.

Call it the sellers market.

Furthermore, bidding wars are increasingly breaking out: Minneapolis realtor Mary Sommerfeld said a family she works with offered $33,000 more than the $430,000 list price for a home in St. Paul. The listing agent gave her the bad news: There were nine offers and the family’s was second from the bottom.

For Sommerfeld’s clients, the lack of inventory is a bigger problem than rising mortgage rates. If anything, they want to close quickly before they get priced out of the market — and have to pay more interest.

“I don’t think it’s hurting the buyer demand at all,” she said. “My buyers say they better get busy and buy before the interest rates go up any further.”

Then again, in the grand scheme of things, 4.61% is still low. Kristin Wilson, a loan officer with Envoy Mortgage in Edina, Minnesota, tells customers to keep things in perspective. When she bought a house in the early 1980s, the interest on her adjustable-rate mortgage was 12 percent, she said.

“One woman actually used the phrase: ‘Rates shot up,’” Wilson said. “We’ve been spoiled after a number of years with rates hovering around 4 percent or lower.”

Of course, if the average mortgage rate in the America is ever 12% again, look for a real life recreation of Mad Max the movie in a neighborhood near you…

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Mortgage Refi Applications Plunge To 10 Year Lows As Fed Hikes Rates

On the heels of the 10Y treasury yield breaking out of its recent range to its highest since July 2011, this morning’s mortgage applications data shows directly how Bill Gross may be right that the economy may not be able to handle The Fed’s ongoing actions.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mortgageinflation1.png?itok=dV-X18sj

As Wolf Richter notes, the 10-year yield functions as benchmark for the mortgage market, and when it moves, mortgage rates move. And today’s surge of the 10-year yield meaningfully past 3% had consequences in the mortgage markets, as Mortgage News Daily explained:

Mortgage rates spiked in a big way today, bringing some lenders to the highest levels in nearly 7 years (you’d need to go back to July 2011 to see worse). That heavy-hitting headline is largely due to the fact that rates were already fairly close to 7-year highs, although today did cover quite a bit more distance than other recent “bad days.” 

The “most prevalent rates” for 30-year fixed rate mortgages today were between 4.75% and 4.875%, according to Mortgage News Daily.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-16_5-18-48.jpg?itok=JaYsBRcs

And that is crushing demand for refinancing applications…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-16_5-09-36.jpg?itok=6saBh_HY

Despite easing standards – a net 9.7% of banks reported loosening lending standards for QM-Jumbo mortgages, respectively, compared to a net 1.6% in January, respectively.  

According to Wolf Richter over at Wolf Street, the good times in real estate are ending…

The big difference between 2010 and now, and between 2008 and now, is that home prices have skyrocketed since then in many markets – by over 50% in some markets, such as Denver, Dallas, or the five-county San Francisco Bay Area, for example, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. In other markets, increases have been in the 25% to 40% range. This worked because mortgage rates zigzagged lower over those years, thus keeping mortgage payments on these higher priced homes within reach for enough people. But that ride is ending.

And as Peter Reagan writes at Birch Group, granted, even if rates go up over 6%, it won’t be close to rates in the 1980’s (when some mortgage rates soared over 12%). But this time, rising rates are being coupled with record-high home prices that, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, show no signs of reversing (see chart below).

case-shiller home price index

So you have fast-rising mortgage rates and soaring home prices. What else is there?

It’s not just home refinancing demand that is collapsing… as we noted yesterday, loan demand is tumbling everywhere, despite easing standards…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/C%26I%20loan%20demand_0.jpg?itok=jkH8NimE

But seriously, who didn’t see that coming?

Source: ZeroHedge

“This Won’t End Well” – Mortgage Rates Spike To 4-Year Highs

Growth? Inflation? Be careful what you wish for, as the surge in Treasury yields has sent mortgage interest rates to their highest in four years, flashing a big red warning light for affordability and home sales in 2018…

The U.S. weekly average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rocketed up 10 basis points to 4.32 percent this week. Following a turbulent Monday, financial markets settled down with the 10-year Treasury yield resuming its upward march. Mortgage rates have followed. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is up 33 basis points since the start of the year.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-02-08_8-12-00_0.jpg?itok=19to-UuG

Will higher rates break housing market momentum?

As the following chart shows, that surge in rates will have a direct impact on home sales (or prices will be forced to adjust lower) as affordability collapses…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-02-08_8-20-26.jpg?itok=6sqF2Jn9

Source: ZeroHedge

“This Isn’t A Drill” Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Level Since May 2014


A housing bust may be just around the corner. Rates have climbed to a level last seen in May of 2014.

https://imageproxy.themaven.net/https%3A%2F%2Fs3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com%2Fmaven-user-photos%2Fmishtalk%2Feconomics%2FzmfATcSa4EegwR7v_znq6Q%2FvclF4JZbsEi5-4w6F9RDfw?w=993&q=75&h=620&auto=format&fit=crop

The chart does not quite show what MND headline says but the difference is a just a few basis points. I suspect rates inched lower just after the article came out.

 

For the past few weeks, rates made several successive runs up to the highest levels in more than 9 months. It was really only the spring of 2017 that stood in the way of rates being the highest since early 2014. After Friday marked another “highest in 9 months” day, it would only have taken a moderate movement to break into the “3+ year” territory. The move ended up being even bigger.

From a week and a half ago, most borrowers are now looking at another eighth of a percentage point higher in rate. In total, rates are up the better part of half a point since December 15th. This marks the only time rates have risen this much without having been at long term lows in the past year. For example, late 2010, mid-2013, mid-2015, and late 2016 all saw sharper increases in rates overall, but each of those moves happened only 1-3 months after a long term rate low.

Not a Drill

So far this month, MBS have stunningly dropped over 200 bps, which easily translates into a .5% or more increase in rates. I’ve been shouting “lock early” for quite a while, and this is precisely why, This isn’t a drill, or a momentary rate upturn. It’s likely the end of a decade+ long bull bond market. LOCK EARLY. -Ted Rood, Senior Originator

Housing Bust Coming

Drill or not, if rising rates stick, they are bound to have a negative impact on home buying.

In the short term, however, rate increases may fuel the opposite reaction people expect.

Why?

Those on the fence may decide it’s now or never and rush out to purchase something, anything. If that mentality sets in, there could be one final homebuilding push before the dam breaks. That’s not my call. Rather, that could easily be the outcome.

Completed Homes for Sale

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/maven-user-photos/mishtalk/economics/zmfATcSa4EegwR7v_znq6Q/_fdE0Pr4Z0S3TWc8qCyW3Q

Speculation by home builders sitting on finished homes in 2007 is quite amazing.

What about now?

Supply of Homes in Months at Current Sales Rate

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/maven-user-photos/mishtalk/economics/zmfATcSa4EegwR7v_znq6Q/bMlHtJTWr0yQwhkos7lauA

Note that spikes in home inventory coincide with recessions.

A 5.9 month supply of homes did not seem to be a problem in March of 2006. In retrospect, it was the start of an enormous problem.

In absolute terms, builders are nowhere close to the problem situation of 2007. Indeed, it appears that builders learned a lesson.

Nonetheless, pain is on the horizon if rates keep rising.

Price Cutting Coming Up?

If builders cut prices to get rid of inventory, everyone who bought in the past few years is likely to quickly go underwater.

Are Bonds Headed Back To Extraordinarily Low Rate Regime?

The U.S. 10-Year Treasury Yield has dropped back below the line containing the past decade’s “extraordinarily low-rate” regime.

https://martinhladyniuk.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/refinance-cartoon.png?w=625

Among the many significant moves in financial markets last fall in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election was a spike higher in U.S. bond yields. This spike included a jump in the 10-Year Treasury Yield (TNX) above its post-2007 Down trendline. Now, this was not your ordinary trendline break. Here is the background, as we noted in a post in January when the TNX subsequently tested the breakout point:

“As many observers may know, bond yields topped in 1981 and have been in a secular decline since. And, in fact, they had been in a very well-defined falling channel for 26 years (in blue on the chart below). In 2007, at the onset of the financial crisis, yields entered a new regime.

Spawned by the Fed’s “extraordinarily low-rate” campaign, the secular decline in yields began a steeper descent.  This new channel (shown in red) would lead the TNX to its all-time lows in the 1.30%’s in 2012 and 2016.

The top of this new channel is that post-2007 Down trendline. Thus, recent price action has 10-Year Yields threatening to break out of this post-2007 technical regime. That’s why we consider the level to be so important.”

We bring up this topic again today because, unlike January’s successful hold of the post-2007 “low-rate regime” line, the TNX has dropped back below it in recent days. Here is the long-term chart alluded to above.

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/04/17/20170420_bonds_1.jpg

And here is a close-up version.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/04/17/20170420_bonds_2.jpg

As can be seen on the 2nd chart, the TNX has just broken below several key Fibonacci Retracement levels near the 2.30% level – not to mention the post-2007 Down trendline which currently lies in the same vicinity. Does this meant the extraordinarily low-rate environment is back?

Well, first of all, the Federal Reserve only sets the overnight “Fed Funds” rate – not longer-term bond yields (at least not directly). So this is not the Fed’s direct doing (and besides, they’re in the middle of a rate hiking cycle). Therefore, the official “extraordinarily low-rate” environment that the Fed maintained for the better part of a decade is not coming back – at least not imminently. But how about these longer rates?

Outside of some unmistakable influence resulting from Fed policy, longer-term Treasury Yields are decided by free market forces. Thus, this return to the realm of the TNX’s ultra low-rate regime is market-driven, whatever the reason. Is there a softer underlying economic current than what is generally accepted at the present time? Is the Trump administration pivoting to a more dovish posture than seen in campaign rhetoric? Are the geopolitical risks playing a part in suppressing yields back below the ultra low-rate “line of demarcation”?

Some or all of those explanations may be contributing to the return of the TNX to its ultra low-rate regime. We don’t know and, frankly, we don’t really care. All we care about, as it pertains to bond yields, is being on the right side of their path. And currently, the easier path for yields is to the downside as a result of the break of major support near 2.30%.

Source: ZeroHedge

Fed Announced They’re Ready To Start Shrinking Their 4.5T Balance Sheet ― Prepare For Higher Mortgage Rates

Federal Reserve Shocker! What It Means For Housing

The Federal Reserve has announced it will be shrinking its balance sheet. During the last housing meltdown in 2008, it bought the underwater assets of big banks.  It has more than two trillion dollars in mortgage-backed securities that are now worth something because of the latest housing boom.  Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net says the Fed is signaling a market top in housing.  It pumped up the mortgage-backed securities it bought by inflating another housing bubble.  Now, the Fed is going to dump the securities on the market.  Mannarino predicts housing prices will fall and interest rates will rise.