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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week

Last week marks the first time this year that mortgage rates fell on a week-over-week basis, and considering why rates fell, it points to the fragile nature of the global economy.

By all accounts, last week showed that the U.S. economy is in recovery.

  1. Housing data rises to its best levels in 8 months (LA Times)
  2. Consumer sentiment hit a 7-month high (NPR)
  3. Business investment increased 1.4% in December

Furthermore, the Federal Open Market Committee met last week and said that the economy continues to expand (although the pace is slower-than-optimal).

Normally, positive news like this would drive mortgage rates higher, and during the early part of the week, it did. But then, as political problems in Egypt grew larger, international investors began to shift money from their risky assets into the relative safety of the U.S. bond market.

This includes mortgage-backed bonds, of course. The buyer influx pushed up prices and, because bond yields move opposite price, mortgage rates dropped.

The week ended with rates at their lowest levels of the week.

Next week, though, rates could reverse. There’s two developing stories rate shoppers should watch.

The first is related to Egypt. In addition to buying mortgage-backed bonds, investors are gambling that oil prices will rise, too. Egypt is the world’s 21st largest oil producer and a disruption of its supply could send gas prices soaring. This circumstance would be inflationary and inflation is the enemy of mortgage bonds.

Crude oil jumped 4.3% Friday afternoon. If that continues, mortgage rates should start rising.

The second is tied to jobs. Last month’s jobs data was weaker-than-expected on Wall Street and it sparked a mini-rally in mortgage rates to start the year. Jobs are paramount to economic recovery so if this month’s figures are lower than the consensus figure of 150,000, expect mortgage rates in Oak Lawn to fall.  If the number is stronger than 150,000, expect mortgage rates to rise.

By: Kevin Lanham

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Accessed 01/31/2011

Can Mortgage Rates Go Any Lower?

Well, here we are on “hump day” and mortgage rates are still detached from the price fluctuations of the secondary mortgage market. Instead, the ups and downs of consumer borrowing costs continue to be driven primarily by the capacity constraints of major lenders, the market makers for mortgage rates.

One misconception is record low mortgage rates have drawn out a hoard of “fence sitting” borrowers who are bustling with excitement to refinance. Yes, media coverage of record low mortgage rates has attracted attention from some homeowners, but the crowds just don’t compare to the mini-frenzy we witnessed in early 2009. This tells us the capacity constraints of major lenders are not totally due to an increase in loan applications.

With the larger lenders allocating newly hired labor to loan modification & loss mitigation departments, lending operations staff have been left to “fend for themselves”. Support staff are expected to be multi-tasking, multi-talented, highly productive members of the team. Mistakes can be costly and often times even “kill” a deal. Anxiety is high. Stressing the situation further are recently implemented “quality control” standards. These risk management practices slow the origination process because they mandate an acute attention to detail. Plain and Simple: all i’s must be dotted and all t’s must be crossed. The entire origination process has slowed down a step or two. Consumers, this is why your loan officer may have recommended a 45 day lock period, they have learned to expect the unexpected.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the question: Can Mortgage Rates Go Any Lower???

I’ve approached the question from several angles. The “double-dip” great recession option is still on the table. That means we can’t rule out the idea that benchmark Treasury yields might return to record lows and take mortgage rates along for the ride. That theory doesn’t hold much water in my opinion though, this is largely due to technical considerations surrounding the securitization of mortgages. But there’s a wild card we haven’t talked about in while: If the economy does “double-dip”, the Federal Reserve has made it clear they will “act accordingly” to prevent the spread of contagion. With the Fed essentially out of conventional policy bullets, the door is open for more quantitative easing, aka more MBS purchases.

If that scenario played out, the “best execution” 30 year fixed mortgage rate could move as low as 3.875%. The one hang up I have with this outlook is the fact that we already experienced an environment like this and mortgage rates failed to move lower than current levels. Remember last year when the Fed was buying MBS and benchmark Treasury yields were at record lows?

One reason why this time might be different: the competitive lending environment. A loan pricing war amongst the major lenders…

Let’s say mortgage rates don’t decline further and refinance demand eventually exhausts itself. If this were to happen and purchase activity didn’t pick up enough to offset the production slowdown, lenders would be looking for ways to stimulate activity and the Fed would be looking for ways to redistribute wealth around the economy. A new wave of refinances would occur if mortgage rates fell to 4.00%. Two birds, one stone?

This seems like a logical option, unfortunately there is a major mismatch between the credit/collateral demanded by lenders and the credit/collateral supplied by borrowers. So unless we find a way to reduce the risks of origination, many borrowers will remain locked out of the refinance market, even if rates fall to 4.00%.

With that in mind, we have to start thinking about the idea of another attempt at HARP & DU REFI PLUS. Perhaps we might see the Fed launch some variation of a privately-funded, streamline refinance program that includes a de minimis government guarantee on the loan paper? Either way the government will still be involved in some capacity. One of the biggest reason mortgage rates have been so resilient lately is their implicit/explicit government guarantee. Mortgage-backed securities have benefited from their own “flight to safety”, especially from overseas investors.

That’s where we go full circle on my “rates going lower” theory. I suppose the first step of this scenario coming true is the “double-dip”. Some folks say the deflationary spiral has already taken hold, others say we’re dealing with a crisis of confidence and the underlying economy is actually building momentum. Working in the housing market I am exposed to excess amounts of negativity, but I also see evidence of a bottom. Either way, I know the Federal Reserve is standing “at the ready” if conditions take a turn for the worse.

The best 30 year fixed mortgage rates remain in the 4.375% to 4.625% range. The “best execution” rate for a well-qualified borrower is still 4.50%, for both conventional and FHA/VA. No borrower should be quoted a rate over 5.25%

By Adam Quinones
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Loan Mod Denials Often Create Massive Delinquencies

The scenario described below is nothing new. In fact, it’s a classic.


HUD has always played this game with home owners in distress.  Who remembers the HUD Forbearance program??  Back in the olden days when I served as a bankruptcy trustee, we had Chapter 13 petitioners involved in a “HUD FORBEARANCE”.  The program may still be in effect.  I don’t know and don’t have the stomach to look. 

HOW DID IT WORK?  A home owner in trouble once they were more than a few months behind and on the verge of foreclosure would make application to HUD for Forebearance.  If accepted, HUD would permit them to make reduced payments for 1, 2, 3, etc. years during which time the owner would make regular mortgage payments and the lender could not foreclose.   

However, the home owner’s arrears did not go away.  The arrears, plus accrued interest and penalty (still accruing), were added to the mortgage balance (sound familiar?). 

HOW DID THEY GET TO BANKRUPTCY COURT?  HA!  Easy.  The didn’t make their mortgage payments, even reduced payments.  The arrears continued to build, accrue interest and penalty and they were just getting farther behind and the mortgage balance continued to loom larger and larger.  Bankruptcy would give them protection from the lender and start their “clock” all over. 

Sometimes the chapter 13 plan would get approved and the debtor/home owner would make payments to the bankruptcy trustee for a while, but eventually, more than half would again default on the regular monthly payments.  Even though the chapter 13 plan showed sufficient income to make the payments. . . . . . . .

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

By Lenn Harley

Found on

How to Stop a Foreclosure Home Auction

If you are one amongst those who are waiting for their house, which is about to be auctioned and thousands of nearby people have assembled to purchase your property, do not feel that this is the end. Foreclosure has gone up by almost 57 percentages in the first six months of 2008.

One must always be sturdy and strong and never lose heart; foreclosure auction of your own does not mean the end. You always have a chance of stop foreclosure home auctioning.

The process takes some time

One of the biggest is understood thing is a bank foreclosure auction. Everyone believes that these steps are taken immediately once he receives the notice.

But this is not true, there is some time between issuing of the notice and auctioning the house, you can always do something useful in this meantime.

Even the law allows you a month time so that you can repay the money, you can find a buyer for your home rather than auctioning it.

In order to halt foreclosure process you can get help from housing and urban development. This organization has several councilors who work for free.

The councilors are paid directly by its association so that you don’t have to pay all out of your pocket. You can find the nearest HUD councilor by calling up 1-800-569-4287 or by visiting the website.

There are various things that a HUD councilor can suggest you. There are various rights that the house owner holds. The rights are generally unknown to many and these councilors can help you in knowing your rights.

They can also help you in finding out how to delay the home auction by suggesting recent years. Your bankers do not want to auction your home because it is equally difficult for them too.

Stay safe from scam artists

There are quite a number of scam artists who can assure you that they have the power to stop the foreclosure auction and they demand a large amount of money as compensation from your side.

These people are cheaters. They get the money from you and leave town immediately after you do so, finally you end up losing a large amount of money. Be sure that you do not fall prey to such people.

Don’t go for revenge

Even by all means, if all your efforts have gone in vain, do not take actions in anger. Do not attempt to take revenge on the bank by damaging your home or leaving dead animals at your property, or the worst-case do not plant any home-made bombs.

Such actions can make sure that you end up being jailed, if you have pets please make sure that you leave them in an animal shelter nearby.

One thing that you always have to remember is that the best way that you get out from a debt it is by selling your home, and sometimes the step can remove all your financial worries and make you a new and better man.

Always have positive thoughts and high hopes.

By Ricky Lim

Found on

Managing the Emotional Aspect of Home Buying

Buyer’s remorse is one of the realities of home purchase that we have to contend with. Thus, it is incumbent upon you to find ways to beat it as the amount involved in the transaction is not something to sneeze at. It is not uncommon to see seasoned home buyers who end up having second thoughts about what they want to see and have in the home that they intend to buy. The good thing is that we are still in a buyer’s market, and serious homebuyers still have a wide range of options and sufficient elbow room to clinch a good deal.

That being said, you need to understand that buyer’s remorse will always be a critical issue regardless of the prevailing condition in real estate markets, and it is a more important concern for first-time home buyers. This is a normal occurrence that you have to prepare for unless you consider yourself an extremely unemotional person or has experienced the buying process many times before. So, where does that leave you? Accept the fact that you can end up second guessing your home buying decision.

The truth of the matter is that when buyers gain the upper hand in the market, feeling of remorse is the logical result in a significant number of transactions. These are the instances where serious buyers shop extensively, but tend to defer action on their final choice. You have to reconsider your perception of the situation especially when you think that you can manage buyer’s remorse if you spend more time shopping for more choices. In truth and in fact, you must also account for non-buyer’s remorse.

Another variable that tends to influence buyers’ decision is the volatility of the situation in real estate markets. We are regularly bombarded by a stream of information and news about the overall state of health of real estate markets. This information makes it unsettling for a lot of players in the market, and this is one of the major reasons why we are seeing a glut in most real estate markets. It is because of the confluence of these events that pushes most buyers to the sidelines, and what we get is more than the usual cases of indecision and second guessing. Buyers tend to be unusually rigid with their offering price for fear that they may end paying more than they should probably have. Now, this can be extremely frustrating if another buyer suddenly comes in and takes the seller on his asking price.

Surely, there are ways by which you can get over the hump and overcome buyer’s remorse.

1. Do your homework before you start the negotiation

It is essential that you determine what you really want and how far you are willing to go in order to get them. The more time and effort you spend preparing for the negotiation the stronger your chances are of avoiding getting into a slump as a result of buyer’s remorse. You must carefully study the situation in the market. Look around and gather lead information and find out how you can add mileage to every dollar you are going to spend for your dream home.

2. Look for reinforcements

If indecision and doubt set in after you finalize the paperwork, the best thing that you can do is to seek the advice of trusted buddies and reputable real estate players, who can provide you with material affirmation of your decision to buy the home for sale.

3. Get your mortgage pre-approved

This act practically gives you a complete cover in as far as your budget range is concerned. It also allows you to focus on the appropriate selection of homes where you are most likely able to close a deal. Once you have the numbers, you can easily and confidently make your final decision knowing fully well that you have what it takes to complete the transaction.

By Laurel R. Lindsay

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4 of the Best Tools to Pay Your Mortgage Off Quicker!

I’ve found recently that many people don’t actually know what tools are available to them in regards to their mortgages. I was discussing offset facilities with my sister, who has had a mortgage for quite a few years and she didn’t even know what they were. I’ve also noticed at the financial institution where I work 75% of our loans have been brought to us by brokers. For those of you who don’t know what a broker is, a broker is a third party paid a commission by financial institutions to settle loans for the brokers clients. So what does this mean? Often I find that the broker sells the loan, but doesn’t explain the tools available at that financial institution to use with that loan.

In my experience these are the tool that will help you pay off your mortgage faster:

100% Offset Facilities – An offset facility is normally a bank account set up so that the balance of that account offsets the balance of the home loan and then therefore reduces the interest payable on the home loan without having to actually pay the money into the home loan. Another benefit of this is that the funds remain at call.

Fortnightly Repayments – Making fortnightly or weekly repayments instead of monthly repayments means that you will make an extra monthly payment every year, the benefit of this again is that you will be paying less interest and will of course pay your mortgage off sooner.

Small Extra Repayments – By paying and extra $100 per week on your mortgage you could cut your loan term in half. The best way to work out what yo can afford to pay extra into your mortgage is to draw up a budget, if there is nothing left over once you have budgeted, try to think of ways you could cut back your expenses. Are you a smoker? Do eat out at lunch everyday? By not doing either of these things you could potentially save $50-$100 per week.

Tax Refunds & Bonus Payment – Each year commit to contributing any tax refunds or work bonuses to your mortgage. This can often be a few thousand dollars and make a huge difference to the amount of interest paid.

The main thing to remember about paying off your mortgage faster is that you need to reduce the interest you pay, anything that you can do that will reduce the interest paid will get your mortgage paid off quicker.

By Chelle K.

Found on

Is FHA Trying to Become Less Popular?

There is a buzz in the real estate and mortgage world that says that FHA is moving towards changing how they charge insurance premiums – again! And the proposal I am hearing is going to reduce the number of people who are eligible for the FHA Program, as well as make the program less attractive.

Let’s start by explaining that, contrary to the public’s consensus, the FHA is not a lender, they are a government owned insurance company. They collect premiums from borrowers and insure lenders of repayment, if those borrowers default on their mortgages….this insurance allows lenders to loosen their underwriting standards and approve many more applicants. Presently, they charge these premiums in two different ways:

The UFMIP (Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium) for most FHA loans is levied at 2.25% of the loan amount. The good news is that while it is a closing cost, the UFMIP can be (and usually is) financed….added on top of the base loan amount. So, for example, on a $200,000 base loan amount has a $4500 UFMIP; therefore, the total loan amount is $204,500. Because it is financed in the loan amount, our borrower is paying $24.17 in their monthly P&I payment to cover it (at a 5% note rate).
The second insurance charged is the MMIP (Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium). Currently, for most FHA loans is calculated by multiplying the principal balance of the loan by .55% and dividing by 12. Because the principal balance is constantly being reduced as payments are made, the MMIP adjusts downward annually until such time as the principal balance is reduced to 78% of the purchase price (which will be a minimum of 5 years, but typically 12-14 years). In our $200,000 example the MMIP is $91.67. This amount, too, is added to the mortgage payment.
As you know, a major factor in approving borrowers is that borrower’s ability to repay the loan which is determined by dividing their debt by their income. Any increase in payment makes it harder to qualify. In our example, our borrower’s qualification includes a total of $115.84 to cover the FHA insurance premiums.

Now look at the proposed changes. FHA wants to reduce the UFMIP to 1% and increase the MMIP to 1.55%. On its surface it doesn’t look tragic, but let’s look at our example $200,000 loan. Our total loan amount is now $202,000, which means the monthly impact of the $2000 is $10.74 (as opposed to the $24.17). BUT, our MMIP has been increased to $258.33 (a whopping $166.66 more)! In total, our borrower’s mortgage payment will go up $153.23!!!!

What’s the real impact? The same borrower that qualifies for a $200,000 FHA loan, based on their income, will only qualify for $172,000 loan. They will have to look in different neighborhoods and/or sellers will need to reduce their prices further to keep the same buyers interested in their home. It has the same effect as interest rates going up more than 1%….I shudder to think what the cumulative effect will be if this happens AND rates go up.

I am asking you to call your elected officials and tell them that they need to stop the FHA from implementing this….NOW!!!

PS- I recognize the FHA needs to increase revenue to cover losses on bad loans, but I suggest they increase the UFMIP (when I started in the business it was 3.8% and no MMIP, for example) because our borrowers need not come up with more cash to close, as it is financed, and it has a much lower impact on people’s ability to qualify. PLUS, the FHA gets more money now and doesn’t have to wait to collect it monthly over years.

This blog post was brought to us by our good friends over at and Dean Hartman, the Chief Planning Officer at Continental Home Loans.