Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inflation Pressure Rise as do Mortgage Rates

So the March goes on!!!

As you will note in the summary notes, the inflation pressures that everybody wondered about with the Fed's pumping dollars into the economy has begun to show itself. In the Virginian Pilot this a.m., cotton prices doubling was discussed due to increased demand and the need to increase clothing costs and other products with cotton content.   Thus, we may be seeing the beginning of a trend that will cause us all to watch the broad economic indicators to determine if inflation begins to raise its "ugly" head.
As you may well know, a bit of inflation is normal and is much preferred over deflation(lower pricing due to terrible economic conditions).  Yet, high inflation would lead to higher mortgage rates and more expensive house payments.  As noted below, rates are forecasted to go up to 5.5% by the end of the year by some.
Thus, it continues to be the absolute best time to buy a home....competitive home pricing and low interest rates.
Read below!!!       

                             Then get the move on, if it s time for you to get a home!!!

Keeping you updated on the market! For the week of 
February 21, 2011

We knew it was only a matter of time, and now it appears the time, if not here, is close at hand. We are speaking of inflation, which is more real and tactual these days. Producer prices, which have been climbing over the past seven months, continued their march north. In January, the producer price index spiked 0.8 percent over December. However, the core number, which excludes energy and food prices, was even more disconcerting, posting a 0.5 percent gain – the most since October 2008.
Rising prices on the producer side are eventually felt on the consumer side, so it was no surprise that consumer prices also rose in January, with the consumer price index posting a 0.4 percent increase. Consumer prices still appear subdued, posting a 1.6 percent increase for the past 12 months, but the data include big-ticket and infrequently purchased items, such as automobiles and airline tickets. Most of us are aware that day-to-day purchase prices are increasing at a higher rate.
This latest data on price inflation points to upward pressure on mortgage rates; even though rates held steady this past week. Is there a reasonable estimate to how high rates will go? PMI Mortgage Insurance sees the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hitting 5.5 percent by the end of this year and then increasing to 6.5 percent by the end of 2012. (For the record, PMI also predicted the 30-year loan would average 5.5 percent at the end of 2010.)
We think 5.5 to 5.75 percent is a reasonable range, with a few caveats, of course, starting with the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that the Fed will keep buying Treasury securities through June to support the economy, but a couple Fed officials have argued that keeping the easy-money policy intact for too long could crimp the Fed's ability to bring inflation under control. The truth is that timing these things is obvious in theory, but very difficult in practice.
However, even if we are wrong on price inflation and about the Fed's ability to optimally manage the money supply, other factors could keep mortgage rates moving higher. Pressure is building to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have guaranteed more than nine out of every 10 mortgages since the financial meltdown. The White House has proposed increasing Fannie and Freddie's prices, phasing in a 10-percent down-payment requirement, and winding down their investment portfolio. These initiatives would put private capital and government capital on a more equal footing.
We are in favor of more private investment, because it means more diversity in product offerings and more latitude in pricing and qualifying mortgage loans. Of course, the downside will be higher price loans, but that won't be so bad as long as the economy and the job market continue to improve. A 5-percent 30-year fixed-rate loan is nice, but a broader market of qualified applicants in a 5.5-percent loan market would be even nicer.

Date and Time
Case-Shiller Home Price Index
Tues., Feb. 22,
9:00 am, et
0.8% (Decrease)
Important. The worst in home-price declines is likely over.
Mortgage Applications
Wed., Feb. 23,
7:00 am, et
Important. Refinances continue to fall as the market shifts to purchase activity.
Home Sales
Wed., Feb. 23,
10:00 am, et
5.2 Million (Annualized)
Important. Bad weather will likely cause sales to post at the low end of estimates.
New Home Sales
Thurs., Feb. 24,
10:00 am, et
310,000 (Annualized)
Important. Better pricing and reduced inventory are stabilizing the market.
Gross Domestic Product
(4th Quarter 2010)
Fri., Feb. 25,
8:30 am, et
3.2% (Annualized Growth)
Moderately Important. This preliminary report is expected to confirm strong growth in exports and retail sales.

Bubble Trouble?
We don't think so, but Robert Shiller of the Case-Shiller home price index does. Mr. Shiller recently cautioned that housing prices are likely to “stay in the doldrums for years,” but he added an alternative scenario where a growing speculative component could cause prices to overshoot on the upside.
It is an unlikely scenario; rarely do consecutive bubbles form in the same market. Stocks that burst with the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001 are an obvious example. In addition, the common value matrices – such as median-income to median-home prices and rent to home-price appreciation are where they were around 2002. To be sure, they are still a little high by historical measures, but they are much more reasonable compared to 2006 – the apex of the housing bubble.
The bigger concern is that the number of buyers who could buy won't. The New York Times recently interviewed Dan Cunningham, a 41-year-old renter. Here's what Mr. Cunningham told the Times reporter: “We would love to have a house; I have more than enough for a down payment. I’m pre-approved for a loan. But I have to have confidence it’s not going to lose another 20 percent.” The Times also reported that Cunningham plans to wait until he sees prices rising before making any offers.
And that's the mindset we need to overcome. People like Dan Cunningham more often than not wait too long and find themselves chasing a less favorable, more expensive market. That's an important insight, and it's one the Dan Cunninghams of the world need to know.

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