After ending last week on a three day losing streak, loan pricing made a total turnaround in the first three days of this week, mostly thanks to the outcome of the FOMC meeting on Tuesday.  This led mortgage rates almost all the way back to record lows on Wednesday morning. However, soon after, MBS prices began to tick lower (from the top of the price range) which forced a few lenders to reprice for the worse. This put pressure on mortgage rates heading into today...

The data calendar picked up today with several economic releases, starting with weekly Jobless Claims.  Released by the Department of Labor, this report provides three timely metrics on the health of the labor market:

  • Initial Jobless Claims:  totals the number of Americans who filed for first time unemployment benefits in the previous week
  • Continued Claims:  totals the number of Americans who continue to file for benefits due to an inability to find a new job
  • Extended and Emergency Benefits: totals the number of Americans who have exhausted their traditional benefits and are now receiving extended and emergency benefits

Since our economy is driven by consumer spending, market participants track employment data to get a gauge on economic momentum.  Higher jobless claims imply less consumers have jobs and therefore less money to spend.  This is a negative for the overall economy but generally helpful in keeping consumer borrowing costs from rising.  Since peaking in mid-August at 504,000 claims, initial claims for unemployment benefits have either held steady or improved in the past 5 weeks.

Here are the results:

  • Initial Jobless Claims: +12,000 to 465,000 vs. estimates for a read of 450,000.  WORSE THAN EXPECTED.  Prior week’s data was revised worse to show 3,000 more claims. 
  • Continued Claims: -48,000 to 4.489 million  vs. estimates of 4.460million. 
  • Extended and Emergency Benefits: +208,000 to 5.17million.

This worse than forecast data was a positive for mortgage rates. Bonds rallied on the news and mortgage rates looked like they were set to correct today. 

Next on the docket was Existing Home Sales for August. Released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this data totals the number of previously owned homes in which a sale closed in the previous month.  Last month’s report was downright horrible, EHS plunged 27.2% to record low annualized pace of 3.83 million existing home sales. Right after this report was released last month, mortgage rates set new record lows.

Today’s release indicated Existing Home Sales in August improved 7.6%, which was slightly better than expectations. That equates to an annualized pace of 4.13 million homes sold.  The increased number of sales helped reduce the number of homes on the market to 11.6 months worth. The median home price fell 1.9% from last month to $178,600. NAR states that supply would need to fall to 8 or 9 months in order to stabilize home prices.    Despite the positive news on existing home sales, this was still the second lowest amount of sales on record, with last month being the lowest. HERE are charts and more commentary.

Bonds sold off after this data and mortgage rates moved higher as lenders who published rate sheets earlier in the day (after jobless claims) ended up repricing for the worse. Overall, loan pricing was weaker today than it was yesterday, but consumer borrowing costs didn't get beat up too badly. Mortgage rates remain close to record lows.

The best par 30 year fixed mortgage rates remain in a range between 4.25% to 4.50%, with several lenders still offering 4.125%.  The par 15 year conventional rate mortgage continues to hold in the 3.75% to 4.00% range, which several lenders offering 3.625%.   To secure a par interest rate you will be required to pay all the closing costs associated with your loan which includes lender fees, title fees, government recording fees and taxes including one point loan origination/discount/broker fee.  You may elect to pay less in costs but you will have to accept a higher interest rate.

Same lock advice as yesterday.  Short term closings should lock while those with time are probably safe to float but you should consider locking as lender pricing is very close to the best we have ever seen.