Posts Tagged ‘Federal Reserve’

Billerica Mortgage Rates: Perception and Reality

Billerica mortgage rates have been so low for such a long time that it would be surprising if area buyers didn’t begin to take them for granted. It’s only human nature. Addressing would-be home buyers who, though qualified, remain on the sidelines, government-sponsored Freddie Mac headlined the question, “If Housing Is So Affordable, Why Doesn’t It Feel That Way?

The article appeared in Freddie Mac’s Insight publication which noted that right now housing isn’t just affordable—it’s “near record” affordable! HUD’s Housing Affordability Index has been rising for over 35 years, interrupted only briefly by the housing crisis of the mid-2000s. It hasn’t quite sustained the all-time affordability peak but is holding steady well within hailing distance of that 2012 record.

Billerica mortgage rates have cooperated nicely, continuing to go with the national herd. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, U.S. rates averaged 3.90%—down even further from the previous week’s 3.93%. Of course, the 15-year and adjustable rate offerings were even lower.

With that kind of good news, why do the media report “affordability issues” (Mortgage Daily News) and even an “affordability crisis” (PBS)? The answers dwell in both perception and in some underlying realities.

There’s definitely reality in the widespread phenomenon of a shortage of housing supply. Billerica listings may show a number of properties being offered, but the national number of homes up for sale remains “very tight.” The echoes from 2009, when new housing starts hit rock bottom, are still having an effect. In that year, housing starts barely equaled a third of the previous averages. Even though current construction levels are nearly back to normal, they’ve yet to make up for that shortfall.

Less real is the public perception of how much cash is needed for a down payment. Billerica mortgage rates may be tantalizingly low, but when potential local applicants “mistakenly believe they must have a 20% down payment to obtain a mortgage,” the result is a number of otherwise-qualified buyers who don’t know that more than half of today’s borrowers make smaller down payments.

Not mentioned in the Insight article is another psychological factor that could explain two things at once. In The New York Times’ “Politics” section, a commentary sought to explain why the Federal Reserve wasn’t acting to boost interest rates. According to the author, the cause lay with inflation rates, which remain low—“and that’s a problem” for Fed rate-makers. The reason higher inflation would be a good thing (despite common sense) is that it makes consumers feel good when their paychecks go up. “A little inflation can brighten the economic mood…people enjoy the illusion.”

The upshot here may be that even though today’s extraordinarily low Billerica mortgage rates create actual affordability, some well-qualified customers may feel safer staying on the sidelines until the economy starts generating go-go economy headlines. It’s an ironic reality that by the time those headlines materialize, actual affordability might have already begun to slip away.

If you’ve been mulling the wisdom of your own Billerica home acquisition, let me show you some great properties…and some great numbers!

Joan Parcewski —CRS, MRP, CSHP, SRES, CBR, LMC, Realtor & Notary
978-376-3978   JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    OR    JParcewski@gmail.com
 
Licensed MA & NH    
Introductory Video  https://youtu.be/RrM4q17cjU0
Laer Realty PartnersJoan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

 

Events Solidify Burlington Mortgage Rate Speculation

Several weeks ago there was another interest rate development—though it was a slightly whipsawed kind of development. Since mortgage interest rates are so important to the bottom line in all but all-cash Burlington residential home sales, the direction rates are headed is something worth watching closely.

It was one of those days that come about twice a year. It was the occasion when the Federal Reserve Chairman is called upon to testify before Congress. The date is set as a biannual marker for revealing what’s likely to lie ahead for interest rates. If the Fed is going to decide to raise the Fed Funds rate, it’s usually the single strongest pointer to higher mortgage interest rates. All things being equal, that would eventually slow Burlington’s real estate market activity by making mortgage payments more expensive.

As the appointed hour for the testimony neared, Reuters weighed in early. At about 8:30 in the morning, they reacted to the advance copy of Chairman Yellen’s prepared remarks. Reuters reported on some key paragraphs citing the continued gathering strength of the economy—which would, therefore, “warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate over time.”

Not great news for Burlington mortgage rate watchers—or was it? Reading more closely, there were those “gradual” and “over time” phrases. Wouldn’t that lead one to think the raises would be slow and gradual? Possibly more slow and gradual than previous Fed hints had led us to believe?

Ninety minutes later came the actual testimony, followed by questioning from the congressional committee. CNBC saw good news for Burlington mortgage applicants: “Fed stands ready to slow down rate hikes” was their takeaway. Sooooo, the Fed was going to raise the Fed funds rate (bad), but more slowly than expected (good).

The picture became clearer as the Mortgage News Daily pointed to newly released retail sales and consumer inflation reports showing “economic data that coincides with rates moving lower.” And despite anything the public hearing had produced, in MND’s opinion, “the Fed is less likely to flip the switch on those plans.”

So Burlington buyers and sellers could head into the coming days with few worries about interest rates, which remain at appetizingly low levels. If you are thinking of taking a look at some of the terrifically affordable Burlington home buys they make possible, today would be a good time give me a call!

Joan Parcewski —CRS, MRP, CSHP, SRES, CBR, LMC, Realtor & Notary
978-376-3978   JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    OR    JParcewski@gmail.com
 
Licensed MA & NH    
Introductory Video  https://youtu.be/RrM4q17cjU0
Laer Realty Partners    Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)
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