Boston Area Gas Prices Affecting Mortgage Rates?

We’re betting you thought lower Boston area gas prices could only mean positive things for the economy, right?

If you’re in the market for a home mortgage, Boston area gas prices could be having an effect on the rate you can get.

Boston area gas prices can actually have an effect on the mortgage rate you can get when buying a home

How Boston Area Gas Prices Affect Mortgage Rates

Believe it or not, oil investments and Boston area gas prices (along with lots of other things) have an indirect effect on mortgage rates.

One of the strongest predictors of mortgage rates is the yield on a 10-year Treasury note. Basically if the yield is low, so are mortgage rates. The buying of bonds can represent relative safety for oil investors, and what oil prices mean for the world’s economy.

Oil prices, as well as Boston area gas prices, continues to fall in large part because there is less demand. Less demand comes via weakening economies across the globe. The lower oil prices may also disproportionately affect countries like Russia, which are already suffering from instability. All of this leads to a flight to quality, and the safe haven is almost always the U.S. Bond Market.

With Boston area gas prices dropping and no one quite sure when or where they’ll stop, U.S. bonds give investors a certain comfort that the oil market isn’t currently providing. (Treasury bonds will always be paid off to prevent the government from losing the confidence of its investors and creditors at home and abroad.)

The problem for these investors is that everyone has the same idea. If everyone starts buying bonds, it drives down yields because the government doesn’t have to offer such a high rate of return to get people to buy. This, in turn, drives down mortgage rates.

Some economists believe the benefit to the housing market is largely indirect in the form of more consumer spending, leading to job and income growth and ultimately making it easier for people to buy homes.

It should be noted that the 10-year Treasury note only affects the base mortgage rate. A number of factors go into the actual interest rate a homebuyer can get, including their credit score, the number of points paid on the mortgage and the down payment amount.

We’ll keep you informed on Boston area gas prices and how the price you pay at the pump could affect your mortgage rate. In the meantime, you can get more information about factors that control Boston area mortgage rates in our section on Boston area Mortgage Info to your right under Boston area Real Estate Categories.

Remember, we post tips daily to Twitter, and also on our Facebook Page. We’d love you to check us out there too.

Boston Area Mortgage Rates Expected Higher Next Year

According to the latest forecast from Freddie Mac’s economists, Boston area mortgage rates are expected to hit 5 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan in 2015.

Expect to see interest rates climb throughout 2015, with yields on the 10-year Treasury averaging about 2.9 percentage points, up from about 2.6 percentage points in 2014, and 30-year fixed Boston area mortgage rates mortgage gradually climbing, averaging 4.6 percent and rising to 5.0 percent by the end of next year.

Economists expect higher Boston area mortgage rates in 2015

Rising Boston Area Mortgage Rates May Dampen Affordability

Meanwhile price increases are expected to slow from the 9.3 percent pace we saw in 2013, the 4.5 percent we saw this year, and 3.0 percent in 2015. Continued house price appreciation and rising Boston area mortgage rates will dampen homebuyer affordability.

Total housing starts in 2015 will increase by 20 percent and total home sales will increase by about 5 percent over that time period to the best sales pace in eight years.

Single-family originations will fall an additional 8 percent from 2014 to 2015 to $1.1 trillion annualized as increases in purchase-money lending are insufficient to offset a drop in refinance. Refinance is expected to make up just 23 percent of originations in 2015.

The good news for 2015 is that the U.S. economy appears well poised to sustain about a 3 percent growth rate in 2015 — only the second year in the past decade with growth at that pace or better. There are several reasons for the better economic performance. Governmental fiscal drag has turned into fiscal stimulus, lower energy costs support consumer spending and business investment, further easing of credit conditions for business and real estate lending support commerce and development, and more upbeat consumer and business confidence, all of which portend faster economic growth in 2015.

With that, the economy will produce more and better-paying jobs, providing the financial wherewithal to support household formations and housing activity. All of this according to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

With the forecast of higher Boston area mortgage rates on the horizon, there may never be a more affordable time to buy a home than right now. Talk to us about rates, and where prices are for Boston area housing. We’re here to help.

Don’t forget, we also post daily at Twitter, and Facebook as well. We’d love for you to check us out there as well.

Boston Area Real Estate News – November 2014

Boston Area Real Estate News - November 2014

In our Boston Area Real Estate News for November 2014:

Pending Boston Area Home Sales Up Slightly in September

Pending Boston Area home sales ticked up slightly in September after dropping in August, as it remained difficult to qualify for mortgage financing.

Nationwide, The National Association of Realtors' Pending Homes Sales Index, which is based on contracts signed for previously-owned homes, rose 0.3 percent over the past month to 105. Signings of existing homes were higher in September than year-ago levels, the first time in 11 months that year-over-year contracts have risen.

Housing supply for existing homes was up in September six percent from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year.

Many pending Boston area home sales are falling through because buyers are unable to get a mortgage.

Tight credit and price increases through the middle of 2013 have limited buying activity. About 15 percent of the real estate agents surveyed for the index said they couldn't close deals because many buyers were unable to obtain a mortgage.

Pending Boston Area home sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Ahead of next week's congressional election, the affordability woes even have something of a political tinge, according to new analysis by the real estate data firm Trulia.

In heavily Democratic communities, the median price for a home costs $227 per square foot. That's nearly double the price of $119 per square foot in areas that vote Republican. This has encouraged Democrats to loosen lending standards, while Republicans have largely opposed such measures for encouraging consumers to become highly leveraged.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 recently to adopt new mortgages rules, the two Republican commissioners, Daniel Gallagher and Michael Piwowar, opposed adoption.

Because Democratic housing markets "are less affordable, have lower homeownership, and have greater income inequality, political leaders in Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning metros may push for different policies," according to Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.

Be sure to get out and vote on Tuesday!


Boston Area Mortgage Rates and Requirements

Boston Area mortgage rates remain near historic lows, at or around 4 percent, give or take a fraction up or down.

Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fix in the week ending Oct. 30 was 3.95 percent, up from 3.92 percent the previous week. They're still near the lowest 30-year rates since June 2013. The record low for 30-year rates was 3.31 percent in late 2012.

As we continue to say each month when updating the Boston Area mortgage rates here, if you're close to closing on a home, or have tight debt ratios/cash to close, lock in your rate and don't look back!

Meanwhile, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their regulator the Federal Housing Finance Agency are close to an agreement that would allow them to buy mortgages made to borrowers with less-than-pristine credit and for purchases with as little as 3 percent down. The agreement would provide lenders who sell mortgages to Fannie and Freddie protections against later charges that they had knowingly made bad loans.

Critics warn that looser credit standards and lower down payments will only lead the industry into another crisis of borrowers unable to make payments, or homes that slip too easily underwater.


Bond Tapering is Officially Over

Bond tapering is now officially over. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) officially decided to conclude its more than two-year-old asset purchase program earlier this week due to the substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market and strength in the broader economy.

The Fed's decision to end its third round of bond buying had been expected. It has gradually pared the purchases from $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds each month to $15 billion. And the Fed had said it would likely end the program after its October meeting if the economy continued to improve, which they say it has.

Supporters have said the bond buying helped invigorate the economy and reduce the unemployment rate, which peaked at 10 percent during 2009, to the current 5.9 percent.

The Zero Interest Rate Policy, on the other hand, remains in full effect. The federal funds rate will maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range.

The Fed has said it won't begin selling its holdings until after it starts raising short-term rates.

Most economists have predicted that the Fed's first rate hike won't occur until next summer. Some foresee no increase until fall, in part because of fears that the global economy is weakening and could threaten the U.S. economy.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he doesn't think the Fed can unwind years of extraordinary stimulus without causing turmoil in financial markets.

We'll be watching the markets closely for you to see how the end of the bond tapering will affect interest rates and mortgage availabilities going forward.

Boston Area Real Estate News – October 2014

Boston Area Real Estate News - October 2014

In our Boston Area Real Estate News for October 2014:

Pending Boston Area Home Sales Slip in August

Pending Boston Area home sales slid backwards in August after improving in July, underscoring the unsettled state of the residential real estate market.

Pending Boston Area home sales slid in August after increasing in July

Nationwide, The National Association of Realtors' Pending Homes Sales Index, which is based on contracts signed for previously-owned homes, fell 1 percent in August from July and is 2.2 percent lower than August 2013. Pending sales mirrored a drop in settled purchases of previously-owned homes during the month. Those settlements were for contracts signed earlier in the year.

The pullback of pending Boston Area home sales in August followed a 3 percent gain in July. The July advance numbers had improved on June's 1 percent decline after three months of gains in March, April and May.

Some blame August's decline on the market's improvement since the Great Recession. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "Fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and the acknowledgement we're entering a rising interest rate environment likely caused hesitation among investors last month. With investors pulling back, the market is shifting more towards traditional and first-time buyers who rely on mortgages to purchase a home."

Those first-time buyers may face higher mortgage rates in coming months, but they aren't out of reach just yet. Speaking of mortgage rates and how they may affect Boston Area home sales…


Boston Area Mortgage Rates Near 3-Week Lows

Boston Area mortgage rates have fallen to the lowest levels since September 9th.

According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey released by Freddie Mac, average fixed-rate mortgage rates decreased slightly, a week after making their biggest one-week gain of the year.

30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 4.20% with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 25, 2014, down from last week when they averaged 4.23%. A year ago at this time, 30-year FRMs averaged 4.32%.

15-year FRMs this week averaged 3.36% with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when they averaged 3.37%. A year ago at this time, 15-year FRMs averaged 3.37%.

Tomorrow, the jobless claims figures come out. New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. These numbers could impact Boston Area mortgage rates if the job numbers are not in line with expectations.

As we said last month when updating the Boston Area mortgage rates here, if you're close to closing on a home, or have tight debt ratios/cash to close, lock in your rate and don't look back!


Boston Area Home Price Gains See Significant Slowdown

Boston Area home price gains saw their smallest annual gains since late 2012 in July.

The 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller index released yesterday (September 30) indicates that prices rose 6.7 percent in July from a year earlier. That is the smallest year-over-year increase since November 2012. It's also a continuation of a slowdown in Boston Area home price gains.

The report indicates that as of July, average home prices are back to autumn 2004 levels.

While the year-over-year figures are trending downward, Boston Area home price gains are still rising month-to-month, although at a slower rate than what we are used to seeing over the past couple of years. Home prices are still rising two or three times the rate of inflation, said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.


Boston Area Real Estate News – September 2014

Boston Area Real Estate News - Septermber 2014

In our Boston Area Real Estate News for September 2014:

Boston Area Home Sales Outlook Stronger

Economists are more optimistic about the outlook for Boston Area home sales over the next two years due to stronger job creation.

The annual pace of existing home sales nationwide will likely rise to 5.25 million units in the first three months of 2015 from 5.09 million in the current quarter, according to the Reuter's poll median forecast.

In May, economists expected much slower gains, with 5.1 million resales expected in the first quarter of next year.

Boston Area home sales outlook is looking stronger due to stronger job creation

Americans signed more contracts in July to buy previously-owned homes than in any month in almost a year, suggesting the housing market was pulling out of its slump more quickly than expected.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said last week that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 3.3 percent to 105.9, the highest level since August 2013.

Low mortgage rates and improving labor market dynamics should remain conducive to gradual growth in the Boston Area home sales sector.

A sharp increase in mortgage rates pushed sales of existing homes lower in the second half of 2013 but borrowing costs have been more stable in recent months and Boston Area home sales have recovered some of the lost ground.

Investors and economists polled by Reuters generally expect the Federal Reserve will begin to slowly increase its benchmark interest rate around the middle of next year after holding it near zero since 2008.

The median forecast put the 30-year mortgage rate at 5.25 percent in 2016, down from 5.68 percent in the May poll. Last week, the 30-year rate averaged 4.28 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Economists don't believe a slow rise in mortgage rates will hurt Boston Area home sales, as slow increases in rates are generally considered a symptom of an improving economy. At the same time, slowly rising rates may also help to bring home price appreciation back down to more sustainable levels.

Speaking of mortgage rates and how they may affect Boston Area home sales…


Boston Area Mortgage Rates Remain Low

Boston Area mortgage rates remain much lower than anyone expected they would be by this time when the Fed announced it would start cutting back on its purchases of mortgage bonds.

Mortgage News Daily reports that average 30-year fixed mortgage rates are down to around 4.11 percent. One year ago those same rates were 4.61 percent, down about 50 basis points year-over-year.

Mortgage refinancing tends to pick up anytime mortgage rates drop by 50 bps from recent levels, however most homeowners who were looking to refinance did so when rates were below 4 percent in 2012 and 2013.

We would not be surprised to see rates drift even lower in the coming few days or weeks as they pull lower due to global events, European debt, etc. These are the largest rate indicators right now that are affecting Boston Area mortgage rates.

Boston Area mortgage rates were well above 6 percent during the housing market's 2006-2007 peak. Freddie Mac data going back more than four decades shows 30-year rates hit an all-time low of just 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Trying to decide whether to lock in current Boston Area mortgage rates or let them float a while longer? Seems odd to say floating is an option when we're near the best pricing of the year, but it might be a consideration for aggressive borrowers. If you're close to closing, or have tight debt ratios/cash to close, lock 'em up, and don't look back!


Ideal Time to Buy a Boston Area Home?

If you've been waiting to buy a Boston Area home when the time was just right, that time may be now.

Potential homebuyers who have been willing to wait for better deals are starting to be rewarded for their patience, as sellers drop listing prices to meet buyers' more value-focused expectations.

Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson says, "Two market developments in July are spurring this change in housing activity as the market transitions from the summer to the fall buying season.”

1 – Boston Area Home Price Slowdown

Home price growth was mostly flat in July for the first time in five months.

As Senior Financial Reporter Trey Garrison said last week, home price growth has slowed across the board, and Capital Economics says the slowdown will likely meet the company's forecast for inflation to slow to 4% in 2015.

Just about everyone was a little surprised by the consecutive month-on-month declines in house prices during April, May and June on the new monthly Case-Shiller national measure. Echoing that message, the Case-Shiller 20-City measure of house prices fell during the latest two months.

2 – End of Seller's Market?

The second market development is a shift in pricing power from sellers to a more balanced market. That shift has been nearly nine months in the making from when sales began to first decline last November.  

Back in October, sellers were starting to lose their dominance in the market, with 72% of surveyed agents describing now as a good time to sell compared to 86% in the second quarter of 2013.

Look for these two trends to drive an unusual surge in home sales this fall. We also look for prices to continue to flatten, and to potentially decline month over month in September or October. If that happens, it will be the first three-month price decline since the fall 2012. Stay plugged in right here and we'll keep you posted on trends as we move through the fall Boston Area home buying season and into the holidays.