Last week’s economic news was plentiful with releases on Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and pending home sales. Readings on government and private sector jobs created, the national unemployment rate and weekly readings on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey were also released.
Case–Shiller: Western Cities Dominate Home Price Growth
Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index reported that Seattle Washington topped year-over-year home price growth with an increase of 11.00 percent. Portland, Oregon followed closely with a reading of 10.90 percent, and Denver Colorado held third place with year-over-year home price gains of 8.70 percent.
San Francisco, California, which had posted high home price gains in recent years, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. Analysts said that this reading was evidence that home prices in high cost areas were topping out. Affordability, strict mortgage requirements and low inventories of available homes continued to present obstacles to home buyers.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Pending Home Sales Dip
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, pending home sales dipped in October to 0.10 percent as compared to a growth rate of 1.50 percent in September. Winter weather and holidays can cause would-be home buyers to postpone their home searches until spring.
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week, although the 10-year treasury rate, which is tied to mortgage rates, was unchanged from the prior week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 4.08 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.34 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.15 percent. Mortgage rates have risen by 51 basis points in three weeks. This trend, coupled with high home prices, doesn’t bode well for first-time and modest income home buyers.
Consumer spending for October increased by 0.30 percent as compared to predictions for a reading of 0.50 percent and September’s 0.70 percent reading. The core inflation reading for October was unchanged and in line with analyst expectations at 0.10 percent. The core reading excludes volatile food and fuel sectors.
According to the Labor Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for November, 178,000 government and private sector jobs were created as compared to expectations of 200,000 jobs created and October’s reading of 142,000 jobs created in October. According to the Commerce Department, the national unemployment rate for November was 4.60 percent as compared to the expected reading of 4.90 percent and October’s reading of 4.90 percent. Analysts noted that while a lower reading could indicate good news, it was also the result of fewer workers in the work force. The unemployment rate is based on unemployment claims filed by those actively seeking work; it does not include those underemployed or those who have stopped seeking work.
First-time jobless claims rose to 268,000 as compared to expectations of 250,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 251,000 new claims filed.
In spite of higher mortgage rates and dubious labor reports, the Consumer Confidence Index rose to 107.1 in November from October’s reading of 100.8; Analysts had expected an index reading of 102.5.
Next week’s economic reports include releases on job openings and consumer sentiment along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
Most homeowners look at their monthly mortgage payment as their largest cost per month, and something they must do to maintain a good credit history. However, you may have heard of bi-weekly mortgage payments and their ability to lower your debt load and help you pay off your mortgage more quickly. If you’re wondering if bi-weekly payments are too good to be true, here’s some information worth consideration.
What Difference Does Bi-Weekly Make?
Making a bi-weekly mortgage payment may seem to mean that your interest will be automatically reduced, but because the lender is not necessarily receiving that payment until the end of the month, this is not necessarily the case. However, while a typical monthly payment will equate to 12 mortgage payments per year, a bi-weekly payment means 26 half payments will be made each year, which equates to 13 months of payments and an additional month. As a result, this can reduce the amount of interest paid on the principal.
Consider More On A Monthly Basis
Bi-weekly payments have the ability to shave a bit off the principal and thereby lower overall interest, but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to paying every two weeks. Instead of bi-weekly, consider dividing your monthly mortgage amount by 12 and adding that amount to your monthly payment. This will bump up your mortgage cost per month, but it will also reduce the total amount you owe. For example, if your mortgage payment is $1200 per month, divide it by 12 to get $100, and add this to your payment, bumping it up to $1300 each month.
Be Aware Of The Options That Work For You
In the event that you decide to make bi-weekly payments, be aware that there may actually be additional fees associated with this offering that will nullify your money savings. As a homeowner, it’s important to stay aware of changes on the market and new mortgage offerings that can benefit you. However, it’s also important to ensure that whatever you choose, you’re aware of the risks involved so they can make for a positive financial shift.
Making a bi-weekly payment on your mortgage may have the benefit of lowering your overall home cost, but you may be able to get this benefit from simply bumping up your monthly payment. If you’re currently looking for a mortgage lender, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.
September’s 20-City Housing Market Index from Case-Shiller showed signs that rapidly rising home prices in some metro areas may be losing momentum. San Francisco, California, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent. Home prices stayed flat in Seattle Washington from August to September, but posted the highest home price gain of 11.00 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth in high-demand areas suggest that affordability concerns are impacting rapid gains in home prices seen in recent years.
Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index achieved its highest gain with a reading of 5.50 percent as compared to August’s reading of 5.10 percent.
Year–over–Year: Western U.S. Holds Highest Gains in Home Prices
In addition to Seattle’s year-over-year home price growth rate of 11 percent, Portland, Oregon closely followed with a year-over-year reading of 10.90 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year growth rate of 8.70 percent. September was the eighth consecutive month that the top three cities held their places in the 20-City Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over- year gain of 5.10 percent.
September Home Prices Cap Recovery, Usher in New Progress for Housing Market
According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, September’s record national reading for home prices marks a transition from housing recovery to “the hoped for start of a new advance.” Mr. Blitzer cited recent data on sales of new and pre-owned homes and said that housing starts reached a post-recession peak.
September’s peak in national home prices was 0.10 percent above the pre-recession peak set in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, the September peak remains approximately 16 percent below the pre-recession peak. During the recession, national home prices reached a trough that was 27 percent lower than Case-Shiller’s September reading. Analysts expressed some caution and noted headwinds to housing markets including slower-than-normal rates of homes construction, higher mortgage rates and strict mortgage approval requirements.