Despite the harsh weather, New Home Sales rose by 9.6 percent from December to January to an annual rate of 468,000, well above expectations. The 468,000 rate was the highest level since July 2008. Pending Home Sales for January also came in just above expectations and well above December's reading. In addition, research firm CoreLogic reported that completed foreclosures fell by 19 percent from January 2013 to January 2014, while the Case Shiller 20-city Home Price Index ended its best year since 2005.
On the other end of the spectrum, the second reading for 2013 fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was, in a word, gross. GDP fell to 2.4 percent from the initial reading of 3.2 percent, sharply beneath the 4.1 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2013. The decline was due in part to consumer spending and exports that were less robust than initially thought, signaling U.S. economic growth remains choppy. However, there was some good news in the report as company spending was revised up sharply, suggesting an improvement in business conditions.
In labor market news, weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 14,000 in the latest week, reaching a one-month high as the job markets continues their up and down pattern. The labor market has been choppy lately, especially after the anemic number of job creations in December and January.
What does this mean for home loan rates? Remember that the Fed is now purchasing $35 billion in Treasuries and $30 billion in Mortgage Bonds (the type of Bonds on which home loan rates are based) to help stimulate the economy and housing market. This is down from the original $85 billion per month that the Fed had been purchasing. With the December and January job creation numbers far below expectations, the Fed will be looking closely at February's numbers for any signs of a pattern. If this report and other key economic data points are weak, the Fed may have to rethink the tapering it has begun. This story is sure to impact the markets and home loan rates as we move ahead in 2014.
The bottom line is that now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance, as home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical levels. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.
I would love the opportunity to help you manage your Lake of the Ozarks Mortgage Loan or refinance. Give me a call at (573) 746-7211 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have!!
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Sr. Residential Mortgage Lender
NMLS #: 493712
2265 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B
PO Box 1449
Lake Ozark, MO 65049