The Daily Mortgage Advisor

Practical Mortgage Advice for Valued Clients

Browsing Posts in FOMC Minutes

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Fed Minutes December 2010The Federal Reserve released its December 14 meeting minutes Tuesday afternoon. There wasn’t much there to disturb mortgage markets, thankfully.

The “Fed Minutes” is an official recap of the most recent meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. It’s published 8 times annually, 3 weeks after the FOMC adjourns.

The Fed Minutes is similar to the meeting minutes released after a corporate conference or condo association gathering in that they provide additional details about the conversation and debate that occurred between meeting attendees.

The Fed Minutes are a lengthy companion to the Federal Reserve’s brief, more well-known, post-meeting press release. But, whereas the press release is measured in paragraphs, the minutes are measured in pages.

Here is some of what the Fed discussed last month:

  • On inflation : Core inflation levels “trend lower”; disinflation risks are low.
  • On housing : The market is still “quite depressed”; demand is “very weak”.
  • On stimulus : The Fed will stick to its $600 billion support plan

In response, conforming mortgage rates in California are unchanged today.

The no-change in rates is welcome news for this month’s home buyers and other people wanting to get a jump on the “Spring Buying Season”. Mortgage rates have been trending higher since November, erasing 7 months of gains in 7 weeks, and rapidly approaching the psychologically-important 5 percent figure.

Currently, Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate as 4.86%.

As compared to November, mortgage rates are higher. As compared to history, however, mortgage rates remain low. If you are still floating a rate, or have otherwise not locked, your opportunity may be ending. Once the economy moves to higher gear, mortgage rates will be among the first of the casualties.

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FOMC November 2010 MinutesThe Federal Reserve released its November 2-3, 2010 meeting minutes Tuesday afternoon. Mortgage rates in California have been on the move since.

The Fed Minutes is a comprehensive review of Federal Open Market Committee meetings; a detailed look at the debates and discussions that shape our country’s monetary policy. The report is published 3 weeks to-the-day after the FOMC adjourns.

Fed Minutes add depth to the briefer, more well-known “statement” to the markets which is issued upon adjournment. As a comparison:

If the Fed Statement is the executive summary, the Fed Minutes is the novel. And, the extra words matter.

When the Federal Reserve publishes its minutes, it gives clues about the groups next policy-making steps.  For example, in November’s minutes, it’s revealed that the Fed discussed setting inflation targets for the economy; holding occasional policy briefings for the press; and, working to set yields on instruments such as the 10-year Treasury note.

In addition, the Federal Reserve acknowledged a video conference hosted October 15, the second such “unannounced” meeting of the year.  The other was May 9, 2010.

Bond markets have not taken kindly to the Fed Minutes. The minutes show a propensity toward Fed “action”, most of which markets believe to be inflationary. Inflation leads to higher mortgage rates and that’s exactly what we’ve seen.

As compared to Tuesday morning, mortgage applicants in Orange County are finding conforming and FHA mortgage rates to be higher by as much as 0.375 percent. In “real life” terms, assuming a 30-year term, that’s an extra $264 in annual mortgage payments per $100,000 borrowed.

If you’re still rate shopping, consider getting locked today. As a result of the recent shift, mortgage rates are now at a 4-month high.

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FOMC September 2010 MinutesThe Federal Reserve released its September 21, 2010 meeting minutes Tuesday afternoon. Mortgage rates in California are slightly higher today.

It’s unwelcome news for this season’s home buyers, and existing homeowners with plans to grab lower rates. Mortgage rates made new lows last week and may have reached a turn-around point.

The “Fed Minutes” is published 8 times annually, and is the official meeting recap for the Federal Open Market Committee. Similar to the meeting minutes released after a corporate conference or condo association gathering, the Fed Minutes details the conversation and debate between meeting attendees.

Minutes are the lengthy companion to the Fed’s brief, post-meeting press release.

Because of its content, the Fed Minutes is closely read by Wall Street and economists. It’s insight into the talk that shapes our nation’s monetary policy and, within the text, there’s often clues about the Fed’s next move.

Here’s some of what the Fed discussed last month:

  • On inflation : It’s running at lower-than-optimal levels
  • On housing : Post-tax credit, housing stalled in July
  • On stimulus : The Fed may intervene in open markets within the next few months

 

The over-riding theme within the minutes was that the U.S. economy is growing a steady pace, albeit slower than what’s optimal. The Fed is prepared to push things along if the economy slows further and news like that is helping stock markets.

Bond markets are losing. Rates are rising.

For now, mortgage rates hover near all-time lows.  If you haven’t locked a mortgage rate yet, your window may be closing.  Once the economy turns around for certain, mortgage rates will be among the first of the casualties.

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FOMC March 2010 MinutesMortgage markets improved yesterday after the Federal Reserve released its March 16, 2010 meeting minutes. It’s good news for in Orange County home buyers and rate shoppers — rates could have just as easily gone the other way.

The Fed Minutes is a detailed recap of the debate and discussion that shapes the nation’s monetary policy. The notes are dense; it takes 3 weeks to compile them for publication.

As compared to the more well-known, post-meeting press release, the Fed Minutes are extremely lengthy. For example:

If the press release is the executive summary, the Fed Minutes are the novel.

The extra words matter.The minutes recount what the Fed did, how the Fed did it, and what the Fed plans to do next. And, in the minutes, Wall Street looks for clues. 

This is why the report is important to every rate shopper in the country.

When the Federal Reserve publishes the minutes from its meetings, it leave clues about the groups next policy-making steps.  For example, in March’s Fed Minutes, it’s clear that the Fed’s concern about inflation is hugely diminished and that’s a major plus for the mortgage bond market.

Inflation causes mortgage rates to rise. The absence of inflation, therefore, helps them to fall.  This improves home affordability, among other things.

Similarly, the Fed Minutes note that real estate sales may have been worse throughout the winter months if not for low mortgage rates and the sense among Americans that home prices were troughing. We may infer, therefore, that rising rates may suppress home sales later this year.

Markets are always looking for clues from inside the Fed and the last meeting’s minute signal that the economy is on its way up.  If you’re looking for a bargain in the housing market, your window to act may be closing.

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FOMC January 2010 MinutesMortgage markets reeled Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its January 26-27, 2010 meeting. Mortgage rates in California are now at their highest levels since the start of the year.

The Fed Minutes is a follow-up document, delivered 3 weeks after an official FOMC meeting. It’s a companion piece to the post-meeting press release, detailing the debates and discussions that shaped our central bankers’ policy decisions.

The Minutes is a terrific look into the Fed’s collective mind and, yesterday, Wall Street didn’t like what it saw.  Specifically, the report disclosed that:

  1. The Fed plans to break support for mortgage markets after March 31, 2010
  2. Raising the Fed Funds Rate will be a key part of the Fed’s strategy to tighten monetary policy
  3. The fundamentals behind consumer spending strengthened modestly

Furthermore, the Fed Minutes said that there is a growing risk of “higher medium-term inflation”. Inflation, of course, is awful for mortgage rates.

Overall, the Fed’s economic optimism appeared stronger after its January meeting as compared to its December one.  A stronger economy should lead to better job growth and higher home prices throughout 2010.

Mortgage rates were up yesterday but they remain historically low. And many analysts think that after March 31, 2010, rates will rise even more.  Therefore, if you’re buying a home in the near-term, or know you’ll need a new mortgage, consider moving up your time frame. 

Every 1/8 percent makes a difference in your household budget.