Mortgage Rates Hold Up As Economic Recovery Continues
In another volatile week on Wall Street, cryptocurrencies crashed as much as 40% in one day before rebounding although Bitcoin remains down significantly from highs reached just a few weeks ago. Existing home sales slipped as home prices across the country hit all-time highs. Affordability will become an issue if home prices continue to surge. Inflation data is concerning but for the moment the bond market is in agreement with the Fed that inflation is more transitory in nature and will settle back down as the year progresses and the U.S. economy normalizes. However, if month-over-month inflation readings push higher, interest rates will spike quickly and the Fed will be forced to act. For now, the combination of ultra-low interest rates and global money printing is the tonic pushing some sectors of equities, real estate, and alternative assets to nosebleed levels. In my primary field of expertise, residential real estate lending, bidding wars on properties are stretching out prices even beyond what the property appraisals. While this is not common, it is happening frequently enough right now to warrant comment. Leverage levels in the equity markets are also very high. Caution is advisable in this environment.
However, banks and mortgage banks are pushing product like I have not seen in many years. While underwriting has loosened up, lenders are still doing proper due diligence and demanding a fair amount of borrower’s “skin in the game” which is keeping prices from being even higher. Many of our borrowers are highly qualified and the combination of low rates and a strong financial statement opens the door to incredibly low rates. Since interest rates are so low, prospective buyers of new homes are justifying the higher price against ultra-low monthly payments and jumping into the market. With supply so tight, buyers must act quickly or miss out on the property.
Looking ahead to next week, we have core inflation data, housing data, and personal spending data. All the important reports have given the markets’ jitters on inflation.