Market Commentary 8/11/2023, Market Commentary 8/11/2023

Market Commentary 8/11/2023

Rates Can’t Catch A Break  

Although the Fed is making progress in the battle against inflation, a tougher phase awaits in substantially curbing inflation due to the so-called base effects. The forecast for tougher times cemented itself after surpassing last June’s 9 percent plus CPI reading. Some experts on Wall Street anticipate that inflation readings for August may climb higher since July witnessed significant hikes in oil, gas, and other commodity prices. While service and wage inflation has shown moderation, their persistence coupled with recent wholesale inflation figures indicates a larger-than-anticipated rise. Our stance remains that the Fed will not be lowering rates anytime soon, considering the daily struggle of America’s most vulnerable to cope with rising costs. 

The combination of stubborn inflation and a budget deficit of more than 1 trillion dollars puts pressure on US Treasuries and government-guaranteed mortgage debt. Concerned voices are clamoring in response to the size of our debt and its long-term sustainability. Global issues further complicate the US Bond market with Japan’s loosening yield curve control, China and Europe’s economic dilemmas, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Investors are demanding higher yields, a phenomenon reflected in the 10-year Treasury comfortably crossing the 4.00% mark, with longer-term bonds nearing 4.500%. The point at which these elevated yields begin impacting the equity and housing markets is uncertain. However, it is increasingly likely that both sectors will be negatively affected by rising rates. 

We recently emphasized the significance of the Fitch downgrade of the US credit to AA+. Although Wall Street didn’t fully grasp the implications of this situation, the narrative has evolved. Unlike 2011, this downgrade reflects much higher debt/GDP ratios, unsustainable budget deficits, and a more dysfunctional US political system. Whenever the cost of capital is negatively influenced, it deserves serious consideration. 

From our network of banks and lenders, we’re hearing signals that the long and variable impacts of Fed policy are starting to reverberate through the system. Delinquencies and loan modifications on commercial loans are on the rise. Businesses are facing squeezed revenue and operating margins. Credit card balances are soaring. These effects warrant careful observation in the upcoming months. 

Our broker team invests significant time in discovering new lenders, many of whom remain unfamiliar with the market. It might sound biased, but having a robust mortgage broker on your side is crucial in today’s landscape. Transactions are encountering a myriad of issues, and the ability to swiftly pivot to a new lender or solve a problem is invaluable. The Insignia Mortgage broker team excels in both these domains, while also securing the most competitive rates and terms for complex loans. The days of relying solely on one big bank for client loans are long gone. 

During our recent attendance at the Inman conference in Las Vegas, NV, we gathered intriguing insights from various speakers about the market’s current state: 

  • Quicken Loans anticipates improvements in the rate market in the coming months. The drop in mortgage brokers, real estate brokers, and salespersons signifies the existing home market remains somewhat stagnant. While it presents challenges, it could pave the way for those who navigate it successfully. 
  • Traditionally, existing home sales constituted a major portion of the market, but current homeowners are reluctant to move. However, around 25% are planning to relocate within the next few years, aligning with Quicken’s recommendation to persevere. 
  • Zillow predicts that rates will remain high for longer than Wall Street anticipates. Service inflation and housing shortages contribute to inflation, and the focal point for home buyers should be millennials, who are expected to make up 43% of new home buyers. 
  • The mortgage and real estate industry must adapt to AI (Artificial Intelligence), incorporating it into lead generation and follow-up strategies. With AI we can achieve more with less. The challenge lies in how effectively we embrace it. While 20% will seize the opportunity, the remaining 80% might miss out. Those who embrace AI stand to gain efficiency and profitability. 
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These are the opinions of the author. For financial advice, please talk to your CPA or financial professional.