Major fiscal and monetary stimulus out of the U.S. helped to thaw out the mortgage-backed security market which locked up last week in response to unprecedented volatility in global financial markets caused by Covid-19.
The Fed’s response was big and bold as was Congress’s and it helped to soothe the secondary mortgage and corporate bond markets. However, with a third of the U.S. not working, it is unclear how lenders will underwrite loans.
For the moment, Insignia’s lender partners are being quite flexible in structuring new loans, but this could change over time should U.S. workers be unable to return to work in a few weeks.
The non-QM mortgage banking sector of the market has been decimated. Those types of loans, which are riskier by nature, are on hold. We imagine that a fair number of lenders who offered these types of loans will go out of business or greatly scale back their loan products.
Thankfully, Insignia Mortgage has spent years building relationships with community banks and local credit unions. For the moment, these federally-regulated lenders are actively lending, albeit a bit more cautiously. Nonetheless, they remain active and willing to provide financing to our borrowers.
Currently, borrowers should understand that there’s a disconnect between U.S. Treasuries trade and mortgage rates at the moment. Lenders are trying to balance the increased risk associated with this pandemic against loan volume against a backdrop of a very difficult work environment. Don’t be surprised to receive rate quotes higher than what you would imagine given the low rates the U.S. government is borrowing at.
All global financial markets have experienced max volatility as the novel coronavirus has reached pandemic levels. This has increased the odds of a global recession. U.S. government bonds sold off on Thursday as investors fled to cash. The market rebounded on Friday afternoon as a response to the White House’s declaration of the outbreak as a national disaster. We hope with this announcement can institute responses that will start to get ahead of this disease.
Economic data is not relevant at the moment. However, the U.S. economy was in a good place prior to this pandemic so the hope is that the economy will recover once the virus has abated. In addition to the White House declaring this a national emergency, the Fed and Congress will be pumping in fiscal and monetary stimuli at unprecedented levels to help ease the blow to business and individuals affected by the virus.
On the lending front, our lending sources are operational, have contingency plans in place, and are actively working on both purchase and refinance transactions. Interest rates are at historical lows which is important for those looking to buy a home or refinance debt. It is worth noting that the 10-year Treasury has moved from a low of under .500% to back near 1%. This is actually a positive as rates going to zero would be problematic for our nation’s banks and for the insurance companies which collectively finance our debt.
Coronavirus fears have driven interest rates across the developed world to historic lows. Equity markets have reacted violently to the uncertainty around how this new disease may disrupt global supply chains and affect overall economic activity.
In response to these concerns, the Federal Reserve stepped in earlier this week with an emergency 50 basis point rate cut. This cut was an attempt to promote confidence throughout the financial system and push down short-term interest rates, which will help corporations and individuals attain lower-cost financing.
There is no way of knowing what affects this virus will have on the globally interconnected economy and if it will send the world into a recession. What we do know is that it will eventually run its course and that disruption will stop once our scientific community develops remedies to combat the virus. It is important to note while the virus is very contagious, it does not appear to be extremely deadly for most healthy individuals. As a result, travel and leisure businesses will be hit hardest should the virus spread. On the other hand, the U.S. service economy (70% of the U.S. economy) is derived from service) may adjust better than currently being forecasted in the equities market given all the technology tools that permit employees to work remotely.
In other news, the February jobs report was a good one with a better than expected job creation number, while unemployment remained at 3.500%. However, even a good jobs report didn’t matter as the equity markets shrugged off the good news.
Government-guaranteed interest rates have touched levels most of us believed we would never witness unless we were in a full-on depression. The 10-year Treasury ended the week at .78%, which is remarkable, but also a bit scary. While banks lowered interest rates, it is important to note that as rates approach zero, it becomes increasingly difficult for banks to earn a net margin. The result is that mortgage rates remain higher than what some customers believe mortgages should be priced at. Should interest rates remain low, we would expect mortgage rates to continue to slide lower. However, we do expect that rates will move up once a clearer picture on the coronavirus emerges. It is our belief that rates will remain low for quite some time.
The fear surrounding the rapidly emerging COVID-19 threat has pushed U.S. Treasury yields to an all-time low. Worldwide equity markets plummeted in the worst week for equities since the 2008 financial crisis. With this biological event creating both supply and demand economic shocks, it is not clear how fiscal stimuli will help soothe the markets, but it appears likely that a coordinated international central bank package may be introduced next week to help stop the bleeding in equities. Furthermore, there are rumors that pharmaceutical companies in Israel and around the globe are racing against the clock to rapidly develop a vaccine and/or other anti-viral therapies.
From an economic standpoint, the virus has disrupted international supply-chains and hurt travel and leisure businesses. If the virus continues to spread or becomes a pandemic, it will affect consumer and business spending patterns. The virus is having a trickle-down effect on our economy and is hurting stocks as companies scale back earnings guidance/ Economists are lowering growth prospects. Keep in mind, these “black swan” types of events are impossible to handicap and the markets will remain volatile until there is a clearer understanding of the virus.
From an interest rate standpoint, government-guaranteed bond yields are now at historic lows in the U.S and may even go lower as the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond sits at 1.16% and may be headed to under 1.000%. However, mortgage rates are not at all-time lows, yet remain incredibly attractive. Many lenders we are speaking to are instituting a hard floor on interest rates and are not interested in lowering mortgage rates further for the moment.
Therefore, our posture which for the last many months has been biased toward locking in rates has now changed to floating rates in anticipation of a major internationally coordinated central bank coronavirus stimulus package. Should rates plummet further, banks will be forced to move interest rate floors to stay competitive.
The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond hit an all-time low on Friday as investors fled riskier assets and sought the safe haven of U.S. government-guaranteed debt. The causes for concern were weak overseas manufacturing data and ongoing uncertainty in handicapping how the coronavirus (now named “COVID-19”) will affect economic growth in the coming months. Should this virus become more of a problem, interest rates will plunge. For now, no one knows how this virus will evolve, but to date, it appears to not be as deadly as biologically similar infections.
Earlier in the week, bond yields held firm even after hotter than expected PPI and Core PPI inflation readings.
Home buying season should be a good one with interest rates remaining low for the foreseeable future. Supply and affordability will be the bigger issue, especially in the more expensive coastal markets. Building permits surged but housing starts fell which should put even more pressure on short term supply concerns.
With rates near historic all-time lows, we continue to believe that locking-in is the right course of action. The wild card is the potential threat that the coronavirus will have on global productivity. For now, that risk is low, but it may change. If the virus becomes an international pandemic, expect the U.S. 10-year Treasury to touch 1% or lower.