QUOTE OF THE WEEK… “The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.” –Any Rand, Russian-American novelist, philosopher, and playwright
INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… For quite some time, borrowers have had the opportunity to take advantage of very low mortgage rates. But opportunities don’t last forever. For the first time in many months, rates have recently moved up. We don’t know if this is a trend or not, but it may be worth your while to let your borrowers know that record lows don’t last forever.
In other housing news, December Pending Home Sales, which gauge contracts on existing homes, were off 4.3% for the month. This is not surprising for the time of year, but it does presage a small dip in the sales of existing homes in the next month or two. We also had a dip in home prices from October to November in half the markets tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite home price index.Nevertheless, 19 of the 20 metros tracked showed annual price gains, up 5.5% over last year.
BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… Effective communication with clients and prospects is key to success. Hold off on the content and focus first on making a personal connection. Clients need to know you truly care about them.
>> Review of Last Week
HELLO, 14,000… Capping off a nice start to the year, stocks registered a fifth week of gains that took the Dow Jones Industrial Average north of 14,000 for the first time since the fall of 2007. The broadly-based S&P 500 index wasn’t too shabby either, ending the week above 1500. Investors appear to be upbeat on the economy even though the signals remain mixed. A prime example was the January Employment Report, with a lower than expected number of new jobs created, but solid upward revisions made to December and November.
Nonetheless, the unemployment rate drifted back up again, to 7.9%. Mixed messages continued, with Durable Goods orders, the Chicago PMI manufacturing index, and Michigan Consumer Sentiment all nicely beating expectations. Yet the Consumer Confidence reading missed expectations by a lot and the Advanced GDP estimate for Q4 showed economic growth diminishing at a –0.1% annual rate. This was the first time GDP went negative since 2009, but it didn’t seem to bother investors one bit.
The week ended with the Dow UP 0.8%, to 14010; the S&P 500 UP 0.7%, to 1513; and the Nasdaq UP 0.9%, to 3179.
With stocks heading higher, investors moved out of bonds, sending prices lower and yields and mortgage rates up. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch ended the week down .06, at $105.12. Freddie Mac’s Weekly Survey showed national average mortgage rates continuing to edge higher, although still in very attractive territory. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported purchase loan applications up 6.2% from the week before, increasing for the fifth week in a row and now almost 10% above where they were last year.