What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 23, 2023

This week featured the usual retail sales report which shows consumer demand and as well as an indicator of the velocity of money, not only for consumers but business to business as well. An increase would show an increase in national and local increase in economic activity, which is important as we move into Q4 of the year; where the holiday season is expected to see an increase in consumer activity.

Retail Sales
Retail sales have exceeded expectations this month showing month-to-month increases across the board:

  • Retail sales are up 0.7% from the previous month with an expected increase of 0.3%.
  • Retail sales with auto removed show an increase of 0.6% compared to an expected 0.2% increase.
  • Business inventories are also above the expected increase at 0.4% compared to 0.3%.

Housing Starts & Building Permits
U.S. Housing Starts rebound in September in September after a sharp drop in the prior month. Largely, economists are feeling that builders have been losing confidence since rates have peaked over 7% and housing is expected to trend lower until the end of the year.

  • Construction of new U.S. homes rebounded 7% in September to an annual pace of 1.36 million units after a sharp 1.5% drop in the prior month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
  • Building permits, a sign of future construction, fell 4.4% to a 1.47 million rate.
  • Existing home sales beat expected sales with 3.98 million sales compared to the expected 3.90 million sales.

Key point: The pace of construction for single-family homes in September has risen by 3.2% and apartment building construction rose by 17.1%

Mortgage Applications Increased for the Month of October
MBA Mortgage Applications Increase, a measure of mortgage loan application volume again.
Primary Mortgage Market Survey Index

  • 15-Yr FRM rates seeing a week-to-week increase by 0.03% with the rates now at 92%.
  • 30-Yr FRM rates seeing a week-to-week increase by 0.06% with the current rate at 63%

MND Rate Index

  • 30-Yr FHA rates increased week to week seeing a 0.28% basis point increase. Current rates at 40%
  • 30-Yr VA rates increased week to week seeing a 0.30% basis point increase. Current rates at 44%

Job Claims
Those who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell to a nine-month low of 188,000, subverting expectations that layoffs would rise as the U.S. interest rates continued to increase.

Initial Claims were 188,000 compared to the expected claims of 211,000. The prior month was 211,000.

What’s Ahead
This week’s scheduled economic reports include PMI data, along with new home sales. There will also be a national GDP data release which can give an indication of the growth of markets and economy as a whole. Lastly, Personal Income and Spending will be at the tail of the week along with PCE Index numbers.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 5, 2023

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 5, 2023

Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, consumer sentiment, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims. 


Inflation Rates Are Similar in August

Month-to-month, the inflation rate holds relatively steady at 3.18 percent. This is slightly up when compared to 2.97 percent last month; however, it is significantly lower than the rate of 8.52 percent last year. When compared to the long-term average, inflation is trending in the right direction, as the long-term average is 3.2 percent.

Inflation rose at a pace of 0.20 percent in July and met analysts’ expectations. There was no change in the pace of month-to-month inflation from June’s reading of 0.20 percent growth. The Consumer Price Index also reported that year-over-year inflation reached 9.10 percent, which was the highest reading since reaching a 40-year high in mid-2022.


While we still wait for core inflation, experts predict it to come in at around 3.38 percent. Core inflation, also known as the CPI, excludes food and fuel prices, which are historically volatile. If core inflation comes in at 3.38 percent, this would be significantly lower than the July reading of 4.7 percent.


Right now, it is unclear whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, as they are still waiting for other metrics, including the core inflation above.


Mortgage Rates Rise, Job Market Cools

The 30-year fixed, the preferred metric for mortgage rates, remains at around 7.53 percent. These are the highest mortgage rates of the last 20 years. Rates continue to rise when compared to July’s mortgage rates, which were just under 7 percent. This continues to put pressure on those interested in purchasing homes. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate is about 6.81 percent. This is slightly higher than the 15-year fixed for August, which was 6.55 percent on average.


When comparing these mortgage rates to last week, the 30-year fixed has gone up. It was 7.23 percent, on average, last week, and has jumped to 7.53 percent this week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed is 6.81 percent this week, which is slightly higher than last week, where the average 15-year fixed was 6.55 percent.


It appears that the increase in interest rates is finally having an impact on the job market. Unemployment rose to 3.8 percent, and the economy added 187,000 jobs in August. While these are still historically solid numbers, it is clear that the job market is cooling, when compared to July.

University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey 

The University of Michigan released its monthly consumer sentiment report, and consumer sentiment has dropped slightly when compared to last month. The index reading was 72.0 in July, but it dropped to 69.5 in August. The overall sentiment regarding the economy also dropped from 76.6 in July to 75.7 in August. 


These numbers reflect that consumers are still a bit wary of economic conditions. While inflation continues to come down, many consumers are likely still nervous about the increase in interest rates and the cooling job market. While sentiment remains positive, there is some cooling in the economy.


What’s Ahead

During the next week, mortgage rates will get an update, and the Federal Reserve will receive some new metrics regarding the economy. These numbers will be very important for the Fed, as it decides whether it will raise interest rates again in September in an attempt to cool inflation further.

S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices: Short Supply of Homes for Sale Pushes Prices Up

S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices: Short Supply of Homes for Sale Pushes Prices UpApril readings for S&P Case-Shiller’s Housing Market Indices showed gains in home prices throughout the U.S. Rising prices were caused by shortages of previously-owned homes for sale and increasing buyer demand as the average 30-year mortgage rate exceeded six percent.  The southeastern region lost its top spot on S&P Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index as Chicago, Illinois, Atlanta, Georgia, and Tampa, Florida held the top three year-over-year home price growth rates for April.

Chicago, Illinois Breaks Southeast’s Lead on April Home Price Growth

The top three cities with the highest home price growth rates as reported in April’s   S&P Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a  year-over-year home price gain of 4.10 percent;  Atlanta, Georgia posted a year-over-year home price growth of 3.50 percent.  Tampa, Florida placed third in the 20-City Index with an average home price gain of 2.40 percent. All year-over-year readings for April home prices were seasonally adjusted.

Average home prices lagged in the West as the combined impact of high home prices and mortgage rates created affordability issues for would-be home buyers. Seattle, Washington saw average home prices drop by -12.40 percent year-over-year; San Francisco, California reported that year-over-year home prices declined by 11.10 percent in April. Home prices in Las Vegas, Nevada fell by 6.60 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage rates nearing 7 percent did not appear to impact home buyers to a great extent, but higher rates do increase the cost of home loans and monthly payments; current mortgage rates and rising home prices do not promote affordable opportunities for first-time and moderate-income home buyers.

FHFA House Price Index

In related news, the Federal Housing Finance Agency posted 0.50 percent month-to-month-home price growth in its  House Price Index for April. This index reports on home prices for homes sold by the Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These homes were acquired through foreclosure and were subject to original loan limits established by FHFA for mortgages acquired or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac The GSEs’ loan limits cause a more moderate range of home price growth reported in  FHFA’s House Price Index as compared to data reported in the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.