Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chicago's Mortgage Choice - February 23, 2016 Real Estate Report - Some are enjoying the sale

While many are not too happy about the stock market retrenching and others who work in the energy industry are suffering through a retrenching, much of America is enjoying the sale going on right now. What is on sale? Gasoline and home loans. If these gas prices hold, we would expect a very busy summer vacation season and this should boost the economy. The American Automobile Association has indicated that the price of gas is now averaging over $1.00 per gallon less than the highs hit in 2015. Lower than expected rates on home loans are fueling an increase in refinancing by homeowners. In mid-February, the share of applications for home loans which were refinances hit over 60% of the total market. Refinancing also puts more cash in consumers' pockets. With the spring real estate season about to start, it remains to be seen whether low rates will also boost home sales. We will add our own speculation. We believe that if the economy continues to produce jobs near the same rate it did in 2015, and if rates stay low, this could be a banner year for real estate. The only issue holding back real estate sales is the lack of inventory. We expect builders to ramp up to meet the demand produced. The bottom line is that owning is cheaper than renting in most areas of the country and the sale on home loans has made homeownership even more affordable. Keith Stewart 773-529-7000

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chicago's Mortgage Choice - February 16, 2016 Real Estate Report - Stock Correction Courtesy of the Fed?

Stocks have had a rough start to the year and many analysts are blaming it on a slowing economy, especially in other parts of the world. We think that the Federal Reserve Board deserves some of the credit for the weakness in stocks. We are not saying the Fed was not justified in raising rates. However, it is likely that some investors involved in the equities market must have come to the realization that the party might be over when it comes to borrowing at such low short-term rates. Did the Fed react too quickly with regard to moving rates up? It is hard to fathom this since they left rates so low for so long. And they warned us for a year that the rate increase was coming. Still, we do get the impression that the bad news around the world could have swayed the Fed to wait another few months. It was almost as if they had said that rates were going up "this year" so many times, they only had one more chance and that was the December meeting. On the other hand, the last jobs report moved our unemployment rate to 4.9%, which is the lowest in eight years. The economy produced 150,000 jobs in January and still the markets were disappointed in the number. The news on job creation is evidence which supports the action by the Fed to move rates upward, even if ever so slightly. Though the stock market may be reacting to the world-wide economic slowdown, there is also more than just a small possibility that the specter of higher short-term rates also is factoring into the equation. Keith Stewart 773-529-7000