Geopolitical concerns are back in the news and helping mortgage rates today.
North Korea is threatening nuclear action against "U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland."
While these threats are never good to hear, they do "spook" investors, who turn to safe-haven buying, which drives down mortgage rates.Click to see today's rates (Sep 25th, 2017)
Last weekâ€™s unemployment figuresÂ came in with 234,000 new claims for unemployment benefits -- far fewer than expected (which would be bad for rates) but almost unchanged from the previous week, and it's only a week of data anyway. Not that influential compared to other reports.
We also got March's Producer Price Index (PPI), and a preliminary Consumer Sentiment reading. Analysts expected the PPI to increase by .1, and the Consumer Sentiment level to fall by a substantial .9. Even better for rates, though, the PPIÂ fell by .1, and Consumer SentimentÂ plummeted by 1.9!
Bad if you're a retailer, great if you're floating a mortgage rate.
These rates are averages, and your rate could be lower.
Friday has a couple of important releases -- the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation indicator, and the Retail Sales report.
The catch is that the bond markets will be closing early for a holiday weekend. This means mortgage pricing is likely to be very conservative on Friday, as lenders won't want to get caught closed while events cause rates elsewhere to rise. (This, in the industry, is called a "tape bomb.")
This is a good time to take advantage of the drop in pricing. I recommend locking for anyone closing in the next 30 days.
Note that this is what I would do if I had a mortgage in process today. Your own goals and tolerance for risk may differ.ÂClick to see today's rates (Sep 25th, 2017)
Mortgage interest rates depend on a great deal on the expectations of investors. Good economic news tends to be bad for interest rates, because an active economy raises concerns about inflation. Inflation causes fixed-income investments like bonds to lose value, and that causes their yields (another way of saying interest rates) to increase.
For example, suppose that two years ago, you bought a $1,000 bond payingÂ five percent interest ($50) each year. (This is called its â€ścoupon rate.") Thatâ€™s a pretty good rate today, so lots of investors want to buy it from you. You sell your $1,000 bond for $1,200.
The buyer gets the same $50 a year in interest that you were getting. However, because he paid more for the bond, his interest rate is not five percent.
TheÂ buyer gets an interest rate, or yield, of only 4.2 percent. And thatâ€™s why, when demand for bonds increases and bond prices go up, interest rates go down.
However, when the economy heats up, the potential for inflation makes bonds less appealing. With fewer people wanting to buy bonds, their prices decrease, and then interest rates go up.
Imagine that you have your $1,000 bond, but you can't sell it for $1,000, because unemployment has dropped and stock prices are soaring. You end up gettingÂ $700. The buyer gets the same $50 a year in interest, but the yield looks like this:
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2017 Conforming, FHA, & VA Loan Limits
Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)