Video: What Is “Prime”?

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What Is “Prime”?

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  – is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.

The video shows  an example.

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%
  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%
  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

What Is Prime

FOMC Statement: Fed Holds Steady on Rates

FOMC Statement Fed Holds Steady on RatesAccording to statement issued at the conclusion of today’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, committee members decided against raising the target federal funds rate. Mixed economic conditions, slower economic growth in the 4th quarter and low inflation contributed to the decision against raising rates. The target federal funds rate was raised in December to a range of 0.25 to 1.59 percent after remaining at 0.00 to 0.25 percent for several years. While rising fed rates were expected to cause a hike in mortgage rates, mortgage rates fell after December’s rate hike.

Committee Cites Mixed Data in Decision

While labor conditions and housing markets continue to improve, FOMC members said that further improvement in labor markets and achieving the medium term goal of inflation influenced the committee’s decision not to raise rates. The Federal Reserve has a dual goal of achieving maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. While labor conditions continue to improve, the Committee wants to see further improvement. The inflation rate has stubbornly stayed below 2 percent and lower energy and non-energy import prices caused the inflation rate to fall further in recent weeks. The Fed also downgraded its reading of household spending and business investment growth from “strong” to “moderate.”

FOMC members consider global economic and financial conditions as well as trends and developing news affecting domestic economic and financial developments. Wednesday’s statement emphasized that constant monitoring and analysis of financial and economic readings are significant in monetary policy decisions. Analysts noted that recent economic developments including slowing economic growth in the US and China, along with resulting turbulence in financial markets likely contributed to the Fed’s decision not to raise the federal funds rate.

FOMC Says Policy Decisions to Remain “Accommodative”

Members of the FOMC do not expect marked economic improvement in the short term and said that they expect Fed monetary policy to remain accommodative “for some time.” This suggests that rapid rate hikes are not likely to occur in the near future; the Fed’s commitment to gradual rate increases is expected promote further improvements in labor markets and hold down borrowing rates for consumer credit and mortgages.

The Committee’s vote not to increase rates was unanimous. The next FOMC meeting is set for March 15 and 16. In the meantime, Fed Chair and FOMC Chair Janet Yellen is slated to testify before Congress about the economic outlook on February 10 and 11.

FOMC Statement: Fed Holds Steady on Rates

FOMC Statement Fed Holds Steady on RatesAccording to statement issued at the conclusion of today’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, committee members decided against raising the target federal funds rate. Mixed economic conditions, slower economic growth in the 4th quarter and low inflation contributed to the decision against raising rates. The target federal funds rate was raised in December to a range of 0.25 to 1.59 percent after remaining at 0.00 to 0.25 percent for several years. While rising fed rates were expected to cause a hike in mortgage rates, mortgage rates fell after December’s rate hike.

Committee Cites Mixed Data in Decision

While labor conditions and housing markets continue to improve, FOMC members said that further improvement in labor markets and achieving the medium term goal of inflation influenced the committee’s decision not to raise rates. The Federal Reserve has a dual goal of achieving maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. While labor conditions continue to improve, the Committee wants to see further improvement. The inflation rate has stubbornly stayed below 2 percent and lower energy and non-energy import prices caused the inflation rate to fall further in recent weeks. The Fed also downgraded its reading of household spending and business investment growth from “strong” to “moderate.”

FOMC members consider global economic and financial conditions as well as trends and developing news affecting domestic economic and financial developments. Wednesday’s statement emphasized that constant monitoring and analysis of financial and economic readings are significant in monetary policy decisions. Analysts noted that recent economic developments including slowing economic growth in the US and China, along with resulting turbulence in financial markets likely contributed to the Fed’s decision not to raise the federal funds rate.

FOMC Says Policy Decisions to Remain “Accommodative”

Members of the FOMC do not expect marked economic improvement in the short term and said that they expect Fed monetary policy to remain accommodative “for some time.” This suggests that rapid rate hikes are not likely to occur in the near future; the Fed’s commitment to gradual rate increases is expected promote further improvements in labor markets and hold down borrowing rates for consumer credit and mortgages.

The Committee’s vote not to increase rates was unanimous. The next FOMC meeting is set for March 15 and 16. In the meantime, Fed Chair and FOMC Chair Janet Yellen is slated to testify before Congress about the economic outlook on February 10 and 11.

Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA Loan

Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA LoanBuying a home isn’t cheap. But if you’re determined to become a homeowner, the FHA home loan program can help. This loan program, ideal for first-time buyers with low incomes, can help you to build your credit and make home ownership a reality.

So why should you consider an FHA loan? Here are just a few ways you’ll benefit from these government-backed mortgages.

You Can Get Approved With Just 3.5% Down

Traditional mortgage lenders typically require you to pay 20% down on your mortgage, or 5% if you have good credit and agree to pay mortgage insurance premiums. But for a lot of younger people with lots of debt and low incomes, even a 5% down payment is an unrealistic burden. With an FHA loan, you can be approved for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% – which means a $200,000 home can be yours for as little as $7,000 down.

You Can Get A Loan Even With A High Debt-To-Income Ratio

Standard mortgages are difficult to get if you have a high debt-to-income ratio. Typically, lenders will want to see that your mortgage costs will consume no more than 28% of your income, and your total payments toward debts from all sources will be no more than 36% of your income. But with an FHA loan, you can get a mortgage with a 29/41 ratio.

You Can Qualify With A Low Credit Score

If you have a credit score under 700, you’ll pay higher interest rates on typical mortgages – and if it’s below 660, you may not get approved at all. But with an FHA mortgage, you can get approved for a 3.5% down payment with a credit score as low as 580 – or lower, if you agree to a 10% down payment.

FHA Closing Cost Regulations Are Better For Low-Income Buyers

FHA loans have different closing cost regulations than traditional mortgages. With an FHA loan, you can bundle closing costs into the mortgage or even use gift funds for 100% of the closing costs. That means home ownership is more accessible for people with lower incomes.

An FHA Loan Can Help You Find A Good Home

With most mortgages, you’re free to buy any home you wish as long as you stay within a set price range. But with an FHA loan, any home you buy must be habitable, sanitary, and safe – otherwise the FHA won’t approve your loan. That means using an FHA loan will ensure you get a good home.

Buying a home with an FHA loan is a great way to become a homeowner if a traditional mortgage isn’t an option for you. Call your local mortgage professional to learn more.

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can Help

A Guide to Financing Home Improvements and How Mortgage Refinancing Can HelpIf you’re planning to remodel or renovate your home in the near future – whether to provide a better living environment or as part of a house flip – you’ll need to find a way to pay for your home improvements. There are several different possible sources of renovation money, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One option that is gaining popularity is mortgage refinancing.

How does mortgage refinancing work, and how does it compare to other renovation financing options? How can you use a mortgage refinance to get the most out of your renovation? Here’s what you need to know.

Home Improvement Investments: Which Renovations Generate The Best Returns?

If you’re considering a mortgage refinance in order to fund your home improvements, you’ll want to concentrate on doing renovations that increase your home’s value. Otherwise, you’ll be taking on more debt without gaining anything in return.

If you want to max out your return on investment, re-finishing your kitchen is your best strategy. Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost-to-value renovation analysis shows that new appliances, a new coat of paint, and new surface finishes in the kitchen generate the biggest returns. Meanwhile, swimming pools and home offices tend to generate the lowest returns because they appeal only to a select group of buyers.

Your Options For Financing Home Improvement Projects

Financing for a home improvement project is a critical consideration. Unless you can afford to pay $20,000 out of pocket for a remodeling project, you’ll need to secure financing of some sort.

Your options for home improvement financing include home equity lines of credit, renovation mortgages, and refinancing. A HELOC may not be an ideal solution, as repayment requires discipline, while a renovation mortgage (or home renovation loan) is typically used only for foreclosures and other properties requiring major renovation work.

Mortgage Refinancing: A Smart Option For Savvy Borrowers

If you’re looking to simply make improvements to your existing home, a mortgage refinance is likely your best option. A straight refinance gives you a lump sum of cash that you can use to pay for renovations upfront.

There’s also a “refinance plus improvements” arrangement, which can provide you with extra capital as you need it. Under this model, you can get up to 80% of your home’s post-renovation appraisal value – however, you’ll only get the money as the renovations are completed and inspected. With a straight refinance, you’re not out of pocket for any length of time.

Making smart home improvements is a great way to boost your home’s value and improve your living conditions. An experienced mortgage professional can help you to find financing for those renovations without a hassle. Contact your local mortgage advisor to learn more.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 25, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 25 2016Last week’s scheduled economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders, Housing Starts, and Existing Home Sales. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released. 

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.46 million sales on an annual seasonally adjusted basis in December. This reading surpassed expectations of 5.21 million sales and November’s reading of 4.76 million sales. November’s low reading was in part affected by new mortgage rules, which delayed some closings into December. Economic factors pushing housing markets include low driven by falling fuel costs easing consumers’ budgets could provide confidence to move up to a larger home and for first time buyers to enter the market.

Existing Home Sales Up 7.6 Percent in December

There was a 3.9 month supply of pre-owned homes on the market in December; this was the lowest inventory since January 2005. High demand for homes and a slim supply of available homes continued to tighten housing markets. Growing demand for homes coupled with a shortage of homes for sale are driving up prices; the national average price of a pre-owned home rose 7.60 percent in December to $224,100. Rapidly rising home prices present an obstacle to first time buyers and as home prices rise, more buyers will face affordability concerns.

Housing Starts dipped in December to 1.15 million as compared to expectations of 1.23 million and November’s reading of 1.18 million housing starts annually. Builders constructed homes in 2015 at the highest rate since the recession. While December’s reading fell short of expectations, housing starts increased nearly 11 percent year-over-year. While builders cite obstacles such as shortages of land and labor, a growing pace of housing starts is seen as a partial solution to the shortage of available homes.

Building permits issued increased 12 percent in 2015; permits issued gauge future building activity and supply of available homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week

Average mortgage rates fell last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped 11 basis points to 3.81 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis points to an average of 3.10 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped 10 basis points to 2.91 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively. Sean Becketti, chief economist for Freddie Mac, cited turbulence in the financial markets as a factor contributing to lower mortgage rates.

New jobless claims rose to a seven week high of 293,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 283,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims jumped by 6.500 new claims to an average of 285,000 claims. Lingering layoffs of temporary holiday workers were cited as contributing to higher first-time claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled events include data on new and pending home sales, the Case-Shiller home price indexes. The Fed will release its latest FOMC statement. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual. Reports on consumer confidence and sentiment will also be released.

3 ‘Must Know’ Pieces of Advice for First-time Home Buyers

3 'Must Know' Pieces of Advice for First-time Home BuyersWhen delving into the realities of home ownership, there can be many factors involved that make it difficult to determine what you need to know and what can wait until later. If you happen to be a first-time buyer who’s looking for the best tips for purchasing a home, look no further than the following three pointers to set you on the right path.

Get Familiar With Your Credit Score

If you haven’t looked at your credit report for a long time, it can be a daunting task to request this information. Fortunately, your credit report is free from AnnualCreditReport.com and it will prepare you for what lenders are going to see. By taking this important step, you will be able to determine any delinquent accounts or balances owing that have gone to collections, and hopefully have these cleaned up before they can become a problem for your mortgage.

Determine The Price You Can Pay

While you may have a price in mind for what you’re willing to pay for a home, it’s important to determine your debt-to-income ratio before putting in an offer. Your DTI ratio can be determined by taking your total monthly costs, adding it to what you would be paying for a home and dividing it by your monthly gross income. If it’s a housing price that will work for you, this amount should equate to less than 43%.

Organize Your Housing History

If you have a good history as a tenant, the next step will probably be the easiest of all, but it’s very important in order to prove you’re a responsible candidate for home ownership. Once you’ve acquired a Verification of Rent from any applicable landlord in the previous year, you’ll want to ensure that you have money in the bank. While RRSP’s can make a good impression, make sure you have liquid assets available so you can convince the lender your home investment is manageable.

There are a lot of things to know when it comes to buying a home, but if you’re a first time buyer the most important thing is to ensure that your finances are organized and that you’re not diving into more house than you can afford. By taking the time to determine your debt-to-income ratio and looking into your credit, you can ensure a positive first-time buying experience. If you’re wondering about homes for sale in your area, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Approved for a Mortgage Quickly

The Do's and Don'ts of Getting Approved for a Mortgage QuicklyIf you’re ready to buy a home, getting approved for a mortgage is a critical step that you can’t skip or rush. And although it may seem like the lenders can be a bit arbitrary in their approvals, there’s actually a detailed set of criteria they look for when approving or denying an application.

So how can you ensure your mortgage gets approved quickly and without any hassles? Here’s what you need to know.

Do: Have All Your Documents In Order Right Away

Processing the paperwork on a mortgage approval is one of the most time-consuming parts of getting a mortgage. And if you forget to include a form or fill something out incorrectly, it may take your lender days or weeks to sort out the problem. So before you go to your lender to get approved, make sure you have all of the necessary documents and that they’re all filled out correctly – it’ll save you a great deal of time later.

Don’t: Accept A New Job Or Start A Business While Closing

Once it comes time to close on your mortgage loan, you’ll want to keep your finances as consistent as possible until after the closing. Any change to your financial situation can throw a wrench into the approval process and delay your loan. If you’re planning to quit your job to start a business, accept a new job, cut back your hours, or go on parental leave, wait until after the home sale closes.

Do: Get Pre-Approved With Your Lender

One simple thing you can do to greatly speed up the approval process is get pre-approved. If you’ve already been pre-approved for a mortgage through a certain lender, then securing a mortgage through that lender will be a very smooth process – and in some cases, a pre-approval can speed up your mortgage approval by a week or even more. With a pre-approval in hand, the only issue that remains to be settled with the lender is providing them with your new home address.

Don’t: Co-Sign A Loan For A Friend Or Relative

Any major purchase or new debt of any kind will read as a serious red flag for your lender, one that will take time to sort out. Your lender will do a second credit check just before closing the mortgage, and any new loan amounts can delay or stop the approval. So if a friend or relative asks you to co-sign their loan, wait until after your mortgage is approved.

Getting approved for a mortgage can seem challenging, but by following a few simple rules, you’ll make it easy for your lender to sign off. For more mortgage approval advice, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Home Builders Remain Confident in January

Home Builders Remain Confident in JanuaryHome builders maintained December’s confidence level according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for January. The latest reading of 60 mirrored December’s reading, but was two points lower than expected. Readings of more than 50 indicate that more builders were confident about housing conditions than those who were not.

Although January’s reading fell shy of October’s reading of 65, which was a ten-year high for the home builder index. Any reading in the low 60’s suggests gradual improvement in housing market conditions according to NAHB. While December’s year-over-year reading for new home sales was 14 percent higher than in December 2014, home builders cited industry challenges including cost of new lots and a scarce labor force. The Fed’s recent rate hike may have influenced builder confidence as higher mortgage rates would sideline some buyers.

National unemployment reached a seven-year low, which is pushing wages upward. Labor market readings are important to would-be home buyers, who typically need to be confident about jobs before investing in a home. Demand for homes continues to drive new home prices up and contributes to home builder confidence levels. The flip side of high demand is that rising home prices can price some would-be home buyers out of the market.

Components of Housing Market Index Mixed

The NAHB Housing Market Index readings are based on three components. January’s readings were mixed. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to 67, but builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months slipped three points to 63. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments slipped two points to 44; this was likely due in part to winter weather.

In related news, the University of Michigan released January’s Consumer Sentiment Index last week. Consumer sentiment rose from December’s reading of 92.60 to 03.30 and surpassed the expected reading of 93.0. Low inflation drove consumer confidence according to analysts. Low wage gains were offset by falling inflation rates. Strong consumer confidence readings suggest that more home buyers could enter the market as worries about economic conditions ease.

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