Rates Rise – Home Sales Too

by August 5, 2009 • 0 comments

Mortgage rates held up well last week as the Federal Reserve auctioned off a whopping $200 billion in US Treasury debt and even managed to improve somewhat by week’s end as I had predicted. This week has been another story however. After sliding to 5.25%, the rate on the benchmark thirty-year, fixed-rate climbed back to 5.50% as the ten-year Treasury note yield rose to 3.73% by Wednesday morning.

Bonds prices have been falling in reaction to positive economic news and a renewed rally in the stock market though stocks looked ready to pull back by mid week. After a period of relative calm over the past several weeks, we are seeing a return to volatility and I expect to see some see-sawing of rates over the short-run as investors try to digest the mix of economic data and corporate earnings.

Yet another sign of a thawing housing market could be seen in a report released on Tuesday that showed pending home sales rose for the fifth consecutive month in June. According to the National Association of Realtors, the Pending Home Sales Index rose to 3.6% during June. That was 6.7% higher than in June of 2008 and the first five consecutive month increase since July of 2003. The number surprised most analysts who had expected a meager .7% increase. The majority of the sales were in the lower-end segment of the market indicating that many first-time buyers are getting off the fence, lured by low rates, low prices and the $8,000 tax credit. With a deadline closing date of November 30 to be eligible for the credit, I expect we will see a surge of first-time buyer activity in the next ten weeks or so.

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