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Mortgage Rate Wake Up Call

Kitchen that sparkles

There’s a reason that local home loan providers sometimes choose to lead their ads with a ‘lock’ provision. They know that potential clients likely to be enticed by low Southern California mortgage rate numbers are fairly sophisticated—they know that today’s mortgage rate is not necessarily tomorrow’s. By the time a home loan is finalized, the headlined number could be less favorable; hence, the ‘lock’ guarantees.

For quite a while—years, actually—area mortgage rates have behaved themselves pretty much the way we’d like. There may have been occasional minor upticks, but seldom any that would cause serious consternation. The interest rate hikes which some experts had predicted for 2014 and 2015 never seemed to materialize: every notch up was followed by notches back down. Mortgage rate volatility disappeared as a topic of interest from real estate and financial pages. What discussion there was tended to be predictable: rates would certainly have to rise, sooner or later—but later was (yawn) a lot more likely. It was pretty much All Quiet on the Mortgage Front…zzzzzzzzzz….

Until last week, which provided a definite wakeup call. It was a textbook example of how mercurial mortgage rates can turn—and how right those were who have been championing financing and/or refinancing while rates are in the historically low range.

The week started out quietly enough. In the previous week, before the Federal Reserve’s 2-day meeting, consumer mortgage rates were, per themortgagereport website, “scraping new lows, bestowing refinance opportunities on homeowners and boosting the purchasing power for buyers” across the nation. As usual, the Fed get-together provided hints that the Fed Funds rate would certainly have to rise, sooner or later…and although sooner did seem to be jostling later for consideration. It had been a possibility for so long, the usual carefully-worded announcement failed to raise undue concern. Yawns had to be stifled.

Until Friday, when the Non-Farm Payroll report hit the snoozing nation like a tornado in January. It crushed the forecasts. It was stellar. This was as unexpected as, per FuturesMag writer Matt Weller, it was “essentially perfect.”  The world’s largest economy had created a “stunning” 271,000 jobs. What was not to like?

For those who were banking on mortgage interest rates remaining frozen in the cellar, there was a lot not to like. The strong news made the Fed much more likely to finally raise the Fed Funds rate next month! Web headlines were screaming within minutes: “Bad Day for Mortgage Rates; Non-Farm Payrolls Soar” and “Non-farm payroll paves the way for a Fed rate hike in December.The Washington Post even came up with “This settles it: The Fed is going to raise interest rates in December.” That may be far from certain, but quoted home loan rates did begin to rise in anticipation. By the close of business on Friday, the Mortgage News Daily observed rates that were the highest since July.

What does this mean for Southern California mortgage interest rates? If the now wide-awake experts are credible, it looks as if taking advantage of still-low rates is likely to prove advantageous. There are never any guarantees, but for anyone intending a move that involves a home loan, it might not be a bad idea to give me a call—sooner rather than later!

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