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The Fed reported this week that the economic recovery continued at a modest pace over the first weeks of this year. Most businesses remain optimistic about the next 6-12 months.

Many investors are concerned that increased spending resulting from President Biden's stimulus measure, if passed, will lead to greater inflation and might pressure rates higher.

Jobless claims rose slightly last week to 745,000, just below estimates of 750,000. The increase underscores the pandemic's lingering effect on labor market recovery.

 

A new report from the CFPB finds over 11 million families at risk of losing housing and warns of possible widespread evictions once protections end, as 8.8 million families are behind on rent.

The same CFPB report shows 2.1 million families are behind at least 3 months on mortgage payments and that homeowners owe almost $90 billion in missed payments.

Since the pandemic started, the number of home shoppers buying a multi-generational home has risen to 15%, the highest level since NAR started collecting the data in 2012.

 
 

 


Consumer confidence increased in February. Households report plans to spend more over the next 6 months as they are more optimistic about the labor market and economic recovery.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress this week, saying the economy has a long way to go and reassuring that the Fed will remain accommodative.

Jobless claims fell more than expected last week to 730,000, much lower than the forecast of 838,000, pointing to a labor market that is slowly recovering as businesses reopen.

 

After a brief pullback in December, existing home sales increased in January despite a record low inventory. Sales were up 0.6% for the month.

The inventory shortage did lead to a decline in January's pending home sales, though, falling for the 5th straight month. They were still up 13% from a year ago.

Home prices rose 10.4% in December according to Case-Shiller, the biggest gain in 7 years. The combination of low mortgage rates and low inventory has caused bidding wars across the nation.


Retail sales jumped 5.3% to start 2021, well ahead of the 1.2% expectation. The big move came as millions of consumers received $600 stimulus checks.

Producer prices increased in January by the most since 2009 as the cost of goods and services surged. This points to a potential rise in wholesale inflation and is not good for rates.

January Fed meeting minutes indicate officials see the economy "far from" the Fed's goals for the labor market recovery and inflation, so policy is unlikely to change soon.

 

Housing starts fell more than expected in January amid soaring lumber prices and labor shortages. However, permits were up 10.4%, pointing to increases in the coming months.

The NAHB says builder confidence has picked up after 2 months of declines despite labor and lumber challenges. Strong buyer demand helped offset these issues.

Strong demand also means buyers are increasingly facing fierce bidding wars and home prices are surging. About 40% of potential buyers surveyed keep getting outbid.

 


When closing your refinance there are a few basics you need to know in advance. 

Your “payoff amount” is always higher than your remaining principal balance.

Your balance is the amount of remaining principal owed. Your payoff amount is the balance plus prorated interest from the last payment received until the loan is actually paid off.

The funding date is usually different from the closing date.

The government mandates a three-day rescission period for refinances of primary residences. Loan payoffs will not occur until the fourth business day post-closing. This will affect the payoff amount, the final payment date and the release of any cash.

Don't count on your existing escrow funds for closing.

If you have an escrow account for taxes and/or insurance, these funds will be held there until the current loan is paid off. Accordingly, unless funds for taxes due and/or a new escrow account are covered by the new loan, be prepared to advance this money at closing. It will typically take several weeks before your current escrow account funds are returned to you, so it pays to plan ahead.

As always, we’re here to help you with your transaction and to answer your questions. We want you to be comfortable with the process and understand it fully. Never hesitate to reach out.


Consumer prices rose moderately in January, and underlying inflation remained benign. The pandemic continues to be a drag on the labor market and services industry.

Despite a reported unemployment rate that has fallen to 6.3%, Fed chair Jerome Powell said the rate is actually closer to 10% and is “a long way” from where it needs to be.

Jobless claims continue to decrease weekly, with 793k new applications last week. That is well below the record 6.867 million applications last March when the pandemic hit.

 
 

Consumers were more positive about home selling conditions in January. The measure jumped 16 percentage points month over month in a recent FNMA survey.

More than 33% of homes are now considered "equity rich," according to a recent ATTOM survey. Equity rich is defined as owing less than 50% of the home's value in loans.

Although overall mortgage applications fell slightly last week, purchase applications were down only about 5% from the previous week and were up 17% over last year.

 


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