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The shutdown’s aftermath

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column, Ankeny

As the government shutdown stretched into mid-October, a last-minute deal by House Republicans and Democrats was reached just before the debt ceiling deadline on Oct. 17.

End of shutdown. The deal ended the shutdown, and equities markets rallied on the news. Home loan rates, which are tied to mortgage bonds, did move a bit higher during the shutdown, but then improved just after the shutdown and fiscal issues were resolved.

Rates will continue on a volatile track until the economy stabilizes after the shutdown’s specter lifts, a paralyzing threat which could have stalled or prevented many government-sponsored mortgage programs, such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, Veterans Affairs (VA) loans and USDA loans for homes in rural areas.

Crisis averted… for now. The government is now funded through mid-January 2014, and the debt limit has been suspended until Feb. 7. So what does this mean for the U.S. economy and the housing recovery? It means that without firm budget decisions in place, another round of budget talks will have to take place again starting now up until the new deadline next year. Until then, the government does have some short-term and impermanent funding plans in place.

Housing and home loans. Confidence among U.S. homebuilders fell more than forecast in October to a four-month low, as rising interest rates and the shutdown stifled any housing market progress. Builder confidence weakened in three of the four major U.S. regions, with companies in the Northeast showing the greatest deterioration. Optimism also wavered in the South and West.

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index decreased to 55 in October from a revised 57 in September. Readings above 50 mean more builders view conditions as good than poor. Last month, prospective homebuyer traffic also reached its lowest level since June, while units of single-family home sales saw month-to-month losses.

The bottom line. Borrowing costs for homebuyers have been rising since May. This is still lower than in August, when rates reached a two-year high and held close to that level through mid-September.

At the same time, homebuyer demand has outpaced the number of homes on the market, driving prices up to the benefit of builders.

Despite these increases, home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical rates. If you have any questions about your personal situation, or would like to inquire about a home loan purchase or refinance application, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Information from You magazine, provided by Gary Presnall, president and residential loan officer, Valley Bank, 210 N.E. Delaware Ave., 964-5626,

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