Friday, March 28, 2008

Mortgage Rates & Federal Funds Rates

Recently there has been a lot of press regarding the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates. Many people believe this action also lowers home mortgage rates, but the 30 year fixed mortgage interest rate is not directly tied to the Fed’s rate cuts.

First, a little background: Each day, banks are required by law to keep a certain amount of money in reserves, so that the next day they’ll have enough liquid assets to do business (e.g. make loans, fulfill withdrawal requests…).

At the end of the day banks do not always have their minimum reserve requirements in store. So the banks lend each other money overnight to meet their reserves. The interest rate at which the banks lend each other money is called the Federal Funds rate. This is the rate Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has direct control over and has been cutting lately. Bernanke’s desired effect is to stimulate our economy by making money available more cheaply to banks.

Lending institutions can pass along the savings to consumers with some loans. For example, the Federal Funds rate correlates closely to the Prime Rate, which is the interest rate banks use to lend to their best customers. The interest rate for a Home Equity Line of Credit is typically set according to the Prime Rate.

The Fed cannot step in and control the pricing on the 30 year fixed rate mortgage. This rate is determined by the market demand for mortgage-backed securities and bonds. Typically when the bond market is doing well and the stock market is doing poorly the rate for a 30 year fixed mortgage is lower.

Simply put, a slowing economy equals lower mortgage interest rates. While a growing economy equals higher mortgage interest rates.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Seattle Real Estate Market Review

The number of home sales for February 2008 in the greater Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, and Greenlake areas is beginning to pick up. It continues to be off February 2007's number, but only by approximately 15% incomparision to 33% last month. The bad news is that there was a dip in home prices.

The average home sold for 2% less and the median home sold for 5% less than in February 2007. Homes that were priced right continued to sell well. The 72 homes that sold within the first 30 days of the listing date were purchased for just over 100% of the listing price (% sp/lp). While the 22 homes that sold between 31 to 60 days were purchased for approximately 97% (% sp/lp). A note to sellers: price your home right. It will save you time and money.

I'm beginning to believe more and more that the bottom of the current slow down was in October, November, and December of 2007. As we approach summer the real estate market should continue to improve.

Although the average and median priced home for this area was down, I believe the real estate market is unlikely to crash in Seattle as it has in other areas of the country.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Conforming Loan Limits Seattle

As I mentioned in my blog entry last month with this same title, both congress and the Bush administration have agreed to raise the conforming loan limit through the end of the year. This change is part of the economic stimulus package that was approved by congress recently.

For King, Snohomish, and Peirce Counties the conforming loan limit has been raised to $567,500.00. This is calculated on a new formula that is based on the median home price of the area, which allows Fannie, Freddie and the FHA to guarantee loans of up to that amount.

We must wait and see what the Banks will do with this change, but it is likely that conforming loans will be available in the greater Seattle area for up to that amount. A great help for individuals who intend to purchase a home or refinance with a loan between $417,000 and $567,500.00 by saving them approximately 1% of interest on their loan.

As more information becomes available on this topic I'll be sure to provide updates.

To check the loan limits your self click here.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Jean Mann at the Ballard Art Walk in March of 2008

I'll be hosting artist/singer/song writer Jean Mann at the Ballard Art Walk this month. It is on Saturday the 8th from 6 to 9 PM at the FORUM CENTER. To preview the show go to:

Work For Food in Seattle!

I'm making progress with my campaign to help the homeless in Seattle. To date I've raised $1050.00. To learn more about my campaign go to