The Weekly Rap! Government Rhetoric, the Economy and other stuff. 5/13/16

The National Debt is currently: $19,268,001,132,587.00  is Higher by another 8 BILLION in the last week.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 233 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

Brace yourselves folks, it’s Friday the Thirteenth!  Stocks slid this morning Friday, putting major indexes on track for their longest weekly losing streak since January.  Energy and financial shares in the S&P 500 led the declines. Indexes had wobbled earlier in the session after an upbeat reading on retail sales, which contrasted with gloomy earnings reports from department stores earlier this week.

The Dow is lower by 185 points at 17,535.  The S&P 500 is at 2,045.  Gold is trading at $1,274 an ounce, while oil futures at $46.14 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.33/Gal.

The FNMA 30-year fixed 3.0% coupon (interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae), containing 3.25% – 3.625% mortgage rates, the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 102.78.  Our current trading range is about 102.00 to about 103.00.  Each .50 change in the price of the security translates to about 0.125 in rate.  Basically the change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the lower the rate.  

Does anyone wonder, or care, why we as a nation are promoting a candidate, Donald Trump, that has no political experience whatsoever and another that is promoting Socialism?  Well just look at the last ten years.  We’ve had a financial meltdown where we almost saw the banking system become nationalized.  Wall Street firms fell (and yes Merrill Lynch fell).  We elected a President who won the Nobel Prize is his first few months of office and for what I’m not sure.  Our government can’t balance the budget and has had to raise the debt ceiling many times (BTW isn’t that why we call it a ceiling?).  And we haven’t grown our economy at more than 2.00% in the last eight years.

Donald Trump said in an interview that economic conditions are so perilous that the country is headed for a “very massive recession” and that “it’s a terrible time right now” to invest in the stock market, embracing a distinctly gloomy view of the economy that counters mainstream economic forecasts.  I for one have been saying this for some time now.  The writing is on the wall.  We can’t continue to have next to zero interest rates and no growth in the economy forever.  The issue is that no one wants to hear anything negative.  So we’re constantly fed positive news.  Hey, you can twist just about anything positive.

The Federal Reserve’s decision about interest rates in June will be heavily impacted by the drift of its forecasts for the economy.  The Fed Gods ought to be reluctant to raise short-term interest rates at the meeting if they are also reducing their forecasts for growth and inflation or raising their forecasts for unemployment. Why raise rates if you’re becoming more pessimistic about the economic outlook?

The Wall Street Journal’s latest survey of private economists suggests that when officials reconvene in a month the position the Fed might find itself in is one of a “conundrum”  Does anyone remember that term as used by Alan Greenspan?   Forecasters surveyed in the past week have reduced their projections for 2016 growth in GDP since March and they have trimmed other projections for growth, inflation and hiring.  Their 2016 GDP growth forecast has gone from 2.4% in March to 1.9% in the latest May survey.  The forecast for 2017 growth was snipped from 2.3% to 2.2% since March.

The WSJ survey shows expectations for inflation have come down as well since March. The projection for the year-over-year change in the Consumer Price Index in December is down to 1.7% in May from 1.8% in March and 2.1% in December. The 2017 forecast was trimmed to 2.2% from 2.3%. Forecasts for the unemployment rate in December 2016 and December 2017 were nudged up to 4.7% from 4.6% in March.  These aren’t big shifts, but they’re all going in the wrong direction. Barring a big shift in economic data between now and mid-June, the hurdle looks increasingly high for a June rate increase.

A measure of small-business sentiment, The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index, rose 1 point to 93.6 in April, snapping a three-month losing streak that took it to a two-year low, the group said Tuesday.  Most of the index’s sub-gauges rose or stayed neutral. Only one, the index that tracks views about the future path of the economy, slipped.  The current political climate is to blame for small business owners’ pessimism, NFIB said in a release.  “There is no leadership in Washington, no articulations of a path to a better future, and no evidence that policy-making is focused on promoting economic growth or job creation,” wrote the group’s chief economist, William Dunkelberg.  And respondents don’t think that will change after the election. The index touched a cycle high of 100 in December 2014. Its current reading is well below the 42-year average of 98.

Good news for once, our government ran a budget surplus of $106.4 billion in April, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.  After narrowing for four straight years, the deficit for the current fiscal year looks set to see an increase of red ink.  April is an important month for the deficit as it contains highly unpredictable annual tax payments and refunds.  The bigger picture though is our “politicians” are still spending more money than we are making.  See our National Debt above.  It has doubled is just the last ten years! Donald Trump has insisted that he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.”  Whether or not he can accomplish this, at least he’s addressing the problem.  I’ve heard no other politician even mention taking down the debt.

Sales at retailers posted the biggest increase in April in a year, offering the hope that our economy is rebounding after a weak first quarter.  Retail sales rose 1.3% last month, spearheaded by big gains among auto dealers, gas stations and Internet retailers, the Commerce Department reported Friday.  Every segment of the retail industry saw improved results except for home centers whose sales were hindered by unusually damp and rainy weather.  Then again we’ve seen this year over year and nothing has changed to make me feel that we’re going to have a banner year.

Producer prices rose 0.2% in April after two straight declines, but inflation at the wholesale level remained largely absent in the broader economy.  The cost of services edged up 0.1% in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said this morning.  Goods rose 0.2%, led by surge in scrap metal prices and higher energy costs.  Food prices fell 0.3%, though.  The wholesale cost of eggs sank by one-third as farmers rebuild flocks depleted last year by the threat of disease.  Wholesale prices are unchanged in the past 12 months.  Stripping out food, energy and trade margins, so-called “core” producer prices rose 0.3% in April.  Over the past year core prices have risen just 0.9%. That’s the same as in March and February.

Consumer sentiment surged in early May as Americans’ views of the future brightened.  The University of Michigan’s index surged 7.6% to 95.8.  Most of the gain was due to the expectations index, which soared 12.8% to 87.5, it’s highest in nearly a year. The current conditions component also rose, by 1.8%, to 108.6.  The largest gains were centered in lower-income and younger households, who may be more sensitive to income gains and the jobs outlook, the Michigan researchers noted in a release.

On the Employment front:  The number of available jobs rose to an eight-month high in March, in what could be a sign that companies are struggling to find talent to fill the positions they need — but that financial-market turbulence hasn’t deterred firms from expanding.  The Labor Department said there were 5.76 million job openings in March, up from 5.61 million in February.

The sector with the largest number of open jobs is the professional and business service sector, with 1.23 million open slots, a 124,000 gain from March. The number of job openings in the construction sector edged up to 210,000, the highest level in nearly nine years, before the Great Recession that wrecked the housing sector.  The low-paying retail sector had 35,000 fewer open jobs in March, though another low-paying field, leisure and hospitality, had 29,000 more jobs to fill.

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in early May rose for the third straight week and hit a 14-month high, reflecting an unusual surge in New York state and perhaps adding to evidence that the U.S. labor market may have softened.  Initial claims climbed by 20,000 to 294,000 from May 1 to May 7, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The last time initial claims were that high: Feb. 28, 2015.

Wall Street is sure to pay close attention to jobless claims over the next few weeks to see if the softening trend continues. Even after 46,000 increase in the last three weeks, however, initial claims are still very low. They’ve held below the key 300,000 level for 62 weeks, the longest streak since 1973.

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook pageI put all of my prospective buyers through underwriting so that when they place their offer, it is as close to “cash” as you can get.  So to get “underwriter approved”, please contact me and get your offer accepted!

I have a personal App for your phone that replaces my business card.  You can contact me (various formats), run the mortgage calculator, get RE/Mortgage news, and have access to my social media sites including this weekly commentary.  You can even share my app with others.  Please check it out and let me know what you think.  Click on the following link from your phone and hit “add to home screen, then click “add” and you’re done.

Bill’s phone App:  https://bbartok.mortgagemapp.com/

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

The Weekly Rap! Friday June 26th 2015

The National Debt is currently: $18,281,639,132,587.00  is Higher by another 9 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 244 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

The Dow last traded at 17,900, lower by 950pts over where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,096.  Gold is trading at $1,173 an ounce, while oil futures at $59.54 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.85/Gal.

The FNMA 30-year fixed 3.0% coupon (interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae), containing 3.25% – 3.625% mortgage rates, the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 98.63 worse in price by about 1.40 over where we were last week.  Our current trading range has now shifted lower and is about 98.5 to about 100.5 and we are testing the bottom.  Each .50 change in the price of the security translates to about 0.125 in rate.  Todays’ drop appears to be related to the massive sell-off in the Chinese stock market. There is some talk about a liquidity crisis that could occur in China. It that were to happen, it could force the Chinese government to sell some of the $1.7 trillion in US Bonds they are holding. That is a big potential overhang for US to digest. Basically the change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the lower the rate.     

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook pageI put all of my prospective buyers through underwriting so that when they place their offer, it is as close to “cash” as you can get.  So to get your clients “underwriter approved”, please contact me and get your offer accepted!

I just learned of a great home improvement loan from Home Depot that is not secured.  In other words it is not a lien on your home.  Loan amounts are up to $40,000 and are based on qualifying with no documentation.  You have 6-months to spend the money (interest only payment period) and then the balance is amortized over 7 years at a fixed rate of 7.99%.  There are no loan fees or annual fees.  This is a great program for both Buyers who would like to do some improvements after purchasing the home, as well as Sellers who need to improve the home prior to selling.  Installation and labor can even be part of the project.  Contact me for additional information or click on the link above.

You really have to read not just the whole article, but between the lines.  An article in today’s Wall Street Journal is titled “The Mansion Bedroom Boom.”  In the article it says that real-estate agents say there is a pickup in activity for extreme second homes with 15 or more bedrooms. It goes on to say that reflecting this confidence is an uptick in listings of luxury homes loaded with bedrooms.  Excuse me, but when did an “uptick in listings” mean there is a boom in the market?  Now if they had said that there was a rise in sales, or even pending sales, or even offers being made, I “might” buy into it.  And another thing, an “uptick” is a writer’s term for a rise when there is barely any.   

The article uses an example that Real-estate developer Jeff Greene has his roughly 53,000-square-foot, 12-bedroom home in Beverly Hills, Calif., listed at $195 million. The property, called Palazzo di Amore, also includes 23 bathrooms, a guesthouse and 50-seat theater, a bowling alley, game room and ballroom with a revolving dance floor.  Ok that’s all well and good.  It goes on to say Mr. Greene spent more than $50 million expanding and renovating the estate, which he purchased in 2007 for $35 million.  Now let’s see…  Just when did $35 million (at the height of the recent RE boom by the way) and $50 Million add up to $195 million!  Really?  Ok on to the economic news.

In economic news this week; It was a lighter week of economic data, and the reader’s digest version is the economy is still trudging along.  Consumer spending is higher.  The housing market showed that total home sales are running at the fastest pace in eight years.  GDP was revised higher in the first quarter than previously estimated.  And Inflation is still running lower than normal.

Apparently the economy didn’t do as badly in first quarter as previously reported contracting in the first quarter by a smaller amount, mostly reflecting higher consumer spending and a lower drop in U.S. exports.  Gross domestic product (GDP), the value of everything a nation produces, declined by 0.2% annual rate as opposed to the previously reported 0.7% drop from January to March the Commerce Department said.  Economic growth in the first quarter was apparently hampered by a number of temporary headwinds such as unusually harsh weather, a major dockworker’s strike and a stronger dollar that made U.S. exports costlier to sell.  The good news is that growth has picked up in the spring and early summer, though perhaps not fast as hoped. In the second quarter, the economy is on track to expand by at least 2% and the Economites forecast a 2.8% increase.

The housing sector has rebounded, consumers are spending a bit more and the value of the dollar has come off a 10-year to give U.S. exporters some relief.  Consumers spent at a moderate pace in the first quarter. The increase in household spending, the main engine of growth, was revised up to 2.1% from 1.8%. Consumers spent more at restaurants and on takeout, the government said.  Spending on transportation was also higher than previously estimated.

The economy was still running below trend in May, according to the Chicago Fed’s national activity index released Monday. The index, a weighted average of 85 different economic indicators, edged up to negative 0.17 from negative 0.19, and the three-month average edged up to negative 0.16 from negative 0.20. A zero reading shows the economy is running at its trend rate of growth, and readings in the three-month average below negative 0.70 indicate a recession has likely begun.

Americans splurged on new cars and trucks in May and spent more to fill up their gas tanks, boosting consumer spending last month at the fastest pace in six years.  Consumer spending rose 0.9% in May to mark the biggest gain since 2009, the government reported.  The amount consumers spent in April and March was also a bit stronger than initially reported. Most analysts believe Americans are in the best financial shape in years, but so far the recovery has been marked by an up-and-down pattern in consumer spending.

Inflation, or the “core” PCE index that excludes food and energy, edged up 0.1% in May.  The core rate rose at a 1.2% pace year over year, down from 1.3% in April.  The low level of inflation is a big reason why the Fed has refrained from raising interest rates. The Fed believes an inflation rate of 2% would be healthier for the economy and a persistently low rate could prompt them to wait even longer to raise rates.

On the Real Estate front:

Sales of existing homes rose 5.1% in May to an annual rate of 5.35 million, hitting the fastest pace since November 2009 and rebounding from a drop in April, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.  First-time buyers stepped up their purchases, supported by a strengthening jobs market and greater access to mortgages, according to NAR.  A greater number of homes on the market also supported more sales, NAR said. This year is on track to be the best for home sales since 2007, NAR said. On Monday NAR revised April’s pace to 5.09 million.

Sales of new single-family homes in May reached the fastest pace in more than seven years, according to data released Tuesday that signaled strength during the hot spring housing market.  New single-family homes sold at an annual rate of 546,000 in May, the most since February 2008, with growth in two of four regions, the Commerce Department reported.

The housing market has actually been underperforming for years. In the first quarter, fixed residential investment made up about 3.1% of real GDP, below an average of more than 5% over the past five decades.  But key factors are improving. Young families and other first-time buyers are making more home purchases. The jobs environment is steadying. And with the beginnings of a pick-up for wage growth, there’s rising demand and ability among borrowers to take out a mortgage.

Rising home prices should help some struggling borrowers and firm their financial footing. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (homes backed by conventional loans FNMA & FHMAC) reported that home prices rose 0.3% in April, and were up 5.3% from a year earlier.

On the Employment front: The labor market is still showing plenty of vigor, the latest look at layoffs shows.  The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week rose by 3,000 to 271,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.  Initial jobless claims have been under the key 300,000 level for 16 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 2000-2001.

Useless Trivia:  And no, I did not fact-check every one of them.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. Reminds me of voters!

 

Fun for the day: 

An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an engineer – you’re in the wrong place.”

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they’ve got air conditioning, flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is becoming a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and asks with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?”

Satan replies, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning, flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake – he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way! I like having an engineer on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?”

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

The Weekly Rap! Friday June 19th 2015

The National Debt is currently: $18,272,639,132,587.00  is Higher by another 9 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 244 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

The Dow last traded at 18,860 higher by 180pts over where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,114.  Gold is trading at $1,201 an ounce, while oil futures at $58.96 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.93/Gal.

The FNMA 30-year fixed 3.0% coupon (interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae), containing 3.25% – 3.625% mortgage rates, the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 100.03 about .75 (in price) over where we were last week.  Our current trading range has now shifted lower and is about 98.5 to about 100.5.  Each .50 change in the price of the security translates to about 0.125 in rate.  If we can hold at these levels I expect that we will trend back to higher levels.  Basically the change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the lower the rate.     

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook pageI put all of my prospective buyers through underwriting so that when they place their offer, it is as close to “cash” as you can get.  So to get your clients “underwriter approved”, please contact me and get your offer accepted!

I just learned of a great home improvement loan from Home Depot that is not secured.  In other words, it is not a lien on your home.  Loan amounts are up to $40,000 and are based on qualifying which can be done from their website.  You have 6-months to spend the money (interest only payment period) and then the balance is amortized over 7 years at a fixed rate of 7.99%.  There are no loan fees or annual fees.  This is a great program for both Buyers who would like to do some improvements after purchasing the home, as well as Sellers who need to improve the home prior to selling.  Installation and labor can even be part of the project.  Contact me for additional information or click on the link above.

In economic news this week; It was another busy week of economic data, and the reader’s digest version is the economy is still trudging along.  The Fed Gods got together.  Business and factory conditions are lower.  Inflation is still muted.  And household rents are higher and the homeownership rate fell to the lowest proportion since the end of 1989.

Business conditions in the New York region worsened slightly, the New York Fed reported Monday. The Empire State manufacturing index for June sank to negative 2.0 from 3.1 in May. This is the second negative reading in the past three months for the index, which is a first reading of manufacturing conditions in the month. Orders fell into negative territory while shipments retreated slightly but stayed positive. The six-month outlook worsened to 25.8 in June from 29.8 in May. This is the lowest level since January 2013.

In addition to Business conditions; the U.S. factory sector, ailing from the strong dollar, global weakness and lower oil prices, has slipped into a technical recession.  The Fed reported that industrial production dropped 0.2% unexpectedly in May and hasn’t increased since November.  The six-month drop in output, adjusted for inflation, puts the sector in a technical recession.  Compared to 12 months ago, industrial production was up 1.4%, compared to 4.8% growth as recently as November.

The Fed Gods got together this week and as anticipated, held their benchmark interest rate near zero, but according to analysts (the statement did not say this exactly), the Fed Gads believe improving economic growth is likely to warrant one or two interest rate increases before the end of the year. In their statement at the end of two days of talks, Fed officials were cautiously optimist about the economy.  Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said economy has managed to escape the “soft patch” of the first quarter.  The labor market is improving and some of the downward pressure on inflation from energy prices is abating, Yellen said, but added that more progress is needed before the central bank would be ready to pull the trigger and raise rates.

A spike in gasoline costs boosted consumer prices in May by the most in more than two years, though overall inflationary pressures in the economy have remained muted. The consumer price index rose 0.4% last month, almost entirely because of a surge in gas prices ahead of the summer driving season.  Gas prices shot up 10.4% to mark the largest gain in six years.  Gas prices have leveled off in June, however, and the cost of a gallon of gas is much lower compared to last summer.  The overall cost of food, meanwhile, was unchanged for the second month in a row

Stripping out the volatile food and energy categories, so-called “core” consumer prices rose a much milder 0.1% in May.  The cost of housing, airline tickets and medical care all rose while clothing prices declined.  Despite the increase in prices in May, consumer inflation is basically zero over the past 12 months. The muted level of inflation mostly reflects sharply lower gasoline prices compared to a year ago.  The core rate has risen 1.7% in the same span, down slightly from the prior month. But that’s still a low level historically and less what the Fed would like to see. The central bank has held off from raising interest rates even as the economy has improved partly because of unusually low inflation.

The U.S. leading economic index rose 0.7% in May for the second month in a row, the Conference Board said Thursday. “The U.S. LEI increased sharply again in May, confirming the outlook for more economic expansion in the second half of the year after what looks to be a much weaker first half,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research, in a statement.

On the Real Estate front: Home builders see a bright future for the market, with sales ramping up, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo reported Monday, even as plans for a merger show that major construction companies are trying to cut costs.  The home builders’ index rose five points to 59 in June, hitting a nine-month high.  Readings above 50 signal that home-construction companies, generally, are optimistic about sales trends, and June marks the 12th consecutive month of above-50 readings.  Gauges of builders’ views on present and upcoming home sales each hit their highest level since late 2005, shortly before the housing bubble burst. Confidence among home builders is higher than levels typically seen at recent building rates. Builders that survived the meltdown may feel particularly confident in their ability to navigate the market.

Landlords kept financial pressure on tenants last month, as annual rent growth far outpaced households’ other costs, according to data released this morning.  The cost to rent a primary residence rose 3.5% over the year through April, while the overall consumer inflation CPI dropped 0.2%, dragged down by plunging energy costs, the U.S. Labor Department reported.  The homeownership rate, which shows the share of occupied homes in which an owner lives, fell to 63.8% in the first quarter, the lowest proportion since the end of 1989, the U.S. Census Bureau said.  Families with income both above and below the median have seen drops in homeownership rates over the past year.  With homeownership at the lowest rate in 25 years, and the rental-vacancy rate close to the slimmest proportion in more than two decades, 2015 is seeing a continuation of a landlord’s market, and letting landlords to charge more.

Just how hot is rent inflation? Annual growth in tenants’ payments has been between 3.4% and 3.5% for the past six months, higher than an average of about 3% for the past two decades. Builders have ramped up apartment construction, a trend that should ease price pressure, but it will take time for that new supply to become available.  As long as demand remains high for apartments, landlords will be able to continue to raise families’ housing costs.  High rent prices may be affecting other areas of the economy as well, keeping households from spending their savings from falling gas prices. Market analysts had expected a stronger labor market and cheaper gas to lead to more shopping, but that effect hasn’t exactly panned out. While energy prices have crept up in recent months, consumer costs for gasoline in April were down more than 30% from a year earlier.

On the Employment front: The number of jobless workers seeking unemployment benefits fell again in mid-June and stood near a 15-year bottom, reflecting the steady pace of hiring across the nation and the unusually low level of layoffs.  Initial jobless claims last week fell by 12,000 to 267,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.  New claims are 15% lower compared to one year ago and they just slightly above a post-recession low of 262,000.  The economy added a preliminary 280,000 jobs in May and hiring picked up in the spring, suggesting the labor market has recovered after a winter soft patch. The U.S. is creating more than 200,000 jobs a month, more than enough to gradually reduce the nation’s official 5.5% unemployment rate over time.

 

Fun for the day: 

Under the age of 40? You won’t understand. Part 2 of 2

Ø  I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.

Ø  I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital, and TV cable stations. We weren’t!!

Ø  Oh yeah … And where was the antibiotics and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!

Ø  We played “King of the Hill” on piles of gravel left on vacant building sites and when we got hurt, mom pulled out the $1 bottle of iodine and then we got our backside spanked. Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10 day dose of antibiotics and then mom calls the lawyer to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

Ø  To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family.

Ø  How could we possibly have known that?

Ø  We never needed to get into group therapy and/or anger management classes.

Ø  We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac!

Ø  How did we ever survive?

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

Bill-Bartok-ESIG-9-25-13.jpg

The Weekly Rap! Friday June 12th 2015

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook pageI put all of my prospective buyers through underwriting so that when they place their offer, it is as close to “cash” as you can get.  So to get your clients “underwriter approved”, please contact me and get your offer accepted!

The National Debt is currently: $18,263,639,132,587.00  is Higher by another 9 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 244 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

The Dow last traded at 17,880 right where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,092.  Gold is trading at $1,179 an ounce, while oil futures at $60.00 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.03/Gal.

The FNMA 30-year fixed 3.0% coupon (interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae), containing 3.25% – 3.625% mortgage rates, the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 99.28 right where we were last week.  Our current trading range has now shifted lower and is about 98.5 to about 100.5.  Each .50 change in the price of the security translates to about 0.125 in rate.  If we can hold at these levels I expect that we will trend back to higher levels.  Basically the change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the lower the rate.     

In economic news this week; It was another busy week of economic data, and the reader’s digest version is the economy may by showing signs of life.  Yesterday we learned that Retail Sales for May were +1.2%, Import Prices were +1.3%, Initial Jobless Claims were below 300k for the 14th straight month. NAR was also out saying 2015 could be the best year in housing since 2006.  So why wouldn’t rates go up?  Well, the IMF is butting heads with Athens: stalled negotiations between Greece and its creditors caused a flight to quality in our country.

So does anyone remember the Sacramento radio station KZAP from back in the day?  Well the station (and the Cheshire Cat) are making a comeback.  I can’t believe it! Finally a station will plays Rock music from all decades! We have every other station “Genre” out there but the only Rock station is Classic Rock. KZAP was my favorite “go to” station growing up and I am glad they’re coming back. KZAP will appear at 93.3 on the FM dial as well as streaming live at k-zap.org. They will have donations, grants and underwriting instead of ads, with only three minutes of every hour earmarked for sponsor breaks. Finally a station where you can actually tune it in for extended periods without saying, ‘I just heard that an hour ago! Go KZAP!

KZAP Cheshire Cat Reduced to 5x3

Small-business sentiment improved in May. The National Federation of Independent Business small-business optimism index rose 1.4 points to 98.3, the highest level since December, as six of ten components improved. That puts the index in line with its historical average of 98, the NFIB said.

Our Federal government ran a budget deficit of $82 billion in May, the Treasury Department reported. The May deficit is $48 billion lower than the same month a year ago. The government spent $295 billion in May, which was $35 billion, or 11%, less than a year ago. Total receipts in May were $212 billion, an increase of $12 billion, or 6%, over last year. For the fiscal year to date, the budget deficit is $365 billion, a decrease of 16% from the first eight months of fiscal 2014. Again, when are they going to balance their checkbook?

Sales retailers climbed 1.2% in May and rose for the third month in a row, offering more evidence of springtime rebound in consumer spending after a winter lull.  Auto dealers and gas stations posted the strongest sales, but most major retail segments did see healthy gains.  Excluding autos, sales rose 1%. Sales minus autos and gasoline climbed 0.7%, the Commerce Department reported. What’s more, sales in April and March were stronger than initially reported.  Retail sales rose 0.2% in April instead of being unchanged. Sales in March were revised up to 1.5% from 1.1%.

Wholesale or “Producer” prices rose 0.5% in May, driven by a rise in the wholesale cost of gasoline and other fuels.   The increase in the producer price index, the largest since September 2012, was the second in three months following four straight declines.  The price of goods rose 1.3%, while services were unchanged, the Labor Department reported. Yet even with the advance in May, producer prices over the past 12 months are 1.1% lower.  Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy and trade, core prices fell 0.1%. The core rate has risen 0.6% in the last 12 months.

Consumer sentiment rose to a preliminary June reading of 94.6, rebounding from a drop for May’s final result, when the gauge hit a six-month low of 90.7, according to reports on the University of Michigan gauge released Friday.  The Economites follow readings on confidence to look for clues about consumer spending, the backbone of the economy.  For context, the consumer-sentiment gauge averaged 86.9 over the year leading up to the recession.

On the Employment front:    Job openings at workplaces rose to a record high of 5.38 million in April from 5.11 million in March, the Department of Labor reported. Compared with same period in the prior year, April’s job openings rose 22%, as private-sector openings increased 21% to 4.89 million, and government positions rose to 489,000 from 367,000.  With 8.55 million unemployed people in April, there were about 1.6 potential job seekers per opening, below March’s ratio of 1.7.  In April 2014, there were about 2.2 potential seekers per opening. When the recession began in December 2007, there were about 1.8 potential job seekers per opening. The number of separations, such as quits and layoffs, dropped to 4.88 million in April from 5.07 million in March.  Meanwhile, the total number of hires declined to 5.01 million from 5.09 million. The level of hires was about 5.04 million when the recession began.  In other words we’re pretty close to pre-recession numbers.  It just took almost eight years.

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits rose slightly in the first week of June but remained near a 15-year low amid a sharp upsurge in hiring over the past few years.  Initial jobless claims edged up by 2,000 to 279,000 last week. Initial claims have been under the key 300,000 mark for 14 weeks in a row, a feat last accomplished 15 years ago.

Fun for the day: 

Under the age of 40? You won’t understand. Part 1 of 2

Ø  My mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread butter on bread on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning.

Ø  Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice pack coolers, but I can’t remember getting e Coli.

Ø  Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake or at the beach instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring); no beach closures then.

Ø  We all took PE – and risked permanent injury with a pair of Dunlop sandshoes or Converse high tops instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors that cost as much as a small car. I can’t recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.

Ø  We got the cane for doing something wrong at school, they used to call it discipline yet we all grew up to accept the rules and to honor & respect those older than us.

Ø  We had 30+ kids in our class and we all learned to read and write, do math, and spell almost all the words needed to write a grammatically correct letter – imagine that!

Ø  We all said prayers in school and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.

Ø  We also learnt our times table by reciting them every day.  

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of 2…..

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

Bill-Bartok-ESIG-9-25-13.jpg

The Weekly Rap! Friday Feb 13th 2015

Friday the 13th comes three times this year, and this is one of them.

The National Debt is currently: $18,120,885,132,587.00  is Higher by another 12 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 268 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

Stocks are retreating after earlier reaching above 18,000 for the first time in 2015.  The Dow last traded at 17,932 about 150 pts higher than where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,090.  Gold is trading at $1,228 an ounce, while oil futures at $52.60 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.39/Gal. 

The FNMA 30-year fixed 3.0% coupon (interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae), containing 3.25% – 3.625% mortgage rates, the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 101.84 worse by 0.50 over where we were last week.  Our recent trading was 102.25 to about 103.50 and we’ve broken through the low end (Support) of it meaning higher rates.  Basically the change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the lower the rate.     

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook page.  With FHA reducing the monthly mortgage insurance rate from 1.35% down to 0.85% and a rate of 3.25% for a 30yr fixed mortgage, even those with low credit scores and foreclosures, bankruptcies, and short sales can qualify.  As rates drop more prospective buyers will qualify and competition will arise for the properties for sale.  I put all of my prospective buyers through underwriting so that when they place their offer it is as close to “cash” as you can get.  So to get your clients underwriter approved, please contact me and get your offer accepted!

In economic news this week; the reader’s digest version is the economy is gaining strength but at a moderate pace with small business sentiment slipping a bit, Retail Sales pulling back a bit, and inflation correcting higher.  Improvement in the jobs market continues but at a slower pace than last month.

Small-business sentiment slipped 2.5 points in January with seven out of 10 components declining on a decline in optimism over sales growth and business conditions, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’s small-business optimism index.  He report said January’s decline was mostly due to owners being less optimistic about sales growth and business conditions, not spending and hiring plans.  Ahead of the Labor Department’s job-openings data, the index measuring whether job openings were hard to fill rose 1 percentage point to 26%.

The Federal government ran a budget deficit of $18 billion in January, the Treasury Department reported. The monthly deficit compares to the $10 billion shortfall the government ran in January 2014, and brings the deficit for the fiscal year to date to $194 billion.  

Retail sales fell in January for the second month in a row as consumers appeared to pocket most of the savings from sharply lower gasoline prices.  Retail sales declined by 0.8% last month after a 0.9% drop in December. The slow start to sales this year suggests the economy is likely to grow more slowly in the first quarter after a 2.6% gain in the final three months of 2014.

Inflation expectations rebounded in February, which the Fed may view as a positive development given fears surrounding deflation after the slide in oil prices.  The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment poll put one-year inflation expectations at 2.8% in February after falling to 2.5% in January.  Consumer prices have fallen sharply as gasoline prices have tanked. The Cleveland Fed’s “nowcast” expects a monthly drop of 0.7% for January, after the Labor Department reported a 0.4% decline for December.  Consumer sentiment slipped in February to a three-month low of 93.6 from 98.1 in January, which had been an 11-year peak.

Consumer sentiment 2-13-15                                Job openings since 2001

On the Employment front: Improvement in the jobs market continued in January, but at a slower pace falling to 4.9 from 7.3 in December, according to the Fed’s labor market conditions index which weighs 19 different economic indicators.  This is the lowest reading since September. The Fed doesn’t offer commentary on monthly moves in the series. In a separate reading, the Conference Board said its employment trend index basically remained the same at 127.9 in January, up from 127.2 in December, a 7.6% gain from the same month one year ago.  

Job openings in rose in December to the highest amount since 2001 and the pace of hiring returned to prerecession levels, but companies are still taking their time before adding new workers.  Job openings in the final month of the year rose 3.7% from November to 5.03 million, the Labor Department reported. New job postings surged 28.5% for all of last year, as faster economic growth spurred companies to add workers to keep up with rising demand for their goods and services.  At the same time, the number of people hired climbed 1.9% in December to 5.05 million, according to the report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report.  The last time that many people found jobs was just a few months before the Great Recession started in December 2007.

Fun for the day:  In honor of Valentine’s Day

Love is Blind?

Phil, a smart and handsome young man, dressed in the latest fashion, walked into this local pub. He noticed a woman gazing at him without blinking her big eyes. Phil felt flattered so he walked up to the woman and said in his deepest voice, ‘I’ll do anything you wish, beautiful lady, for just $10 but on one condition.’

The woman appeared to be trapped in the moment and asked as if in a trance, ‘What’s your condition?’

Phil answered, ‘Tell me your wish in just three words.’

There was a long pause, the woman opened her purse, counted out the money and handed it to the man along with her address.  She then looked deeply into his eyes and whispered, ‘Clean my house.’

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

The Weekly Rap! Friday May 16th, 2014

The National Debt is currently: $17,521,071,962,587.00 is lower by about 27 BILLION. I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving the next generation.

The Dow last traded at 16,437 right about where it was a week ago.  The S&P 500 is trading at 1,870.  Gold is trading at $1,293 an ounce, while oil futures at $102.09 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.89/Gal. 

Mortgage Backed Securities or “MBS” yields are interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bond programs. The FNMA 30-year fixed 4.0% coupon, containing 4.25% – 4.625% mortgages, pretty much the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days  is currently trading at 105.35 about .20 better than where we were last week.  We’ve broken out of the past trading range and rates are still trending lower at this point.  Basically each percent change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the better the rate.   

In economic news this week; The reader’s digest version is the economy is showing signs of improvement, not great but improvement.  Inflation is on the rise, retail sale is slightly higher, small business sentiment is higher while consumer sentiment is lower, manufacturing activity appears to be growing at a moderate pace, home building has slowed and employment is improving.

The government recorded a budget surplus of $107 billion in April.  The surplus for April is $6 billion, or 5%, lower than in April 2013. April is usually a surplus month, as Treasury sees a spate of tax payments from individuals and corporations.  Though smaller than last year’s, the April surplus contributes to a steady decline in the deficit for fiscal 2014.  For the first seven months of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, the deficit is $306 billion. That is $181 billion, or 37%, lower than it was for the same period in fiscal 2013.  In April, the government spent $307 billion and took in $414 billion.

Wholesale prices climbed 0.6% in April, marking the second straight big gain in a government index that underwent a major overhaul at the start of the year.  Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy and trade, core wholesale prices rose a smaller 0.3% last month, the Labor Department reported.  Personal consumption, a new index designed to foreshadow changes in the consumer price index, rose 0.7% in April. Over the past year overall producer prices have risen 2.1%, up from 1.4% in March and just 0.9% in February. The unusually sharp increase in such a short period raises questions about the usefulness of the fresh-look PPI index, at least in the short term.

Consumer prices posted the biggest increase in April since last summer as the cost of many staples rose, making it harder for Americans to stretch their paychecks to pay for typical household expenses.  The consumer price index jumped 0.3% last month to mark the largest gain since June, the Labor Department said.  As a result, real inflation-adjusted hourly wages decreased 0.3% in April to mark the biggest decline in 14 months. Over the past 12 months real hourly wages have actually fallen 0.1%, the first negative reading in two and a half years.  The yearly pace of inflation rose to 2% in April from 1.5% in the March.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core consumer prices increased 0.2%.  The core rate has risen 1.8% in the past 12 months, and it’s been stuck between 1.6% and 1.8% for more than a year. The core rate is viewed as a more useful gauge of underlying inflationary trends, but it remains well below the level the Federal Reserve considers harmful to the economy.

Americans apparently shopped less in April after splurging in March, with retail sales rising a scant 0.1%.  The increase in March was originally reported as 1.1%. Excluding the auto sector, retail sales were unchanged.  So-called core or control group sales fell 0.2%.  That category strips out cars, gasoline and building materials and gives a better sense of retail-sales trends.  Retail sales account for about one-third of consumer spending, the main conduit of economic activity.  In the past 12 months, retail sales have risen 4%, about two-thirds the historic average.  The latest retail report includes the government’s annual benchmark revisions meant to provide more accurate data.

Small-business sentiment in May rose to the highest level in more than six years, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday. Its small-business optimism index rose 1.8 points to 95.2, the first time it’s surpassed the 95 level since Oct. 2007. There were gains in seven of the 10 components, notably a 9-point jump in those who expect the economy to improve.

The preliminary May reading of the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index fell to a reading of 81.8, down from 84.1 in April.

Manufacturing activity appears to be growing at a moderate pace in the second quarter, according to three separate readings released Thursday.  The most upbeat indicator was a survey of manufacturers in the New York, which hinting that business owners were less melancholy about the outlook.  After barely expanding in April, the Empire state index shot up to 19.0 in May, its highest level since mid-2010, according to a report released by the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Two other indicators were not as rosy but economists argued that they also hinted at future strength in the sector.  The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index retreated slightly to a reading of 15.4 in May from a 16.6 reading in April. The drop in the Philly Fed index retraces only a small part of the sharp gain in April. The index was 9.0 in March.

The Empire State and Philly Fed data are closely watched because they are one of the first readings of the health of the manufacturing sector in May.  The softest report was the industrial output data for April released by the Federal Reserve , that showed a 0.6% drop in April. But that came after strong gains in February and March.

Home builder index Apr 2014CPI Apr-2014

On the Real Estate front:  Home builders are the most pessimistic they’ve been in a year, with makers of new single-family homes reporting fewer sales.  The housing-market index for builder confidence declined to 45 this month, the lowest reading since May 2013, from 46 in April, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo reported.  The index has been below 50 since February, indicating that builders, generally, are pessimistic about sales trends.  

While the Overall construction starts on U.S. homes, including apartments rose 13.2%, the fastest pace in five months, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, that jump was led by apartments, as starts for single-family homes only nudged higher.  Starts for single-family homes eked out just a 1% gain in April.  Data for building permits, which are an indicator of future projects, also indicated that demand for apartments, not single-family homes, is driving growth.

Just last week, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen expressed caution about the housing market. “Readings on housing activity, a sector that has been recovering since 2011, have remained disappointing so far this year and will bear watching,” she told U.S. lawmakers. “The recent flattening out in housing activity could prove more protracted than currently expected rather than resuming its earlier pace of recovery.” “The U.S. economy has come far since the deths of the financial crisis but “we have further to go to achieve a healthy economy,”

The good news is that some headwinds for the housing market are abating. Mortgages rates, for example, have declined in recent weeks.  Home-price growth is slowing down. And employers are picking up the pace of hiring.

On the Employment front:  The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits declined by 24,000 falling sharply for the second straight week, touching the lowest level since May 2007, but at least part of the drop probably stemmed from lingering seasonal affects tied to a late Easter holiday.  It looks as though Small business is leading the way in hiring as a little more than half of the net number of jobs created since employment began growing in 2010 has been generated by firms with fewer than 250 employees.

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor  MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

Bill Bartok ESIG 9-25-13

The Weekly Rap! Friday April 25th, 2014

The National Debt is currently: $17,548,071,962,587.00 is lower by about 34 BILLION. I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving the next generation.

The Dow last traded at 16,381 right about where it was last Friday. The S&P 500 is trading at 1,866. Gold is trading at $1,300 an ounce, while oil futures at $100.86 a barrel. Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.88/Gal.

Mortgage Backed Securities or “MBS” yields are interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bond programs. The FNMA 30-year fixed 4.0% coupon, containing 4.25% – 4.625% mortgages, pretty much the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days is currently trading at 104.5 about .60 better than where we were last Friday at this time. Basically each percent change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate. The higher the number (price), the better the rate.

In economic news this week; The reader’s digest version is the economy continues to limp along but at least moving in a positive direction. We continue to see small snippets of growth that are often spun into looking like larger growth numbers, but ultimately we are no further than we were a few years ago.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index, a monthly index designed to gauge overall economic activity and related inflationary pressure, decreased to 0.20 in March from 0.53 in February. In attempting to try to illustrate the positive; the index’s three-month moving average rose to a neutral reading in March from negative 0.14 in February. The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 existing monthly indicators of national economic activity. A positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend. As you can see we are pretty much at dead even.

The Conference Board’s leading economic index rose 0.8% in March, after a 0.5% rise in February. “This is an optimistic report, but the focus will continue to be on whether improvements in the labor market can be sustained, fueling stronger economic performance over the next few months,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. Now I love a good economist report as much as the next person but this is why I call them “Economites.” The index rose a tad over ½ of one percent, and he calls it “an optimistic report.” Really??? It’s all in how you spin it folks.

Orders for durable goods such as computers, aircraft and heavy machinery rose by 2.6% in March and while the rise seems small, it was the biggest gain in four months, offering according to the Economites, another sign that the economy might be on the upswing after a winter-induced lull. The increase in bookings for big-ticket items last month was the largest since November, and orders for computers and electronic products, for example, rose by 5.7% to mark the sharpest spike in almost 3 1/2 years, the Commerce Department reported. Small gains can seem large when the overall growth in relatively small as well.

Consumers are the perkiest they’ve been in nine months, according to the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters’s gauge of consumer sentiment holding brighter views on current and coming economic conditions, hitting a final April reading of 84.1, the highest reading since July, up from a final March level of 80. We watch sentiment levels to get a feeling for the direction of consumer spending. According to UMich’s report, households with top incomes reported improved buying attitudes this month, while lower-income homes reported a slight decline. Next week the government will release its monthly report on consumer spending, and the expectation is for a pickup for March.

Also according to the report, home purchasing is becoming more responsive to mortgage-credit availability stating: “The main attraction of home-buying conditions has shifted in the past few months toward a greater reliance on low mortgage rates and less emphasis on low prices.” Home prices have raced higher over the past year. And while mortgage rates have increased, too, they remain relatively low. Home builders are starting to respond to consumers who are unable or unwilling to pay for a pricey new place.

Consumer sentiment Apr 25, 2014 Cash-out Refinancings Apr 2014 Existing Home Sales Mar 2014

On the Real Estate front: The National Association of Realtors sales reported the pace of existing homes dropped 0.2% in March to the slowest rate since July 2012, showing weakness in the early spring sales season, though underlying trends signal a firming in market fundamentals. Sales rates have trended down since the summer on falling affordability as inventory remained low, and there’s been concern about tepid spring-sales results. Some buyers have been put off by rapidly rising prices. According to NAR, the median sales price of used homes hit $198,500 in March, up 7.9% from the year-earlier period. First-time buyers’ share of existing-home sales rose to 30% last month, up from 28% in February. The long-term average is closer to 40%. Distressed properties’ share of existing-home sales fell to 14% in March from 16% in February.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), data based on mortgages sold or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, home prices rose 0.6% in February, and were up 6.9% from the year-ago period.

On the Employment front: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week rose by 24,000 in April to the highest level since the end of March, but most of the bump may have been related to a seasonal quirk tied to the Easter holiday. Claims often rise around Easter because the holiday falls on different dates each year and that makes it harder for the government to conduct seasonal adjustments. Continuing claims decreased by 61,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.68 million in the week ended April 10. That’s the lowest level since December 2007, when the Great Recession started. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits.

You can visit my corporate website at: http://bill.bartok.stanfordloans.com

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!