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! Government Rhetoric, the Economy and other stuff. 5/6/16

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.

The Dow industrials and S&P 500 fell for the second week in a row, the first back-to-back declines since the market hit a low in February.  Stocks have struggled to gain traction after a multi-month rally, dragged down by downbeat economic readings, swings in oil prices and declining corporate earnings not to mention a weaker-than-expected reading on the U.S. labor market.  The Dow actually closed higher by 79 points at 17,773.  The stock market’s gains marked a reversal from earlier in the day, when the Dow fell as much as 80 points and the S&P briefly turned negative for the year. The S&P 500 closed at 2,057.  Gold is trading at $1,289 an ounce, while oil futures at $44.599 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.  

Is anyone else frustrated up to here with American companies outsourcing their tech/customer support to India/Pakistan or some other country that barely speaks English and can only help if it’s “in their book”? I use Act by Swiftpage as my client/personal database and pay extra each year (Gold Support) to speak to someone here in the USA, (Scottsdale AZ) when I have an issue. Apparently their systems aren’t recognizing the Gold status and I’ve been transferred to India 3 times. I’m sorry but I can barely understand them, and they do not understand my issue. They just keep repeating “I can help you with that”. Is it really that much cheaper to outsource these calls? Why could Americans not do this? Imagine how many Americans we could employ if customer service were provided here in our own country. I am more likely to support companies that keep jobs here in the USA. We should have a list of companies that do. I welcome your thoughts.

On the Real Estate front:  Does ‘staging’ a home lure buyers into paying more?  Plastic surgery might improve one’s looks. But so might a little makeup. When it comes to making your house more attractive to prospective buyers, home staging is definitely in the makeup category.  What is home staging?  Just like makeup, it’s an on-the-surface solution. Staging can help your place look its best during the sales period without the cost or expense of a renovation. Then again, if you’ve repaired a motorcycle on the living-room carpet, all the staging in the world isn’t going to help.  For a small sum, the home you’re about to put on the market can be filled with great-looking furniture, well-considered accessories and tasteful art.  Here is a good guide to staging a home.  There are some very interesting stats in this guide. 

In economic news this week; Companies scaled back hiring in April, adding just 160,000 new jobs, in a sign the U.S. economy is still suffering from an early-year chill.  The good but not great April employment report coming on the heels of the soft gross domestic product report likely rules out a quarter-point rate increase in June. U.S. GDP slowed to a 0.5% annual rate in the first three months of 2016.

Economic woes from weak commodity prices are spreading in the oil sector from energy firms to other businesses and consumers, according to a Federal Reserve survey of senior bank loan officers released on Monday.  Bank officers reported that credit quality deteriorated in the first quarter on loans to businesses and consumers in energy dependent areas of the country, the Fed said.  In particular, credit quality on auto loans had suffered, with 23% of banks reporting a deterioration, according to the survey of 70 domestic and 22 branches of foreign banks operating in the U.S.

The U.S. trade deficit shrank in March by almost 14% to $40.4 billion, the lowest level in more than a year, but the plunge reflected a tough climate for American exporters and more caution on the part of consumers.  U.S. exports fell 0.9% to $176.6 billion in March and remained near the lowest level in several years, the government reported Wednesday.  Exports of food and industrial supplies dropped to the lowest level since 2010.  Imports fell an even steeper 3.6% to $217.1 billion and touched a five-year low. Although cheaper oil contributed to the drop, the U.S. also imported fewer autos, clothes, computers, consumer goods, wine and beer.  The decline in imports offers more evidence that consumers grew cautious after a rocky start to 2016, when stock markets tanked briefly on worries about a worsening global economy.  The U.S. trade gap declined from a slightly revised $47 billion in February, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Borrowing by consumers ballooned in March at the fastest pace in more than a decade.  Outstanding consumer credit, a measure of non-real estate debt, rose by a seasonally adjusted $29.67 billion in March from the prior month, the Fed reported this morning. The 10.0% seasonally adjusted annual growth rate was the fastest growth pace since November 2001. The sharp increase in consumer borrowing follows months of modest economic growth. While the economy has been producing jobs at a healthy pace, overall economic activity has slowed.

Measures of consumer confidence have reflected uncertainty in recent weeks. The University of Michigan final consumer-sentiment index declined in April to its lowest level in seven months. The closely watched gauge of consumer sentiment, released last week, was 89.0, down from March’s final reading of 91.0 and the lowest level since September.

A separate gauge of U.S. household attitudes, the Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index, dipped in April to 94.2 from 96.1 in March, the group said last week. That report showed slightly fewer people saying that they planned to take a vacation or buy a car, home or major household appliance within the next six months.

On the Employment front:  The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell in late April to a nearly 16-year bottom, largely reflecting the low rate of layoffs taking place across the economy.  Some 2.12 million people collected weekly unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, in the seven days stretching from April 17 to April 23, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Companies scaled back hiring in April, adding just 160,000 new jobs, in a sign the U.S. economy is still suffering from an early-year chill.  The disappointing employment report, (Wall Street had expected a 203,000 gain) is likely to keep the Fed from raising interest rates anytime soon.  Hiring has tapered off in 2016 in tandem with a broader economic slowdown, while falling corporate profits has sparked worries about whether companies will take down their “help wanted” signs.

The increase in hiring was the smallest since September. Job creation has slowed to an average of 200,000 in the last three months from a five-year high of 282,000 a month in the fourth quarter.  The unemployment rate remained flat at 5%, but more people dropped out of the labor force and the so-called participation rate fell for the first time in seven months. That could mean people find it a bit harder to get a job.

In a bit of good news, average wages rose again to $25.53 an hour.  Hourly pay has increased 2.5% in the past 12 months, up from 2.3%, reflecting a tighter labor market in which more firms say they have trouble finding suitably skilled workers.  Still, the Fed will likely wait for more evidence that the economy is on the mend after a weak first quarter. 

Prior to the release of the governments’ jobs data, it was reported Wednesday that private-sector employment gains slowed markedly in April as well.  Employers added 156,000 jobs in April, according to Automatic Data Processing Inc.  This is the weakest estimate since February 2014. ADP lowered March’s gains to 194,000 from the prior estimate of 200,000.

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! Government Rhetoric, the Economy and other stuff. 4/15/16

The National Debt is currently: $19,245,639,132,587.00 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.

Stocks retreated today, following an early-week rally fueled by a sharp rise in shares of financial companies.  Major indexes in the U.S. are on track to close the week up more than 1.5%. Shares of the biggest U.S. banks are on track to end the week nearly 7% higher, buoying the broader market over the week.

The Dow is currently lower by 37 points at 17,888.  The S&P 500 is at 2,079.  Gold is trading at $1,233 an ounce, while oil futures at $40.40 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.41/Gal. Summer gas (higher priced) is in production.

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 102.97 which is the highest it’s been since Feb 11th 2016.  Prior to that you would have to go bake to Jan 2015.  Our current trading range is about 101.50 to about 102.8.  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.  

On the political scene: The goal of most primary elections/caucuses is for voters to choose a favorite presidential candidate.  Then based on the results, a representative (Delegates) then carry that vote to the national convention where they cast their vote for the nominee.  If no candidate is chosen after the first vote those delegates who were bound by the vote of the people, are free to vote for whomever they personally prefer. 

But apparently not in Colorado.  The state GOP decided to cancel its normal caucus procedure, in part, because it said they were worried that too many people would turn out. Anyway, so instead of all registered Republicans choosing from the presidential candidates, just the “party insiders” voted on delegates to represent them at the national convention this summer. That’s where things got messy (North Dakota, Wyoming and three U.S. territories did the same thing, but Colorado’s un-caucus got the most press). Because pledged delegates are free after the first ballot to vote for whomever they’d like at the convention. The Republican Party got just what it wanted – a bunch of free agents.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, you should read the following post in the Wall Street Journal today titled “Let Me Ask America a Question: How has the ‘system’ been working out for you and your family?  No wonder voters demand change.

Last week I mentioned that the U.S. “expansion” is already older than the average post World War II expansion and that the Fed Gods were debating on whether or not our economy is headed for a recession.  Our business/economic cycle is a four stage process; Expansion/Growth-Prosperity-Recession-Recovery.  The length of time we spend in each cycle varies.  If we are in the “expansion” phase of the current cycle, just where is the prosperity?  And if the economy is truly expanding (not just treading water) then why hasn’t the fed lifted interest rates as they normally do in a growth phase.

The Fed eases money supply (lower rates) in times of recession and tightens monetary policy in times of prosperity.  The magnitude of our last recession was so major and the Fed in attempt to not let recession go into depression, had to enact much different easing measures such as purchasing bonds/mortgages from the market and lowering interest rates to levels not previously seen.  The problem is that growth has not returned to levels needed to reverse policy and this their stimulus policy may have actually hurt the recovery.  By keeping rates at which companies borrow money at basically zero, they have supported the stock market and now if they raise rates they risk a stock market correction which would derail any sort of recovery.

In economic news this week; Consumer confidence fell, our government is still spending money it doesn’t have, Retail sales fell again, and inflation is basically flat. 

A measure of small-business sentiment in March slipped to a two-year low, a trade group said Tuesday.  The National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business optimism index fell 0.3 points to 92.6. Four of the ten components fell.  The major reasons 51% of owners think that the current period is a bad time to expand was a weak economy, the political climate was the second most frequently cited.

Consumer sentiment eased to 89.7 in the University of Michigan’s preliminary reading for April. That was down 1.3 points from a March reading of 91.0.  Consumers’ views of the current situation fared better than their expectations: the current conditions index shed just 0.2 point to 105.4, while the expectations gauge was down 1.9 point to 79.6.  It was the fourth-straight monthly decline, but Michigan’s survey director said in a release that he expects the gloom to ease as the economy brightens after a rocky first quarter.  Now that’s speculation.

Our government ran a budget deficit (they spent more money than they made) of $108 billion in March, the Treasury Department said Tuesday, about double what it did in the same month in 2015.  Spending for the month was $336 billion, or 17% more than the same month a year ago.  In March, federal government spending rose for military programs, Medicare and other categories compared to last year.  Despite the increase in March, the budget deficit is up just 5% for the fiscal year to date, to $461 billion.  The government’s fiscal year runs from October through September. 

Sales at U.S. retailers fell in March for the second time in three months to end the first quarter on a weak note, a sign consumers are reluctant to boost spending despite improved household finances and a sturdier labor market.  Retail sales dropped 0.3% last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The soft pace of retail sales from January through March is likely to contribute to another weak quarter of U.S. growth when the government reports gross domestic product later this month.

U.S. wholesale prices fell 0.1% in March despite a rise in the cost of gasoline, reflecting the low level of inflation in the guts of the economy.  Instead producer prices were held in check by a deep decline in trade margins for retailers and wholesalers.  The price of a barrel of oil has hit $40 again after briefly dipping below $30 earlier in the year.  Over the past year overall producer prices have fallen 0.1% in unadjusted terms.  Stripping out the volatile categories of food, energy and trade, core prices were flat in March. Core prices have risen 0.9% in the past 12 months, unchanged from the rate in February.

The consumer price index, CPI, rose by seasonally adjusted 0.1% last month after falling 0.2% in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.  The higher cost of filling up at the gas pump offset lower prices for groceries and new clothes to push inflation a touch higher in March.  Energy prices climbed 0.9% to mark the first increase in four months. Gas prices rose last month, as did the cost of electricity.  The price of food, on the other hand, fell 0.2%.  The cost of groceries posted the biggest one-month decline since 2009, partly reflecting lower prices charged by farmers for staple crops such as corn and wheat. 

Over the past 12 months the CPI has risen at a 0.9% rate, down a tad from February.  The Fed would like to see inflation rise a bit before it raises interest rates again, but the latest CPI suggests price pressures remain muted. Stripping out food and energy, so-called core prices also rose 0.1% last month.  Core consumer prices have risen at a 2.2% annual clip, down from 2.3% in the prior month.

The Federal Reserve’s business contacts reported some upbeat news on two troublesome issues that have held down the economy: low wages and the troubled oil and gas sector.  The Fed’s Beige Book, released Wednesday, again used the phrase “modest to moderate” to describe growth in the U.S. economy, and the Fed’s contacts said they thought growth “would remain in that range going forward.”  But there were pockets of optimism in the report, which is a collection of anecdotes about the economy.  At its last meeting in March, the Fed scaled back its projection for rate hikes this year to two from four, citing overseas risks to the domestic economy. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen elaborated on these risks in an interview released by Time Magazine Tuesday, saying there were many things about the global economy were uncertain.

On the Employment front:  The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 13,000 to 253,000, matching the lowest mark since the end of the Great Recession and sinking to a level last seen in 1973. The U.S. has generated millions of jobs over the past five years, putting many Americans back to work and keeping the economy on a slow but stable growth path in the wake of the devastating 2007-2009 downturn.  Many companies these days are not only reluctant to part with current employees, they complain it’s harder to find enough qualified people to fill open positions.  The low level of claims is also a sign the economy was still adding jobs in April at a healthy clip. Low claims usually correlate with strong employment reports.

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 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 March 27th 2015

If you like this commentary please visit and “Like” my Facebook pageAs 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!

The National Debt is currently: $18,157,222,132,587.00  is Higher by another 5 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 240 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

Stocks edged higher this morning, putting major benchmarks on track to snap a streak of four days of losses.  The Dow last traded at 17,690 about 500 pts lower than where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,058.  Gold is trading at $1,200 an ounce, while oil futures at $49.87 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.87/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 .125% over where we were last week.  Our current trading is about 101.00 to about 102.25.  We broke above the range last Friday and traded to 102.52 but have retraced to 101.84 currently.  We were just at 103.35 on Feb 1.  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; the reader’s digest version is the economy is still trudging along.  The first quarter is showing signs of slowing as The U.S. Dollar continues to gain strength and oil remains at 25 year lows.  Earlier in the week the ECB’s (European Central Bank) commitment to flood the Eurozone with more than €1 trillion ($1.16 trillion) in newly created money, sparking a rally in stock and bond markets and sending the euro plunging.

Profits at U.S. corporations in late 2014 posted their largest drop in four years, a reflection of an economy weighed down by a strong dollar and weak global demand.  The Commerce Department’s third estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) also showed that the economy slowed in the final months of 2014, putting the growth trajectory on a lower path ahead of an apparent slowdown early this year.

GDP, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter.  That was unchanged from its previous estimate last month.  Corporate profits fell at a 3% pace from the third quarter. That was the largest quarterly drop in profits since the first quarter of 2011.  On a year-over-year basis, the report pegged corporate profit growth at 2.9%, slowing from 5.1% annual growth in the third quarter.  As a share of the total economy, corporate profits were just a hair below the record high of 10.5% set in 2013. The expectation is for the current quarter to remain sluggish. First-quarter GDP estimates have been trimmed earlier this week following a disappointing report on business spending and investment.

The great deflation of 2014 caused by the plunge in oil may have run its course: Consumer prices rose 0.2% in February, the first rise in four months.  Gasoline prices have rebounded in early 2015, with the cost of oil stabilizing at around $50 a barrel after selling for more than $100 last summer.  Higher costs for food, housing and new cars also contributed to the increase in consumer prices in February.  Still, there’s been zero overall inflation in the last 12 months, the offshoot of the biggest drop in gasoline prices since the Great Recession.  The annualized rate of consumer inflation had even turned negative in January for the first time since 2009. 

If food and energy are excluded, so-called “core” consumer inflation has risen at a 1.7% rate over the past 12 months.  Although the Fed uses a different index as its preferred price gauge, they view a 2% inflation as healthier for the economy. The Fed is more likely to raise interest rates if inflation starts to move steadily higher.

While Businesses are hiring at the fastest pace in 15 years, they sure aren’t investing like good times are here to stay.  Orders for long-lasting or durable goods such as cars, appliances and computers fell 1.4% in February to mark the third decline in four months. The increase in orders for January was lowered, making the decline last month look even worse. Businesses started cutting investment at the end of the summer and that contributed in part to slower growth during the last months of 2015 after a very strong third quarter.  

Companies are actually investing less now compared to a year earlier in unadjusted terms. A soft global economy and soaring dollar that’s made it harder to sell U.S. exports are among the headwinds that are constraining American businesses. The steep plunge in oil price has also curtailed investment in what was a booming domestic energy sector.

On the Real Estate front: The price of buying and renting a home are rising, squeezing consumers and dampening the housing market.  The median sales price of used homes hit $202,600 in February, up 7.5% from the year-earlier period. This is the largest increase in a year and is “unhealthy” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.  While higher prices are good for homeowners, “for people who want to buy a home it is becoming more difficult,” Yun said.  Wages are only rising 2%, he noted.  Potential first time buyers on the sidelines, and renters are also being squeezed as rents are rising at a 3.5% rate, Yun noted.  Given the rise in rents, these buyers are unable to save for down payments, Yun noted.  The share of first-time home buyers rose marginally to 29% from 28% in February, well below the 40% level that the Economites say is normal.  

After falling to a nine-month low in January, overall sales of existing homes rebounded partially, rising 1.2% in February.  Existing home sales remain soft, having been stuck around the 5 million unit rate for two-and-a-half years. One reason prices are rising is that inventory remains low, Yun said.  February’s inventory was 1.89 million existing homes for sale, a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace. This was down 0.5% from the year-earlier period.  The investor share fell to 14% from 17% also due to the higher prices, Yun said.  The all-cash share of purchases slipped to 26% from 27%.

Sales of new homes in the U.S. surged in February, and home buying in the first two months of 2015 rose to the highest level in seven years despite heavy snow and bouts of extreme cold in some parts of the nation.  The pace of new home sales climbed 7.8% last month to an annual rate of 539,000 from an upwardly revised 500,000 in January, the government reported. That’s how many new homes would be sold if the rate of sales for the whole year were the same as it was in February.  Sales were unusually strong in the Northeast, where demand had fallen off sharply in January. Sales also climbed 10% in the South, the region in which more than half of all new single-family homes are built.

On the Employment front:  The U.S. economy may have slowed sharply in the first quarter, but companies aren’t showing much concern: Layoffs remain near a 15-year low.  The number of people who filed new applications for benefits at their state unemployment offices, known as initial claims, fell by 9,000 to 282,000 last week.  New claims have tracked below 300,000 for three straight weeks after a weather-induced spike in February that pushed them to the highest level since last spring. And they are running about 9% lower now compared to one year ago.

Fun for the day: 

Part 1 of 5 of “Where to move”…for all of those who are contemplating retirement locations.

You can retire to Phoenix, Arizona where…  

1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away from your house because you found shade. 

2. You’ve experienced condensation on your rump from the hot water in the toilet bowl. 

3. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town. 

4. You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food. 

5. You know that “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door. 

6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? 

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 Feb 27th 2015

The National Debt is currently: $18,138,885,132,587.00  is Higher by another 6 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 traded slightly lower this morning, but are still on track to post their biggest monthly percentage gains since 2011.  The Nasdaq is within striking distance of hitting 5000, a level last touched nearly 15 years ago. The Dow last traded at 18,155 about the same compared with where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,105.  Gold is trading at $1,213 an ounce, while oil futures at $49.51 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.73/Gal.  That’s 0.62 cents higher a gallon in just 27 days!  See below.

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 101.81 better by 0.75 over where we were last week.  Our current trading is about 101 to about 102.00.  We were just at 103.35 on Feb 1.  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 pageAs 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 still trudging along.  Inflationary pressures remain tame, with spring bringing a boost to the real estate market. 

The thieves are at it again!  Gasoline is 0.62 cents higher per gallon over a 27 day period while oil prices have risen just $2.20 in the same period. The seasonal lift in gasoline prices remains well underway across the country, with the West Coast seeing the most excruciating rate of price increases. 

Here are a few of the “excuses” I’m hearing regarding the dramatic rise.  An explosion at an Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Torrance last week, California companies begin scaling back production to convert to the mandated and more expensive summer blend of fuel, California’s carbon-emissions mandate for transportation fuels has added more than a dime in costs to a gallon, and demand is starting to rise with fuel consumption reaching its highest levels since Obama entered the White House in 2008. The summerlike weather California and parts of the West have enjoyed this winter also puts more people on the road, burning more gas. So basically it’s because they can!

According to the Chicago Fed’s national activity index, the economy resumed above-trend growth in January.   The indicator, a weighted index of 85 different economic reports, rose to positive 0.13 in January from negative 0.07 in December. The three-month moving average meanwhile slowed to 0.33 in January from 0.34 in December.

Consumers expressed less confidence in the economy in February, worrying a bit more about the availability of jobs and outlook for business in the months ahead.  The consumer confidence index fell to 96.4 this month from 103.8 in January, the nonprofit Conference Board reported.  The index topped the 100 mark in January for the first time since an economic recovery began in mid-2009, setting a seven-and-a-half-year high in the process. Consumer confidence has been climbing in fits and starts since the end of 2011, helped by a sharp pickup in hiring and, more recently, a plunge in gasoline prices.

Consumer prices fell again in January and inflation turned negative compared to 12 months ago, a reversal fueled by sharply lower oil prices that’s offered financial relief to workers and households.  The consumer price index dropped 0.7% last month, marking the third decline in a row, the Labor Department reported. Over the past year prices have actually declined by 0.1%, the first time consumer inflation has been negative since the fall of 2009.  

Energy prices dropped 9.7%, as the cost of most fuels including gas decreased.  Food prices were unchanged. Excluding food and energy, so-called “core” consumer prices rose 0.2% in January. Core prices are also up 1.6% in the past year, mainly reflecting rising prices for housing, the single biggest expense for consumers. Real hourly wages, meanwhile, rose 1.2% in January, a combination of higher pay and lower inflation. Real hourly wages have climbed 2.4% in the past 12 months.

Orders for durable goods rose 2.8% in January.  Orders minus transportation edged up 0.3%, the Commerce Department reported. Orders for core capital goods – a proxy for business investment – rose 0.6%. Shipments of core capital goods, a category used to help determine quarterly economic growth, fell 0.3% in January. Orders for all durable goods fell 3.7% in December, newly revised data show.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Tuesday took another step closer to the first rate hike since 2006.  In testimony to the Senate, Yellen signaled to financial markets the Fed would soon drop the word “patient” from its forward guidance.  She softened the blow with several dovish comments that suggest no hurry about actually moving.  Markets have expected that when the Fed dropped “patient” from its policy statement that it would mean that a rate hike would follow in the next couple of meetings. That interpretation came from signals Yellen sent in December.

Now, however, Yellen stressed that the Fed wasn’t on automatic pilot and only wanted the flexibility to move “on a meeting-by-meeting basis.”  Several analysts said a June rate hike remains on the table if the Fed decides to drop the word “patient” from its policy statement on March 17-18. Yellen’s summation of the current economic environment suggests she is in no hurry to raise rates. “Too many Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, wage growth is still sluggish, and inflation remains well below our longer-run objective,” despite the falling unemployment rate, she said.

On the Real Estate front:  Existing-home sales in January fell 4.9% in January, a larger than forecast decline, the National Association of Realtors reported.  In our local El Dorado County area existing sales were down by 43% from Dec to Jan.  Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, attributed the decline to a lack of housing supply and rising prices at the end of last year.  The median existing-home price was $199,600, which is 6.2% above January 2014 levels. Inventory edged up 0.5% to 1.87 million homes, or a 4.7 month supply at the current sales price. 

Other factoids from the January report:

• All-cash sales were 27% of all transactions, up from 26% in December but down from 33% in January 2014.

• Distressed sales were 11% of all sales, unchanged from December.

• Properties typically stayed on the market slightly longer in January (69 days) than December (66 days) and a year ago (67 days).

• The share of first-time buyers declined to 28% in January, the lowest since June.

Sales of “new” homes avoided a winter dip in January, with prospects growing for a surge in demand as spring approaches.  New homes sold at annual rate of 481,000 last month, essentially unchanged from December, the Commerce Department reported.  Sales were 5.3% higher in January compared to a year earlier, another signal the housing market is continuing its long, slow recovery from its worst bust ever.  One worrisome sign: The median price for a new home was up 9% from a year ago, and a steady rise in prices could act as a potential drag on sales.  Mortgage rates, on the other hand, have fallen back near record lows (October 2012) and lenders appear to have loosened very strict requirements on how to qualify for a loan. That could make it easier for buyers to get a mortgage and afford a home.

The housing market seems to be getting off to a great start in 2015 though with “Pending” home sales rising in January to the highest level since Aug. 2013, the National Association of Realtors reported. Its pending home sales index rose 1.7% from an upwardly revised December level, and sales were up 8.4% from Jan. 2014 levels.  In our local El Dorado County area pending sales were higher by 65% from Dec to Jan. The NAR forecasts a 6.4% gain in existing home sales this year and a nearly 5% rise in median prices.

On the Employment front: The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped by 31,000 to 313,000 in the seven days from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21, continuing a recent pattern of sharp up-and-down movements.

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 20th, 2014

The National Debt is currently: $17,538,072,962,587.00 is Higher by about 6 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 246 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

The Dow last traded at 16,947 about 200pts higher than where it was a week ago.  The S&P 500 is trading at 1,962.  Gold is trading at $1,314 an ounce, while oil futures at $106.62 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.79/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 105.50 about .30 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 inflation is higher, layoffs are lower, manufacturing is steady, and there were no surprises of major changes from the Fed at their regular meeting.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported this week that Manufacturing activity in their “Empire State” general business conditions index basically held steady in June after hitting an almost four-year high in May. The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index jumped to a reading of 17.8 in June from 15.4 in May. This is the highest reading of activity since last September.

Industrial production bounced back in May, according to Federal Reserve which also showed that April output wasn’t as bad as initially estimated. Production climbed 0.6% in May, after falling 0.3% in April and rising 0.8% in March.

Signaling that economic growth could pick up in coming months, the leading economic index for the U.S. rose 0.5% in May to 101.7, the Conference Board reported. “Recent data suggest the economy is finally moving up from a 2% growth trend to a more robust expansion,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, in a statement.  I want to be an economist when I grow up.  They get paid to guess and whether they’re right or wrong, kind of like the weather man.

Consumer prices, CPI, rose sharply in May for the second straight month and the rate of inflation over the past year reached its highest level since late 2012, an upward trend that could worry the Fed Gods unless it pulls back soon.  The consumer price index jumped 0.4% last month following a 0.3% gain in April, the Labor Department said Tuesday.  Annualized over the past 12 months, consumer inflation is at 2.1%.  Just eight months ago, inflation was running at just a 1% pace.  

The Fed has been aiming to boost inflation to around 2% or so from what it considered an economically damaging low level, but the sudden surge could set off alarm bells. While I doubt that it will, this could cause “market” concern that the Fed might be forced to raise interest rates earlier than it planned.  Excessive inflation appears unlikely in the absence of stronger growth, further tightening in labor market conditions, and greater pressure on wages.  Historically speaking, on an annual basis inflation is still very low. Once annual inflation gets above 5% it becomes extremely troublesome for the economy. But with inflation so low in spite of the Fed’s efforts to print money some are saying that Deflationary forces are stronger than the Fed.  Long term average inflation is about 3.2.  The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose by 0.3%, the biggest gain since August 2011. The cost of housing, new cars, airline tickets, medical care and prescription drugs all increased.

inflation_by_decade_sm   Housing starts May 2014

On the Real Estate front:  Home builders’ confidence rose four points to 49 in June, the highest level in five months, but respondents were still a bit pessimistic, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing-market index released Monday.  The index has been below 50 since February, indicating that builders, generally, are pessimistic about sales trends. “Consumers are still hesitant, and are waiting for clear signals of full-fledged economic recovery before making a home purchase. Builders are reacting accordingly, and are moving cautiously in adding inventory,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. Construction on new homes fell by 6.5% in May and builders trimmed plans for future projects in another sign that a hoped-for spring revival in the housing market remains elusive.

On the Employment front:  With layoffs at very low levels and more jobs available, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits continues to hover near a post-recession bottom.  Initial jobless claims declined by 6,000 to 312,000 in the week ended June 14.   Yet despite the decline in jobless claims, millions of Americans still cannot find work and the number of long-term unemployed remains higher now than at any time before the 2007-2009 recession struck.  The unfinished recovery in the labor market is the chief reason why the Fed plans to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future, a point reiterated by Chairman Janet Yellen on Wednesday after the bank’s latest gathering in Washington.

The economy has now recovered all the jobs it lost from the Great Recession. It’s only taken seven years.  Industrial production is now higher.  But consumer confidence is, depending on your measure, somewhere between 10% to 25% below its 2007 peak.  It turns out; Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen feels pretty much the same way as other Americans. For example, this is what the world’s most powerful central banker had to say Wednesday when asked if, finally, she’s confident the economy is running above its long-run potential.  “When you say confident, I suppose the answer is no, because there is uncertainty,” she said. Yes, she continued, there’s accommodative policy from her Fed, there’s diminished fiscal drag, easing credit conditions, improving household debt finances, rising home prices, rising equity prices. But she returned to the word “uncertainty,” and it didn’t seem like just obligatory caution.

In the Fed’s statement following their meeting on Wednesday, Yellen was more kitten than lion, sticking to her guns that the central bank can hold short-term interest rates steady until the middle of next year and then raise them gradually, and downplaying recent strong inflation readings.  As expected, the central bank trimmed bond purchases by another $10 billion, staying on track to end its long-running stimulus program before the end of the year. This is the fifth straight meeting with a $10 billion cut in the asset purchases. The Fed will now buy $35 billion a month in Treasuries and mortgage-related assets, starting in July.  At the same time, the Fed lowered its forecast for “longer run” interest rates to 3.75% from closer to 4%. The last change is important because it signals the central bank won’t push up interest rates all that high during this recovery phase.

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

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage AdvisorMLO# 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 May 30th, 2014

The National Debt is currently: $17,518,115,962,587.00 is lower by about 10 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 246 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

The Dow last traded at 16,667 right about where it was a week ago.  The S&P 500 is trading at 1,917.  Gold is trading at $1,245 an ounce, while oil futures at $102.64 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 105.80 about .30 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; “Economics: The science of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday didn’t come true today.”  The reader’s digest version is the economy is plugging along, the economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years, Consumer confidence is a bit higher, home prices are higher,

Millennials are going to make major shifts in corporations over the next decade and most people aren’t ready for the amount of change that’s coming.  By 2025, Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce and by next year, they will account for 36% of the American workforce. At some companies like Accenture and Ernst & Young, they already account for over two thirds of the entire employee base.  The Millennials like the Baby Boomers are very likely to shape many things to come just as their parents did.  To be continued…

The largest Navy ship-building contract ever boosted orders for durable goods in April, but demand for long-lasting civilian items such as personal computers and appliances slowed a bit after surging in the prior month.  Orders for long-lasting goods rose 0.8% in April, propelled by the biggest burst of orders for defense equipment since December 2012.  The Navy placed a $17.6 billion order in late April for 10 nuclear-powered submarines.  Are the ones we have wearing out or are we planning an invasion somewhere?  The durables report is often quite volatile and subject to large revisions.  Business investment has repeatedly faltered since the recovery began in mid-2009 and the question in whether companies are ready to sustain a faster pace of spending after years of frugality.

The economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years, hampered by harsh weather that disrupted business and slowed construction. Yet the damage seems to be fading fast amid widespread signs that growth has accelerated in the spring.  Gross domestic product, or GDP, the sum of all goods and services produced by the economy, shrank by annual pace of 1% in the first three months of 2014, the Commerce Department said. Initially the government had reported last month that GDP rose at 0.1% rate.  GDP is anticipated to snap back with a 3.8% gain. 

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index in May rose to 83 from 81.7 in April.  Both the present situation and future expectations indices also advanced.  While there is a real pickup in consumer confidence, six years out from “the Great Recession,” sentiment is still at very weak levels.  Those who plan to buy a home within six months fell to 4.9% in May, the lowest since July 2012; that compares with a percentage of 5.6% in April and as high as 7.4% in December.    

Consumer spending slipped 0.1% in April, the first decline in a year, as we cut back on car purchases and spent less on utilities such as natural gas and electricity as the weather warmed up.Just one month earlier, consumer spending jumped by a revised 1%, reflecting the largest increase since 2009.  A large chunk of the increase in spending in March, and most of the decline in April, was tied to changes in what we paid for utilities. We spent less to heat and power our homes in April than we did in March.

Personal incomes, meanwhile, rose 0.3% in April.  Adjusted for inflation, disposable income rose 0.2% last month.  Disposable income is mainly the money left over after taxes and an increase typically foreshadows an rise in consumer spending. Yet over the past 12 months disposable income has risen just 2%, a rate that needs to rise if the economy is going to grow much faster.

Consumer sentiment May 30, 2014 GDP Q1 2014

On the Real Estate front:  Home prices rose 0.9% in March, the first increase in five months, but annual growth is slowing down a bit.  Including March’s gain, prices across the 20 cities were still about 19% below a 2006 peak.  Year-over-year home prices were up 12.4% in March. Going forward home prices are expected to continue to slow down as inventories expand.  Both the number of new single-family homeson the market, as well as existing homesavailable for sale, rose in April, according to reports released last week.  Here locally in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park and Shingle Springs as far as new listings go this month May 1 through 29 we had 139 new listings.  Current inventory is 336 homes listed for sale (per MLS).  Last year in the same time period there were 201.

The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 0.4% in April, the second consecutive gain after slumping since the summer, signaling that sales of existing homes may pick up. The index of pending home sales hit 97.8 in April compared with 97.4 in March. Higher inventory levels are giving buyers more choices, and a slight decline in mortgage interest rates this spring is raising prospective home buyers’ confidence.  Despite April’s gain, the gauge was down 9.2% from a year earlier, hit by few homes available for sale and pricier properties. An index reading of 100 equals 2001’s average contract activity level.  Here locally pending sale increased 9.8% from March to April.

On the Employment front:  The number of people applying for unemployment benefits sank last week to the second-lowest level since the recession ended in mid-2009, suggesting continued improvement in a labor market that’s perked up in the early spring.  Initial jobless claims fell by 27,000 to 300,000 in the week ended May 24, the Labor Department saidThursday. 

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

Sincerely,

Bill Bartok

Mortgage AdvisorMLO# 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