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! Government Rhetoric, the Economy and other stuff. 3/25/16

The National Debt is currently: $19,158,639,132,587.00  is Higher by another 41 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 ended five consecutive weeks of gains Thursday, as a rally that carried shares to their highest levels of the year petered out during a holiday-shortened week.  The Dow closed higher by 13 points at 17,568 Thursday and was closed yesterday for Good Friday.  The S&P 500 closed at 2,044.  Gold is trading at $1,218 an ounce, while oil futures at $39.59 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.37/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 101.88.  Our current trading range is about 101.25 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.  

You’ve no doubt heard that Republicans could have what’s called a “contested” Convention.  So exactly what is a Contested Convention?  Sometimes a contested convention is called a “brokered convention,” under the presumption that powerbrokers will negotiate backroom deals in order to determine the ultimate nominee. The terms are essentially interchangeable, but “contested convention” is more precise because the situation may resolve itself more organically.

In most election years, one presidential candidate wins enough delegates during the primary-caucuses process in order for the presumptive nominee to earn a majority of the delegates before the convention begins.  In a contested convention, however, no presumptive nominee exists because no candidate garners a majority of the delegates on the first ballot. So even though a convention is often just a perfunctory meeting for top party officials used to rally around the flag into the general election, a contested convention means the meetings actually make a pivotal difference for who the nominee will be.

What I really want to know is exactly “who” is making the rules?   GOP “rules” say that a candidate needs to win a majority in at least eight states in order to be nominated on the floor of the convention.  It was originally aimed at stifling Ron Paul supporters at the 2012 convention.  But party “officials” say this threshold could be lowered in the days before the convention to either allow (or block) certain candidates from getting nominated on the convention floor.  In other words Donald Trump could have the approval of the voters but not the party “officials” who could block him from getting nominated, which is why I think the Party let him run in the first place.  You can just see it…  “We’ll let him run to make sure he doesn’t run Independent.  He won’t win anyway and if he does we’ll control the nomination at the Convention.”  I can see that happening.  Voters may be in for a rude awakening when they learn that the votes cast by delegates on the floor of the convention — rather than those cast in primaries and caucuses — actually determine the Republican nominee.

In economic news this week; Orders for Durable goods fell, revised fourth Quarter GDP showed corporate profits fell, as did existing home sales.  This coming week will end with a gusher of fresh data on the health of our economy: High-profile reports on the labor market and the manufacturing sector are set to come out Friday morning. Other releases throughout the week will offer insight into consumer confidence and spending, inflation and the path forward for the Federal Reserve.

Orders for long-lasting or durable goods fell 2.8% in February (the third drop in four months) as every major industrial sector except for autos showed declines.  The details of the report show widespread weakness that underscores why the economy has slowed since last fall.  A strong dollar, weak global economy and nosedive in the U.S. energy sector have dented demand for American manufactured goods.  And there’s little reason to expect a big rebound anytime soon.

The fourth quarter’s slowdown was less severe than previously estimated but corporate profits fell, showing the economy entered 2016 on uneven footing.  Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, advanced at a 1.4% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was an upward revision from last month’s estimate of 1% growth.

Corporate profits sank 3.2% in 2015 to mark the first decline since the Great Recession, adding another weight on a slow-growing economy.  American companies have been squeezed by falling exports, cheaper imports and continued caution on the part of savings-minded consumers.  Firms have also incurred higher labor costs.  Weak earnings call into question whether companies can continue to add new workers, increase investment and sustain an economic recovery that’s almost seven years old.

On the Real Estate front: Millennials and others looking to buy a first — or “starter” — home are struggling to find ones they can afford, a new research report says.  There are fewer affordable starter homes in 95 of the 100 largest U.S. markets now compared with 2012, according to the San Francisco-based real estate research company Trulia.com. Trulia defines a starter as a home that is in the lower third of a market’s valuation and affordable to those making the median income in that market.

There’s a paradox in Monday’s existing-home-sales data.  Sales slid 7.1% to the lowest pace since November, the National Association of Realtors reported.  NAR has warned for many months that low levels of supply, which are pushing prices ever higher, will eventually cripple the market.  February’s decline may be a sign that the Realtors’ fears are coming true, although it may still turn out to be a temporary blip caused by weather, new closing regulations, and the difficulties of adjusting data to account for all those anomalies. 

Still, as NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement, “the main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers.”  That may sound obvious: if you can’t afford the few limited options available on the market, you’d probably give up too. It also tracks with a survey NAR published last week, which found that the share of current renters who say now is a good time to buy fell in the most recent quarter.

Sales of new homes bounced back in February, another sign of continued, if subdued, momentum in the housing market.  New home sales ran at an annual pace of 512,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.  That was the highest since December.  February’s rate was 2% higher than January’s, but 6.1% lower than year-ago levels.  The median national sales price in February was $301,400, up 6.2% compared to January. There was 5.6 months’ worth of supply available at the current sales pace at the end of the month.

By 2016, about 238,000 homes or 28% of the total available inventory of 860,000 in those markets surveyed were considered starter homes, down from 425,000 homes or 30% of all homes in 2012, out of a total of 1.4 million that year the report found.  In 2016, the median starter home list price was $154,156, and a buyer would need to dedicate 37% of his income just to afford it, compared with 32% in 2012, Trulia said.

On the Employment front:  The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in the mid-March was little changed at 265,000, reflecting the low level of layoffs taking place across the economy.  Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 55 weeks, a feat last accomplished in 1973, when the size of the labor force was much smaller.  The average of new claims over the past four weeks edged up by 250 to 259,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends.

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! Government Rhetoric, the Economy and other stuff. 3/18/16

The National Debt is currently: $19,117,639,132,587.00  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.

Last Wednesday, on March 9, 2016, the bull market officially celebrated its seventh birthday. During that seven-year period, the S&P 500 nearly tripled, gaining 194% in price and producing a total return of 241%. Despite all of the time that has passed, memories of the stock market collapse in 2008 and 2009 remain vivid for all of us.  Set up by the severe 2008 – 09 decline, this bull market has been one of the strongest in history.  My question is; Why?  I would say the biggest driver of gains in the current Bull market has been Federal Reserve (Fed) policy.  Monetary policy stimulus, including quantitative easing (QE) and the so-called ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), has played a Huge role in powering this bull.

Think about it; if the Fed isn’t raising rates because the economy isn’t strong enough, shouldn’t the stock market fall?  Stocks have historically done quite well after the Fed starts rising interest rates.  Why would companies like lower rates better than a booming economy?  Because their borrowing cost is next to nothing and when you have lower expenses, your earnings look better. 

Folks, Wall Street firms will never tell you they think the market is poised for a fall.  They want you invested in stocks and other assets.  It’s how they make $$$.  Even in a bear market (2008-20010) they will tell you “everything’s going to be alright”.  While a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch (14yrs) I was reprimanded for telling clients to go to cash.  They said it was “timing the Market” and not allowed.  This is one of the many reasons I left that business.

As I stated last week, we’ve been stuck in the current “growth” pattern for the last 7 years.  An average real gross domestic product, GDP, (the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States) growth rate of about 1.88% (2009 thru 2015) is not growth, but treading water.  The highest we’ve gotten is 3.00% back in 2010.  Prior to this recent time period we averaged about 3.5% growth. 

The Dow is higher by 91 points today/Friday and the highest of the year. The Dow is at 17,573.  The S&P 500 is trading at 2,045.  Gold is trading at $1,254 an ounce, while oil futures at $39.52 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $2.29/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 102.06.  We tested the support (lower) end of the trading range last week.   Our current trading range is about 101.25 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.    

In economic news this week; Stocks rose again today, putting major indexes on pace for their fifth straight week of gains.  The week’s advance accelerated after the Fed on Wednesday signaled a more gradual path of interest-rate increases. The Dow, which has risen each day this week, is up 2.1% so far this week. The S&P 500 has added 1.2%.

The Federal Reserve held their scheduled meeting this week and held interest rates steady along with signaling it will lift them more slowly than previously indicated because of a weak global environment and volatile stock market.  The Fed said in a statement that they decided to leave the central bank’s benchmark interest rate in a range of 0.25%-0.5%. The decision was widely expected.

The big change was in the Fed’s so-called “dot plot,” where officials penciled in only two quarter-point hikes this year, down from four in December.  “We continue to see risks,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a press conference after top officials met.  But she also pointed out that “the U.S. economy has been very resilient in recent months.”

Just a few months ago, the Fed appeared ready to embark on a series of interest-rate increases after determining the economy was strong enough to handle it. Yet big losses in the stock market early in the year, slowing U.S. growth and fresh worries the global economy spurred the Fed to back off.  See last week commentary regarding the Fed backing itself into a corner where rates are concerned.  Financial markets now don’t expect a rate hike before June and rallied on the news.

More recently our economy seems to have stabilized, easing some of the Fed’s concerns. The Fed pointed to improved consumer spending, a stronger housing market and “strong job gains.”  Yet the Fed acknowledged that exports and business investment remain soft.  Inflation is expected to remain on the low side this year, even though there are some signs that price pressures are building.  The Fed predicted its preferred PCE inflation gauge will end 2016 at 1.2%, down from a prior forecast of 1.6%.  The bank wants to see inflation rise to the 2% level it considers a sign of a healthier economy.

Other Central Banks adjusted their rates this week:  Norway’s central bank cut its main interest rate as it sought to boost a slowing economy and keep prices rising close to its 2.5% target.  Indonesia’s central bank cut interest rates for the third time this year to offer more support for the domestic economy. The South African Reserve Bank raised its key interest rate to 7.0%, from 6.75% previously, citing the threat that a weakening currency poses to inflation.

U.S. wholesale prices fell 0.2% in February to mark the fifth decline in seven months, largely because of lower gasoline and food prices.  The price of goods dropped 0.6% last month. Wholesale gas prices sank 15% and food declined 0.3%. The cost of services was flat.  Over the past year overall producer prices are flat in unadjusted terms.  Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy and trade, core prices edged up 0.1% in February.  Core wholesale prices have risen 0.9% in the same span, the biggest 12-month increase since last summer. While some pressure appears to be building, inflation is still very low.

Consumer prices also fell in February as well owing to another drop in gasoline, but the rising cost of shelter and medical care is creating upward pressure on underlying inflation.  The consumer price index declined 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.  Energy prices dropped 6% last month, mostly because of cheaper gasoline. The price of food, however, moved up 0.2% as the cost of groceries rose for the first time since last fall.  Over the past 12 months the CPI has risen at a mild 1% rate. That’s down from 1.4% in January.  Yet stripping out food and energy, so-called core prices rose 0.3% in February.  Core consumer prices have climbed at a 2.3% annual rate, the fastest pace since May 2012.

Sales at U.S. retailers dipped in February after an even bigger drop in January, a sign that consumers haven’t ramped up spending despite steady job creation.  Retail sales fell 0.1% last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.  And sales for January were revised lower to show a 0.4% decline instead of a 0.2% gain.  Retail sales account for about 25% of consumer spending, the main engine of economic growth.  The lackluster pace of sales in the first two months could mean another tepid increase in gross domestic product, GDP, in the first quarter.  The economy expanded at a weak 1% annual clip in the fourth quarter and was projected to accelerate to a 2.3% rate in early 2016.

A measure used to help determine GDP, known as core retail sales, was unchanged in February. Core sales strip out gas, autos, building materials and grocery stores. Core sales have risen a scant 1.1% in the past three months.  The retail sales figures, however, do not take inflation into account. Cheap gas, falling import prices and a recent decline in the cost of food have helped Americans to stretch their paychecks.  Real consumer spending is therefore stronger than retail sales suggest.

A measure of U.S. leading economic indicators rose in February for the first time in three months and suggests steady if mild growth in the months ahead.  The leading economic index rose 0.1% to 123.2 last month, according to the nonprofit Conference Board.  “Although the LEI’s six-month growth rate has moderated considerably in recent months, the outlook remains positive with little chance of a downturn in the near-term,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the board that produces the report.  A separate index of current conditions rose 0.1% in February. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.

U.S. consumer sentiment slipped to 90.0 in March from 91.7 in February, the lowest reading in five months, because of concerns about how fast the economy will grow in the months ahead as well as the expectation that gasoline prices will rise.  “While consumers do not anticipate a recession, they no longer expect the economy to outperform the 2.4% rate of economic growth recorded in the past two years,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the survey.  The last time the index was as low as it is now was in October. The sentiment index reached a post-recession peak of 98.1 in January 2015 but has averaged 92 since then.  The all-time high for the sentiment index is 112, set in January 2000. The index hasn’t topped 100 since 2004.

On the Real Estate front: Confidence among home builders held steady in March, an industry group reported Tuesday, even as another issued a call for more housing construction.  Construction on new houses rose in February to a five-month high, led by the biggest increase in single-family units in nine years.  Sales of existing homes hit the second-highest rate of the expansion in January, the National Association of Realtors said last month.  Houses sold at such a strong pace that inventory fell to one of the lowest levels in decades, pushing prices ever higher.

On Tuesday, NAR released a survey showing demand for homeownership was still strong. The vast majority, 82%, of current homeowners surveyed said now is a good time to buy. The survey also demonstrated what NAR calls “an overwhelming consumer preference for single-family homes in suburban areas.”  In a release, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that “supply and demand imbalances and unhealthy levels of price growth in several metro areas have made buying an affordable home an onerous task for far too many first-time buyers and middle-class families.”

On the Employment front:  The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week rose by 7,000 to 265,000, but the rate of layoffs taking place in the economy are still exceedingly low.

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 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 July 25th, 2014

The National Debt is currently: $17,600,771,776,587.00  is Higher by another 6 BILLION.  The interest pay-out alone on the debt is 225 Billion per year!  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving to our children.

If you are looking for a new home or know of any potential buyers looking for a home, it’s time to get  “approved by an Underwriter” not just “pre-approved.”  Most pre-approval letters are not worth the paper they’re printed on, but underwriter approved will make you almost as strong as a cash buyer and significantly speeds up the loan process.  Think about it; you won’t have to deal with the 17 day removal of the loan contingency because your offer will not have a loan contingency and you can have a shorter escrow. Call me today and get approved before you go shopping. 

The Dow last traded at 16,940 about 160pts lower than where it was a week ago.  The S&P 500 is trading at 1,977.  Gold is trading at $1,304 an ounce, while oil futures at $101.99 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.75/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 3.5% coupon, containing 3.75% – 4.125% mortgages, pretty much the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days  is currently trading at 102.34 about .10 worse than where we were last week.  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, not much change this week.  The economy continues to grow albeit at slow levels.  It looks like more home buyers prefer purchasing an existing home over an newly built one as sales of existing homes were higher while new home sales declined.  Consumer inflation is still in check.

Economic activity edged down to 0.12 in June, from 0.16 in May according to the Chicago Fed national activity index released Monday.  This is still the fourth month above zero. A reading of zero is equal to trend growth. The index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity.  The three-month average slowed to 0.18 in June from 0.33 in May.

Consumer prices gained again in June but the rise was not as broad-based as in the prior month and was driven mainly by the rising cost for gasoline.  The Labor Department said the consumer price index increased 0.3% in June after a 0.4% gain in May.  The gasoline index rose 3.3% in June, and accounted for two-thirds of the increase in overall June prices.  Food and so-called core prices slowed in June.  Food prices rose 0.1% in June, the smallest monthly increase since January, after a steep 0.5% gain in May.  Excluding volatile food and energy prices, “core” prices rose just 0.1% after three straight gains of 0.2% or more.

June’s relatively tame reading should alleviate concerns that inflation is beginning to break to the upside.  While the Fed’s favorite measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditure index, has been more moderate that the CPI, there is some concern the central bank is falling behind the curve on inflation.  The Fed is meeting next week and is expected to take another step toward ending its bond-buying program. After that program ends in October, the Fed has said it will wait a “considerable period” before raising rates.

Orders for durable goods such as computers, aircraft and heavy machinery rose 0.7% in June, but the details of the report suggest the rebound in business investment in the second quarter will not be as strong as previously hoped.  The increase in orders for big-ticket items last month was the fourth increase in the last five months, with gains in most major categories.

On the Real Estate front:  Nationally, home prices rose 0.4% in May, and April’s price move was revised to show 0.1% growth from a previously estimated no change, the said Tuesday. The FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) house price index is based on mortgages bought or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Compared to May 2013, prices were up 5.5%, led by 9.6% growth in the Pacific region. Prices are 6.5% below the April 2007 peak, FHFA added.

Rising for a third consecutive month, sales of existing homes in June hit the fastest pace in eight months, signaling that the housing market’s recovery hasn’t petered out.  The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that sales of existing homes grew 2.6% in June to an annual rate of 5.04 million.

The sales pace of new single-family homes fell 8.1% in June to a three-month low, according to the Commerce Department adding to worries over the housing market’s recovery.  New-home sales in June were down 11.5% from a year earlier. The supply of new homes rose to 5.8 months from 5.2 months in May. This metric measures how long the number of homes on the market would last at the current sales rate, assuming that builders did not add to inventory.

On the Employment front:  The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits last week tumbled by 19,000 to 284,000, the lowest level since February 2006, signaling that companies have further slowed down the pace of layoffs and are letting go of few workers.  The average of new claims over the past month declined by 7,250 to 302,000, the lowest level since May 2007, the U.S. Labor Department reported. The government also said that continuing claims in the week that ended July 12 dropped by 8,000 to 2.5 million, the lowest level since June 2007. 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!

Bill Bartok ESIG 9-25-13