Economic News Week: August 30,2010

The DOW roared past 10,000, rising 165.14 points this past Friday as Fed Chairman-Ben Bernanke vowed to act if “unexpected developments” further threaten our economic recovery.  Mr. Bernanke’s talk provided few surprises but,  reassured Wall Street in a week that had been packed with disappointing economic news and reports.  Keep in mind that the Fed will only take action if the economy falters further. One of the fixes is the purchase of securities. Bernanke reassured that their are more tools the FED can use in the future if need be.  So, it’s not panic time as some economists and politicians would have us believe. In his weekly column in the S.A. Business Journal- Economist M. Ray Perryman said, “naturally, concerns about the economy  linger, and it may be some time before the tempo of recovery picks up enough to create the jobs necessary to sustain economic prosperity.  However,  the outlook for the future is not nearly as bleak as some sources predict”.  On a more positive note, there were  fewer than expected filings for jobless benefits for the first time in a month last week.

Texas leads the nation in lots of things and  here’s another one.  A headline read last week that “Texas leads nation in helping vets get jobs”.  Texas has helped more veterans get jobs than any other state, the Texas Veterans Commission said last Wednesday. Plus, Workforce Solutions Alamo has been notified that the Texas Back to Work Program has been extended as well.  Employers in the agency’s 12 county area can receive monetary incentives for hiring unemployed workers (not just Vets) under a two year, $15 million state program promoted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and funded by the legislature last session. It seems that Texas is doing all the right things when it comes to our state economy.  Maybe that’s just one of the huge reasons folks are wanting to move and live here. Our economy is based on jobs and consumer spending and Texas is definitely leading they way out of this economic downturn.

Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in decades for the ninth time in 10 weeks, Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported last week.  The average 30 year fixed rate was 4.36%.  That’s the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.  Refinancing is at its highest level since May 2009 and made up 82.4% of all new loan activity.  “With rates this low, many borrowers who refinanced in the past two years may well have an incentive to refinance again,” said Michael Fratantoni, head of research and economics for the Mortgage Bankers Association. Here’s an FYI for you…There are 100% loan programs still out there.  One being the USDA Rural Home Loan Program for qualified buyers and areas of the State.   Another is FHA’s Good Neighbor Next Door Program.  Lastly, is the VA loan program for qualified veterans.  There  are Lenders willing to loan money too-despite what you may hear on the Constant  Negative News channel. In my opinion, there is not and has not been a better time than right now to purchase or refinance your home-no matter if it is a primary residence or an investment property.  Sellers are dropping their prices and Mortgage rates are at very low levels.   The following is a brief list of items needed to get started for pre-qualification purposes: 1.  08 and 09 W2’s  2.  08 and 09 Tax returns.  3. 1-2 months paystubs.  4.  Cash asset account statements. Get these together and find a local Mortgage Loan Officer for a consultative approach to the Mortgage process. It may be easier than you think!

Economic Data due this week:  Monday:  Personal Income and Spending Report for consumers.  Tuesday:  Home Price Index.  Tuesday:  Consumer Confidence Index.  Tuesday: FOMC Minutes.  Wednesday:  ISM Index.  Thursday:  Pending Home Sales Index for July.  Thursday: Factory Orders  for July.  Thursday: Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.  Friday: Employment data for August.

Quote of the week!
The door to a balanced success opens widest on the
hinges of hope and encouragement.
—–Zig Ziglar

Economic News Week: August 23, 2010

By Tony Stevenson

This is the tale end of earning reports as our economy keeps sputtering along.  General Motors is set to release its IPO after announcing its profits report.  Congress is drawing battle lines relating to a number of measures, including the Bush tax cut expirations.  Industrial production jumped 1% in July, double the 0.5 percent growth forecast by economists.  Another sign that we are not headed towards a double dip recession.  “We’re anemic; we’re slow; we’re crawling, but we’re not going backward (the economy) , said Peter Bible, a partner at EisenrAmper.

Lets talk foreclosure.  Realty Trac’s most recent national foreclosure report said that in July, 1 in every 397 U.S. homes received foreclosure notices.  While in Texas the foreclosure rate was 1 out of 819 homes. Less than half of the national average.  Foreclosures are never a good thing however, buyers of foreclosed homes do have the advantage over sellers-inventory!  Especially now, as some sellers are likely to lower prices due to the foreclosure rate and what it can do to the housing market when it comes to appraisals. Either sellers need to price it ‘right’ now or take it off the market and wait for the market to improve.  One positive note is that folks who bought houses in recent years appear to be faring better and not likely to enter the foreclosure  arena.  All this in a article in the S.A. Express News this past  Saturday.

Freddie Mac says the average rate for 30 year fixed loans was 4.42%, down from 4.44% last week. As mortgage rates hit bottom, homeowners got busy and applied for refinances. Refi activity last week was at its highest level since My 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.  About 81% of  mortgage applications were for refinances, the MBA said.  In a statement made to Bankrate.com, Jeff Lazerson, president of Mortgage Grader, a brokerage based in California, says, his advice to would-be refinancers is: “Do not wait. Do not get complacent, thinking that low rates are going to be around forever, because they can change at any point.”  I would also add, that would-be homebuyers seeking a mortgage should not wait either.  Now is the time to buy and get the best mortgage rates available not seen since the 1950’s.

Lastly, my family and I had a great time at the Blanco County Fair and Rodeo this past weekend.  Now, it’s time for the Gillespie County Fair-being held this coming weekend in Fredericksburg.  This is the oldest County Fair  in the State. Bring the whole family as one of the finest Fairs concludes the summer vacation for kids as they return to school this week.  And all  the parents said, “yipee!”

Economic Data due this week: Tuesday: Existing Home Sales Wednesday:  New Home Sales Report.  Wednesday: Durable Goods Report=this is a reports of retail items that last a long time such as tvs and computers.  This is a leading indicator of manufacturing here in the U.S.  Friday: Gross Domestic Product (GDP)=a measure of the total production and consumption  of goods and services here in the U.S.  Friday: Consumer Sentiment index= measures the attitudes and expectation concerning both present and future economic conditions by 500 consumers.

Quote of the week!
You can take your kids to college but, you can’t make them think!
—–Author Unknown

Joke of the week!
Did you hear the one about the writer who’s hand kept cramping?
He had authoritis.

Seller-financing licensing exemption reinstated

Great news for sellers who finance in Texas: Texas Department of Savings & Mortgage Lending Commissioner Doug Foster has issued a notice that allows the continuation of the de minimis exemption until further action is taken by the Legislature. This exemption, which was briefly repealed by the federal SAFE Act, means that a seller can once again finance up to five properties in a 12-month period without being licensed as a residential mortgage loan originator. The Texas Association of REALTORS® worked closely with the agency in its efforts to continue to allow the exemption to apply in Texas.

The de minimis exemption has not yet been recodified, but the Texas Association of REALTORS® will continue to work during the next legislative session to see that it is reinstated in statute.

Economic News Week: August 16,2010

By Tony Stevenson (Loan Officer)

“In a welcome reprieve, Friday’s economic numbers showed better Consumer Sentiment and U.S. Retail sales”, in a report from the Wall Street Journal this past weekend. Retail Sales rose slightly for July by .04%. Investors instead were attracted to the safety of the U.S. dollar and Treasurys. The Euro slipped against the dollar by 4%. Not so long ago, the dollar had been getting weaker vs the Euro. Here in the U.S. worker productivity slipped this spring for the first time in more than a year. This is a sign that companies may need to speed up their hiring if they hope to grow. This is deemed to be good news for the job market. The FED announced that they would buy U.S. debt by approximately $10 billion a month . The move is designed to drive rates on mortgages and corporate borrowing at least slightly lower and to help the economy grow faster and protect us from a double-dip recession.

It took a Texan! General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre Jr said he’s stepping down after announcing GM’s largest profit in six years-$1.3 billion. His whole goal was to payback the government after the automaker was having troubles staying afloat and needing help. Give a Texan a job to do and watch the job get accomplished. Way to go Mr. Whitacre and welcome back home.

San Antonio proved its economic staying power again last year when it was one of only three metro areas to see a rise in both personal income and net earnings of its residents in a report in the S.A. Express News last Tuesday. San Antonio raced passed the norm in the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2009 report on personal income last week.

During the WSJ TV show this past Saturday, Austin was given accolades from a report by ‘The Kipllingers Report” after achieving #1 status for being selected Top City for the reports ’10 best cities in 10 years’ outlook survey. Austin was chosen for its innovation, creation of jobs, quality of life, education, and being a great place for entrepreneurs.

Interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages are in historic territory once again as rates fell to an average of 4.4% on Aug 12th according to Freddie Mac. Not only was that down from 5.07% in January, it was the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping records in 1970. So why isn’t there a rush to refinance or purchase a home? The economy keeps being blamed as the #1 enemy. When people aren’t working, people can’t buy anything. Things are getting better-slowly. The same goes for those who want and/or need to refinance. No job, no refi-mortgage. Keep in mind that certain parts of the Nation are feeling it more than others. Texas is the “golden child” when it comes to surviving the economic downturn. Just from San Antonio and Austin’s positive economy and outlook says a lot for our state. Plus, the Texas Hill Country is right in the middle. Find a Local Realtor and Local Loan Officer and find the home of your dreams.

Want something fun to attend next weekend -August 19-21st? Head out to Johnson City for the 80th Annual Blanco County Fair and Rodeo. Loads of family fun and entertainment. Plus, one of the largest washer pitching tournaments in the State on Saturday at 1 pm. Check out the NEW band on Friday night beginning at 8pm at the fairgrounds as well. Hilltown is their name and playing great local country music is their game. I hope to see ya there!

Economic Data: Tuesday: PPI (Producer Price Index)= Wholesale level price changes. Tuesday: Housing Starts=The number of residential units of new construction starts. Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims. Thursday: Philly Fed Index=A regional manufacturing survey.

Quote of the week!
Lip service vs Do service. Most of us talk about all the good we do
but, don’t really do as much as we talk about.
——Author Unknown.

Stupid joke of the week!
How many doctors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Either one or one hundred, depending on whether the bulb has insurance.

"Cash Back Button"

This was forwarded to me from my husband that is a police officer.

That “cash back” button is too easy……It is usually on the bottom line of receipts…I’ll sure be reading mine closely before I leave the store.

This is important.. Make sure you read it!!! This happened at Wal-Mart

(Supercenter Store #1279, 10411 N Freeway 45, Houston , TX 77037 a month ago. I bought a bunch of stuff, over $150, & I glanced at my receipt as the cashier was handing me the bags. I saw a cash-back of $40. I told her I didn’t request a cash back & to delete it. She said I’d have to take the $40 because she couldn’t delete it. I told her to call a supervisor… The Supervisor came & also said I’d have to take it. I said NO! Taking the $40 would be a cash advance against my Discover & I wasn’t paying interest on a cash advance!!!!!

If they couldn’t delete it then they would have to delete the whole order. So the supervisor had the cashier delete the whole order & re-scan everything! The second time I looked at the electronic pad before I signed & a cash-back of $20 popped up. At that point I told the cashier & she deleted it. The total came out right. The cashier agreed that the electronic pad must be defective. Obviously the cashier knew the electronic pad was defective because she NEVER offered me the $40 at the beginning. Can you imagine how many people went through before me & at the end of her shift how much money she pocketed?

Just to alert everyone. My co worker went to Milford , DE Wal-Mart last week. She had her items rung up by the cashier. The cashier hurried her along and didn’t give her a receipt. She asked the cashier for a receipt and the cashier was annoyed and gave it to her. My co worker didn’t look at her receipt until later that night. The receipt showed that she asked for $60 cash back. SHE DID NOT ASK FOR CASH BACK! My co-worker called Wal-Mart who investigated but could not see the cashier pocket the money. She then called her niece who works for the bank and her niece told her this… This is a new scam going on. The cashier will key in that you asked for cash back and then hand it to her friend who is the next person in line behind you just waiting to collect the money placed on your credit card.

Please, please, please check your receipts right away when using credit or debit cards! This is NOT limited to Wal-Mart, although they are the largest retailer, so they have the most incidents. Make sure you select NO CASH BACK and look at the receipt before you leave the line. And if you do happen to ask for cash back make sure the amount you asked for matches what’s on the receipt.

I am adding to this. My husband and I were in Wal-Mart North Salisbury and paying with credit card when my husband went to sign the credit card signer he just happen to notice there was a $20 cash back added. He told the cashier that he did not ask nor want cash back and she said this machine has been messing up and she cancelled it. We really didn’t think anything of it until we read this email.

I wonder how many “seniors” have been, or will be, “stung” by this one????

BE AWARE . . . THIS SCAM CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE, AT ANY RETAIL OR WHOLESALE LOCATION!!!

Economic News Week : August 9, 2010

By Tony Stevenson/SWBC Mortgage
The big news last week was the jobs report. Put in perspective, instead of losing 500k jobs per month, as was the case when the recession was in high gear, we are adding private sector jobs-71k last month and an additional 30k the previous month. We did lose those ‘census jobs’ but, who ever thought they would be permanent in the first place? Instead of total unemployment rising as some negative economists were predicting, it actually stayed the same at 9.5% for the month. Of the 18 industries surveyed by ISM, 13 reported growth in July as well. Auto sales improved in July for most automakers-at least giving some a sigh of relief as consumers did increase spending on some big ticket items. GM CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. is eager to shed the tag, ” Government Motors.” Retail Sales did increase 2.8% for July compared to the same time last year- maybe not by the numbers economists would like to see but, it was an increase none the less. It was reported too, that households are borrowing less and saving more, lowering consumer spending. However, the $1.3 billion June drop in borrowing was much smaller than the $5 billion decline that economists had expected. Finally, both sides of the aisle will be arguing over whether to keep the Bush tax cuts in place or other options. Former Fed Chairman-Mr. Greenspan believes the tax cuts should be repealed. We will be watching how this plays out.

Locally, Texas is listed as one of five states that added manufacturing jobs in each of the first six months of 2010. Nationally, the manufacturing sector has grown now for 12 straight months. I know I sound like a broken record but, our economy is jobs dependent and consumer dependent. Most economists are saying that our current economic situation is in one if its down times but, in no way is to be considered headed to a ‘double-dip’ recession.

On another positive note, “Texas home sales up 14% in 2Q”, was a recent headline. The report stated that a new Texas Association of Realtors report released last Monday showed the number of home sales was up statewide in the second quarter, but prices were unchanged.

“Texas chalks up another best for biz prize” was a headline for local Economist, M Ray Perryman’s column in the San Antonio Business Journal this past week. In the study by CNBC, Texas received the most points out of 2500 and 31 points above last years winner-Virginia. America’s Top States for Business 2010 survey included points for workforce, quality of life, economy, transportation and infrastructure, technology and innovation, educations, business friendliness, and access to capital. By amassing more points than any other state for 2010, as well as the highest score in the history of the study, Texas’ strengths were appropriately recognized according to Mr Perryman. Way to go Texas!

Mortgage rates reached modern day lows again for the third week in a row according to Bankrate.com. The 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to 4.66% vs just a year ago the rate was 5.65%. More than three-quarter of mortgage applications are coming from homeowners wanting to refinance their home loans according to the Mortgage Bankers Association the report stated. I have been busy with refinance applications, but I have been just as busy-locally with purchase applications for the San Antonio and Texas Hill Country areas.

Economic Data: Tuesday= FOMC meeting: Fed to discuss interest rate policy. Wednesday=Balance of trade: The difference between a nation’s exports and imports. Thursday= Weekly jobless claims. Friday= Retail Sales Report.: A timely indicator of consumers spending patterns Friday=Consumer Price Index (CPI): Average price levels of a mixed basket of goods paid for by consumers. Friday= Consumer Sentiment Index= Related to the strength of consumer spending. This is a report of 500 consumers attitudes for present and future economic conditions