Non-junkies find the Fed about as interesting as other non-junkies enjoy presidential debates, but I promise that Fed issues are vastly more important. And current. Long-term rates fell this week as a direct result of Fed disarray, the 10-year T-note below 2.00 percent briefly, and the prospect of Fed liftoff receding over the horizon. Before the Fed whys and wherefores, some data. The U.S. is not recessionary, but third-quarter (Q3) GDP (gross domestic product) going into the Q4 is far weaker than in Q2.
It is odd out there. High-volatility markets have gone still. Long-term interest rates certain to rise have fallen, mortgages back in the threes. The 242-seat Republican majority in the House is captive to 40 wild men, the party in many ways no longer a party.
Riding on the coattails of positive housing market conditions, home improvement spending is expected to pick up heading into 2016, according to a recent report released by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The report, called the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) and released by the university’s Remodeling Futures Program, projects that annual spending on home remodeling projects will increase from 2.4 percent in the second quarter of this year to 6.8 percent by the same quarter next year.
On July 30, two of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, Wells Fargo and Prospect Mortgage, announced to the world that they are “discontinuing” their participation in MSAs (marketing service agreements) with real estate agents and brokers. And in September 2014, Lighthouse Title in Michigan was slapped with a $200,000 fine for its MSAs with agents and brokers. There’s been confusion in the industry about what’s permissible with MSAs and what’s forbidden. And until last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had been largely silent on the issue.