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What Matters More:Payroll Data or the Economy 
I came across an article from mid-August that discussed federal payroll data and the economy and found it interesting. Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Management felt that the economy was improving slowly (plod along was the term he used). He pointed out that Housing numbers were strong and the Manufacturing Sector was starting to recover, stating, "If you get manufacturing back with housing already doing better, we're going to feel that in the economy including jobs in the latter half of this year." His argument was that if the economy was growing, then that growth was more important than one or two monthly jobs reports.

I partially agree with his premise, because housing has been driving the economy and creating new jobs. I'm not sure i agree that the economy is improving, because I don't really see it. My view is limited, but I'm not seeing much hiring from businesses, very small start-ups are few and far between, and local banks are very particular with their business loans.

If The September jobs figures are strong, I might change my opinion. Unfortunately, as you know, that report won't be released tomorrow due to The Shutdown. It appears that other important economic reports will also be delayed, even after The Sutdown is resolved.

Paulsen may be right, but we will have to wait a little longer to find out.

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The Shutdown, Day 2. 
On day 2 of The Shutdown, we are already seeing lenders delaying mortgage loan closings due to the inability to verify tax returns and social security numbers through the federal governement. This is no big surprise.

The big surprise will be the September Jobs Report, which will most likely not be released due to The Shutdown. This is a huge indicator of which direction the FOMC will take regarding monetary policy (Tapering). A bad number would indicate that the economy is far from robust, many already believe that to be the case, and would provide the FOMC with more ammunition to leave Tapering in place.

A bad number would negatively impact the capital markets, which remain open and trading as usual, so no number may ultimately be good for stocks. We shall see.

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The Shutdown: How Much Damage? 
Well, the Federal Government is shutdown, except for essential employees, like some TSA people. I'm happy that our politicians are smart enough to keep protecting the airways, even if they aren't smart enough to figure out a sound solution.

The problem with the shutdown is that the housing industry, which has been one of the few bright spots in the economy, will be negatively impacted greatly. This is because mortgages can be processed, but they won't be allowed to go to closing due to the inability to process flood insurance and the IRS 4506T form (see yestereday's post), among other items.

The worst part for borrowers is that they may lose their interest rate locks if they can't close. Some lenders may extend these rate locks free of charge, but many will impose their normal extension fees because the need for the extension wasn't caused by the lender.

I'm frustrated with the shutdown because, as with many government situations, it's the person that they are supposedly protecting that loses. That person is the American citizen, the consumer.

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How a Federal Government Shutdown will Impact the Mortgage Industry 
If lawmakers don't reach an agreement on the budget, the Federal Government will shutdown and there will be a tremendously negative affect on the mortgage industry. In today's mortgage world, we depend on the the folks inside the beltway to do a number of tasks which allow us to take mortgage applications to settlement.

We verify every borrower's tax return transcripts by processing an IRS 4506T form through the IRS, which can't be done if the IRS is closed. This alone will prevent most, if not all, loans from closing. If a property is in a flood zone, we can't close the loan because flood insurance, which is obtained through FEMA, won't be available either.

The good news is if you want an FHA loan, we can obtain an FHA case #, which will allow us to process your FHA loan, but we still probably can't close your loan due to the above reasons.

Hopefully the bi-partisan fighting over the budget will get resolved enough so a shutdown is averted, but I'm not so sure it will happen.

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Mortgage Rates End The Week Lower 
It was another good week overall for mortgage rates with the FHA 30 year fixed rate ranging between 3.75% and 4.00%, depending on the borrower's credit scores.

Credit scores actually impact Conventional (Fannie Mae and freddie Mac) rates more than they do FHA rates. Assuming your credit scores are above 720, 30 year fixed rates on Friday ranged from 4.375% to 4.50%, depending on the down payment. For those of you looking for a shorter amortization, the 15 year fixed rate was between 3.375% to 3.50%, based on the same criteria.

SHOULD I LOCK OR FLOAT?
Unless you are going to closing and yo have to lock your rate, I feel that it is safe to float your rate. There will be some volatility so don't put your blinders on and ignore the market, but overall the risk should be outwieghed by the reward. Let it ride!

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