We all remember Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the twin quasi-public organizations who backstopped the home loan industry for the whole country. Freddie and Fannie were thought by some to be on the verge of extinction during the home loan crisis, but they revived when Washington stepped in. Freddie’s latest quarterly financials show assets that have a small ‘t’ in front of the number (that’s short for ‘trillions’), so it looks like they aren’t about to go out of business. In fact, whenever one of today’s area home loans is originated, Freddie or Fannie are probably in the wings. They remain the big guns in the U.S. secondary home loan market, which is so huge its repercussions are felt globally.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but so that we don’t have to tread any further through the red tape, let’s just sum up by acknowledging that when Freddie or Fannie sneeze, the entire planet is apt to grab for a Kleenex. Since August saw a good share of planetary financial upset, optimism from Freddie and Fannie would be a relief—particularly for future town home loan applicants, who might be a bit rattled by the recent swan dive on Wall Street. ‘What does it mean for the availability of mortgage loans?’ they might well be wondering…
Last week it was a good sign when the stock market emerged from the air-raid shelter where it had spent the previous weekend. By Friday, the S&P 500 had made back “modest gains” (T. Rowe Price) after enduring the highest volatility in four years. But the housing markets looked a good deal more stable, if we were to believe Freddie.
The hard facts can be elusive, so Freddie Mac puts together something called the “Multi-Indicator Market Index,” which measures the stability of the U.S. housing market. Mid-week, it released the latest reading, which prompted the National Mortgage News headline “Housing Markets Improve Nationwide: Freddie Mac.” The Index came in at 80.3, an improvement of 1.33% compared with a month earlier. In case that doesn’t sound like a gigantic change, Freddie’s Deputy Chief Economist, Len Kiefer, was there to clarify. “Housing markets are the strongest they’ve been in years,” he told the press.
Freddie reads various home loan industry reports, as well, and passes them on to its web site visitors. Headlines there were equally comforting—
- “S&P Case-Shiller: Home prices continue to rise in June” (HousingWire, August 25)
- “Housing market gains steam as July new home sales rebound” (Marketwatch, August 25)
-and most reassuring of all:
- “Why the economy is OK, even if stocks aren’t” (CNN Money, August 24)
So for the moment, it does look as if area home buyers and sellers needn’t be distracted by the news from Wall Street—good or bad. Especially since U.S. 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates were down again for the week…many below 4%! If you’ve been thinking it might be a good time to investigate today’s town real estate market, I couldn’t agree more: time to give me a call!