For the second consecutive month, U.S. consumer confidence is plunging. July’s official reading is its lowest since July of last year and the figures run in stark contrast to just two months ago, when the index touched a multi-year high.
According to The Conference Board, July’s figures are reflective of a more pessimistic consumer; one concerned about “business conditions and the labor market”.
Falling confidence numbers are presumed to be poor for the economy. For homeowner and home buyers in Chester , however, they can create opportunity. Low confidence can influence the mortgage market in a positive manner, driving mortgage rates down.
Mortgage rates are already at their lowest levels of all-time.
The link between consumer confidence and everyday mortgage rates roots in consumer spending.
Consumer spending accounts for close to 70% of the overall U.S. economy so, the thought goes that, a less confident consumer is less likely to spend money, thereby retarding economic growth. This harms the stock markets and drives cash to bonds, including mortgage-backed bonds.
More bond demand leads bond prices to rise which, in turn, pushes mortgage rates lower.
The other side of lagging confidence is that Americans may be less likely to take new financial risks when they’re feeling unsure, including buying a new home. This can then drag on the housing market, negatively impacting home prices across Virginia.
Falling home values can help buyers, harm sellers, and stymie would-be refinancers.
It’s tough to predict how consumer confidence data will work its way through the economy, but in the near-term, it appears to be helping mortgage rates stay low. If you’re floating a mortgage rate with your lender, or contemplating a refinance, the time may be right to lock in a rate.
Low rates can’t last forever.
The Consumer Confidence Index is rising, a potentially double-edged sword for residents of Chester and for Americans, in general.
According to The Conference Board, economic confidence is as high as it’s been since August 2007 — 4 months before the start of the recession. Americans are optimistic again.
Confidence matters to the economy because as confidence increases, in theory, consumer spending follows. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
It’s why Wall Street is responsive to confidence data.
When consumer confidence is rising, households start to make big-ticket purchases they may have otherwise put off indefinitely. Maybe it’s a replacing old appliances; or, trading in an old automobiles; or, splurging on a vacation.
Rising confidence can also spur real estate sales.
When confidence is rising, a growing family that chose to “make do” in their 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom starter home may opt to move-up to a 4-bedroom, 3-bath instead at a slightly higher monthly carrying cost. And there are families in every city in every state making those same decisions.
As a result, the housing market gets a boost — especially in the mid-to-upper price ranges. Values rise on higher demand for homes.
The downside is that growing confidence tends to push conforming and FHA mortgage rates up. This is because an expanding economy draws investment dollars away from bonds and into stocks — including mortgage bonds.
The reduced demand for mortgage-backed bonds leads bond prices to fall and mortgage rates to rise. Sometimes by a little, sometimes by lot.
So, if you’re buying a home or thinking of a refinance, rising confidence in the economy may be a signal to act sooner rather than later. Talk to your real estate agent and/or your loan officer about next steps and get your plan in place.