Fed’s Mortgage Purchase Near End

The Federal Reserve announced that it will end the purchase program of mortgage backed securities as scheduled this month. I give this three hips and a giant hooray! After providing about $1.25 trillion in economic support, ending this program will force the private sector markets to fill the gap that the Fed has left. And I have all of the confidence in the world that they will do so. However, they will likely not do so at the same returns that the Fed was seeking. Rather, I suspect, the private sector will demand greater yield on their investment than did the US Government.

So what does this mean to the “average Joe” trying to buy a home? I suspect it will mean slightly higher interest rates. If the secondary markets begin demanding a higher return, it is going to force mortgage originators to write at higher rates. I don’t think this rate will have to be dramatically higher, but could be in the range of 500 basis points (0.5 percent). That’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re right on the edge of taking out a loan. If you have the option, I would recommend locking a rate quickly.

For the broader market, I think this is a promising move, thus my cheers at the beginning of this post. If the Fed is willing to cease this program, it must have confidence that the private sector will step forward to continue the function. Lacking that confidence, the program would have been extended to ensure that credit markets remained liquid. I take this as a very positive sign that the mortgage markets are healing.

It will be very interesting to see what happens with the first time home buyer tax credit at the end of April. I can feel the demand that this program is generating in the market. Homes that are in the range of both size and price to be attractive to first time home buyers are seeing significantly more demand than larger, more expensive homes. So, a final word of encouragement to those who own small homes and have been thinking about moving up – do it now!

Strong First Time Home Sales Make This a Move Up Market!

Over the course of the last year, I have noticed that my personal sales history shows that smaller homes are selling much faster than larger homes.  I have seen a number of 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes sell in less than 30 days, even in this austere market.  And these homes are selling for strong prices, several having appreciated in the last year.  One of the small homes that I sold in 2009 set the mark for the highest price per square foot in its Plano neighborhood.

Across the nation, the strength of smaller size homes seems to be consistent.  A USA Today article published this morning addresses this topic directly.  The article quotes statistics from the National Association of Home Builders noting that this trend has not been overlooked by those who bring new product to the market.  The median square footage of homes has dropped about 9%, from a peak of 2300 sq ft in the third quarter of 2006 to 2100 sq ft in the same period of 2009.

I believe there are a couple of factors that cause this trend to occur.  First, the general strength of the economy has everyone scrutinizing expenditures, and people are beginning to realize that they can survive on less.  The thought pattern goes something like this “We’d love to have the media room, but do I really need it?  Perhaps now is not the time – we’ll get that in the next house.”  Second, the strongest segment of the market is in first time home buyers.  People are realizing that given price levels, interest rates and tax incentives, it make sense to buy a home rather than rent for those who can qualify for a mortgage.  First time home buyers have not built up equity over the years and usually start by purchasing smaller homes.  The combination of these occurrences leads to smaller homes outperforming larger homes in the current market.

So what’s the moral of the story?  If you have been in your first home for the last several years, and are thinking that perhaps now is the time to move up, you couldn’t be more right.  Your smaller starter home will yield the best price in the market, and the home that you purchase will likely be discounted from its level of the past couple of years.  The market is taking shape to make now the best time to step into a larger home.

A $2 Million Pizza??

The Plano City Council is set to vote Monday on a $2 million economic incentive package to woo Pizza Hut from its current Addison headquarters location to a new facility to be developed in Plano.  The new development would be part of the Legacy business park in West Plano.

Pizza Hut Logo

Time for a move?

In my opinion, this is a great play by the city of Plano.  Plano has done an exceptional job of attracting corporate headquarters to its fair city, and this is another shining opportunity.  The Pizza Hut relocation comes complete with approximately 450 high paying jobs and will provide a boost to the Plano economy.

Even though the relocation distance from their current location on the Dallas North Tollway in Addison, the move to Plano should serve as a nice stimulus to property values in West Plano.  The additional jobs will create additional residential housing demand in the neighborhoods in close proximity to the Legacy Business Park.  The move will not happen immediately.  The current lease on the Pizza Hut headquarters expires in 2010, and Pizza Hut will have to ready its new facility before making the move.

Kudos to the city of Plano who in the past year has attracted approximately 20 companies and over 4,500 new jobs in the midst of the largest economic downturn our country has faced in many decades.  No recession in Plano – keep gowing!!

For more information on this story, please see the Dallas Business Journal article – Pizza Hut Incentives on Plano’s Agenda.