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Daily Market Watch for Wednesday, March 21, 2018 (Courtesy of Larry Baer and Market Alert )
Short Term Trend (5 days or less): Favors steady rates and fractionally lower prices.
Long Term Trend (6 days or more): Favors higher rates and lower prices.

It’s showtime!

The Federal Open Market Committee will conclude two-days of monetary policy deliberations at 2:00 p.m. ET and issue their traditional post-meeting statement.

Nobody doubts Federal Chairman Powell and his fellow central bankers will choose to bump their short-term benchmark interest rates 25 basis points higher today. This outcome has been fully priced into the mortgage market for at least the past ten days.

The current handwringing among mortgage investors is reflective of concerns this afternoon’s post-meeting statement will contain language talking up the health of the economy and building justification to adjust the pace of rate hikes in 2018 from the current three – to four.

News the Fed sees accelerating economic activity generating inflation pressures necessitating more aggressive adjustments to short-term interest rates is definitely not the “stuff” noticeably lower mortgage interest rates are made of.

Anything in the text or tone of the post-meeting statement or Mr. Powell’s comments at the post-meeting news conference that leads mortgage investors to believe the Fed is developing an itchy rate-hike trigger finger will almost certainly put additional upward pressure on mortgage interest rates.

A second group of observers, a group I consider myself a part of, believe Mr. Powell will take a more conservative tact with respect to the projected pace of 2018 rate hikes. The potential is high Chairman Powell will acknowledge signs of strength in the labor sector and affirm concerns among FOMC members regarding the longer-term impact of tax reforms and increased government spending. He will likely balance this perspective by simultaneously pointing out the negative growth potential created by trade tariffs.

On a blended basis, central bankers will probably choose to take a safe rather than sorry position – making no change to the pace of rate hikes for 2018 but leaving the door open for an upward shift “down-the-road” if conditions warrant. If this assessment proves accurate, today’s event will likely prove to be largely mortgage interest rate neutral.

The National Association of Realtors reported earlier this morning the pace of existing home sales picked up 0.3% on a month-over-month basis in February. For once, the increase in listings managed to keep up with the pace of sales, so the existing home market did not get tighter in February. The not seasonally adjusted median price for existing single-family homes was $234,400 – up by 5.9% from February 2017. Mortgage investors shrugged.

As they do every Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers of America have released their Mortgage Application Survey for the week ended March 16th. Overall single-family mortgage demand declined 1.1%. Refinance activity fell by 4.5% while purchase money loan requests were 1.2% higher.

On a four-week moving average basis, refinance activity is down 8.4% over the past month and it is 14.9% lower than this same time last year. Purchase-money mortgage loan requests are down 0.3% over the past month, and they are 3.5% above year-ago levels.

For the week ended March 16th, refinance applications accounted for 38.5% of all single-family mortgage applications filed.

The contract rate for 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages ended the week one basis points lower at 4.68%. The interest rate is four basis points higher than four weeks ago, and it is 22 basis points higher than the year-ago mark.
Rates Last Updated 3/22/18, 10:00 AM CST 
 Crdt. Score 
 Dbt. Ratio 
  *Rates and terms are subject to change at any time and certain variations, restrictions, or improvements may apply based on creditworthiness, loan amount, property type, etc. APR's do not include mortgage insurance which may be required for LTVs greater than 80%, or closing costs from undetermined third parties including the title company.
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Contact Information
Houston:Jim Norris (RMLO #304627)
12010 Miramar Shores Dr
Houston, Tx 77065
(281) 970-1082 ext 1
(866) 717-4556 ext 1
Houston:Ellen Roloff Norris (RMLO #304630)
12010 Miramar Shores Dr
Houston, TX 77065
281-970-1082 ext 2
866-717-4556 ext 2
Brenham:Gayle Valentine-Hill (RMLO #298234)
Brenham:Sandra Starnes (RMLO #298126)
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