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If you’ve ever had the kind of neighbor who is apt to borrow something (like your hedge trimmer), only to later complain about how it performed, you know how much patience it takes to hold your tongue. The Mortgage Bankers Association would be justified if they felt that way about me: I read their website, and sometimes quote it in posts about current Rehoboth Beach mortgage rates—but it sure makes for dull reading!
Anyway, with apologies to their (undoubtedly hard-working) writing staff, last week’s blog about national mortgage rates was as numbers-heavy as usual, yet still held a contradiction…but one that actually makes perfect sense. It also flags what could be seen as a bellwether that Rehoboth Beach home buyers and sellers would be hard-pressed to ignore.
The apparent contradiction was that mortgage rates were on the increase: national mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans rose to 4.17%, which is the highest they’ve been since November. This is for conforming loans; the jumbos (greater than $417,000) went north as well, up to 4.15%.
As everyone knows, low mortgage interest rates are terrific for our Rehoboth Beach residential home sales. The low monthly payments that they create make homeownership more affordable for a greater number of buyers. So when rates increase and monthly payments go up, it should create a drag on the market. The apparent contradiction in the MBA release was that the increase in rates was accompanied by an increase in mortgage applications. And it was a big one: up 8.4% from the week before.
Most commentators were united about the phenomenon, and it’s hard to disagree. In addition to the natural surge that comes with the season (spring and summer are always expected to be quite active), consumers are seeing the uptick in mortgage rates and suspecting that rates will head higher. That’s nudging them to action, causing them to jump in now, while rates are still attractive—especially compared with historical averages.
CNBC’s Diana Olick agreed that such sharp increases actually help the home-buying market. She quotes one lender’s take about the buyers: “They understand that ‘wait a minute, rates are at an all-time low, let’s react now, let’s react before they go higher.’”
It’s far from a certainty that rates will continue to take off. Lots of us remember last year, when almost all the experts predicted a rise, yet mortgage interest rates headed in the opposite direction…and stayed there! But you can hardly blame area buyers if they go with the national trend and decide that locking in today’s rates is a prudent move: it’s a bird in the hand.
If you have been thinking along the same lines, I hope you will give me a Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at email@example.com, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.
If you are one of Rehoboth Beach’s real estate investors (or have been interested in how real estate stacks up against other investment classes), the insights of AIG investment honcho Doug Dachille would likely get your attention. Dachille is American International Group’s Chief Investment Officer. That makes him the decision-maker for the insurance giant’s $350,000,000,000 (that’s billion) portfolio.
Last Friday, Bloomberg TV aired a candid interview on the subject of how he feels real estate investors are likely to fare. The attention-getting interview ran under the heading, “AIG’s Dachille Rejects ‘Bubblicious’ Critique of Real Estate.”
It might seem that your typical real estate investor in Rehoboth Beach has little in common with the director of such a gigantic bankroll, but that’s not necessarily the case. It turns out that insurer AIG—just like any local real estate investor—labors under the necessity to safely maximize returns in order “to back obligations to policy-holders.” With government debt interest rates unappetizingly low, it has set the giants (like AIG, MetLife Inc., and Prudential Financial Inc.) scrambling for investment outlets. One answer has been to enter the arena of real estate investors, principally as lenders.
“Insurers hold funds for long periods of time…[so they] have been counting on real estate lending to obtain higher yields available to investors who are willing to sacrifice liquidity.”
So where does the “bubblicious” headline come in? It turns out to be a rejection of an earlier analyst who appraised the current real estate market as looking “a little bubblicious”—one that could face shocks should interest rates climb. That kind of worrisome analysis could cause some sleepless nights for Rehoboth Beach real estate investors with memories of the previous real estate bubble.
A return to peaceful snoozing would have been restored if they happened to catch Dachille’s response. With a very sizeable ($22.9 billion) portion of AIG’s stake in direct commercial mortgage loan exposure, he sees the ability to raise rents as a satisfactory counter to the inflation risk. “Commercial real estate is very similar to an inflation-protected bond,” he said; “What’s…bubblicious?”
Dachille regards the sector as presenting an attractive place for long-term returns—with a risk factor on a par with alternatives currently offering much lower yields. He revealed that AIG has been scaling back investments in hedge funds for a number of reasons. One that might ring true for Rehoboth Beach real estate investors is many funds’ relative lack of transparency. As Bloomberg summarized, “He was uneasy about funds when he can’t track their trades.”
Investors like AIG’s Dachille have a peculiar—and stupendous—problem in having to find suitable venues for billions in assets. For local investors, it’s a lot less complicated to uncover single opportunities in today’s Rehoboth Beach real estate market. Call me if you are interested in exploring them! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.