So, after a week and change of absolute hysteria, where exactly are we? The stock market(s) have gyrated like someone on a bad acid trip, driven in large part by the machinations in Washington over debt, followed quickly by the S & P credit downgrade (interesting no other rating agency felt the need to do so), and then a benchmark reduction in unemployment claims and a solid increase in retail sales. Sounds kind of confusing when you pause to think about it. The one benefit from the market plunge was a further reduction in mortgage rates. If you recall, when this last happened a week ago, I'd noted that investors fleeing to Treasury securities drove their values up, in turn forcing yields way, way down, which, in turn, caused mortgage rates to drop like a stone. They're still pretty much down there, so if you're a buyer, you still have a great opportunity to score a great deal!
As I also said a week ago, this rate drop can also help out sellers as it increases the number of them on the market, and competition for homes can have a positive effect on prices. Now, there's an additional positive note or notes. This week, both the initial week's jobless claims came out and so did the latest retail sales info. The former only dropped by 7,000 new claims, BUT it got the claims down under the benchmark 400,000 level for the first time in four months! This indicates more folks are working, and if people are actually working, then they are more likely to start to think about buying a home. Also, if retail sales rates increase, and this is the fourth consecutive positive report of this important statistic, it usually means that there will be more hiring. More hiring, as noted just above, means more people who can and will think about buying a house. So, the word from here is to get off the couch and get your home ready to sell. if the trends continue, you'll be very happy you did!