As of March 31 the Federal Reserve is no longer buying mortgage-backed securities (MBS), terminating a large component of its effort to stabilize and stimulate the economy. The Fed poured $1.25trn into purchasing risky bundles of housing loans, providing capital for troubled lenders and investors in the mortgage-backed market. The Fed’s purchasing program provided much-needed liquidity for government-run mortgage financing companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to buy bank loans issued to home buyers. The program also allowed mortgage rates to remain abnormally low, which let borrowers make more manageable payments and new home buyers to purchase properties. Indeed rates have been low: 30-year fixed mortgage rates at 5% interest and adjustable mortgage rates with interest in the low 4s.
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Quicken Loans has become the largest mortgage lender in the country over the last few years due in large part to the growth of Rocket Mortgage, the company’s digital mortgage platform. As it turns out, Rocket Mortgage is becoming so big that it’s now consuming other parts of the Quicken Loans family of companies too, namely the company’s reverse mortgage lender.
U.S. home prices increased 5.1% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, matching the pace of the prior quarter, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.