It’s all about the tax bill

 Interest Rates, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on It’s all about the tax bill
Dec 042017

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By G. Steven Bray

For the direction of mortgage rates, it’s mostly about the tax reform bill. When passage of the Senate version looked imminent, rates jumped up to the highest levels in a month. As we discussed last time, markets equate tax cuts with higher growth and potentially higher inflation, which correlate with higher interest rates.

It appears it will take a couple weeks for the House and Senate to reconcile their plans, and during that time, I don’t expect a lot of rate movement, absent a bombshell headline, even though this Fri we have the Nov jobs report and next week a Federal Reserve meeting. These are usually top tier events attracting the careful attention of investors. However, this month they’re liable to cause nary a stir.

The jobs report hasn’t seen much reaction from markets in months. It continues to show the economy plugging along. It would have to miss expectations badly to turn heads.

The Fed meeting has more potential because of the post meeting commentary. Markets are pricing in a nearly 100% chance of a rate hike, but investors think the tax cuts can negate any drag on the economy from higher rates. However, the commentary could shed more light on the Fed’s future plans or its thinking on inflation trends, either of which could move the market.

Will your credit score rise with new FICO model?

 Credit Scoring  Comments Off on Will your credit score rise with new FICO model?
Dec 012017

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or

By G. Steven Bray

The recent hacking of Equifax data has brought the credit bureaus into the headlines again. While the credit bureaus don’t control the FICO scoring model, the most popular model and the one the mortgage industry uses, the spotlight seems to have brought renewed attention to the fairness of credit scoring.

Yesterday, we discussed how FICO 4, the current model of choice in the mortgage industry, doesn’t seem to align with current credit risk factors. Congress is trying to force the industry to consider newer credit scoring models. So, let’s look at the potentially negative effects of the newer models. There will be winners and losers, and some of the losers may be surprised.

The current model rewards consumers who make on-time minimum payments on all their credit accounts. The account balance only seems to matter if the consumer allows it to exceed 30% of the available credit.

The newer models look at this a little differently. They reward consumers who make larger than minimum payments. They also penalize consumers who have large, unused available credit as that is credit that they suddenly could decide to use.

It may be years before any of these changes affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage. However, you are likely to start seeing them when you apply to other types of credit.