July 2023 Fort Worth Statistics At-A-Glance
**Source: Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors
The General Economy
The prospects for a downturn in Q2 2023 evaporated, thanks once again to consumers. According to Fannie Mae, Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) grew at an annualized rate of 1.4 percent, leading to an annualized Gross Domestic Product (GDP) improvement of 1.0 percent. But the economy sent mixed signals all quarter long.
Although headlines across the nation reported layoffs, job creation was robust and broad, and unemployment edged up to only 3.6 percent in June. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), averaged 4.1 percent for the quarter and hovered above the 2 percent target, but lower prices at the pump made it less painful.
People showed more price sensitivity but were determined to travel, pushing hotel rates1 up 16 percent above pre-pandemic levels.
Many COVID-related benefits expired this quarter and household debt service ratios hovered close to pre-pandemic levels, but real earnings increases returned. Moreover, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, there were $500 billion in excess savings spread among all income levels. Personal balance sheets were buoyed with the highest levels of savings interest rates in years and there was a rebound in the stock market. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a less hospitable lending environment was felt in the construction industry, but business investment and manufacturing performed well in spite of it. A recent survey on lending practices by the Atlanta Federal Reserve showed that many businesses were not looking to borrow; they had enough cash or other funding sources to finance their needs.
Projections for a recession in the second half of this year persist, but the intensity has softened.
Fannie Mae expects that annualized GDP growth will falter only 0.3 percent in Q3 2023. With unemployment creeping up and loan standards staying tight this quarter, the downward pressures on the economy may mount. Moreover, The Federal Reserve (the Fed) was clear in its June comments that it is committed to cooling the economy further. It paused rate increases in June to observe the full impact of its changes over the past year and how much the contraction of credit stifles business expansion. Weak or nonexistent retrenchment in wage growth, prices and employment portend further upward movement in the Federal Funds Effective Rate this year, as early as July.
A slowing economy could bring a small dip in the housing market, with home sales and median home prices (both new and existing) edging down. In commercial real estate, declines in transactions and prices could endure if restrictive financing conditions persist. A steadier stream of distressed properties may come to market, allowing for further market correction, particularly in the Office sector. However, JLL believes we may have already reached the bottom of office occupancy rates, as job creation is so robust. The next quarter likely will offer another mixed bag that confounds forecasters.
Credit: Sente Mortgage - Mary Heerwald
An escrow account is set up by your mortgage servicer to cover certain property-related expenses, like your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance premiums, and other charges related to your loan. Part of your monthly mortgage payment goes into this account over the course of the year. How mortgage lenders handle escrow accounts is regulated by a federal agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Every year, lenders who service mortgage loans have to conduct an analysis of escrow accounts — and the CFPB mandates that every servicer must use the same method in analyzing escrow accounts. This analysis is done to ensure enough funds are collected by borrowers to pay upcoming insurance premiums, property taxes and fees. The borrower is then sent details about this annual review, and any resulting changes to their monthly escrow payment for the upcoming 12 months. Big changes in property values affect state taxes, which can result in more significant changes to your escrow payments.
Mortgage lenders require a minimum account balance – also known as a “cushion” – in escrow. These reserve funds are meant to cover unanticipated charges.
Every year, lenders compare expected escrow account disbursements over the coming 12 months to show a projected escrow balance for this period of time.
Through this process, lenders identify whether your escrow account has a projected surplus or shortage, based on your projected account balance and the amount of required cushion.
If your escrow account is found to have a shortage, that means your current balance falls short of the target for the coming 12 months. There are a few options your loan servicer has for handling shortages, such as requiring the borrower to repay the shortage amount in equal monthly payments over at least a 12-month period.
A surplus is when your escrow analysis shows more in your cushion than is necessary. In this case, you are owed a refund from your loan servicer within 30 days of your escrow analysis if the surplus is $50.00 or more. If the surplus is less than $50.00, your servicer can either refund the amount or apply it to your next year’s escrow payments.
Still have questions about your escrow account? Give us a shout to be connected to Sente’s Servicing Department!
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Ft. Worth, TX 76102
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