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Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in May

2016
07.27

CaseShillerAccording to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home price growth in May dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.20 percent as compared to April’s reading of 5.40 percent. Analysts said that low mortgage rates continue to support housing markets, but also noted that affordability due to rising home prices is sidelining some would-be buyers. High demand for homes coupled with slim supplies of available homes have driven prices up for months; analysts said that “tentative signs” of slower gains in home prices were seen.

New Home Sales Hit Highest Level Since 2008

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Indices, cited high home prices and sales of previously-owned homes as contributing factors to a healthy housing sector. Slower home price growth in high priced metro areas may indicate that home prices are topping out in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. With home prices out of reach in high demand metros, it’s likely that rampant home price growth seen in recent years will have to slow in spite of pronounced shortages of homes and high demand in many areas.

Building more homes is the only way to combat outsized competition for homes and astronomical home prices. According to the Commerce Department, June sales of new homes jumped to 592,000 as compared to an expected reading of 562,000 and May’s reading of 572,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. June sales of new homes were at their highest level since February 2008.

Rising Rents Increase Demand for Homes

The national average price for a new home rose to $306,700 in June, while the supply of available homes sank to 4.90 percent. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes a typical reading. 574,000 new homes were sold in the second quarter of 2016, which was 10 percent higher than the reading of 524,000 new homes sold in the first quarter of 2016.

A report on rental vacancies is due out on Thursday. Rapidly rising rents have recently contributed to higher numbers of first-time buyers looking to buy homes and could continue to strengthen demand for available homes.


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3 Money-Smart Reasons To Downsize Your Home

2016
07.26

3 Money-Smart Reasons To Downsize Your HomeLiving big isn’t necessarily living better. Apartment buildings, townhouses and multiplexes have become the new normal for increasing numbers of individuals, couples and families. It’s clear that for many people, smaller spaces are smarter, too.

This attitude is more than just a trend. According to TIME Magazine, multi-family dwellings like condominiums accounted for 40% of new construction in the United States in 2014 and the movement shows few signs of slowing down.

The change isn’t surprising when considering the benefits to moving, especially when it comes to sheer cost-savings. Whether residents are spending less cash or conserving their valuable time and resources, they’re going to see a difference in their bank accounts.

Here are three money-smart reasons to downsize that can lead to big savings.

1. Reduced Maintenance

Maintaining a single-family dwelling can be difficult. Clearing gutters, painting walls, weeding the garden and other unpleasant tasks have serious costs, as residents are forced to invest their valuable time and resources into these recurring chores.

Switching to a smaller space means less maintenance, which can lead to serious savings. Multi-family dwellings typically have a building manager who is responsible for upkeep, leading to serious savings.

2. Heating, Water and More

Utilities are much less costly after downsizing. The less square footage a home has, the less electricity, water and other utilities it will require. Residents have the potential to save hundreds of dollars in costs.

There’s also an added benefit if there are shared utilities divided between other residents of multi-family dwellings. Splitting subscriptions or services like Internet and cable can lead to much lower prices.

Moving to smaller spaces makes these invoices less expensive, which gives residents a bonus every month.

3. Location is Key

Apartment buildings, condominiums and other compact dwellings are often located in central areas close to useful services and businesses. This convenience is a major cost-cutting reason that encourages many people to move.

The Nielsen Company actually found that 62% of millennials would choose to live in communities that combine residential homes and businesses. By being closer to things they value, residents save themselves time, a valued commodity.

Why Moving is a Smart Move

These three money-smart reasons are major factors into why people move into smaller spaces. It’s hard to resist saved time and resources, reduced maintenance, lower utility bills and increased convenience. Learn more about potential savings from your local mortgage professional today.


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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 25, 2016

2016
07.25

Housing Starts, Building Permits Issued Rise

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued were released Tuesday. Housing starts rose to 1.189 million in June against expectations of 1.165 million starts and May’s downwardly revised reading of 1.135 million starts, Housing starts rose by 4.80 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This is good news for housing markets, but analysts said that demand for homes continued to exceed available supplies.

Building permits issued also rose in June to 1.53 million as compared to May’s reading of 1.136 million permits issued.

Existing Home Sales Increase: National Association of Realtors®

Sales of previously-owned homes rose three percent year-over-year and reached their highest level since February 2007 in June. Existing home sales rose by 1.10 percent in June to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million sales. Analysts forecasted a reading of 5.48 million sales of pre-owned homes based on May’s reading of 5.51 million sales.

Analysts said that first-time home buyers are returning to housing markets and helped boost June sales and cited changing buyer demographics that suggest a return to owner-occupant home sales. First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of pre-owned home sales in July, which was their highest reading since 2012. First-time buyers are important to housing markets as their purchases of existing homes enable current homeowners to sell their homes to buy larger homes or to relocate.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose across the board last week according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.45 percent, which was three basis points higher. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose three basis points to 2.75 percent; rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgage and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims sustained their streak and fell last week to 253,000 against predictions of 260,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims filed. Analysts hailed declining jobless claims as a strong indicator that the economy and labor markets continue to improve. New jobless claims have remained below the key reading of 300,000 for 73 weeks. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 1250 claims to 257,750. This reading is considered less volatile than week-to-week readings and offers evidence of steady improvements in labor markets.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, readings on new and pending home sales and the FOMC committee’s post-meeting statement on Federal Reserve monetary policy decisions. Analysts widely expect the Fed to hold firm on its current federal funds rate of 0.25 to 0.50 percent.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a reading on consumer confidence.


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How to Sell Your Home Quickly in a Buyer’s Market

2016
07.22

How to Sell Your Home Quickly in a Buyer's MarketEveryone wants a place to call home, but that doesn’t guarantee that homeowners will have an easy time selling their properties. Making sales depend on more than just curb appeal or the popularity of open houses.

Complicated factors like the economy, interest rates and regional regulations all drive the real estate market. It can make an incredible impact on the speed and ease of real estate transactions.

But not knowing the state of the market can be more than just a hassle. When real estate favors buyers, not adjusting the sales strategy can be a seriously costly mistake. Worse than that, it risks homeowners not being able to sell the properties at all.

Here are some stress-free tips will help sell homes in a buyer’s market, fast.

Pretty It Up

One of the most cost-effective ways homeowners can complete real estate transactions is to pretty up their properties.

The trick is to think big. If it’s clean and the backyard is tidy, all that’s left for home owners to do is to create a decorating theme that looks good. Sometimes all that’s needed is some decluttering and decorating to be desirable.

Working on attractiveness brings buyers to open houses and make them actually want to live there. This initial urge can turn interest into offers.

Price It Smart

It may be painful to accept, but cutting down the potential profit for a sale can be the difference between a quick transaction and one that lags behind. Homeowners have to price their homes at a reasonable rate compared to similar properties.

It’s crucial for homeowners to remember that their home isn’t the only property available on the market. Unless it’s priced competitively, it’s going to be much harder to sell in market where buyers have the advantage.

Throw In Extras

While homeowners need to keep the look and price of their properties top of mind, they shouldn’t forget how powerful details can be. Sometimes it’s the little things that can sway buyers from purchasing one home over another.

New appliances, a beautiful garden or newly polished floors are features that stand out to buyers who’ve already seen dozens of other properties. In the end, an extra or two thrown in might be the clincher that closes the deal.

Keep in mind that it’s hard to sell a home in a buyer’s market, especially if the homeowner is looking for a quick sale. Homeowners should reach out to a reliable real estate expert to learn more about making a property sale fast.


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Need to Discuss – 3 Tips When Shopping for a New Home Loan

2016
07.21

3 Tips When Shopping for a New Home LoanFinding a new home loan can seem challenging, but if you take the proper steps before you start applying for loans, you’ll have no difficulty finding a mortgage that works for you and a lender that would love to have you as a borrower. Shopping for a mortgage isn’t like shopping for a couch, and there’s a lot that goes into the process.

So how can you shop for your new home loan in a way that saves you time and gets you the best loan for your needs? Here’s what you need to know.

Research Loan Types

A lot of homebuyers especially first-time buyers make the mistake of not doing their research and not asking enough questions. A fixed-rate mortgage isn’t right for every homebuyer. Neither is an adjustable-rate mortgage. If you plan to stay put in a home to raise a family, you might consider a 30-year loan. Conversely, if you’re moving in 10 years or less, an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, could better suit you.

It’s advised that you research loan types then prepare a list of questions to ask your mortgage agent to ensure you select the loan that’s best for you.

Get Pre-Qualified Before You Start Looking

It can be tempting to start looking for mortgages online and start seeing what kinds of rates and limits you can afford, but if you start your mortgage hunt with Internet window-shopping, you may end up sorely disappointed. A pre-qualification is a vital first step that can help you to find the mortgage that works best for you.

With a pre-qualification, you’ll have a good idea of what you can reasonably afford to spend on a home, so you won’t waste time viewing homes that are outside of your price range.

Hold Off On Major Life Changes Until You Have Your Mortgage

Once you’ve been pre-qualified and pre-approved, the next step is the approval process the part of the process where the lender you’ve chosen evaluates your application and decides whether or not to lend to you. One mistake that a lot of homebuyers make is allowing significant changes in their income to happen during the approval process. If you quit your job to start a business, or if you go down to part-time hours so you can spend more time with the kids, your lender will need to start the approval process over again with your new financial information in mind, so hold off on any big changes until after you’ve been approved.

Finding a new home loan can seem like a challenge, but a qualified mortgage advisor can help. Contact your local mortgage professional to learn more.


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NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Slips in June

2016
07.19

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 1 2015Home builder confidence fell slightly in June to a reading of 59 according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Analysts had expected no change to June’s reading of 60. June components of the HMI were also lower.

Builder confidence in current market conditions dropped by one point to 63; builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to a reading of 66. The reading for foot traffic in new single-family developments dropped one point to 55. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions.

Are Housing Markets Cooling Down?

A statement released by NAHB said that June’s readings were consistent with an ongoing gradual housing recovery. In related news, real estate analysts are seeing similarities in today’s level of speculation to the pre-recession housing bubble that was fueled by speculation. More “mom-and-pop” investors are entering the market instead of seasoned institutional investors, which suggests that institutional investor interest is slowing.

In June, 2.50 percent of homes were purchased by institutional investors as compared to a peak of 9.80 percent in February 2013. Red flags suggesting that housing markets are cooling down appear consistent with June’s NAHB Housing Market Index.

Too much speculation can create a housing bubble, which would burst when demand dries up due to overly inflated home prices and falling demand for homes. Slim supplies of available homes and rapidly rising home prices are obstacles for home buyers. Home builders continue to cite low supplies of suitable land and labor shortages as obstacles to home construction.

Short Supply of Homes, Affordability Issues Persist

In a report separate from the NAHB Housing Market Index, Fannie Mae economists said that they expect single-family housing starts to increase by 13 percent in 2016. Any increase in home building would help reduce the shortage of available homes. The willingness and ability of builders to produce more affordable homes is a key aspect of maintaining healthy housing markets. Strong competitions for homes and high home prices in major metro areas have made home ownership impossible for many would-be buyers. Short supplies of available homes are discouraging those who are prepared to buy but can’t find homes they want.

Unless low supplies of homes and affordability concerns are resolved, overall market slow-downs are likely to occur at some point. Indications that professional investors may be slowing their former pace of snapping up homes could suggest that hot housing markets are starting to cool off.


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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 18, 2016

2016
07.18

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 04 2016Last week’s economic news included reports on inflation, retail sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

Mortgage rates were mixed with average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising by one basis point to 3.42 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.72 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose six basis points to 2.76 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15 year fixed rate mortgages. Freddie Mac said that recent patterns in mortgage rates suggested that rates are likely to remain low throughout the summer; last year the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.09 percent.

Inflation Grows at Steady Rate

Inflation grew by 0.20 percent in June according to the Consumer Price Index issued by the government. Rent, gas and pharmaceuticals drove the increase, while grocery prices declined. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, also grew by 0.200 percent; this reflects lower grocery prices and relatively low fuel costs.

Increasing rents could propel more renters into the home buying market, but high home prices and short supplies of available homes continue to limit home buyer choices. Inflation remains below the Federal Reserve’s target of 2.00 percent annually; this indicates that the Fed isn’t likely to raise its target federal fund rates in the near future.

Home and Garden Sales Drive June Retail Sales

Homeowners were busy with home improvements and yard work in June; this boosted retail sales to 0.50 percent against an expected reading of 0.10 percent and May’s reading of 0.20 percent. June retail sales excluding automotive sales rose from May’s reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent; analysts had expected retail sales exclusive of autos to grow by 0.50 percent in June.

New Jobless Claims Hold Steady, Consumer Sentiment Dips

Weekly jobless claims were unchanged at 254,000 new claims filed; analysts had expected new claims to increase to 265,000 new claims. A wave of new claims created by end-of-school-year layoffs caused new claims to jump in recent weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain low. New jobless claims remained well below the benchmark of 300,000 for the 71st consecutive week. This extended the longest time that new jobless claims were below 300,000 since 1973.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.


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Budget-Friendly DIY Projects That Instantly Boost Curb Appeal

2016
07.15

Budget-Friendly DIY Projects That Instantly Boost Curb AppealWe’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but there’s no such rule in the housing market. Curb appeal is the external attractiveness of a home, and if you’re in the market for a house that first impression has a lot to do with your final decision. Alternatively, if you’re looking to sell, it’s an easy area to boost the attractiveness of your home.

Essentially, ensure your home is accessible and inviting to make it appeal to potential buyers. It’s like making new friends, and how you’re much more likely to approach someone who is smiling. Help your home smile by spending a little time and money on outdoor seating, open spaces and color. Note that homes that have personality make stronger first impressions, so also try to put some of yourself into the exterior of your home.

A Place To Sit

Outdoor seating inspires relaxation, providing a great first impression. Potential buyers can pause and get a sense of the community without feeling rushed. They’ll take in the external features of your home in comfort, and will be primed to imagine themselves sitting out there as new homeowners, sunning or sipping tea.

An Open Entrance

Open your home up literally. Creating an uncluttered space in front of your home will help direct and draw buyers. Use pathways and lighting (lamps, candles) to clearly guide the way into your home. A well-lit pathway is not only visually appealing, but safer and a confusing entrance could deter buyers before they even reach your house.

A Dash Of Color

Color draws the eye. Add flowers to the front of your house, or paint the shutters brightly to attract attention from the street. This will also help your home look tidy and put-together.

A Strong Front Door

The front door is the focal point of anyone walking up to your house. Why not paint it your favorite color, or decorate it with something that gives an idea of the interior, like a funky door-knocker or a wreath? Make sure the door is clean and everything works (knob, bell, hinges) to complete the look.

A Personalized Mailbox

If you have a mailbox out front, you can give it the same personalizing treatment. Paint it, or plant it in a flowerbed. Keep it clean, functional and inviting, and it’ll add to the overall impression of your house.

Riff off these easy, cheap projects to increase your home’s curb appeal. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.


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3 Tips to Consider when Shopping for a Second Mortgage

2016
07.14

3 Tips to Consider when Shopping for a Second MortgageWhether you’re considering a second mortgage to consolidate your debt or complete some home renovations, there can be a lot that goes into making this financial decision. Because a second mortgage is a loan that goes against the equity you currently have on your property, this can be a risk to the ownership of your home. If this is an option you’re seriously considering, here are some basics to know before deciding to on this route.

Be Prepared For Higher Rates

You may be use to the steadiness and consistency of the fixed rate on your first mortgage, but the rates associated with a second mortgage will likely be higher. Because, in the event of default, the first loan on a mortgage will be paid first, lenders for a second mortgage will charge higher rates and fees to validate the elevated risk they’re taking on. While there are lenders that can offer competitive rates, you’ll need to do your research to find one that works for you.

Private Lenders May Offer More Solutions

If you cannot go through your initial mortgage lender in order to secure a second mortgage, you may want to consider a private lending professional who may be able to provide a better solution for you. Because private lenders are not working within the constraints of a larger institution, their guidelines for documentation and qualification may be a little less stringent. While they may have their own set of guidelines for providing a second mortgage, it can be a better way to go.

Is A Second Mortgage Necessary?

In order to obtain a second mortgage, it’s important to be aware that you should have enough equity in your home to make the loan worthwhile. Because you will only be able to refinance 80% of your home’s value, it may not be worth the higher rates you’ll be paying if you’ve only been paying into your home for a short time. Before deciding if a second mortgage is right for you, make sure you consult with a professional to determine the best choice for you.

There are a number of reasons that home buyers consider a second mortgage, from making large-scale home renovations to getting rid of overriding debt, but it’s important to consider if this option will work for you before moving forward. If you’re thinking about a second mortgage, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.


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3 Mortgage Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Money

2016
07.13

3 Mortgage Mistakes That Could Be Costing You MoneyPurchasing a home can be one of the most exciting and stabilizing investments of your life, but because of the expense, there are many ways you may be spending more money than you should. If you’re wondering about the financial soundness of your home investment, here are some things to consider before putting anything down.

Investing In Too Much Home

Many homebuyers are so gung-ho about having their own home that they forget a mortgage takes many years to pay off and there’s a lot of living to do in the interim. While you may be looking at the monthly cost of your mortgage as something to get through, it’s more important to find a home that will provide you with a more flexible lifestyle. Instead of spending half your income on your home, it’s better to choose a more affordable option that won’t lead to buyer’s remorse.

Putting Less Than 20% Down

One of the greatest struggles for those who want to make the leap into home ownership is the down payment, and many buyers will put down a lot less than 20%. While this might seem like a better deal in the short term, putting 5 or 10% down means you’ll have to pay for mortgage insurance in case you default on your payments. It can be hard to come up with 20% for many buyers, but putting this amount down means you don’t have to pay for added insurance.

Not Asking The Right Questions

A house is likely your most valuable asset, so it’s a good idea to know as much as possible about your mortgage before you rush toward closing day. Starting with asking which mortgage option is best for you. Your mortgage lender will be able to answer this question once you’ve completed an application and the lender takes stock of your employment, income, assets, credit, debt, expenses, down payment and other information about your finances. Research the major questions you should ask your mortgage lender before signing up for a loan.

It can be overwhelming to buy a home with all of the information and energy that goes into finding the right place and the right price. However, by being realistic about what you can afford and searching for the best loan for you, you’re well on your way to a sound purchase. If you’re currently on the market for a mortgage, contact your trusted mortgage specialists for more information.