Archives for October 2016

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 31, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, along with readings on new and pending home sales. Recurring weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Pacific Northwest Shows Fastest Home Price Growth

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for August, home prices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington grew fastest year-over-year. Portland posted an August index reading of 11.70 percent and Portland followed closely with a reading of 11.40 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities with the fastest rates of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.80 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.30 percent year-over-year to 5.30 percent in August.

Low inventory of available homes poses challenges for housing markets, but Case-Shiller reported that the national home price index was 0.60 percent lower than its peak reading in 2006. The 20-City Home Price Index was 7.10 percent lower than the 2006 peak. This provides a positive context for healthy home price growth, but concerns linger about a repeat of the housing bubble that burst and caused home prices to crash.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that a new housing bubble is unlikely. Home buyers are not taking out huge mortgages as was common prior to the Great Recession; mortgage lenders have adopted stricter qualification standards to help ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgages.

New Home Sales Rise in September

Sales of new homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 593,000 sales in September according to the Commerce Department. Although lower than analysts’ expected reading of 600,000 sales, September’s reading surpassed August’s reading of 575,000 sales. August’s reading was downwardly revised from its original reading of 609,000, which suggests that new home prices are growing at a slower rate than expected.

High demand for homes boosted September’s reading for pending home sales, which represents homes under contract for sale that have not closed. Pending home sales increased in September with a reading of 1.50 percent growth as compared to August’s negative rate of -2.50 percent. Pending home sales provide indications of future completed sales and mortgage loan volume.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell five basis points to 3.47 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent, which was one basis point lower than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 2.84 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

In spite of growth in home prices and volume of sales, consumer confidence slowed in October. October’s index reading of 98.60 as compared to an expected reading of 101.00 and September’s reading of 103.50. Analysts said that uncertainty over the upcoming presidential election contributed to October’s lower reading.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, construction spending core inflation, and labor reports. Non-farm payrolls, ADP employment, national unemployment rates will also be released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report and new jobless claims will also be released.

Dealing with Mice: Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to Try

Dealing with Mice? Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to TryThere are things that everyone shares: the need for food, the search for love, and the intrusion of mice into our homes. But don’t despair! There are several ways to deter and remove mice. Read on to learn about a few of the more well known, if a little out-there, methods.

Peppermint Oil And Cotton Balls

The smell of peppermint is lovely for humans, but terrible to a mouse’s nose. Put a few drops of pure peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them where you’ve noticed evidence of mice. Be careful to change those balls for fresh ones at least once a week once the smell wears off, cotton balls are great material for a mouse nest.

Dryer Sheets

Another strong smell that will discourage mice from your home is dryer sheets. Place fresh ones around mouse hangout points, or stuff them into entry holes. Same thing here, though: make sure to remove them once the smell wears off. Nothing looks nicer for a nest than an unscented dryer sheet.

Mousetrap! The Glass Bowl Version

One humane and cost-effective choice is to build a live trap by balancing a glass bowl on an upright coin. Put some chocolate or peanut butter high up inside the bowl. When the mouse reaches for the treat it’ll upset the coin and drop the bowl to the floor, trapping itself. Then slide stiff cardboard over the bowl opening and carry the mouse at least 1km from your home before releasing it. Or you can go the store-bought route but either way, check all traps at least once a day.

Plug Those Holes!

With the mouse gone, there’s two things left to do. First, clean up after it (remove its droppings and sanitize the area) to discourage a return. Then close all its doors. Block any holes bigger than a pencil with caulking, steel or copper wool, or even aluminum foil all of these are tough to chew through.

And that’s it! Keep an eye out, and call in help if it becomes too much to handle these steps are most effective for a small number of rodents.;

S&P Case-Shiller: Home Prices Gain in August

Home prices gained in August per the 20-City S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Analysts said that home values continue to expand in spite of challenges including low inventories of available homes and strict mortgage qualification requirements.

National Home Price Index Near 2006 Peak

According to the national Case-Shiller Home Price Index, August home prices are 0.10 percent below their 2006 peak and all metro areas in the 20-City Home Price Index posted gains. Top gains in the 20-City Home Price Index were posted by Portland, Oregon with a year-over-year gain of 11.70 percent, Seattle, Washington home prices gained 11.40 percent and Denver, Colorado home prices gained 8.80 percent year-over-year.

All metro areas included in the 20-City Index posted year-over-year gains in excess of one percent. New York City had the lowest year-over-year price gain with a year-over-year reading of 1.70 percent in August. Washington, D.C. home prices rose 2.30 percent year-over-year. Home prices in the Cleveland, Ohio metro area increased by 2.90 percent year-over-year.

New Housing Bubble Unlikely

With home price gains close to peak prices seen before the housing bubble burst, concerns may arise over the potential for a new housing bubble to occur in coming months. Analysts say this is unlikely as home buyers are not taking out extreme levels of mortgage debt seen at the onset of the Great Recession. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said “There is no reason to fear another massive collapse is around the corner. The run-up to the financial crisis was marked with both rising home prices and rapid growth in mortgage debt.”

Possible Fed Rate Hike Won’t Cause Mortgage Rates to Explode

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate in December. This action will lead to interest rate increases for consumer credit and mortgages, but not at levels that would make mortgage loans suddenly unaffordable. While gradual increases in federal interest rates would cause mortgage rates to rise over time, market conditions and related factors could potentially cause home prices to slow or even dip in some areas. Regional influences including employment and demand for homes are examples of factors contributing to home price growth or decline in specific areas.

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won’t Hear from Your Friends

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won't Hear from Your FriendsWhen it comes to diving into home ownership for the first time, it can seem like there are so many things you just don’t know. Whether you’re getting advice from your real estate agent, your friends or your family, there are so many things that seem like common sense that they might be lost in the mix of details. Instead of having to squeeze it out of them, here are three tips that are easily forgotten but still essential.

Be Patient And Take Your Time

It’s certainly not the most popular advice, but one of the most important things when deciding to purchase a home is having the time and know-how to make the decision that is right for you. Since you’ll need to consider so many different things when committing to such a significant purchase, from the neighborhood to the local amenities to the future salability of the home, it’s always best to ask the questions so there will be less to regret.

Get More Than One Opinion

It’s entirely possible that you’ve found a home you love and there’s nothing that’s going to get between you and it, but getting someone else’s opinion may provide the criticism you need to take a step back from a home-buying mistake. Instead of going it alone, bring along a friend or family member whose opinion you trust that will be honest with you about the flaws they see. It’s possible that they may notice something you’ve missed that could make or break the entire deal.

Prepare For The Home Inspection

Until you do it, you never really know what you’re going to find out during the home inspection, but doing a little bit of research to determine things you should be looking for can go a long way in saving money down the road. It may seem like you should be able to rely on the inspector to assess things for you, but by asking the right questions you might be able to spot the water tank that’s about to give out or a leak that’s about to get much worse.

There are a lot of little details that go hand in hand with purchasing a home, but often the advice that is the simplest is the easiest to forget.

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It’s a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage Market

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It's a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage MarketIt’s often the case that people will opt to postpone home ownership until the best rates are available or it’s a more stable investment, but in an ever-shifting market it may not be the best decision to put such a sizeable investment off. If you’re wondering whether or not you should put off investing in a home, here are some reasons you may want to start putting your time into searching for a home.

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

While interest rates are constantly changing and have certainly risen since the economic recession of 2008, they still remain relatively low and this can make investing in a home an even better financial decision. There are no certainties that market rates will remain low, but given a lower monthly payment and the easier qualifications nowadays to acquire a loan, the present may be the best time to start investing in your own place.

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

It’s easy enough to wait for a lower home price or even improved interest rates, but there is no guarantee that the market will shift down. In the meantime, you may be spending at lot of your monthly paychecks on rent. If home ownership is one of your goals in life and you’re living month to month with a high rental payment, investing money into a home is a sure way to gaining equity for the future, even in the event that the market shifts up.

It’s A Good Time To Buy

When it comes to the market, there may always be a time coming when you’ll get a better deal, but the fact remains that homes tend to remain on the market a lot longer these days and it’s largely a buyer’s market. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to find the house you want at the price you can afford, but there are a lot of good deals to be found these days and investing sooner is an opportunity to reap financial rewards down the road.

Many people hold off on home ownership because they are waiting for prices to come down or interest rates to change, but the sooner you invest in a home, the more you can benefit from investing into something that is entirely your own. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home at a price you can afford, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 24, 2016

Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with reports on housing starts, building permits and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips amid High Demand for Homes

Home builder confidence in current housing market conditions dipped from September’s index reading of 65 to 63. September’s reading was the highest since the peak of the housing bubble. Any reading above 50 indicates a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. Building new homes is essential to relieving intense demand for homes against short supplies of homes for sale. Builders cited obstacles including low supplies of land for development and workforce shortages, but expressed confidence in overall economic conditions that affect construction and sales of new homes.

Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Rise

According to the Commerce Department, the reading for housing starts was nine percent lower in September than for August. 1.047 million starts were reported in September on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; August’s reading showed 1.150 million starts. Monthly readings tend to fluctuate due to weather, labor and materials supplies. Single family starts provided good news with a higher annual rate of 783,000 starts; this was 8.10 percent higher than August’s reading.

More building permits were issued in September than for August. Overall, 1.225 million permits issued on an annual basis. August’s reading showed 1.152 million permits issued. Building permits for single-family homes rose to 783, 000 on an annual basis, an increase of 8.10 percent over August. September’s increase in single-family permits indicates that builders are shifting their efforts toward single-family construction instead of multi-family construction. This signifies confidence in homeownership and suggests stronger housing markets as renters become homebuyers.

Sales of PreviouslyOwned Homes Increase

The National Association of Realtors® reported that previously owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.47 million sales in September as compared to a rate of 5.33 million sales in August. Pre-owned home sales rebounded after slowing in July and August. Home prices rose 5.60 percent year-over-year to an average of $234,200; this was the 55th consecutive month that home prices rose.

Sales of pre-owned home sales rose in all four regions rose year-over-year from 0.90 percent in the South to 5.80 percent in the Northeast. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales, which was the highest participation rate in four years.

Mortgage Rates Higher

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rates were five basis points higher at 3.52 percent. 15-year fixed rates were three basis points higher at 2.79 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates rose three basis points to 2.85 percent. Discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and were unchanged at -.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were higher than expected at 260,000 claims; analysts expected 248,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the highest in six weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain very low.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller home price data, readings on new and pending home sales along with reports on consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on their regular weekly scheduled.

Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here’s Why

Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here's WhyMost sellers focus on finding the right furniture to stage their home, but they never consider how the placement of that furniture can undo all their hard work. It’s a subconscious thing, but the arrangement of items in the home can really make a difference with buyers.

Be sure to not make some of these common mistakes when arranging furniture to sell a house.

Keep The Traffic Flowing

A proper furniture layout should serve to guide the flow of traffic from room to room and make it easy to move freely. When furniture is placed without foot traffic in mind it can lead to blocked pathways and dead ends when potential buyers are looking around.

Rooms that are overcrowded with furniture have the opposite problem and supply no easy way for guests to move without stepping over each other. Make sure traffic can flow freely through the rooms and there is plenty of space to walk around.

Decide On A Focal Point

Every room needs a focal point for the furniture. Most rooms use built in features like a fireplace, but when the home doesn’t have anything built in a television or painting will serve the same purpose.

Without a focal point, the room will feel disjointed and confused. This leads to chairs or couches pointed in different directions and can make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. A key focal point also takes the focus away from any flaws in the home.

First Impressions Over Function

Sometimes people can become so comfortable in their own home that function will overrule aesthetics and furniture will be placed where it proves the most useful and not where it looks the best.

This is fine until it’s time to sell and the first thing buyers see when they enter a room is furniture in places where it doesn’t look the most appealing. Walking in and seeing the back of furniture is never a good look, so make sure everything looks the best from the place guests will enter the room.

Every home has a different floor plan and it can be difficult determining whether furniture is placed properly, especially when you are used to the way it is now. A local real estate agent can walk through the home and give great insight into what improvements can be made and provide an outsider view of how the home looks to new visitors.

Forget Mortgage Apps: 5 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Use a Human Mortgage Broker

Forget Mortgage Apps: 5 Reasons Why You'll Want to Use a Human Mortgage BrokerA mortgage broker can be a helpful tool in finding the right opportunity for you, but it can be tempting to deal with mortgage apps that may be able to consolidate all the information you need in one place. While many modern apps can be quite convenient, there are a few reasons you may want to use a knowledgeable mortgage professional to ensure the credibility of your most important purchase.

Up-To-Date On Credible Lenders

A mortgage app can certainly provide many mortgage insights, but it’s not necessarily an able replacement for a broker who has dealt with many different lenders and knows the ins and outs. While an app can point you in the right direction, a broker will be able to keep you informed of all the little details.

Access To Better Rates

There are no guarantees that working with a broker will get you a better deal, but because brokers work in conjunction with a variety of different lenders, they can often get lower rates or special deals which you may not be able to find on your own.

Saving On Fees

In addition to assisting you with finding the best rates, a broker may also be able to minimize fees like the application and/or appraisal fees so that you can knock some of the costs off your mortgage. Since brokers have an established relationship with lenders, this is something you can use to your advantage.

All The Available Options

It can be overwhelming to go through all of the available lenders, and even a detailed app may not be able to provide this information. However, instead of the most popular current options, a mortgage broker will have lending information available from all kinds of institutions so you can choose what will work best.

Making The Process Run Smooth

An app may seem like a time-saver with all the information at your fingertips, but having a broker to look through things for you can provide a lot of comfort and clarity. While you do have the option of diving in on your own, having an expert to help you over the hurdles can go a long way.

There are so many apps out there that can make life a lot easier, but mortgage apps may not be the place to start when it comes to your mortgage process. If you’re currently considering your options, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.

The Major Keys to Understanding When It’s Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

The Major Keys to Understanding When It's Time to Refinance Your MortgageAs a homeowner, you may have heard the term re-financing without being aware of exactly what it means, but there are a lot of pros and cons associated with what it can do for your financial situation. While getting a different new loan for your mortgage can be a good financial decision in certain situations, here are some things you should consider before you decide that this is the right choice for you.

Getting A Lower Rate

One of the main reasons that re-financing can be a popular option for many homeowners is that it can provide the opportunity for considerable money savings. Since you will be acquiring a new loan with a lower interest rate, this will be an opportunity to reduce your monthly payments, increase your equity at a faster rate and invest the extra funds into something else. While a lower rate can definitely mean money savings, it’s important to consult with a mortgage professional so you’re aware of any associated fees and can make a decision that will be financially beneficial.

Consolidating Your Debt

It is often the case that people will choose to refinance their mortgage with a lower-interest rate in the hopes of paying off the debt they’ve accumulated, but with the cost of refinancing this is not necessarily the best financial decision. While consolidating debt can be great if you go into it with a budget that you plan on sticking too, if you’re leaning too much on the idea of a lower interest rate meaning instant savings, it may be a good idea to take a look at the numbers.

Investing In Your Home

For many people, re-financing their mortgage is a good opportunity to renovate their home and increase its value. However, while renovating your home can be a good idea for resale, there are many home renovations that will not necessarily increase the value of your home and make up for the amount you’ve invested. If you’re making forward-thinking renovations, refinancing is one thing, but ensure you’ve seriously considered what will add value.

There can be a number of financial benefits when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, but it’s important to work out your tentative budget and crunch the numbers before you make a final decision. If you’re currently looking into re-financing your home and are curious about what it entails, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.