Archives for June 2017

NAHB Housing Market Index Slips Two Points in June

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for June fell by two points to 67 after a revision of May’s reading. Components of the Housing Market Index were lower for June with builder confidence in current market conditions two points lower at 73; June’s reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months also fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic fell two points to 49. According to the Index, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident than those who are not.

Labor and Lot Shortages Continue to Stifle SingleFamily Home Building

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that builder confidence remains high despite ongoing shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor. Meanwhile, NAHB reported lower readings for its regional 3-month rolling average of home builder confidence. The Northeast region was two points lower at 46; Builder confidence in the Midwest was one point lower at 67 and the Southern region was also one point lower with a 3-month reading of 70. The West had the highest builder confidence with a three-month average reading of 70.

Mortgage and consumer credit interest rates are likely to move higher after the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its target federal funds rate by 0.25 percent on Wednesday. This was the third uptick for the Fed rate this year. As interest rates and other consumer costs increase, would-be buyers of new homes may be sidelined. Future builder confidence readings could be influenced by a variety of economic factors including employment, interest rates and consumer confidence.

Housing Starts Expected to Lag Behind PreBubble Level

While housing starts are expected to increase to approximately 1.23 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, they are significantly lower than the near 2-million housing starts reported prior to when the housing bubble burst. Analysts noted that the overall economic recovery remains steady with some glitches expected along the way. Closing the gap between builder confidence and housing starts is seen as the solution for easing high demand for homes and unusually low inventories of homes on the market.

Seller’s Remorse: How to Move on From Your Old Home Once You’ve Sold It

Seller's Remorse: How to Move on From Your Old Home Once You've Sold ItThere’s often so much enthusiasm that goes along with buying a home that the idea of leaving the old one behind is left in the dust. But, while you may love both your old home and your new home, it can be difficult to leave what’s old behind. If you’re struggling with adjusting to your new dwelling place, here are some tips for how to make it feel like it’s where you belong.

Purchase A New Piece

In all likelihood, you’ll be moving a lot of your old furniture into your new home, which means it will have all of the likely associations of your old home. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a good idea to do a bit of a refresh so it can feel truly different. Whether you decide on a new armchair or art piece, the choice is up to you, but make sure it’s something that will compliment your new place and make you happy to be there.

Leave No Box Unpacked

Packing and unpacking can be two of the most unpopular duties associated with moving, but getting to it right off the bat will ensure that you feel comfortable that much more quickly. Instead of leaving a bunch of boxes that you don’t know what to do within the garage or a hall closet, take the time to dig through them all and find a place for your items. The sooner your stuff is comfortable, the sooner you’ll be too!

Give Yourself Some Time

It may not be the most popular advice, but it’s going to take some time to adjust to your new home and that’s OK. Instead of being hard on yourself or regretting your choice, focus on the positive aspects of your home and allow yourself to get used to your new surroundings. It can be easy to forget why you bought your home if you happen to be feeling seller’s remorse, but in time it will be much easier to remember why made the purchase.

It can be difficult to leave an old home behind, but by taking the time to adjust to your new place and sprucing it up with an exciting new piece, you’ll be well on your way to making it your own.

Dealing With a Tight Housing Market? 3 Tips to Ensure You Get the Mortgage You Need

Dealing With a Tight Housing Market? 3 Tips to Ensure You Get the Mortgage You NeedIn many cities around the country, real estate prices are on the rise and potential buyers are working hard to find a home they can feel good about. However, finding the right home in a tight market can be even more of a challenge when it comes to striking the right balance. If you’re hedging around the market in the hopes of finding the perfect home, here are some things you should do to ensure you don’t miss out on a good opportunity.

Keep An Open Mind

When wading into the real estate market, it can be very easy to get so enamored with the kind of house you want that you don’t see what’s in front of you. However, not paying attention to the potential of a particular house can mean a missed opportunity that will end up costing you down the road. Instead of waiting around for your dream home, make sure you take a look at homes you might not have thought about as they may end up being a welcome surprise.

Be Confident, But Not Too Confident

Since many homeowners have history with their home, they want a homebuyer who’s going to be just as invested in their property as they were. On the other hand, though, it’s important not to be too excited about a home as the seller may use your interest to get a higher offer. Instead of playing on opposite poles, show your interest and get into the game with a respectable offer, but be willing to back off if the seller isn’t interested.

Don’t Demand Too Much

Many potential homebuyers have been told to be aware during the home inspection and ensure they get the repairs they’re requesting, but in a tight market you may want to let a few things slip. While ignoring certain items like foundation or roof issues can be a major misstep, letting small things like a broken doorknob or peeling paint slide may be something you can easily remedy that won’t push you out of the game.

It can be complicated to get into the real estate market as a new buyer in a competitive market, but by letting the small stuff slide and being open-minded, you may just find the home you’re looking for. If you’re currently getting prepared to dive into the real estate market, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won’t Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) Way

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won't Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) WayMost people make a number of home upgrades when the time comes to put their home on the market, whether they’re minor fix-ups or significant improvements that come with a high cost. However, it’s important to determine what will improve the value of your home and what renovations you can forget before you move forward with any updates. If you’re wondering how to plan for your renovations, here are three things to ponder before getting started.

Make (And Stick!) To A Budget

If there’s a certain offer price you’re looking for in your home, it’s important to go into home renovations with a clear head and decide beforehand how much you’re willing to spend. You certainly won’t be able to do everything, but by doing the little fix ups, adding a coat of paint and removing some outdated design features, you can likely spend less for a lot more value. The only thing to keep in mind is that once you’ve decided on a budget, you should try to stay within it!

Choose Complimentary Improvements

From year to year, what’s popular in the design market changes and it can be tempting to try and test out the trends in the hopes of garnering a higher price. However, simply because something is trendy does not mean that it’s going flatter the aesthetic of your home. Instead of choosing things that are trendy but out of place, opt for changes that will complement the home you have and add value at the same time.

Re-Consider An Extra Room

Many homeowners in recent years have been strong believers in quantity over quality, and this means many people have invested in renovations to add a second bedroom or a den. It might seem like an extra room is ideal no matter what, but if you’re cutting into your kitchen, living room or extra space, it can completely change the aesthetic of your home. With open floor plans becoming more popular, you may want to stick with fewer rooms that will garner more interest.

There are so many renovations that can instantly improve the value of your home, but it’s important to determine what will compliment your home and how much you want to spend before committing to anything.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 12, 2017

Last week’s economic news was slim, with few scheduled reports released. Job openings for April, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims were released. Job openings rose in April, while weekly jobless claims were lower. The headline event last week was a further decrease in fixed-rate mortgage interest rates.

Mortgage Rates Lowest in Almost 7 Months

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed rate home loans fell again last week. Mortgage rates typically follow 10-year Treasury yields, which also fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped five basis points to 3.89 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.16 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.11 percent; discount points for all three mortgage types were also unchanged at an average of 0.50 percent.

Analysts cited mixed economic reports and uncertainty as factors contributing to lower mortgage rates. After months of short supplies of homes and high demand coupled with rapidly increasing home prices, first-time and moderate- income home buyers may gain a foothold in some housing markets that were previously inaccessible.

New Jobless Claims Fall, Job Openings Increase

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 245,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 245,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 255,000 new jobless claims. In related news, job openings were higher in April with a reading of 6.0 million job openings as compared to 5.80 million job openings in March. Fewer new jobless claims coupled with more job openings suggests that layoffs are not driving new jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on Inflation, core inflation, and the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its post-meeting statement. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to give a press conference after the FOMC statement. The FOMC statement will indicate if the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. The National Association of Home Builders will release its Housing Market Index for June. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Mortgage 101: This Is How Mortgage Refinancing Works, in Plain and Simple Terms

Mortgage 101: This Is How Mortgage Refinancing Works, in Plain and Simple TermsThere are so many unfamiliar terms involved in the real estate market that it can be easy to be confused by the jargon. However, some words are more important to learn than others if they can end up benefiting you in the long run. Whether or not you’ve heard of mortgage refinancing, here are the basics on what this may mean for your home and whether or not it’s an option you should consider.

Acquiring A Lower Rate

If you’re new to refinancing, the primary reason that most homeowners choose this option is to get a lower interest rate and pay less on the overall cost of their mortgage. Because a lower interest rate means that a higher amount is paid on the principal each month, you may be able to pay off your mortgage at a quicker rate. While this may sound ideal, you’ll need a certain percentage decrease in your interest rate in order to make this option financially beneficial.

A Shorter Loan Term

While refinancing doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be paying less on your mortgage payment each month, it does mean that you may be able to take advantage of a shorter loan term. Since the overall amount you pay on your mortgage may be lowered with refinancing, you may be able to pay off your mortgage more quickly without it bumping up the amount of your monthly payment significantly. There may be a slight difference, but the benefits can definitely outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to paying less over time.

Weighing The Refinancing Option

The decision to refinance may very well end up being a boon for your financial well-being, but it’s important to consider the pros and cons ahead of time in order to make an educated decision. You’ll also want to make sure you’ll be staying in your home a while to reap the benefits of your equity. Because there will be fees associated with utilizing this mortgage option, like closing costs and application fees, it’s important to look over the numbers and ensure that it works out in your favor at the end of the day.

Refinancing your home to acquire a lower interest rate can be a great financial decision, but it’s important to determine whether or not the price is right before you move forward with this option. If you’re currently considering refinancing your mortgage, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living Space

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living SpaceThe attic may be one of the spaces in the house that everyone prefers to avoid, but many people forget that an attic can be a great place for a bedroom or an additional living room. If you’re wondering how you can go about upgrading your attic for everyday use, here are some things to think about before you move forward.

Consider The Access Routes

In order for an attic to function as a truly livable space, you will need to have access to it and there will also need to be a fire escape route. This means that, in addition to a staircase that has a minimum clearance height, you will also require a window that will function as another means of exit. If you’re not interested in doing a lot of construction, fixing up your attic may not be worth the effort, but if you already have some of these features in place, you’re on the path to a space you can really use.

Supporting The Floor

Most of us have seen the visuals in movies or on television of someone crawling up to the attic only to fall through the floor, and it’s a familiar image for a reason. Because the attic floor will likely be relatively thin, it will need to be reinforced so that it can function as a space for consistent use. When it comes to making these changes, it’s important to keep in mind that how much floor you’ll add will also impact the available height in your attic.

Adding In Insulation

Whether you want to use your attic as a living room or an exercise area, one thing for certain is that you’ll need to install some insulation to keep the temperature consistent with the rest of the house. It will also be necessary to have heating and cooling units for cold winter weather and hot summer air, as these will ensure that you don’t have to deal with any moisture issues in the space. However upscale or down home you want your attic to be, you’ll need to consider how to control temperature.

Thinking About Investing in Real Estate? Here’s What You’ll Need to Get a Second Mortgage

Thinking About Investing in Real Estate? Here's What You'll Need to Get a Second MortgageThe decision to invest in a home is a big one for many people, but if you’re making the foray into real estate the second time around, it’s even more important to be financially aware and prepared. If you’re wondering what you’ll need in order to get approved for an investment property, here are some things that you’ll want to consider before deciding a second property is in your future.

A Larger Down Payment

Due to the risk factor involved in taking on more than one loan, acquiring a second mortgage for an investment property will likely require you to put more money down up front. Because you’re already paying into your home and are taking on an additional loan, you’ll have to prove to the mortgage lender that you’re a viable choice and have the financial wherewithal to stick to your payment schedule.

Knowledge Of The Market

It’s well and good to want to invest in a property so that you can find renters and turn a profit, but you’ll need to have a good place at the right price to make the investment worthwhile. Before you decide on a place, make sure that you research the neighborhood and the type of home you’re looking to buy so you can ensure there’s a viable market. A rental property is good, but you’ll need to have reliable renters in order to make it profitable.

A Property Manager

If you’re planning on being the landlord and doing all the little fix-its, you may not need to worry about a property manager. However, it’s important to weigh the decision carefully beforehand and ensure what will work best for you. If you’re not prepared to do emergency work or basic property maintenance, you’ll need to look for a property manager you can trust.

A Mortgage Pre-Approval

Without a doubt, a second mortgage will require you to take on more risk, so it’s important to speak with a lender about pre-approval before getting too involved. If you’ve crunched the numbers, you may already have an idea of what you can and can’t afford, but a lender will be able to give you a price range that suits your financial position and income set.

Investing in a second property can be a financially lucrative decision, but it’s important to be knowledgeable about your investment and your finances before diving in. If you’re currently getting prepared to invest in a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate Yard

Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate YardIt’s great to have a yard in this day and age, but so many new developments in the city have limited green space for you to let your imagination run wild. If you’re wondering what you can do with your patch of green space or small yard, here are a few options for making it aesthetically appealing and still maximizing its potential.

Pick A Centerpiece

In order to stretch the look of your green space, try adding a centerpiece or focal point that will draw the eye and instantly improve your yard’s appeal. Whether you decide on a planter, a birdbath or an awning covered in vines, a unique piece will work to distract from the limitations imposed by your yard. A centerpiece may do nothing to expand your garden space, but by changing the way you view it, it will make all the difference in how you feel about it.

Make It Match

Your garden or back green space is going to look a whole lot smaller if it’s eclectic style diverges greatly from your home, so keep the two aligned. If there’s a selection of colors and style you use in the room that faces your yard, use them outdoors! It’s also important to make it something you’ll really use. As landscape architect Amber Freda of Amber Freda Home & Garden Design says, “A plain dining table with wooden chairs won’t entice you to use it very much, but really comfortable lounge seating will.”

Keep It Clean

It’s a well-known fact that clutter in any enclosed space will instantly make it look smaller, and it’s no different when it comes to your yard. Instead of jamming an excessive amount of stuff into your small space, keep it simple and decide exactly what you want to get out of the area, whether it’s a vegetable garden or a comfortable place to sit. In keeping with clutter free, you’ll also want to make sure you keep any invasive or aggressive plants from making themselves too comfortable!

It may seem limiting to have an undersized green space, but by deciding what you want to get out of it and creating a central point of interest, you’ll be well on your way to a comfortable place.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 5, 2017

Last week’s economic releases included readings on inflation, core inflation pending home sales and multiple reports from the labor sector. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released. Pending home sales were lower and weekly jobless claims rose, which illustrates continued volatility in the economic sector.

Inflation rose 0.40 percent in April, which matched projections and exceeded April’s reading of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, grew by 0.20 percent and exceeded expectations of 0.10 percent growth based on a negative reading of -0.20 percent in March. The Federal Reserve has set an annual inflation rate of 0.20 percent as a benchmark for economic recovery.

Housing Data Mixed

Case-Shiller released its 20-City Housing Market Index for March; Home price appreciation held steady at 5.90 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis year-over-year. Month-to-month, home prices rose by 0.90 percent. Seattle, Washington had the highest pace of home price growth in March, with 12.30 percent. Portland, Oregon followed with 9.20 percent home price growth and Dallas, Texas had the third highest level of year-over-year home price growth at 8.60 percent. Month-to-month home prices grew at a pace of 0.90 percent.

Despite indications of high builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions, construction spending decreased by -1.40 percent in April. Analysts expected an increase of 0.50 percent in construction spending based on construction spending growth of 1.10 percent in March.

Builders have consistently cited concerns over affordable lots and skilled labor, but industry professionals are not sure why high builder confidence in housing markets doesn’t correspond to lagging construction spending rates. Building more homes is viewed as the only path to easing high demand for homes caused by a shortage of homes for sale.

The Commerce Department reported fewer pending home sales in April with a reading of -1.30 percent; the March reading was -0.90 percent. Pending home sales typically indicate further closed sales and trends in mortgage loans.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported slight change in mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower 3.94 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19 percent and was unchanged from the prior week. The average rate for a 5/1 variable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.11 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages.

New Jobless Claims Hit 5Week High

First-time claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 235,000 new claims to 248,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected 239,000 new claims filed. Analysts said that higher claims were connected to the Memorial Day holiday and characterized last week’s higher number of claims as a “blip.”

In other labor-sector news, ADP reported 253,000 new private-sector jobs in May; the Commerce Department reported 138,000 new government and private sector jobs. This reading may be revised based on an expected 185,000 public and private-sectors jobs for May and April’s reading of 174,000 public and private-sector jobs.

National unemployment ticked down in May to 4.30 percent. Analysts had expected no change in April’s reading of 4.40 percent.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on job openings, consumer credit along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.