Archives for July 2017

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 31, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and existing home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports and an announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New and Existing Home Sales Mixed in June

Sales of new homes rose in June rose to a seasonally- adjusted annual rate of 610,000 homes. Analysts expected 614,000 new home sales based on May’s reading of 605,000 new home sales. The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.52 million previously owned homes sold in June on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. A reading of 5.57 million sales was expected, based on May’s reading of 5.62 million sales. Sales of pre-owned homes are lagging due to a severe shortage of homes available. Low inventory and high demand are limiting options for buyers, who are frequently forced to compete with multiple offers for homes they want and not enough listings of appropriate or affordable homes.

New home sales rose in June according to the Commerce Department. June sales of new homes increased by 5000 sales to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 610,000 new home sales. June’s reading fell short of the 614,000 sales anticipated by analysts.  While housing and real estate industries say that building more homes is the only solution to reducing the shortage of homes for sale, builders cite labor and lot shortages and increases in materials cost as headwinds to building more homes at a fast pace. June’s reading was 9.10 percent higher than a year ago.

CaseShiller: Home Prices Hold Steady in May

National home price appreciation held steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 percent in May. The 20-City Index, which reported a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. indicated that home values remain highest in the West. Seattle, Washington had the highest year-over-year home price gain of 13.30 percent. Portland Oregon followed with a year-over-year gain of 8.90 percent. Denver, Colorado reported a year-over-year gain of 7.90 percent for home prices.

The Federal Reserve announced that its target federal funds interest rate would not change; it is currently at 1.00 to 1.25 percent. The Fed also noted that it would start reducing its balance sheet soon.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage four basis points lower at 3.92 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped three basis points to 3.20 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to 245,000 new claims expected and 234,000 new claims filed the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on pending home sales, inflation, construction spending and ADP payrolls. Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released, along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Investing in a New Home? 3 Reasons You Can’t Skip the Pest Inspection

Investing in a New Home? 3 Reasons You Can't Skip the Pest InspectionThere are so many small details involved in the final purchase of a home that it can be easy to lose track of the things that need to be done. While you won’t be able to forget about a home inspection, a pest inspection can be every bit as important before you sign on the dotted line. If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t forego this important step, consider the following information.

The Final Offer

Few people want to deal with problems, especially when it comes to their dream home. But the entire purpose of a pest inspection is to ensure you know about these problems before you sign on the dotted line. If pest issues are discovered, you’ll still have some decisions to make as to how you want to proceed. You can push the problem back to the homeowner to deal with, or buy the home knowing about the pest issue and use it to negotiate a lower price.

Insurance May Not Help

Homeowner’s insurance will cover your home and belongings in the event of a natural disaster, fire or flood. And in some cases, your policy will cover damage due to pests. However, much of the rot and other damage that pests cause occurs over a long period of time. In these cases, your insurer may not cover the damage, or you may be on the hook for a significant deductible. In any case, your policy may require that you get an inspection when you purchase the home so be sure to check with your insurer.

Feeling Home At Home

Much like experiencing a burglary, discovering a pest problem in your home can be an unsettling experience. Unfortunately, if you’ve just moved into your new home, it can be even more difficult to get comfortable if you think pests are crawling around. It’s important to schedule a pest inspection so you can be sure there are no impediments to enjoying your new home. Yes, it’s one more cost involved before the deal is sealed, but the money spent will be well worth your comfort.

These are just three of the many reasons to invest in a professional pest inspection when buying a new home. It’s a small price to pay to ensure that your home is free of damage-causing pests. If you’re currently getting ready to invest in a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for the inside scoop.

Forget About the Bank of Mom and Dad — Here’s How You Can Save Your Own Down Payment

Forget About the Bank of Mom and Dad -- Here's How You Can Save Your Own Down PaymentAre you considering buying a home for the first time? For some, it can seem nearly impossible to come up with the funds for the down payment. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can save a little over time and not have to borrow from the “Bank of Mom and Dad”. If you’re looking to invest in a home in the short-term and are looking for solutions to save up, here are some tips on how to get to your down payment amount more quickly.

Create A Budget

Most people don’t like the idea of a budget, but few things are going to help you reach your financial goals like having one. Instead of sticking your head in the sand, add the numbers up and see approximately how much you’re spending each month. It may not seem like it, but getting a sense of what your monthly costs are can help you get a good idea of your overall financial picture and how much you really should be spending.

Get An Extra Job

Whether you want to do a freelance job on the side or get some part-time work, there are few things that are going to help you achieve your goal of home ownership like a little extra money. It may seem like a drag to go to a part-time gig from your full-time job, but it can be well worth it when you begin to see your bank account fill up. It’s just important that your part-time gig pays enough that it’s going to make up for the extra time you’ll be giving up.

Trim The Excess Costs

Now that you’ve got some extra money coming in and you’ve crafted a budget, you’re certainly on the right track. However, indulging in life’s little luxuries can eat away at your savings. While you’ll want to keep a little aside for meals out or entertainment, if you have other sizeable costs you’ll want to eliminate these in order to save for your greater goal.

It can take some time to save up for a down payment, but you may be able to avoid borrowing money if you bring in more each month and get rid of excess costs. For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professional and we’ll be happy to help.

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary. And homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings is almost a requirement. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Mortgage Tips: Answers to 4 Common Questions About Reverse Mortgages

Mortgage Tips: Answers to 4 Common Questions About Reverse MortgagesThere are many mortgage products on the market that work for all different kinds of homebuyers, but many people have not heard about reverse mortgages and how they can benefit their situation. If you’re curious about this type of mortgage and want to know more, here are some questions that will get you on the road to understanding the ins-and-outs of this product.

What’s A Reverse Mortgage?

The reverse mortgage was created in the wake of the 2008 recession and is commonly known as HECM, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase. While this mortgage option is beneficial for those who want to use the equity in their home and defer their monthly payments, it’s not a good choice for those who are planning to move in the short-term future.

Who Can Qualify?

Since a reverse mortgage allows the homeowner to tap into the equity that they’ve already accumulated in their home, they need to have a high amount of their mortgage paid off. They must also be 62 years of age or older in order to qualify. In addition, they should have a solid financial history so lenders will be assured they have the ability to pay insurance and property taxes.

What’s Required To Apply?

Like all mortgage products, a reverse mortgage is a type of loan so you’ll need to apply for it. In order to do this, you’ll need proper identification, address verification and proof that you’ve met with a professional to ensure this is the right choice for you. In addition, you’ll need to prove that you can make the monthly insurance and property tax payments and you’ll have to provide financial documentation to ensure that you’re a good credit risk.

Should I Choose A Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage can be beneficial if you want to forego monthly payments, but it’s worth knowing that this mortgage will be payable in the event that you decide to sell the home or pass away. It’s also important to be aware that interest can accrue on the home since you’ll be deferring monthly payments. While this may work for you, it’s important to talk with a mortgage professional before making a final decision.

A reverse mortgage can be an option for those older than 62, but it’s important to be aware of what it entails and what it can do for you before choosing this product. If you’re currently considering your mortgage options, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 24, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders and releases from the Commerce Department on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips; Builder Sentiment Remains Strong

Higher lumber costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders as contributing to lower readings for the group’s monthly Housing Market Index. July’s reading was two points lower than May’s index reading. The original May reading of 67 was adjusted to 66.

Builders said that a steep tariff on Canadian lumber has raised building costs, but sentiment remains high as high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale set the stage for new home construction. Builder confidence in market conditions for newly-built homes remained strong as any NAHB Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on market conditions.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase in June

Housing starts increased in June to 1.215 starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 1.163 million housing starts based on 1.122 million housing starts reported in May. Building permits were issued at a higher rate in June, with the annual rate of 1.254 million permits issued as compared to May’s rate of 1.168 million permits issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single-family housing starts rose 6.30 percent as compared to May’s reading, which suggested that builders are focusing on building new homes for sale rather than concentrating on multi-family rental projects. If this trend continues, new construction of single-family homes would help ease severe shortages of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling seven basis points to 3.96 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reached their second-lowest post-recession level last week with a reading of 233,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 245,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 248,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic releases set for this week include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

Recently Lost Your Job? 3 Tips for Managing Your Mortgage When You’re Out of Work

Recently Lose Your Job? 3 Tips for Managing Your Mortgage When You're Out of WorkThe financial responsibility of a monthly mortgage payment can be stressful on its own, but you may be even more concerned about your home investment if you’ve recently lost your job. Fortunately, there are some things you can do and places you can turn if you’re not yet certain where your next paycheck will come from. If you’re struggling with newfound unemployment, here are some important steps to take.

Shake The Piggy Bank

Most people struggle to save and that means they don’t necessarily want to dip into savings when it comes to financial difficulties. Unfortunately, if a job does not appear quickly, you may have to rely on the money you’ve accrued to help you out. It’s important to take a look at how much savings you have and determine how long it will last. Instead of just calculating your monthly payment and leaving it at that, be realistic and include all of your applicable living expenses to see how much leeway you have.

Reach Out To Your Lender

It may seem like mortgage lenders will not be concerned with your plight, but it can be to your benefit to reach out as soon as you think there might be a lapse in payment. It’s possible your lender may be able to offer you some type of payment plan if they’re provided with a timeframe for payment. Plus, they will be impressed with your honesty and quick communication. If you have a solid credit history and have made all of your payments on time, contacting your lender may buy you a bit more time.

Contact Your Government Agency

If you’ve used a government agency to secure your mortgage, there’s a good chance there may be a program available that will assist you in getting through this financial time. Whether you’ve worked directly with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you may be able to find an opportunity in your unemployment that will cover your loan amount for you. It’s just important to be aware of any financial consequences once you’re back on your feet.

It can be very stressful to pay down your mortgage while you’re out of work, but you may be able to get through it by being aware of your financial picture and communicating with your lender. If you’re currently struggling with your mortgage, your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100Whether you’re trying to improve the look of your home or are getting ready to put it on the market, the idea of renovations might seem like a significant financial burden to take on. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy solutions for improving the look of your home without spending a lot of money. If you’re wondering how you can spend $100 wisely, look no further than the following upgrading tips.

A Funky Light Fixture

It might seem like a cool light will cost an arm and a leg, but there are plenty of options available on the market that will instantly add a unique touch to your place. Whether you decide to go mod or classic, a fixture can draw the eye and instantly add interest to a room.

A Makeshift Curio Cabinet

In these days of smaller living, many people have to pile their stuff into closets and cabinets in order to make it all fit. Fortunately, a bookcase-cum-cabinet can be an inexpensive purchase and can house a variety of items like books, dishes and appliances for an easy, eclectic look.

Covering The Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are often one of the first things to show age in a home, but getting out the can of paint can be a great way to instantly modernize their look. While you’ll want to go with a neutral tone that will compliment the space, the right color can add instant oomph.

Re-Upholstering A Chair

There are pieces of furniture in your home that you may be tired of looking at, but there’s an easy way to improve them without buying new: re-upholster! By trying out a new fabric on one of your favorite chairs, you might be surprised by how much it improves the room.

Paint Does The Trick

Painting may be one of the least popular renovation tasks, but few things are as successful at improving the look of your home as a fresh coat of paint. Instead of going all out with a bright color, choose a neutral shade that complements the furniture for an instant brightening effect.

Home renovations may seem like an expensive endeavor, but you can easily improve the look of your home with a new light fixture or by giving your furniture some love. If you are interested in making valuable renovations to your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Market Conditions Dips in July

According to the National Association of Home Builders, July builder sentiment dipped to an index reading of 64 as compared to June’s revised reading of 66, the original reading was 67. Analysts expected the reading for July to increase to 68. Builders cited increasing lumber prices as a concern affecting builders’ outlook on housing market conditions for new single-family homes. Any reading over 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index indicates that more builders than fewer are positive about housing market conditions, but July’s reading was the lowest in eight months. NAHB said that home builder confidence in market condition “remains strong.”

Three month rolling averages were mixed. The Northwestern region gained one point for an index reading of 47, the Midwest gained one point to a reading of 66 and the Southern region dropped three points to a reading of 66. The Western region had the highest level of builder confidence but lost one point for a reading of 75.

Shortages of homes for sale and buildable lots have impacted builder confidence for several months. As the number of available homes dwindles, demand and home prices have risen. Real estate pros view building more home as the only solution for easing the shortage of homes for sale Lower readings on builder confidence in market conditions could indicate slowing in the construction of new homes.

Lumber Tariff Raises  New Home Prices, Could Cost Jobs

While home builder confidence jumped in the aftermath of the election, builders said that a tariff on Canadian lumber is affecting home prices and construction jobs. In a statement released with July’s Housing Market Index readings, NAHB said that the lumber tariff tacked on an average of  $1236 to the average home price. NAHB leaders also said that as materials costs continue to rise, affordability will become an issue and that construction layoffs could potentially exceed 8000 jobs.

NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said about the lumber tariff, this is hurting housing affordability even as consumer interest in the new-home market remains strong” While current interest in new homes is healthy, home builders will have to manage costs to keep home prices affordable and competitive.

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can Recycle

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can RecycleIt has never been more popular to live a “green” lifestyle and develop sustainable living practices that will help out the planet. While you may be used to recycling cardboard boxes and giving away your old hand-me-down clothes, there are probably a few household items you didn’t even know you could recycle! If you’re wondering what to do with some of your old, used items, here are a few things that may be ready for re-use.

Re-constituting Your Lenses

It’s common to think your eyeglass prescription only works for you, but an easy way to re-use old eyeglasses is to take them to your local optician or optometrist’s office so that they can make use of them. Not only will someone in need be able to use the frames that you’ve provided, your lenses may be donated to another person with a similar prescription who will truly appreciate the gesture.

Old Phones & Electronics

It can be tempting to throw out an old phone with a shattered screen or an aging laptop that no longer turns on properly. However, with technology being obsolete almost as soon as it hits the market, it’s more important than ever to recycle these items. Old technology like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, chargers and digital cameras can be taken to your local electronics or “big box” store and recycled as part of their e-waste program. Before discarding any electronics that still work, you may want to look into other local places that refurbish these goods to donate them to less-fortunate families.

Improving Your Oil Change

While there are many renewable solutions on the market, oil is still one of the most common resources used in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of transportation. Fortunately, while an oil change may be necessary maintenance on your car now and then, you can be more environmentally friendly by going to an auto repair shop that recycles and re-refines your oil. Before you make a trip to your old auto body, take a look at motor oil recycling locations on Earth911 for some options in your area.

It’s easy enough to compost food and throw your cardboard boxes in the bin, but there are many common waste items that can actually be re-used in your local community. If you’re looking for ways to go greener as you plan a move to a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.