Friday, July 31, 2015

Dealing with the Emotional Stress of Selling Your Childhood Home

Dealing with the Emotional Stress of Selling Your Childhood HomeSelling a childhood home can be emotionally stressful and even traumatizing. This is more than a house; it is a home where years and even decades of memories have been made and where lives have been lived. While selling a childhood home may be difficult to do, there are a few steps that can be taken to reduce the emotional turmoil that may be felt during this process.

Create A Final Memory

When a family has lived in a home for many years, it may feel almost as though the home has become a part of the family in a way. One way to deal with the emotional stress of saying goodbye to the home is to create a final memory with family in the home. This may be to host a family dinner that enables everyone to walk through the home one final time and to reminisce together about the past.

Take Pictures Of The Space

Whether a final family get-together is planned for the home or not, taking pictures of the home before vacating it can be beneficial. These pictures can help to preserve the memories of the space itself, and close-up pictures of special features of the home that hold significance can be taken. Creating an album of these pictures may be ideal in some cases.

Preserve Memories Of The Home

With a childhood home, there is a good chance that there are hundreds of pictures that have been taken inside the home and in the yard, and there may also be videos of home movies. While some will want to take new pictures of the home before leaving, another idea is to preserve the images of the home that have been taken over the years. This can celebrate the historical significance that the home played with the family over time.

Bring Traditions Into A New Home

While it is important to make final memories and to preserve memories, it is also important to move on. Letting go of one home means that it is time to start new traditions in a new home, and families can begin doing this with a special get-together. After all, while a home is important for a family, it is the family that truly makes the property a home.

It doesn't matter if a family lived in the home for a few years or for several decades, saying goodbye to a childhood home is rarely easy to do. Contact a real estate professional to begin the selling process.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Federal Reserve FOMC Announcement

Federal Reserve FOMC AnnouncementThe stage was set in high suspense for FOMC's post-meeting announcement on Wednesday. As fall approaches, analysts and the media are looking for any sign of when and how much the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. According to CNBC, some analysts were projecting two interest rate hikes before year end, but the truth of the matter remains unknown until the Federal Open Market Committee announces its intentions.

Meanwhile, reports of what Fed rate hikes will mean for consumers were released prior to the FOMC statement. Real estate analyst Mark Hanson said that a rate hike would "crush" housing markets, which continue to improve slowly in spite of the current 0.00 to 0.25 percent federal funds rate.

Last Friday's report on June sales of new homes shows unpredictable progress in housing. Analysts estimated that new home sales would reach 550,000 units based on May's reading of 517,000 new homes sold. June's reading came in at 482,000 units sold.

FOMC Statement: Current Federal Funds Rate "Remains Appropriate"

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserved announced as part of its post-meeting statement that it would not immediately increase the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement cited concerns over the inflation rate, which remains below the Fed's goal of 2.00 percent. According to the statement, the FOMC will not move to raise the federal funds rate until the committee is "reasonably confident" that inflation will achieve the committee's goal of 2.00 percent over the medium term.

No prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate were given. The FOMC statement repeated language included in previous statements indicating that committee members anticipate that economic events could further postpone increases in the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement asserted that committee members continue to monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of the decision-making process for raising the target federal funds rate.

FOMC members agreed that policy accommodation may be required "for some time" after the committee's dual mandate of maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation have been achieved. This suggests that FOMC members are not in a hurry to boost rates when economic uncertainty remains.

In terms of housing markets, the Fed's decision not to raise rates likely caused a sigh of relief as rate increase would have caused consumer interest rates including mortgage rates to rise.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Assessing Your 'Debt-to-Income Ratio' and Why This Number Matters When Getting a Mortgage

Assessing Your Debt-to-Income Ratio and Why This Number Matters When Getting a MortgageIf you are looking to buy a home, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.

What Debt Do Lenders Look At?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower's DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower's monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower's DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last-minute Home Showing? Here's How to Stage Your Home in Just a Few Minutes

Last-minute Home Showing? Here's How to Stage Your Home in Just a Few Minutes In an ideal situation, a seller will have ample time to prepare a home to list for sale. This may include time to make necessary repairs, to thoroughly clean the home from top to bottom and to properly stage it. However, in those cases when time is not available to complete all of these steps, there are a few necessary steps that should be followed to get the home in show-ready condition in a very short period of time.

De-Clutter As Much As Possible

De-cluttering the home is an important step in staging, and this is because it can make the home look cleaner and can show off the square footage in the home. When time for staging is limited, it may be necessary to simply hide items away in closets, cabinets and drawers. Ideally, however, these items will be boxed up, and this is because some home buyers will open closet doors and cabinets to view these areas, and it is not ideal to have them appear to be cluttered and chaotic.

Remove All Personal Effects From The Property

A key step in staging a home relates to removing all of the family's personal items and making the home seem neutral, and the purpose for this is so that a buyer can see himself or herself living in the home. Ideally, all personal effects, including your family pictures, will be removed from the property. When it is not possible to remove everything from the property, these personal items should be boxed up at the minimum or stored in an out-of-sight location in the home.

Focus On The Kitchen And Bathroom

When time is truly limited, it may not be possible to thoroughly clean the home as well as de-clutter and de-personalize the home. Therefore, in a crunch, it is best to focus on cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms thoroughly and giving the other areas of the home a once-over cleaning. If more time is available, focusing on cleaning baseboards, ceiling fans and other features that may not be cleaned on a regular basis but that are visible to buyers can be helpful.

Many sellers will have several weeks to stage a home before listing it, but this is not always the case. In a situation with limited time to stage the home, the seller often must make critical decisions about what absolutely must be done and what is less important, and this can vary from homeowner to homeowner. Those who have questions about staging their home can reach out to their trusted real estate professional for assistance.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week's scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May's reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May's reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April's revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What's Ahead Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department's report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tiny, but Cozy: 3 Ways to Furnish Small Spaces to Make Them Feel Much Larger

Tiny, but Cozy: 3 Ways to Furnish Small Spaces to Make Them Feel Much LargerWhen decorating a small space, there is a general desire to make the space look and feel larger than it is while also meeting basic functional needs in the room. For example, there may be a need to accommodate seating for a group of people in a living room, but there also may be a desire to provide ample space for foot traffic so the area does not feel cramped. By following a few important tips, it is possible to furnish smaller spaces so that they are functional and do not feel cramped.

Think About Decorative Storage Solutions

One of the most common factors that will make a small space seem cramped and uncomfortable relates to clutter, and because of this, focusing on storage solutions can go a long way toward making the space feel larger than it is. Storage solutions can be decorative, and they can be a true benefit to the décor in the room. Think about functional storage features like an ottoman with hidden storage features, an entertainment center with cabinets and shelves or a tall bookshelf that can hold many of the items that are needed in the room.

Decorate The Space Vertically

For most people, there is a general inclination to decorate a room horizontally and to fill the floor space with furnishings, but this can be detrimental when decorating a smaller room. In a smaller space, decorating the space vertically by using bookshelves, storage cabinets and other features that rise above the ground rather than that sprawl across the ground can be beneficial. The goal should be to decorate the room fully while leaving ample space for foot traffic to maneuver through the room comfortably.

Use Lighter Colors

Darker colors used in a smaller room can make the space feel closed off and cramped. Using lighter colors can brighten the space and make it seem more airy. While using shades of white and beige throughout a space may not be ideal in all rooms, these can be incorporated into various aspects of the décor to improve the spacious feel of the room.

Smaller spaces can be challenging to decorate, but there are different tips and tricks that can be used to make the space look and feel larger than it is. Some tips help improve the functional use of the space, while others simply play tricks and create the illusion of space. All can be used together to create the feeling of a larger, more inviting room.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Good News! Existing Home Sales, FHFA Home Prices Increase

Good News Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices IncreaseHousing markets show continued signs of strengthening according to reports released on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.49 million in June as compared to May's revised reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold and expected sales estimated at 5.42 million sales. Expectations were based on May's original reading of 5.35 million sales. June's reading was the highest since February of 2007. Readings for existing home sales are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Buyers Gain Confidence in Labor Markets, Rush to Beat Rate Hikes

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that buyers may be influenced by rising mortgage rates and encouraged by improving job markets. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise its target federal funds rate this fall, which means that mortgage rates along with consumer lending rates will rise.

The national median home price rose by 6.50 percent annually to $236,400, also a record reading.

While this news paints a rosy picture for housing markets, challenges remain. Strict mortgage standards are an obstacle for first time and moderate income buyers as well as for buyers with less than stellar credit scores. While construction of new homes is increasing, the majority of projects are apartment complexes. 41 percent of housing starts in June were multi-family projects with five or more units. This data falls in line with stricter mortgage standards and a trend for millennials, an expected group of first-time homebuyers, preferring to rent in large cities rather than moving to suburban areas.

FHFA House Prices Rise in May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices associated with mortgage loans owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was unchanged from April's revised reading of 0.40 percent month-to-month home price growth. April's month-to-month reading was originally reported at 0.30 percent. FHFA home prices were up 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

FHFA reported that year-over-year home price growth was positive in all nine census divisions, with the lowest growth rate of 0.90 percent in the Mid Atlantic division and the highest growth rate of 8.40 percent in the Pacific division.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You Buy

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You BuySavvy home buyers who are preparing to make a real estate purchase should do their research and understand that they need to save money for not only the down payment, but the closing costs as well. The closing costs can account for as much as three to five percent of the sales price in some cases, so this can be a rather sizable amount of money. Some home buyers however, may not realize that the amount of closing costs can vary considerably based on the home that is purchased. With a closer look at why this is, home buyers can make a more educated decision when selecting a home to purchase

Prepaid Taxes And Insurance

One of the most significant closing costs relates to prepaid taxes and insurance, and both of these expenses are directly tied to the location and value of the property. Consider that the property tax rate can vary based on the city, county, and state. Real estate insurance can also vary based on the type of construction of the home, if the home is located in a flood plain, and other factors. These are only a few examples of how the location and property type can impact these fees, and home buyers should consider the costs assoicated with the tax rates and insurance when selecting a property to purchase

Third Party Reports

There are several third party reports that are commonly paid for at closing, and these include an appraisal, a survey, a pest inspection and a property inspection. The third party reports may vary in cost based on the size of the home, the amount of land that is being purchased, and even the condition of the property. Those who want to keep their closing costs lower may consider learning more about how these fees are calculated up-front before finalizing their plans to buy a specific home.

Title Insurance Fees

Title insurance fees are another typically sizable expense for home buyers, and this insurance offers protection to the lender if the title is not clean. Title insurance can increase based on the size of the property as well as different factors that are revealed with a title search. This information can be difficult to learn with an initial home search, but home buyers should be aware that title defects can increase closing costs.

The location, size, age and construction of a property all impact the closing costs. Those who are shopping for real estate may be inclined to make a decision that keeps closing costs down, and they can reach out to their knowledgeable real estate professional for more assistance with their particular situation.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

3 Trends That Will Help Shape Your Local Real Estate Market in 2015

3 Trends That Will Help Shape Your Local Real Estate Market in 2015Each real estate market is unique in various ways, and your local real estate agent can help you to become more familiar with the trends in your community. For example, in some areas, it may be common for a seller to pay for at least a portion of the buyer's closing costs, but this may not be common practice in other areas. While each market may be unique, there are some common trends that you can expect to be rather widespread across many communities throughout the rest of the year.

Buyers Acting Quickly To Make An Offer

In recent years, it was rather common for buyers to take their time researching the market and comparing various listings. There was a feeling that financing would continue to be affordable and that home prices would remain relatively low in many markets due to economic conditions. However, the economy has generally rebounded and market conditions in many areas have improved. There is an increasing feel of urgency in buyers to make a purchase sooner rather than later in order to lock in a great deal.

Younger Buyers Making a First-Time Home Purchase

Many younger adults have notably been sitting on the sidelines and have not been buying real estate at the same level that previous generations did in their 20s and younger 30s. However, as overall real estate market conditions have improved as well as other economic factors like the employment rate, consumer confidence and more, younger buyers are increasingly finding the confidence to move forward with their first home purchase.

More Realistic List Prices

In recent years, it was common for some sellers to list their home for sale based on the amount they owed on their mortgage or their general belief in property value without giving much consideration for market conditions. This may have been out of financial need, a general belief that their property value did not decline significantly even when markets plummeted and more. However, because market conditions have dramatically improved, you will find that the list prices on many properties are much more realistic.

Real estate agents keep a pulse on the trends in your local market, and their insight and guidance can be invaluable to you as you search for a property, structure an offer and walk through the rest of the home buying process. If you are preparing to purchase a home in the coming year, you can begin looking for a friendly and helpful real estate agent to assist you.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week's economic news included an encouraging report from the National Association of Home Builders, whose housing market index held steady with a reading of 60 in July. This was the 13th consecutive month for readings over 50, which indicate that more builders are confident about housing markets than those who are not. July's reading was noteworthy as it was the highest since November 2005 prior to the recession.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Increase

The Commerce Department provided further evidence of stronger housing markets with reports on housing starts and building permits issued in June. Housing starts rose from May's reading of 1.07 million to 1.17 million, which surpassed the expected reading of 1.11 million housing starts.

May's reading for housing starts was revised from 1.04 million to 1.07 million an annual basis.

Construction of apartments and other multifamily housing complexes attained their highest level since 1987, which supports reported trends that millennials who prefer to live in larger cities are renting rather than buying homes. Housing starts gained nearly 10 percent between May and June. Would-be home buyers are also renting due to tighter mortgage approval standards; others may be "sitting on the fence" as they wait for further indications of stronger labor markets and improvements in overall economic conditions.

Building permits issued in June supported trends in housing starts, with permits for multi-family housing units higher by 16. 10 percent and was the highest reading for multi-family building permits since 1990. Analysts said that the increase in multifamily building permits was in caused by the pending expiration of a tax credit for builders in New York State that was set to expire June 30.

Permits for single family homes rose only 0.90 percent in June, to an annual pace of 689,000 but this was still the highest reading for single family housing permits since 2008.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.09 percent and was higher by five basis points. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was also five basis points higher at 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was up by three basis points to 2.96 percent. Discount points were 0.60 percent for 15 and 30 year mortgages and 0.50 percent for 6/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 281,000 last week against the prior week's reading of 296,000 new claims and an expected reading of 285,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that the current reading indicates that last week's spike in new unemployment claims was a false alarm. Seasonal anomalies and re-tooling at some auto plants were cited as causes for the prior week's high reading. New jobless claims have remained under the benchmark reading of 300,000 since February for the longest consecutive period in 15 years.

Last week's reports ended with the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index, which fell from June's reading of 96.1 to 93.3; analysts expected a reading of 95.0.

What's Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for next week include new and existing home sales, and FHFA home prices along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, July 17, 2015

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Holds SteadyHome builder confidence remained steady at the highest reading in almost ten years according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July. The latest reading of 60 for the index was identical to expectations and June's reading, which was revised to 60 from an initial reading of 59. The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is based on readings of zero to 100 with readings over 50 indicating that a majority of home builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. July's reading was the 13th consecutive month of readings above 50

July's Housing Market Index Highest Since November 2005

NAHB chief economist David Crowe said that July's reading is consistent with stronger markets for new and existing homes as well as job growth, but also noted builder concerns over obtaining lots for development and necessary labor at favorable prices.

The monthly reading for housing market condition is based on three components. Two components showed improvement with the reading for current market conditions up one point to 66; the reading for housing market conditions in the next six months gained two points for a reading of 72 and the reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments lost one point for a reading of 63.

Report Details Regional Market Conditions

NAHB's three month moving average of regional builder confidence showed gains of one point in the South for a reading of 61; the Midwest also reported a gain of one point to 55. Builder confidence readings for the Northeast and West each gained three points to readings of 47 and 60 respectively.

NAHB chairman Tom Woods said that based on current readings, housing markets should continue to improve throughout the second half of 2015. Economic analysts agreed with this assessment and noted that evidence suggests that housing markets are seeing a steady upswing.

In unrelated reporting, the Department of Commerce is due to release reports on housing starts and building permits today.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Home

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your HomeHomeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Replace The Front Door

The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.

Update The Kitchen Back Splash

A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.

Repaint The Walls And Baseboards

Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition. Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself.

Each of these projects under most circumstances can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home. Consulting with a real estate professional about improvements that may be desirable in a specific home can help the homeowner in choosing what to tackle first.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate It is common for those who are interested in buying real estate in the near future to tune into news stories about the real estate market, and many may have heard that there is speculation about a real estate bubble that may pop soon. While this gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that summer 2015 is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are three good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Low Interest Rates

Most who have plans to purchase real estate will need to apply for a mortgage loan to complete their transaction, and today's low interest rates are highly competitive. Low interest rates make the cost of borrowing money to purchase real estate lower, and this means that the mortgage payment that may be locked in may be lower. There is some speculation that interest rates will rise in the coming months, and this means that now may be a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Great Deals Available

More than that, there are some great real estate deals available for buyers to take advantage of. Real estate values in many areas have rebounded in recent years, but some areas are still off historic highs. In addition, there may be foreclosures, short sales and other types of transactions that can result in buyers saving money on their property purchase.

The Benefits Of Home Ownership

Another benefit associated with making a purchase now is that home buyers can start enjoying the financial benefits of home ownership sooner. These benefits include the ability to build equity through debt reduction and value appreciation as well as tax benefits associated with owning property. These are benefits that can have a true impact on a person's financial situation, and it may be financially advantageous to have access to these benefits sooner rather than later.

There will always be speculation about what the real estate market may do in the coming weeks, months and years, but it is impossible to accurately determine how the market may act. With this in mind, it may be best for buyers to take advantage of currently great market conditions rather than attempt to time the market in the future. Home buyers can get more information about market conditions by speaking with their trusted real estate professional.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These "Rookie Mistakes"

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These Many home buyers who are applying for their first mortgage will go to great lengths to research the options, learn more about loan terms and generally educate themselves about a process that they are unfamiliar with. Despite these common steps that rookie mortgage applicants make, they often make similar mistakes when applying for their first mortgage. By learning about these common mistakes, you can take steps to prevent making them yourself.

Not Focusing on All Costs of Home Ownership

Many first-time home buyers are overwhelmingly focused on setting up a mortgage payment that is affordable for their budget. While this is important, the mortgage payment is not the only expense associated with home ownership. For example, there are property taxes, insurance, repair and maintenance expenses, homeowners' association dues and more. All of these expenses should be reviewed when you consider what mortgage payment is affordable for your budget.

Not Thinking About Short and Long-Term Plans

You should also think about short and long-term plans for your home ownership experience. Some will choose a long term or an adjustable rate to keep the payments low. However, they will not consider the fact that the payment will be in place until the home is sold or the loan is refinanced. It is not certain what mortgage rates will be in the future or if you may qualify for a great rate on a refinance loan in the future, so you should always ensure that you can maintain the payment structure for as long as needed.

Not Getting Pre-Qualified

It can be intimidating to get pre-qualified for a home mortgage. Some may fear rejection or denial altogether, and some may estimate an amount they may qualify for without actually getting pre-qualified. This can backfire for you. The pre-qualification process helps you to learn the maximum loan amount you may qualify for and the payment for that amount, and this is sound, valuable information that can help you to make a more informed decision when selecting your home.

As a first-time home buyer, you may be stressed about finding the right home to buy and researching the neighborhoods and schools. While these are all factors to pay attention to, you also need to focus heavily on your mortgage. Through these efforts, you can set up an affordable home loan that is comfortable for you to manage on your budget.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week's scheduled economic events were few due to the Independence Day holiday. Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates brought good news as mortgage rates fell across the board. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and weekly jobless claims rose.

Job Openings Rise to Highest Level Since 2000

The Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings rose from April's reading of 5.33 million to 5.36 million job openings in May. This was the highest reading for job openings since the report's inception in 2000. Private sector job openings rose to 4.85 million, an increase of 16 percent. Government jobs rose increased by 511,000 open jobs from April's reading of 430,000 job openings. Based on the Labor Department's report of 8.67 million unemployed workers, there were 1.60 job seekers for each job opening in May as compared to 2.10 job seekers for each job available in May 2014. There were approximately 1.80 job seekers for each job available when the recession started in December 2007.

FOMC Minutes: Fed Issues No Firm Date for Raising Rates

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of June's FOMC meeting, during which nine of ten committee members indicated that they were not ready to raise the federal funds rate. One FOMC member indicated that they were willing to wait for another meeting or two to raise rates. While FOMC has hinted at the likelihood of raising rates this fall, committee members are wary of moving too quickly and cited developments in China and Greece as concerns that contributed to the committee's current wait and see position. When the Fed does raise its target rates from 0.00 percent, consumers can expect higher mortgage and loan rates.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates fizzled last week with Freddie Mac reporting average rates lower for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent and discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.20 percent. Average discount points for a 15-year mortgage fell from 0.60 to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 2.93 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

According to the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims rose to 297,000 new claims filed as compared to 282,000 new claims filed the previous week. There were no estimates for last week's jobless claims due to the holiday.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include Retail Prices, Retail Prices Except Automotive and the NAHB Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department is set to release monthly readings for Housing Starts and Building Permits. In addition to Freddie Mac's report on mortgage rates and the Labor Department's report on new jobless claims, the University of Michigan will wrap up the week with its Consumer Sentiment report.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips

Summer's Coming! Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips Curb appeal is important in the home sales process, and this is because it will impact the overall first impression that potential home buyers have about the property. Some homeowners can easily spend a small fortune and a considerable amount of time improving curb appeal, but others may be looking for faster and easier results. The good news is that boosting curb appeal is easy and affordable to do when these three tips are followed.

Spruce Up The Front Door

The front door and patio area are focal points for those driving by the home, and this area receives even more scrutiny by those home buyers who walk up to the home to take a tour of the interior. Re-staining or re-painting the front door can be highly beneficial to dressing up the look of this focal area, and this can give the impression that the home is well-maintained and stylish. In addition, consider replacing the front door mat and hardware on the door for improved results and added aesthetic appeal.

Power Wash The Exterior Of The Home

Beautification efforts for the front of the home would not be complete without spending time cleaning up the space, and one of the best ways to clean the exterior of a property thoroughly is by power washing it. Power washing the exterior may include cleaning the exterior siding material of the home, the patio, the driveway, the sidewalk and even the fencing. This can give the entire area a fresher and more appealing look.

Add Color To The Flower Beds

Some homeowners may not have funds or time available to fully revamp the landscaping, but showing the flower beds some attention can pay off. After weeding the flower beds, add some fresh, brightly colored blooms to the area to dress up curb appeal. Homeowners can finish off the look by spreading a new layer of mulch across the flower beds after the flowers have been planted.

Curb appeal is vital to selling a home quickly and for top dollar. Enhancing curb appeal can cost a small fortune and could take weeks to do, but even these small and affordable efforts can give homeowners great results with minimal time and money required. Homeowners who are thinking about selling their property soon can contact a real estate professional for personal assistance with their staging and home improvement efforts.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster A home mortgage payment can be a large or even the largest expense in a person's budget, and not having this payment any longer can be a life changing experience. Because of this, you may be dreaming about the day when you no longer have to make this payment.Some people may even actively make extra payments to their mortgage in order to pay the outstanding balance off more quickly.These may be funds from an IRS tax refund, cash received from the holidays or a birthday or some other windfall.

Before you make the decision about whether to use spare funds to pay your mortgage down more quickly, consider these pros and cons.

The Benefits of Making Extra Mortgage Payments

You can shave many years off of your home mortgage when you make even a single extra payment each year. This can help you to achieve long-term financial goals, build equity and avoid paying more than necessary in interest charges. Keep in mind that any principal that is removed from the outstanding balance now will not generate interest charges going forward. This can have a snowball effect on your home equity, and this is especially true when you make extra payments on a regular basis.

Why Extra Payments Are Not Always the Best Option

Clearly, there are some great benefits associated with making extra payments on your home mortgage. However, there are also some downsides to consider before you take this step. Your home mortgage may be one of your debts with the lowest interest rate.

For example, many mortgage interest rates today are below five percent while some credit card rates may exceed 15 or 18 percent. Over the long-term, you may benefit more from savings on interest charges by reducing higher interest rate debts. Even if you have no other debts besides your home mortgage payment, you may be able to invest the money for a higher return than the interest rate on the mortgage.

Each person has different short and long term goals as well as a different financial situation to consider. With how low mortgage rates are today, however, many will benefit from paying off high interest rate debts and making smart investment decisions with any extra money they have.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Understanding Home Appraisals and Why You Want a Real Estate Agent to Determine Listing Prices

Understanding Home Appraisals and Why You Want a Real Estate Agent to Value Your HomeWhile there may be instances when a homeowner must sell a property and move regardless of market conditions, there are other times when the value of the property will be a deciding factor in whether a homeowner moves or remains in the home for a longer period of time.

Some homeowners will attempt to determine the current value of their home on their own or order an appraisal, but these values are not always an accurate representation of a realistic listing price. There are a few good reasons why it is best to request valuation services from a real estate agent to determine a listing price rather than to refer to an appraiser or estimate value through personal market research.

Appraisals Use Older Comparable Data

Some homeowners will contact a real estate appraiser for a valuation, but these valuations will not always  reflect a listing price that a real estate agent would recommend. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that appraisals can sometimes use older comparable data, and some of these comps may even be six months old or older. In many areas, market conditions can change dramatically within a few months, so older comparable data will not provide a reasonable listing price.

Consumer Preference Is Important In Valuation

Appraisals are generally objective, and they take into account property age, size, room layout, and other physical factors. However, consumers who are in the market to purchase a new home will also take into account other factors like how desirable the location is, the style of the home and smaller designer touches that the appraiser will not typically take into account. This can all affect the actual listing price, and these are all factors that a real estate agent will take into account.

Properties May Have Special Features That Affect Valuation

Appraisers only have access to specific information when reviewing comps, and they therefore cannot take into account special features that a property has that may affect value. For example, upgraded appliances, a security system, a new HVAC system and other features may increase value, but the appraiser may not take these into consideration. A real estate agent will review all aspects of the home to help determine a fair and reasonable asking price for the home.

Valuation is an important factor in many homeowners' decisions about whether to sell now or sell later. Those who are interested in learning about the value of their property should reach out to their trusted real estate agent for assistance.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

House Hunting? Watch for These 5 Red Flags when Viewing Potential New Homes

House Hunting? Watch for These 5 Red Flags when Viewing Potential New Homes From the sales price to the general layout of the building, there are numerous factors that buyers will consider when touring homes. While there are specific factors that buyers may be searching for in a new house, there are also a few warning signs that home buyers should keep their eyes open for. The following are among the top red flags that may serve as warning signs.

Signs Of Poor Home Maintenance

It is reasonable to expect all homes to have some signs of wear and tear unless they are new construction. However, it is also reasonable to expect that sellers have taken some steps to improve the condition and look of the property before listing it. When a home appears to be poorly maintained on a superficial level, home buyers should pause to consider what other aspects of the home have also been poorly maintained that are not visible.

The Grading In The Yard

When a yard grades toward the house, issues with erosion and even flooding may be concerns. Everything from a brief, torrential downpour to snow melt can result in water running toward a property when grading is a concern. Home buyers should take time to review the yard carefully to determine how water may flow when it rains or when snow melts.

A Foul Odor

It is common for sellers to try to make their home smell appealing, and different types of deodorizers may be used to mask everything from food smells to pet odors. However, it is important for home buyers to pay attention to the underlying smells in a home. Everything from a musky or mildew-y smell to sewage smells and gas odors should be warning signs.

Repairs To One Wall

Homeowners may repaint walls to make the space look cleaner, brighter and more appealing, so a fresh coat of paint by itself is not a warning sign. However, if the paint is on just one wall or if the area under the fresh coat of paint appears to have been recently textured or repaired, these are signs that water damage or other damage may have been addressed recently.

Signs Of Pests And Rodents

Another warning sign relates to signs of pests and rodents. Even if bugs and rodents are not visible during the initial tour, things like a can of bug spray, mouse traps and other related items may indicate that the seller has had an issue with bugs and rodents.

Some warning signs will be obvious during an initial home tour, but others may require more skill and experience to see. Because of this, it is best for all home buyers to consider ordering a property inspection to learn more about the condition of the home before finalizing their buying plans.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 6, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 6 2015 Last week's housing-related economic events included the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for April, the Commerce Department's Pending Home Sales report and a report on Construction Spending. In other economic news, Non-Farm Payrolls, the ADP Employment report and Consumer Confidence reports were released. Freddie Mac's mortgage rates summary and the weekly unemployment claims report were released as usual.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in April

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported that year-over-year home prices slowed in April with a reading of 4.20 percent as compared to the March reading of 4.30 percent. David M Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that home prices continue to grow, but are not accelerating. According to the 20-City Index, home prices rose 1.10 percent from March to April and were bolstered by the onset of the spring selling season.

The Department of Commerce reported that pending home sales increased to their highest level in more than nine years in May. Pending home sales were 10.40 percent higher than they were in May 2014, which is a further indication of a stronger housing sector. Analysts consider pending home sales as an indicator of future closings and mortgage originations.

Construction Spending Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

Construction spending dipped in May to 0.80 percent as compared to April's reading of 2.10 percent; analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent in May. The outstanding news is that construction spending for manufacturing building is up by 70 percent year-over-year in May. While not directly connected to housing, this reading suggests that manufacturers are expanding their businesses and will likely expand hiring as well. Concerns over the labor market have kept many would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but improved hiring reports and wage increases are expected to compel more buyers to enter the housing market.

Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought another increase in average mortgage rates; the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/2 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one point to 2.99 percent. Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent and were unchanged for 16-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Non-Farm Payrolls Lower; ADP Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-farm Payrolls dropped to a reading of 223,000 new jobs added as compared to expectations of 225,000 new jobs added and 254,000 new jobs added in May. The ADP employment report, which tracks private-sector hiring, fared better with 237,000 new jobs posted as compared to 203,000 new private sector jobs added in May.

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Level in Five Weeks

New claims for unemployment reached their highest reading in five weeks with 281,000 new claims filed against expectations of 275,000 new claims filed and the previous week's reading of 271,000 jobless claims filed. The four week rolling average of new claims filed showed an increase of 1000 more claims filed for a reading of 274,750 new claims filed. Analysts said that new jobless claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the 17th consecutive week.

The Commerce Department reported that the National Unemployment Rate was lower at 5.30 percent as compared to an expected reading of 5.40 percent and May's reading of 5.50 percent. June's national unemployment rate was the lowest reading since 2008 and is a good sign that labor markets are steadily if slowly improving.

No economic reports were released Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let's Talk Hardwood: Why Converting Your Home to Hardwood Flooring Will Boost Its Value

Let's Talk Hardwood: Why Converting Your Home to Hardwood Flooring Will Boost Its ValueWhen a homeowner makes the decision to upgrade flooring in one area of the home or throughout the entire space, there are numerous materials that may be considered. While each material option has its unique benefits and advantages, many are drawn to hardwood flooring as an option. This is a material that has the potential to boost home value, and a closer look at its benefits will reveal why this is the case.

A Durable, Long-Lasting Material

With many flooring options, homeowners understand that the material will need to be replaced or upgraded over the years. With hardwood flooring, the timeless appeal and incredible durability of the material means that the floor may be an investment to enjoy for many long decades. In fact, with periodic maintenance and regular care of hardwood floors, some hardwood floors may provide the homeowner with 50 years or more of beautiful use in the home.

Numerous Stylish Options

More than that, there are numerous style options for homeowners to consider, and this provides the ability to easily select a material that is ideal for the look of the home. In addition, hardwood floor generally has universal appeal that many desire, and this increases the desirability of the home to future home buyers. This is especially true when a more classic tone of wood is selected rather than a modern or trendy tone.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Some flooring materials, such as carpet, may have a detrimental impact on indoor air quality, but this is not the case with hardwood flooring. The material is easy to clean, and this means that dust, dander and other allergens can easily be removed from the floor. This will have a direct and beneficial impact on indoor air quality that current owners as well as future home buyers can enjoy.

While hardwood flooring can be desirable and beneficial for current property owners, the appeal of the material will extend to future home buyers. When hardwood flooring is well-maintained by the owner, it is a true investment that will add true value to the home and that may help the owner to sell the property more quickly when the time comes. Those who want to learn more about how hardwood flooring may impact their own home value and the ability to sell their property in the future can request a consultation with a real estate professional.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in April

Case Shiller Home Prices San Francisco Denver see Double Digit Increases According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for April, home prices slowed from the March reading of 4.30 percent year-over-year to 4.20 percent year-over-year. David M Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Index Committee, said that home prices are not accelerating and characterized slower home price growth as "sustainable as compared to double-digit appreciation in home prices seen in 2013."

The disparity between wage increases and home price growth was keeping would-be-buyers on the sidelines; so slower gains in home prices may bring more buyers into the market.

Denver Claims Top Spot for Year-Over-Year Home Price Growth

Denver, Colorado led home price appreciation in April according to Case-Shiller. The mile-high city posted a reading of10.30 percent year-over-year home price growth in April. San Francisco, California followed closely with a reading of 10.00 percent. Miami, Florida rounded out the top three price gains with a reading of 8.80 percent.

The lowest reading for year-over-year home price growth in April was posted by Washington D.C. with a reading of 1.10 percent. This was followed by Cleveland, Ohio with a reading of 1.30 percent and Boston, Massachusetts with a reading of 1.80 percent year-over-year home price growth.

Of the nine cities reporting higher year-over-year price gains, Las Vegas Nevada reported a gain of 6.30 percent in April as compared to a gain of 5.70 percent in March. Las Vegas was one of the hardest-hit housing markets during the recession.

Seattle Tops Month-to-Month Home Price Growth

Month-to-month price gains in April were led by Seattle Washington, which reported a home price gain of 2.30 percent. This reading was followed by San Francisco, California where home prices increased by 2.00 percent from March to April.

Denver rounded out the top three month-to-month price gains with a reading of 1.90 percent. Boston, Massachusetts reported the lowest month-to-month price growth with a reading of 0.30 percent followed by New York City's reading of 0.50 percent and San Diego, California's month-to-month gain of 0.60 percent.

In unrelated reports, the Commerce Department reported that pending home sales rose to their highest reading in more than nine years. Pending home sales rose by 10.40 percent year-over-year in May. Pending home sales are seen as a reliable indicator of future closings.