Monday, October 31, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 31, 2016

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

Case-Shiller: Pacific Northwest Shows Fastest Home Price Growth

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

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

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

New Home Sales Rise in September

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

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

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

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

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

What's Ahead

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

5 Futuristic, Connected Home Upgrades That You Can Install This Fall

5 Futuristic, Connected Home Upgrades That You Can Install This FallThe future is now! You may know that there are already many smart (Internet-connected) appliances and items that you can use to update your home for the connected age. But for your reading pleasure, here are five of them already on the market.

Energy Efficiency: The Smart Thermostat

One of the first smart home upgrades to make it big on the market is the smart thermostat, specifically the Nest Learning Thermostat. Connected to your heating system, and to your phone through Wi-Fi, this device 'learns' your energy use habits so it can adjust to them. It saves you money by tailoring its output to your usage, which means it is kinder on the planet as well. Smart tech for the win-win.

Intelligent Alarms: Smart Smoke Detectors

In the same vein is the smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector technology. These alarm systems assess the danger and speak to you. They report on multiple details, including what kind of danger you're facing (fire or carbon monoxide poisoning), where it is exactly in your home, and whether it constitutes an immediate risk to you.

Turn It On!: Smart Light Bulb

A-ha! The intelligence continues. There are smart light bulbs now like the Philips' Hue Connected Bulb which speak through your Wi-Fi. This light can be controlled remotely through your phone or computer, where you can change its color and adjust the brightness without ever touching the bulb itself.

Baby Care: The Smart Onesie

You know those moments you need to yourself, when you step out of your baby's room to let them sleep? Well, there's now a device to help keep track of them even then. The Mimo Baby Shirt is a smart onesie. Its organic cotton is woven with sensors that monitor elements like your child's temperature or sleep pattern and streams that info to your device through your home's Wi-Fi. It can be fitted with a microphone, again linked to your phone and it's machine-washable!

The Next Mouthful: The Smart Fork

Last but not least, there's the HapiFork. This smart utensil monitors your eating habits how fast you're eating, the time between meals, how many bites it takes to finish the meal. These tidbits can be uploaded to your laptop or phone, and can help you track and change how you eat. As technology continues to progress, our homes are becoming smarter and smarter. Keep up with the tech by staying abreast of new developments starting with these five. Oh, and one last smart thing? Reaching out to your local real estate agent for more information, recommendations or just to chat about the future.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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

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

National Home Price Index Near 2006 Peak

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

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

New Housing Bubble Unlikely

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Master the Autumn Home Buying Season With Our Guide to Finding Local Real Estate Bargains

Master the Autumn Home Buying Season With Our Guide to Finding Local Real Estate BargainsMost people have a good idea of the neighborhood they want to purchase a new home in. The problem is finding a great deal in the area, especially if it's a neighborhood that's very popular.

Thinking outside the box and avoiding the standard real estate listings can result in some bargain properties for sale that most people are completely unaware of.

Contemplate Investing In Foreclosed Homes

When the housing market boomed, many people tried to take advantage by investing in a second home that they couldn't necessarily afford. This resulted in a huge market full of homes that were foreclosed on when mortgage payments could no longer be made.

This happens frequently whenever the housing market goes through a strong period and these houses and condos are owned by the bank and can be purchased at a great price.

Look At FSBO (For Sale By Owner) Homes

FSBO properties, homes that are being sold privately by the owner, are one of the best bets to find a great bargain. These homeowners have made the decision to try and sell their home without the use of a real estate agent in an attempt to save some money on the sale.

Local real estate agents will be aware of any homes in their neighborhood that are being sold privately and will be able to point you in the right direction. FSBO homes have the best chance of getting a good deal because offers can be made directly to the owner and the earliest offer may just be the most lucrative for them.

When All Else Fails, Take A Drive

Anybody who knows the area they want to invest in can be proactive and beat the market by simply taking a drive up and down the streets and looking at houses. Some owners haven't taken the time to bother listing a home that they would love to get rid of.

These are either rental properties or family homes that have been willed and left neglected. They can be easily identified by the care that's been given to the property. An overgrown lawn and overflowing mailbox is a sure sign the owner may be interested in a talk about selling.

After all, there's nothing to lose.

Staying away from real estate listings to find a home can be tough. Thankfully, most local real estate agents will be tracking these houses so they can help their clients think outside the box. Contact your trusted real estate professional in your area for a better idea of how to make offers on these bargain properties.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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

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

Up-To-Date On Credible Lenders

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

Access To Better Rates

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

Saving On Fees

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

All The Available Options

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

Making The Process Run Smooth

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 24, 2016

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

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips amid High Demand for Homes

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

Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Rise

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

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

Sales of Previously-Owned Homes Increase

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

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

Mortgage Rates Higher

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

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

What's Ahead

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Don't Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New Life

Don't Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New LifeThere are untold benefits to reusing old household items instead of tossing them. Not only are you reducing your ecological footprint, but you can also save lots of money by recycling what you've already bought. Read on for some common items that are easily repurposed.

Finish The Milk, But Don't Toss The Jug

Go for plastic milk jugs instead of cartons and easily repurpose them as, for example, watering cans. Simply, and carefully, use a nail and a hammer to poke several holes in the lid. Go for the 2-litre jugs if you only have one or two indoor plants, and the 4-litre if you have more.

Mason Jars, Beer Bottles And Applesauce, Oh My!

Glass containers are brilliant as storage, in the kitchen or elsewhere why not use a jar as a toothbrush or writing utensil holder? Beer bottles or other narrow-necked containers become flower vases. Jars with tight screw lids and a narrowing neck, like applesauce jars, can become a travel-sized water or juice bottle. And all of these containers can be covered in fabric or paint, to make them functional and beautiful.

Broken Dresser? Don't Chuck The Drawers

So your dresser broke? That's okay. Drawers never go out of style. Use old ones as under-the-bed storage, or stack and secure them with the bottom against the wall for a DIY shelving unit. You can also fill them with soil and use them as planters in your garden or yard.

A New Take On Hand-Me-Down Clothes

Clothing is one of the most ubiquitous household items which is perfect, because it's also one of the most versatile. Cut up an old dress or collared shirt and, with a quick run through the sewing machine, you have a new baby dress or bib. If you use a scarf to wrap a present (for more info, look at "furoshiki" techniques), you're giving an extra gift to your friend, and the planet.

Use Up The Floss And Break A Dish

Next time you're travelling, finish up the floss first and use the container to store cash. This recycles the container and it disguises the money in case of burglars. And if you break a dish, don't worry you can smooth the edges of the broken pieces and use them as mosaic tiles, or a garden border, or jewelry.

It's simple. To start saving money, and the planet, use these easy ideas, or reach out to your local real estate agent for more tips and tricks on how to reuse old household items in funky, handy ways.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase Price

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase PriceIt can be a bit of a surprise if your home turns out to be valued at less than the purchase price offered, but this is the type of thing that can occur in an appraisal situation. While this can change everything from your contract to the amount of your down payment if your home has been appraised at less than you envisioned, here are some options you may want to consider.

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

If an appraisal contingency clause is built into the terms of your contract, this means that the terms of your contract can be re-evaluated and re-negotiated if an appraisal happens to come up short. While this is meant primarily to protect the homebuyer against a lower appraisal, it doesn't mean that the terms of a new deal can't be met for the good of both parties

Get A Second Appraisal

It's entirely possible that the initial appraisal is accurate, but it doesn't necessarily hurt to get a second opinion in the event that the first appraisal seems too low. While you can work in conjunction with your lender to get a second appraisal, you may need to pay for it the second time around in order to get your initial purchasing price. Whether it happens to be good news or bad news, it can be worth the peace of mind to know how to proceed.

Consider A Lower Price

It's less than ideal when your home is appraised for less than the purchase price, but this doesn't have to be a deal breaker when it comes to selling it. While you may be able to get away with a higher price for your home in a hot real estate market, if things have cooled off, this can be an important time to re-negotiate the deal you've got. If a potential buyer likes your home and has already made an offer, they may be happy to decide on new contract terms.

It can be quite disappointing if your home is appraised at a value that is less than the offer you've received, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have to put your home back on the market. Whether you and the potential buyer decide to re-negotiate or get a second opinion, there are options that can be beneficial for both parties. If you're currently going through the appraisal process, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

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

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

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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

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

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

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

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

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

It's A Good Time To Buy

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 17, 2016

Last week's economic news included reports on job openings, retail sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Job openings were lower in August after hitting an all-time high in July according to the federal government. Job openings fell to 5.44 million in August as compared to July's reading of 5.83 million job openings, Job openings reached 5.31 million in August of 2015. Job quits were unchanged in August with a reading of 3.0 million quits; the quits rate was 2.20 percent. There were 5.4 million hires in August as compared to 5.8 million hires in July. The hiring rate held steady at 3.60 percent.

Weekly jobless held steady from the prior week's reading of 246,000 new claims, although analysts expected a reading of 252,000 new claims. September retail sales increased by 0.60 percent in September and fell short of expectations of 0.70 percent growth. August's retail sales reading was negative at -0.20 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector were as expected with an increase of 0.50 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Sentiment Slips

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed rate mortgages. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.47 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was four basis points higher at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Consumer sentiment was lower in October with an index reading of 87.90 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 91.70 percent based on September's reading of 91.20 percent. November's presidential election was viewed by analysts as unsettling to consumers' feelings about current and expected economic conditions. The index reading for consumer sentiment for current economic conditions rose from 104.20 percent in September to 105.50 in October, but fell sharply for expected economic conditions to an index reading of 76.60. Analysts noted that consumers with lower incomes expressed less assurance about post-election economic conditions.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include the NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builders Market Index, Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. In addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, reports on consumer spending will also be released.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down PaymentAutumn is a popular time for new home buyers to start looking for their first house or condo. But with that down payment looming, everybody could use a bit of help saving up to make that bulk payment a little less intimidating.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to save up that may seem small, but will quickly add up and put a dent into that down payment.

Create A High Interest Savings Account

Talk to the bank about creating a secondary savings account with a higher interest rate. These super savings accounts usually come with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period of time. Using this account for the down payment works in everybody's favor because it guarantees those extra dollars cannot be used for any other purpose.

Discard One Guilty Pleasure

Enjoy Starbucks coffee? Grab a pint every happy hour? Choose one vice and put the amount that would be spent on it into a jar. Most people will be surprised on how much money they spend each month on one guilty pleasure that can easily be cut out of their life. Every perk that's cut will increase the amount by a decent margin.

Put Away Any Bonus Money

Holiday bonuses from work, tax refunds, birthday or Christmas presents, income from side gigs, any and all extra dollars that come in from any source outside of the main paycheck should be considered 'down payment dollars.' Sure it's tempting to use that nice bonus or tax refund on a weekend trip or a night out, but all extra income should be saved away for that initial down payment.

Bring On The Roommates

People who already own a home and are looking to relocate can take this unconventional approach. Decent housing is hard to find so anybody with an extra room can rent it out and put that money towards the new house. Having a roommate can be a pain, but it's for a limited time and can add up quickly.

While saving for a down payment can be stressful, you don't have to go through the process alone. Your local real estate professional will be able to guide you and provide some helpful tips for how to make that down payment without breaking the bank. These men and women have seen countless couples go through the same thing and their experience can make a world of difference.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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

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

Peppermint Oil And Cotton Balls

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

Dryer Sheets

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

Mousetrap! The Glass Bowl Version

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

Plug Those Holes!

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

And that's it! Keep an eye out, and call in help if it becomes too much to handle these steps are most effective for a small number of rodents. If you need more help, call your local real estate agent for advice and referrals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The 5 Secrets to Hosting an Open House That Leads to Multiple Offers

Open houses are a debatable topic with real estate agents. Some say they aren't necessary in the age of the internet when options can be narrowed online. Others argue that closing yourself off will limit the number of possible buyers.

What everybody agrees on is that hosting a successful open house is an art that requires some tricks to pull off. Here are five to try out.

Choose Wise Hours

Find out the most popular hours for open houses in the neighborhood and coordinate around those times. If most open houses end at 4 p.m. then consider ending an hour later at 5 p.m.

This extra hour will bring in house hunters who went the entire day without finding something they wanted as well as people who rushed through every other open house so they could see them all. If there are no other open houses then there's no reason to rush.

Embrace Technology

Most buyers, especially young ones, are starting their home search online. New apps and websites are launching every day and staying up to date on the newest real estate tech hangouts will allow a seller to hit the popular sites as well as advertise to tech-savvy buyers who are embracing new hotspots

Change Up The Signs

Not only should there be a lot of signage, but the signs should be tailored towards different demographics. Wealthier areas should be signed with tasteful and professional signs while some cute, handwritten signs will bring in the bargain hunters who are looking for something affordable.

De-Personalize Everything

Every buyer needs to be able to see him or herself living in the home. Anything controversial or personal will remind them of the people living there now and get in the way of their imagination running wild. Clean out anything political, controversial or family related before opening the doors

Learn From The Criticism An unsuccessful open house is an opportunity to remain open minded and discover exactly what pushed away a day's worth of potential buyers. Any criticism or feedback should be used to make changes before the next open house so that the same mistakes aren't repeated on a new group.

What works for one region may not work for another and only a real estate professional with experience in the area will know what tips have proven successful in your neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future Problems

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future ProblemsSolar-powered homes are becoming more commonplace, and are an excellent step in the right ecological direction. That said, there are some aspects to consider if you're thinking about investing in solar energy. Read on for some salient points about living by the sun.

The Sun And The Economy

As solar power has grown in popularity, the government has introduced incentives to help homeowners combat the once-high costs of purchasing and installing solar panels. And companies are springing up to rent you panels and cover the cost of installation. This means that your initial costs are smaller, but also that those third party companies reap the government incentives and may not always maintain strong relationships between you and your utility company.

The Sun And Your Roof

Roofs are the primary locations for solar panels, particularly on homes. Ensure that your roof has enough strength for the added weight of the equipment, and enough space for the proper placement (away from the edges, for example). The equipment comes with a lifetime guarantee so if the roof it's on is already old, consider updating it before installation (which is an extra but necessary cost).

The Sun And Your Surroundings

A solar-powered home is all about location, location, location. Watch for tall and shady trees, or for high buildings that will shadow your panels and decrease or prevent their output. Look forward, too are there any plans for development in your neighborhood that would introduce such impediments in the future?

The Sun And Cloudy Days

The most obvious hiccup with solar power is that bane of a sunny existence: cloudy days. Location has influence here too: the climate of your area will determine how many panels you'll need, where you'll need to place them and how much energy you'll be able to glean in each season. There are batteries you can purchase for collecting and storing solar energy but they're still an expensive option. And solar power is still somewhat unattractive in the global economy because of how variable it is. Fossil fuels are more dependable, and therefore more marketable, than an energy source so tied to the weather although that looks to change if solar energy continues its rise in popularity with the masses.

All things considered, there is a deep and growing draw to solar-powered homes, but don't enter into anything without looking at all sides of the equation. If you have questions, or want to know more about how solar energy works in your neighborhood, contact your local real estate agent.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 10, 2016

WhatsAhead101016Other than a release on construction spending, last week's economic readings were dominated by labor and employment data including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Drops in August

Commerce Department readings on construction spending indicate that overall spending fell in August to -0.70 percent; this reading was lower than the expected positive reading of 0.10 percent. July's reading showed a drop of 0.30 percent in overall construction spending. The decrease in August spending was largely the result of pull backs on public construction spending, which declined 2.0 percent after July's decline of 3.50 percent in July. Public construction spending is 8.80 percent year-over-year., and August's reading was the lowest since March 2014.

Private sector construction spending fell 0.30 percent in August. Residential construction fell by 0.20 percent within the private sector reading. Reasons for falling construction spending include impending winter weather and previously cited labor shortages. Shortages of available homes and high demand for homes are creating pressure on construction companies to build more homes.

Labor Reports: Job Growth Slows in Public and Private Sector

ADP reported 154,000 private sector jobs created in September against August's reading of 175,000 new private-sector jobs. September's reading showed the lowest growth rate since April. Analysts said that lower readings for job growth could be expected as job openings are filled.

According to the government's Non-Farm Payrolls report for September, 156,000 new jobs were added, which fell short of downwardly-revised expectations of 170,000 new jobs added. Analysts said that a reading of 120,000 jobs added represented a healthy rate of jobs growth. As more workers return to or join the workforce, job openings can be expected to decrease. Healthy growth in jobs may signal the Fed to increase interest rates in December.

National unemployment rose from 4.90 percent to 5.00 percent in September; variances can be expected in month-to-month readings that are considered more volatile than quarterly or annual readings.

New jobless claims correlated to fewer job openings and fell to a reading of 248,000 new claims 256,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week's reading of 254,000 new claims.

Mortgage Rates Nearly Unchanged

Average mortgage rates were unchanged with the expectation of a decrease of one basis point for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages to 2.80 percent. Average rates for 30 and 15 year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.42 percent and 2.72 percent Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports are few due to the Columbus Day holiday Monday. Along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, reports on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Planning to Get a Mortgage in 2017? 4 Reasons Why It's Time to Start Paying Down Other Debts Now

Getting a Mortgage in 2017? 4 Reasons Why It's Time to Start Paying Down Other Debts NowBuying a home is an ideal investment for many people because not only is it a place that belongs to them, it can also be very beneficial financially. While you may be strongly considering buying a home for these reasons, it's also important to be in good financial health so that your ideal home purchase is within reach. If you're currently perusing the market for prospects, here are some reasons you should pay down debt before taking the leap into home ownership.

Good Credit History

The amount of your debt load and whether or not you're paying off your minimum monthly payments has a considerable impact on your mortgage approval, so ensuring that you have good credit history going into the process is important. If you've had hiccups with your credit, make sure you go through your credit report prior to submitting your application to determine where you're at.

Lowering Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Whether or not you've heard the term, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) has a significant impact on how much house you can afford. Made up of the amount of your monthly debt payment and current house payment, your DTI should be below a certain percentage as this will enable you to afford a higher home payment each month.

Shifting Interest Rates

Getting a mortgage is one thing, but interest rates add more to the monthly amount you'll owe. A fixed-rate mortgage can seem like a good idea, but if interest rates are low you may end up paying more than you would on a variable rate, which can be hard to predict. As interest rates are a part of home ownership, having lower debt will enable you to deal with these additional costs.

Finding The Right Home

Putting your money into a home can be one of the best purchases you'll make, but if you're unable to afford the home you love, it can be a disappointing fact to face. While there are no assurances that paying down debt will enable you to afford your dream home, it can go a long way towards giving you more options that will fit your budget.

Buying a home can be a money saver in the long run, but if you're struggling to keep up with your debt payments buying into the market can be more of a burden than anything else. If you're currently paying down debt and considering a home purchase, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

S&P Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in July

Home price growth dipped slightly in July according to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. Year-over-year, home price growth dipped to 5.00 percent from June's reading of 5.10 percent. The Pacific Northwest led the nation in home price appreciation. Portland, Oregon had the highest year-over-year home price growth with a rate of 12.40 percent. Seattle, Washington posted year-over-year home price growth of 11.20 percent. Denver, Colorado was third with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 9.40 percent.

Home prices in San Francisco, California slowed; year-over-year, home prices grew by 6.00 percent in contrast to home price growth topping the 20-city index in recent months. Analysts observed that cooling home prices in San Francisco could represent the end of the area's housing bubble.

Year-over-year home price growth was lowest in New York, New York with a reading of 1.70 percent. Washington, D.C. posted a year-over-year reading of 2.00 percent; Cleveland, Ohio posted a year-over-year home price growth rate of 2.50 percent.

Month-to-Month Home Price Growth Provides Surprises

The largest month-to-month gains in home prices were posted by Portland, Oregon at 1.20 percent, Denver, Colorado with a reading of 0.90 percent and Detroit, Michigan with a July reading of 0.80 percent. While year-over-year home price growth readings are less volatile than month-to-month readings, signs of increasing home values in cities with depressed home price growth rates are a positive sign.

On the other hand, San Francisco, California posted a flat reading for month-to-month growth after recently topping year-over-year readings in the 20-City Home Price Index. With skyrocketing prices and limited inventories of available homes, it appears that San Francisco home prices may have reached their upward limit.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chair of the S&P Index Committee, said that July's readings indicate further improvement of the economy and housing markets. This progress could prove difficult to sustain as house prices continue to outpace wages and rising home prices continue to sideline first-time buyers. Slim supplies of homes for sale are creating higher-than-average demand for homes that fuels rapidly rising home prices. This further complicates home purchase options for home buyers who compete with investors and others who are able to meet or exceed asking prices and purchase homes with cash.

Home buyers requiring mortgages have been supported by relatively low mortgage rates, but strict mortgage credit standards continue to provide obstacles for credit-challenged buyers. Financial institutions continue to take a conservative stance on mortgage lending after sustaining severe losses and government ridicule in the wake of the Great Recession.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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

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

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

Keep The Traffic Flowing

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

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

Decide On A Focal Point

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

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

First Impressions Over Function

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bedroom Upgrades: How to Decide Between Hardwood and Carpet for Your Bedrooms

Bedroom Upgrades: How to Decide Between Hardwood and Carpet for Your BedroomsThe floor of your bedroom is important it's the first thing you touch in the morning, and the last before you go to sleep. Not to mention all the other life moments that go on in there. So take time to consider what you want your bedroom floor to be made of and read on for pros and cons of carpeting and hardwood floors.

The Noise Factor

One of the biggest elements to consider is how sound will carry. Carpet is a very quiet medium, perfect for those bedrooms on higher floors, or in houses that want to keep a quiet profile. Hardwood creaks, and all movements can be heard from walking to a child playing, even to the acoustics of a TV or laptop

Keeping It Clean

Carpets are hard to keep clean. Dirt, pollen, hair, food and other particles get ground into the fabric, especially if it's a high-traffic area, and it can be expensive to get them out. Hardwood is easy to tidy and even stains can be refinished without too much cost or effort. On the other hand, carpets need only be vacuumed weekly, whereas a hardwood floor should be swept every other day.

The Life Span Of Your Floor

With careful maintenance, carpets can last for many years but barring anything unforeseen, hardwood floors last forever. They also never go out of style, and offer their rooms a sense of prestige. Carpets need replacing and the patterns can't be changed with the ease that hardwood floors can be refinished or refurbished with area rugs.

The Cost Of It All

In initial costs, carpets are largely cheaper, although they cost more to maintain because they need to be replaced more often. Hardwood floors take a big initial payment, but because they are more durable the costs even out, in the end. Environmentally speaking, hardwood is often more sustainable (as long as it comes from an ecologically-sensitive company), but there are recycled options for carpeting too.

What Goes On In There

Consider what kind of life will be lived in the bedroom in question. Will it be a kid's room, where the padding of carpet might be safer? Is it meant for guests, where the beauty of hardwood could make a strong first impression? Does the occupant have allergies, so that hardwood (which doesn't gather allergens like carpet fabric) is a better choice?

Consider everything when making your decision. Remember, in the end, both hardwood and carpet have pros and cons. For a second opinion, or advice on what works in your neighborhood, talk to your local real estate agent.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 3, 2016

Last week's economic releases included reports on new and pending home sales, S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and regularly scheduled weekly reporting on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. Readings on consumer sentiment and confidence were also released.

New and Pending Home Sales Lower as Peak Sales Season Winds Down

August readings for new and pending home sales were lower than for July; analysts said that slim supplies of available homes and rising home prices contributed to slower home sales. Peak home sales typically occur during spring and summer. Homebuyers with school-aged children prefer to be settled into a new home when school starts in August and September.

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales achieved their second highest reading since the Great Recession. Although lower than July's reading, August sales of new homes reached 609,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected a reading of 600,000 new home sales based on July's reading of 659.000 new homes sold. August's reading was 20.60 percent higher year-over-year. High demand for homes appears to be kicking home builders into higher gear as they strive to ease slim inventories of available homes.

The impact of short inventories of available homes was reflected in August's reading for pending home sales. Home sales awaiting closing fell in August from July's reading of +1.20 percent in July to 2.40 percent in August. The National Association of Realtors® said that home sales are declining due to very limited inventories of available homes. Rapidly rising home prices and strict mortgage qualification requirements also contributed to slipping sales. After home buyers sign a purchase contract, they are at the mercy of changing mortgage rates their ability to qualify for a mortgage. Pending home sales supply an indication of future closings and mortgage loans.

According to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for July, home price growth dipped from June's seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10 percent to 5.00 percent. Slim inventories of homes for sale and high demand were again cited as primary reasons for slower home price growth. While demand is high, slim supplies of available homes can cause would-be buyers to postpone their home search until more homes are on the market.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell six basis points to 3.42 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.72 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 1.81 percent, which was one basis point lower than the previous week's reading Discount points were also lower and averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose last week to 254,000 claims, but new claims were lower than the expected reading of 259,000 new claims which was based on the prior week's reading of 251,000 new jobless claims. New jobless claims have stayed below 270,000 new claims for three months for the first time since 1973.

In prepared testimony before the Financial Services Committee, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen discussed problems facing two major banks and said the Fed's goal was managing its regulatory stance to support financial stability.

September's Consumer Confidence Index reading rose to 104.1, which exceeded analysts' estimated reading of 99.3 and August's reading of 101.1.

What's Next

Next week's scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and several labor-related releases including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rates. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are set for release as usual.