Monday, April 24, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 24, 2017

Last week's economic reports included NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The National Association of Realtors® released data on existing home sales; Freddie Mac released average mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Builder Sentiment Dips in April, but Remains Stron

The National Association of Home Builders reported that home builder sentiment dipped three points in April to an index reading of 78. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are positive about housing market conditions than not. Builders continued to cite concerns including shortages of labor and buildable lots and increasing materials costs.

Builder confidence in housing market conditions do not always reflect building activity. March housing starts were lower at 1.215 million starts on a year-over-year basis. February's reading was 1.303 million starts; the expected reading for April was 1.238 million starts. Readings for housing starts include single family homes of one to four units and multifamily complexes with five or more units. Single-family housing starts were 6.20 percent lower than in February at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 821,000 starts.

While housing starts were lower in March, more building permits were issued in March than in February. 1,260 million permits were issued in March on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to February's reading of 1.216 million building permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Existing Home Sales Up

Mortgage rates fell below three percent according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 4.08 percent to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis point from 3.34 percent to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points lower at 3.10 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage. Lower mortgage rates are good news for home buyers challenged by rapidly rising home prices based on high demand and low supplies of homes for sale.

Home buyers persisted in March despite higher home prices. Sales of pre-owned homes hit a 10 year high in March as 5.71 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. As compared to February's reading of 5.48 million pre-owned homes sold, analysts expected a reading of 5.65 million sales of pre-owned homes in March.

New Jobless Claims Rise

First-time jobless claims were higher last week with a reading of 244,000 new claims as compared to the prior week's reading of 234,000 new jobless claims. Week-to-week readings for new jobless claims tend to be volatile, but last week's reading remained well below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed.

What's Ahead

This week's economic news includes readings on new and pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, along with weekly reports on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Your Debt-To-Income Ratio and How It Affects Your Mortgage


Your Debt-To-Income Ratio and How It Affects Your MortgageWhen you're delving into the market in the hopes of finding your dream home, it's likely you'll come across the term debt-to-income ratio. This may not seem important at first, but your DTI is the key to determining the amount of money you can put into your home and just how much you should spend on a monthly basis. If you're curious about what this means for you, here's how to calculate it and how it can impact your mortgage.

What's Your DTI Ratio?

One of the best ways to determine whether or not a home is affordable for you is to first calculate your DTI ratio. To get this amount, add up all of your monthly payments including any credit card, loan and mortgage payments, and divide this amount by your gross monthly income. The amount you get is your DTI percentage and this will help to determine how much your monthly payment should be.

What Does Your DTI Mean?

Your DTI percentage helps to determine the amount of house you can afford on a monthly basis, and this is why it can be such a good way to help you find the right home. While a DTI of 25% or less is ideal, a DTI that rises above 43% may be hard to get financing for since there will be little room for error. When it comes to a higher debt load, approval may come down to what your credit history says about your financial health.

The Amount Of Home You Can Afford

It's easy to be convinced that your dream home is for you, and worth the splurge, but investing in too much home on a consistent basis can lead to future financial difficulties. If you're set on a home that has a high monthly payment, you may want to hold off until you've saved a larger down payment or revamp your budget so that you can make the investment work for you. It may also be worth continuing the housing search so that you have more flexibility to invest in education, travel or other things down the road.

Your DTI ratio may be unfamiliar now, but this can be a great save when it comes to determining how much home you can afford and what will stretch your limits.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Young Is 'Too Young' to Buy Your First Home? Getting Started Early Has Its Ups and Downs


How Young Is 'Too Young' to Buy Your First Home? Getting Started Early Has Its Ups and DownsMany millennials are expected to enter the housing market in the next year with the interest rates still low. However, while it may be a good time, it does not necessarily mean that it's the right time for you to make the investment. If you're currently weighing your options when it comes to home ownership, here are some things to consider before you decide put the money down.

Are You Struggling With Student Debt

It's possible to invest in a home when you're still paying down student debt, but if you're also struggling with a low-paying job and a high debt load, it may not be the right time to buy. Instead of trying to make ends meet to pay a monthly mortgage payment, it might be a better decision to pay off some of your debt, lower your interest costs and consider investing later on. This will also enable you to afford more home when you decide the time is right to buy.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

It can be a good testament to your financial ability if you want to purchase a home at a young age, but having a down payment is one of the most important things to have on hand when it comes to investing. If you've come up with 20% of the purchase price, this will allow you to avoid mortgage loan insurance. If you don't have this amount, however, or much of anything saved up, you may want to create a budget in order to save up for your down payment.

Are Your Ready To Commit?

Many people romanticize the idea of buying a home since it's something that really belongs to them, but it's important to be prepared for the monthly mortgage payments, home maintenance and all the other fees and responsibilities associated with home ownership. It's great if you want to invest, but if you want to travel or explore different job opportunities or even continue your education, an investment commitment may not be the best choice.

It can be a great financial benefit for your future to invest in a home at a young age, but it's important to ensure you're ready for the commitment by having your debt paid down and having money saved. If you're currently getting prepared to invest in a home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips in April


According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for April, Builder Confidence dropped three points to an index reading of 68 in April. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder confidence, home builders said that they continue to face obstacles including higher costs for materials and elevated costs associated with regulatory issues. Builders have repeatedly cited concerns including a lack of buildable lots and labor shortages in past months.

Home Builder Component Readings Fall But Remain in Positive Territory

Component readings of the Housing Market Index include builder confidence in current market conditions for newly built homes, which dropped three points to 73. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to 75. Home builder confidence in buyer traffic volume for new housing developments dropped one point to an April reading of 52.

Regional Readings for Builder Sentiment Vary

Regional readings for April were included in the three-month rolling average in four U.S. regions. Builder confidence in the Northeastern region fell by two points to 46; The Midwestern region added one point for a builder confidence reading of 68, while the Southern region's reading was unchanged at 68. The Western region added one point for a three-month reading of 77.

Housing industry groups and analysts watch the NAHB Housing Market Index for indications of future volume in housing starts, but builder confidence and housing starts are not always closely connected. The Commerce Department will release readings for March housing starts and building permits issued on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Going Tankless: The Pros and Cons of Installing an Energy-efficient Tankless Water Heater


Going Tankless: The Pros and Cons of Installing an Energy-efficient Tankless Water HeaterThere are so many ways in which you can green up your home and make it more sustainable these days that many people are considering tankless water heaters. While this can certainly be the right option depending on the space you have and the type of water you use, here are some things to consider before you decide to invest in the switch.

Maximizing Your Space

One of the biggest issues with a traditional water heater is the amount of space it takes up, whether it's a side closet or a closed-off area in the basement. Fortunately, one of the benefits of tankless water heaters is that they can be wall-mounted almost anywhere in your house so they won't need their own separate space. The traditional water heater may be bulky and require an area of its own, but your tankless water heater will not have to work around the needs of the rest of the house!

Heating What's Needed

While a traditional water heater stores water and will be able to supply hot water at a quicker rate, a tankless water heater works more slowly. Because it is heating the water as it's being used, it's only using the energy it needs to in order to provide the water required. While this will have a positive impact on your energy costs over time, it can also mean waiting on hot water a little longer than expected. In order to go tankless, you'll require a minimum water flow amount.

Do You Have Hard Water?

A tankless water heater can be more efficient when it comes to space and energy, but if you have an issue with hard water, the tankless option may not be the way to go. Because a tankless heater essentially warms water within the tank, it is vulnerable to scale build up, which can cut into its overall efficiency. While a traditional water heater does not experience this issue, a tankless water heater working with hard water may end up being less useful due to this build up.

There are a number of benefits associated with a tankless water heater, but it's important to determine if this option will be truly energy efficient for you before you decide to invest. If you're currently working on home renovations and are getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 17, 2017


Last week's economic releases included readings on inflation, core inflation, new jobless claims, and mortgage rates. Consumer sentiment for April was also released.

Inflation Rate Dips in April

Consumer Price Index readings for April indicated that inflation decreased from 0.10 percent growth in March to a negative reading of -0.30 percent reading in April. The Core Consumer Price Index, which does not include volatile food and energy readings, also dipped in April to -0.10 percent from the March reading of +0.20 percent. While negative readings for month=to-month inflation suggests sluggish economic conditions, month-to-month readings can be volatile.

It's possible that sluggish inflation readings could cause the Fed to postpone further interest rate increases. Lenders typically raise consumer interest rates when the Fed raises its target federal funds rate.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.08 percent a reading two basis points lower than for the previous week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 3.34 percent; rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to an average of 3.18 percent Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Last week's mortgage rates were the lowest seen so far in 2017.

Fewer new jobless claims were filed last week with 234,000 new claims filed as compared expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and the previous week's reading of 235, new claims filed.

Consumer sentiment rose in April to an index reading of 98.0. Analysts expected a reading of 96.0 based on the March reading of 96.9. The University of Michigan said that most consumers are upbeat about current economic conditions.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings for average mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Four Ways a Real Estate Agent Can Help Your Home Sell for More Than Your Asking Price

Four Ways a Real Estate Agent Can Help Ensure Your Home Sells for More Than Your Asking PriceMost home sellers are thrilled to get the asking price they're looking for when putting their home up for sale, but many have not thought about the possibility of getting even more! If you're wondering what tricks of the trade your agent can use when it comes to getting a higher offer, you may want to have them test out some of the following tips.

Price It A Little Lower

It's generally said that you should price your home at market value so it will not linger on the market, but by having your real estate agent price it slightly lower you may be able to get a lot more people through the door. Instead of lowering the price of your home, this can actually work to stimulate a bidding war for those who see the value in your home and are willing to pay more.

Hold Off For The Right Offer

The benefit of using a real estate agent is that they know the market and will be able to determine what amount the offer on your home should be, so make sure you consult with them before saying yes. It's easy to be tempted by the first good offer that's close to your asking price, but it's often worth it to hold out for the amount you really want.

Sell In The Springtime

It's possible to get a good price for your home at any time of the year, but Spring is the time that homebuyers like to hit the market and this means that you may have a lot more interested parties to choose from. Instead of waiting for buyers to come to you, put your home on the market when there will be a lot of people ready to invest.

Make It Unique

Whether you've recently made some renovations or your home has a number of unique features, ensure that these details are being properly promoted in your marketing material and at your open house. Not only can these features add a lot of value to your home, they can make potential homebuyers remember it so they'll be willing to negotiate.

Most home sellers put their home on the market with the hope of getting a certain amount, but by highlighting unique features and holding out for a better offer you can get more than you asked for. If you're currently on the market for a home, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let's Talk Fencing: How to Put a Fence Around Your Home Without Destroying Its Appeal

Let's Talk Fencing: How to Put a Fence Around Your Home Without Destroying Its AppealMany homeowners consider a fence around their property for a variety of reasons, whether it's to keep the dog in the yard or to maintain privacy. However, the wrong fence can entirely change the look of your property and make a beautiful yard a bit of an eyesore. If you're trying to determine what kind of fence will work for your home, here are some tips before you start to dig in the dirt.

What's Your Fence For?

Before deciding what kind of material to use, it's important to know what type of utility you want for your fence. While a stone fence may be elegant and offer a lot of privacy, it can also be quite expensive; on the other hand, a wooden fence may be more affordable but it can deteriorate over time. It's entirely possible you have a material you've already decided upon, but ensure that it's something that will live up to your expectations and have the functionality you're looking for.

What's Your Home's Style?

An imposing stone fence may be the style that instantly draws you, but if you have a relatively unassuming home or a more whimsical style, it can be a bit much for what your home. Instead of basing your fence purchase around the budget you can afford and the style you like, ensure that it will complement the style of your home and the yards surrounding yours so there is no marked contrast between your fence and the rest of your property.

What's The Neighborhood Vibe?

Most neighborhoods have a distinct style, so in order to get some ideas for what type of fence will work with your property, take a look around your local area. There will likely be homes that look similar to yours and they may be able to give you a good idea of what options you have when it comes to fencing. You'll also want to take note of how particular fences look around the gardens and patios of other homes, as these are features you won't want to obscure.

There are many fences available on the market that serve every purpose, but it's important to be aware of what will work for your property so you can make a good aesthetic decision. If you're currently renovating your home and are looking to put it up for sale, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Buying a Home With a Mortgage? Here's What You Can Expect at Your Closing Meeting


Buying a Home With a Mortgage? Here's What You Can Expect at Your Closing MeetingIf you've decided to invest and have finally found your ideal home, it's probably an exciting time for you and your family. But before the deal is sealed, there will be a closing meeting so that all of the loose ends can be tied up. If you want to be ready for closing and are curious what the final meeting will entail, here are a few things to be prepared for.

The Last Walk Through

The initial home inspection may have already occurred prior to your closing meeting, but a final walk through should also be granted in the event that anything has happened to the house since it occurred. If problems have been made note of and a price or repair has been negotiated, you won't need to worry, but the final walk through is a good opportunity to cover off any additional maintenance issues.

Discussion Of The Details

It's a good idea to bring any paperwork you have regarding your mortgage along to the closing meeting as this will enable you to follow up on any outstanding questions and go through the specifics of the home sale. In all likelihood, you'll be going through items like the closing costs, escrow payments, the settlement costs related to the home sale and the deed of trust to secure your mortgage, so ensure you understand all of the documents and are prepared to sign on the dotted line.

All The Appropriate Parties

You may expect the closing meeting to be rather informal after the offer has been accepted, but there are many parties that will be present in order to transfer the ownership of your new home. In addition to the home seller, yourself and your respective real estate agents, there will also be any attorneys present, a closing agent, and the lender. While it can be overwhelming to have so many people present, it is generally a formality so that the proceedings can take place without a hitch.

If you've determined that the home you've made an offer on is right for you, the closing meeting will likely be a seamless experience. However, it's important to ensure you've done your final walk through and looked over all the applicable documents to avoid any issues related to the purchase of your home.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Selling Your Home? Understanding Why a Buyer Might Withdraw -- and How to Win Them Back


Selling Your Home? Understanding Why a Buyer Might Withdraw -- and How to Win Them BackIt may seem like the hard part is over once you've received a few offers on your home and are preparing for the negotiation process. Unfortunately, anything can happen until the papers and signed and this means that potential homebuyers can back out. If you're dealing with a wavering bidder and are wondering how you can win them back, here are some reasons they might withdraw and how you may be able to win them over.

The Price Is Too High

It's possible that when it comes to negotiating, many interested parties will offer to put down a little more than they otherwise would have; however, when it comes to sealing the deal, they may realize the price is a little higher than what they wanted to spend. Instead of letting the negotiations fall through, consider lowering your price slightly to give the potential homebuyer a hook. You don't have to lower your price by a significant margin, but it will let them know that you're still interested in selling to them.

An Unresponsive Negotiation

The power may be in your hands when someone is interested in your home, but it's still very important to stay responsive so that you can ensure a potential homebuyer won't lose interest. If you may have rubbed someone the wrong way with a slow response time, ensure that you reach out and keep them aware of the process and your timeline. It may seem like a small gesture, but it means a lot to someone who is interested in your home and may be working under a time crunch.

Still Not Convinced?

There are a variety of reasons that a homebuyer may withdraw from negotiations, whether it's the neighborhood or too much home or they've found a better deal. But, if you're really interested in the offer you've received, you may want to consider offering a little extra in order to win them back. Whether you decide to pay their closing costs or provide a closer move-in date, there are plenty of little things you can do that will make them re-consider their options.

There are many reasons that a buyer might withdraw their offer on your home, but by being communicative and offering some extras you may be able to re-negotiate a deal. If you're currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 10, 2017

Last week's economic data included releases on construction spending and labor-related reports including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls, national unemployment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Increases in February

February construction spending grew by 0.80 percent from January's reading of -0.50 percent. Analysts expected a reading of + 1.00 percent. Housing industry pros and analysts continue monitoring construction spending for indications of future construction projects. Construction spending was boosted by unseasonably warm weather in regions typically subject to cold winter climates.

U.S. homes are in high demand despite rapidly rising home prices due to short supplies of available homes; industry leaders contend that building more homes is the only remedy for the imbalance between would-be home buyers and low inventories of homes for sale. Home builders repeatedly cite shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor as obstacles to building more homes.

Job Growth Dips as New Jobless Claims and Unemployment Rate Falls

ADP reported that 263,000 private-sector jobs were created in March as compared to revised readings of 245,000 jobs created in February and expectations of 170,000 jobs created in March Private-sector employers were encouraged by potential reductions in taxes, regulations, infrastructure and improvements.

Non-farm payrolls dropped significantly in March; the Commerce Department reported only 98,000 new public and private sector jobs added in March as compared to expectations of 185,000 jobs added and 219,000 public and private-sector jobs added in February. Economists said that rapid growth of jobs seen in the last few years was not sustainable and cited severe reductions in retail jobs as contributing to the drop in the Non-farm payrolls reading for March. The steep drop in job creation could cause the Federal Reserve to hold off on raising the federal funds rate in June, but this is far from certain depending on economic readings for April and May.

National unemployment fell to 4.50 percent in March against expectations of 4.70 percent and February's reading of 4.70 percent.

New jobless claims fell to 234,000 claims as compared to expectations of 251,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 259,000 claims. Lower initial jobless claims despite the steep drop in job growth suggests that workers are leaving the workforce and are ineligible to file new claims or that the drop in jobs growth was a "correction" and future jobs growth reports may not show such sharp adjustments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Rates for fixed-rate mortgages were lower last week. Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell; the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.20 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgaged dropped three basis points to 3.36 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked up by one basis point to an average of 3.19 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Expecting a Newborn? Baby-proof Your Home With This Quick and Easy Checklist


Expecting a Newborn? Baby-proof Your Home With This Quick and Easy ChecklistIt's a very exciting time for most parents when their kids begin to crawl, but it can also be much more difficult to watch over your child and ensure their safety. If your child is starting to get along on their own and you're preparing to baby proof, here are the main areas and items you'll want to watch out for.

Clearing Away The Crib

There's no place your child is going to spend more time, so ensure that there are no toys left in their crib when they're going to sleep. You'll also want to stay away from fluffy blankets that can smother their breathing. It's entirely likely that you'll have a lot of stuff to store for your baby, but ensure there are no heavy pieces of furniture in the room that they will be able to pull over or move.

In The Bathroom

It goes without saying that you should never leave a baby in the bathtub alone, but there are other things to do as soon as they become mobile. In addition to non-slip mats for the tub and the area outside of the tub, you may also want to invest in soft covers for the knobs and the spout on the bathtub. It's also good to keep any hazardous cleaning products out of reach.

Care In The Kitchen

Your baby is likely to wreak havoc on all of the door handles they can, so ensure that you have cabinets that don't close automatically and a latch for your oven door. If you happen to be cooking in the kitchen when your baby is about, ensure that all pot handles are turned in and all cooking items are kept away from the edges of the counter.

Around The House

Your quickly crawling child will be able to find many hazards if they move fast, so ensure you've covered up any electrical outlets or cords that can be pulled out. If there are sharp edges your infant can reach, put safety guards on them to protect your baby's head. Safety gates should also be used at the top and bottom of stairs to avoid any falls.

Most parents get pretty enthusiastic about the idea of their baby starting to crawl, but it's important to be prepared for that time by baby proofing your home. If you're currently getting ready to buy a home for your growing family, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pamper Your Pet With These Five Awesome Pet-friendly Home Upgrades

Pamper Your Pet With These Five Awesome Pet-friendly Home UpgradesThe best addition to many a family is the beloved pet, but beyond the regular treats and pillows, there are plenty of ways to spoil your pet and let them know how much you love them. If you're looking for some neat concepts for your favorite pooch, here are some unique ideas you may want to try out.

A Relaxing, Personal Place

Many animals will gravitate towards your new couch, but by giving them their own special spot, you can make them happy and keep your living room looking great at the same time. Instead of a second-hand pillow, buy them their very own bed for their very own corner of the house so they can feel right at home

Make It Organized

It's quite likely that your pet will not be cleaning up after themselves, but by creating a bookshelf or cabinet for all of their toys and treats, you can be sure they'll be right at home. It's not only good for organization, it will be easy to find everything if it's all in one place.

Install A Pet Door

Most pets long for the freedom of the outdoors, so a pet door can be one of the best investments in the happiness of your pet. While it may not necessarily appeal to potential homebuyers who are pet-free, it may be an added benefit for those who think of their four-legged friends first.

A Doggie Dream Home

The expression "in the doghouse" may have a negative connotation, but your dog's backyard home doesn't have to be dreadful. Instead of something subpar, build your own doghouse from scratch and paint it in bright colors so that it can be popular with your dog and aesthetically appealing too!

A Canine Course

There are few things a dog likes to do more than run, so instead of leaving them out in the backyard on their lonesome, build them their very own doggy course. Whether you want to add in a small slide, a slippery surface or a hoop for jumping, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog active, even in the backyard.

There's no doubt that your pet is one of the happiest members of the family, but there are things you can do to make your four-legged friend even more content. If you're currently doing some upgrades and preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trim Your Mortgage Closing Costs by Following This Easy 3 Step Guide

Trim Your Mortgage Closing Costs by Following This Easy 3 Step GuideYou may be so busy with determining your debt-to-income ratio and deciding what kind of offer to make that closing costs have gotten lost in the mix, but it's important to remember that finalizing your mortgage will cost you extra. While there's no way to get around paying money to solidify your mortgage, there are a few steps you can take in order to make it more economical for you.

Shop Around For A Lender

Many people go with the lender that is offered to them, but it's a good idea to do the research so you can find the deal that's right for you. Instead of sticking with one option, look into the closing costs for a handful of well-reviewed lenders that have been on the market for at least a few years. While it takes more than a list of fees to make the right decision, it will give you a good sense of the true cost of your mortgage and can help you make a more informed choice.

Be Prepared To Negotiate

There are people who are comfortable with negotiation and those who are not, but if you want a better deal it's worth discussing it with your lender. While there are a number of third-party fees that are non-negotiable, many of the fees that lenders charge can be so you'll want to get a list of what they charge and what they might be willing to budge on. It's unlikely you'll get everything you ask for, but it doesn't hurt to ask in the event that it leads to substantial savings.

Review Your Loan Estimate

You have the ability to call off your mortgage at any time up until you've signed on the dotted line, so ensure you've read through the paperwork and understand your closing costs clearly. If there's anything you're uncertain about or any cost you weren't made aware of, it's imperative to address it with the lender before signing. This will be the last chance you'll have to negotiate and go over everything so the lender may be a little more flexible on any final hesitation.

There are a number of costs associated with home ownership, but it's important not to forget about the final closing costs as these can greatly impact the total cost of your home. If you're currently getting prepared to purchase a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's Tax Time: Learn How Buying a New Home Can Help to Reduce Your Tax Burden


It's Tax Time: Learn How Buying a New Home Can Help to Reduce Your Tax BurdenMost people do not look forward to tax time, whether they get money back or not, but as a homeowner there are a lot of things you can do that will help to reduce your taxes and get you a refund. If you're getting prepared to invest in a home and are wondering how it can benefit you, here are some deductions you'll want to watch out for.

Minimizing Mortgage Interest

One of the best benefits of having a home is that you can actually deduct mortgage interest at tax time and save considerable money as a result. While the amount you receive will depend on your interest rates and the type of loan you have, this can make a significant dent in the amount of your monthly payment when all's said and done.

Deducting Property Tax

Property tax is another fee that comes along with home ownership, and it can be a rather debilitating amount depending on where you live. While you have the ability to deduct this amount on your primary residence, you also have the option of doing this if you happen to own a vacation home. This is not only a benefit for money savings, but can be a boon for future home investment too.

Capital Gains Credit

Many people stay in a home for a few years and then invest in something larger, and the Capital Gains Exclusion is a great way to take advantage of tax-free profits on your home. While you'll have to live in the primary residence for at least two years to take advantage of this deduction, you will not have to pay any capital gains tax up to a certain amount.

Line Of Credit Reduction

If you happen to have either a line of credit or a home equity loan, you can also deduct the interest off the amount paid for a refund on your taxes. In addition to the lower rates provided by these loans, you can also save on interest when tax time comes around, making it a considerable benefit.

Most people do not look forward to doing their taxes, but if you're a new homeowner you may not be aware that there are many financial benefits associated with buying a home. If you're currently considering home ownership and are wondering about other ways it can benefit you, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, April 3, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 3, 2017

Last week's economic news included Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, pending home sales, and consumer confidence readings. Weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Higher in January According to Case-Shiller reports released last Tuesday, average home prices increased in January. The national average home price rose 0.20 percent from December to January; year over year, home prices grew by 5.90 percent. Home prices were 0.90 percent higher on a month-to-month basis when seasonally adjusted. The West continued to dominate home price growth. Seattle, Washington reported 11.20 percent growth in home prices year-over-year. Portland, Oregon reported year-over-year home price growth of 9.70 percent and Denver, Colorado reported that home prices grew by 9.20 percent year-over-year.

San Francisco, which posted double-digit home price growth in recent months, posted year-over-year home price growth of 6.20 percent. Home prices declined 0.40 percent month-to-month. While short supplies of homes for sale continued to drive up home prices, slower home price growth rates in San Francisco, California posted fell by 0.40 percent month to month and were 6.30 percent higher year-over-year. San Francisco posted double-digit year-over-year growth in recent months; slower home price growth over a period of months could signal a cooling of red-hot home prices in high-demand markets.

The three cities with lowest home price growth rates were Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, DC, where home prices rose 3.90 percent year-over-year. New-York City posted a year-over-year gain of 3.20 percent.

Pending Home Sales Rebound in February, Mortgage Rates Drop

The National Association of Realtors® said that pending home sales reached their second highest reading in ten years. Pending home sales rose 5.50 percent in February as compared to January's negative reading of -2.80 percent. The Pending Home Sales Index rose to 112.30 in February as compared to January's reading of 106.40. Unseasonably warm weather, home buyers rushing to buy before mortgage rates and home prices go higher. Improved jobs markets and few layoffs were also seen as boosting consumer confidence in buying homes.

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis points to 4.14 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.18 points. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Lower mortgage rates could help first-time buyers who've been sidelined due to rapidly increasing home prices and mortgage rates.

In other news, new jobless claims were lower than last were with 258,000 new claims filed as compared to last week's reading of 261,000 new jobless claims. Analysts expected a reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Spring holidays and school vacations can create additional volatility in week-to-week first-time jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment index readings for March increased to 96.90 against expectations of a 97.60 index reading. February's index reading for consumer sentiment was 96.30

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your Home

Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your HomeThe spring season may be a time of cherry blossoms and longer days, but it's also common for allergies to ramp up. While you won't be able to stop the season, there are things you can do to limit the impact of allergies in your home. If you're wondering what has the greatest impact on your sinus health in the home, here are a few places you'll want to check out.

Have You Looked Under The Bed?

Many diligent housecleaners will do a sweep under the bed each time, but for those of us who want to avoid pulling everything out, this area can be a very dusty spot. Next time you clean the house, take the time to remove everything out from under the bed that's been collecting dust, whether there are old boxes, shoes or things you've forgotten about. Dust everything off, vacuum the area underneath and you'll be well on your way to a cleaner air space.

Do You Like The Retro Rug?

Most vintage looks come back for business, and the shag rug is no exception; however, this style of carpet captures a lot of dust and can greatly impact your sinus health. If this is your favorite style of carpet, you'll want to ensure you vacuum it frequently to pull out all of the dust. In the future, you may also want to opt for a different style of floor covering, as something lightweight and durable will be a better option when it comes to cleaning and taking care of yourself.

Blame It On The Bookshelf

There are few things that will collect dust like a bookshelf lined with old books. Unfortunately, bookshelves and books can be one of the most rarely dusted areas in the house since it's a more time consuming task to pull out each book and wipe down the shelves. If you don't want to downsize, you may want to take a damp cloth to your bookshelf every time you clean to give it a once over. Ensure you clean it more carefully at the end of each month to avoid dust buildup.

There are a lot of areas where dust can accumulate in the home and make allergies worse, but by checking under the bed and dusting the books you can avoid its worst ills. If you're cleaning up to sell your home, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Selling an Apartment or Condo? How to Use Snapchat to Target First-time Buyers

Selling an Apartment or Condo? How to Use Snapchat to Target First-time BuyersThere are plenty of ways to market your home online, but social media has become one of the best ways to catch the attention of interested homebuyers in the past few years. If you're currently determining a marketing strategy for your home and are wondering about social media, here are a few ways you can use Snapchat and see your chances for selling increase in an instant.

Focus On The Details

Since Snapchat is all about striking, quick pictures that appear and disappear before your eyes, it's a great way to highlight the best features of your home so you can pique the interest of a homebuyer. Whether you decide to take a snap of your unique bathroom tile, the expanse of your backyard or your stainless-steel appliances, the instant visual can give interested parties the impetus they need to show up at your open house or stop by for a more in-depth look.

Create Your Own Geofilter

Many users of Snapchat like to use geofilters, which are an illustration or overlay that appears on top of the picture to give the viewer a sense of where they are. In the case that you're trying to sell your home, you can enlist the help of your agent to create your own geofilter with your home's address or neighborhood. A geofilter will not only add a touch of uniqueness to your picture, it will allow potential homebuyers to determine if your neighborhood and home are what they're looking for.

Deal With An Experienced Agent

It's entirely possible that you already have your own Snapchat account and many followers, but if you don't, it's best to enlist the services of a seasoned real estate agent who will be able to use their network to attract interested buyers. The only people who will be able to see your snaps in the event that you're selling your home will be users linked to your account, so having a real estate agent who can leverage their connections makes it much easier to sell your home to the world.

Social media is a great marketing tool when it comes to putting your home up for sale and attracting buyers, but it's important to have a following and engage the viewer with the right details. If you're getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home Renovations

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home RenovationsThere's a burden that comes along with having to do your taxes every spring, but it can actually be a great benefit if you're getting a sizable refund this year. While many people like the idea of going on a trip or spending the extra funds, here's why you may want to consider investing it back into your home for a profit you'll be able to see!

It's Free Money

Many people will argue that your tax refund is money that's already owed to you and is part of your income, but it still tends to feel like a bonus since most don't work their taxes into their budget. While you may have your eye on something you've really wanted to buy of late, you may want to consider investing it into your home instead. This can be a simple way of reaping the benefits of a renovation without having to move money around in your monthly budget.

Bumping Up Your Home's Value

Renovations often come with a very high price tag, but you can see the benefits of renovating by using just a portion of your tax return. Instead of spending the whole amount on renovations that will not increase your home's value, consider things like an appliance upgrade, a new paint job or resurfacing your kitchen cabinets for changes that will financially benefit you down the road. You may also want to invest in some energy efficient fixes as these will likely draw in the environmentally friendly buyer.

Spring Is Selling Time

Many people put off renovations due to the cost involved, but spring is the optimal time to put your home on the market, which means a sizable return can instantly benefit you. Instead of weighing your options and waiting until the busy real estate season is over, invest in some relatively quick fixes that will upgrade the look of your home. By getting these things done before the spring is over, you may have a much better chance at selling success at the price you're looking for.

There are very few people that look forward to tax time, but getting a sizable return can be a good reason to do some renovations and put your home on the market for the spring. If you're currently getting prepared to put your home up for sale, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key Tips

Going on a Nice Vacation? Protect Your Home and Valuables With These 3 Key TipsIt's always exciting to pack up and get away from your home for the sake of escape, but going on vacation also means leaving your home behind. While a good neighborhood can go a long way towards making sure your home stays safe in your absence, here are some additional tips for how to ensure you'll be coming back from your trip without incident.

Take Care Of Your Property

Thieves will often assume that an unkempt yard and home maintenance issues are a sign of a homeowner that doesn't care, and this will often attract them to a property. Instead of giving potential trespassers the wrong idea, ensure that your yard is well kept in your absence with no overgrown bushes, maintenance issues or items left out. It's also important to make sure that no newspaper or mail is piling up at the door, as this can be a surefire signal to thieves that you're away.

Talk To Your Neighbors

There's no way even the best neighbors will be able to observe everything that may happen with your home, but having ones who will stop by and make sure things are OK is ideal. Whether your neighbors need to feed the cat or water the plants, have them check for any unlocked windows or other signs that something is afoot. One of the best guards against theft is a neighborhood watch program, so by utilizing this defense you can easily ensure the safety of your home when you're out of town.

Invest In A Security System

Few things will provide the peace of mind that a security system does, so if you haven't already invested in one, it might be time to start doing the research. There are many great options for security nowadays that are technologically advanced and will keep your mind at ease. There are even options for viewing your home that will enable you to check it on your mobile phone, and this can be a great means of keeping your house safe even from a distance!

Leaving your home behind to go on vacation can be nerve-wracking for the new homeowner, but by keeping your property maintained and enlisting your neighbors to check on it you can keep it safe and secure. If you'll be preparing to buy a new home in the future, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 27, 2017

Last week's economic news included releases on new and pre-owned home sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Pre-owned Home Sales Fall, Due to Dwindling Inventory

5.48 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 5.45 million sales based on January's reading of 5.69 million sales. Lagging supplies of listed homes continue to cause home prices to rise as buyers compete for fewer available homes. First time buyers represented only 32 percent of sales as compared to the normal reading of 40 percent. First-buyers represent new demand for homes and they are important to sales of existing homes that allow current homeowners to move up to larger homes.

The available supply of pre-owned homes was 6.40 percent lower in February than for February 2016. Real estate pros reported that as of February 2017. There was a 3.80 months' supply of available homes as compared to the normal range of six-month supply.

Regional Results for Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales declined in three out of four regions tracked by the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of previously owned homes fell by 13.80 percent in the Northeastern region; the Midwestern region posted a 7.00 percent decline in sales. The Western region reported a 3.20 percent decrease in sales. The Southern region posted a 1.30 percent increase in existing home sales.

Sales of new homes rose in February; 592,000 homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 571,000 sales and 558,000 new home sales in January. Sales were 6.1 percent higher than for January and were 12.80 percent higher year-over-year. February's reading was the highest in seven months

Analysts said that the national median price of a new home was $296,000 in February, this was 3.90 percent lower than January's reading and 4.90 percent lower year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.4 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent on average. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 0.40 percent. Lower mortgage rates stood in contrast to the Fed's decision to raise the federal funds rate last week.

New jobless claims jumped last week with a reading of 258,000 new claims as compared to the prior week's reading of 243,000 new claims and expectations of 240,000 new claims. While week-to-week readings for jobless claims are notoriously volatile, the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was higher by 5000 new claims at 246,000 new claims.

What's Ahead

This week's economic news includes Case-Shiller Housing Market Index and pending home sales. Also scheduled are readings on inflation and consumer confidence.  Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New Home

Student Loans vs. Down Payments: 3 Ways You Can Manage Both and Buy a New HomeThe idea of paying off your student loans and buying a home at the same time can seem like an impossible feat given the impact on your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio. However, there are ways it's possible to have enough funds and good enough credit to make your dream of home ownership come true a little more quickly. If you're currently considering how to manage both, here are some options you might want to consider.

Decrease Your Debt

Lenders will be looking at your DTI ratio in order to determine whether or not you're a solid financial bet, so before throwing yourself into the market, it can be a good idea to minimize your debt load. While this doesn't mean paying off all of your student loans, try putting more down over a period of a few months so you have additional wiggle room. By making a budget plan that you can stick to, you'll slowly eat away at the principal and have a little more room to invest when the time comes

Add Another Income

You're probably working pretty hard in your post-student life to make ends meet and pay off debt, but one of the best ways to pay off two loans is to bump up your income. Whether you decide to find something part-time on the weekend or hone one of your skills for freelance profit, a little bit of extra money each month can make a huge dent in the amount you owe in no time at all.

Consider A Starter Home

It's entirely possible that you've got your eye on your ideal home, but if you're dealing with student debt there's a pretty good chance that the monthly payment will be unattainable. Instead of choosing a home that's out of your league, make your dream of ownership come true by picking something that will be affordable month to month. While it might not be exactly the house you're dreaming of, you'll still be putting equity into something so you'll have money to invest down the road.

It's certainly not an easy feat to take on student loans and mortgage debt at the same time, but by improving your income and paying down as much as possible before investing, you may be able to do both at once.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

DIY Home Improvement: A Much Better Bedroom in Just a Few Hours

DIY Home Improvement: A Much Better Bedroom in Just a Few HoursTaking on the task of renovating your home can seem like an awful lot of work, but there are ways to do this that require a lot less energy and just a little bit of money. Whether you're looking for an instant home revamp or are readying your home to sell, here are some ideas for how you can improve your bedroom in no time.

Make It Clutter Free

It might sound too simple, but just clearing away the extraneous stuff that can accrue in your bedroom will instantly improve the look of your space. Instead of doing it over time, set aside an afternoon to go through the excess and clean up extra receipts, junk left in the corner and any unpacked boxes. Cleaning up the stuff that's been lingering may seem like a small step, but it will give way for what comes next.

A Coat Of Paint

While adding a coat of paint may seem like a lot of work for little reward, there are few things that will improve the appearance of a room like a shiny coat of paint. It may be tempting to go for a bright shade, but choose a neutral tone that will age well and can be complimented with bright accents from pillows or a colorful throw. Getting out the paint may seem like a big job at first, but it's one of the best ways to upgrade the look of your bedroom.

Find A Unique Piece

It's one thing to have a great coat of paint and a clutter-free space, but having a unique piece of furniture or a lighting fixture that you can call your own will add that special touch to your space. While there are plenty of options to go with, you may want to choose a vintage item like a claw-footed night table or an embellished chandelier that will instantly dress up a lackadaisical room. Instead of going with something expensive, choose something that you can dress up or re-paint for a modern effect.

It's often the case that renovating your home or your bedroom can seem like an expensive project, but there are ways it can be done that are both economical and will add instant spark. If you're currently renovating your home and are planning to put it on the market in the future, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Is Real Estate's 'Rush Hour' -- Here's How to Tell If You're Prepared

Spring Is Real Estate's 'Rush Hour' -- Here's How to Tell If You're PreparedThe most popular time of year to buy a home is in the spring, and this means that if you're preparing yourself for getting into the real estate market, you may be experiencing a time crunch. If you're wondering if you'll be ready to put your home up for sale in time to take advantage of the season, here are few things you'll want to think about.

Have You Cleaned Up And De-cluttered?

Spring is not only an optimal time to put your home up for sale, it's also an ideal time for spring-cleaning! Instead of leaving all of the de-cluttering and clearing away to the time when you know you'll be moving, get prepared by going through your stuff and discarding anything that you don't want to move. This will not only make the packing up procedure more streamlined, it will also make the basic cleaning duties like vacuuming a dusting a little easier to carry out.

Are You Prepared To Move?

A home can sit on the market for a few weeks or months, and it can also sell on the first day, so you'll want to have a game plan for moving beforehand. If you don't yet have a place to stay, determine a plan for yourself and your family so that you can start looking for a home to invest in or at least rental property. You don't want to lose out on a good offer by not being prepared, so make sure you know where you're going before getting into the market.

Do You Know The Market Conditions?

Spring is certainly the most popular time to buy, but if your home isn't priced right for the conditions of the market, it may linger longer than you'd expect. If you're selling on your own, you may want to take a look at the MLS listings to determine what similar homes in similar areas are selling for. It can also be a great idea to utilize the services of a local real estate agent who will have background knowledge of the market and be able to do the tough negotiating for you.

With spring being the best time to sell, it's important to de-clutter your house ahead of time and be aware of the market conditions you'll be dealing with. If you're about to put your home up for sale, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hosting an Open House? Try These 3 Mood-boosting Aromatherapy Scents


Hosting an Open House? Try These 3 Mood-boosting Aromatherapy ScentsFrom making sure the exterior looks impeccable to touching up the paint, there are a lot of things that go into the kind of open house that will draw in potential buyers. You may not know, though, that the senses can have a significant impact on how people will perceive your home, and scent can be highly powerful. Instead of leaving your home sale up to a clutter free space and an elegant exterior, try out the following aromatherapy scents to make an even better impression.

The Calming Influence Of Lemon

There's a reason that lemon is one of the most common scents when it comes to cleaning products, and it's no different when it comes to harnessing the power of aromatherapy. Instead of cleaning the tabletops with a lemon-scented cleaner, however, test out a lemon scent as a way to naturally calm the system. Not only does it assist in boosting circulation, it will also serve as a calming influence if your buyers happen to be anxious or having an off day.

Greater Retention With Rosemary

Most people are familiar with the herb of rosemary when it comes to cooking or baking, but its lively scent can also have a positive impact when it comes to your open house. Because rosemary can improve memory retention and wake up the body, it can be perfect for helping viewers remember a lot of the little details of your home. It can also help to improve fatigue and aches, which can help home buyers feel at ease in your space.

A Peppermint Energy Boost

The scent of peppermint may be more common around the holiday season, but a small dose of it can actually have a positive impact on a person's overall well-being. Since peppermint is an instantly invigorating scent, it can work to boost energy and help with a person's ability to reason. For someone who's an interested buyer, it may very well help them see the benefits of your home and come to a conclusion more quickly.

There are many ways to make your home appeal to home buyers, but adding an aromatherapy scent can go a long way in engaging the senses and truly enriching a viewer's experience of your home. If you're currently looking for staging tips and are getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 20, 2017


Last week's economic readings included reports on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Association Housing Market Index and Federal Reserve FOMC statement and press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The Commerce Department released reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Rise

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for March rose by six points to an index reading of 71. Builders said that subsequent readings may ease as builders continue to face shortages of lots and labor. The President said that he would work to reduce regulations affecting builders, which likely contributed to March's increased confidence reading.  Housing industry leaders continue to monitor builder confidence as it could signal increased development and building. Home sales figures have been held back due to lack of available homes and industry leaders repeatedly say that building new homes is the only way to release the bottleneck in single-family home sales.

High demand for homes has created rapid escalation in home prices in high-demand metro areas; this sidelines first-time and moderate income buyers.

Housing starts rose in February according to the Commerce Department. 1.288 million starts were reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; January's reading was 1.288 housing starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Building permits issued were lower in February with 1.213 million permits issued as compared to 1.293 million permits issued in January.

Mortgage Rates, Federal Funds Rate Higher

Although Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey of average mortgage rates was completed prior to the Fed's decision to raise its federal funds rate, mortgage rates were higher. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose nine basis points to 4.30 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fixed rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 3.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rose five basis points to 3.28 percent.

After it's meeting concluded Wednesday, The Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy for the Federal Reserve announced its decision to raise the target federal funds range from 0.50 to 0.75 percent to 0.75 to 1.00 percent. The post-meeting statement cited stronger economic conditions that advanced the Fed's dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and stable pricing. Inflation was noted to be nearing the Fed's mid to long range goal of 2.00 percent annually and the national unemployment rate has held steady in the past several months.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference that the federal funds rate may be raised two more times in 2017, but the FOMC statement and Chair Yellen said that FOMC members base monetary policy decisions on current information relating to domestic and global economic developments.

Inflation grew by 0.10 percent in February as compared to January's growth rate of 0.60 percent. The core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors. Rose by 0.20 percent as expected and was lower than January's reading of 0.30 percent growth.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Renovating on a Budget? Check Out These Equity-boosting Inexpensive Home Upgrades

Renovating on a Budget? Check Out These Equity-boosting Inexpensive Home UpgradesThe idea of embarking on home renovations may strike many homeowners as an expensive one, but there are plenty of ways that you can easily upgrade your home without spending a lot of money. If you're looking for improvements that will truly (and frugally) improve the value of your home, here are a few do-it-yourself options you may want to consider.

Change The Lighting

There are few small fixes that will improve the look of your home like lighting, so one of the best things you can do for the overall look of your house is change out some of your bulbs. Instead of going for a light that will look dingy or orange, choose a tone that's not too bright but will still illuminate your rooms and highlight their best features naturally. Much like a coat of paint, the right light can change everything about the way a visitor will view your home.

Consider A Cabinet Makeover

One of the most outdated features in a kitchen is the kitchen cabinets, and it's also one of the first things that a potential homebuyer will notice when they enter the room. Fortunately, installing new cabinets doesn't have to be a huge job that involves a lot of time. Instead of getting a floor-to-ceiling makeover and a construction crew, consider upgrading the doors and hinges or picking a new color for a difference that will instantly improve the room.

Pull Out The Paint Brush

Painting may be one of the least popular household tasks because it takes so much time, but outside of lighting, few things will improve the look of your home like a new coat of paint. While it's important to ensure that you stick with a relatively neutral shade so that it doesn't overwhelm the viewer, it will easily upgrade the look of your home and hide any unsightly damage to the wall. It's also a good idea to remember the front door since it's the first thing homebuyers will notice!

The word 'renovation' often makes people see dollar signs, but it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to upgrade your home. By adding a new coat of paint or upgrading the lighting, you'll be well on your way to a more modern look. If you're currently renovating your home and are hoping to put it on the market soon, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Highest in 12 Years

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for March, builder confidence in market conditions reached its highest level in 12 years and was six points higher than February's index reading of 65.

Housing market index readings are based on three components. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single family homes rose seven points to 78; builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months increased five points to an index reading of 78. Most surprising was the reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments, which eight points to 54 in March. Buyer traffic readings typically don't exceed the benchmark reading of 50, which indicates neutral builder sentiment. Builder confidence in buyer traffic for March surpassed 50 only twice since the housing bubble era.

Housing Market Index Readings Expected to Moderate in Coming Months

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, said that Housing Market Index readings will probably be more moderate in coming months as builders continue to face obstacles. Builders cited rising costs for materials and ongoing shortages of labor and lots. On the upside, builders surveyed said that a less regulatory environment contributed to higher confidence readings.

While home builder confidence is higher, the connection between confidence and building more homes isn't matched by housing starts. Builders also said that rising mortgage rates are a barrier to buying new homes. The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee raised the target federal funds rate to 0.75 to 1.00 percent on Wednesday; federal rate hikes typically influence private lenders to raise consumer rates including mortgage rates.

In a post-meeting statement, Fed officials said that the federal funds rate remains accommodative and will continue to sustain economic growth and the Fed's goal for a long-run inflation rate of 2.00 percent. The Fed cited its dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and price stabilization as supporting its decision to raise rates, but stated that actual decisions to raise the federal funds rate are based on close readings and information about global and domestic economic developments; future decisions could be impacted by emerging economic factors.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thinking About Refinancing Your Mortgage? 4 Ways to Ensure It's Worth Your Time

Thinking About Refinancing Your Mortgage? 4 Ways to Ensure It's Worth Your TimeIf you're familiar with the real estate market, you've likely heard the term 'refinancing' and may be wondering what this can mean for your mortgage and your financial well-being. While refinancing can be a great benefit for those who are looking for a lower interest rate or a different mortgage type, here are the details on what it can offer and whether or not it will work for you.

Acquiring A Lower Interest Rate

The most common reason people consider refinancing their home is to take advantage of a lowered interest rate. While it might seem like a minimal savings each month, a lower interest rate can add up to considerable savings over time and help you pay off your home loan more quickly. It's just important to ensure that you're aware of all the associated costs with refinancing before pursuing this option.

Limiting Your Loan Term

Refinancing also offers homeowners the opportunity to change the term of their loan, which can offer improved financial stability much sooner than expected. Many homeowners may avoid this option because it can bump up their monthly payment, but the difference in cost can be relatively insignificant while still offering financial freedom in less time.

Changing Your Mortgage Type

There are benefits and drawbacks of adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages, and that's why many people make the decision to refinance and opt out of their rate profile. While fixed-rate mortgages offer stability since you'll know what you're paying, an adjustable-rate will move with the market and can actually mean more savings at the end of the day. The option that will work best for you is dependent upon how comfortable you feel with the market.

Consolidating Your Debt

For homeowners who have a high debt load, refinancing can be a means of paying less in order to pay down debt at a more rapid rate. However, it's important before choosing this option to determine a budget plan you can stick with, as refinancing to consolidate your debt does not necessarily mean you'll be successful at paying it down. Ensure you weigh your options and potential savings carefully before making a decision.

Refinancing may seem like a good financial decision, but there are costs that go along with this mortgage option so it's important to crunch the numbers to ensure it will work in your favor. If you're currently considering refinancing, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Feeling 'Priced Out' of Your Local Market? Here's How You Can Still Buy a Great New Home

Feeling 'Priced Out' of Your Local Market? Here's How You Can Still Buy a Great New HomeIf you're trying to buy a new home, few things are more frustrating than a hot real estate market. When home prices are climbing fast it can feel like you'll never be able to save enough for your down payment. In today's post we'll share a few ways that you can get in – even if you're feeling priced out.

Start Smaller And Upgrade Later

If you're a single professional or a young couple, it might be wise to start with a smaller starter home. While a townhouse or condo might not feel as large as a detached house, they are more affordable options. Starting small allows you to build equity in your home. This, plus your increased earning power as you work for longer, can open up more home options later.

Another benefit of starting small is that you'll already have a home. If the local real estate market experiences a quick change, you won't need to scramble. You can plan to buy a larger home – that 'perfect' house – when the time is right.

Bring In Family As Investors

Do you have family members who might be willing to provide a loan or financing? If so, start the conversation with them to see if they are willing to co-invest in your new home.

There are many ways to bring in family as investors when you buy. They can provide a straight loan of funds to increase your down payment. Or if they want to be less involved, they can co-sign your mortgage, which will allow you to borrow a larger amount. In many areas, a family member or investor can also be a legal co-owner of the house or the property it sits on.

Make Use Of Experienced Professionals

Finally, don't forget to ask the local experts for more advice. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are in-tune with the local market. They spend each day helping buyers like you with understanding their options. If you're short on ideas, a real estate professional is a great place to start.

It can be tough to stay positive when you're feeling priced out of the local real estate market. But with a little ingenuity and planning, you can get out of the rental market and into a great new home.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 13, 2017

Last week's economic readings included reports on construction spending, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and pending home sales. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a speech that federal interest rates would "likely" be raised. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Pending Home Sales Slump as Available Homes Dwindle

Pending Home sales fell in January as inventories of available homes declined. Prospective buyers faced with fewer choices may have chosen to wait rather than purchase homes that weren't a good match for their needs. Analysts expected pending home sales to grow by 1.10 percent in January, but they fell by 2.80 percent to an index reading of 106.4, which was the lowest reading since January 2016. Additional factors contributing to lower pending sales, which represent sales under contract but not yet closed, include consumer uncertainty about economic conditions under the new administration and fear of rising mortgage rates. Affordability is also an issue for first-time buyers as short supplies of homes create more competition among prospective buyers.

Real estate pros have repeatedly said that the only way to resolve shortages of homes is to build more. While home builder confidence in market conditions has grown in recent months, housing starts and construction spending have not followed suit. Construction spending in January was 0.10 percent lower despite projections of 0.60 percent growth in construction spending and a positive reading of 0.10 percent in spending for December. Winter weather conditions can affect construction during winter months. Ongoing shortages of available lots and labor have also held back builders from optimum construction rates.

Home Prices Rise in December

S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices rose to 5.80 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate. November's reading showed 5.60 percent growth in average home prices, Home prices continue to grow in the West as Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado held on to the top three spots for fastest growth in home prices among cities surveyed.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.10 percent rate, which was six basis points lower than the prior week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.32 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.14 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower last week with 233,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed. There were 244,000 new claims filed in the prior week.

What's Ahead

Labor reports including ADP payrolls Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Did You Know: 3 Reasons Why Mortgage Pre-approval Should Be Your Very First Step

Did You Know: 3 Reasons Why Mortgage Pre-approval Should Be Your Very First StepThere are so many details involved in the mortgage process that you may not be aware of what pre-approval is if you've just entered the market. However, pre-approval assesses your ability to make monthly mortgage payments and can be an important first step in the home-buying process. If you're currently contemplating a home purchase, here's why you may want to consider pre-approval first.

Improved Agent Attention

Real estate agents may be reluctant to spend the time or put significant effort into a homebuyer that has not been pre-approved for a mortgage. While a good real estate agent will assist you in finding a home that's right for you, if you haven't gone through the necessary process of determining if you'll be approved, they may think it's not worth their time to show you houses you may not be eligible to buy.

A Benefit For Home Sellers

In the event that you happen to come across a home that you want to purchase and make an offer prior to pre-approval, there's a chance the buyer will not waste their time considering it. Because the pre-approval process can determine errors in your credit history and there's a wait involved, many home sellers will not want to be held up by this process to sell their home. As a pre-approval can reveal errors and bump up your credit score, it can also be of greater benefit for you to have an accurate number going into the home purchase.

Determines Your Financial Health

While a pre-approval is not a sure sign that your mortgage application will be approved, it can provide a detailed look at your financial health. This means that if you happen to have a less flattering credit history than expected, you can go back to the drawing board, saving more money and making payments, to try and bump up your credit. While this isn't necessarily enticing for the person who is ready to buy, it can be a benefit for the type of home you'll be approved for.

It's common to want to get out into the market and find the perfect house at the right price, but pre-approval is an important process that will help you determine the house you can afford. If you're currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things Easier


Buying a Home on a Single Income? 3 Budgeting Tips That Will Make Things EasierAre you thinking about buying that perfect new home? Whether you're buying for yourself or a new home for a family, there will be many costs involved. Let's take a look at 3 budgeting tips that will help make home ownership on a single income easier.

Get A Full Picture Of Home Ownership Costs

Buying a home is never as simple as paying a mortgage payment each month. So, as with most budgets the first place to start is a full consideration of everything involved.

On top of your mortgage, what other monthly costs will come up? Consider utilities like electricity, phone, cable, water and others. You'll be responsible for property taxes, so find out how much other local owners are paying. If you're buying into a community, you may have to pay monthly fees to a homeowners' association.

When you're visiting open houses and talking to owners, be sure to get a full picture of their monthly costs. It will help you build a responsible budget.

Keep Your Credit As Strong As Possible

It might sound obvious, but keeping your credit or FICO score spotless is important. Buying a home on a single income means that you'll need a mortgage. Depending on the home you're buying, this might be significant. Your credit score is one of many factors your lender will use to assess you, but it's the most important. So keep those bills paid on time and avoid any black marks on your credit report.

Plan Ahead For Unexpected Budget Shocks

Don't forget to think ahead at events that -- while unlikely -- may shock your finances. Having one income means that you're one negative health event away from being out of work. What happens if the income-earner gets sick, fired or laid off? Is there other work nearby, or would you need to move? Consider the different types of insurance you can get on your mortgage and home. And how much you'll need to put away in a 'rainy day fund' each month.

While it might be a bit more of a struggle, it's still possible to buy a home on a single income. For more tips and insight, be sure to contact your local real estate professional. They'll be able to share how other single-income families have bought homes in your local market.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

If Your Home Is Destroyed in a Natural Disaster, What Happens to Your Mortgage?


If Your Home Is Destroyed in a Natural Disaster, What Happens to Your Mortgage? When you've been in your home for a while and have established a certain amount of equity, it can be a good feeling to know that you have an investment you can count on. However, with changing weather patterns you may be afraid of a natural disaster striking and what it could mean for your financial well-being. If you're curious about how this can impact your mortgage, here are a few things to consider.

Determine Your Protection

The thought of having your home adversely impacted by a natural disaster is bad, but it can be even worse if the proper precautions haven't been taken to insure your house against its wrath. While there are certain calamities that will be less likely in your area and may be difficult to get insurance for, if you live in an area prone to floods or earthquakes, you should have protection against their occurrence. In all likelihood, if you've taken the proper precautions when taking on home insurance, your home should be prepared for what nature unleashes.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Whether you're certain that your home is covered in the event of a natural disaster or not, it's important to contact your insurance company as soon as disaster occurs so that you can make the necessary claim. This means that you'll need to be able to explain what happened, the extent of the damage and provide photographic evidence of your claim so that you have the evidence to back it up. Once the worst has occurred, you'll want to file a claim with the company as soon as you can to ensure you'll get back what you've invested.

What Does Homeowner's Insurance Cover?

Generally speaking, there are a number of natural disasters that are included under homeowner's insurance including tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. Insurance for disasters like earthquakes, floods and tsunamis can be purchased separately, while the occurrence of landslides and avalanches may be covered separately. It's important when purchasing a home that you are covered against natural disasters that can occur in the area so your biggest investment is not at risk.The occurrence of a natural disaster is stressful enough without having to worry about the possibility of your insurance not covering the damage.