Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to Know

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you're considering investing down the road or are ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It's easy to be swept away by possibility, but before making an offer you'll need to sit down and determine exactly what you're willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you'll be able to determine if the price you're offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It's one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen, but if there are serious issues with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you'll make. If you're uncertain about what you're getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you're thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It's also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, ensure you're certain it's what you really want so that you're not stuck with a home you don't want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you're not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and your finances. If you're currently considering purchasing a home in need of help in your neighborhood, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 30, 2017

Last week's economic news included readings on new and existing home sales and mortgage rates. Also released were reports on new jobless claims and consumer sentiment.

New and Existing Home Sales Lower in December

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales of new homes fell to 536,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This reading was markedly lower than the expected rate of 595,000 sales and November's reading of 598,000 sales. Analysts said that the drop in new home sales indicated that the housing sector is still experiencing a rocky recovery. December's reading for new home sales was 10.4 percent lower than December's adjusted reading of 598,000 sales. December's reading was 0.40 percent lower year-over-year.

The median sale price of new homes was $322,500 in December, which was 4.30 percent higher than in November and 7.90 percent higher than in December 2015. The dip in sales has increased inventory of available homes to a reading of 5.80 months needed to sell all new homes presently available. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of homes for sale a normal inventory.

In related news, sales of pre-owned homes were also lower in December. The National Association of Realtors® reported December sales at 5.49 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; this reading was lower than expectations of 5.51 million sales and November's reading of 5.65 million sales. The slower rate of sales may signal that home prices have topped out; there is also a very low inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale as compared to demand. Sales of pre-owned homes were 2.80 percent lower than November's reading, which was the highest rate of existing home sales since 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes were 0.70 percent higher year-over-year.

Winter weather and holidays may have contributed to lower home sales in December, but higher prices, tough mortgage requirements and a low supply of available pre-owned homes were seen as obstacles to completed home sales for December.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher fixed rates for mortgages last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 10 basis points to 4.19 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.40 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.20 percent. Discount points for fixed rate and 5/1 mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims exceeded expectations of 250,000 new claims with a reading of 259,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 237,000 new claims. Analysts said that volatility is common with new jobless claims in January. There were few layoffs reported and good news that the new jobless claims rate remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for the 99th consecutive week. This milestone was last seen in 1970.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 2000 to an average of 245,900 new claims filed; this was the lowest reading since 1973.

Consumer sentiment rose to 98.5 which surpassed the expected reading of 98.2 percent and December's reading of 98.1 percent.

What's Ahead

Multiple readings on housing and labor related data will be released this week. Scheduled releases include pending home sales, Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and construction spending. Reports on inflation and core inflation are due along with readings on non-farm payrolls, ADP payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Friday, January 27, 2017

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a Look

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a LookThere is always uncertainty in the market in an election year, but many people are wondering exactly what kind of impact Donald Trump's election will have on their mortgage and the real estate options available. Whether you are still paying off your home or have been shopping around for the right one, here are some possibilities for the real estate market following the results of the 2016 election.

An Increase In Luxury Properties

With the release of Donald Trump's tax plan which provides the most sizeable tax cuts to the wealthy, it could be the case that there will be an increase in the demand for high-end properties which may lead to less availability and a higher price point. As this kind of demand could also work to bump up the median price of real estate in urban areas, it could have an adverse impact on low-income earners who may see themselves priced out of a more expensive market.

Rising Mortgage Rates

Most people that have been perusing the market recently have heard about the low interest rates that make purchasing a home a good financial decision. However, following the uncertainty of the election, interest rates are on the rise. While the sense of instability may persist until potential homebuyers know more, this boost in the rates since the election may mean that many buyers will decide to hold off for a while.

A Loosening Of Regulations

The concept of the cost involved in regulation was something that Donald Trump brought up many times on the campaign trail, and this could be a sign that he is ready to make adjustments when it comes to housing regulations. While there may be little he can do at the local level, if regulation changes take hold, this could mean more loan opportunities for those with a poor credit history who may not have been a shoe-in for a mortgage previously.

With the fluctuations of the market dependent upon a variety of factors, it's hard to say what will occur in the mortgage market in the next few months and years. However, with mortgage rates on the rise and the potential change in regulations, it could continue to fluctuate until there is more certainty on the horizon.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

3 Ways That Buying or Selling a Luxury Home Is Different

3 Ways That Buying or Selling a Luxury Home Is Different From a Regular OneSelling a standard home is fraught with enough concerns about marking it at the right price and staging it properly, but it's an entirely different ball game when it comes to luxury property. If you're planning on selling your high-end property and are trying to determine what sets it apart from the average home sale, here are some things to consider before putting it on the market.

The Price Must Be Reasonable

It's important for the asking price on any home to show an awareness of market conditions, but when it comes to luxury, it becomes even more important. Most luxury homes are going to sit on the market for a longer period of time than a less expensive home because there are fewer potential buyers. In order to facilitate a successful sale, it's necessary for the asking price to be competitive and in line with the amenities provided so that buyers won't flock to other opportunities.

Use The Right Marketing Tools

With so many available methods to sell a home nowadays, it's never been easier to get the word out that you're selling your home. However, if the asking price is higher it's imperative that the property is displayed in the right light. When it comes to a luxury property it's worth having an agent who knows the market and the neighborhood well. They will be able to display your home at its most ideal by creating a website with enticing photography and details to showcase all of your home's best attributes.

What Are The Market Conditions?

It's difficult to time the market, but when it comes to the impact economic times can have on a luxury home sale, it's even more important to be aware of prices. Not only will you want to be aware of the amenities your home has and how much more desirable they'll be at certain times of the year, you'll also want to be sure that the market is on an upswing. A market that is on the rise can make a significant difference on the offers you'll get.

There are many factors involved in putting your home on the market, but when it comes to luxury real estate it's important to time the market and ensure your asking price is spot on. If you're currently preparing to put your luxury home on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving Strategies

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving StrategiesThe monthly mortgage payment can be burdensome for many, but it's possible you've thought of trying to pay it down more quickly. Without getting a new job or working overtime, here are some tips you can use on a daily basis to save additional funds and pay off your mortgage at a swifter rate.

Make Your Lunch

The five or ten dollars spent on lunch might not seem like a lot, but over time this amount adds up to a lot of savings. Instead of hitting the cafe, pick one or two nights each week to prepare a lunch for yourself so you can skip the daily expense.

Take A Coffee To Go

Like lunch, coffee is another thing that can end up costing a lot of money. However, instead of going for the two-dollar cup, make a pot before you leave for the day or opt for the office coffee instead. If you prefer yours on the go, you can always make it a once-a-week treat.

Avoid The Impulse

This might seem like a hard one to stick with, but instead of buying something because you want it, sit on it for a day or two and see if it still appeals to you. In all likelihood, the desire to purchase will pass and you'll manage to keep more money in the bank.

Read The Flyers

Items like groceries may be a necessity, but that doesn't mean that you have to buy the first thing you see. From fruits and vegetables to packaged goods, there are plenty of food items that go on sale all the time. By the time the month is out, you'll be surprised how much you can save just by shopping around.

Skip The Cell Phone Plan

For most people, having a cell phone is a necessity these days; however, there are ways that you can get around the high costs that are often associated with smart phones. Instead of going for the expensive plan you have, settle for a little bit less service and talk to your provider about deals they can offer you.

It may seem like paying a higher monthly amount on your mortgage is impossible, but there are little ways to save each day that can help you pay it down faster.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home Sellers

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home SellersThere are a lot of different factors that go into selling a home for the first time that can make it a stressful process, but there are a few things home sellers should avoid for a successful sale. If you're going to be putting your home on the market in the near future and are hoping for quick success, here are some common mistakes you'll want to be sure to bypass.

Pricing Your Home Too High

It's entirely likely that there's an amount you have in mind when it comes to selling your home, but it's important that your asking price is in line with the market conditions and what's being offered. Instead of winging it, check the local neighborhood listings and see what similar homes are selling for so yours won't be left to linger on the market.

Forgetting The Small Repairs

After you've put your home up for sale and have arranged an open house, one of the first things people will notice is the small repairs; like paint chips or loose doorknobs; that haven't yet been fixed. Instead of letting this negatively impact the offers you'll receive, complete the little fix-ups before you schedule your open house so potential homebuyers are not turned off.

Missing On Marketing

There are so many avenues for selling a home these days that it can be hard to know which way to go. However, it's best to consider all of your options and utilize social media to widen the audience you'll attract. Keep in mind that if you're investing in a website or brochures, it's important to hire a good photographer to show your home in its best light.

Selling It On Your Own

Hitting the market on your own can be rife with a lot of questions, so as a first-time seller you may want to consider the services of a real estate agent. It's just important to ensure that the person you choose is qualified and has experience in your community so they can steer you in the right direction and offer up helpful advice when it's required.

Selling a home for the first time can be a stressful thing to take on, but by utilizing the right agent and having reasonable expectations, it may be off the market before you know it. If you're getting ready to put your home up for sale, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, January 23, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 23, 2017

Economic news was impacted by the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday and the Presidential Inauguration on Friday. Readings released included reports on inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released as scheduled.

Home Builder Confidence Dips as Inflation Ticks Upward

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped from December's reading of 69 to 67. Ongoing challenges including a short supply of lots for development and inability to hire skilled labor were cited, but builders were also confident that market conditions will improve due to a pro-construction stance in the new administration's policies.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent to 0.30 percent in December against expectations that inflation would rise by 0.20 percent. November's reading was also 0.20 percent. The Federal Reserve has long cited a goal for inflation to reach an annual rate of 2.00 percent; incremental month-to-month increases in inflation will help achieve the Fed's benchmark. Core Consumer Price Index readings do not include volatile food and energy sectors and held steady with a reading of 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and November's reading.

Housing Starts Increase as Building Permits Slip

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to 1.226 million against an expected reading of 1.200 million housing starts and November's reading of 1.292 million starts. Building new homes is a priority for home builders as housing markets have been hampered by a lack of available homes. High demand has driven up home prices in many areas and has caused a great deal of competition in highly desirable metro areas. This has permitted investors and other cash buyers to prevail in home sales where multiple offers were made.

Building permits were lower in December with a reading of 1.210 million permits issued as compared to 1.212 million permits issued in November. Winter weather and holidays likely contributed to the dip in permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week

Mortgage rates fell last week for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.21 percent as compared to the prior week's reading of 3.23 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged three basis points lower at 3.34 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rate was two basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims fell sharply from 249,000 to 234,000 claims. Analysts had expected a reading of 245,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that layoffs reached their lowest level since the 1970's. Job security is an important consideration for prospective home buyers; stronger job markets will likely positively impact housing markets.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your Space

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your SpaceMany people look at a smaller living space and think that there are a lot of limitations imposed. However, a more miniature home can offer up the opportunity to be inventive with design and get creative about your abode. Whether you live in small apartment now or are thinking of downsizing in the future, here are some ideal ways to make the most of your pint-sized pad.

Invest In Multi-Functional Pieces

It may be nice to have a stylish bar cart or a hefty china cabinet for your space, but there are certain kinds of home items that only serve one function and this is not necessarily useful with limited capacity. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try purchasing items like a folding table tray that can serve as a coffee table or a bookcase that can hold dishes, books and other household items. This will enable you to maximize the space you have and create a uniquely modern design aesthetic.

Maintain An Organized Space

Every home has a little bit of clutter, but nothing will fill up a comfy space like having a lot of knick-knacks all over the place. Instead of making your home look smaller, ensure that you have vertical storage or closet space that can be effectively used for items that might often be left out. An organized space will not only make for a cleaner, more effortless looking apartment, it will give the allusion that you've got a few more square feet than you actually do.

Stick With Neutral Colors

It can be tempting to go with a bright color for an accent wall, but this can actually work against your space and make it look a lot smaller. Instead of something vibrant and eye-catching, stick with a neutral palette and go for shades like white, light grey and light brown so they can naturally expand your space. You can still choose to accent with bright colors, but you may want to leave them to your pillows or a vase so that they don't take over your space.

It might seem like there are many limitations imposed with a smaller living space, but with so many people downsizing there are a variety of great design possibilities for a less sizeable home. If you're currently staging your home and are planning to put it on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Home Builder Index Dips in January

January's National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped two points from December's revised reading of 69 to 67;  the index reading forecast for January was also 69.Analysts said that January's reading was the second highest (after December 2016) since the peak of the housing bubble in 2005. January's dip in builder sentiment was attributed to easing of builder enthusiasm, which spiked right after the U.S. presidential election. To put January's home builder confidence reading in context, NAHB says that any index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have confidence in housing market conditions.

NAHB Sub-Index Readings for January

Three sub-index readings are used in compiling the NAHB Housing Market Index reading. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell three points to 72; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped one point to 51.

Builders surveyed continued to cite the cost of new lots for development and the lack of skilled labor as obstacles to higher builder confidence.

After releasing January's index readings, the NAHB said that while January's readings were lower than those for December, a majority of builders have expressed confidence that the new administration will reduce regulatory pressure on home builders. NAHB also cited home builder concerns over mortgage rates, which rose nearly a percentage point in November and December before falling. Despite ongoing concerns, builder sentiment has steadily improved over time. On average, builder confidence averaged a reading of 61 in 2016 against 2015's average reading of 59 and the 2014 average reading of 52.

Builder Outlook Seen as Key to Easing Home Shortage

Real estate and mortgage pros have consistently said that building more homes is necessary to ease the ongoing shortage of available homes. NAHB's Housing Market Index is closely followed as a benchmark of home builder confidence. Higher builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions is viewed as a potential indicator of home building activity, but housing starts have not been uniformly allied with builder confidence.

Shortages available homes creates high demand creates concerns for potential buyers seeking affordable homes. Rapidly rising home price, particularly in high demand metro areas, have sidelined buyers who cannot compete against buyers making cash offers on homes with rapidly escalating prices.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate It

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate ItMany people are aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you're not quite sure what the right price is, here's how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.

Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.

What Your DTI Means

While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio is, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you'll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it's a bit out of reach.

How Do You Want To Live?

It's quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and if you're buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years, whether it's travel, a child or a new car. It's important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you'll still need to financial wiggle room in case something comes up.

There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you'll be well on your way to an ideal price range.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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

Last week's economic reports included readings on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac's survey of mortgage rates.

Job Openings Hold Steady in November; Quits and Hires Increase

According to the Labor Department, job openings held steady with a reading of 5.50 million openings in November, which matched October's reading. Hires and quits showed more activity, which analysts deemed a healthy sign for the economy. Workers typically hold on to their current jobs in times of economic uncertainty, while they may be more comfortable with changing jobs in a strong economy. Increased "churn" in terms of quits and hires suggests that workers are gaining confidence in economic conditions and are more willing to change jobs. There were 1.3 unemployed workers for each job opening, which was lower than October's reading of 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening.

Retail Sales Higher in December

Retail sales grew by 0.60 percent in December, although analysts had expected o.80 percent growth. November's reading showed 0.20 percent growth. Retail sales not including the automotive sector grew by 0.20 percent. Analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on November's reading of 0.30 percent growth. Year-end promotions and incentives offered by auto dealers likely contributed to December's increase in retail sales.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged seven basis points lower at 3.37 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at an average of 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged   0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims were lower than expected last week with a reading of 247,000 new jobless claims. 258,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week's reading of 237,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims were lower than 300,000 new claims for the 97th consecutive week. The rise in new claims last week was attributed to delays in filing for benefits between Christmas and New Year holidays.

Consumer sentiment dipped in January to an index reading of 98.1 as compared to December's reading of 98.2 and the expected reading of 98.8.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits will be released. Consumer Price Index readings are scheduled along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Understanding the Reverse Mortgage and How to Use It to Pay Off a Regular Mortgage

Understanding the Reverse Mortgage and How to Use It to Pay Off a Regular MortgageThere are a variety of mortgage products out there that serve the needs of different homeowners, but for the uninitiated it can be hard to know what will work best for them. If you happen to be close to retirement and are looking at options that will be more financially beneficial for you, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this product can work for you.

The Details On A Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage may be one of the lesser-known products available on the market, but it was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) following the 2008 recession. While this type of mortgage is only available to homeowners who are 62 or older, it offers a way for people to tap into the equity of their home so that they are not required to pay monthly mortgage payments. There are limitations imposed on this product, but this can be useful for many homeowners.

What's Required To Apply?

In order to utilize this mortgage product, the homeowner must have paid off their property entirely or have a significant amount of equity in their current home. As people who want to use a reverse mortgage will have to go through a credit check, they will have to be able to prove that they have the ability to pay for all the fees associated with home ownership. This can include common expenses like insurance, property tax and any other applicable charges that come with a monthly mortgage payment.

How You Can Use It

A reverse mortgage can be confusing to understand, but for those who want to receive monthly payments, get a lump sum payment from their equity or even access a line of credit, it can be a means of tapping into additional funds. While this means that the overall loan balance of the mortgage can increase over time due to interest and insurance not being paid consistently, these expenses will be taken care of once the owner has passed away when the property can be sold or the loan balance is paid.

A reverse mortgage can be a beneficial product for many homeowners, but it's important to be aware of the associated costs involved to determine if this product is beneficial for you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here's Why a Home Should Be Your Priority

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here's Why a Home Should Be Your PriorityOnce you're done with debt and you've started to save, it's commonly the case that you'll start hearing about the risks and rewards of investing in stocks or real estate. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to know what type of investment is going to work better for them down the road. If you're currently considering what you should put your money into, here are some reasons you may want to turn to real estate.

It's Something You Can See

While investing in the stock market will give you the ability to invest as little or as much as you want, a home will take a monthly payment and a down payment in order to make the deal. Fortunately, this means that you'll be investing money every month into something that belongs to you and that you can see. A home is not only something you can invest in all the time, it will enable you to avoid putting money into rent that you'll never get back.

Saving Money On Tax Breaks

There may be a certain amount of volatility with any market investment, but when it comes to buying a home you also have the benefit of tax breaks that are designed specifically for homeowners. In addition to the ability to deduct interest on your main residence if you've lived in your property for a minimum of two of the last five years, you'll also be able to sell it tax-free. Investing in a home certainly takes savings, but there are many available tax benefits that can save money.

A Sense Of Security

Many people want to invest in a home because it offers up a piece of something that they can really own. However, another appealing aspect of having a home is that you'll be removed from the day-to-day rumblings of the stock market. Investing can make people more than a little weary, even if they're knowledgeable about the markets, and this can cause people to sell off and lose money when the going gets tough.

Investing in real estate and the stock market both involve some degree of financial risk, but you might not be aware that there are several added benefits of buying a home. From the tax break incentives to the sense of security, real estate can often be the better financial route to take. If you're currently considering a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Pros and Cons of 'Mortgage Before Marriage' for Young Couples

The Pros and Cons of There was a time when a higher percentage of people were married before they committed to buying a home together, but it's a lot more common to co-habit and invest in a home together. If you're considering the commitment of a mortgage without being married, here are some things to be aware of before you start searching the market.

Relationship Status Won't Affect Your Rates

It might seem like there are greater risks involved if two individuals purchasing a property are not legally bound, but it actually makes no difference to the mortgage lender. If two people are buying a home together, the lender is going to be assessing their credibility based on their individual credit reports and financial history, not on their relationship to each other. While it may seem like co-habiting will have an impact, the proof as far as lenders are concerned is in the numbers.

What's Your Credit History?

Most people are aware of their credit history, whether they've had financial hiccups in the past or are still paying off a significant amount of debt. However, it is more difficult for some to know the financial background of their partner, and this can be more common when it comes to co-habiting. Because the lender will be looking at both credit scores, if you or your partner have had financial issues in the past, it can have an adverse impact on your application. While you may have a nearly perfect credit history, if your partner does not this can make mortgage approval more difficult.

In The Event Of Separation

Home ownership can involve significant hurdles after a divorce, but there will still be some legal and financial issues to wade through if you've never been married. Since it's likely that you won't want to continue to co-habit, there's the possibility that one party will have to buy the other out, which can be a sizeable financial burden. While this type of situation may never come to fruition, it's important to be aware of what might occur so you can be prepared.

There can be a lot of complexities involved in co-habiting whether you're married or not, but it's important to have an awareness of your partner's financial history and be prepared for financial hurdles.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Considering a Spring Home Sale? Learn How to Appraise Your Selling Chances Like a Pro

Considering a Spring Home Sale? Learn How to Appraise Your Selling Chances Like a ProThe springtime is known to be one of the best times to put your home up for sale. However, if you're not necessarily planning on engaging a real estate agent, it's important to be prepared for all of the hard work involved in putting your home up for sale. Whether you're new to the market or you've never sold a home on your own before, here are some questions to ask yourself so you're prepared for selling in the coming season.

Do You Know The Market?

The neighborhood you live in and the buying market you're dealing with are important factors in how your home is going to sell, so you'll need to know a little about both when determining your ideal price. By looking through the listings in the area and seeing what homes like yours have sold for, you may be able to give yourself a range for the offers you can expect.

How Will You Sell It?

One of the added benefits of social media is that you can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to announce your home sale and even highlight its best features. While this may make selling seem much easier, you'll still need to make sure you have good photography that captures your home and a website where homebuyers can learn more details. Be aware that while these items may seem easy enough, it can take a lot of time to manage these details on your own.

Are You Prepared To Negotiate?

It's a good feeling to get an offer on your home, but in all likelihood it will be less than what you're expecting and this means engaging in the art of negotiation. According to the National Association of Realtors, those who sell their home generally get 10-20% less than those who utilize an agent, so it's important to be comfortable negotiating before you dive in. If you're confident in your acumen, you may want to go it alone, but if you have doubts, it can be a better financial decision to engage the help of an agent.

Before you decide to sell your home on your own, it's worth appraising your skills to determine if it will be worth the time and effort you'll have to put in. If you've come to the conclusion that you'd like to utilize an agent after all, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, January 9, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 9, 2017

2017 started with good news; fixed mortgage rates were lower, but the national unemployment rate ticked upward and labor reports showed fewer openings for public and private sector jobs. Construction spending was higher in November.

Mortgage Rates Lower; Construction Spending Higher

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages as the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage crept up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by 12 basis points to 4.20 percent; The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell 11 basis points to 3.44 percent while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained three basis points to 3.33 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Construction spending was higher in November according to the Commerce Department and reached the highest level since April 2006. The November reading was 0.90 percent higher as compared to an expected reading of 0.60 percent and October's original reading of 0.50 percent, which was revised to 0.60 percent. Lower mortgage rates coupled with more construction could help ease low inventories of available homes and provide relief to first-time and moderate-income home buyers who've been challenged by rapidly rising home prices and mortgage rates.

Fewer New Jobless Claims: Unemployment Rate Rises

The government's Non-Farm Payrolls report for December showed lower job openings for government and private sector employers with a reading of 156,000 jobs added against the expected reading of 180,000 job openings and November's reading of 204,000 job openings.

ADP reported similar results for its December reading on private sector jobs; 153,000 jobs were created against November's reading of 215,000 jobs created. Analysts said that hiring is increasing, but not as fast as in prior months. On average, 174,000 private-sector jobs were created monthly in 2016 as compared to a monthly average of 209,000 private sector jobs created in 2015.

Weekly jobless claims were lower last week with 235,000 new claims filed; 260,000 new claims were expected based on 263,000 new claims filed the previous week.

December's national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent from 4.60 percent in November. Analysts said that the uptick was likely fueled by employers deleting former workers from their payrolls at year-end.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Friday, January 6, 2017

4 Things You Absolutely Should Not Do After You Apply for a Mortgage

4 Things You Absolutely Should Not Do After You Apply for a MortgageIf you have a good credit history and are prepared to invest in a home, you may be feeling pretty confident about the mortgage process. However, it's important to be aware that there are things that can have a negative impact on your application. Whether you've just submitted your documents or are getting close to it, here are some things you may want to avoid.

Acquiring New Credit

It may seem silly that something as minor as a new credit card can be a mark against your credit, but applying for new ones can be a bad sign to lenders. The problem is that this can be signal an unmanageable debt load, so you may be considered a high risk for not being able to make your payments.

Forget To Pay Your Bills

It's easy enough to get lulled into the feeling that your mortgage application will be approved, but this doesn't mean that you should forget your financial responsibilities. If you've had poor credit in the past and neglected paying your bills on time, now is not the time to do this. Instead, ensure that you're paying all bills and any applicable minimum payments in advance of the due date so your credit score is not impacted.

Close Old Credit Cards

Many people think that closing out old credit cards can be a positive financial step forward and a good way to streamline their finances, but this can cause damage to your credit score. Because closing a credit card will change your available balance and bump up your debt load, it may mean that your debt percentage will increase. Instead of risking this, leave them active until you've received approval.

Quit Your Job

Few people will have the ability to quit their job when they're applying for a mortgage, but doing this or incurring other fluctuations in your monthly income can cause problems with your application. If you are self-employed, there may be peaks and valleys in your finances, but a huge shift in what you bring home can show lenders that you're not a solid bet.

There can be a lot of stress that comes along with the mortgage application process, but by paying your bills on time and staying on top of your payments, you can avoid negatively impacting your approval.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Understanding Real Estate Contracts and What You Can Expect to Find

Understanding Real Estate Contracts and What You Can Expect to FindThere are a lot of things that go into the successful sale of your home, but many people are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the contract. Whether you consult with your real estate agent or plan on diving in on your own, it's important to be clear on the terms. If you're wondering what you can expect when it comes to the contract, here are some pointers on what to watch out for.

Real Estate Jargon

A real estate contract would not be complete without the professional terminology, so you'll see words like amortization, price-to-income ratio and title that may impact the meaning of your contract. Instead of going it blind, search the Internet for terms or consult with your real estate agent to provide a clear explanation.

Specifics On The Sale

Information regarding the specifics of your property will be present in the contract, and it's important to check this information before signing on the dotted line. While the address and location of your home are important, it's also critical to verify the purchase price that has been decided upon, the closing date on the property and any other items that have been negotiated and agreed upon.

Be Aware Of Withdrawal Terms

It can be easy to be taken away by excitement once you've received the perfect offer on your home, but it's important not to lose sight of everything that's required before the sale has been finalized. One of the most important parts of the contract is the withdrawal terms that are laid out, so be certain you're aware of what your rights are if you or the homebuyer decides to withdraw from the process.

Watch For Seller's Responsibilities
If you, as a seller, do not remain committed to the terms of the contract this can be a deal breaker, so ensure that you've familiarized yourself with exactly what's required of you. This may include everything from the maintenance on the property to offer negotiations, so it's important to comply with these terms.

Dealing with a real estate contract can be confusing for the layman, so it's worth your while to have a trusted real estate agent around who will be able to explain it. From withdrawal terms to seller responsibilities, there are plenty of things you should be aware of before sealing the deal. If you're currently embarking on selling your home, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Six Key Reasons You'll Want to Work With a Real Estate Agent When Pricing Your Home

Six Key Reasons You'll Want to Work With a Real Estate Agent When Pricing Your HomeWhether you know a little bit about the market or you've sold a home before, you may be considering pricing your own home to avoid the assistance of a real estate agent. However, there are a number of benefits associated with consulting an agent when selling your home. Before making a final decision, consider the following tips.

They Know The Neighborhood

It's great if you have familiarity with market prices, but knowing a neighborhood is key when it comes to determining price. The right agent will be able to help you arrive at a price that is good for your home and practical for the area you're selling in.

Is The Market Hot?

The price may be right, but if the market has cooled off, you may have to make a compromise in order to sell it. Instead of trying to arrive at this on your own, an agent will be able to provide insights into the best strategy.

They've Sold In The Area
A local agent may have sold properties in your area recently and may be well aware of the price potential. With this added expertise, they can walk the line between your ideal price and what you can get.

Preparing A Plan B

An agent may agree to go with a higher selling pricing if you're committed to it, but they will also help you make another plan if the price doesn't work out. It's disappointing to not get what you're asking for, but it's better to have a plan just in case.

Saving On Stress

It's one thing to decide on the price of your home, but it's quite another to deal with all the stress if it lingers on the market without an offer. If an agent assists you in determining your price, they'll also be there to shoulder some of the stress.

When It Comes To Negotiating

The negotiation following a home offer is make-or-break for selling your home, so having an agent is a great benefit. While they won't be able to make the decision for you, they can serve as a helpful guide in determining an appropriate counter offer.

Many homeowners want to embark on selling their home on their own, but a real estate agent can be very helpful in determining a purchase price and assisting with the negotiations. If you're currently getting prepared to sell your home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, January 2, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 2, 2017

Last week's economic reports were in short supply due to the Christmas holiday. Events reported included Case-Shiller home price indices, pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Consumer confidence was also released.

Case-Shiller Readings Indicate No Slowdown in Home Price Gains

Case-Shiller's October readings for its home price indices showed continued growth in home prices. In spite of rising home prices and mortgage rates, high demand for homes and slim supplies of homes for sale continued to fuel higher home prices.

According to Case-Shiller's national home price index for October, home prices rose 5.60 percent on an annual basis as compared to September's reading of 5.40 percent. The 20-city home price index rose to 5.10 percent from September's reading of 5.00 percent. Case-Shiller's 10-city index also gained 0.10 percent in October with a reading of 4.30 percent year-over-year.

Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado had the highest year-over-year home price gains in October with readings of 10.70, 10.30 and 8.30 percent respectively. David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the S&P Indices Committee, said that "Home prices and the economy are both enjoying robust numbers," but he also cautioned that rising mortgage rates and home prices growing faster than wages continue to pose obstacles for some home buyers. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise its federal funds rate in 2017, which is expected to prompt rising mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Pending Home Sales Fall

Pending home sales fell 2.50 percent in November. Analysts said that post-election reaction helped to drive mortgage rates higher, which made homes less affordable for first-time and moderate-income buyers; Sellers and buyers may have postponed decisions to sell or buy as they waited for volatile post-election responses to ease.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales fell to their lowest level in almost a year with an index reading of 107.30 in November. September's reading was 110.00. The holiday season and rising mortgage rates were seen as contributing to fewer pending home sales.

Freddie Mac reported the ninth consecutive week that fixed rate mortgages rose. In the final mortgage rates survey for 2016, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage rose two basis points to 4.32 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 3.55 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.30 percent, which was two basis points lower than the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims were lower last week with a reading of 265,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected 270,000 new claims filed based on the prior week's reading of 275,000 new claims filed.

In spite of rising home prices and mortgage rates, consumer sentiment was higher than expected in December with a reading of 113.70 as compared to expectations of 110.00 and November's reading of 109.40.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic reports include Labor Department releases on Non-Farm Payrolls, and the national unemployment rate. ADP payrolls and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. Financial markets will be closed on Monday in observance of New Year's Day.