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.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a Landlord


Real Estate Investment: Three Telltale Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a LandlordThe idea of purchasing a property and having renters can be an exciting business venture that offers lucrative financial rewards. However, there's a lot involved in being a successful landlord and it's important to be aware of what's required before making the commitment. Whether you're investing in one rental property or five, here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting involved.

Can You Do-It-Yourself?

There's a lot more to being a landlord than taking the rental check, and one of these things is being there for the tenant when push comes to shove. If there are issues with the heating or the fridge breaks down, you're going to be the one who has to facilitate or complete the repair, so you'll need to have the wherewithal to fix problems effectively. While there are many situations where a repairperson can help, having some DIY skills goes a long way towards turning a better profit.

Do You Have The Time?

Weeks and even months may go by where your tenant requires little to nothing from you, but if you own an older property or have several renters, even maintaining the place can get to be quite a bit of a chore. It can be a good expenditure to have a contractor take care of these issues, but you'll still have to use your time to find the right person and oversee the budget. If you already have a pretty full schedule, being a landlord will add a lot more to the pile.

Can You Deal With The Risk?

It can be easy to turn a profit if you have a renter, but if you happen to own property in a vacation area or a community on a downturn, it may be more difficult to find renters consistently. There may be periods of time where tenants are scarce, and this means that you'll have to be comfortable with financial instability in order to weather the storm. While the moneymaking months can make up for the off-season, if you doubt your ability to take on the financial risk, this may not be the right choice.

Being a landlord is a considerable responsibility that will require you to take on financial risk and serve your tenants effectively and efficiently. If you're thinking of becoming a landlord and are looking for a rental property, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 6, 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 rat

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 3, 2017

Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate Friendly

Worried About Climate Change? Here Are 4 Ways to Make Your Home More Climate FriendlyMany people are concerned with having a negative impact on the environment, but it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to climate friendly solutions around the home. Whether you're planning for a future investment or are interested in fixing-up the home you're in, here are some solutions for greening up your personal space that won't bust the bank.

Evaluate Your Insulation

If your insulation is not installed properly or requires more padding, this will have a significant impact on your energy use and your monthly electricity bill. By doing a candle test around the house to check for drafts around windows or air ducts, you can easily determine places that need a bit of a patch so the cold air can stay outside.

Re-Use An Old Item

When re-designing a space in your home, it's tempting to run out to Pottery Barn or IKEA to pick out something new, but re-using an old piece can go a long way towards lessening your footprint. Instead of heading to the big box store, search online for old items people are selling or visit a garage sale. You may just find an unexpected piece that will add a vintage touch.

Collect The Rainwater

A great way to conserve water around the home is to set up a barrel somewhere in your yard to collect water when it rains. Whether it's from the sky or coming down from the eaves troughs, it's one of the easiest ways to conserve. While this green-friendly venture is DIY, it will still provide much-needed water when you're washing the car or watering the plants.

Install A Programmable Thermostat

One of the best ways to conserve energy in your home and lower your electricity bill each month is to install a programmable thermostat. This will enable you to set the heating and cooling in your home so it works in conjunction with your schedule and you won't have to make the adjustment on your own. You may even want to lower the temperature or change your adjustment times to provide even greater savings.

For many people, the impact they're having on the environment is an important concern, but there are things that homeowners can do to minimize their impact. If you're currently greening up your home and are getting prepared to put it on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Case-Shiller: December Home Prices Highest in More Than Two Years

December home prices continued to rise per December readings for Case-Shiller's National and 20-City Home Price Indices. On average, national home prices increased by 5,80 percent year-over-year and exceeded November's year-over-year reading of 5.60 percent. The 20 City Index, which analysts follow more closely than the National Home Price Index, posted a year-over-year gain of 5.60 percent in December, which exceeded an expected reading of 5.40 percent and November's year-over-year reading of 5.20 percent growth.

West Posts Highest Home Price Growth

The West continued to dominate home price growth rates with Seattle, Washington posting 10.80 percent year-over-year growth while Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado posted year-over-year gains of 10.00 percent and 8.90 percent respectively. New York, New York posted the lowest year-over-year gain in home prices with year-over-year growth of 3.10 percent. Washington, D.C. followed with 4.20 percent growth in home prices; Cleveland, Ohio posted a year-over-year gain of 4.40 percent.

Home Price Growth Rate Doesn't Indicate a New Housing Bubble

David M. Blitzer, Chairman and Managing Director of the S&P Indices Committee that oversees Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, said that home prices adjusted for inflation averaged a year-over-year growth rate of 3.80 percent. While higher than average, Mr. Blitzer said the current rate of home price growth "is not alarming."

While rising home prices may sideline moderate-income and first-time homebuyers, high demand for homes and ongoing shortages of homes for sale continued to drive prices up. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes an average inventory reading, but the current supply of homes for sale averages three to four months. Recently rising mortgage rates were also cited as contributing to higher home prices; rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage average 4.20 percent as compared to 6.40 percent on average since 1990.

Questions of affordability and rising rates could impact first-time buyers who enable current homeowners to sell their homes and "move up." If large numbers of first-time buyers are sidelined by rising home values and mortgage rates, home prices could be impacted if investors and cash buyers fail to fill in gaps between high home prices and affordability.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging Tips

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging TipsWith all of the busyness of the winter months and most people settling in for the season, it can be hard to achieve a successful home sale at the end of the year. Fortunately, if you simply can't wait to put your home on the market, here are some staging tips that will engage potential buyers so you won't have to wait much longer for an offer.

Add Accents To Your Neutrals

It's often the case that a home with neutral colors will show better because potential buyers can envision themselves in it, but there are ways to dress up neutral tones that will add spark. Instead of leaving your place too ho-hum, try punching up the color palette with a few bright pieces that will catch the eye. Whether you add a throw, some pillows, a vase or a vivid painting, this can be a simple way to create a lasting impression.

Let The Light In

The winter months can be a more difficult time to let natural light in, but few things will have a more positive impact on how your home shows than the lighting. A warm, homey space that is lit in a way that maximizes your home's best features will be sure to make potential home buyers interested. In addition, good lighting will work to minimize any flaws that might be more visible in a less flattering light.

Don't Forget About The Senses

It's easy to get so involved in cleaning and de-cluttering your home that you forget about creating ambiance, but engaging the senses can have a very positive impact on potential home buyers. Instead of leaving this aspect to chance, you may want to bake something to create a pleasant scent or play music so that people viewing your home will stick around a little longer. Potential home buyers may not be aware of it, but engaging the senses can have an unconscious effect on the impression your home leaves.

The winter months are not always the best time to put your home on the market, but it may just mean that you'll need to put in a little more effort to make the sale. By engaging the senses and adding color to a neutral palette, you may just snag an ideal offer. If you're currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.