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Monthly Archives: March 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 31, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 31,2014

Last week’s economic news includes several reports about housing markets.

The S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city housing market indices, the FHFA House Price Index, New Home Sales and Pending Home sales reports suggest that the national housing market continues to grow, but at lower rates.

Regional readings varied and suggested that winter weather was a negative influence on affected markets.

In a press conference held on March 19 Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that severe winter weather had interfered with the Fed’s ability to get a clear reading on economic developments.

The Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for January showed year-over-year growth of 13.50 and 13.20 percent respectively. The 20-City Home Price Index reported that 12 of 20 cities reported slower rates of home price appreciation.

The 10-City Index ticked upward, but was little changed. The 20-City index posted its third consecutive month-to-month decline in home prices with a reading of -0.10 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada led cities posting gains with a month-to-month reading of +1.10 percent, but home values remain 45 percent below peak prices achieved in August 2006.

David M. Blitzer, chair of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that home prices were up 23 percent over their lows in 2012.

FHFA Data Reflects Slower Growth in Home Prices

The FHFA House Price Index reports home price trends for sales of homes with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. January’s data reported a year-over-year gain of 7.40 percent, which is approximately 8.0 percent below its peak in April 2007.

Month-to-month home prices varied within the nine U.S. Census regions and ranged from -0.30 percent to +1.30 percent.

FHFA reported that year-over-year, all nine regions reported gains in home prices that ranged from +3.20 percent in the Middle Atlantic region to 14.0 percent home price growth in the Pacific region.

New and Pending Home Sales Slow

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, February sales of new homes matched projections at 440,000 as compared to January’s revised reading of 455,000 new homes sold, which was a year-over-year high.

New home sales improved by 37 percent in the Midwest, but fell in the Northeast, South and West. This suggests that while winter weather played a role, but that housing markets are cooling in general.

Rising mortgage rates and concerns over new lending standards likely contributed to the drop in sales.

Pending home sales slumped in February according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

February’s index reading of 93.9 as compared to January’ index reading of 94.7 represented the eighth consecutive monthly drop for pending home sales and was the lowest reading since October 2011.

Pending home sales indicate future completed sales. Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, noted that home sales delayed by winter weather may be completed this spring.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Lower Than Predicted

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising eight basis points to 4.40 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates rose 10 basis points to 3.42 percent.

Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 3.02 percent to 3.08 percent.

Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent and ticked upward from 0.40 to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Construction Spending for March,  ADP payrolls for March along with Freddie Mac’s PMMS weekly report on mortgage rates and the BLS Non-Farm Payrolls report. 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Get Your Lawn Ready For Spring

Get Your Lawn Ready For SpringIf you live in a climate where your yard has been hibernating for months, then you’re probably ready for warmer weather and a hint of green outside your kitchen window.

So, in preparation for children running on lush grass through spritzing sprinklers, use the five tips below to get your lawn ready for spring. It will reward you with picnic perfect grass all summer long.

1. Clean Up Winter’s Clutter

Take a rake and remove all of the dead leaves and debris left over from the winter months. Leaving a layer of last-year’s foliage on the ground can smother your grass and hinder your lawn’s growth.

Once your yard is clear, spread a thin layer of compost to enrich your soil and provide nutrients for when you grass is ready to sprout.

2. Aerate Your Yard

Compacted soil makes it hard for roots to grow and water to drain and distribute throughout your yard. So rent an aerator. It uses steel tubes to take plugs from your lawn. These holes will allow air and water to penetrate your soil, which will create healthier and lusher grass. 

3. Check Your Soil’s PH

Most grass and plants grow best when your soil’s pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0. Some plants like a little bit more acidic soil, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. Plants grown in soil with their proper pH level are healthier and more resistant to disease. You can buy soil test kits at local garden centers.

4. Prevent Weeds From Growing

Once you’ve aerated and only if you’re not planning to plant new grass seed, then distribute a chemical weed preventer, which can be found at any home improvement store. When watered, it creates a barrier on the soil to keep weeds from sprouting. 

5. Have Your Lawn Mower Inspected

Your lawn mower has been sitting idle all winter, so give it a tune-up before those first blades of grass get too long. Take it into a local service shop to have the carburetor and fuel lines cleaned and the blades sharpened. This will make it run more efficiently and put out a little less pollution. 

Even if you live in a warm climate and your flowers have been blooming all year, spring is the perfect time to do an annual assessment of your yard.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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S & P Case-Shiller Shows Home Prices Down For Third Consecutive Month

S & P Case-Shiller Shows Home Prices Down For Third Consecutive MonthHarsh winter weather conditions contributed to home prices falling in January. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City composite index reported that home prices dropped by 0.10 percent in January, but after seasonal adjustments, home prices increased by 0.80 percent in January as compared to December. 12 of 20 cities posted declines in home prices in January.

There’s no cause for alarm, as year-over-year home prices increased by 13.20 percent as compared to year-over –year readings of 13.40 percent in December and 13.70 percent in November. David Blitzer, chair of the S&P Dow Jones index committee, said “The housing market is showing signs of moving forward with more normal price increases.” Home prices remain about 20 percent below a peak reached in 2006.

Housing Markets Face Challenges

Analysts expect home prices to grow at a slower pace in 2014. Factors impacting home prices include higher mortgage rates that make homes less affordable, new mortgage rules that may affect some homebuyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage.

A shortage of available homes overshadowed housing market growth in 2013; there just weren’t enough homes available to meet demand in some areas.  The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) noted in its statement last week that it was difficult to determine the exact scope of winter weather on recent economic reports.

Regional Markets Show Discrepancies In Recovery

The S & P Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city home price index reports shed light on a “patchwork quilt” housing recovery. While some areas have seen a higher than average rate of year-over-year home price growth, other areas are underperforming.

Here is a sampling of Case-Shiller’s January data throughout the U.S:

Las Vegas, Nevada                             +24.90 percent

San Francisco, California                     +23.10 percent

Chicago, Illinois                                 +10.80 percent

Washington, D.C.                              +9.20 percent

New York, New York                           +6.70 percent

Cleveland, Ohio                                 + 4.00 percent

 The S & P Case Shiller 10 and 20 city home price indices posted year-over-year gains of 13.50 and 13.20 percent respectively.

 FHFA Data Shows Similar Trend

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released its House Price Index (HPI) for January with similar results for homes mortgaged or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The House Price Index indicated that home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.50 percent from December to January. According to the FHFA HPI, home prices increased by 7.40 percent year-over-year.

January’s HPI was 8.00 percent below the index’s April 2007 high.

The FHFA HPI data is seasonally adjusted and is based on home purchases only.

FHFA month-to-month data for the nine census bureau districts reflects the differences in housing markets throughout the U.S.

FHFA month-to –month home price growth December 2013 to January 2014:

Middle Atlantic division:    + 1.30 percent

New England                        + 1.00 percent

West North Central             + 1.00 percent

Pacific                                    + 0.80 percent

East South Central              + 0.70 percent

Mountain                              + 0.50 percent

South Atlantic                      + 0.30 percent

East North Central              + 0.10 percent

West South Central             –  0.30 percent

Along with warm weather’s arrival is the potential for regional housing markets sidelined over the winter to recover.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Think Like A Real Estate Agent

Think Like A Real Estate AgentBefore you put your home on the market, you want to make certain that it’s in tip-top condition to ensure a quick sale. The key to listing your home at a competitive price and guaranteeing you have what buyers are looking for is to think like a real estate agent.

To get your home ready to sell, here are five easy and inexpensive home improvements this real estate agent recommends:

  1. Layout – Take an objective look at your home and stage accordingly. Remove clutter and rearrange furniture so that potential buyers can envision each room’s purpose. Also, store any obtrusive furniture that disrupts walking flow or makes rooms look smaller.
  2. Hardware – Update all hardware. Changing out door handles, drawer pulls and light fixtures is an easy way to modernize your home while costing little money.
  3. Charm – Play up the unique features of your home. Refinish hardwood floors if scuffed, remove excess objects from built-in bookshelves and clean unique light fixtures. It’s these irreplaceable elements that make your home stand out from other homes and hook buyers. 
  4. Scent – Eliminate all bad odors like pet smells, stale cooking odors and cigarette smoke. Just lighting candles or spraying air freshener won’t work. Clean, deodorize and get rid of rugs or other cloth objects that still smell bad.
  5. Curb Appeal – Spend some time sprucing up the yard. It’s the first impression buyers will have, and although the house might be in mint condition, a lots-of-work lawn could instill a negative notion before they even step a foot inside your home.

Buyers’ needs vary in every market. However, buyers will always consider these five features before they buy. So, stay one step ahead of the game and ensure your house is up to par with buyers’ expectation.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home and are looking for a real estate agent who can help you sell your home fast and for top-dollar, I’d be honored to be interviewed for the job. Give your trusted real estate professional a call today.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Staging Your Home For Sale? Follow This Easy Guide And Find Success!

Staging Your Home For Sale? Follow This Easy Guide And Find Success!If you are going to be staging your home for sale in the near future, you will most likely want to do it as professionally and successfully as possible to get the best sale price.

Many owners have to put a lot of money into their home before they can sell it, and some even invest in a staging expert to come to their home and do an assessment before they put it on the market.

You don’t have to spend too much on getting your home ready, though, and you can do a lot of it yourself. Consider these basic staging tips when you are going to stage your home.

Clean Your Home From Top To Bottom

While you would most likely clean your home before you attempt to sell it, if you really want your sale to be successful, clean every single thing in the home. This includes steam cleaning the carpets, washing and waxing the floors, getting the grout and grunge out of the tiles and more.

If you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, you might want to pay for a professional home cleaning service so you can guarantee cleanliness.

Give Your Home One Basic Hue

If you are going to be selling your home, there are some colors that may put off potential buyers. If you have rooms in colors like fire engine red or bright mint green, the buyer may be put off with just one glance. Choose one soft color and paint the whole home.

You may require a professional painter’s advice and help in this area if you have no eye for design or if you do not possess any color coordination techniques.

Say No To Clutter

This is a very important (and yet very basic) step. Get rid of the clutter in your home. If you have loads of newspapers, magazines, mini statues and miscellaneous junk sitting around your home and on coffee tables, clear it off.

Put it away in storage boxes so you can take it when you move – or do some spring cleaning and get rid of everything you don’t need. Show as much counter space as you possibly can, as this will better represent the space.

Potential buyers can quickly change their yes to a no when they enter the home that they first adored from the outside, only to see clutter everywhere. Logically, everyone knows a home will be emptied before selling, but the clutter can ruin the whole feeling of purchasing a new home.

Perform Some Minor Repairs

If you notice scratches, rips, blotches or any broken items in the home, try to fix them yourself or hire a professional handyman service. Repairing your home before a sale will definitely improve your home’s appearance and value, making it more appealing to the buyer.

Selling a home is often a challenge, but with a little bit of hard work, you can turn your home into a move-in ready paradise for potential buyers. You’d be surprised what a thorough cleaning and a new coat of paint can do for a space. For expert assistance with home staging, contact a knowledgeable real estate professional near you.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Common Details Buyers Overlook When Viewing A Home

Common Details Buyers Overlook When Viewing A HomeWhen you are looking at a potential home to buy, it’s important to pay attention to the details so that you can ensure that you are making the right choice. However, many home buyers will get so caught up in the excitement that they will miss certain important things that they need to know about the property.

If you are buying a home, make sure that you don’t miss any of these commonly overlooked details:

Do The Appliances Work?

Take the time to test the major appliances in the home to make sure that they are functioning properly. This is a very likely flaw that is often overlooked in a home inspection.

It is a good idea to ask your home inspector to run every appliance through its full cycle to make sure that there are no problems.

What Are The Neighbors Like?

Many home buyers forget to figure out who the people are who live next door and what they are like, which can really backfire later on.

Perhaps your quiet neighborhood is disturbed by the sounds of partying late into the night, or your neighbor will let their free-range cats destroy your garden. Ask around the neighborhood to learn more about the people living next to you and what they are like.

How Many Outlets Does The House Have?

When you do a walkthrough of a house, you probably don’t notice the number of electrical outlets in each room. However, this is important because many older homes will have fewer outlets and these days the average family has many more electronics.

If your home doesn’t have enough outlets for your television, computer and other gadgets, an electrician will need to come and add more – costing you a lot of money.

Are There Are Water Spots?

It’s easy to miss water spots, because they will often blend in with the color of the walls or ceiling. However, these spots will indicate that there has been a leak that has not been properly repaired, which will lead to many more problems including more leaks and mold. When you are looking at your potential home, always inspect carefully for water spots in kitchens, bathrooms, attics and basements.

These are just a few of the common details that home buyers will overlook when they are looking at a potential home to buy. For more info and tips about buying a home, contact your trusted real estate professional.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 24, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 24, 2014Last week’s economic news included several housing-related reports including the Housing Market Index (HMI) for March, a report on housing starts, and building permits for February.

The National Association of REALTORS® also released its Existing Home Sales report for February and the Federal Reserve issued its first FOMC statement under the helm of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

Home Builders Conservative On Housing Market Conditions

The National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose by one point to a reading of 47 in March against a reading of 46 in February and against an expected reading of 50. Readings above 50 signify that more builders have a positive view of housing market conditions than not.

Conditions contributing to the sluggish reading included a lack of lots for development and labor shortages. The NAHB also cited rising home prices and mortgage rates as reasons for builders’ conservative outlook.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts And Building Permits

The U.S. Commerce Department released reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued for February. Housing starts dipped to 907,000 in February against expectations of 908,000 expected housing starts and January’s reading of 909,000 housing starts. Severe winter weather froze construction and transport of building supplies.

Building permits issued increased to 1.02 million on a seasonally adjusted basis against January’s reading of 945,000 building permits issued.

February’s reading represents a 7.70 percent increase over January’s permits issued and was attributed to a sharp rise in plans for condominiums and rental housing projects.

407,000 permits for multi-unit buildings were issued in February and represented a 24.3 percent increase on an annualized basis. Analysts saw the increase in building permits as a sign that construction will pick up as warmer weather arrives.

Existing Home Sales Fall, Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Guidelines Cited

The National Association of REALTORS® reported a decrease of 0.40 percent in sales of existing homes from January’s reading. February’s reading of 4.60 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis was lower than January’s reading of 4.62 million existing homes sold, but exceeded expectations of 4.58 million existing homes sold.

Analysts identified familiar causes such as high mortgage rates and home prices, bad weather and a short supply of available homes for the dip in existing home sales. New standards for “qualified mortgages” became effective in January and were seen as a possible obstacle to would-be home buyers as mortgage lenders keep a tight rein on mortgage credit policies.

Federal Open Market Committee Statement Details $10 Billion Dollar Change

Reports indicate that Fed Policy is expected to stay much the same as it was under its previous chairman. FOMC approved an additional $10 billion reduction in asset purchases designed to keep long term interest rates low.

The Fed will now purchase $55 billion monthly in mortgage-backed securities and treasury bonds as compared to its original level of $85 billion monthly.

Wall Street did not respond well to FOMC’s revised projections for short-term interest rates, which were revised from 1.75 percent by the end of 2016 to a possible short-term rate of 2.25 percent.

FOMC removed the benchmark 6.50 percent national unemployment rate for raising the federal funds rate, which is currently 0.250 percent. Instead, the Fed will review a wide range of economic indicators before changing monetary policy.

Janet Yellen, in her first press conference as fed chair, said that the Fed may consider rising short-term interest rates a few months before its original target of October to December of 2015.

Mortgage Rates Drop

Mortgage rates dropped last week according to Freddie Mac. Average mortgage rates fell from 4.37 percent to 4.32 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans. Rates for 15-year mortgages dropped from 3.38 percent to 3.32 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 3.09 percent to 3.02 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead This Week

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the Case-Shiller and FHFA Home Price Indexes for January. New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales will also be released.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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