Posted in Around The Home

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect The ‘Mood’ Of Your Home

Did You Know? How Paint Color Choices Can Drastically Affect the 'Mood' of Your HomeWhether you’re sprucing up your house to sell or simply looking for a color to bring out the beauty of your home, it’s imperative that you do your homework.

Before you head off to your local DIY store with a paint sample in one hand and a wallet in the other, you need to ensure that you’re picking the colors that are right for your home and your personality.

It is true that you can never go wrong with a neutral, but you can also go so much more right with the correct color in the appropriate space, whether it’s a neutral or not.

Give The Buyers The Blues

Blue is a great calming color and has even been known to lower blood pressure. When a person walks into a blue room they feel tranquil and at peace.

Blue is also the color of trustworthiness and dependability, so if you are selling your home, or if you just want to make your guests feel welcome, put a blue paint color on the walls of your front hall or foyer.

Eat Your Heart Out Red

Red is a high-energy color and it has been proven to stimulate the appetite. This makes it a perfect color for a kitchen. An accent wall splashed with a deep, rich red can bring interest and vibrancy to an ordinary kitchen. Be sure not to overdo the red though; one wall or a back splash is enough to get the point across without becoming garish.

Approach Yellow With Caution

Yellow is one of the most difficult colors to pull off correctly in a home. The light plays tricks with it, and what you thought was a sunny yellow in the store might become a sallow jaundice on a cloudy day.

If you must paint with yellow keep it very pale and keep it in a less used room. It can be a soothing color but it’s best to leave it out of the main rooms.

Give Green A Go

Green is said to be the most restful color on the eyes. Certainly, when we think of green, we think of the outdoors. Experts say the color green taps into our need for balance and makes us feel safe and at home.

With all that going for it, the color green is an ideal choice for any room in your house; especially a master bedroom where the restfulness of the color invites you to climb into bed and have lovely dreams.

Visions Of Violet

Purple or violet is often a favorite color of children. As we grow older, we tend to forget about this under-used color. The truth is, however, it can be an absolutely stunning color in a family room or living room.

Although we associate purple with children, a deep royal purple can give your room a regal look, which is perfect if you have high or vaulted ceilings. If you want to give your home a feeling of luxury with a bit of decadence, then violet or purple is the color for you.

No matter what colors you choose in your home, if you’re looking to resell it’s a good idea to consult an expert to ensure that your colors are compatible with one another. There’s nothing worse than a house that has a chopped-up effect due to its rooms being painted a myriad of different colors.

If you need a hand choosing paint shades for your home, be sure to contact your real estate professional today.

Posted in Homeowner Tips

Here’s How You Can Leverage Your Home To Reduce Your Tax Burden For Next Year

It's Tax Time - Here's How You Can Leverage Your Home to Reduce Your Tax BurdenEach year around April, we can find ourselves becoming a little more tense at the thought of what is about to occur: tax time.

Instead of falling into the trap of procrastinating your taxes, however, it’s much more beneficial to face tax time head-on and do your research on your applicable deductions well in advance.

Your home is good for many things, but using your home to reduce your tax burden may be one benefit you haven’t thought of.

Here are some tax benefits that can be leveraged with your home, and some ways to lower your tax bill in 2014.

Deduct Interest On Home Loans

Though interest paid on personal loans isn’t deductible on your tax return, interest paid on mortgages is.

Home mortgage interest, for both your primary residence and a second home such as an investment property, can account for a large bill near the end of the year, and can significantly decrease your tax bill for 2014.

Interest paid on a line of credit for your home or a home equity loan is also usually deductible, and you may also qualify to deduct the insurance premiums on your private mortgage if this was a requirement from your lender. Ensure you keep your Form 1098 from you lender, and be sure not to miss each of your interest deductions.

Deducting Points Paid For A Better Rate

If you paid points in order to get a better interest rate on your home mortgage, the IRS will allow you to deduct these, too. If you meet the requirements for this deduction, one of which is that you paid the points in the same year that you purchased your primary residence, be sure to add the points to your list of deductions.

Deduct Property Taxes

Property taxes are also deductible on your tax return, and since they make up a significant portion of your home expenses each year, they certainly shouldn’t be excluded from your list of deductions in 2014.

As an annual deduction for the entire period you own your home, ensure you don’t forget about your first year in your home. If you’ve just purchased your home, the property taxes would have been split between the seller, the previous homeowner, and you, the buyer, at the time of the property transfer. Your portion of your first year’s property taxes for the home is also fully deductible.

Tax-Free Sales Gain

If you’ve owned and lived in your home for a minimum of two years and are ready to sell, you likely qualify for up to $250,000 dollars of tax-free profit, or up to $500,000 for married couples.

If the sale falls short of the two year mark, the IRS provides some tax relief if the sale is due to a list of unforeseen circumstances, such as changes in employment or health. Be sure to see where you qualify, and leverage the sale of your home for tax-free sales gain.

Having the ability to leverage your home in order to lower your tax burden is, of course, another benefit of being a homeowner. Often, reaping the full benefits of tax deductions is a simple matter of doing your research or speaking with a professional to get the information applicable to you.

Posted in Uncategorized

FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” Policy

FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” PolicyApril’s meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee was held along with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Meeting minutes released Wednesday indicated the committee’s interest in “normalizing” its monetary policy. This included the FOMC’s ongoing commitment to tapering its asset purchases under its quantitative easing program.

The committee agreed to taper the Fed’s monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $45 billion per month. Committee members discussed raising the target federal funds rate, which now stands at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the minutes clearly stated that this topic was undertaken as part of “prudent planning, and did not indicate that normalization would necessarily begin sometime soon.”

The FOMC minutes reflected the committee’s concern with achieving a balance between normalizing the Fed’s monetary policy and keeping short-term interest rates under control.

Meeting attendees considered methods for managing interest rates and considered potential impact of each method discussed on overall financial stability.

Importance Of Early Communication

Meeting participants discussed the importance of early communication of pending changes to the Fed’s monetary policy, and agreed that advising the public “well before the first steps in normalizing policy become appropriate.”

Early communication to the public of planned changes was viewed as a means of providing clarity and credibility to FOMC policy decisions and help FOMC achieve its statutory goals of maximum employment, stable pricing and moderate long term interest rates.

Potential Impact Of Achieving Normalcy

 FOMC members discussed the possible impact of tools considered for use in normalizing the economy on the following:

  • Fed control over short-term interest rates
  • The Fed’s balance sheet and Treasury remittances
  • Functionality of Federal Funds Market
  • Financial stability in normal times and times of stress

The minutes noted that the Fed has never used any of the methods discussed while the Fed held a large balance sheet, and recommended that flexibility in using tools for achieving normal fiscal policy.

No decision was made about normalizing current monetary policy; FOMC and Fed Board members agreed that further study and analysis were needed before any decisions would be made.

Fed: Mortgage And Refinance Applications “Tepid”

The FOMC minutes characterized the level of mortgage and refinance applications through March as tepid, due to increasing mortgage rates and home prices.

While a survey of senior loan officers revealed that mortgage credit had been loosened for applicants with prime credit, mortgage credit remained tight for those with less than excellent credit.

The unemployment rate held steady at 6.70 percent and remained above the FOMC’s benchmark of 6.50 percent. There was some good news as the workforce expanded and the ranks of the long-term unemployed decreased.

Stable employment is important to potential home buyers; if unemployment levels continue to fall, numbers of home buyers are likely to increase.

Posted in Uncategorized

FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” Policy

FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” PolicyApril’s meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee was held along with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Meeting minutes released Wednesday indicated the committee’s interest in “normalizing” its monetary policy. This included the FOMC’s ongoing commitment to tapering its asset purchases under its quantitative easing program.

The committee agreed to taper the Fed’s monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $45 billion per month. Committee members discussed raising the target federal funds rate, which now stands at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the minutes clearly stated that this topic was undertaken as part of “prudent planning, and did not indicate that normalization would necessarily begin sometime soon.”

The FOMC minutes reflected the committee’s concern with achieving a balance between normalizing the Fed’s monetary policy and keeping short-term interest rates under control.

Meeting attendees considered methods for managing interest rates and considered potential impact of each method discussed on overall financial stability.

Importance Of Early Communication

Meeting participants discussed the importance of early communication of pending changes to the Fed’s monetary policy, and agreed that advising the public “well before the first steps in normalizing policy become appropriate.”

Early communication to the public of planned changes was viewed as a means of providing clarity and credibility to FOMC policy decisions and help FOMC achieve its statutory goals of maximum employment, stable pricing and moderate long term interest rates.

Potential Impact Of Achieving Normalcy

 FOMC members discussed the possible impact of tools considered for use in normalizing the economy on the following:

  • Fed control over short-term interest rates
  • The Fed’s balance sheet and Treasury remittances
  • Functionality of Federal Funds Market
  • Financial stability in normal times and times of stress

The minutes noted that the Fed has never used any of the methods discussed while the Fed held a large balance sheet, and recommended that flexibility in using tools for achieving normal fiscal policy.

No decision was made about normalizing current monetary policy; FOMC and Fed Board members agreed that further study and analysis were needed before any decisions would be made.

Fed: Mortgage And Refinance Applications “Tepid”

The FOMC minutes characterized the level of mortgage and refinance applications through March as tepid, due to increasing mortgage rates and home prices.

While a survey of senior loan officers revealed that mortgage credit had been loosened for applicants with prime credit, mortgage credit remained tight for those with less than excellent credit.

The unemployment rate held steady at 6.70 percent and remained above the FOMC’s benchmark of 6.50 percent. There was some good news as the workforce expanded and the ranks of the long-term unemployed decreased.

Stable employment is important to potential home buyers; if unemployment levels continue to fall, numbers of home buyers are likely to increase.

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 27, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 19, 2014Last week’s economic news was dominated by speeches given by Federal Reserve presidents, the minutes from April’s FOMC meeting and commencement address given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The latest readings for new and existing home sales were also released.

Federal Reserve Speeches Suggest Concerns Over Monetary Policy Dependence, Low Inflation

Here are highlights of comments made by each of the Fed presidents’ speeches. Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, and John Williams, President of the San Francisco Fed, spoke at a conference held at the Bush Institute.

Mr. Fisher said that 98 percent of jobs lost during the recession had been recovered, and that other jobs had been added. He also cited “bad fiscal policies,” and said he is worried about dependence on the Fed’s monetary policy when “Congress and the Executive Branch have put on the brakes.” 

John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, said that he was concerned about slowing momentum in housing markets, although he noted that housing had driven economic recovery in the aftermath of the recession.

The inflation rate has remained well below the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2.00 percent, and Mr. Williams said that the Fed is paying close attention to this. His remarks were supported in Wednesday’s release of the FOMC minutes of its April meeting.

Charles Plosser, the Philadelphia Fed’s president, took an optimistic tone at a speech given before the Women in Housing Foundation on Tuesday. He said that the national unemployment rate could fall below 6.00 percent by the end of 2014 and that he expects the housing market to bounce back as well.

This makes sense, as strong labor markets are known to influence consumer decisions to buy a home.

New York Fed President William Dudley spoke before the New York Association for Business Economics, and said that there would be “a considerable period of time” between when the current asset purchase program ends and the first Fed rate hike would occur.

He also indicated that he expected longer-term interest rates (which include mortgage rates) to be “well below” a historical average of 4.25 percent.

Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said that the Fed should consider targeting price levels rather than the current policy of targeting the inflation rate. He said that this was not likely to occur any time soon, but noted that current Fed policy is “undershooting” the central bank’s goals for unemployment and inflation.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen cited her predecessor, Ben Bernanke as a positive example when she spoke at New York University’s commencement. She noted that he took “courageous actions unprecedented in ambition and scope” and that his “grit willingness to take a stand” had directed his decisions during the recession.

Mortgage Rates Down, Existing Home Sales Up

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates dropped last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 4.14 percent, a drop of six basis points. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.25 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to 2.96 percent. Discounts were unchanged at 0.60 percent for 30-year mortgages and 0.40 for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages, but dropped to 0.50 percent for 15-year mortgages.

Sales of existing homes rose to their highest level in four months according to the NAR. Month-to-month sales of previously-owned homes rose by 1.63 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million sales as compared to March’s reading of 4.59 million sales. This was the first rise in sales of existing homes in 2014, and nearly met expectations of 4.66 million sales.

This Week

After the Memorial Day holiday, this week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, FHFA’s house price index and consumer confidence index.

Pending home sales, jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report along with the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index round out the week’s scheduled events.

Posted in Uncategorized

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just A Few Hours Work

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just a Few Hours WorkHomeowners who want to increase the appeal of their residence before putting it up for sale can, within a few hours and with a little elbow grease, perform some do-it-yourself (DIY) kitchen upgrades that are sure to pique the interest of would-be buyers.

Many people either have or are in the process of listing their home, so it makes sense to do as much as possible to attract the interest of prospective purchasers.

It need not cost a proverbial arm and a leg to boost the selling price of a home. Here are three DIY kitchen upgrades that will help homeowners gain a competitive advantage in the real estate market and get attractive offers for their residence.

On-The-Cheap Cabinet Upgrades

For a DIY upgrade project that won’t cost much money and won’t take much time, homeowners should consider revamping their cabinetry, as long as the cabinets are structurally sound. After cleaning them and, if necessary, sanding down any rough spots, homeowners can apply a coat or two of paint and, after the paint dries, install new knobs or handles to finish off the project.

The end result will be a totally transformed kitchen that likely won’t require more than a can of paint, sandpaper, some cleaner and some knobs or handles.

Upgrade Your Countertops

It’s amazing how much of a difference an upgraded countertop can make to the overall look of a kitchen. Homeowners who believe that a new countertop would definitely transform their kitchen have a number of options at their disposal such as buying a new one, tiling over the existing one or repainting the existing one.

Often the easiest of the three options is repainting, since this simply involves sanding the surface, priming it, applying the paint and then applying numerous coats of polyurethane to safeguard the finish.

Transform Your Kitchen Backsplash

While a nice-looking kitchen backsplash can be a plus for would-be home buyers, the fact of the matter is that an ugly backsplash will definitely turn off prospective purchasers.

A cheap and relatively quick way to give a backsplash a new lease on life is to use so-called tile decals that, because of the adhesive they contain, can be pasted over top of existing backsplash tiles. There many different options in terms of styles, colors and concepts, so homeowners will be able to find the perfect option to make their backsplash look as good as new.

Preparing to list a home and get acceptable offers involves ensuring that your home will stack up nicely compared to other homes up for sale in the area. As it turns out, doing some quick and relatively simple kitchen upgrades will help to attract prospective buyers. Tips for performing any of these DIY upgrades can be found either at neighborhood big-box stores or online.

For more information on the real estate market or to get more information on any related topics, call your trusted real estate professional today for a no-obligation consultation.

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s In A Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your Mood

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your MoodBelieve it or not, paint colors can affect your mood. When remodeling your home, the color you use on the walls can end up being just as critical to the thematic consistency of your home as the furniture you use to decorate it.

Before you slap any old color on the walls, take some time to consider what mood you’d like each room to inspire.

Red, Yellow And Orange: The Colors Of Excitement, Hunger And Happiness

Ever wonder why the dining rooms, kitchens and entertainment rooms you see in magazines always seem come in every shade of red? It’s because these rooms are dedicated to eating and leisure time. Shades of red, especially bright, vibrant reds, have been linked to increased appetite and increases in energy levels.

In a similar vein, we have shades of yellow. Typically, yellow hues have been known to encourage feelings of happiness and joy.

That said, it’s a good idea to steer clear of especially bright shades of yellow that can be harder on the eyes, as they can foster feelings of frustration and an inability to concentrate.

Orange, like red, provides a great way to bring up energy levels, but like yellow, is prone to cause irritation when used excessively. People are more likely to be excitable and show more enthusiasm in rooms that incorporate this color. In order to reap the benefits of orange without causing irritation, restrict your use of it to the odd wall here and there.

Blue, Green And Purple: The Colors Of Restfulness, Peace And Serenity

It’s no surprise that blue is the color of calm and relaxation. For bedrooms and bathrooms, blue hues are ideal for inspiring restfulness; however, this color’s calming influence makes it a poor paint color choice for high traffic areas where high energy levels are necessary. 

Occasionally, overusing this color – especially in darker shades – can bring moods down beyond calmness and into sadness and depression.

Green is yet another color that inspires peace and restfulness. The advantage of green is that the serenity it brings on is accompanied by feelings of rejuvenation and replenishment. Think of green spaces as places where you can gather yourself and quietly rebuild your energy levels.

Purple is often associated with lavishness and luxury in deep, rich hues that spark creative thinking. In lighter shades, it has the same calming influence of blue but, thanks to its red undertones, none of the sadness that blue can often have.

Making The Most of These Colors: A Little Goes A Long Way

It’s unlikely that you will be painting any of the rooms in your house in a single shade of any of these colors. Experiment with different shades and work with colors that inspire similar emotions to break up the visual impression of the room.

You can use neutral paint colors like brown, black and white to bring depth to room, or to suppress the harsh tones of brighter colors like yellow and orange.

Psychologists have long known that colors affect mood, and in recent years, the interior design world has caught on as well. Now that you understand how paint colors can alter your mood, it’s important to paint your walls wisely.

To learn more about home care and prepping your home for sale, call your trusted real estate professional today!

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Surprising Spots in Your Home That Might Be Aggravating Your Allergies

Three Surprising Spots in Your Home That Might Be Aggravating Your AllergiesEnvironmental allergens affect the way many people live their lives and clean their homes. Allergens make their way into our houses, and can settle in some unexpected places – but knowing where these irritants can hide can help you eliminate problematic allergens from your home.

If your house has you sneezing and wheezing in every room, here are three allergy-triggering places where you wouldn’t expect to find allergens in the home.

1. Allergens Lurking In Your Living Room

Visitors to your home brings allergens with them. Allergens are easily transferred from your visitors onto your carpets and couches. Even if you do not have pets of your own, animal dander can easily find its way in with visitors from pet-friendly homes.

Your couches and cushions are hot spots for irritants. If you are find yourself exhibiting allergy symptoms in your living room, look to your cushions to find some relief.

These cushions and throw blankets can be placed into the dryer for a few minutes to get rid of irritating dander and dust mites.

Items that cannot be placed in the dryer should be cleaned regularly according to the manufacturer’s directions. A good vacuum with a HEPA filter can pull allergens out from flooring, drapes and couches.

2. Steaming Kitchens May Make You Sneeze

The kitchen may be home to mold that triggers your allergies. Steam from cooking and cleaning carries moisture into the air, and can cause damage not only to your health, but also to your home.

Dishwashers and other appliances can contribute to mold growth in a big way. Areas that are not regularly cleaned and properly maintained could be triggering allergic reactions. To get allergy relief, clean and sanitize the rubber seals of all your appliances.

If you suspect mold may be an issue, have a professional test your home. Whereas surface mold can be killed and cleaned, more serious mold problems may require renovation and cause serious harm.

3. An Attack On Your Sinuses While You Sleep

Dust mites flock to a surprising and unsettling place in our home. If you find your allergies are causing unrest, it may be where you are placing your head to sleep.

Pillows are problematic because they are not washed regularly with the rest of our bedding. There are many different solutions for this, and some are more effective and comfortable than others. Replace your pillows annually, or consider a different material or type of pillow – pillows with a tight woven covering will be harder for mites to penetrate, and allergy-proof pillow covers can be washed regularly.

Your bedroom is meant to be a place of rest, but where the room is placed could be causing you discomfort. Allergens from trees and plants out your window can make their way into your bedroom. Air purifiers can help, and in some instances you may want to consider having the irritant removed.

Pinpointing the source of a reaction can be a challenge, especially if the allergens are hiding in unexpected places in the home. Allergies in the home shouldn’t cause residents constant problems. Seek out the culprits that plague your sinus, and breathe easy knowing that your home can be your sanctuary.

For more information about available services and possible solutions to your allergen problems, call your trusted real estate agent today.

Posted in Uncategorized

Four Signs You Have Mold In Your Attic, And What You Can Do About It, Now!

Four Signs You Have Mold in Your Attic, and What You Can Do About It, Now!Signs of mold in your attic can be indicative of a bigger problem in your house, which is why it is a good idea to nip this situation in the bud as soon as you see it developing.

The signs of this type of fungus can be quite diverse and sometimes unexpected, so it pays to understand exactly what to look for if you suspect you have mold in your attic. Here are the four signs that you have mold in your attic, as well as what you can do about it right now.

Sign #1: You Spot Condensation In Your Attic

Condensation often occurs in cold spots in your home, and it is also one of the primary causes of mold. In fact, if you have condensation, it may build up and start to form droplets or even small pools of water. Look for condensation to appear in places such as metal pipes and windows, and any area in the attic that is cold to the touch.

Sign #2: Water Leaks In From Outside

Continuing the pattern that mold relates to moisture, water leaks can be a surefire indication of mold. If you notice a leak in your roof from the attic, then that’s a pretty reliable indication of a mold problem. Sometimes, though, water leaks can be hidden, as when they occur inside the wall cavities of your attic.

Sign #3: Are There Any Water Stains On The Ceiling?

When you spot water stains on the ceiling of your attic, you can expect it will turn out to be mold. This holds especially true if the water stains that you see are yellowish in appearance. Water stains can also appear in even darker colors – and if they do, it’s a major sign that you have mold.

Sign #4: Rust On Pipes, Nails And Windows

Rust is never a good thing to spot in your attic, as this is a reliable sign of a mold problem. Examples of places where you might see rust in your attic are on the metal pipes, the windows and on any nails. When rust shows up, this usually indicates that it is related to another water problem, such as a water leak, a water stain or simple condensation.

What To Do About A Mold Problem

A mold problem in your home deserves immediate attention and correction, as allowing mold to fester can result in health problems and damage to your home’s structure. The first step to deal with the issue is to get a mold inspection done in your attic, which is helpful in uncovering hidden mold as well. Then, if the test shows mold in an area greater than 10 square feet, it’s time to call in a professional mold remover.

These are the four signs of mold and what to do about mold once you spot it. It’s important that you are able to spot all of these important indications of mold, as it can be highly destructive and unhealthy if left untreated. Don’t forget to call your trusted real estate professional today for more information on residential issues.

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 19, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 19, 2014Last week’s economic news was relatively flat, but highlights include the NAHB Housing Market Index for May, which posted its lowest reading since May 2013. Although analysts expected a May reading of 48, the May 2014 index reading was 45 as compared to April’s reading of 46.

The NAHB reported that rising home prices and unpredictable job markets were factors in builders’ loss of confidence. Although the economy is growing stronger, many would-be homebuyers remain skeptical of economic conditions and remain on the sidelines.

NAHB: Stronger Builder Confidence Expected in Coming Months

Builder confidence in market conditions for single family homes within the next six months were higher at 57, a one-point improvement over April’s reading. Builder confidence in buyer foot traffic increased by two points to 33; this was likely a result of warmer weather. David Crowe, chief economist of the NAHB, said that builder confidence is expected to improve as consumers grow more secure about their employment.

Economy: Retail Sales Slow

Retail sales for April posted a gain of 0.10 percent over the March reading of an upwardly revised 1.50 percent and expectations of 0.40 percent for April. The Commerce Department reported that without the automotive sector, April’s retail sales were unchanged. The difference between March and April retail sales readings was attributed to a burst of spending after severe winter weather and the Easter holiday.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates across the board, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage one basis point lower at 4.20 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.29 percent. Discount points for 30 and 15-year mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.01 percent. Discount points dropped from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent. 

New Jobless claims fell from the prior week’s reading of 321,000 to 297,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to be unchanged from the prior week’s reading.

Manufacturing Sector Shows Strength

The Empire State Index, which measures manufacturing growth in New York rose to 19.0 in May against an expected reading of 5.0 and April’s reading of 1.3. The Philly Fed Index, another indicator of manufacturing, surpassed its expected reading of 14.3 and came in at 15.4, but May’s reading was lower than April’s 16.6.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the release of the minutes of the last FOMC meeting, New Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates, Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales and Leading Indicators.