Posted in Market Outlook

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Holds SteadyHome builder confidence remained steady at the highest reading in almost ten years according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July. The latest reading of 60 for the index was identical to expectations and June’s reading, which was revised to 60 from an initial reading of 59. The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is based on readings of zero to 100 with readings over 50 indicating that a majority of home builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. July’s reading was the 13th consecutive month of readings above 50.

July’s Housing Market Index Highest Since November 2005

NAHB chief economist David Crowe said that July’s reading is consistent with stronger markets for new and existing homes as well as job growth, but also noted builder concerns over obtaining lots for development and necessary labor at favorable prices.

The monthly reading for housing market condition is based on three components. Two components showed improvement with the reading for current market conditions up one point to 66; the reading for housing market conditions in the next six months gained two points for a reading of 72 and the reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments lost one point for a reading of 63.

Report Details Regional Market Conditions

NAHB’s three month moving average of regional builder confidence showed gains of one point in the South for a reading of 61; the Midwest also reported a gain of one point to 55. Builder confidence readings for the Northeast and West each gained three points to readings of 47 and 60 respectively.

NAHB chairman Tom Woods said that based on current readings, housing markets should continue to improve throughout the second half of 2015. Economic analysts agreed with this assessment and noted that evidence suggests that housing markets are seeing a steady upswing.

In unrelated reporting, the Department of Commerce is due to release reports on housing starts and building permits today.

Posted in Around The Home

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Home

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your HomeHomeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Replace The Front Door

The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.

Update The Kitchen Back Splash

A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.

Repaint The Walls And Baseboards

Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition.

Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself.   Each of these prjects under most circomstances can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home. Consulting with a real estate professional about improvements that may be desirable in a specific home can help the homeowner in choosing what to tackle first.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Ignore ‘The Bubble’ Talk – 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate It is common for those who are interested in buying real estate in the near future to tune into news stories about the real estate market, and many may have heard that there is speculation about a real estate bubble that may pop soon. While this gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that summer 2015 is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are three good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Low Interest Rates

Most who have plans to purchase real estate will need to apply for a mortgage loan to complete their transaction, and today’s low interest rates are highly competitive. Low interest rates make the cost of borrowing money to purchase real estate lower, and this means that the mortgage payment that may be locked in may be lower. There is some speculation that interest rates will rise in the coming months, and this means that now may be a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Great Deals Available

More than that, there are some great real estate deals available for buyers to take advantage of. Real estate values in many areas have rebounded in recent years, but some areas are still off historic highs. In addition, there may be foreclosures, short sales and other types of transactions that can result in buyers saving money on their property purchase.

The Benefits Of Home Ownership

Another benefit associated with making a purchase now is that home buyers can start enjoying the financial benefits of home ownership sooner. These benefits include the ability to build equity through debt reduction and value appreciation as well as tax benefits associated with owning property. These are benefits that can have a true impact on a person’s financial situation, and it may be financialy advantageous to have access to these benefits sooner rather than later.

There will always be speculation about what the real estate market may do in the coming weeks, months and years, but it is impossible to accurately determine how the market may act. With this in mind, it may be best for buyers to take advantage of currently great market conditions rather than attempt to time the market in the future. Home buyers can get more information about market conditions by speaking with their trusted real estate professional.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These “Rookie Mistakes”

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These Many home buyers who are applying for their first mortgage will go to great lengths to research the options, learn more about loan terms and generally educate themselves about a process that they are unfamiliar with. Despite these common steps that rookie mortgage applicants make, they often make similar mistakes when applying for their first mortgage. By learning about these common mistakes, you can take steps to prevent making them yourself.

Not Focusing on All Costs of Home Ownership

Many first-time home buyers are overwhelmingly focused on setting up a mortgage payment that is affordable for their budget. While this is important, the mortgage payment is not the only expense associated with home ownership. For example, there are property taxes, insurance, repair and maintenance expenses, homeowners’ association dues and more. All of these expenses should be reviewed when you consider what mortgage payment is affordable for your budget.

Not Thinking About Short and Long-Term Plans

You should also think about short and long-term plans for your home ownership experience. Some will choose a long term or an adjustable rate to keep the payments low. However, they will not consider the fact that the payment will be in place until the home is sold or the loan is refinanced. It is not certain what mortgage rates will be in the future or if you may qualify for a great rate on a refinance loan in the future, so you should always ensure that you can maintain the payment structure for as long as needed.

Not Getting Pre-Qualified

It can be intimidating to get pre-qualified for a home mortgage. Some may fear rejection or denial altogether, and some may estimate an amount they may qualify for without actually getting pre-qualified. This can backfire for you. The pre-qualification process helps you to learn the maximum loan amount you may qualify for and the payment for that amount, and this is sound, valuable information that can help you to make a more informed decision when selecting your home.

As a first-time home buyer, you may be stressed about finding the right home to buy and researching the neighborhoods and schools. While these are all factors to pay attention to, you also need to focus heavily on your mortgage. Through these efforts, you can set up an affordable home loan that is comfortable for you to manage on your budget.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week’s scheduled economic events were few due to the Independence Day holiday. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates brought good news as mortgage rates fell across the board. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and weekly jobless claims rose.

Job Openings Rise to Highest Level Since 2000

The Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings rose from April’s reading of 5.33 million to 5.36 million job openings in May. This was the highest reading for job openings since the report’s inception in 2000. Private sector job openings rose to 4.85 million, an increase of 16 percent. Government jobs rose increased by 511,000 open jobs from April’s reading of 430,000 job openings. Based on the Labor Department’s report of 8.67 million unemployed workers, there were 1.60 job seekers for each job opening in May as compared to 2.10 job seekers for each job available in May 2014. There were approximately 1.80 job seekers for each job available when the recession started in December 2007.

FOMC Minutes: Fed Issues No Firm Date for Raising Rates

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of June’s FOMC meeting, during which nine of ten committee members indicated that they were not ready to raise the federal funds rate. One FOMC member indicated that they were willing to wait for another meeting or two to raise rates. While FOMC has hinted at the likelihood of raising rates this fall, committee members are wary of moving too quickly and cited developments in China and Greece as concerns that contributed to the committee’s current wait and see position. When the Fed does raise its target rates from 0.00 percent, consumers can expect higher mortgage and loan rates.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates fizzled last week with Freddie Mac reporting average rates lower for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent and discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.20 percent. Average discount points for a 15-year mortgage fell from 0.60 to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 2.93 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

According to the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims rose to 297,000 new claims filed as compared to 282,000 new claims filed the previous week. There were no estimates for last week’s jobless claims due to the holiday.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Prices, Retail Prices Except Automotive and the NAHB Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department is set to release monthly readings for Housing Starts and Building Permits. In addition to Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and the Labor Department’s report on new jobless claims, the University of Michigan will wrap up the week with its Consumer Sentiment report.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips

Summer's Coming! Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips Curb appeal is important in the home sales process, and this is because it will impact the overall first impression that potential home buyers have about the property. Some homeowners can easily spend a small fortune and a considerable amount of time improving curb appeal, but others may be looking for faster and easier results. The good news is that boosting curb appeal is easy and affordable to do when these three tips are followed.s

Spruce Up The Front Door

The front door and patio area are focal points for those driving by the home, and this area receives even more scrutiny by those home buyers who walk up to the home to take a tour of the interior. Re-staining or re-painting the front door can be highly beneficial to dressing up the look of this focal area, and this can give the impression that the home is well-maintained and stylish. In addition, consider replacing the front door mat and hardware on the door for improved results and added aesthetic appeal.

Power Wash The Exterior Of The Home

Beautification efforts for the front of the home would not be complete without spending time cleaning up the space, and one of the best ways to clean the exterior of a property thoroughly is by power washing it. Power washing the exterior may include cleaning the exterior siding material of the home, the patio, the driveway, the sidewalk and even the fencing. This can give the entire area a fresher and more appealing look.

Add Color To The Flower Beds

Some homeowners may not have funds or time available to fully revamp the landscaping, but showing the flower beds some attention can pay off. After weeding the flower beds, add some fresh, brightly colored blooms to the area to dress up curb appeal. Homeowners can finish off the look by spreading a new layer of mulch across the flower beds after the flowers have been planted.

Curb appeal is vital to selling a home quickly and for top dollar. Enhancing curb appeal can cost a small fortune and could take weeks to do, but even these small and affordable efforts can give homeowners great results with minimal time and money required. Homeowners who are thinking about selling their property soon can contact a real estate professional for personal assistance with their staging and home improvement efforts.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster A home mortgage payment can be a large or even the largest expense in a person’s budget, and not having this payment any longer can be a life changing experience. Because of this, you may be dreaming about the day when you no longer have to make this payment.Some people may even actively make extra payments to their mortgage in order to pay the outstanding balance off more quickly.These may be funds from an IRS tax refund, cash received from the holidays or a birthday or some other windfall.

Before you make the decision about whether to use spare funds to pay your mortgage down more quickly, consider these pros and cons.

The Benefits of Making Extra Mortgage Payments

You can shave many years off of your home mortgage when you make even a single extra payment each year. This can help you to achieve long-term financial goals, build equity and avoid paying more than necessary in interest charges. Keep in mind that any principal that is removed from the outstanding balance now will not generate interest charges going forward. This can have a snowball effect on your home equity, and this is especially true when you make extra payments on a regular basis.

Why Extra Payments Are Not Always the Best Option

Clearly, there are some great benefits associated with making extra payments on your home mortgage. However, there are also some downsides to consider before you take this step. Your home mortgage may be one of your debts with the lowest interest rate.

For example, many mortgage interest rates today are below five percent while some credit card rates may exceed 15 or 18 percent. Over the long-term, you may benefit more from savings on interest charges by reducing higher interest rate debts. Even if you have no other debts besides your home mortgage payment, you may be able to invest the money for a higher return than the interest rate on the mortgage.

Each person has different short and long term goals as well as a different financial situation to consider. With how low mortgage rates are today, however, many will benefit from paying off high interest rate debts and making smart investment decisions with any extra money they have.

Posted in Around The Home

Understanding Home Appraisals and Why You Want a Real Estate Agent to Determine Listing Prices

Understanding Home Appraisals and Why You Want a Real Estate Agent to Value Your HomeWhile there may be instances when a homeowner must sell a property and move regardless of market conditions, there are other times when the value of the property will be a deciding factor in whether a homeowner moves or remains in the home for a longer period of time.

Some homeowners will attempt to determine the current value of their home on their own or order an appraisal, but these values are not always an accurate representation of a realistic listing price. There are a few good reasons why it is best to request valuation services from a real estate agent to determine a listing price rather than to refer to an appraiser or estimate value through personal market research.

Appraisals Use Older Comparable Data

Some homeowners will contact a real estate appraiser for a valuation, but these valuations will not always  reflect a listing price that a real estate agent would recommend. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that appraisals can sometimes use older comparable data, and some of these comps may even be six months old or older. In many areas, market conditions can change dramatically within a few months, so older comparable data will not provide a reasonable listing price.

Consumer Preference Is Important In Valuation

Appraisals are generally objective, and they take into account property age, size, room layout, and other physical factors. However, consumers who are in the market to purchase a new home will also take into account other factors like how desirable the location is, the style of the home and smaller designer touches that the appraiser will not typically take into account. This can all affect the actual listing price, and these are all factors that a real estate agent will take into account.

Properties May Have Special Features That Affect Valuation

Appraisers only have access to specific information when reviewing comps, and they therefore cannot take into account special features that a property has that may affect value. For example, upgraded appliances, a security system, a new HVAC system and other features may increase value, but the appraiser may not take these into consideration. A real estate agent will review all aspects of the home to help determine a fair and reasonable asking price for the home.

Valuation is an important factor in many homeowners’ decisions about whether to sell now or sell later. Those who are interested in learning about the value of their property should reach out to their trusted real estate agent for assistance.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

House Hunting? Watch for These 5 Red Flags when Viewing Potential New Homes

House Hunting? Watch for These 5 Red Flags when Viewing Potential New Homes From the sales price to the general layout of the building, there are numerous factors that buyers will consider when touring homes. While there are specific factors that buyers may be searching for in a new house, there are also a few warning signs that home buyers should keep their eyes open for. The following are among the top red flags that may serve as warning signs.

Signs Of Poor Home Maintenance

It is reasonable to expect all homes to have some signs of wear and tear unless they are new construction. However, it is also reasonable to expect that sellers have taken some steps to improve the condition and look of the property before listing it. When a home appears to be poorly maintained on a superficial level, home buyers should pause to consider what other aspects of the home have also been poorly maintained that are not visible.

The Grading In The Yard

When a yard grades toward the house, issues with erosion and even flooding may be concerns. Everything from a brief, torrential downpour to snow melt can result in water running toward a property when grading is a concern. Home buyers should take time to review the yard carefully to determine how water may flow when it rains or when snow melts.

A Foul Odor

It is common for sellers to try to make their home smell appealing, and different types of deodorizers may be used to mask everything from food smells to pet odors. However, it is important for home buyers to pay attention to the underlying smells in a home. Everything from a musky or mildew-y smell to sewage smells and gas odors should be warning signs.

Repairs To One Wall

Homeowners may repaint walls to make the space look cleaner, brighter and more appealing, so a fresh coat of paint by itself is not a warning sign. However, if the paint is on just one wall or if the area under the fresh coat of paint appears to have been recently textured or repaired, these are signs that water damage or other damage may have been addressed recently.

Signs Of Pests And Rodents

Another warning sign relates to signs of pests and rodents. Even if bugs and rodents are not visible during the initial tour, things like a can of bug spray, mouse traps and other related items may indicate that the seller has had an issue with bugs and rodents.

Some warning signs will be obvious during an initial home tour, but others may require more skill and experience to see. Because of this, it is best for all home buyers to consider ordering a property inspection to learn more about the condition of the home before finalizing their buying plans.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 6, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 6 2015

Last week’s housing-related economic events included the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for April, the Commerce Department’s Pending Home Sales report and a report on Construction Spending. In other economic news, Non-Farm Payrolls, the ADP Employment report and Consumer Confidence reports were released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates summary and the weekly unemployment claims report were released as usual.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in April

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported that year-over-year home prices slowed in April with a reading of 4.20 percent as compared to the March reading of 4.30 percent. David M Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that home prices continue to grow, but are not accelerating. According to the 20-City Index, home prices rose 1.10 percent from March to April and were bolstered by the onset of the spring selling season.

The Department of Commerce reported that pending home sales increased to their highest level in more than nine years in May. Pending home sales were 10.40 percent higher than they were in May 2014, which is a further indication of a stronger housing sector. Analysts consider pending home sales as an indicator of future closings and mortgage originations.

Construction Spending Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

Construction spending dipped in May to 0.80 percent as compared to April’s reading of 2.10 percent; analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent in May. The outstanding news is that construction spending for manufacturing building is up by 70 percent year-over-year in May. While not directly connected to housing, this reading suggests that manufacturers are expanding their businesses and will likely expand hiring as well. Concerns over the labor market have kept many would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but improved hiring reports and wage increases are expected to compel more buyers to enter the housing market.

Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought another increase in average mortgage rates; the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/2 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one point to 2.99 percent. Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent and were unchanged for 16-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Non-Farm Payrolls Lower; ADP Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-farm Payrolls dropped to a reading of 223,000 new jobs added as compared to expectations of 225,000 new jobs added and 254,000 new jobs added in May. The ADP employment report, which tracks private-sector hiring, fared better with 237,000 new jobs posted as compared to 203,000 new private sector jobs added in May.

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Level in Five Weeks

New claims for unemployment reached their highest reading in five weeks with 281,000 new claims filed against expectations of 275,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 271,000 jobless claims filed. The four week rolling average of new claims filed showed an increase of 1000 more claims filed for a reading of 274,750 new claims filed. Analysts said that new jobless claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the 17th consecutive week.

The Commerce Department reported that the National Unemployment Rate was lower at 5.30 percent as compared to an expected reading of 5.40 percent and May’s reading of 5.50 percent. June’s national unemployment rate was the lowest reading since 2008 and is a good sign that labor markets are steadily if slowly improving.

No economic reports were released Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday.