Posted in Financial Reports

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest Rates

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest RatesAccording to a press release by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the current target federal funds rate will hold steady at  0.25 to 0.50 percent. Committee members cited positive developments in the U.S economy including jobs growth, stronger labor markets and gradually increasing inflation. In addition, stronger housing sector and household spending were also noted as positive signs for the economy. Committee members cited risks associated with global economic and financial developments as a concern.

FOMC members are guided in decision making by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. Inflation remains below the committee’s longer-term goal of 2.00 percent; FOMC members attributed slow inflation growth to lower energy prices. The Fed described its current monetary policy stance as “accommodative” and expects it to remain so until inflation reaches 2.00 percent.

Analysts said that the Fed has scaled back its forecast for rate increases from four increases to two increases in 2016, but any actions will depend on FOMC review of current and expected domestic and global factors. Fed Chair Janet Yellen previously cited turbulent market conditions as “significantly” tightening financial conditions due to lower stock prices.

Fed Chair Janet Yellens Press Conference

Fed Chair Janet Yellen explained policy makers’ decision not to raise the target federal funds rate in a press conference after the FOMC statement. Chair Yellen responded to media representatives’ questions about FOMC’s views on inflation and unemployment, zero or negative interest rates and uncertainty about China’s economy

Ms. Yellen cautioned against over-emphasis of the relationship between unemployment and inflation as employment rates only modestly impacts tracking inflation indicators as they relate to wages and prices. In her remarks about the decision not to raise the target federal funds rate, Chair Yellen cited uncertainty about China’s economy as a factor in the decision not to raise the benchmark federal funds rate.

The U.S. economy is strengthening as Europe and Japanese economies wane. Chair Yellen indicated that although global economic decisions influence U.S. monetary policy, that U.S. decisions are not based solely on global economic and financial developments.

In response to a question about whether the FOMC has considered the effects of zero to negative interest rates used by Japan and other nations, Chair Yellen said that committee members were not actively considering or discussing negative interest rates in view of improving economic conditions. Ms. Yellen said that Japan incorporated negative interest rates but did not realize the desired effect of increasing inflation.

Media analysts said that a rate increase in April’s FOMC meeting seems unlikely, but with world-wide economic conditions changing quickly, such, forecasts can’t be cast in cement.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future Neighborhood

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future NeighborhoodWhen you’re just moving into a neighborhood, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. Certainly, you can see the sights for yourself and read about your new community online, but there are still things that may not be readily available. If you’re looking for the cold, hard facts on the safety of your neighborhood, look no further than the following websites for the things you’ll want to know.

Situation Alerts on SpotCrime

By simply typing your street address in at SpotCrime, you will get an instant report of all the criminal goings-on in your community from arson to assault. While SpotCrime is free and enables you to register so you can be alerted to situations in your community, you also have the ability to anonymously offer up information that will help others.

Crime Rates On Neighborhood Scout

A website that will give you information regarding the crime rate in a certain community, Neighborhood Scout offers much of its information free of charge to users to scope out future communities for their own interest. In addition to the per capita crime rate, you can also get a host of information about other communities around the country with similar crime profiles to your own.

Registered Offenders on Family Watchdog

The tranquility of a neighborhood is something that can be easily taken for granted, but Family Watchdog enables you to be aware of what might be going on under the surface. Committed to determining the location of registered sex offenders, this website will easily inform you if there are any offenders in or near your community so you can evaluate the safety of you and your family accordingly.

Situation Updates on CrimeReports

Along with SpotCrime, CrimeReports is another website that enables you to type in your address to instantly pull up a host of information regarding recent crime that’s occurred in your next neighborhood. Much like SpotCrime, it provides you with an easy to read map of crimes that have occurred and you have the option of signing up for alerts that will inform you of recent situations in your community.

There may be a lot of information about your neighborhood online, but the websites listed above can help you with the details on things that may not be commonly reported. If you’re in the market for a home and are wondering about ideal communities, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

3 Psychological Hacks That Will Help You Sell Your Home Faster

3 Psychological Hacks That Will Help You Sell Your Home FasterFrom real estate agents to home buyers, there are so many tips out there on how to sell your home that it can be overwhelming to determine which tricks will boost your success rate and make the sale. If you’re looking for a few sure-fire hacks for getting your home off the market quickly, the following may do a lot of the hard work for you so that selling won’t remain a worry for long.

Stick To A Neutral Palette

Neutral colors like white and grey may seem like a boring approach to design, but they’re actually a great way to grab a potential buyer’s attention. While an especially bold color like red or dark blue can distract the viewer, neutral tones will not jar the eye and will enable the viewer to see the features that your home truly offers. Instead of a space they can’t see for the color, they’ll be able to pay attention to the details that really matter.

Discard The Oversized Items

Most of us have an old, bulky piece of furniture that we still haven’t bothered to get rid of, but when preparing your home for viewings you may want to finally let go of this ostentatious piece. A bulky furniture item will make an undersized space look even smaller, whereas – in a large, sprawling space – it will swallow the size of the room. Instead of a large-scale item, stick to classy, medium-sized pieces that will effectively complement each other.

Keep Personal Items To A Minimum

It may seem like personalizing your home, from pictures all over the fridge to movie posters, will add to its appeal, but it can actually take away from the impression that potential buyers will get. While a home that has a few personal touches here and there can make it more memorable, too many of these little details may actually make the viewer feel out of place. Since the end goal is an offer on your home, enabling potential buyers to imagine themselves in your space is key.

There are an endless amount of tricks involved in a successful home sale, but there are a few little hacks you can do that may work wonders on the minds of potential buyers. If you’re almost ready to put your home on the market and are considering your options for selling, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 14, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 14, 2016Last week’s economic news included Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The City of Detroit also announced a program to help would-be buyers purchase homes that do not qualify for mortgage loans due to severe damage.

Fannie Mae: Home Buyer Sentiment Index Rises

Fannie Mae’s Home Buyer Sentiment Index (HBSI) gained 1.20 percent for an overall reading of 82.70 percent for February. The index reading is calculated using responses to several questions contained in Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. HBSI components include consumer responses to questions about whether it’s a good or bad time to sell or buy a home, consumer expectations concerning whether home prices and mortgage rates will rise, whether respondents expected to keep or lose their jobs, and consumer outlook for their income to significantly increase year-over-year.

The HBSI is designed to assess consumer attitudes about housing markets and their decisions about buying a home.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose two basis points to 2.96 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims dropped to a five-month low last week with a reading of 259,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new claims. New claims readings under 300,000 new claims indicate a healthy labor market; new claims readings have held below the 300,000 benchmark for more than a year. The lowest reading of 256,000 new jobless claims occurred in October 2015.

City of Detroit Addresses Problems with Ravaged Homes

The City of Detroit announced a program designed to facilitate the purchase and rehabilitation of vacant and damaged homes that do not meet appraisal requirements for traditional home loans. While many markets have recovered from the Great Recession, housing markets such as Detroit have languished due to the lack of financing options. The program offers mortgages to cover the home purchase and second mortgages up to $75,000 for repairs and renovation. Program administrators say they plan to issue 1000 loans over the next three years. This type of program may help struggling housing markets recover while providing homeownership opportunities to those who could not otherwise afford to buy a home.

What’s Ahead This Week

This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement after its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will also hold a press conference.

Posted in Around The Home

3 Budget-friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into Spring

3 Budget-friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into Spring The springtime is often the best time of the year for cleaning up and getting rid of old items, but with its proximity to the winter months it can still be hard to commit to large-scale renovations. If you’re looking for some small fixes to give your home a seasonal boost, here are a few options that won’t take up a lot of time.

Freshen Up The Window Frames

Paint can instantly enhance the brightness of any room, but deciding to repaint can be a job that takes more than just a weekend. Instead of committing to everything, paint your window frames for a task that is cheap and doesn’t require a huge expenditure of time. Since the eyes will naturally be drawn to the windows in any room, this will serve to improve your space without all the work that goes into sanding and taping everything.

Add An Accent With Wallpaper

A creative, striking way to upgrade the look of your home is a wallpaper accent that will be easy to install but add trendy appeal to your home’s aesthetic. Instead of going for the same old, choose a wallpaper with a funky design to the area of your choice. By placing it behind a mirror or another picture, you’ll add a lot of oomph without all of the effort that goes into completely repapering a wall. It’s just important to ensure you use an adhesive wallpaper that can be repositioned in the event your first attempt doesn’t work out.

Replace An Old Fixture

It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of legwork to easily revamp a stale space, so consider a light fixture that will instantly draw the eye and can serve as a high-impact piece that really sets the tone for your chosen space. While you’ll want to choose something that won’t completely contrast with the style already present, the right piece can really enhance and modernize what you already have. It’s just important to turn off the breakers before you start fiddling around with installation.

The idea of home renovations can make people think of large scale projects that consume a lot of time, but there are plenty of little things to be done that will make for big changes without an excess of effort. If you’re making some upgrades and are preparing to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Looking to Invest or Live in an Up and Coming Neighborhood? 5 Clues to Finding The Best Ones

Looking to Invest or Live in an up and Coming Neighborhood?: 5 Clues to Finding ThemMaking a home purchase in a neighborhood that is sure to boom in the coming years can be a great real estate investment, but guessing on the next trendy locale may seem fraught with risk. If you’re trying to determine which area will be up and coming down the road, here are some telltale signs that buying may be a benefit to your bank account.

Full Of Creative Energy

Many bohemian areas are popular because of their lower rental and purchase prices, but a locale with plenty of artists and cultural vibrancy is probably going to be on the upswing soon with the interest it will attract. While an investment may be economical in the short-term, it may see a significant spike in the years to come.

Community Restoration In Progress

There’s a good sign, whether it’s parkland or buildings, that if restorations and renovations are occurring in a community, it’s going to see an increase in purchasing prices soon. With a nicer area and better amenities, it won’t take long for people to flock to a revived area.

Close Proximity To Cool Locales

When development of one neighborhood has left little room for further changes, there’s a good chance that prospects will move into surrounding communities to capitalize on the popularity of the area. If you’re considering a neighborhood that’s close to somewhere trendy, it’s almost a sure thing it will see its star rise.

College Kids And Young Professionals?

Restaurants and bars tend to pop up in areas where students and young professionals abound, and as the area becomes more popular it will likely see a spike in its real estate value. With the establishment of many cool places, you can bet that an area full of young people will become the place to be.

Ask A Real Estate Agent!

There are few people that will be more informed about upcoming building projects in their city than a trusted, local real estate agent, so you may want to check in with one to determine the economic viability of an area you’re considering. An agent you can trust should be able to give you an honest answer about your potential investment.

From young people to community restorations, there are many telltale signs of a community that is likely to see a real estate boom in the coming years. If you’re looking to purchase in a new neighborhood and are curious about your options, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much of a Home You Can Afford

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordA monthly mortgage can seem like enough of a financial responsibility on its own, but there are many factors involved in home ownership that affect its fiscal feasibility. If you’re in the market for a house and are wondering how your income will stack up against the rest of your expenses, here’s how to determine a home cost that’s reasonable for you.

Determine Your Down Payment

Before you start with anything else, you’ll want to determine the amount of money you can put down so you can estimate your monthly payments. The traditional amount for a down payment is 20% of the home’s purchase price, so if you don’t have anything close to this amount it might be worth waiting a little longer so you can minimize your payments and the amount of interest or mortgage insurance you’ll be paying in the long run. Each person’s situation is different, and there may be programs available with less than 20% down. This is an excellent question to pose to your trusted mortgage advisor.

Calculate Your Monthly Budget

If your mortgage cost already seems high, it will definitely be worth carefully calculating your monthly expenditures. Instead of a wild guess, take the time to sit down and calculate what your costs are including food, utilities, transportation and any other monthly necessities. Once you do this, it’s also very important to add any debt repayments you’re making to the mix. The total amount of your estimated mortgage costs, debt payments and living expenses should give you a pretty good sense of if your mortgage is viable in the long term.

Don’t Forget About The Extras

When it comes to purchasing a home, many people envision that they will be eating and sleeping their new home so don’t pay attention to all of the additional costs that can arise with living life. A new home is certainly an exciting, worthwhile financial venture, but ensure you’re realistic about what it entails. If you’re planning to go back to school or have children in the future, you’ll want to add a little bit of extra cushion in your budget so that you don’t have to put your other dreams on hold for the sake of your ideal home.

It can be very exciting to find a home you feel good about, but it’s important before making an offer to realize the amount of house you can afford so you don’t find yourself in a hole down the road. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a personal consultation.

Posted in Homeowner Tips

Working from Home? Learn How to Create the Perfect Office with Any Spare Room

Working from Home? Learn How to Create the Perfect Office with Any Spare RoomWith the increasing flexibility of the modern workplace, there are many more businesses offering their employees the opportunity to work from home. While this shift in the job market has created a bevy of new options for freelance workers, it can also be a good reason to turn a spare room into a spanking new office. If you’re working from home, here are some tips for a stylish transition.

Prime It With Paint

Outside of lighting, the color and upkeep of the walls is going to have a huge impact on the way your spare office will look. Before even considering placing furniture or putting up pictures, decide on the perfect shade of paint that will keep you inspired and will go with the rest of your house. This will easily brighten the room, and prep it for its future purpose.

Start With Good Lighting

There are few things that will change the ambiance of a room like light, so make sure the room your changing up has a great set of windows or the kind of fixture that will provide effective illumination. Since many people have a hard time focusing in the orange or bright light that can come in certain work settings, a well-lit place may make all of your work seem a little bit easier.

Decide On A Desk

Many people put any old clunker of a desk in their spare office since it will do the trick, but if you’re making the decision to renovate your spare room for work, it will be worth it to choose a desk you’ll want to work at. Before going desk shopping, measure out the length and width of your spare room so you can make a desk purchase that will work for your new office.

What’s On The Wall?

Beyond the supply of pens, paper and a computer, it might seem like the extras of your office situation can be kept out of the equation, but a few pictures can add a lot. While you may want to add some photos of family and friends, it might also be helpful for your work-time diligence to put up a picture that adds a shot of color and will inspire your best work.

There are a lot of great options for a spare room, but if you work from home an office can be the ideal renovation. If you happen to be sprucing up your spare room to sell your home, you may want to contact one of your local real estate agents for more information.

Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 7, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 7, 2016Week in Review

Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on pending home sales, construction spending and several jobs related readings including ADP Payrolls, the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.64 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were consistent at 0.50 percent for all three types of home loans.

Weekly jobless claims also rose to 278,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of $272,000 new jobless claims. While an increase in new unemployment claims may seem discouraging, new claims for unemployment remain near pre-recession lows.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims dropped by 1750 claims to 270,250 and reached its lowest reading in three months. Analysts view the four-week reading as more reliable than week-to-week readings that can be volatile.

Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending

In other news, pending home sales fell by 2.50 percent as compared to December’s reading. Analysts expected an increase in pending sales of 0.50 percent; December’s reading was 0.10 percent higher than for November. Pending home sales represent sales contracts that have not yet closed and are considered an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity.

Home sales have been impacted in recent months by a shortage of available homes; this creates a backlog of would-be buyers who can’t find homes they want to buy and also causes rapidly escalating home prices in desirable areas. Bidding wars and cash sales can sideline buyers who can’t pay cash or are whose offers are outbid.

Analysts say that new home construction is a key component of easing the housing shortage. Construction spending increased by 1.50 percent in January, but month-to-month spending for residential projects was flat in January. Spending for residential projects was 7.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Labor Reports Reflect Stronger Economy

Federal and private sector reports on jobs indicate that job growth continues. The Department of Commerce reported that Non-Farm Payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs in February, which was higher than expectations of 195,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 172,000 new jobs. According to ADP, which tracks private sector payrolls, 214,000 new jobs were created in February as compared to expectations of 185,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 193,000 new jobs.

Improving jobs markets are a positive indicator for housing markets as stable employment is important to home buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgages. The National Unemployment Rate remained stable in February with a reading of 4.90 percent; the expected reading and prior month’s reading were also 4.90 percent.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the NFIB Small Business Index and February’s Federal Budget along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Thinking About Buying A Waterfront Home? Check Out These Important Tips!

First Time Home Buyers: What You Really Need to Know About Buying a Beachfront HomeThe idea of an idyllic beachfront home is appealing for many people, but there are a number of factors involved in this type of home purchase that should be considered before getting serious. Whether it’s a home to live in full time, or a vacation property with investment potential, there are a number of issues to take note of. So, if you’re on the fence regarding waterfront property, here are some things you should keep in mind if beach life might be right for you.

The Ever-Shifting Shoreline

It goes without saying that the times are changing, and erosion of beachfront property is set to be a more pressing issue in the years ahead. If you’re planning on living in a house by the beach, you’ll want to research the surrounding area to ensure your investment will be sustainable over time. If significant shore erosion does occur, you could suffer a loss in regards to your most expensive asset.

In The Event Of Extreme Weather

Home insurance exists to cover you in the event of theft or fire, but if you’re planning on buying by the beach, it’s important to purchase an insurance package that will have you covered for many of nature’s calamities. Instead of leaving this to chance, double check that your home is protected against wind or water damage, as leaving this out could cost you a lot of money down the road.

Do Your Market Research

If you’re buying by the water and you’re looking to live there into the foreseeable future, it may not be necessary to do a lot of research, but if you plan on having renters it’s important to know that someone will be able to make your investment more feasible. If the market is down and people are not flocking to the beach during the months you’ll require renters, it may not be wise to invest huge amounts of money into a property.

Everybody Loves The Beach

It’s important to do research before you decide to invest in a beachfront home, but you will want to keep in mind that a home by the water will probably end up being more valuable than a home in the same town that doesn’t sit on a patch of sand. If you’ve done your research and everything looks good, this may be an investment well worth it.

Beachfront property has its own set of risks and rewards, but if you do your homework it can be an ideal investment. If you’re looking for homes in your area and are interested in waterfront property, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.