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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Fed Holds Steady on Federal Funds Rate

In its post-meeting statement, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the current federal funds rate of 0.25 to 0.50 percent. Although FOMC members acknowledged further improvement in the U.S. economy and jobs markets, the committee cited the following as influencing its decision not to raise the current federal funds rate:

  • Household income continued to rise, but consumers have “moderated” their spending.
  • Inflation is expected to remain below the Fed’s goal of two percent in the near term.
  • Temporary influences including low energy and import prices are expected to ease.

FOMC monetary policy decisions made in April’s meeting were guided by the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and its inflation goal of two percent. Labor markets improved since the Committee’s March meeting, but inflation is not expected to reach the Fed’s goal in the near term.

No Fed Rate Increase in April; Moderate Increases Expected

While the FOMC did not raise the federal funds rate, its statement suggested that future rate increases are likely. Potential increases in the federal funds rate would be gradual into the medium term. FOMC’s April statement hinted that incremental rate increases over time would be expected to facilitate further economic growth and help achieve the two percent inflation goal. According to the statement, any potential increases in the federal funds rate would be “accommodative.” This indicates that FOMC members do not want to raise rates too quickly, which could interfere with current economic growth.

Fed Concerns over Global Economy Ease

Notably absent from April’s FOMC statement were concerns over global economic conditions and developments. In March, the Fed characterized global economic and financial conditions as a risk to U.S. economic growth, but April’s statement said that FOMC members would continue monitoring global news and developments with no mention of potential risks.

Analysts said that the Fed could have been “more hawkish” in its position, but also said that a rate increase could occur in June if FOMC members conclude that economic conditions are favorable. FOMC statements typically indicate that monetary policy decisions are pre-determined way, but rely on the committee’s ongoing review of global and domestic financial and economic developments.

Unless economic developments intervene, Fed policy makers opened the door to a rate increase in June. Past FOMC statements indicated plans to raise the federal funds rate up to four times in 2016, but these plans were revised to two potential rate increases for 2016.

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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Financial Reports

 

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5 Tips to Reduce Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

5 Tips to Reduce Your Monthly Mortgage PaymentBuying a home isn’t cheap – and even though mortgage rates are low, your own financial circumstances may mean that your monthly payment is more than you can afford. Whether you’re a new buyer looking to save money or a cash-strapped owner who needs to free up extra income, there are several ways you can lower your monthly payments – here are just five of them.

Make 13 Payments Every Year

If you have some extra money and you’re looking to pay down more of your principal amount, making 13 annual payments instead of the usual 12 is a great way to not only reduce what you owe, but also lower your monthly costs. Most lenders will allow you to make one additional lump sum payment per year on top of your regular monthly payments. Pro tip: Combine your tax refund and Christmas bonus into one big lump sum to pay down your mortgage.

Still Paying PMI? Ask Your Lender To Cancel It

Private mortgage insurance is a standard cost that you’re legally obligated to pay if your down payment was less than 20% of your home’s value. But once you’ve paid off that 20%, you’re no longer required to have PMI on a conventional mortgage. If you’ve built up 20% equity, talk to your lender about removing PMI from your mortgage agreement – it could save you thousands.

Recast Your Mortgage

If you’ve been diligently paying your mortgage for years but suddenly run into money problems, recasting your mortgage is a great way to make your monthly payments easier to manage. Recasting is fairly simple – it takes your remaining loan balance and stretches it across your original loan term. For example, if you’re 15 years into a 30-year mortgage that has half of its balance remaining, you can recast your mortgage to pay off the balance over another 30-year period.

Facing Financial Hardship? Get A HAMP Modification

If you encounter financial hardship, you can ask your lender if they offer a Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAMP is a government program designed to make housing more affordable for low-income citizens. It’s possible to save a significant amount of money with a HAMP modification.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to learn more about getting the most from your home financing.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Home Mortgage Tips

 

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Homeowner Association Rules: How They May Affect Your Buying Decision

Homeowner Association Rules: How They May Affect Your Buying DecisionBeyond the mortgage, maintenance and property taxes of a new home, you may not be aware that many newer communities require you to be part of the Homeowner Association (HOA). If you’re wondering about what the HOA entails and how this can impact the home and community you live in, here are some facts that may be important to know before you buy.

What Is A HOA?

If you happen to have a Homeowner Association present in your new community, it’s important to know that this body works to enforce the rules of the neighborhood. Made up of a group of volunteers that live within a given area, different community members will be responsible for different aspects of the community. While there are annual fees for an HOA and they vary from place to place, communities with this type of association often come with a higher price tag on the market.

The Types Of Rules Enforced

The rules that are enforced by a HOA differ depending on the community, but they can range from issues as diverse as the height of fences to the number of pets per residence to the amount owed for fines. While you may have found your ideal home in a great community, it can be worth looking into the rules of your local HOA so that you can determine if they’ll work for you. If there are any red flags, you may want to consider your options or decide if the sacrifice is worth it.

Dealing With The Rules

It’s important to stick to the rules of the community you live in because you can be taken to small claims court if you don’t pay your fees or respond appropriately to complaints. If you’re in a position where you disagree with the rules and would like to pursue another option, you will want to make a written request to the board and wait it out. You may not get a response very quickly due to the voluntary nature of most HOA, but it’s important to be compliant with the regulations until your request is approved.

It’s great news if you’ve found your dream home in a nice new community, but it’s important to be aware of the HOA rules that you’ll have to comply with. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Home Buyer Tips

 

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5 Fun Ways to Spring Clean with the Kids

5 Fun Ways to Spring Clean with the Kids Spring-cleaning might seem like a necessity if you’ve accrued a lot of stuff through the fall and winter seasons, but it can be hard to determine how to get your kids involved. If you’re looking for tips on how to get this task done and engage your children at the same time, here are a few fun ways.

Play Some Tunes

It goes without saying that almost everything is more fun with music, and kids will readily agree with this! Instead of silence, pique your children’s interest with their favorite album and encourage them to take the duster or mop along with them.

Offer Up A Reward

It’s important that your children understand that helping out around the house is everyone’s job, but offering them a treat can be a good means of getting them involved. Whether it’s a couple of dollars or a trip to the ice cream parlor, a little work for a reward has always been a positive thing.

Give Them A Choice

Most kids don’t like to be told what to do, so providing them with the opportunity for leadership can be a great thing when it comes to the task of spring-cleaning. Not only will they be happy to help you along if they can direct, it will give them confidence in their own capabilities.

Make Room For New Duds

Getting rid of old clothing isn’t always fun, but if it makes way for a new outfit or toy many kids will spring at the chance. Instead of large scale, let your children tackle their own space to clear away stuff they no longer use. It will make them aware of what they need and what they can get along without.

Get Out The Gear

Outside of a damp cloth, most adults don’t have any specific clothes for cleaning the house, but dressing up is always a fun activity for kids! Whether it’s overalls, a cap and some rubber gloves, making cleaning a game of dress up is an easy way to appeal to the imagination of your children.

Spring-cleaning may not always seem like the most fun, but there are a few simple ways you can make it appealing to your kids and liven up an old activity for yourself. If you’re perking up your home in the hopes of a summer sale, you may want to contact trusted local real estate professional for more information.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Around The Home

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 25, 2016

What's Ahead In Mortgage News

Last week’s economic releases included Existing Home Sales, Commerce Department Releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released according to their weekly schedule.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Firm in April

According to April’s National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, home builder confidence held steady with a reading of 58 for the third consecutive month. Analysts viewed April’s reading as a sign of steady expansion for home building, but builders noted concerns over labor shortages. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that builders were “cautiously optimistic” concerning housing market conditions.

The National Association of Realtors® reported a jump in sales of previously owned homes in March. The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales rose to 5.33 million and surpassed expectations of 5.30 million sales and February’s reading of 5.07 million sales of pre-owned homes.Mr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that demand is increasing and noted that the national average home price increased more than twice as fast as average wages.

In other housing-related reports, the Commerce department reported slower growth in housing starts, which reached 1.089 million starts in March. Analysts expected 1.170 million starts based on March’s reading of 1.194 housing starts. Building permits were also lower with 1.086 million building permits issued as compared to 1.177 million building permits issued in March.

National Association of Realtors®: Sales of PreOwned Homes Exceed Expectations

March sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million sales against predictions of 5.30 million sales and February’s reading of 5.07 million sales. While March sales of pre-owned homes coincide with the approaching peak home selling season, high demand for homes and low supplies of homes for sale could slow sales. Inventories of available homes are currently at a 4.5 month supply; a six month supply of available homes indicates a normal reading for available homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Lowest Since 1973

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for last week’s average mortgage rates. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point higher at 3.59 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.85 percent while the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 2.81 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since 1973 with a reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 265,000 new claims filed based on the prior week’s reading of 253,000 new claims filed. Strong labor markets can be an incentive to home buyers to move up to larger homes or transition from renting to owning, but short supplies of available homes and rapidly rising home prices present obstacles. First-time buyers account for approximately 30 percent of home sales; their participation could diminish unless available homes increase and demand for homes eases.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices along with new and pending home sales reports. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Mortgage Rates

 

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Existing Home Sales Jump, Builder Confidence Holds Steady

Home buyers kicked the spring home shopping season into gear and boosted sales of pre-owned homes in March. Existing home sales rose 5.10 percent in March according to the National Association of Realtors®. 5.33 million pre-owned homes were sold in March against expectations of 5.30 million sales and February’s reading of 5.07 million sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Demand for homes remains strong in spite of rapidly escalating prices in many areas. Short supplies of available homes continue to drive demand and home prices. Sales rose only 1.50 percent year-over-year, but during the first quarter of 2016, existing home sales rose by 4.80 percent as compared to the first quarter of 2015. Sales were 11.11 percent higher in the Northeast, which was a notable improvement over lagging sales in recent months.

There was a 4.50 month supply of available homes in March and the median price of an existing home rose 5.70 percent to $222,700. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun noted that the annual increase in home prices was more than twice the rate of average wage increases. First-time home buyers represented 30 percent of buyers in March; this was the same percentage as February. First-time and moderate income buyers continue to face challenges due to rapidly rising home prices competition for available homes.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Unchanged in March

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for March, home builder confidence remained at 58 for the third consecutive months. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about current market conditions than not.

Builder confidence in current market conditions fell two points to 63 while builder confidence rose 1 point to 62 for market conditions in the next six months. Builder confidence in buyer traffic for new home developments also rose one point to 44. Readings for buyer traffic have not exceeded 50 for approximately 10 years. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz characterized home builder sentiment as “cautiously optimistic.”

Challenges facing home builders include a short supply of labor; the number of job vacancies reached a post-recession high in February. All four regional builder confidence readings declined in April; the Northeast lost two points for a reading of 44. The Midwest and South each lost one point for readings of 57 and 58 respectively. The Western region posted a loss of two points for a reading of 67.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Financial Reports

 

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How to Determine the Right Mortgage for You: The Pros and Cons of Each Type

How to Determine the Right Mortgage for You: The Pros and Cons of Each TypeFinding the right mortgage can be a struggle. There’s a wide array of mortgage products on the market, and you don’t always need to get a mortgage through your bank – and with so many options, it’s hard to know which one is your best bet.

Your ideal mortgage will depend on your own individual financial situation, but when you understand how different kinds of mortgages work, it’s easier to choose the right one. Here’s what you need to know about mortgage types.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages: Home Financing At A Guaranteed Rate

A fixed-rate mortgage is exactly what it sounds like: A mortgage with a fixed interest rate. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked for the life of the mortgage loan and cannot change.

When interest rates are at historical lows, a fixed-rate mortgage is an ideal financing option. By purchasing a fixed-rate mortgage at a low interest rate, buyers lock in low payments and are protected from sudden rate increases. However, fixed-rate mortgages are more difficult to qualify for when interest rates are high.

Variable-Rate Mortgages: Lower Rates And Larger Loans

A variable-rate mortgage is a mortgage wherein the interest rate fluctuates over time. Typically, the interest rate will stay constant during a set period of time near the start of the mortgage, and then start to vary. These mortgage rates rise and fall in line with the prime lending rate.

The major advantage of a variable-rate mortgage is that its lower initial rates and payments allow buyers to qualify for larger homes. Buyers can also take advantage of falling interest rates without having to refinance. However, variable-rate mortgages can quickly become expensive if interest rates see a sharp rise – and while some mortgages put caps on the maximum annual increase, these caps don’t usually apply to the first rate change.

Interest-Only Jumbo Mortgages: Flexible Terms For Wealthy Buyers

An interest-only jumbo mortgage is a specialty mortgage designed specifically for wealthy buyers purchasing luxury homes. The major advantage of this kind of mortgage is that borrowers can make interest-only payments for the first 10 years of the loan. However, interest-only mortgages are typically only available to well-heeled buyers who can afford a hefty down payment and prove that they have large cash reserves.

Finding the right mortgage can be a challenge. That’s why it helps to consult with a mortgage advisor who understands the terms and rates, and can negotiate a great deal for you. For more information, contact your trusted real estate professional.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Home Mortgage Tips

 

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