Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 13, 2017

Last week’s scheduled economic readings were limited and included new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey. In other news, all types of mortgage applications rose by 2.30 percent this week as compared to the prior week.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Home Loan Applications Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates for fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable mortgages; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped two basis points to 4.17 percent. Average rates for 15-year mortgages also dropped two basis points to 3.39 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates averaged 3.21 percent, which was also two basis points lower than the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for the three types of mortgages tracked in Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, this small drop in mortgage rates caused all types of mortgage applications to rise by 2.30 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Refinance applications rose two percent from the prior week, but remain 40 percent lower year-over-year. The dearth of refinancing applications was caused by two factors including many refinances were completed recently when rates were lower and homeowners currently discouraged by higher mortgage rates.

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Last week’s initial jobless claims fell to 234,000 as compared to expectations of 249,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims. This was the lowest reading since 1973 and when compared to the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, shows that the economy continues to strengthen. Last week’s reading was the second lowest since recovery from the recession got underway in 2009 and represented the 101st consecutive week that new jobless claims were lower than the 300,000 new claims benchmark. According to Labor Department data, this week’s reading sustained the longest-running consecutive period of new jobless claims below the benchmark level.

The four-week average of new jobless claims is viewed by analysts as less volatile than the week-to-week reading, but it showed similar results last week as it fell by 3750 new claims to 244,250 initial claims and reached the lowest level of new claims filed in 44 years.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Posted in Around The Home

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy Guide

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy GuideNow that 2017 is here, it’s time to consider which upgrades you will make to your home. If you don’t have any major renovations planned, you can still tackle smaller projects or theme rooms. In today’s post we’ll explore some of the home decor trends expected to be popular in 2017.

Paint Colors: Confident, Composed & Comfortable

According to the color experts at paint company Behr, 2017’s trend colors express confidence, composition and comfort. If you plan on painting accent walls, rooms or even your entire home this year, these are worth exploring. Confident palette colors include the bluish-green Jade Dragon, the fiery red Hot and Spicy and more. The Composed Palette is a bit muter, with blues and grays like Laid Back Gray and Polished Aqua. For those that love pastels, the Comfortable Palette has many soft notes. Life is a Peach and Everything’s Rosy are two great light link options.

Replacing DIY With Artisanal

If you’ve owned your home for a while, you may find that over time your do-it-yourself projects have added up. While DIY upgrades are fun and cost-effective, if they don’t match or pair well they can throw off continuity in your decor. Consider 2017 a chance to replace some of your older DIY items with similar ones created by artisans. You can always gift, sell or repurpose yours to ensure they find use in a new home.

Enjoy Saving Energy With Heated Floors

Heated floors are one of 2017’s decor trends that combine luxury with responsibility. It might be tough to imagine that heated floors actually save energy, but it’s true. In-floor heating can actually heat entire rooms with less energy than other central solutions. Still using electric baseboard heaters in small areas like bathrooms? Consider heating your floors instead.

Climbing Plants Are The New Art

If you’re struggling with how to fill a blank space on a wall, consider climbing plants. Indoor vines like the Pothos (or Devil’s Ivy) can add a lively splash of green to a wall area. Or, consider using creeper vines that grow upwards. Even a small shelf with a few attractive potted plants can set off an entire wall. The more life you can add to your home, the better!

With so many colors, upgrades and DIY upgrades to choose from, 2017 is set to be a great year for home renovators. For more insight into value-boosting decor upgrades, contact your local real estate agent.

Posted in Around The Home

Take the Plunge: Why Installing an In-ground Pool Will Boost Your Home’s Resale Value

Take the Plunge: Why Installing an In-ground Pool Will Boost Your Home's Resale ValueWhether you’re planning to sell or not, if you can afford to upgrade your home it’s almost always worth it. But the question is: which renovations add value to your life, as well as your house? Let’s explore how adding an in-ground pool to your backyard can boost your home’s value.

The Ultimate In Functional Luxury

It’s true that there are many home upgrades that add a ton of value. Kitchen renovations, home solar panels and other long-term investments tend to pay off. But few are as luxurious and fun as installing your own in-ground pool.

Not only will you get to enjoy having a swim whenever you feel like it. But some studies show that having a pool improves your health and quality of life. Of course, you’ll actually need to use your pool to gain its benefits. But once you have one… why wouldn’t you?

A Huge Draw For Families

As you might imagine, in-ground pools are very popular with home buyers that have children. A backyard pool is an excellent way to get the kids out of the house and away from the TV or computer. Some families will make a buying decision on factors like this alone. If you’re the only pool in the neighborhood, you’ll find that your home sale moves a bit faster.

Aim For Eco-Friendly Options

If you plan to sell your home in the future, you’ll want to ensure your pool is easy on the environment. Both regulations and social opinion are moving in favor of ‘green’ homes. Invest in water-recycling technology that goes easy on the chemicals. And if you plan to heat your pool, aim for options that use solar or other natural resources.

Remember: Maintenance Is Key

Finally, don’t forget that an in-ground pool is an investment. You need to keep it in top shape or it may actually lose value over time. If you’re motivated and handy, you can likely handle most of the maintenance yourself. But if you think it’s above your skill level, invest in a pool service professional. Even if they only come out once or twice a year, it will be worth it.

There are many other home renovation projects that can add equity and value to your house. For other ideas, contact your local real estate agent today.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Worried About Future Mortgage Rate Increases? Here’s How to ‘Stress Test’ Your Finances

Worried About Future Mortgage Rate Increases? Here's How to 'Stress Test' Your Finances When it comes to real estate, there are always going to be upswings in the market that will have an impact on your mortgage payment and overall financial health. However, with a fluctuating market here to stay, you may be wondering how you can guard your biggest investment and your finances against rate increases. If you’re concerned about rates on the rise, here are a few tips to test out you’re fiscal well-being.

Calculate Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

It’s beneficial to determine your DTI ratio prior to purchasing a home, but since debt and housing costs are always fluctuating, calculating this number again can be a wakeup call. By adding up your monthly expenditures (including any debt), and dividing that number by your pre-tax income, you’ll be able to determine your DTI percentage. While it’s ideal to have a percentage of less than 28%, if your expenditures have risen above this number, it may be time to take a look at your monthly budget and see what you can cut out.

Do You Have Emergency Savings?

Many people make a habit of putting money into their retirement funds each paycheck, but it’s equally important to have emergency savings you can access in the event of car repairs, home maintenance issues or an unforeseen medical problem. While it’s often suggested that a person should have a minimum of 3 months of expenses at their disposal, saving more than this can make you even more prepared in the event that a rate increase requires you to dive into other funds.

Review Your Budget

It’s easy enough to have a monthly budget, but the hard part for most people is sticking to it on a day-to-day basis. If you’ve veered off the trail a little bit in this regard, sit down to review your expenditures and determine what your financial outlook would be if you experienced an interest rate bump next month. In the event that there’s very little cushion and no money for savings, it may be worth your time to craft a new budget that gives you a bit more wiggle room.

Many people are uncertain about what the short-term economy will bring for their mortgage rates, but by reviewing your budget and maintaining emergency savings, you can be better prepared for the future. If you’re currently considering purchasing a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Buyer’s Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Negotiating to Buy a Home

Buyer's Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You're Negotiating to Buy a HomeThe prospect of finding the home you’ve always dreamed of can be such an exciting prospect that it’s easy to forget all about the process of negotiating. However, it’s important to keep a few things to yourself when it comes to the art of making the deal. If you’re currently searching for the right place and are preparing to sign on the dotted line, here are a few phrases it’s best to avoid.

Declaring It Your Dream Home

There’s nothing wrong with finding the ideal home and getting enthusiastic about the prospect of owning it, but it’s very important not to say too much to the homeowner or the homeowner’s agent. While it’s certainly welcome to be a polite home viewer and mention some of the features you like, giving away too much will inform the homeowner of just how much leverage they have with you. This can mean they may request a higher price since they know how interested you are.

What You’re Willing To Pay

It might seem up front and honest to declare the price range that you’re willing to spend on a home, but if a homeowner knows what your limitations are, they’ll likely push you past them. While you may be willing to pay more for a home you truly love, it’s important that you’re investing a reasonable amount into the home and not paying much over market value for your property. Instead of being too forward, keep your offer to yourself until it’s on the table.

Critiquing Their Price Point

If you’re truly interested in a home, it can be pretty difficult to realize that it’s not within your price range. However, it’s unnecessary to mention this to the buyer as it’s entirely possible that the price is comparable to other homes of a similar style in the neighborhood. After all, there’s always a chance that the home will stay on the market and drop down in value, and this may be the point at which you can get your foot in the door.

When it comes to buying a home, the process of negotiating can be fraught with stress for many people. However, it’s important to keep your price range and your impressions to yourself so that you can get the best deal possible. If you’re currently on the market for your dream home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 6, 2017

Last week’s economic news included several good signs for U.S. Labor Markets with higher than expected readings for private and public sector job creation. The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds range, and inflation rose. Mortgage rates held steady and pending home sales rose.

Private and Public Sector Jobs Post Unexpected Gains

ADP, which tracks private-sector job growth, showed a gain of 246,000 jobs in January against expectations of 168,000 new jobs and December’s reading of 151,000 private sector jobs created. Analysts said 208,000 of jobs added were service-related jobs. January’s Non-Farm Payrolls, which is issued by the Labor Department and includes private and public sector jobs, also posted higher than expected job gains with 227,000 new jobs in January as compared to 197,000 new jobs expected and December’s reading of 157,000 new jobs. Retail, construction, financial and restaurant industries led job growth. The jump in construction hiring could indicate that home builders will expand construction in an effort to ease short inventories of homes for sale.

The national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent in January and matched analysts’ expectations based on December’s reading of 4.60 percent. New jobless claims were lower than expected with a reading of 246,000 new claims against expectations of 254,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 initial jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed; Pending Home Sales Up

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week. Interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.19 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.41 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

In related news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee decided not to rate the Fed’s target rate that is currently 0.50 to 0.75 percent. Fed benchmarks for the economy include an unemployment rate of 5.00 percent or lower, but the annual growth inflation benchmark of 2.00 percent has not been met. January’s inflation rate rose by 0.10 percent above December’s reading of 0.0 percent.

Pending home sales increased in January with an increase of 1.60 percent; this exceeded December’s negative reading of -2.50 percent in December. Analysts said that the growth in pending home sales, which represents sales under contract that have not closed, reflects ongoing high demand for homes. Pending sales also suggest future volume for completed sales and mortgages.

Consumer confidence lagged in January to an index reading of 111.80 as compared to an expected reading of 112.90 and December’s reading of 113.30. December’s reading was the highest in 15 years. Analysts cited post-election uncertainty as contributing to consumer concerns.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with readings on job openings and consumer sentiment.

Posted in Around The Home

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can’t Forget to Take Care of This Winter

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can't Forget to Take Care of This WinterWinter may be a time for nesting until the cold weather abates, but there are a number of important tasks that a homeowner should be sure to do during the winter months. If you’re readying for the slow season or wondering what you might have forgotten, here are some things you’ll want to check off your to-do list.

A New Coat Of Paint

Getting out the paint may seem like a sizeable task, but any peeling paint is going to be adversely affected by the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. While you may want to hold off if it’s already cold, it might be a task worth prioritizing if the materials on your home will be damaged as a result of the coming weather.

Shovel The Snow

Shoveling snow may be important for sidewalk safety, but a build-up can actually have an ill effect on your home’s foundation. Instead of taking the risk, ensure you clear the areas around any basement windows and steps so that drainage will not impact your home’s foundation and its value.

Do A Window Check

A window that isn’t properly sealed can cause issues with the heating and cooling of your home, but in the cooler season any issues will be a lot more apparent. If you find drafts throughout the house, you may want to hire a professional or do the re-caulking on your own.

Restore The Roof

If there are issues with the viability of your shingles, you may have significant problems when it comes to heavy rain or snow. Whether you decide to hire a pro or head up the ladder on your own, make sure to take the time to check for loose or damaged shingles before the season hits.

Test The Detectors

It’s easy to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at any time, but it’s easier to remember if it’s on the year-end checklist. It may be easy to forget about the utility of a functioning detector, but it’s very important for protecting your home and your family in the event that something goes wrong.

There are a lot of things to prep for when it comes to winter, but it’s important to make sure that you’ve done your home maintenance duties so your home is prepared for the coming season. If you’re fixing up your home to put it on the market, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

The First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide to Getting the Best Possible Mortgage Rate

The First-Time Home Buyer's Guide to Getting the Best Possible Mortgage RateWhether they’re found online or heard from family and friends, there are so many mortgage tips out there that it can be hard to know exactly how to proceed. But, if you’re new to the market, there are a few surefire things you can do to get a mortgage rate you’ll feel good about. For some of the best tips on getting a great loan, look no further than the following.

Know Your Credit History

It’s a simple fact that one of the most important factors in your mortgage application is your credit history, so good or fair, it’s important to be aware of where you stand. While the acceptable credit score for mortgage approval can fluctuate, the best rates are often available to those with a score that is higher than 760. In order to improve your chances, get a copy of your credit report and pay attention to any discrepancies that might be in it. These can have a negative impact on your score and your application, so you’ll want to have them revised if they’re incorrect.

Save Your Down Payment

It’s not a requirement of mortgage approval to put 20% down, but a down payment of this size will lower your debt-to-income ratio and will make you a more solid bet for the lender. By having 20% in the bank to go towards your home investment, you will also be able to qualify for a lower rate. Not only this, you will not be required to pay mortgage insurance which means a lowered monthly payment and a higher disposable income in the event of market fluctuations.

Consult With A Mortgage Professional

You may want to pursue a mortgage on your own, but having a professional to help you with the process can be beneficial for a number of reasons. A mortgage expert will not only be aware of market conditions, they will have a relationship with the lenders that means they may be able to get you a rate you wouldn’t be offered on your own. While you may want to go it alone, there are benefits to consulting a professional.

There’s a lot involved in the mortgage process, but by putting 20 percent down and having a good credit history, you’ll be well on your way to a great rate. 

Posted in Home Mortgage

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Continues

November home prices grew by 5.60 percent year-over-year on a seasonally adjusted basis according to Case-Shiller’s reading on National Home Prices. National average home prices rose 0.80 percent from October to November. Case-Shiller’s 20-City home price index revealed that the West and Mountain regions continue to hold the top three growth rates for home prices. Seattle posted a seasonally adjusted growth rate of 10.40 percent which was closely followed by Portland, Oregon’s year-over year average home price gain of 10.10 percent. Denver rounded out the top three home price growth rates included in the 20-CityiIndex with a year-over-year gain of 8.70 percent.

Top readings for month-to-month home price gains for the 20-City home price index were 0.20 percent for Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Denver, Colorado posted a month-to-month gain of 0.60 percent. Analysts said that home prices may be topping out in some cities; San Francisco, California was one of two cities posting lower home prices in November than for October. San Francisco home prices enjoyed rapid and stratospheric gains in recent years, but may have reached a threshold as fewer buyers can afford to purchase such high-priced homes.

Home Prices Approach PreRecession Levels

September’s national home price gains matched the pre-recession peak achieved in mid- 2006. While this is positive news, the 20-city index currently averages 7 percent below its prior peak level. It’s important to note that the 20-city index does not include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas metro areas, which have enjoyed significant growth in home prices. Home prices for cities included in the 20-city index remain about 7 percent lower than their previous peak, but are 40 percent higher than their lowest point in 2012.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices committee, said that November’s readings on home prices appear to indicate that home price gains have escaped the boom-or-bust cycles seen in the last dozen years or so.

Rising Mortgage Rates, Home Prices Present Obstacles for Buyers

While homeowners listing their homes for sale continue to enjoy appreciation home values, would-be home buyers are being sidelined by the effects of accelerating home price growth and higher mortgage rates, which are expected to continue increasing. As with San Francisco, more cities included in the Case-Shiller home price indices may see slowdowns in home price growth and home sales as affordable homes and home loans slip out of reach.