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FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” Policy

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

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

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

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

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

Importance Of Early Communication

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

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

Potential Impact Of Achieving Normalcy

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

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

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

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

Fed: Mortgage And Refinance Applications “Tepid”

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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FOMC Minutes: Committee Discusses “Normalizing” Policy

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

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

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

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

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

Importance Of Early Communication

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

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

Potential Impact Of Achieving Normalcy

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

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

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

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

Fed: Mortgage And Refinance Applications “Tepid”

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mortgage Rates Down, Existing Home Sales Up

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

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

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

This Week

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

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

On-The-Cheap Cabinet Upgrades

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

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

Upgrade Your Countertops

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

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

Transform Your Kitchen Backsplash

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

1. Allergens Lurking In Your Living Room

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

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

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

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

2. Steaming Kitchens May Make You Sneeze

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

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

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

3. An Attack On Your Sinuses While You Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

Sign #1: You Spot Condensation In Your Attic

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

Sign #2: Water Leaks In From Outside

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

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

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

Sign #4: Rust On Pipes, Nails And Windows

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

What To Do About A Mold Problem

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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