Aug 20

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 20th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders and Commerce Department releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were released, along with a monthly report on consumer sentiment.

NAHB: Home Builder Housing Market Index Drops 1 Point

August’s reading for the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped one point to 67. This was the lowest reading for home builder confidence in housing market conditions in 11 months. Analysts said that trade wars are causing concern among builders due to higher costs for building materials. Higher costs will be passed on to home buyers, many of whom are already challenged by rising home prices and strict mortgage approval requirements.

Housing starts reached 1.168 million on an annual basis in July; analysts expected 1.270 million starts based on June’s reading of 1.158 million starts. Building permits issued increased in Jul with 1.311 million permits issued on an annual basis. June’s reading was 1.292 permits issued. Lower numbers of available new homes were a potential problem for housing sector, but demand remains high.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell six basis points to 4.53 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell four basis points to 4.01 percent and rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged three basis points lower at 3.87 percent.

First-time jobless claims fell to 212,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 215,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 214,000 new clams filed. The latest reading approached the level of new jobless claims seen as a post-recession low First-time unemployment claims indicate levels of lay-offs and are viewed by analysts as an indicator of job market performance.

The University of Michigan reported that consumer sentiment reached its lowest reading since 2006. Analysts said that consumer concerns were concentrated among the bottom third of income ranges surveyed. Rising consumer costs caused August’s consumer confidence index to slip to 95.3 as compared to an expected index reading of 98.5. July’s consumer sentiment reading was 97.9.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and pre-owned home sales and minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Aug 17

Big Second Quarter GDP Numbers Impact Housing Market

home prices risingPositive economic growth numbers are always cause for celebration and the second quarter GDP just went vertical. After nearly four years of sub-par growth, the real GDP hit 4.1 percent in the second quarter.

While that economic news has everyday Americans excited that we may be entering a new age of prosperity, drawing a concrete link to the real estate market may be difficult. But by looking long and hard at this uptick and its potential impact on housing, you may get a better idea about buying, selling or standing pat on residential and commercial property.

GDP Report Points To Demand

Among the positive measures from the recent economic report, consumption enjoyed a positive increase. The first quarter numbers were disappointingly sluggish in this area at a modest 0.5 percent. The second quarter took off like a rocket, by comparison, at 2.25 percent.

Although that figure shows an upwardly mobile economy, some experts are calling it discouraging given the extraordinary consumer confidence that has risen to record highs of more than 101.0 since November 2017. This opinion begs the question: why are economy gurus disappointed?

The first part of that answer has to do with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that is putting more money in American paychecks and rolled back income tax liability. Many economists forecast that this personal wealth growth would turn into solid consumption. While working families have enjoyed a breather in terms of scratching from paycheck to paycheck, home purchases have not gone through the roof.

Home availability remains relatively low. With Millennials scooping up many of the starter-home listings and Baby Boomers downsizing, a significant housing shortfall exists. If you have ever heard the term “seller’s market,” this is it.

Inventory Shortage Means Buy Quickly

There are always naysayers that point to lower than expected consumption and claim the economy is weak. The facts in the GDP report clearly dispute any such ideas.

Business investment spiked to a powerful 11.5 percent and then 7.3 percent in the first two quarters. Fixed business investment is on fire based on deregulation, soaring profits and confidence.

That’s why real estate resources are saying that the only thing holding the market back is inventory. Home sale data is not keeping pace with other sectors of the economy because there simply is not enough inventory to keep up with demand. For first-time buyers, this means get prequalified and act swiftly if you find a dream home. It won’t stay on the market long.

Prospective homebuyers may be relieved to know that positive construction indicators are trending. New homes are expected to improve the inventory shortage heading into 2019. Still, demand is likely to stay ahead of inventory.

Be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to help you get your financing pre-approved so that you are ready to make an offer quickly.

Aug 16

4 Top Sustainable Home Trends

make-your-home-greenThe emergence of sustainable energy and products have solidified the go-green movement. Solar energy and electric cars are just the tip of the iceberg.

The impact of products on the environment has become a significant measure about their value. Those same principles are also being applied to homes. Smart homes and energy efficiency have a direct correlation to home values and listing prices. That’s why homeowners and home builders alike have an eye toward sustainable trends. These are some of the top-ranked home trends.

1: Durability Matters

After the catastrophic weather that damaged and destroyed homes in Florida and the Gulf states, “resiliency” has emerged as a key sustainability term. Contractors and home designers are including materials that stand up to extreme weather. These materials also consider toxicity levels, with the most non-toxic being among the more favorable. The storms will come, but how properties resist them and impact the environment afterwards are important sustainability trends.

2: Natural Light Keeps Trending

The use of sustainable solar energy has prompted many to go directly to the source. Large skylights and windows allow natural light to warm homes and reduce the need for electric lighting. Natural light also helps stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder during shorter winter days. Simply put, incorporating natural light resources is a trend that builds off of solar energy thinking.

3: Water Filtration Systems

It’s no secret that municipal water supplies have been compromised on occasion. This trend that started ramping up in 2017 continues to have legs as homeowners are securing water purity. In terms of sustainability, homeowners with water filtration systems have been utilizing them as a method to reduce the amount of bottled waters they purchase. Above and beyond the cost-saving benefits, the reduction in unsustainable plastics is helping to protect the environment.

4: Electric-Only Homes

The high carbon emissions from fossil fuels has motivated environmentally conscious Americans to turn to wind and solar. These days, improved energy storage from high-capacity lithium batteries has opened the door for homes to go all-electric. This appears to be an emerging trend that could pick up additional steam as energy storage technology moves forward. Electric-only homes could be a major step in allowing average homeowners to get off the grid. This trend is not only sustainable for the environment, it lessens the monthly impact on wallets.

Living in the technology era means that change can occur rapidly, and green-friendly homeowners may want to stay up to date on the latest sustainable home trends. They could improve home values going forward.

Whether you are in the market for an eco-friendly home or want to make improvements to your existing home, contact your trusted mortgage professional to explore all of your financing options.

Aug 15

Home Trends Includes Natural Mindfulness Designs

do-it-yourself-kitchen-remodeling-ideasUrban and suburban life offers wonderful conveniences and cultural benefits. But a downside that many families are experiencing is the pervasive use of electronics and disconnectedness from nature.

These lifestyle deficiencies have increased the popularity of yoga and meditation and the practice of mindfulness is topping the covers of national magazines. Everyday mothers and fathers are also working hard to engage their children in outdoor activities and nature. These things require an ongoing effort on top of already packed schedules. That’s why mindful home designs that bring nature into your living space have been trending.

Origins Of Mindful Home Design

There are plenty of home fads that come and go. Some may remember the intense oranges of the 1970s or tiles that covered over lush hardwood floors. Yikes.

One of the founders of the nature-infused home movement was America’s beloved architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His acclaimed Fallingwater marvel was built in 1935 directly on top of a waterfall. The design incorporated natural stone and timber in a way that brought the outdoors living experience into the home. The southwest Pennsylvania wonder forms the basis for the recent trend to incorporate natural elements into living spaces.

The idea that connectedness to nature improves mindfulness has been supported by a wealth of research. The Japanese use “forest bathing” as a way to feed the mind and spirit. The basic idea goes hand in hand with Wright’s architectural thinking that human senses benefit from a direct and discernable connection to nature.

Studies have shown that patients recovering from illness or surgery demonstrate marked health improvement through natural immersion. But the practical question is: how does this trend benefit everyday homeowners?

Natural Homes Improve Mindfulness

It’s not practical to bring an entire forest into your home. But creating semi open-air spaces go a long way to enhancing an outdoor feeling.

Many homes are including semi-enclosed spaces constructed from natural timbers, stone flooring and rich plant life that emulate the positive effects nature has on the human psyche. Although subtle, they help reduce the nature deficiency experienced by many tech-oriented adults and children.

By working with materials that further the experiences of nature’s sights, sounds, touches, smells and even tastes in some cases, living environments are bringing a touch of the natural world home.

When considering a remodeling project or new construction, consider looking at the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater project and contemporary home designers about infusing nature into your everyday life.

When you have decided what you want, the next step is to secure your financing. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to help you find the best options for you.

Aug 13

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 13th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserve

Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings and inflation along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Job Openings Hit Third Highest Reading on Record

Job openings held steady at 6.70 million in June, which was the third highest reading since reporting started in 2000.

Analysts said that the high number of job openings combined with low unemployment rates indicates healthy labor markets. Fewer jobs were available in transportation, utilities and warehousing, but jobs in education increased.

Job quits remained at 2.20 percent for the fourth consecutive month. Quits are considered an indicator of worker confidence in job markets.

Inflation Inches Up

Inflation rose by 0.20 percent in July according to the Consumer Price Index. While analyst expectations were met, rising housing costs offset a decline in energy prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy readings, held steady at 0.20 percent as compared to the same reading for analyst expectations and for June.

The Consumer Price Index rose 2.90 percent year-over-year, which matched June’s reading. The less volatile Core CPI, which excludes inflation readings for food and energy, rose by 2.40 percent year-over-year and was the highest reading for core inflation since 2008.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 4.59 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 4.05 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.80 percent, which was three basis points lower than for the previous week.

First-time jobless claims fell to 213,000 new claims filed and were lower than the expected reading of 217,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 219,000 new claims filed. The less volatile monthly reading fell by 500 new claims to 214,250 first-time jobless claims.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s economic readings include reports from the National Association of Homebuilders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Aug 10

Guide To Buying An A-Frame House

a-frame-houseA-Frame houses have spiked in popularity over the last couple of years. These adorable homes can be quirky or sleek and modern. They are shaped like a triangle — hence the name. A-Frame houses are shaped like the letter A. The walls begin near the foundation and slope upwards in a slant. The walls meet at the top to form a triangle or A-shape.

A-Frame houses are popular all over the United States. They are ideal for second or vacation homes. The big windows make them especially popular in very picturesque locales. This feature allows homeowners to enjoy fabulous views of the ocean, mountains or countryside.

Characteristics Of An A-Frame House

A-Frame houses have very specific characteristics. Here are some of the features of an A-Frame house:

Open floor plan
Loft space
Large windows
Wood siding
High interior ceilings
Gables in the back and front
Benefits Of An A-Frame House

Many buyers love A-Frame houses for several reasons. They have large windows, which allows plenty of natural light to enter the home. The large windows also make them ideal for scenic views.

A-Frame homes are also quite inexpensive and straightforward, which is another reason that they are prevalent vacation homes.

Who Are A-Frame Homes Ideal For?

Many outdoor types of families love A-Frame houses because they are ideal for beautiful natural settings. A-Frame homes are also ideal for buyers looking for a vacation home in a pretty location. They are also great for investors or first-time home buyers.

If you are looking to buy in a prime waterfront location, you might consider an A-Frame house, as well. They are perfect for buyers wanting to build a private escape on a couple of acres of land.

Who Should Not Buy An A-Frame Home?

A-Frame homes aren’t for everyone. While they are an excellent option for first-time home buyers or buyers looking for a vacation property, they are not ideal for all buyers.

For example, buyers in Florida would be better served looking for a different type of home. A-Frames may not be suitable in some climates since they are constructed with wood. This fact makes them potentially more susceptible to storm and termite damage.

Also, A-Frame homes are probably not ideal for larger families that need a lot of storage space. A-Frame houses typically have limited storage space because of the shape of the roof.

Whether you are in the market for a traditional or a unique and interesting property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approved well before you decide to make an offer.

Aug 09

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home Generator

investing-in-real-estate-tipsHome improvements are key investments when it comes to quality of life and property value. While decks, solar panels and smart technologies are trendy options, installing a home generator may be even more valuable. That’s because backup generators not only improve market value, they also protect you and your home during severe weather incidents.

Consider these four reasons why a home generator makes good sense.

Protect Against Severe Weather

The impact of severe weather can reach catastrophic proportions. Thousands of people are left without electricity for days — even weeks — after storms. Heat waves also put an inordinate strain on the power grid when all of those air conditioners and HVAC go into 24-hour overdrive.

The consequences of extended power losses are generally fouled foods in the refrigerator and freezer, unbearable temperatures and an inability to take corrective measures to the physical property itself. When the grid goes down, you may be left powerless as the losses mount.

Keeps Critical Systems Operational

When the power goes down for an extended period of time, important electronics become inoperable. If you work from home or rely on electronic devices to earn a living, either you’re putting in for vacation time or losing money. But beyond the financial implications, many people need power for vital medical equipment to function. It’s simply too risky to not have a backup plan if you or a loved one suffers from a health condition.

Backup Generators Improve Home Security

We have all seen the national news coverage about post-storm or brownout crime waves. Looting and burglary ran rampant when residents are evacuated. That’s because criminals know full well that your alarm system went down with the power.

Consider the accumulated wealth you have at home and irreplaceable personal items. Those could be lost if your home gets robbed during a power outage. Fortunately, installing a home generator will allow you to keep the lights on and thugs away. Just having your lights on at night demonstrates that you have electricity and that acts as a powerful deterrent. A backup generator provides peace of mind against theft.

Backup Generators Improve Property Values

It only makes sense that a home generator will increase your property value. After all, home generator installations are direct financial investments.

According to Consumer Reports, installing a home generator can improve your home’s value by as much as 3-5 percent. Similarly, Remodeling Magazine indicated that the return on investment for a home generator installing can range as high as 150 percent. Of course, those figures may be weighed against the money you saved by being powered up when the grid was down as well.

The point of this discussion is that while new kitchens and smart homes are exciting ways to amp up your home’s values, improvements such as backup generators have a quiet value worth considering.

If you are interested in improving your property and need additional funding, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about the types of programs available to help you access the equity in your home.

Aug 08

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper?

fixing-up-a-historic-homePopular TV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers have brought the charms of owning a fixer upper to light. A fixer-upper can be a great option if you are prepared for the experience of owning a house that needs work and time.

A house that needs work can be a great investment if you are ready to invest the time and money into it. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper might be a problem if you are not aware of what you are getting into.

Not sure if owning a fixer upper is worth it? Here are some considerations to think about.

Start With This Easy Equation

Start with the likely market value of the house after renovations will be made. Then, sum up the cost to renovate the home. Then, add another 25 percent to the renovation costs for unforeseen problems that will no doubt come up during the renovation process.

Next, subtract the renovation costs from the probable market value of the house after the renovations are made. Use similar real estate prices in the area to get your estimate.

What number is left? This number what you should offer.

So, if the comparable estimates are $100,000 and the house needs $25,000 in work, then you should offer no more than $75,000 to break even. Most professionals recommend deducting 10 percent from the asking price just to make the investment of time worthwhile.

Determine How You Will Pay

If you buy a fixer-upper, you’re going to need some way to fund the renovations. It can be hard coming up with the funds for repairs and upgrades after paying closing costs. Some options for funding renovations include a renovation loan, like Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Loan. This loan is rolled right into your mortgage, which makes things easier.

Another popular option is an FHA 203(k) loan. This loan is a little easier to qualify for than the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan and it only requires 3.5% down.

Decide If You Want To Invest The Time

Buying a fixer-upper is an investment. You will have to invest your time in making a lot of decisions. You’ll need to decide on things like building materials and aesthetics.

Do you have a design or architectural background? Do you enjoy remodeling projects? These are questions that you’ll really want to think about before buying a fixer upper.

Your trusted mortgage professional will be your best resource to help you secure the right financing for your new home project.

Aug 07

Downsizing? Here’s What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

best-maryland-mortgage-rates-300x236Whether the kids have moved out or you just aren’t using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels ‘too big’ is rarely fun. In today’s post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it’s just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don’t forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn’t a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can’t part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, contact our professional mortgage team.

Aug 06

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 6th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller, Commerce Department reports on pending home sales and construction spending and an FOMC statement. Labor sector reports on job creation and the national unemployment rate were released along with the monthly Consumer Confidence Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Holds Steady in May

Home price analysts Case-Shiller reported national home prices rose 0.40 percent in May and were 6.40 percent higher year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index was 0.20 percent higher in May and 6.50 percent higher year-over-year. Only seven cities reported home price growth in May, but home prices were higher than gains reported in April.

Home price gains were highest in in Seattle, Washington with a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year gain of 13.60 percent: Las Vegas, Nevada; reported seasonally-adjusted home price growth of 12.60 percent. San Francisco, California reported a seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth of 10.90 percent. Analysts said that home price growth may be slowing, but it grew faster than wages and inflation, which continued to present challenges for first-time and moderate-income hone buyers.

Pending home Sales Grow as Construction Spending Dips

The National Association of Realtors® reported an index reading of 106.9, which was 2.50 percent lower than in May. June was the sixth consecutive month that year-over-year pending sales were lower than in the preceding year-over-year period. Pending home sales increased by 0.90 percent in June as compared to a negative reading of -0.50 percent in May.

Construction spending fell by 1.10 percent in June as compared to 1.30 percent growth in May. Analysts expected construction spending to rise by 0.90 percent in June. Home builders continued to face headwinds such as rising materials costs, labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable lots.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the federal funds rate, which held steady at a range of 1.75 – 2.00 percent. This news did not stop average mortgage rates from moving up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose six basis points and averaged3.93 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 218,000 new claims and fell short of analyst expectations of 220,000 new claims filed, which was based on the prior week’s reading of 217,000 new claims.

Unemployment rate Falls Below 4 Percent

July’s National Unemployment Rate dipped to 3.90 percent and matched analyst expectations. In May, unemployment reached 4.00 percent.

Jobs grew in July with ADP posting 219,000 new private-sector jobs and the Commerce Department reported 157,000 new public and private sector jobs added in July. Analysts expected 195,000 new jobs to be added to Non-Farm Payrolls based on 248,000 mew jobs added in June.

The University of Michigan reported that its Consumer Confidence Index gained 0.30 points for an index reading of 127.40 percent.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on consumer expectations, July job openings, inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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